Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Wear Your Life Jacket!

The July 25th "What IS It?" quiz asked you to figure out why Parks Canada locktenders have embraced a retro fashion, fanny packs.

And we have a winner! Erik Saunders, please step forward.

Erik correctly identified those nifty little fanny packs as stealth PFDs (personal flotation devices).

You may be more familiar with the term "life jacket."  But as you can see, a life-saving flotation device doesn't have to look like a coat or vest.

We Pause for This Public Service Message

PFDs save lives. In 83% of recreational boating deaths by drowning, the victim was NOT wearing a PFD.

The best PFD is . . . the one you are willing to wear. Lots of people say they don't wear a PFD because it's hot or bulky.

Parks Canada is keeping its personnel safe by 1) requiring them to wear PFDs and 2) choosing PFDs that are easy to wear: comfortable and inobtrusive. Good on ya, Parks Canada.

How Does a Fanny Pack PFD Work?

This kind of life vest is also cool and lightweight.
If you fall in the water, a CO2 cartridge fires automatically. A life vest pops ouf of the pack and inflates. Watch this video to see how it works!

(You can also inflate the PFD manually, by blowing in a tube.)

Scott  Barbara of  U.S. Power Squadron is a boating safety expert. He notes that the locktenders really need to be wearing their fanny packs in front, not in back.

When the life vest deploys, you need to pull it up over your head--which is hard to do when it's behind your back!

Try It BEFORE You Need It

Scott also recommends that, if you plan to use a fanny pack PFD, you test-drive it before you need it.  Fall into the water on purpose and practice getting the vest over your head. 

Good advice, Scott!  (You'll then have to buy a replacement CO2 cartridge, but worth it for the peace of mind.)

When I'm out on our boat's catwalk in a lock, and the boat is heaving and sloshing around in the turbulence as the lock fills, and I contemplate the narrow gap between the boat and the wall, and what might happen if I were to fall in, well, wearing a PFD sounds pretty darned good!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Seeing the Light

First, the Handy Links:

  • See more photos from our adventures in anchoring.
  • Check our location with Boat Finder. (Enter Bill's handle, kd3fly-12, in "Track call sign")
  • "Like" and "Follow" SlowBoat on FB to keep those pictures coming in your feed!

Dragonfly with other boats at anchor off Valcour Island
We anchored out off Valcour Island to enjoy the incredible mountain scenery of Lake Champlain.

Next morning, as we were wrapping up boat chores, a couple pulled up in a little dinghy.

Peter and Claudia live on the shore. They saw us putter by and were curious about our oddball boat, found our blog online, and came out and say hi.

"Seek Local Knowledge"

That's one of our mottos. (Ssecond only to "We have a plan and we're not sticking to it.") Usually when we're in a new place, we head for the nearest pub and spread our charts on the bar--putting out bait that attracts local sailors who know the waters. 
It's big, it has a red roof, it's high on a cliff so sailors can see the light. How did we miss it?

But sometimes local knowledge comes to us! Having explored the lake intensely in their own boat, Peter and Claudia had loads of tips. One was, be sure to see the lighthouse in the next bay. Lighthouse?  What lighthouse? We cruised all around the island before dropping anchor and completely missed it!

The Brotherhood of the Boaters

One thing we've found heartwarming both on this trip and on our Great Loop trip is how boaters look out for one another.  People you have only just met will offer you charts, a helping hand, or the keys to their car.

Our visitors are docents for the Bluff Point Lighthouse. They promptly volunteered to take us over in their dinghy and show us around, even though it wasn't an official "lighthouse open for tours" day.

Wow!  We love lighthouses.  This one is particularly charming to look at. It was built in 1870 overlooking the site where Benedict Arnold's ships did battle with the British in 1776.

It has an interesting history (which you can read here) that includes a female lighthouse keeper. It was lovingly restored and relighted not long ago by members of the Clinton County Historical Society

Thanks, Peter and Claudia, for a memorable outing!

Brotherhood of the Boaters, Part II

While I'm on the topic of The Brotherhood of the Boaters! The night before, as we were entering a different anchorage in Pellot's Bay, we passed a striking boat, a steel-hulled trawler that looked like a working fishing boat.

A good-looking boat right down to the bright-red dinghy!
We love big steel boats. So we admired its graceful lines, a little wistfully.

