Monday, September 19, 2011

Portsmouth NH - Buffalo NY Update 6

Saturday, 17 Sept 2011
0700: Underway once again after a nice weather delay in Burlington, Vermont... or BrrrMont as the locals call their state. It's a beautiful morning; the lake is flat and the air is crisp with the first hint of fall coming. I'm liking this freshwater cruising!
1030: Seven year old Pierre is complaining that his throat is sore and can't swallow. So, it is determined to take Sea Hunt to the next marina. In this case, about seven miles behind us.
1130: Pulled into Moody Bay Marina.
The staff (Olivia and Brent) couldn't have been more helpful in getting us a dock close the the stage as well as calling a cab for us. Fortunately for Pierre, the hospital in Plattsburg NY is only 10 minutes away.
1630: Pierre and his parents return. Nothing major. Gave the kid some steroids and a lollypop and sent him on his way. Interesting note: The Canadian health care that Obama wants America to mimic... doesn't cover Canadians when they travel outside of the border. So, not only do you pay, through taxes, for the gubberment health care, you also have to carry your own private health care if you travel. The day has run long and it is decided to spend the night at Moody Bay Marina.

Sunday, 18 Sept 2011
0700:With renewed, renewed... did I say renewed enthusiasm, the hearty bunch once again set sail for the elusive Canadian border.
Radiation fog on the lake.
0845: We pass by the last US settlement before the border; a town called Rouses Point. Up ahead just before the border is Fort Montegomery, or Fort Blunder, as it is known to locals.
Many of the stories told of this first fort are true. It was built upon soil later determined to be in Canada (although this tale is much more complicated than it appears in many accounts), it was never armed, and it was abandoned after only two summers of construction. The locals did carry off much of its materials for use in their own homes, stores and places of worship. Fort “Blunder,”  lives on in the walls of some of the more ancient and prominent buildings in the Rouses Point area. It was not until 1842, with the ratification of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty and an adjustment in the border at Rouses Point, that Island Point reverted to United States control. By then, the fort had been somewhat dismantled by predation by enterprising local citizens.

0900: Off to port about a half mile further is a Canadian Customs outpost. No phoning the 800 number here... it's all meet and greet.
There is a stark difference between the customs experience in Canada and the United States. The United States, you are always a suspect and looked at with jaundiced eye. The experience here is just like a John Candy movie. The customs official greets you in Quebecois (after all we are in Quebec). Some high school French on my part and help from the owner's kids (they go to French school in Ontario) and it's, pass down your passport, "s'il vous plait" (for me) and Nexus cards (for them) and after a cursory look, it's "bon voyage." Didn't even ask about documentation (I had the big Red, White and Blue hanging out back). This is good to know when you're running with a "pink slip."

Later in the morning, we arrive at St. Jean and Lock 9. At only 110' long and 24' wide, at first it looks like a tight fit. Once in the lock, the first thing you notice are the flowers. Both sides of the lock a have a long row of flower boxes.

The next thing that got my attention was Danni. Oolala... the lockmasters on the Erie Canal never looked this good!
As if the trip up the Champlain wasn't pretty enough, the Chambly Canal is a ride through a whole different country. There is just something about Quebec that makes you want to stop... and wonder what it is that they put in the water? This is cruising thru the canals of France and never leaving the western hemisphere. The cost for a 48' yacht - $68 Canadian.

 Lockmaster Roger with Owner Andre
 Note in the background the roads. A century ago, these would have been the mule roads from which barges were pulled while transporting goods between Montreal and the Hudson River. Now these mule roads are paved over bike paths. We saw no less than 200 bicycles on our tranist.
An interesting note about the Chambly Canal; except for Lock 9, the rest of the locks in the system are hand operate for the big wooden doors, just as it was done when the system was completed in 1843. The lockmasters all are friendly and the grounds are so nice that locals come down to the locks to watch the show and picnic. In fact, a father and son "ride the gate" as it's opened. This is something you will never see on a US lock.
We started at Lock 9 at 1140 and by 1515, we had completed the flight at Locks 1-3 and launched out into the Chambly River. It was sad to see the end of this portion of the journey. And with the Erie Canal out of action, for what I think will be two years, I am certain to see this canal system again.

Once out of the canal and into the river, it's pretty straight forward. Speed limit is 10 kilometers per hour (whaaaa?). The scenery is not disappointing. Many catherdrals dot the shoreline and
seeing how it's Sunday,  the shepard calls his flock with a cacaphony of bells ringing over the water.
 Every so often there is a cable ferry across the river.
Why, we even got a fly-by by the Canadian Air Force welcoming us to Canada!
The cruising season up here is form May thru October. So, boat owners are now just starting to pull their boats out for winter storage. Here is what a Canadian Travel-Lift looks like.
1825: We end the day tied to the lock wall at Saint Ours Lock; which by the way operates from 0830 in the morning til 1530 in the afternoon. Next stop - Sorel, Quebec.


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