We were not in a rush this morning as the first lock we had to transit was only about 1.5 nautical miles away and didn’t open until at least 0930. I put water in the boat and prepared the starboard side for locking. Vicki got the boat ship shape inside and got rid of the garbage. We pulled away from our finger pier and went to the fuel dock to give back the lock card and get our $20 deposit back.
After a short run to the Saint Lambert Lock we parked at the blue line docks and went up a ramp hanging by cables at one end (which swung all over when walked on) to buy the ticket. While there I conversed with the lockmaster via the telephone by the ticket machine. She said it would be another hour before they would open the lock. I wrote in the log while Vicki read. Eventually another boat showed up and waited with us. In about an hour and a quarter a call over the loud speaker told us the lock was ready to accept boats.
This lock on the St. Lawrence River is huge as it accepts ocean going cargo ships bound to and from the Great Lakes. We were going to be raised about 20’ so when we pulled in not only were we in a huge lock basin but were quite a ways below the top of the lock. The lock attendants threw down lines fore and aft so Vicki and I could each hang on and take in slack as the lock level went up. Before the doors closed a small sailboat came into the locks and the lock attendants told us they were going to have that boat raft alongside our boat. The wall we tied to was on the port side of SEA TO SEE so my early preparation was for naught. Fortunately we had also put ample fenders out on the port side in case this happened.
I was a little anxious about hanging on to the lines while we had a boat rafted on us as the smaller locks we had been in so far did have water currents and wind that made keeping the boat parallel to the lock wall difficult. I was thinking that this lock being so huge and needing to transfer a huge amount of water would have worse currents and we would be hanging on for dear life. This turned out to be needless worry as the currents were nil and the boat rode up the lock wall better than it had in any of the previous 22 locks.
The St. Lambert and St. Catherine locks are both on the Canal de la Rive Sud that parallels the St. Lawrence River. From St. Lambert, St. Catherine lock is about nine nautical miles further west. By the time we arrived there the wind had picked up and was gusting between 15 and 20 knots from the northwest. We pulled in to the pleasure boat dock and did the same routine with the tickets. I reported in by phone and the lockmaster asked if we had seen the sailboat. It had just rounded the bend in the canal and was in sight so the lock was soon opened and in we went with another small boat and the sailboat. Those three boats were little specks in that huge lock. This time the lift was 36’ so we were even smaller specks in the bottom of this hole. The sailboat did not raft on us this time and all went smoothly.
It is several miles more before we got out of the canal and into Lac Saint Louis, part of the St. Lawrence River. When we hit the lake it had a huge fetch in the direction the wind was coming from. This lake is very shallow and as we were going to Saint Anne de Bellevue locks and into the Ottawa River we had to leave the main ship channel and snake our way along a circuitous route through the lake to stay in deep enough water. Naturally, as soon as we hit the wind waves of about four feet with a very short wavelength the boat started pitching considerably and the DSM signal from the depth transducer to the chart plotter went out. Here we are trying to traverse a very narrow channel that winds all over the place, through a very shallow lake in 4’ chop with no depth readings. Crashing waves, spray all over the windows, heading into the sun half of the time, making it difficult to see through the spray and working hard to keep the boat exactly on the channel line on the chart plotter while looking for navigation bouys kept life interesting. It didn’t help that the half of the time when we weren’t going into the sun we were broadside to the waves and rolling significantly. No fear for safety as the boat was handling it fine but it was less than a comfortable ride and certainly a far cry from Vicki water.
We finally got in the lee of a point and the water smoothed out considerable though we now had a two knot current on our nose. When we got to Saint Anne de Bellevue there were quite a few boats on the wall already but just as we were pulling into the lock channel two smaller boats pulled out from their place on the wall opening a perfect spot for us.
We walked the boardwalk along the lock wall and then toured the town, found a grocery store and bought all we could carry the eight blocks back to the boat. We had chart hour in the aft cockpit and enjoyed talking to all the people walking the boardwalk and stopping to comment on the boat or on our home port of Orcas Island. We seem to get a lot of attention because SEA TO SEE is an older classic boat with a far different look than almost all of the other more modern boats around us. Put that together with the home port of Orcas Island, WA and the AGLCA flag flying and people are curious.
It rained in the evening so we stayed inside and enjoyed a great leftover omelette engineered by Vicki Dawn. It got dark, we went to bed.