Our boat is such a conversation starter, we're constantly giving tours. But that seems to mean we rarely get to see OTHER people's boats!

The Evening Promenade

Speaking of boater customs, around cocktail hour in an anchorage, folks tend to get in their dinghies and go visiting. This evening, the folks who came to say hi were Flavio and Laura--owners of the trawler!

They joined us on board and we had a wide-ranging fun conversation. Flavio and Laura also know the lake inside out recommended some good anchorages.

Next thing we knew, we'd been invited back the next morning for espresso and croissants on the trawler. Laura and Flavio, thanks so much for the treat, and for the tour of your awesome boat!
Dragonfly (see her roof at right?) was excited to meet another steel-hulled boat. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

What IS IT?

Is it part of the official Parks Canada uniform?
OK, quiz fans, here's a puzzler I've been saving for you!

Back on the Rideau Canal, we noticed a curious fashion choice.

Most of the locktenders wore fanny packs!

QUESTION: Why in the world would so many Canadian college students embrace a retro accessory?  One that screams, "I'm a nerd, circa 1990"?

 Because It's Fashionable?

If you are a well-read sort,  perhaps you are replying, "Cynthia! Didn't you see the Boston Globe reported JUST THIS WEEK that fanny packs are back in fashion?"

(Those locktenders are simply on trend. And you'd better get shopping!)

Because It's Practical?

Or perhaps locktenders have revived the fanny pack because it's a handy place to stash your sunscreen and water bottle without limiting your mobility (the way a backpack would) as you are straining to crank those heavy lock doors open (see photo above).

NO to Both of These Answers!

They sound reasonable, yet they are both wrong. Keep on guessing.  And here's a huge hint.  What looks like a fanny pack is NOT actually a fanny pack.  So, What IS It?

Write your answer on a "Fatty Knees" dinghy with hand-laid lapstrake hull, teak inner rail, and hand-made teak rudder and send it to . . . oh, wait, we can't receive mail while we are cruising.

Use the comments section below, comment on Facebook, or email Cynthia with your answer.  You could be the lucky winner of an old-fashioned tacky postcard, snail-mailed direct to your mailbox AND we'll give you a shout-out on the blog!

How About Those Floats?

As for our last What IS It? challenge, those long lines of floats--what were they? 

A canoe-racing course at the Rideau Canoe Club (pictured at right).

This was in Canada, after all, where canoe racing is a major sport (after hockey, eh?)
Future Olympic paddlers at a kids' camp near the Lachine Canal
Translation: "Good Luck to Our Paddlers"

Monday, July 23, 2018

Blue Light Special

Reminder: For bonus pix, remember to like and follow the SlowBoat Facebook page, which has some updates on our final days in Canada: chasing a mountain and traveling back in time at a French-Canadian fort.

On July 19, we reluctantly said goodbye to the quaint French-Canadian towns along the Richelieu and crossed the imaginary line back into the United States.

Just like that, we had entered a new stage of our trip: Lake Champlain.

Anything to Declare?

Back in June, our entrance into Canada had been casual: I made a phone call from the dock, and voila! we had cleared customs.

 Our cruising guides said the same would be true as we returned to the States. So we set a course for the first marina past the border.

You can't run from the law in a SlowBoat. Now if only
that bridge were lower . . . 
That's when we heard a blaring horn and then a voice, on a loudspeaker. A pilot boat came speeding toward us, blazoned with the word "Sheriff" and with--yes--blue lights flashing.

Those cruising guides were out of date. We did indeed need to stop at the tiny U.S. Customs trailer on the hill.

We admitted to bringing in a couple cans of beer. The customs agent didn't even ASK about pepper spray!

We could be an excellent stealth Homeland Security vessel. Bad guys wouldn't suspect a thing!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Where We Stayed - Sorel, Quebec

SlowBoat's blog posts are a bit behind our actual travel location.  This post catches you up on July 14-15 in Sorel, Quebec

At Sorel, we docked next to a boat that was also red and blue.
(Other than that we didn't have a lot in common!)
If the name of the town sounds familiar, you're thinking of those super-warm Canadian winter boots. Sorels aren't made here, but yup, same name.

We stayed at Marina de Saurel, a stylish place where the staff wears crisp uniforms. Our dock-mates were superfriendly.

