Sept 15 to 21, 2011

Sept. 13, 2011


Its 2344hrs – Our first official night on board. We are aiming to set sail on September 15th ………after lunch…..sometime around 2pm…..I can sum it up in one word –Frantic!

I started provisioning last week. I borrowed a provision list from a cruising couple sailing a boat called “Nine of Cups”. It seemed to carry similar foods to the ones Steve and I typically eat. It was very helpful in determining how much of everything to buy for a particular period. The list itself was for a three month voyage so I cut the amount to buy down by a third to see if it works for us. I headed to the grocery store to pick up the dry and canned goods - 322$ later, I HOPED I had enough canned and dried goods to last a month or so… Once I peeled, re-labeled in permanent maker and unpackaged everything – it was ready to load into the boat.

                               Before                                                          Before

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                                After                                                              After

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Packaging and lables removed – relabled with permanent marker. The reason for the relabling is so I can identify what is in the cans in case the paper labels come off which they generally do when bouncing around a boat for awhile.


When I woke up THIS morning at 0645hrs, I felt a rush of panic! We are leaving in TWO days and we haven’t packed yet….well, I’ve splayed clothing out on the floor and placed like items in piles and Steve has all his tools and gear in bins in the basement…but that’s about it! I jumped out of bed, grabbed my many piles of clothes and headed downstairs to get packed.  Since we started gathering our gear, Steve keeps stressing there is NO way that all this stuff will fit our little boat and all along I reassure him that everything will fit. Today, as Steve and I loaded then unloaded two cars full of gear into Diana; I started to seriously doubt it...


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                        Boat Full of Gear                             “Where will we put it all!!!!”



Tonight, as I sit here typing away, Steve is patiently putting things in order. Thank goodness….







Believe it or not – Everything fit….sort of ;)

September 15, 2011

We did it!!

Almost 6 years of planning, one frantic MONTH of last minute preparation and at 1630hrs, we are finally off the dock!

It was a teary goodbye with friends and family as we will all miss each other this next year but we also know how well supported we have been throughout the planning stages of this little/big trip and are reassured that everything will be ok.

Before I get into today’s log, I want to say a few words of thanks:

First off, to Steve’s parents Betty and Ray who drove down from Sudbury to help us out doing last minute errands and dealing with me – in my craziness during these past few days. To Val (Steve’s daughter) who is taking care of our house and anything else on land that could a problem, who is also our main contact and who is our go-to if we run into trouble – we thank you and love you. To Rickee (Steve’s son), good luck in your new city and your new school, we love you and will miss you. To my mom Val and my very good friend Megan and to all our other friends, family members, co-workers who have expressed a keen interest in this adventure – Thank you all your support and kind words of encouragement.  We wouldn’t be able to do this without you!

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                                            Steve and Dad (Ray) building Crutches

I also need to express thanks for the amount support from our fellow club members at the RYC. It has been wonderful and overwhelming in a really great way. During these past few days, we have been congratulated and encouraged by almost everyone. We have received numerous gifts of wine and other alcoholic beverages - some magically appeared in our cockpit with little notes, all of which we will toast when we open them.  We even received this delicious cake and a lovely bottle of red wine at the Dave Roger’s Cup Race J


Thank you so much to all the members at the RYC for all your love and support – we will be thinking of you all throughout this trip J 


Date: September 15, 2011

Time: 1735hrs

Weather:  Chilly (12’C)

We have been motoring for about an hour and know we will not get very far tonight but the main thing is – WE HAVE STARTED OUR TRIP!!!!! I think I said “Holy sh*t we are actually doing this!” as the boat pulled away from the dock – he! he!

Everything came together at the very last minute today – we had to pick up our main sail cover – last minute zipper repair (it blew apart last week), our dinghy was being repaired (leaky transom)and was delayed until today at 1500hrs and the person who bought my car finally picked it up.

As we are motoring along with Steve at the helm, I got our log book started, our money ledger started as we will be tracking every little expense this year manually.  I set up the chart table and dusted off our navigation equipment.  We are ready to do this for real! A new way of thinking, a new way of life – lucky us J Game on!

