Monday, August 18, 2014

Chandler to ... PEI? Home at last!!!

When we left Candler yesterday morning at 5am, we were intending to make an 80 NM passage to Mirimichi and anchor behind Portage Island. The weather, however, had other ideas.

As the tide was low, at 5:30am we warped the boat off the fuel dock at the Chandler Marina and keeping to the outside in the deeper side of the channel between the two docks made our way out of the marina. The sun was hidden behind gray skies and the wind was light. The 3AM forecast had said winds would be light then south 10 to 15. There were a few waves, but nothing like the day before so we headed out. We figured that if we could maintain an average of 6 knots, we could make the anchorage in 14 hours, before nightfall.

Unfortunately, conditions deteriorated throughout the day. Winds became 20-25 from the southwest, meaning we were bashing nose to wind, making for an uncomfortable and bouncy ride. We motor-sailed, but we were not able to point directly towards our destination due to the waves. Unlike  the large gentle waves of the previous morning, these waves were short, choppy and if you didn't catch them exactly right, the boat would go over one and then slam down hard into the next wave. It was a very gray day, with the water and the sky seeming to meld into one another and there were intermittent showers. Sometimes, a wave would be steeper than you expected and you had to react quickly to navigate it smoothly. This also meant hand steering, which is so much more tiring than autopilot. If you didn't gauge the wave right, you slammed into, tossing the boat wildly. At one point, I was below in the bow getting something and Jay didn't successfully react to the wave and I actually went airborne. My feet left the floor as the boat dropped from underneath my feet and then rushed back up. I was holding on to the doorknob so I have a few minor bruises but managed not to injure myself severely. Needless to say we didn't send a lot of time below.

By 4pm it was clear we were not going to make our intended destination before dark. We had veered so far off course that it was going to take more daylight than we had left to reach the anchorage. In the waves, we had also slowed to about 5 knots. As this coast of New Brunswick has lots of shifting sand dunes we were not comfortable with entering a strange anchorage at night. We briefly considered back tracking to Shippigan Gully, but according to guidebooks it is a fishing port with no amenities. Also, we knew we would soon cross into the Northumberland Strait which had light winds all day and so the seas should calm down. There is a 45 NM stretch from Shippigan Gully to Mirimichi where there is no place to pull in, anchor or tie up. Richibucto, Buctouche or Shediac were options.

Our spare diesel jerry cans were lashed onto the bow but some strong waves crashing over the sides had dislodged both. I was keeping a wary eye on them and planning as soon as  the waves calmed to go forward and re-lash them. After one particularly large wave, the port side jerry can slipped over the side, with only a small rope (the secondary line) keeping it attached to the boat. Jay donned his life jacket and safety line and, with me slowing the boat right down to keep it as steady as possible, he went forward to rescue the jerry can, keeping himself tied on with his safety line at all times. With the boat slowed down, the waves were manageable, so we decided to top up our fuel by empting both cans into the tank. Less than twenty minutes later we were on our way again.

As we moved into the Northumberland Strait, waves and wind quieted and sailing became relatively smooth. However, as darkness fell, it was pitch black. The cloud cover was so heavy, no moon or stars were in evidence, nor were any lights from land visible.The rain at times was so heavy we could not see any lights on shore. The radar and the chartplotter were all that kept us moving.  We were adrift in a sea of darkness. We could see small intense rain showers on the radar and track them as they approached.

Despite the blackness of the night, we made relatively good time. Our course took us close to West Point PEI. Around 11pm, after some discussion, we decided that since Summerside was not more than 2-3 hours further than Shediac, we would push on and rather than enter Shediac Bay before sunrise, we would enter Summerside Harbour just after daybreak.

The night passed uneventfully as we motor-sailed in about 10 knots of wind. Although Jay saw many lobster buoys, while I was on the wheel, it was so dark and rainy I never saw any. As I took the helm at 5am, I watched the sky lighten as Summerside, PEI came into view. I have never seen such a welcome sight.

After a 150NM and a 25 hour crossing we were home in PEI. We still have to sail to our home base in Souris, but it is really great to be back in PEI!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Gaspé to Chandler

We arrived in Chandler today after a 50 NM trip from Gaspé. The Bay of Gaspé is very long. Although the wind was light, large rolling waves (6-9 feet) were still coming into the Bay. However,  they were evenly spaced, so although we needed to brace ourselves, the boat handled them easily and we were able to maintain over 6 knots. It was 25 miles to the famous Percé Rock. By then the waves had become shorter, but steeper and closer together, making it more challenging to steer into them carefully so the boat wouldn't slam into them.  With only 5-10 knots of wind on our nose sailing was out of the question, so it made for a slog to Chandler.