We biked into town to find ourselves smack in the middle of  . . .


Bon apetit!
This event celebrates a local culinary treat: gibelotte, a tomato-based vegetable soup spiked with chunks of fish.

A traditional French gibellotte is made with rabbit, bacon, onions, and mushrooms; this is the local version using perch or catfish from the river.

After lunch we had a blissful ride on a rails-to-trails bike trail that took us over babbling brooks, past expansive cornfields, and through cool, dense woods edged with clumps of graceful white birches.

Art on the Water

This is the work of Aleandre Marcil, age 6
I got up early the next morning to get in a good walk before a day on the boat.

Not far from the marina was a charming riverfront park, with parallel walking and bike trails.

Everywhere you looked, there were beds of flowers (and a "please taste" herb garden), fanciful statues, and an expansive display of children's art, on the theme of Sorel's waterfront history.

Such a stylish park had nothing so prosaic as park benches.

No, it offered an expanse of hammocks and loungers. Sweet!
A whole field of sun-shaded hammocks (above) and recliners (below) for waterfront lounging.
This "please touch"  sculpture lets you experience what it's like to be up on the prow of a sailboat!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Fish Tale

Dragonfly enters the St. Ours Lock.
We're always on the lookout for conservation stories. In Quebec, the spotlight is on an unusual fish. It's found nowhere else but this province. Meet the . . .

Copper Redhorse

Cool name, eh? As we checked out the next leg of our journey--south from the Saint Lawrence River toward Lake Champlain on the Richelieu River—we were intrigued by the mention in our cruising guide.

"At the St. Ours lock, be sure to walk across the dam to see the fish ladder constructed for the copper redhorse."

Ok then!

What's in the Name?

So let me tell you a little bit about this fish. It has cousins: Canada is also home to the pleasingly named silver redhorse, shorthead redhorse, and river redhorse. Taxonomically these fish may seem less glamorous--they’re members of a group popularly called "suckers."

Quite an unusual color, almost koi-like! Photo credit: Oceans and Fisheries Canada
Th is a BIG, powerful sucker, however--it can live for 30 years and grow to more than 10 lbs.  And its scales are quite an unusual copper color. It hangs out in shallow water-grass beds along the shores of the St. Lawrence and the Richelieu. Nowhere else.

And where most suckers, um, suck detritus from the bottom, the copper redhorse, curiously for a North American freshwater fish, subsists on an elegant French diet of small snails, which it crushes with tooth-like mouthparts. Also curiously for a fish, females don't reproduce till they're 10 yrs old.

Uneasy Coexistence

Everywhere on the Richelieu we saw big expanses of lawn, rip-rap 
on the shore, sediment stirred up by passingboats . . . none of this looks
good for the copper redhorse.
This life history makes it vulnerable. The rivers where it lives transect the most densely populated part of Quebec. 

The sediment stirred up by fast-moving boats (moorons?  speediots?) chokes the shallow water where copper redhorses hang out.

Pesticide run-off from farming is also a problem. And dams isolate populations, preventing genetic flow.  

Biologists estimate the copper redhorse population at only a few hundred fish. A fish-rearing and restocking program is underway.

A Ladder for Fish

So back to the St. Ours Lock. It was a hot day, and a sweaty slog across the road topping the modern hydro dam next to the lock. But as the guide promised, worth the trip.

The Vianney-Legendre fish ladder, named for a distinguished fish researcher, was built in 2001 so copper redhorses could reach their spawning grounds in the Chambly rapids (now included in a wildlife preserve), above the dam.

I'd seen fish ladders before, but they were designed as a straight line of concrete cells, each a little higher than the next--clearly a ladder. The snail-shell design of this ladder--can you see how the cells spiral around?--seemed to do a better job of offering fish small, quiet pools to rest in during the strenuous climb.

Citizens in Action

Translation: No wake! Slow down. This is copper redhorse habitat
Besides the fish ladder, the preserve, and the breeding program, other actions are in place to help this oddball fish. Nature Conservancy Canada has campaign to revegetate and naturalize the river banks.

Many people who live along the river are pitching in, working to improve riverbanks and posting signs to warn boaters to travel responsibly.

