Jun 22 to Jun 29 2012

June 22, 2012

Underway by 0900hrs.

We are going to spend the weekend in Lake Champlain in an effort to stall our arrival at the Chambly Lock system. We want to avoid the weekend crowds and plan to do the canal on Monday. We will spend the next couple of days enjoying Lake Champlain’s beautiful scenery and tidying Diana up for the trip home. We are MUCH earlier than we anticipated. We had intended to be home in late August or early September. We had also thought we would have had time to do the Chesapeake before New York City and explore Lake Ontario and the Thousand Islands but we just can’t do it all. We intend to spend the summer in Ottawa getting sorted out before the craziness of work takes over our lives again in October. At this rate we could very well be home by the first week of July. Enjoying the summer OFF in Ottawa is not a bad way to spend the summer either J

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Mountains on the NY side of Lake Champlain

We started to look for an anchorage around 1500hrs. We entered the North West Harbour and noticed a series of mooring in Partridge Bay, we rounded the corner to find a quiet spot in Hunter Bay. It was the ideal cottage country spot – a cottage buried deep in the woods, Adirondack chairs along the water, birds chirping with the breeze blowing through the trees. We were expecting NW winds and a chance of Thunderstorms and this offered excellent protection. We notice a mooring ball off to the side away from the cottage with no markings on it to indicate it was private. We thought maybe Lake Champlain had started a public mooring ball initiative in an effort to protect the marine ecology from dragging anchors. This was not just wishful thinking – this was common place in parts of the Bahamas. We took our chances and tied up to the mooring ball. It’s beautiful here!! There was some activity on shore but no one came to advise us otherwise. So, we relaxed, had some drinks and a nice supper on board.

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View from our anchorage in Hunter Bay

June 23, 2012

It feels good to be moving at a leisurely pace. We are making good time but not in a rush. We had a slow morning drinking coffee while enjoying our surroundings. We saw a turtle and watched a family of ducks teaching their young how to dive and catch fish. We waited out some thunderclouds before we got to work disassembling the dinghy. The Canadian locks charge for the extra boat and we really don’t need it anymore. We gave it a good scrub before rolling it up and putting it away – it served us well this year.

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Storms in the distance which passed us by without even a sprinkle

As we were working, a mother and son kayaking paddled by to say hello. We chatted for a little bit about the storms and the area. We asked her about the mooring balls and she advised us it was private and belonged to the cottage owner. One family owns this whole area and she joked that we was lucky enough to marry into it. She also confirmed there was no such mooring initiative going on in Lake Champlain. LOL!! Wishful thinking on our part! In fact, she pointed to one of the boats on the dock by the cottage and said it usually moors in this very spot. We watched him come in last night but they never said a word to us. They could have easily told us to leave but didn’t. How nice!! We let her know how much we appreciated the mooring and that we would be leaving very soon.

By 1230hrs we were underway once again…it’s cool and breezy today and we wish we could put up a sail. Instead we envied other sailors play in the breeze. We can certainly see why Lake Champlain is a cruising destination with its wide open spaces, scenic landscape and ample anchorages.

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Lots of sailors in the water

I took the helm while Steve got to work polishing the stainless – one last time J Have I mentioned how nice it is to be back in fresh water? No??!?!?! Well, IT’S SO WONDERFUL TO BE BACK IN FRESH WATER J No longer is there a film of salt covering and corroding everything and my skin seems to be clearing up more and more every day. I love it!

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Making things shiny again J

We anchored in Conner Bay about 20 miles or so from the Canadian Border! We will be back in our home country tomorrow after 10 months away. It feels good to be home.

June 24, 2012

OHHHH CANADA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Canadian border sign

We crossed the US/Canadian border into Quebec around 1230hrs today!! It was a quick stop; about 15 minutes of questions from the Customs officer, a glance at our passports and we were on our way again.

We came through here in September basically alone but we were told by the lock tenders these waters can be really busy on the weekends especially in the summer. Well we got a good taste of what he meant today. There were boats everywhere whizzing by at high speeds drowning us in their big wakes. We thought Myrtle Beach was bad – at least the big motor boats had the decency to slow down when passing – not here. It would seem that all boating etiquette has been thrown out the window here and people drive their boats like they drive their cars. A message to all you crazy boaters out there – it’s not like driving a car; passing another boat at high speed leaves dangerous wakes that can cause harm to a boat or persons on board or in the water. Consideration about speed and how to pass other boats safely must take place. The wakes were so big that I had to close the front hatch because the waves were crashing over the bow!! This little piece of river was the most dangerous section during this whole trip – we can assume the Richelieu will be very similar tomorrow as we realized later in the day that this is St. Jean Baptiste Weekend and Monday morning is a holiday. Ok, that’s my rant!!

We anchored just south of the Chambly Canal entrance around 1730hrs after a quick fuel stop. Since back in Canada…like almost immediately after we crossed the border we started craving poutine. We stopped at Le Nautique St. Jean Marina for poutine and fresh fries before heading to our anchorage. It was what the doctor ordered and seemed to pacify us after a very irritating day on the river.

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It’s good to be home J

Since it is St. Jean Baptiste’s Day they will be throwing up a ton of fireworks tonight from the canal J I’m sure it will be spectacular!

We hope if we get to the canal first thing in the morning to beat the traffic.

June 25, 2012

We were in the Chambly system by 0900hrs and safely through the seven bridges, nine locks and dumped into the Chambly basin by 1230hrs J One more lock system down and four more to go!

