Captain's Log

Hi Y’All,

The trip to Charleston for the Admiral’s family reunion was uneventful, although clearing customs and catching our next flight in an hour and fifteen minutes at JFK was kinda tight.  Thank goodness for Nexus cards.  Told a Customs officer about our tight connection, and he walked us to the front of the line that snaked twice around the room, opened the barrier with a “have a nice day, folks”, and we were on our way.  Our niece, Emily, a Charleston resident, picked us up at the airport, and the three of us bar-hopped through the barrier islands to Wild Dunes Marina, where we met the rest of the gang (8) for lunch while we waited for our beach house to be cleaned and readied for our week of fun in the sun.  During the week, the gang swelled to 20, but no one went hungry or thirsty (we know the drill, been doing this for 28 years or so).  3 books, and lots of beach time for me is typical of these vacations, where we all parallel play, meeting on the porch for cocktails and chatter before dinner every evening.  Suzanne is a great cook and organizer, and her sisters Sharon and Sheila are no slouches in this department either-Betty Ford and Weight Watchers cross my mind often after our annual Julyfest.  The high point for me (and the Admiral) was having our Alison’s beau, Ben ask me if he could marry her.  Awesome-another kid to worry about (just kidding-sorta).  Problem was we had to keep our mouths shut, as he hadn’t asked her yet.  Back at the Girl, we found a boat card tucked into our door from “My Dreams”, a 42’ Krogen moored in the marina.  Unfortunately, between cleaning Alizann, farmers marketing, butcher shopping, and entertaining our neighbors, Guy and Lise-all in 25 hours, we couldn’t hook up with Ted and Sue who had spent the day touristing in Quebec City.  Hope to catch them along the way.  Had to catch the tide at 0400, so spent the night in the outer commercial harbor as the lock into the marina didn’t open until 0700.  The pilot boats going in and out at flank speed didn’t do wonders for a peaceful night, but we were wide awake at 0’Dark-thirty so left early.  Quebec City from the river at night was a sight, as many of the old buildings are illuminated, standing out beautifully against the moonless sky.  Eight hours later, when we arrived at Cap A L’Aigle, our stop on the way to the Saguenay, it was blowing around 17-20 knots, and we were happy to be there, as the seas were building (steep, close lake waves-not long ocean waves).  Not a lot to share about this stop, just an overnight.  Severe wind warnings were in effect for the following day, so we thought we might get stuck.  After checking the weather charts, our prediction was no wind until afternoon.  At 0500, the winds were light and variable, so off we went.  By 0700, winds were sustained at 24, with gusts in the 30’s.  Three hours later, we were happy to be at Tadoussac, the opening to the Saguenay.  So sorry, the docks are almost full, and your boat will overload them in this heavy wind-#@!&!!.  No way to anchor here in this wind and with water this deep.  Up the way to Anse St. Jean.  This time, the Admiral calls them on the phone-no problem, we’ll keep a space for you-whew!  The next few hours, we’re beating up the river in 28 knot winds which are howling down the fjord.  We’re in whale country, but there is no way to see ‘em, as the tops are blowing off 3 foot waves.  Turn the corner into the bay, and the waves subside somewhat, but the wind is still fierce.  MDO talks to the marinadude, he takes one look at us with the binocs, and tells us no way we’re coming in there in this wind-strike two.  Up at the head of the bay, there’s little wave action, and the wind is down to 15.  The bottom shoals up quickly from over 150’ to 5, so there’s little room to drop an anchor.  If the wind changes, the Girl will be laying on her side on the bottom when the tide goes out.  Looks like the wind will stay steady for the night, so we shoot the hook down for a good grab on a silty bottom.  Our dinghy ride over to the marina doesn’t reveal a pretty picture.  All the boats (and docks), are rockinanrollin’, creakinanbangin’-looks like a real puker at the marina tonight.  In spite of this, the place is pretty proud of their docks-they want $10 Canadian francs to tie up the tender and go in to town to spend money on dinner and trinkets and trash.  No can do, bucko-it isn’t the dough, it’s the principle.  Back to our calm, but shallow anchorage for some red meat off the grill.  That’s what I’m talkin’ about!  Shallow water was a non-event, wind stayed steady.  Early A.M., and they’re pouring out of the marina like rats from a sinking ship.  Late breakfast, and we’re off to Baie Eternite (the prettiest anchorage in the Saguenay).  Cruising guides say that there are 8-10 mooring balls in the bay, as it’s too deep to anchor,200+ ft.  As we round the corner, cool, only four boats on the moorings.  Not cool, there are only 4 moorings to be seen.  We’ll do a drive-by and see if anyone’s leaving.  We approach the first; the Admiral shoots across a greeting in French, and gets the reply “we don’t speak French”.  Okay….So this American couple from Atlanta, doing the Down East route and is leaving on the tide in 2 hours.  We just hung and waited after I launched the dinghy and went in to shore to pay for the mooring.  Samuel, the ranger and I had a long conversation, made longer by the fact that he spoke very little English, and I very little French.  When he discovered that the Admiral is a marine biologist, he ran back to his boat to get a flag for our boat indicating the we were “Ambassadors of the Saguenay”, as well as phone numbers to call and report any whales in trouble, or humans not following the guidelines.  When I returned to our little ship, the Admiral was happy, happy, and happy.  Lunch, then on the ball by 1300, and we were off to hike to a statue of the Virgin, some 500 metres above the bay, and erected in the late 1800’s-good story, I think Suz will fill in the details.  When we returned a few hours later, the Girl was riding peacefully, as the wind had died.  Quick cocktail cruise before dinner took us past “Sunshine Express”, owned and crewed by Robert and Michelle, a couple from Quebec City.  After yakkin’ for a few minutes, they invited us aboard, and regaled us with tales from their 30 years of cruising from the St. Lawrence to the Bahamas.  They shared some favorite spots with us, and were just a delight to be with.  Finding our way home on this moonless night was a challenge for me, but MDO had us dialed in.  Just when I started to doubt her, the Girl loomed up out of the darkness about 20 feet ahead of us (no lights, ‘cause we were just going on a short cruise before dinner).  Dinner is overrated, bed is good.  After Robert telling us that we had seen the best of Saguenay, we decide to cruise back to Tadoussac to spend the night, and, hopefully, see some whales.  We’re beginning to feel jinxed, as we haven’t seen any yet.  From all reports, we thought this would be like our trip to Antarctica, where you saw a whale every time you turned your head.  On our way down the fjord, Suz spotted a pod of Belugas from over a mile away.  We crept over, and watched as about 20 or so cruised up the bank, moving upstream.  They are a stunning, pearly white, and just take their time ambling up the shore, cruising inches below the surface, and breaching (sorta) every few seconds.  Back at Tadoussac, we are refused a dock space again (strike three).  It’s late in the afternoon, and there are high wind warnings again, but we’ll cross the St. Lawrence and make our way 30 miles or so to Anse L’Orignal, a fairly sheltered anchorage.  Two hours into the trip, the wind comes up as promised, but its 20 knots on our stern.  We round into Anse L’Orignal (Moose Bay) after sunset, and anchor in 20 knot winds just before dark.  There are 2 sailboats in there as well, and we’re all rockin’ and rollin’.  Winds are now gusting to 32, and the wind generators are howling, but it’s a pretty big bay, and we have plenty of chain out, so we’re sleepin’ tight.  Get up at first light, and one of the sailboats is gone, the other pulling anchor.  We’ll be on our way after breakfast for the short run into Rimouski,QC.