However, so far, I have one complaint – its SOOOOO cold!!! And it’s supposed to be cold all week, even a chance of FROST on Friday night – yikes! I hope I packed enough warm clothes…

For those of you who have read the 2006 blog Diana’s Maiden Voyage (, some of the main characters are back including a few new ones ;)

Otto – Auto Pilot

Stan – Our Chart Plotter

Poopy – our depth sounder – REPLACED!! All new instruments, depth, wind and knot meter installed – no names yet.

The Claw – named by Steve’s son Rickee.  It’s a motor lift that is AMAZING. We purchased a new outboard 4hp Tohatsu (name pending) and quickly realized that it will be very difficult to lift off the dinghy and mount it on the push pit every night. Steve found this lift and we believe it’s worth every penny.

Electric Bilge pump – this boat never had one. Steve had to drill a hole in the boat and do the install this week. It works perfectlyJ.

An honorable mention goes out to the funniest gift I received from my co-workers. For those of you who remember the movie Castaway, I received the Volleyball name “Wilson”. The ball found in a FEDEX package that washed up on shore, who became Tom Hanks’ best friend while he was deserted on an island for many years. I had big plans for Wilson. I wanted him to be my version of the Travelocity gnome. I envisioned taking him everywhere and propping him up in funny places for pictures, then writing about his travels. Funny right?!?! Well, he got axed from the list. I’m sorry everyone, when I saw the amount of gear on board, I couldn’t bring him and I totally regret it!!!!!!

We are planning to anchor just passed Petrie Island tonight.

Pea Soup and sandwiches for supper.

September 16, 2011

Time: 0830hrs

Weather: 5’C …high of 14’C windy NW 20-30kms

Last night we ate, watched a movie and fell quickly asleep. It was an emotional and exhausting day. So, we chit chatted a bit and made a plan to get to Carillon Lock, anchor out and lock through the following morning.

It is FREEZING.  We have everything on this morning – hats, mitts, long johns, scarf – EVERYTHING.

In the morning, the mist off the water is beautiful.

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                                                  Misty Morning on the Ottawa River

Steve and I are trying to get our bearings on our boat and get trying to establish a morning routine:

Get up

Turn off anchor light

Make bed and tidy up

Check weather

Check oil

Start ships log

Make tea

Weigh anchor

Start engine

Make way

Last little thought on the cold.  We are used to a temperature regulated environment; if we’re too cold, we turn up the heat. If we are too hot, we turn on the air conditioning.  On the boat however, it we are too cold, we put on more clothes, if we are too hot we take off our clothes….I can’t wait to get to warmer weather J


Frost warning tonight.

I put up most of our full enclosure to protect us from the wind a bit and let me say - I love you canvas! It can be a pain to get around and a pain to put up but once it’s up and we’re toasty – it’s all worth it. Since we haven’t used any of this equipment in a couple of years it’s nice to know it still works and in good condition.

Steve set up our Auto Helm today (Otto) and had a heck of a time calibrating it. I think Otto was having some fun with us. Every time we would set him on course he would spin the boat around in circles. After some time of tinkering Steve got Otto back on track.

 Lunch – egg and cheese on English muffins – yum


We anchored around 1630hrs just outside Carillon in Baie des Bon'hommes at Voyageur Park for the night.


Tonight we opened the bottle of “Sailor Jerry’s” spiced rum kindly given to us by fellow RYC boat member Jim Harvey – thanks Jim it’s delicious and warm. You were right - it’s not too sweet and has nice vanilla notes – yum!! This will be on the “keeper’s” list.


Supper – Vegetable Stir Fry and rice.


It will be an early night in order to get up early to head for the lock.

September 17, 2011

Time: 0930hrs

Weather: Low of 2’C High of 14’C Wind SW 10-15kms

A very chilly but sunny morning. The wind is down so it’s not as bad as yesterday.  Much better than I anticipated – frost warning last night!

