September 22, 2006- Richelieu-Champlain
We just arrived in Westport, New York, on Lake Champlain after a nice cruise from Burlington, Vermont. We are being followed every day by Canada Geese (they gave them another name here) and Monarch butterflies by the hundreds. It is both beautiful and a reminder that we have to make tracks.
We left you after we docked at the Saint Ours lock earlier in the month. We had a wonderful cruise down the Chambly Canal, locking 9 times and clearing 13 bridges over the course of a lovely warm late summer day. The Parks Canada lockmasters, as usual, were terrific. The canal is very narrow and in some places we could have plucked leaves off trees. Depth soundings read zero most of the way. Good thing we were the only boat in the channel. The lockmaster followed us all the way to open each bridge and to make sure we did not exceed the 5 knots speed limit.
We spent two days at St. Jean-sur-Richelieu and met up with an old colleague from CMC, Gilles Morin and his wife Diane. He has a lovely 42 feet wooden hull D ‘Éon boat, built in the 70’s in Nova Scotia. He has maintained it very well and it looks great. While we were there, we managed to stock up on provisions and had a great meal at a “bring your own wine” restaurant with Gilles and Diane.
We spent a couple of nights at anchor on the east side of Ile aux Noix just in front of Fort Lennox. Beautiful place with cool sleeping weather. We pretty well had the whole island to ourselves since it was not a weekend. On the 11 th we went to Marina Gosselin on the other side of the island to spend some quality time with mechanics and technicians. A half year supply of diesel and four days later, we are back on the water. My infamous stuffing box was re-packed and the engine re-bedded. Apparently, the engine was only anchored in front for quite sometime and the back end was just hanging loose on the shaft. We replaced our corroded hot water tank and we also bought some new toys for the boat, including a Sweet Tank Bubbler from Groco. By constantly pumping oxygen into our black water tank, it’s supposed to get rid of the smell of s… that we have been getting every time it starts to fill up. So far, so good; after a week, it seems to work.
At the marina, we finally started meeting other people on their way south. Sailboaters mind you, but they turned out to be nice people anyway. So we’ll keep in touch with Lucie and René on a beautiful Bayfield 36 (s/v Vagabond sur Mer) and Paul and Lise on their 9.0 m Nelt (s/v Nantelise).
On the 15 th we entered Lake Champlain and visited US Customs at Rouses Point. They were more interested in raw beef than in the remnants of our wine cellar or the many bottles of scotch we still have. So, all that drinking to get rid of evidence proved to be for naught (well, maybe not!).
After a nice lunch at the Lighthouse Marina there, we motored on to King’s Bay where we anchored for the night. The next day it was on to Plattsburg, NY, which turned out to be a real disappointment with very little in town except taverns. We left early on the 17 th and went to on Mallet’s Bay, VT close to Burlington. This was a great anchorage with hundreds of sailboats in the bay and at the four marinas along the shore. On the weekend, this place is a real beehive of nautical activities, however, when we left Monday morning, we felt pretty alone on Lake Champlain. After cleaning the boat early in the morning, we left for Burlington where we finally met up with several powerboaters who have cruised the Great Loop.
Jesse and Gayle (and a dog named Bobby Joe) live half the year on their nearly new DeFever 45 Pilot House and Bob is a singlehander on his 2004 Grand Bank 46 Europa. Unfortunately, Bob lost his soulmate a few short months ago but he keeps on the passion of cruising. Both of these boats are a few classes above us in space, amenities and finish (not to mention cost!) but their owners are terrific people and we really enjoyed their company as well as the chartbooks and rides they gave us into town. Both boats will be stored on Lake Champlain for the winter and their cruise will resume next spring. We got a lot of advice on places to stay and see from them. We think we convinced them to go down the St. Lawrence to Nova Scotia next year. As an aside, Jesse is looking for “local knowledge” to join him for his trip down the St. Lawrence and around Nova Scotia. Anyone interested in joining him should contact us. The trip would take most of July and August next summer.
Over the next few days we will enter the Champlain Canal and meet up with Bob and Lynn Doneff on their way back from Big Pond, Cape Breton.
Our next update will likely be from the Big Apple, New York.
Andre and Olga on board m/v Mystic Bond
September 30, 2006 - New York Canals-New York
We’ve made it down the Hudson River and past New York. We are presently anchored in Tom’s River on the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway. Beautiful location, lots of mud for the anchor and huge houses offering their WiFi for FREE.