Bon Jour mon amis,

I’ve been bad, bad, bad.  Where do I start?  The transit of the Richelieu Rapids was a non-event.  It was a narrow channel, but no commercial stuff coming the other way.  We had a big guy a couple of miles behind us, but after some hasty calculations, and not some minor debate, we decided that he wouldn’t catch us until we were out the other side.  Immediately after exiting the rapids, PortNeuf was hiding behind an old freighter breakwall, augmented with a newer stone one.  We threaded our way in the “S shaped” entry, and found ourselves in a square, well-protected little marina.  There was only one dock big enough to hold us, so in we went.  We started out on a fairly long dock, where they also sold gas, but by the time that the harbormaster quit saying “pull forward, pull forward” (in French), we were wedged between the dock and a 20 foot finger with about 3’ to spare on either side, bow in (more on that later).  So, I pay Annabelle, the high school aged marina gal for the nights’ stay, and happen to mention that if she looks like her Mom (who I met earlier, and doesn’t parlez vous anglais), when she grows up, she will be very pretty.  The restaurant here is a good one, and the only one for quite a few miles, so making an earlier reservation was helpful.  The deck dining area is right above the yacht club’s patio, and I hear 2 women below my table chatting it up about how that American told Annabelle that her “Mommy was pretty”. I lean over the rail, and it’s Mom talking to one of her friends.  She blushes ever so slightly, and then asks me if I’d like to take a look at her bateau.  Given that the Admiral is in the washroom, I politely decline, as I value my life.  The next day at the time of our scheduled departure, the wind is blowing 24 knots, with gusts to 30 or so, with high wind warnings until midnight.  There isn’t much of a village, and the Catholic Church is in disrepair and locked.  They do have a bar, however, so after our 5 mile power walk, a few brews are in order.  Back to the boat, and dinner there, as the restaurant is pretty proud of their food (as evidenced by the prices).  After dinner, the wind calms down, and I think that we should turn the boat around to get ready for our morning exit.  Had a little redpop with dinner, so we figure we’ll just turn and leave in the A.M., as the winds are predicted to be light and variable.  Wake up to the 17 knot light breeze (we’ll talk about the veracity of Canadian weather forecasts later), and curse ourselves for not taking “the bird in the hand” last night.  Turning the boat in a 64 foot space (we’re 53 overall) becomes a production, as everyone around feels obliged to help, and offer advice without being able to speak a word of English.  We retie after turning, as we now have to take tide and current into account for our travels, and it’s not time to leave yet.  This really gets everyone on the dock’s panties in a wad, ’cause they just can’t understand these crazy Anglais.  By the time we’re ready to leave, the wind is a sustained 20-good call on turning the Girl early.  Just a quick comment about tides and currents.  Since Trois Riviere, the St. Lawrence River has been tidal, that is, sometimes the current is withya, sometimes agi’nya.  It can be as much as a 7-9 knot swing, depending on the state of the tide.  So…you don’t just travel when it suits you, you have to look down the line and calculate time, speed, and distance, and the state of the current on different segments of your course.  This is aided, in our case, by “The Atlas of Tidal Currents of the St. Lawrence River”.  Very important when you’re travelling in an 8 knot boat.