We slept in a little to 0815hrs. It was just too cold to pull ourselves from the blankets. Condensation in the boat – we were dripped on a little this morning. But all and all a good night’s sleep and we stayed warm.

Steve repaired the chaffing of the fuel hose. It had been rubbing against the engine cover. He wrapped the fuel hose with fire hose and seems to be doing the job.


Steve fixing chafed fuel hose

The plan is to lock through at Carillon this morning and make it to Ste-Anne de Bellevue lock. Hopefully lock through in the morning.

By 1130hrs we had locked through Carillon – without any problems.

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              Carillon Lock Outside Approach                                       Inside the Lock

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          As we are being lowered…..                         ...Door opens into Lac Des Deux Montagnes

We are now, in Lac Des Deux Montagne – it’s a beautiful, sunny and most importantly calm day which means the lake will be calm as well. It’s very pretty here. Steve has been noticing several monarch butterflies (or maybe it is just the same one following us...who knows...) making their long journey south. The butterfly always reminds me of my cousin, Deja.


Lake Des Deux Montagnes

We are slowly getting into to the rhythm of things and in a state of acceptance that we are really here, really doing this and we are excited!! We did some chores on board today. I typed up the logs from the past few days and Steve did some cleaning.


Steve swabbing the deck!


Close up of boats in the background 


We are looking forward to Sainte-Anne de Bellevue, we have a shopping list started so far and on the top of the list is gloves for Steve…since for some reason I never packed any for him (denial about the cold – I will get over it….only when I’m snorkeling in the Bahamas ha!).  We also need ice, diesel and a few other things…and hopefully an internet café J


Lunch on Lac Des Deux Montagnes

Coming under the bridge to Montreal, Steve reminisced about the many visits to Montreal, driving over this bridge and thinking of the day we will be actually sailing under it on our way down south…well we are finally doing it. Ye hoo!

We locked through Sainte-Anne Lock about 1600hrs – without any problems, but Sainte-Anne de Bellevue was a zoo, so we kept going given we had a few more hours of day light left.


Entrance to Sainte-Anne de Bellevue

We anchored about 1815hrs just west of Point Bell, near the Canal de la Rive Sud in order to lock through the St. Catherine lock in the morning.


Sunset in Anchorage in Lac Des Deux Montagnes

Spaghetti for supper J

September 18, 2011

Time: 0930hrs

Weather: 12’C high of 19’C

Winds: Calm NNE 10kms

It’s a beautiful sunny morning, chilly but tolerable and it looks like the temperature will be getting a little warmer this coming week.

We were able to get across Lac St. Louis yesterday without incident. It’s a tricky, shallow lake and must not stray too far from the channel or else risk running aground.

The quest for diesel and ice has begun. We had found a place on Lac St-Louis but it was closed. We have a marina across from us but it does not sell diesel. We have enough on board for 3 more days of motoring so no worries we just do not want to get into our reserves on deck. We are certain we will find something on the St. Lawrence when we get locked through this afternoon.

We arrived at the St. Catherine Lock around 1100hrs. A solid red light was on, which meant the lock wasn’t ready so we docked Diana in a nearby space. Once secured, I walked up a steep ramp to a telephone booth with ticket machine to purchase the ticket and a phone to contact the lockmaster for instruction. He advised me, he could let us through in one hour.

Some time had passed and two 40 foot cruisers arrived. One docked normally and the other parallel parked is huge boat from the stern with a remote control!!!


Entrance to St. Catherine Lock on Canal de la Rive Sud

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         Guy with Remote Control (around neck)           He parallel parked his boat with a remote!!!

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              Entering St. Catherine’s Lock                            Inside the lock Amanda on deck

We spent the hour eating lunch - we had left over spaghetti  J I did some writing while Steve walked around and chatted with the other boaters.

Finally, the red light began to flash and the lockmaster advised us to get ready to enter the lock. By 1230hrs, we were locked through safely.

While motoring through the Canal de la Rive towards St. Lambert Lock we came in contact with our first Fuel Tanker!!



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First Fuel Tanker we met in between the St. Catherine Lock and St. Lambert.