Great work, Quebec-ers, and bonne chance, copper redhorse!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Boat Gourmet Rides Again

Videographer Chris getting a good angle!
First, the handy links:

  • See the map of our route and follow our trip from the start
  • Try your hand at the SlowBoat What IS It? quiz

Nous Devenons Fameuse

In Montreal we hosted a social media crew from Parks Canada (photo at right) who aim to include us in their series on "Unusual Boats That Have Passed Thru Our Locks." (Check the pix on FB!)

Boat Gourmet Says: Don't Cook When It's Hot

The Lachine crew seemed impressed by our well-equipped kitchen. "What do you like to cook on the boat?" Chris asked.

Well, on hot nights (like this one was forecast to be) we try not to cook!

TIP: A useful item to shoehorn into your tiny boat freezer is pre-cooked frozen shrimp.

Later that day, after we'd made it safely out of Montreal, we set anchor in a peaceful bay, just at sunset. I rifled the fridge for goodies from the Atwater Market.

Et Voila

Shrimp salad on bibb lettuce with avocado, sweet onion, and red pepper, with a lemon mayonnaise dressing. Accompanied by three-pepper goat cheese on a whole-grain baguette.

And don't forget the beer so you can toast:  "High Five! We didn't sink the boat today!"

Fasten Your Seat Belt

It was a particularly fervent toast that evening.  We had survived the passage from the safety of the Lachine Canal into the Saint Lawrence River, which I had fully expected to be the scariest part of the trip.

This river is Big. Powerful. Not the usual cruising ground of peaceful solar canal boats.

Leaving Montreal you could SEE the demarcation between the protected water in the harbor and the muscular current farther out. We nosed out and . . .

 . . .check our chart plotter (boat GPS) at left. Notice the speed . . . a blistering 10.4 mph. Wheeeeeee!

All in all, SlowBoat handled it like a champ, except for. . .

 . . . the wakes from powerful cruisers that passed us too close and too fast, throwing up big wakes that rolled us side to side.

Shake your phone or laptop up and down as you look at this picture to get the full effect.
And this was just a little one!

Help Us Name the @#$!!@)#%!!

I'm trying to come up with a name for boaters who show this lack of courtesy. Moorons? Speediots? Your thoughts?

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Brotherhood of the Boaters

In my last post, I wrote about how the best part of this trip is the people we've met.  Here are a couple more stories:

Bonjour, Tug Helmsman!

Where we stayed: Saint Anne de Bellevue
Last week we docked at St. Anne de Bellevue. The lock wall is a lively place, with families out for a fresh-air promenade in the parklike setting.

Cap was on the stern, fielding the usual questions: "Did you bring your boat here from England?" "Does it really run on solar power?" "How far can you go in a day?"

One passerby was a young man carrying a skateboard in one hand and a beer in the other. Tristan volunteered that he, too, was a fan of heavy steel boats--because he was a tugboat captain himself.

Really?  Really!  Come aboard, then!

We talked for more than an hour, about the minutae of tugboats and so much else. It was heartwarming to learn his story.  Tristan grew up boating on the river. He went to college for psychology . . . until a helpful professor made him aware of the jobs available on the river--good pay, and the schedule is two weeks on and two weeks off.  He switched his course of studies and never looked back.

Bonjour, Pecheurs!

This jet boat outside Montreal did a tight circle around us.
Thanks, guys.
All too often a big, powerful boat passes by, going fast, throwing up a big wake that rattles the china in the galley and sets our wooden doors to slamming.

"Is it our American flag?" I asked Cap. 

"No, probably just cluelessness about the boater 'Rules of the Road,' he said.

Our peaceful anchorage on the St. Lawrence River
Even so, when we left Montreal on the Saint Lawrence River, I was nervous about our first stop, an anchorage in a shallow bay. "Should we take in the flag?"

We left it out, and shortly before dusk, I could hear the whine of a motor:  a fishing boat, coming really close, kind of fast.

I peeked out the window, bracing for a contentious conversation.

It was a dad with his teenage daughter and her friend. They had come to tell us, in hesitant English, how much they liked our boat. 

A lively conversation followed, about boats, fishing, applying for college.  Our visitors left as the light faded, leaving behind a little warm glow of friendliness.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

It's a Boat! It's a Bar! CanalLounge!