By 1300, the Girl is stern-to at the Port of Quebec (Quebec City), not without a little drama, as the young lady (who can’t see this whole huge marina from where she sits) is on the VHF, telling us to pull into a slip that already has a boat in it.  Who’s there to catch our lines?  Bill and Lauren (remember them?-Grand Banks Classic).  They’re fresh from Ottawa, and Canada Day, feelin’ real proud to be Canadians, and we want to hear all about their trip.  We take a look across the fairway, and there on the wall are “Texas Ranger” and “Spirit Journey”.  Lauren has wanted to meet Ron from “S.J.”, as they have carried on an email correspondence (long story about Krogen blogging), but haven’t met.  You know how much we hate parties, but it’s time to take one for the team.  A couple of calls on the VHF, and its cocktails aboard “Alizann” at 1800.  One of our Quebecois friends, Clairmont fondly calls these get togethers “5 to 7’s”-I don’t know if this is endemic to the region, or just one of his personal “isms”.  Anyhow, one thing leads to another, and soon we are all out in the Old Port, foraging for food.  A good time had by all, but an early night as the other Krogens are off on the tide at 0700, and we have tourist stuff to do tomorrow.  Quebec is really two cities, an old and a new.  Like Montreal, they have gone to great pains to preserve their rich heritage.  The Old Port, and area inside the old city wall could be any small village in western Europe.  With Bill and Lauren, we walked just about every inch of the old city.  After breakfast in an Old Port bistro, we walked every street, window shopping (and more).  Then it was a ride on the funicular up to the high ground, where the Chateau Frontenac, fort, Citadel and the Plains of Abraham (a sight of 2 historic battles-English and French) are located.  Next to the Citadel was an amphitheater, where some rockers were doing sound checks, and just havin’ a good time rockin’ some familiar riffs from various artists.  Of course, we had to see what was going on, so we strolled over to make some inquiries-Oh yeah, Billie Joel is the headliner for the Quebec Music Festival this week, and he’s playing tonight-cool.  From there, we walked the top of the old city wall from beginning to end.  Along the way, we had to stop at a few incredible churches, including the Notre Dame basilica and the Ursiline Nuns Monastery.  The day morphed into evening, and after a 5 to 7 at Bill and Laurens’ (where she informed us that her pedometer had recorded something like 8,990 steps today), we finished with dinner in an Old Port restaurant, with the promise of more fun stuff in the morning.  Sadly, Lauren was a bit under the weather, and anyway, they had to reprovision for their next days’ departure, so we left them, carrying an invite for dinner at their place after our day.  Suzanne and I walked up to the John Baptiste quarter, which is old, but not too touristy, where the Admiral found an “Aveda” salon.  (I don’t know much about this stuff, but our friend Jeff, who cut MDO’s hair for 20 some-odd years, told her that those were the places to go when out of town).  Yep, they could take a walk-in at 1330, and yep, they liked doing short hair, so the deal was on.  Killed a few hours going through the small neighborhood marches (markets), butchers, vegetables, cheeses, specialty foods and etc., as well as getting a personal guided tour of (of course) the St. John the Baptist church by a Master’s student from France.  Oh, did I forget?  There’s also the chocolate museum (actually a chocolate shop with a funky little “museum” attached) - a good spot to get a little gift for tonights’ hostess.  While Suz was getting sheared, I had a bierre at a sidewalk bistro, and watched the peeps.  Musta’ been close to the college, as there were lots of tats, piercings, and generally a predominately youngish population-good fun.  The Admiral was happy, happy, happy.  Short hair again.  On the way back to the boat, we stumbled upon another music venue, and listened for a while to some French-Canadian Hiphop.  Down the road was a street performer from the local street performing community (yes, there really is one) who entertained us for a bit.  Had to get back, as we were flying out the next morning at 0500 for the family reunion in Charleston, SC.  Bags packed, boat buttoned up, we ask Lise and Guy, our Quebecois boat neighbors if they will watch our babies (herb garden) while we are gone.  Heck yeah, and our boat too, if we’d like.  I love boaters.  Dinner at B & L’s, home too late, and up too early (0300), and off to the International airport on July 13th.  I’ll fire this up into space, and catch up in the next few days, got to catch the tide now.  No pictures, cause I’m on somebody’s home network up here in the Saguenay fiord with my Rogue, and it’s SLOW.  So slow, it didn't go.  Now I'm even behinder-I'll get some stuff written tomorrow-11 hour day.