By 1530hrs, we were through the St. Lambert lock and dumped into the St. Lawrence and boy did we know it!!! With a 2 knot current, lots of traffic and a nice breeze we flew down the St. Lawrence with a bumpy start.


Entrance to St.Lambert Lock


Steve hanging onto the dock lines so Diana stays close to the wall durning the decent


Our spectators as we were leaving the lock

Now, the max speed (hull speed) of Diana is about 6 knots….we saw 7.7knots…then 8.2knots!!! My last minute wax job paid off!!! ;)


Our chartplotter "Stan" indicating 8.2kts (at the top) to prove it!!

We found fuel, water and ice at the Longueil Marina – a beautiful facility...with everything! A rather large cruiser was filling up beside us, as they were pulling away the gas attendant mentioned their gas bill was 2500.00$!!! Our total bill with tip was 96.05$ - I love sailboats J

We anchored just in front of Varennes, near their public dock.

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Sunset from anchorage in Varennes

Soup and sandwiches for supper.

September 19, 2011

Time: 0900hrs

Weather: 12 ‘C Winds SE 10kms feels much colder high of 20’C today

Interesting water front here - as I’m sipping my morning tea and listening to our new surroundings I hear fog horns in the distance. It is once again a misty foggy morning and out from the mist a HUGE tanker is making its way up the St. Lawrence to pick up or deliver whatever goods its task to haul. I just love these huge ships!! That said, I will apologize now for the amount of ship, barge and tug boat pictures I will be taking during this trip J

We pulled anchor and off we went. I was at the helm today while Steve finished a couple of projects we didn’t have time to complete before we left. We are expecting rain tonight and we have a leaky window and hatch. Steve worked on replacing the gaskets most of the morning and resealing.


Steve repairing the hatch

It’s a cold but sunny day…have I mentioned the cold yet!?!?!?!? If I have well, it’s because I am in shock. I anticipated cool nights but not outright hats and mitts cold…so cold your nose runs!!! It’s so cold by the time we go to bed, that once you find your spot in bed and warm it up, there is NO way you want to move or pop any body parts out of the blankets. I am a cold wimp!


Neat sighting on the St. Lawrence – a Navy Ship came up behind Diana, passed us then met another container ship. Too cool!! I love it out here!! Even with the cold ;)





First the Naval Ship...and they really move fast too!






Two ships passing...



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The big tanker...pushing lots of water...

Sorel Quebec is where the entrance to the Richelieu is located. I’ve only ever sailed by Sorel once before in 2006 when we brought Diana back to Canada. When I think of Sorel, I think of dirty smoke stacks…..well it still looks the same.







Sorel from a distance...




However, Sorel has some very nice homes and waterfront and it shares the Richelieu River which is quite beautiful. We entered this pretty and narrow river around 1300hrs and were immediately met by a current of 1 to 2kts pushing against us. Instead of going 8kts, we slowed to about 4 to 4.5 kts. It will be a slow slog up the Richelieu.







Entrance to the Richelieu River










Narrow Entrance on the Richelieu – view from the cockpit




Neat barge on the Richelieu








Nice homes along the River…..very near Sorel

By 1500hrs we made it to the St. Ours Canal just before it closed. They locked us through and advised us of the limited locking hours for the Chambly. It locks twice a day during the week. Once at 0830hrs and a second time at 1230hrs. The lockmaster gave us the schedule, we paid our 26.10$ and off we went.

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Entrance to St. Ours Lock

We motored for another three hours and anchored just passed Point Hebert. The anchorage was fine but by a road, so we heard traffic all night but we will sleep well regardless. The rain is supposed to start around midnight – Steve’s repair will be tested. The drips are on his side anyway….so I’ll sleep just find ;)

Chili and pita chips for supper.

September 20, 2011

Time: 0830hrs

Weather: Drizzly cool morning 12’C high of 19’C today.

It was a dry night on Diana J We both slept well and we are up and underway by 0830hrs.

We are aiming to get to the Chambly Canal system by 1230hrs today to make it for the locking times. Fingers crossed. If we can’t get through today, then we will dock and explore Chambly – maybe find an internet café to finally post to the website J

Steve is at the helm this morning while I do some writing.