Atwater Marche, with its distinctive clock-tower. The gentrifying industrial
neighborhood reminded us of Gowanus or Red Hook.
On July 10 we made it under three super-low bridges and docked at Montreal's Atwater Market.

We swooned over the fromageries, boulangeries, patisseries, and fresh fruits and veggies.

Canal Boat Ho!

Even more exciting than the formidable cheese selection: we were sharing the dock with another canal boat. It was a distinctive style of vessel: a bateau mouche. You  know them as the glass-topped excursion boats that cruise the Seine, in Paris.

Even more exciting: this boat was a cafe/bar. No question about our evening's entertainment. We trekked on over.

Adorableness Afloat

Amsterdam comes to Montreal!
The Canal Lounge (Cafe Flottant) has flowers on the roof, a pair of Adirondack chairs on the bow, and a cushioned, canopied lounging area at the stern. It's as adorable inside as outside: classical nautical style meets high elegance meets nightclub.  Fresh flowers on the curved sailboat-style tables. Cut crystal barware. And color-change mood lighting glowing from red to purple to teal to orange.

A young man in a crisp white shirt was bustling about and dropped by our table to ask how we were doing. "We love your boat!" we enthused. "We're on a canal boat too!"

Love at First Sight

Gurvan (left) and Jeroen, proprietors of Canal Lounge
Our host brought over a photo album and told us a little bit about the boat's history, sparking an enthusiastic conversation that continued later that night, when the two owners finally closed up and came down the dock to have a glass of wine on OUR boat.

Gurvan Bartholo and his spouse Jeroen Ter Schiphorst never set out to create what Narcity calls "the most romantic place" to have a drink in Montreal. They were flight attendants and happy with their life.

Then Jeroen spotted this boat in an online ad. It was the exact same scenario as when Cap first met Dragonfly: pure love at first sight. They had to have it.

Diamond in the Rough

Flowers above, romance below . . .
The 42-year-old former tour boat, built in Canada, was in tough shape. Gurvan and Jeroen spent 6 months renovating it, stripping almost every surface, rebuilding inside, painting the hull and superstructure.

Then there was the work of negotiating with Parks Canada to anchor a bar in the middle of a national historic site, the Lachine Canal.

And the adventure of cruising it up the Ottawa River, which was as bouncy for them as it was for us.

But now Canal Lounge is a "must visit." Both local condo dwellers and developers cite it as an important amenity in the neighborhood. The guys have eight employees.  A success all around.

The Brotherhood of the Boaters

 One of the best things about boating is the people you meet, and how quickly your shared experiences make you fast friends. Visiting with these two crazy, visionary canal boat enthusiasts was one of the high points of the trip so far.

We like to say, only half joking, that our mission is to spread the joys of canal boating across North America.  Gurvan and Jeroen are doing the same with Canal Lounge. Hats off to you!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Adventures in Lowness

The iconic mountain that is Montreal as seen from the Ottawa River!

We left the St. Anne de Bellevue Lock on a bright morning. A few hours' travel on bouncy waves brought our first sight of Montreal.  

Closer to shore, we scanned for the buoys marking the entrance Lachine Canal

After a long, slow, puttering trip down a narrow channel that took us just feet from the boats docked in an enormous marina, we, finally arrived around noon outside Lock 5. 

We were pleased to welcome a couple of boat visitors soon after, Jacqui and Michael Reid-Walsh.  (Check the Visitors page of this blog for deets and to consider when YOU'd like to visit us!)

Bonjour, Lachine Canal!

We stayed not far from this historic house,
completed in 1671 and still standing

Like the other canals we've visited, the Lachine was built for commerce.  It cuts through a neighborhood where warehouses and factories crowd the banks. 

In planning this trip we were relieve to learn this canal was in fact open, not closed as some guides suggested.  

Were it not for the Lachine, we would have had to continue on the river, around the island of Montreal . . . and when we reached the juncture with the St.  Lawrence, the current would have been too strong for us to turn back and enter the city.

There was just one tiny problem.  The Lachine has several bridges that are a mere 8 feet above the water.  Dragonfly is 9 feet from the waterline to the top of her canopy.

We're Good with Low

Well!  We've played this game before! It so happens that if you unscrew the metal poles supporting our stern canopy and lower the canopy to the deck, we are a mere SEVEN feet tall.