Bon Jour,

A cool and overcast day greets us on this “We’re going to Montreal” day.  A couple of locks, connected by a 20 mile, man-made ditch, imaginatively named Chenal Sud (south canal), and we’re in the big city.  Wouldn’t be much to talk about if we hadn’t had a hydraulic overheat alarm screaming at us in this narrow channel between the locks.  Fortunately, no freighters, so non-essential hydraulics shut down, and we do a U-turn to get to an emergency anchorage about a mile back.  Meantime, I’m down in the engine room.  The strainer for the cooler looks good. So I pop the top, open the seacock, and get no water.  Cool, there’s probably a plastic bag or something sucked up against the outside of the thru-hull.  I pull the hose, and reopen the valve-whoosh, lotsa’ water!  Looks like the end of a stick in the hose, so I give it a yank-Nothin’ honey.  A pair of pliers extracts weed that’s a perfect mold of the inside of the hose, hard as a rock.  Reattach hoses, open seacock, and we got water.  Shoot the cooler with infrared pyrometer(thermometer).  Temp. dropping means we didn’t fry the impeller when it ran dry-unheard of!  As I emerge from the 110 degree engine room, the Admiral reports that we’re almost to the anchorage.  No need, another U-ey, and we’re back on track.  While we’re waiting at the next (and last) lock, all other strainers (engine, generator, and air conditioning) are checked-all good.  Rounding Isle St. Helene, we are banging our heads against a 5-6 knot current.  As the Girl’s top speed is around 9 knots in calm water, she’s getting a cardio workout while blasting along at 2.1 knots.  45 minutes through these swirling waters, with the wave tops blown off by a 15 knot headwind give the Captain time to think about contingency plans in the event of a mechanical failure.  Better not to verbalize these thoughts at this time.  Anyhoo, the wind blows the clouds away as we approach the Montreal Yacht Club, our home for the next few days, and after a call on the radio, we get our fenders hung for a bow-in, portside tie.  Only problem is, that the guys on the dock inform us, is that you’re not allowed to bow-in.  Okay, change all fenders while hanging in the narrow fairway, and back in blind, as the bridge is covered, and I’m driving from the pilothouse with the Admiral whispering instructions in my ear over the two-way radio.  Can’t help but notice our new neighbor standing on the deck of her brand-new Azimut 53 (fa$$$t trawler), with her bitch-wings* on, guiding me in with the laser stare.  Better to be lucky than good.  We’re here.  Lots of adrenaline, and it’s only 1300hrs.  After tidying up the Girl, paying the rent, and etc., a walk is in order.  The marina is in a part of town called Vieux(old) Port.  If you didn’t know better, you’d think that you were in Europe.  The warehouses and old city buildings, built from the 1700’s on, are well-preserved, and beautifully restored.  Since Canada Day(their 4th of July) is tomorrow, it’s a holiday weekend and things are hopping.  Restaurants look kind of touristy, so into the Marriott to confer with the concierge.  Got the perfect place for traditional French cuisine. 5 or 6 blocks, and 2 alleyways later, we’re asking the maître d’ for un table pour deux.  OMG!  He has a tux on, there’s crystal, china, and silver on linen tablecloths.  Normally, wouldn’t get too excited by that, but I’ve got cargo shorts, flipflops, and a T shirt on.  I bring this to his attention (as if).  No problem, we look “grand”.  Great dinner, good service, good story.  Next day is exploration day.  Needless to say, we put on some miles (around 10, we figure) on foot, then 8 or 10 more on the double-decker tourist trolley.  On foot, we hit every Catholic church (there are lots) from Vieux Port to the International and Financial Districts.  The underground city is also a must-see.  It’s a series of underground shopping malls, interconnected, and stretching for miles below downtown.  Supposedly the largest of its’ kind, and pretty cool.  A trip to the “marine hardware store” as recommended by our friend, Scottie, takes us to a part of the waterfront that we might normally miss.  It’s Canada Day today, and they’re closed.  Peering through the dirt-encrusted windows, it’s clear (sorta’) that we’ll need to come back tomorrow.  (Checking out the hardware store in any town that we visit is compulsory for Yours Truly.  It’s almost a religious experience).  Hit the Chamber of Commerce (equivalent), buy billets for the tourist bus, and we’re off for a driving  tour, highlighting the different districts of the city, culminating with a climb up Mount Royal, the city’s namesake.  When we get to the trolley’s central hub, we gotta get off, and it seems that the busses are done for the day-no more hop on hop off.  What’s another mile or so walk?  Did I mention that it’s 90 degrees?  Our dogs are barkin’ by the time we return to the Girl after stopping at the Cirque De Soleil ticket office for front/center tickets-tomorrow’s performance.  Fireworks are in order for tonight.  Good news is that they’re over the river, and our boat is the perfect viewing platform-Whew!  Shopping day today, so off come the bikes.  The trip to the hardware store is a lot quicker than yesterday.  Oh Yeah, this place is the real deal.  More of a supplier of navigation equipment and charts for the big guys than your typical marine store, but they’ve got a hodgepodge of small stuff too.  The guy working the counter is a part timer, being a retired radar and systems designer from the Canadian military.  The real business is going on behind a stack of crates at a computer terminal, where a young lady is busy on the phone and computer, filling orders for the big boats.  