We did see a whale, porpoises and several seals though I wasn't able to reach for a camera to snap any photos. Even my photos of Percé Rock are minimal as with the boat bouncing n the waves I found it difficult to steady the camera to take photos.

About 3pm we arrived in Chandler, Quebec. This is a very small marina which must be navigated very carefully at low tide. With only 4 foot 6 inches draft, My Obsession made it in by carefully keeping to the right-hand side between the two docks. We pulled along the fuel dock and were sitting in about 6 feet of water about 2 hours before low tide. We were told it drops to a low of 5 feet along the fuel dock.

Although there are no staff, all the members were extremely friendly and helpful. With the help of several members we got a pumpout and were told we could stay on the fuel dock for the night. Marina fees were very reasonable at $1 per foot. There is a nice restaurant on premises and very clean bathroom and shower facilities. The town is only a short walk away. Chandler is the second largest town in the Gaspé region after Gaspé itself.

There is a nice walking trail nearby and a very nice beach. Although we can hear the crashing of the waves, we are very well protected.


Friday, August 15, 2014


The weather has been very uncooperative with strong southeast winds so we have stayed put in Gaspé. Tomorrow (Saturday) we hope to leave. Winds are forecast to be Southeast again, but only 10-15 knots. So although the wind will be on our nose for part of it, it should be light enough that seas will be manageable.

Gaspé has been a pleasant stop. The marina is an easy walk to shopping and the downtown and it has all the amenities. The scenery is beautiful and Forillon National Park is nearby. Unfortunately, the pumpout has been out of commission, so we have been using facilities on land as much as possible. We are told the nearest working pumpout is Chandler, so we will head their tomorrow. It should also make a good jumping off point for crossing Chaleur Bay and heading into New Brunswick.

Gaspé is known as a landing spot for Jacques Cartier who erected a wooden cross to claim the land for France in 1534. In 1934 a granite cross was erected to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Cartier. There is a lovely walking trail nearby.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rimouski to Gaspé

The currents are no longer a major factor from Rimouski east when coming down river, so we left on our overnight passage to Gaspé (about 214 NM) about 8am on Monday (August 11).  We seem to be always saddled with unfavourable winds. So, unfortunately we motored almost the whole way. The winds were either too light or right on our nose. Although southwest winds are the prevailing winds in this area, we experienced east and southeast winds. By the time we entered Gaspe Bay on Tuesday morning, the winds had increased and had resulted in a fair chop at the entrance to the Bay, requiring hands and feet to brace oneself, although the seas were only about 2 metres.  We could have raised the sails again for the last hour of our journey, but after almost 30 hours, we just wanted to arrive at dock and take a nap.

We had a relatively uneventful crossing. We stayed about 2 miles offshore and in some areas experienced the katabatic winds written about in cruising guides for the Gaspé. We would be registering 4 knots of wind, then as we would approach a valley the winds would climb to 20-25 knots until we had passed.  
One of my favourite parts of an overnight passage is being able to witness sunset and sunrise on the water. We were also just past a full moon, a supermoon in fact, but I do not have any photos of it. The moonlight made for an easy passage however.  After 31 hours we have arrived in Gaspé.



Monday, August 11, 2014

Saguenay to Rimouski

On Sunday, August 10th we travelled from Tadoussac to Rimouski, leaving the Saguenay River behind. Again we timed our departure from our anchorage a few miles upriver to coincide with an ebb tide from the Saguenay and favourable currents all the way to Rimouski.

Although the morning was clear when we pulled anchor, by the time we reached the St. Lawrence, a fog was descending. This passing tanker looked a bit eerie in the fog.

The St. Lawrence River was like a mirror it was so calm, so no sailing again. However, the glass-like surface of the water made spotting sea life very easy, our reward for having to motor.  We were delighted to see three whales, many belugas, and loads of seals and porpoises during the 61 NM crossing. At one point the fog was so think, visibility was extremely limited. The surface of the water and the air seemed to fade into one white-grey mass, leaving you with the no perception of distance. We were thankful for radar once again. As we motored into the fog in over 500 feet of water, it felt like we were all alone in the world. Then, out of the fog I spotted a whale, a humpback I think from perusing the identification guide. It swam slowly past us, headed up the river, displaying its glorious flukes. For a moment we watched it pass us by, amazed by its size, and then we were alone again in the fog.