So that's what we did!  (More photos on Facebook.) Lachine Canal, here we come!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

What IS It? (With Bonus "Boat Gourmet" Tip!)

We were happy to see the weed-eater. Cap's gone swimming
several times to get weed off our propeller!
The last installment of the SlowBoat "What IS It?" quiz invited you to identify a strange machine that seemed to be steamrolling the river.

Hats off to Jonathan Shanks who correctly identified it as a weed harvesting machine. He'll receive the SlowBoat prize, a genuine post card via old-fashioned snail mail.

(In case you want more info: The Rideau Canal is infested with an invasive water weed. It gets wrapped around your prop shaft and slows you down.  The weed eater is one way that the government keeps the route a little more clear for boaters.


Why are those little round floats arranged in such nice, straight lines?
This one also comes from the Rideau Canal. Outside the Manotick Lock, we noticed a whole field of little round floats.  They seemed to be arranged in nice, neat straight lines.

We've been flummoxed by floats before, notably the fishing noodles we spotted on the Ten-Tom Waterway during our Great Loop Cruise.

Oyster farm? No, this is freshwater. Freshwater pearl farm? Good guess, but no.
This field of floats at Manotick, however, has nothing to do with fishing.  So, what IS it?

Write your answer on a Pestzilla TM Robust UV Electronic Bug Zapper and send it to . . . oh wait! We don't get mail delivery on the boat!  Use the comment function below, put a note on the SlowBoat FaceBook page, or email Cynthia.  You could be our next lucky winner!

BONUS! Boat Gourmet Tip

Plain toast? Never!  We serve avocado toast on THIS boat!
Let's say you enjoy a slice of toast with your breakfast.  But your boat has no toaster. (This isn't a yacht! There's not a lot of counter space in the galley!)

Or say you DO have a toaster but you are anchored out, not plugged in to shore power. 

That toaster will drain your house batteries faster than you can say "What about my blow dryer?"

A Toast to Toast

Never fear. You can still make delicious buttery toast in two minutes flat. 
Whoever said, "Cheese alone does not
constitute dinner" never shopped at
a Montreal fromagerie!
  1. Melt some butter in your trusty skillet.
  2. Take a slice of bread.  Dip it quickly in the melted butter, then turn it over and put the plain side down in the remaining butter (the butter-dipped side is up)
  3. Adjust your heat to medium-low.  Give it a minute.
  4. Use a spatula to check. 
  5. When the bread looks toasty, flip it. 
  6. You already buttered the side that is now down against the pan.  No need to add more butter!
  7. Repeat step 4.  When your toast is ready, breakfast is served.
Garlic bread variation: For when you're serving spaghetti but you don't want to heat up the boat by turning the oven on. (Or you only need enough garlic bread for two):
  1. Use Italian bread
  2. Add a little garlic powder and oregano to the butter as it melts
  3. Enjoy!
Always remember, a well-fed Captain is a happy Captain!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Lock On!

Quick links:
Check Facebook for a photo album showing our transit of Carillon Lock!
And another FB album for the St. Anne de Bellevue Lock. (Both are on the Ottawa River)

On Beyond the Rideau

Rideau Canal locktenders don't need to hit the gym to lift weights after work!
We loved the Rideau Canal and its charming limestone locks, their doors operated by locktenders using antique machinery.  We were sad to say goodbye.

Happily, we still have many more historic Canadian canals to transit!

On Saturday July 7 we left our peaceful anchorage on the Ottawa River, headed east toward the Carillon and St. Anne-de-Bellevue locks, and ultimately, Montreal.

Before the Locks, a Log Castle!

We stopped at the town of Montebello to view its most famous attraction, The World's Largest Log Castle. (For real! The world's largest structure built entirely of logs. Red cedar, specifically.) This picture doesn't do it justice; you're seeing one tiny corner of the whole.

Chateau Montebello was built in 1930, using 3,500 workers who finished the job in four months. For its first 40 years, it operated as a private club. (Jews were not allowed, among others).  Today it's a luxury resort with stables,  mini-golf, and off-road SUVing.

He's Still a Handy Man to Have Around

We stopped for the night in the town of Hawkebury.  Our dorm-sized boat fridge took this opportunity to die, leaking loads of water from the frosted freezer compartment across the kitchen floor.

