June 15, 2016 – So….. we are behind on our blog posts because we haven’t really had access to wifi for a while. Being docked at locks on the Rideau canal just doesn’t lend itself to high speed internet. Finally, it looks like we have adequate speed to upload our blog posts. Here we go!
We made it to Montreal today, winding along the last of the Richelieu river to the St Lawrence. The St Lawrence river is wide and does get some commercial traffic, but was quiet and smooth for us. Arriving in Montreal, we stayed at the Montreal Yacht Club downtown. The Olde Port, which was where we preferred to stay, was closed due to a strike, so the Yacht Club had several looper boats that were staying there, and many of these we had passed or met before.
Montreal is called the most european city in North America, and definitely has old world charm. The city center is full of shops and restaurants, and there is much activity – tourists everywhere and lots of hustle and bustle. We had some very warm weather (warmer than it was in North Carolina or Atlanta), and crowds were out for lunchtime sunning in the various parks around the city. We toured the large church, St Joseph’s on Mount Royal, the largest and most prominent mountain in Montreal.
After a day touring Montreal, we headed up the St Lawrence Seaway and Ottawa rivers for Ottawa. The Seaway is a series of locks that allow passage from the great lakes to the Atlantic. We only were going on a small portion of the Seaway near Montreal, then turn north on the Ottawa river. The Seaway is more of a commercial ship system, and the locks were much larger. Recreational boaters transit on an as available basis, but there were no ships as we headed through, so it was easy going.
Headed up the Ottawa river we hoped to get to Ottawa city in one day, but alas, missed the last lock through at the Carillon lock by 15 minutes. Stuck at the bottom of the lock we walked to a nearby ferry, crossed the river, and ate in a small town nearby. This is a rural location for sure. Carillon lock has the largest “lift” of any lock in Canada, with a lift of 65 feet. Going through you were down in a big hole to start, and there were stairs for access that got flooded as the lock filled. The water rises pretty rapidly and it takes less than 30 minutes to go through the lock.
Approaching Ottawa, the river is crowded with pleasure boats and vacation homes. You approach Ottawa on the low side of a series of 8 locks that rise to the town center. It’s quite the spectator sport for people to watch the boats go through the locks, which folks walking up the series of locks beside you and asking where you’ve been, etc. etc. We got pretty good at explaining the great loop, where Hilton Head is (our home port written on the back of Evening Star). There was a dad with his 2 young girls who had never ridden the locks in a boat, so we invited them on board and they went up a few locks with us which was a real treat for them.
Our plan is to stay in Ottawa for a day, then head out the Rideau canal towards Kingston, which is back on the St Lawrence river.