However, the most exciting encounter we had was when a beluga began to surface about 15 feet off our stern starboard quarter. I was at the wheel and immediately powered down. He was so close, I am not sure who was more surprised, me or the beluga. He dove and came up again about 10-15 feet off our port side. I was so excited that I could barely get the words out of my mouth to alert Jay. The beluga stayed just under the surface, the water so clear we could see its whole length. It breached a second time and then dove again. It repeated this several times until it was out of view. I was so overcome with excitement with such a close encounter; I forgot to reach for my camera.

The third spot in the St. Lawrence River where the current can be so strong that it pays to time your passage with the current is near Ile Rouge off the mouth of the Saguenay. We rode a strong 3-4 knot current through this area, passing six cargo ships anchored awaiting the turn of the tides. With the favourable current we were in Rimouski mid-afternoon, which gave us time for boat chores and provisioning.   

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Belugas and the Saguenay River

We left Quebec City on Thursday (August 7) at 2pm. We decided to take the Île d’Orléans Channel from Quebec City which passes in front of the Montmorency Falls, which at 250 feet are nearly 100 feet higher than Niagara Falls.  This route also passes in front of Ste Anne de Beaupré. Once again we experienced some thunder and rain, but the worse part of the storm was following the ridge just to the north and missed us.

As we rejoined the North Channel, we kept on the north side of the river passing beside the picturesque Laurentian Mountains on the coast. 
On this stretch Cap-â-l’Aigle is the only port accessible at any time of the tidal cycle, as many others dry out at low tide.  It is 72 miles from Quebec City.  For a boat that does 6 knots, you should leave Quebec City at 2 to 3 hours before high tide at Quebec City. With this, you fight the flood current for the first little while, but it is the only way to make sure you reach Île aux Coudres before the flood current returns. At Île aux Coudres, the river narrows as it passes between the island and the mainland. We again experienced a favourable current reaching 13 knots speed.

As darkness fell, we could see relatively well as there was almost a full moon. The wind picked up if we were too close to shore, right on our nose, but if we stayed out a bit it was reasonable. As we approached Cap-â-l’Aigle, we decided to keep going and make for an anchorage at Port-aux-Quilles. About 1am we approached the anchorage. As we motored closer to shore, the wind picked up to almost 20 knots. Suddenly, the bow of the boat swept sharply to port.  I let the boat turn to port and rounded up and my speed dropped from 7 knots to 4 knots. I had obviously been caught off guard in a strong current.  No harm was done, but I decided right then, we were not going to try and approach land and anchor in the wind and current in the dark in a strange port. So, it was on to the Saguenay River.
Unfortunately, there is also a strong current at the mouth of the Saguenay. The flood current rushing into to river mouth lasts 4 to 5 hours and the ebb current coming out lasts 7 to 8 hours. The ideal time to enter for a boat doing 6 knots is about 2 hours after low tide at Pointe-au-Père. Unfortunately, the timing did not work well for us. As we approached the mouth of the Saguenay about 4am, we were facing an ebb tide, and so we were against a 4 knot current for a short while, meaning we were only making between 2 and 3 knots of speed.

However, by 6 am we had entered the River, passed Tadoussac and anchored at Anse à la Barque, a mile upriver from Pointe de l’Islet on the north bank. We made breakfast and had a nap. The tide was dropping so although Jay had a great nap, I had trouble sleeping as we had to anchor so close to shore in this deep cove. I was curled up in the cockpit and when i would open my eyes and se the shore so close it would give me a start.
By 11am we had pulled anchor and set out further upriver. The Saguenay fjord is beautiful. The river banks tower 300 metres high. The water is 900 feet deep in many places.  You can navigate 68 miles of the 93 miles of the Saguenay River.  Commercial ships do go as far upriver as La Baie, but navigation is easy as the river is between 0.6 and 2 miles wide and is very deep until right up close to shore.

Much of the area is within the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park and marine life is abundant. It wasn’t long before we spotted belugas. These whales are 10-16 feet in length and can weigh 700-1500kg. They are highly protected so you cannot go looking for them. When you see them, you cannot approach to within 400 metres. If one comes within 200 metres, you should halt and wait for it to move on before continuing.  But they are amazing creatures. I must say, I have missed seeing marine life while in the Great Lakes.