2 hours later, after coming in needing nothing, we’re back on the road with $180 Canadian francs worth of oddsnends, and an earful of politics, navigational issues, and the general state of world affairs (I love talking to people).  Armed with a recommendation, it’s lunchtime, then off to the grocery store for fresh fruit and veggies.  I was amazed that a 12 pack of Labatts was only $12.99.  By the time taxes were added, over $18.  I guess that’s the price you pay for the superior (hahaha) health care system.  –sorry, couldn’t resist.  I think that this is our 4th Cirque De Soleil performance, but they never get old.  Canwegoagain?  Canwecanwecanwe?  July 3rd, and time to depart.  Our trip down with the current gives the Girl a personal best 13.2 knots at ¾ throttle.  After the glandular trip in Montreal, MDO and I are looking for a quiet anchorage tonight.  The bill is filled with a spot in the Sorel Islands.  This is a group of low-lying Islands at the west end of Lac St. Pierre.  Kind of out of the way by land, and the cottages, some shacks, some with generators and satellite dishes, are only accessible by boat.  All of the structures are on stilts, much like places in the low country of South Carolina.  It’s so pretty here, that we stay 2 nights, enjoying the sunny days, and cooler temperatures, exploring the bays and islands by dinghy.  On Saturday, the 5th, we’re off to Trois Rivierres.  We anchor off the public beach at the river’s mouth, as the charts show no detail farther up the river.  Even though we’re still on the Seaway, there’s very little current here.  The water flowing out of the river is full of tannins, which make it kind of a black tea color, whereas the Seaway water is your typical turbid blue-gray.  There is a clear line where the river and Seaway currents are fighting to a draw, as evidenced by this change in color (sorry-geeked out for a minute there).  We anchor just inside the line.  CRIKEY!  These Canadians do NOT waste a Saturday!  There’s a beach volleyball court set up, complete with loudspeakers, a D.J., decibels to spare, and a crowd to match. Sail and power boats, jet skis, kite sailing, paddleboarders and waterjet boot play. We have ring side seats for the Cirque D’eau a Trois Rivieres.  I’m layin’ on the boat, catchin’ some rays with my ear on the deck, and I think that the generator’s still on.  Thump! Thump! When I get up and find that it’s not, I realize that it’s the hull vibrating from the French disco music on the beach, even though we’re 500 yards away.  If Salaberry was cooking a few Saturdays ago, this place is on steroids.  We notice again that Canadian boaters have a different concept as to what constitutes a close quarters situation.  Boats whip by at speed, and so close that you can tell the eye color of its’ passengers.  Oh well, what a circus, but all’s well that ends well.  At 1630, sharp, the party’s over.  Music stops, rafted boats break up, and the crowds on the beach thin out.  We had kinda hoped that things would go on a little longer, as it was fun spectating.  It’s been windy and sunny all day, so I’m a happy camper.  The solar panels and wind generators are “puttin’ money in the bank”-I love not having to run the generator.  The wind stays up all night, and the morning dawns gray with high wind warnings issued for the whole day.  We have a shot of chain out in 13 feet of water, and we haven’t moved a yard, so we feel comfortable leaving the boat for an explore by tender.  As we are unloading “White Star”, I spot 2 trawlers about 2 mile away heading toward us.  Suz grabs the binocs.  “They look like Krogens” says I, “They are” says she, “48’s”.  We fire up the AIS**, and discover that they are “Texas Ranger” and “Spirit Journey”, both owned by folks that we met at the Krogen rendezvous in Solomons last Fall.  A quick chat on the VHF confirms that they are heading to the marina in the next bay over.  After a 2 hour exploration of the 3 branches of the river in the tender and banging the crap out of the prop (but no need for a sheer pin, Andy), we’re at their boats catching up.  Looks like we’ll see them in Quebec City in a few days.  Still blowing like stink, and the high wind warnings are on for the next few days, we up anchor the next day, for a short trip to Batiscan River, a quiet anchorage a few miles from the village of Batiscan (pop. 1000).  It’s shallow there, so we come in on the low tide-the theory being that if we run aground, the tide will lift us off when it comes in.  No worries, we glide in over a shallow depth of 6.3 feet (we draw about 5 and change right now), and anchor in 9 feet.  We keep the amount of chain out to a minimum, as the boat reverses direction when the tide moves in and out, and there isn’t a lot of room to swing.  Pretty cool spot.  Very natural, except for a clearing on the other side of a grove of trees, where there sits a high end trailer-type park.  There are some very expensive looking land yachts there, which are obviously weekend getaway spots.  Attached is a little marina, which looks like the parking spot for the boats, attached to these R.V.s.  We dinghy’d over and walked around.  Only a few people at home, I guess most at work in a city somewhere.  They had a very nice, brand new restaurant/bar at the place too-unfortunately, closed on Monday.  Somebody put a lot of Canadian francs into developing this place-I hope that it works out.  By the way, they have an open internet, hence me slaving away over a hot keyboard, waiting for the tide to be right at the Richelieu Rapids.  Gotta go soon.  Tuna sandwich delivered by the Admiral.  It’s still windy, but sunny.  Should be a good day to shoot the rapids, and then overnight at Portneuf before Quebec City.