Lake Champlain and Canal that followed were great cruising grounds. The locks were a cinch and actually fun (or maybe we’re just becoming blasé about the whole locking experience!). There were not as many tourists, onlookers and gawkers as we had on the Rideau but it was peaceful cruising. The greatest thing about the New York canal systems is that passage through all of the locks is FREE and so is docking in several small towns which we really enjoyed (i.e. Whitehall, Fort Edward, Mechanicville)
The highlight of this leg of the trip was meeting up with Bob & Lynn Doneff at Fort Edward on the Champlain Canal and going down a couple of locks with them. Unfortunately, they had to get on their way home to Egg Harbour, Wisconsin but we will link up with them again next summer somewhere on Lake Michigan.
In Fort Edward we also met four trawlers from Trois Rivières on their way south to the Bahamas. We teased them saying they must have emptied all the marinas to make up that fleet. As luck would have it, we saw them today, six days later, on our offshore passage from Sandy Hook to Manasquan, NJ. They made quite a sight with four Canadian flags flying against the coast of New Jersey.
On Tuesday ( 26-Sep-06) we anchored in Catskill Creek on a very rocky bottom just a few feet from the town’s main bridge. The night was peaceful and much protected from winds but still, you do not sleep soundly with the noise of your anchor dragging on rocks.
Overall, the Hudson River was somewhat of a disappointment. We were expecting big mansions at every turn and lots of little bays to anchor in. Unfortunately it is more industrial, not many “estates” and the colors were somewhat muted compared to Lake Champlain.
We made it to New York on September 28th. As cost-conscious, cheap, “give-me-a-bargain Canucks”, we decided to take a mooring ball at the West 79 th Street Boat Basin ( Manhattan’s town-owned marina) for US $30 a night. When I called the young lady at the marina she was incredulous that a “power boat” would go for a mooring ball. Nothing to fear I told her, we are Canucks. Only a few minutes after picking up the mooring ball, we realized why she asked questions. I thought I had seen the worst wakes in Halifax Harbour when those tugs were going by us at Bishop’s Landing. Frankly, Halifax Harbour is quiet compared to NY. We were trashed around so badly that this independent, self-sufficient Canuck called back the marina begging for a slip. The answer came back “If you don’t mind grounding at low tide, we could squeeze you in and (by the way) that will be US $120 for the night; thank you“. So, we spent the night right in downtown Manhattan. Paid the US $120 for still a very rolly dock and did not have time to visit much of the city because of a weather window we wanted to take advantage of to get to Sandy Hook.
So, on the 29 th, after walking for an hour on Broadway to pick up some fresh bread and produce, we headed for Sandy Hook during a Small Craft Warning period. Once again these Canucks, with tails between our legs (we do miss our dog badly!!), turned instead into a beautiful protected bay called Great Kills Harbour, just south of New York. (Apparently, Kills is a Dutch word and does not refer to NY’s crime rate).
Today, after our first taste of salt water since Matane, Quebec, and our first offshore passage in two months, we are now going down the New Jersey IntraCoastal Waterway with a depth sounder reading “Zero“ most of the way. This is Saturday, in the U.S. All those people with road rage syndrome are on the water to take their revenge. We have never seen so much traffic, going so fast, respecting so few maritime laws. But they are all having fun and if we can avoid them, so are we.
On the technical side, we had a wonderful mechanic in Westport who helped us rebed the rear end of the engine (again) by adding shims. So far so good, the stuffing box has not been overheating for the past week and seems to be happy with how the shaft is lined up (either that or the boat is just happy to be back in salt water!). As we were coming out of the Catskills, in dense fog, we noticed that our compass reading on the autopilot was stuck at 197 degrees. After many tries and testing the wiring that night, the conclusion is that Raymarine owes me a new RS232-Seatalk converter. Entering New York, our GPS starting acting up and shut down entirely (great timing, guys!). It has been unreliable since. With a lot of foresight, I had bought Microsoft Street Maps with a little GPS connected to the computer. We relied on that for a while cruising New York waters. We relied on the noted historic sites on land to tell us where we were. So, if you see us on a road somewhere where we don’t seem to belong, you can blame both Microsoft and Raymarine.
Next stop is Atlantic City and then on to Cape May. We will then head on to the Chesapeake Bay and Baltimore where we will meet up with Patricia and Paul Light to help us spend money at the Annapolis Boat Show in mid-October.
Next update from Annapolis/Baltimore.
Olga and Andre on board m/v Mystic Bond