Cap got 'er fixed up just about as fast as he got that new water pump installed. Ice cubes didn't even thaw.

Going Under the Guillotine

Check out the counterweight that raises and lowers the gate!
To make the trip through the lock with us, see the album on Facebook.
On Sunday, July 8, we set a course down the Ottawa River for the Carillon Lock. Like the Rideau, this brief canal and its single lock were constructed after the War of 1812 as part of a proactive military effort to make sure they had transportation channels that would be safe from American attack.

Where the Rideau is almost unchanged since it was built nearly 200 years ago, the Carillon was majorly reconstructed when a hydro dam was completed in 1964.  So this lock is modern as modern can be, lifting (or lowering) boats about 64 feet.

The striking 200-ton"Guillotine Gate" at the downstream end of the lock goes up and down like, well, the blade of a guillotine--a contrast to traditional lock gates that swing like doors.

When Locking Through, Bring Cookies

On the Rideau, a locktender had told us that he and his colleagues looked favorably on boats that bestowed pastries. So Cap was ready with a platter of freshly baked peanut butter cookies for the two young ladies who handled our lines.

From Carillon we had a windy and bouncy ride up the river. Finally we reached the safe harbor of St. Anne-de Bellevue, where the lock, in great contrast to Carillon, lifts just a few feet.

The St. Anne locktenders were just as charming as the Carillon locktenders, and just as pleasingly surprised by their cookies.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

He's a Handy Man to Have Around

That's what I always say about Cap. Witness Friday morning July 6. 
Uh oh. Serious toolboxes. This means trouble . . .
We’re ready to leave the Lac Leamy Casino for the next stage of our trip, 100 miles on the Ottawa River. Our water pump chooses this moment to die.

This is bad. We plan to anchor out the next few days. Without a pump, our sinks, shower, and toilet won't work. What will we do for water?

Brilliant Save!

My hero to the rescue!
Flash back to Kingston, at the head of the Rideau Canal. We visited Vandervoort General Store, a funny old-fashioned place that, in addition to curtains and t-shirts, sells marine supplies. 

“The water pump’s been acting up,” Cap said. “They have the pump we need.  Maybe we should get it.

"But it’s expensive,” he sighed, putting the box back on the shelf. 

“I think we should get it,” said the crew, fishing out a Visa card.

So when our pump died this week, we had a backup pump on the boat. No need to search frantically for a West Marine and figure out how to get there without a car.

Cap  installed the new pump in about an hour flat.  Because even though he’s not a certified marine mechanic, he plays one in this movie.

Hello, Ottawa River

Tall silos and silver steeples
 can be useful aids to navigation!
The previous days had been scorching. This day was cool, overcast and windy.  The Ottawa River is wide, so the wind kicks up whitecaps and little rollers. 

We hunkered in sweatshirts, cruising past  cottages with docks, big farms with tall silos, and little towns marked by their churches. 

Tinplate is a common roofing material for French-Canadian churches, and the silver steeples gleamed even on this dull day.

Let Me Tell You a Ferry Tale

At one point, Cap called crew on deck. ‘Grab your binoculars and take a look. I can’t figure this out! 

"These two boats seem to be weaving back and forth, passing each other.” Why would they be doing that?

As we drew closer the optical illusion resolved. Not two but six big ferries. Not passing one another in line, up and down the river, but traversing across.

This is not a drill. Where should you pilot your SlowBoat?
Now we had an interesting challenge: How to thread the needle.  The ferries had the right of way. They were moving quickly--much faster than we could run. At any given moment at least two were mid channel, sometimes more than two. There didn't seem to be a pattern to when they departed shore. Could we stay out of their way?

We didn't move QUITE as fast as this jet skis. But pretty good for a SlowBoat!
This was where Cap’s back-up battery bank proved its worth. 

Calling on both batteries banks at once, he was able to punch up a little extra power and goose us through the gauntlet.

Where We Stayed

We anchored out that night in a narrow channel behind Isle Dube. No signs of human habitation. No road noise. Water pump performing perfectly.

At dusk a chorus of birdsong broke out, including the haunting spiral of a veery, a bird of deep woods.

We lit the Shabbat candles and said our usual prayers--substituting “boat” for “home” in the blessings.


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