Au Revoir,


**AIS-automated identification system.  It’s basically a transmitter/receiver similar to a transponder on an airplane.  It transmits your boats vitals-name, size, speed, course, destination, etc.  It receives same info from other boats that are equipped with AIS systems.  The gizmo then uses algorithms to compute closest point of approach, time to closest point-basically, probability of collision for the vessels.  It displays this info on your electronic chart.  Pretty cool, ‘cause it can see “around the corner” and farther than radar in most situations.  It is required on commercial vessels, but can be installed on pleasure craft. 


A few hours of motoring through the Bay of Quinte brings us to Kingston, Ont.  It’s the bomb!  Once the capital of Upper Canada, it still retains its’ regal style.  The thunderstorms have chased us all day, and the sky looks like they’re going to catch us real soon-like.  It’s super calm, and the surface of the water is like that jar of mercury that we’d marvel at in eighth grade science class (before rolling it around in our bare hands and spilling some on the floor-explains a lot about the present brain damage).  Nonetheless, weather radar shows storms bearing down on us, and we are not to be disappointed.  The harbor whips up into a froth, and the Girl is soon strainin’ at her lines.  No worries, we be laffin’.  Weather passes, off to dinner.  Chez Piggy (Anne’s suggestion-you remember Anne)  presents us with an eclectic selection of Canadian and nouvelle cuisine.  We order Meguisharah(sp?) oysters.  Never heard of ‘em, but WTH?  Tender little guys, and very sweet too.  Hope we’ll see them again, as they are from back East.  Great dinner, wine list questionable.  Next morning-warm and humid.  Andy and Jody should be here for cocktails tonight, so cleaning, unpacking their linens, trip to the super and farmers markets are in order.  (I can’t be trusted food shopping, so guess who’s cleaning?).  I’m rewarded with a chocolate almond piece of goodness that the Admiral has picked up at the bakery we spotted yesterday.  All is (almost) forgotten.  It’s hot, humid, and sunny, but the weather radar shows dogmeat (storms) stretching all the way back to Michigan-think A & J driving.  Looks like rain is imminent, but we throw our bikes on the free ferry to Wolfe Island, home of one of Canada’s largest wind farms.  What a shocker (no pun), they don’t grow wind there, they harvest electricity FROM the wind.  690 volts from each turbine (X86 turbines), boosted to 24,000 volts before shooting over to the mainland, where it is boosted again to around 200,000 volts, and injected into the grid.  Sorry to burden you with my nerdiness, but I love this stuff.  Our 20 mile tour brings us back to the ferry dock where the locals have graciously built a pub with outdoor seating-Beer us!  A & J are in the parking lot that used to be called the 401 in Toronto.  No worries, MDO will whip a boat dinner, and we’ll wait cocktails for them (yeah, right).  They’re here, and the rain that has been following them all day is hot on their tails.  No sooner than we get their stuff on the boat, it lets loose.  Lightning and torrents of rain-as Andy would say, “a real turd-floater” (think this has to do with latrines, and Viet Nam).  The next several days has us all doing the tourist thing in the Thousand Islands area.  Lots of self-guided tours, trolley rides, tour boat rides, castles, museums, forts and etc, zigzagging from Canada to the U.S.A. Without lots of details, let me just say-trolley tour of Kingston, Canada’s military College (our West Point), Fort Henry, restored Coast Guard cutter and museum, Antique Boat Museum, Boldt Castle, Singer Castle, and lots of cottage(?) gawking, finally ending in Brockville, Ontario, where Andy & Jody will catch the VIA (train) back to Kingston and their car. We do a mixture of marina and anchor out nights, jumping between nature and man made.  Did I mention that Andy is the self proclaimed (and highly acclaimed by all he feeds) “Grillmeister”?  Jody holds her own in the Hors Douvre creation department, so with Suzanne’s able direction, we were not hurtin’ for food.  The Admiral will fill you in with some details regarding sites, attractions, and etc., I’m sure.  Gotta say a few words about our buds, A & J.  They gave us our first fix, starting a lifetime of addiction.  When we camped with 2 kids in our 19’ runabout, they were the Mothership that we followed and rafted to on weekend and then weeklong cruises.  They sponsored our membership in The Great Lakes Cruising Club.  Our children were about the same ages, so we shared in their successes, commiserated on their needs for improvement, and supported each other as only true friends and confidants do.  You get the picture.  This visit was our third on the Girl, the first being on her maiden voyage from Solomon’s, Maryland to Troy, NY, the second being to Isle Royale in Lake Superior.  After cruising together for 25 years on our own boats, it’s super comfortable having 4 heads together, running the Show.  We were sad to put them in their cab at Brockville, but will look forward to the next time that we see them.  Guests gone.  Time to……CLEAN.  Four hours later, the Girl is spiffy inside and out, the guest linens are clean, vacuum-bagged, and stowed away.  Last stroll through the Brock, uno mas cervesa (oh, that’s a year down the line), and we’re all done in for the night.  Brockville was definitely a great stop, with the exception of no Wi-Fi (as was advertised, but this ain’t my first bait-and-switch), and hey, the world will still be turning when we reconnect.  Sunny and 70 degree weather with puffy cotton-ball clouds sees us off in the A.M..  