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Steve at the helm. Time for some gloves!!!!              Rainy morning on the Richelieu

We made it to the Chambly locks in time to be locked through at 1230hrs. One of the lockmasters told us the Erie Canal will be shut down for an extended period of time due to the damage caused by Hurricane Irene - 62 millions dollars worth of damage! Rumor has it, that it may take more than next season to repair it. Good information for us - we wanted to come home by the Erie Canal. This will be something that we will be monitoring closely next year.

The Chambly canal has a series of 9 Locks. The first 8 are very close together (within the first 5 miles). The last lock is 15kms from Lock 8.


Inside the first lock of the Chambly Canal system with another cruiser heading south from Quebec

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          As the lock fills with water...                                             exiting the lock...

We were soooooOOooo tempted to stop in Chambly for a break, they had some delicious looking restaurants and depaneurs and lots of shops…but we will push through and take some time to stop on the way back when it is much nicer.

By 1630hrs, we were out of the canal and continuing on our way through the Richelieu.

We anchored at about 1750hrs near the Domaine des Saules approximately 5 miles from Lock 9 of the Chambly Canal system.

All those restaurants in Chambly had me craving pizza. So, pizza for supper it is J

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September 21, 2011

Time: 1030hrs

Weather: Cloudy, temperature 10’C Not freezing at all J

The winds are moderate to high today (20kms SW) which could make for an interesting ride on Lake Champlain.

Today, we cross into the United States and onto Lake Champlain…one step closer to the Bahamas. We were up at 0845hrs this morning to tidy up Diana and get her ready for a potential inspection by the US Customs Officers.

It is a cloudy chilly morning but bearable considering the last couple of days. I only have on three layers today as opposed to four ;)

The Richelieu is about 3 to 4 feet higher than usual as a result of the flooding this past spring. The water has receded from the homes but you can certainly notice it is still high.


High water on the Richelieu


Fall colours...time to head South!!!

As we motor up the Richelieu, we can’t help but notice fall creeping in. There is very little boat traffic now and we seem to stick out like a sore thumb as we travel along this lovely river with our mast down (a clear indication of heading south). There are a few die hard fishermen out, the odd boat and a couple of divers but other than that….it’s pretty much just us. We have been reluctant to stop along the way. We sort of feel the pull to get south as quickly as possible but I think today we will need to stay at a marina. It’s time we check in with family, post the logs, charge up my camera battery and take a SHOWER J The only good thing about the cold is that we aren’t as stinky as we could be. The cold has preserved us  ;)

We arrived at the US Customs office in Rousses Point by 1300hrs. Our charts did not indicate where the actual office was. It did mention to go to a particular marina and the officer would meet us there. I called first (thankfully) as was advised the office is located in a different spot. I noted the changes on our chart and we made it with no problems. It was a breeze!!! We chit chatted with the Customs Officers. One of them boarded our boat to take a look around and the other assisted us with our paperwork. We were in and out in 45 minutes with a cruising pass for a year in hand J


U.S. Customs Office


HelllOOOOoooo Lake Champlain!!! When we brought Diana back in 2006 we crossed Lake Champlain at night. Steve and I are looking forward experiencing the lake during the day. The winds are about 20kms from the SW meaning the Lake could kick up a bit. We ensured everything is secure on deck so we just have to hang on enjoy the ride. This lake will certainly test the crutches Steve and his dad built.

1800hrs we decided to stay at Old Valcourt Marina. It’s 1.50$ a foot, free internet, laundry facilities, restaurant and showers J

The crutches held up perfectly but it would seem we lost part of our wind vane in the canal system somewhere. The lake was rough this afternoon, thought I felt a little sea sick but it passed pretty quickly…I think it was more nerves than anything.  It’s the first time in a long time I’ve been in a big lake with 2 foot waves. Diana was fabulous - she loves this stuff J

PS I have a few videos to post but this silly software won’t upload them….I need to make them smaller….more to come….