Around 2pm, we were caught in another thunderstorm and very heavy rain. Visibility was very poor, so we entered Anse St. Jean and anchored for the night. By 3:30pm, the last of the rain had passed and we enjoyed a very calm and beautiful evening. The tide range was 15 feet, so we anchored carefully to make sure we would not be aground in low tide. The bay is several hundred feet deep, except right close to shore, affording a small area which is shallow enough to anchor, but which will still have water at low tide.
This morning, we pulled anchor and travelled 9 miles further upriver to Baie Éternité. This mile long bay is stunning, between Cap Éternité  and Cap Trinité. The water is so deep alongside the cliffs that you can navigate very close to shore as the sheer cliffs tower above you.  There is no good anchorage in this bay, unfortunately. The Park has installed mooring buoys, but only 4 of the 13 that are supposed to be there are actually still there. All the mooring buoys were full, so we circled the bay taking countless photos.   

About 400 feet up on Cap Trinité there is a 32 foot statue of the Virgin Mary. It was rough hewn out of wood, coated with lead and hoisted to the top of the cliff in 1881.  About 300 feet higher stands a large cross.

At this point we decided to work our way to the mouth of the River again. On our way back, we were again able to observe some belugas.

In Quebec City, we had been docked next to a family from the region and they had marked up our chart with possible anchorages and had given Jay lots of great information. We always learn so much when we can get local knowledge about an area.  I write this post from one of the anchorages he had suggested to us – Anse aux Petites Îsles.  It is calm and peaceful. The sun has gone behind the cliff and will be setting before long. Jay is playing the guitar and all is right in my world. This detour has been very worthwhile!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Quebec City

I am so glad we decided to make Quebec City a stop on our trip back to PEI. We have spent the past few days walking around Vieux Quebec, visiting the fortifications of the Citadelle, the Governor General’s second residence, the Farmer’s Market, and thoroughly enjoying the sights, sounds and tastes of the city. A highlight was the Saint Louis Forts and Chateaux National Historic Site which opened in 2010. Under Dufferin Terrace in front of the Chateau Frontenac, these ruins show the first floor of the first dwellings on this site, dating from the 1600s.

Not only does Dufferin Terrace offer wonderful views of the St. Lawrence River, but in front of the Chateau Frontenac there are often buskers. We took in several shows. The Funiculaire also has an entrance onto the Terrace, linking Petit Champlain with Upper Town. This was a favourite way for us to reach the Terrace (and avoid a steep uphill walk and the 124 Frontenac steps).  A ride costs only $2.25 a person in this glass enclosed outdoor railway. Originally opened in 1879, a ride on the funiculaire is not to be missed. The view is beautiful as you rise up the cliff.   
Every street seems to boast a new artisan or musician to discover. And sidewalk patios are a great place to watch the world go by. There were several art shows happening during our visit. On August 6th we also got to see the Opening Parade for Les Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France. The costumes were amazing. After the festival, we took in one of the best fireworks displays I have ever seen. It was part of the Lotto Quebec series and lasted 25 minutes. We stood on Dufferin Terrace, as the fireworks were set off from a barge in the river in front of us. It was amazing.

My only regret is that we cannot stay longer as there is still so much to see and do here. The Cirque de Soleil has a show happening right beside the marina, and we have not had time to get there.  Although we explored much of the old town, there are still several museums to visit, many shops to check out and lots of great restaurants. I am astonished how often we drive by Quebec without stopping on our way between the Maritimes and Ontario. It really is delightful.

 However, we must continue moving east. So this morning it has been time to do laundry and a few other small chores on the boat to be ready to leave at 2pm to catch a favourable tide.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Surfing the Tides

A sailor’s best friends when travelling between Trois-Rivierès and Rimouski on the St. Lawrence River is the Tides and Current Tables and Atlas of Tidal Currents. There are three places in particular when the river narrows and the tides can be quite strong. So strong, in fact, that for a sailboat which averages 6 to 7 knots of speed, if there isn’t a favourable current, you may as well stay put and wait for the tide change and the next current.

Between Trois-Rivierès and Quebec City, the narrow spot you have to navigate is Richelieu Rapids, between Grondines and Portneuf. The river here is only 450m wide and the channel only 250m wide. The ebb current (flowing downriver from Trois Rivieres to Quebec) lasts 10 hours and the flood current (flowing the other way) only 2 hours. The ebb current is around 6 knots, reaching up to 8 knots with spring tides. To make the most of the current and avoid fighting an unfavourable current, we needed to leave 8 hours before low tide in Quebec City, which for August 4th, meant leaving at 2:30am.
We pulled anchor and picked our way through several other boats at anchor to make our way back into the main channel. The moon had already set and it was overcast, so there was no extra light.