A short cruise with the current takes us to the backside of Toussaint Island, about ½ mile above Eisenhower Lock, where our dynamic (?) duo will spend the night, mostly out of the current (.5 knot).  We haven’t done these locks before, and as they are pay-as-you-go, a recon mission is in order.  White Star* is over the side, and off we go to chat with the lockkeeper.  Talk about a contrast from the Trent/Severn!  The lock cannot be approached from land.  There’s a wall to tie up at, and a closed circuit phone to talk to the officials on, all behind a tall security fence.  I call, and chat it up with the lock tender, and he gives me the drill.  Oh, by the way, he knows that we are up behind the island, because he has a security camera in that bay (note it’s a half mile away).  I observe that skinny dipping is probably out, and he replies “yeah, that he can see right up there” (not really sure what he meant by that, don’wannaknow.  An old canal, used before the Seaway was built, takes our ride into a very cool lowland with bountiful wildlife.  Blue herons, too numerous to count, a beaver, and a mink are all spotted.  When we turn off the engine, we are greeted by a cacophony of birdsong.  Lock through in the morning, and travel uneventfully on another sunny, 70 degree day.  Our primary depthsounder is acting cranky.  Won’t register any depth over 20 feet.  Call Furuno tech support, and I’m not likin’ what he has to say.  Cha-Ching!  We’ll review further when in Montreal, in the meantime, the backup is purring along.  Early afternoon ends this short travel day outside Cornwall, anchoring in a 2 knot current, on a boulder-strewn bottom.  First time for us in heavy current, and it’s kinda creepy to see the water blowin’ by us when we are not moving.  Uhhhh….not so comfortable leaving the boat, so we work on our tans, and do small boat chores the rest of the day.  Saturday at noon, and we are pulling into Salaberry- de- Valleyfield.  Pretty chill little town with the emphasis on fun.  Not many boats anchored out, so we pick a spot that we think will be out of the traffic pattern-as the other end of the harbor has a fountain in the middle that gushes about 100’ into the air.  Boy, did we get here at the right time!  There are two boats in the harbor when we arrive, and two hours later, there are 52.  With a phalanx of jetskis slaloming between the anchored, rafted, rockanrollin, everybody laffin’ boats, this is a happenin’ spot.  Down goes the tender, the Admiral and I are off to cottagegawk, and check out the town dock.  Whip by the marina to purchase a Quebec flag for the Girl, as a Canadian flag is not entirely apropos here makes us aware that we’re not in Kansas anymore.  Je ne parle pas francais, and you’re in deep merde here.  Good news is, that after we tour the Ancien Chenal, and stop at a local bistro, we are able to use some of our knowinanylanguage the key phrases that get us bierre,  saumon and boeuf tartare-Yum!  Back to the Girl to mix up a little sippy-sippy, and we’re motoring through the anchorage to do a little rappin and boatlovin’.  A guy on a Cruiser Inc. waves us over, and produces a Passagemaker magazine, pointing to an ad for Kadey Krogen (our boat). No, Parlez vous Anglais?  No problem.  Little sign language, lots of broken Francais on our part, and he and his femme are in our tender to go take a tour of the Girl.  When it comes to bateau’s, we all speak the same language-the tour was a hit.  Krogen, sign us up for another commission.  A little Joni Mitchell, then Neil Young to honour our Canadian hosts with dinner, and we’re rackin’ for our early morning anchorup on our one-stop trip to Montreal.  0700, 18 degrees, C, and we’re off.  First bridge has a 3 knot current in the approach-no problem.  Big problem.  The bridgetender ain’t makin’ it happen.  Doing donuts between two caissons in a narrow channel is not our idea of fun.  We’re just about ready to pull off after 15 minutes of this foolishness, and he gives us the green light, raising the draw.  A 55’ Tiara (go fast) runs up our stern, and races us to the next lock (no contest!).  Suzanne checks the name and hailing port (Boyne City, MI) Arriving at the next lock, we find that there’s no room at the inn.  All of the spaces at the wall are taken up by boats waiting to lock through.  Our pal is sitting at the spot that was ours, had proper etiquette been followed.  No worries, we tie up at the upper reach, outside the security fence.  Off the boat, stroll up to the fence to chat with other boaters who have been waiting for 2 hours.    Seems that it’ll be another 2 hours before we can lock through.  Life at 0 knots.  Hers truly comes up with her BIG dog and remarks that she’s trapped like a rat in a cage (behind the security fence), and should have landed where we were.  I can now address her by name (thanks Suzanne) surprising the BeJesus out of her, and let her know that it’s too bad.  (All the while thinkin’ that Karma’s a bitch!).  It’s a beautiful day for a boat ride, and after meeting some very cool Canadian folks on their new boat who rafted up with us through the 2 locks, we’re on our way, with an invitation to visit them at their home on the St. John’s River for steaks and redpop a few weeks down the line.  Montreal is in sight on the horizon, and Lac St. Louis is like the city market on steroids (boats, not cars).  A real shocker to my I’mtheonlyboatonthewater system.  Late afternoon brings us to the anchorage that MDO spotted on the chart, and we’re the only boat there.  6 foot depths don’t scare us any more after our numerous brushes with terra firma in the Trent/Severn.  Stir-fry, la bierre, a gorgeous purple and pink sunset before rack-time.  Tomorrow brings the last 2 locks, and a 5 knot current (against us) till Montreal (home for the next few days).