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Entrance to the Chambly Canal System with bridge opening

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Entrance to the Richelieu from the Chambly Basin

We anchored around 1830hrs about five miles from Sorel. We are making excellent time!

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Anchorage just south of Sorel

June 26, 2012

I’ve been trying really hard not to complain about the cold but today I can’t hold it in anymore. IT IS FREEZING!! The high is only 18 degree and on the water if feels closer to 12 or 13 degrees. The wind chilled us right to the bone so we drank hot tea in an effort to keep warm. I didn’t break out the hats and mitts but I was close…

Sorel was a busy port this morning with many tankers on the docks. We are fascinated by ports and the various activities involved in loading, maintaining and maneuvering these ships around. Sorel is a special treat because it is a small port allowing us to get an up-close view of this activity.

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Entering Sorel from the south side

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VSL Centurion – very empty for the time being – all the red section is under water when it is fully loaded

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A perspective on how large these ships are - on the bottom left of this photo there is a man in a bright orange coverall.

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A tugboat working to get this boat off the dock and underway

And then we on the St. Lawrence J We were pushing against a knot and half of current most of the way to Montreal which is not bad. The trick is to stay slightly outside the channel wherever possible where the water is shallower. We were able to pick up an extra knot of speed and averaged about 4.5kts for most of the day.

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Pushing up the St. Lawrence

We arrived in Montreal around 1700hrs…in the rain (just when the cold was becoming bearable). We stopped for fuel and ice – our last fuel stop for the trip!!!

It’s hard to believe we have come full circle after 10 months of living on board. It feels strange to watch our supplies dwindle as we get closer to home. No more fuel, water, ice or food stops left. We will be land lubbers again in a few days and the thought of it is a little bitter sweet. I miss the convenience of land (showers) a little more than Steve but nothing can compare to life on the water. It was more difficult than I had expected but that’s what makes it an adventure! We achieved many things this year; we challenged our limits both physically and mentally, we learned a lot about each other and ourselves as this trip granted us plenty of time for reflection. We also acquired a new perspective and understanding of the places we visited where we did not have one bad experience. We appreciate the sacrifices and work involved since 2006 to get to this point and do not regret a minute of it!

We docked at the St. Lambert lock for the night as it was too late to make it to Ste Anne to Bellevue tonight. Tomorrow is another day!

June 27, 2012

We got started at 0845hrs and were through St. Lambert and St. Catherine locks by 1030hrs!! We got lucky again!! We haven’t waited more than an hour for these locks but we hear it can take up to five hours if there are tankers coming through. Our timing was bang on once again J

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St. Lambert lock

The race is back on to get home. Steve’s engine inspection this morning discovered both bolts holding one of the rear engine mounts in place have broken free and there is nothing he can really do until we get home. This means we only have three mounts holding the engine in place – eeks! Granted, we have been very lucky so far with the band aids of lag bolts and epoxies but we were really hoping it would have held until next spring. We can only hope our luck holds until we get home. We made a contingency plan in case the engine breaks free; head to the muddy shallow waters – preferably near a roadway so we can haul her out. A plan we hope we won’t need to execute.

We had planned to stop in Ste. Anne for the night but continued on to Carillion in order to get as close to home as possible.

It was a cold, wet and drizzly ride along Lac St. Louis and most of Lac des Deux Montagnes. Where is summer people?!?!??! It is almost the same temperature as when we left!! We hear the weekend is supposed to be sunny and warm but with any luck we will be safely tucked into our dock at the RYC and enjoying unlimited showers by then J

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Wet, rainy and cold on Lac St. Louis

After some mileage calculations we quickly realized we are about 50 miles from our club if we can get to Carillon tonight…MEANING if we can lock through at 0830hrs tomorrow morning, we could actually be home enjoying hot showers by tomorrow night!!

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We arrived at Carillon a little after 2000hrs so we tied up to the dock for the night. A nice couple from Ottawa was also tied up so we hung out in their lovely boat and enjoyed a drink together.

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Diana tied up at Carillon lock beside our new friends Andre and Darquise

June 28, 2012

I was seriously too excited to sleep!! I finally gave up and got up at 0500hrs to take a nice walk around the park at Carillon. The air is much warmer this morning and the sky seems to be clearing – could we possibly get a last warm/dry day on the water!!??! OOOoooOOOoooo fingers crossed.

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Dawn in the Carillon Park

We were through the lock by 0920hrs! It was a long but warm and sunny day. While Steve was at the helm I spent the better part of the day packing and cleaning. We arrived at our home port at the Rockcliffe Yacht Club (RYC) in Ottawa, Ontario Canada by about 2030hrs.

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The RYC. On the right side is one of the parachute team practicing for Canada Day carrying the Canadian Flag – I guess they knew we were coming ;)

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Almost there….

No one was expecting us to arrive today so we enjoyed the element of surprise when we made the call to Steve’s parents (who had just arrived from Sudbury) to pick us up with his daughter Val. My mom almost had a heart attack when I showed up on her doorstep dirty and begging for a shower – it was totally worth it! And as always, we had a warm welcome from all who were there at the RYC. It was wonderful to see everyone and to tuck Diana safely back into her slip after being away for so long.

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Diana and her crew coming into her slip at the RYC. Photo taken by Gary Ward

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Warm welcome from our fellow members and friends at the RYC (left to right, Steve, Terry, Elizabeth, Andre, Gerry and me). Photo by Gary Ward

It feels so good to be back!

This trip is a dream come true leaving us with many memories and crazy stories we will be telling for a long time. So, this being my last post as I close off this blog we want to express our sincere thanks to everyone who followed and supported us through this adventure. We could not have done it without you!