 Bon Soir,


***”White Star” is the name of our tender(dinghy).  When we were casting about for a name for the little one, our friends Phillip and Catherine from the U.K. (3 solo transatlantic crossings) had the answer.  As my maternal Grandmother was a Titanic survivor, along with her mother and infant sister, it seemed the perfect way to honor one of my favorite people on the planet, thus, White Star, the Titanics’ parent company.

Loonie Toonie in Canada


I don’t know about you but when I travel one of the first things I look at is the country’s money. Beside the obligatory king, queen, president, czar, etc. The money usually has an historic building, animal or pyramid with a scary eye.  I like to ask the locals, “Why is the …. on your money?”  Why is there an Egyptian pyramid with a scary eye as the top on ours? I have no idea.

Canada has some fun money. The “Loonie “ is the $1 dollar coin and you guessed it has a Loon( a northern  duck like bird that has a unique song) on one side and Queen Elizabeth II on the other. It is bronze in color and is the size of our quarter. The “Toonie” is the $2 dollar coin and no it does not have Daffy Duck on the back. It has a polar bear.  It is about the size of our fifty cent coin, has silver outer ring and a bronze colored inner ring.   Canada does not make paper $1 or $2 dollar bills.  The new larger denominations bills, $5, $10, $20, etc. are high tech and appear to be very difficult to counterfeit.  The bills are made of paper but near one end there is a clear Mylar(not sure what it is) strip with a hologram. Good luck trying to photocopy. 


One last thing about Canadian money. They no longer make the penny and ignore the penny. For example, if something costs $1.91 and you pay with a “Toonie” you receive ten cents back as change. No looking in the car ashtray for the pennies. Try that is the US! I would bet that there are more Canadian pennies circulating in the US than in Canada.  I love the Canadians!

- The Admiral -