Although we’ve made overnight trips before, including some in heavy fog, this trip was a little unnerving.  The St Lawrence is a major highway for cargo ships, and the channel is not overly wide.  Although the ships are well lit, particularly from a distance, they are very difficult to distinguish from lights on land.  The channels in the St Lawrence are well marked, so at night, you see a vast array of blinking red and green lights along the horizon, backed up by street lights, buildings, and passing cars on land.  With no sun or moon, distances are impossible to judge.  Within the first hour, three cargo ships passed.  We were never in any real danger – although it is difficult to tell them from a distance, it becomes clear as they get closer.  However, it still keeps you on edge and alert, wondering if every collection of lights in the distance is going to be meeting you in a narrow channel in a few minutes.  One flashed a spotlight at us several times to make sure we saw him.
At one point, while Jay was on the helm, he saw a collection of lights in the distance, having the
clear pattern of a cargo ship, including the green starboard light indicating which direction the ship is moving.  He dutifully moved well over to the far side of the channel to maximize the distance.  But then looking ahead at the chart, he realized that this ship was not in the channel – it was in a location where no big ships should ever go.  It took a few minutes to get close enough to see that his large cargo ship was, in fact, a church steeple lit up with multiple lights rising on top of a hill, next to a green range light on land.  At another time, one of the cargo ships only became clear once more distant lights began winking in and out as it passed in front.  It looked so much like lights on land that we were fooled for quite a while.   

There was only 4 knots of wind, and that was straight on our bow, so again, we motored. Around 5:30am the sun came up and painted the sky very pretty colours through the clouds.
About 6:10am we reached the Richelieu Rapids area and I watched the GPS increase from 8.5 and 9 knots (already faster than our usual 6 to 7 knots) to 12.6 knots. The highest speed we reached was 12.7. It positively felt like we were surfing through that area.  
By 10:30am we had completed the 68NM journey from Trois-Rivierès and were waiting for the lock to open to enter the Port of Quebec Marina in Louise Basin. The Port has about 415 berths and can accommodate boats from 25 to 300 feet in length.  The tidal change here is about 20 feet, and unless the tide is close to mid way, the marina has to be accessed through a lock which operates from 7am to half past midnight. (Use Channel 71 to reach the lockmaster.) This is a full service marina with very nice facilities, including laundry, very nice showers, and a pool. It is also within easy walking distance of a great farmer’s market, grocery, lower town and Vieux Quebec with its wonderful sights.  Although it cost about $99 a night for My Obsession, it was worth it.
By 11:00am we had topped our fuel and were safely ensconced in a berth, just in time for a surprise visit from my Mom and Dad who were travelling in the area!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Aground in Lac St. Pierre in the St. Lawrence River

My grandmother used to have premonitions. Sometimes I think I have just a touch of her ability. I woke up this morning from a half dream where I was thinking about running aground. As we motored out of the Lac St. Pierre delta and back into the main channel, I mentioned to Jay how I was avoiding a shallow channel as I didn’t want to run aground. As he took the wheel as we crossed Lac St. Pierre, I commented to him that the lake was very shallow in places and that we should stay in the main shipping channel.  However, just an hour after we pulled anchor we were aground. The good news is we do not seem to have sustained any damage. The bottom was mud and although we travelling about 8 knots with the current we seemed to have come to a sliding stop rather than a hard stop. Within a few minutes we had successfully reversed out of the mud and returned to the main channel.

 I can easily understand how it happened. There was a caution marker painted red marking the edge of the area and it could easily be mistaken for a red buoy. Jay took a picture of one to prove how confusing it could be. The channel went from 30 feet to 1 foot in less than a boat length. It took just a moment of inattention and we were aground.

 Today is hot, sunny and very hazy with no wind, so once again no sailing. The only waves we felt as we motored to Trois Rivieres are those caused by the wake of passing motor boats. At 3pm we arrived in Trois Rivieres and anchored in the river just to the east of town.  We have only travelled 30NM today. It is a busy thoroughfare and we are rocked by passing motorboats continuously, but as we need to get up at 2am to catch the tide/current tomorrow on our way to Quebec City, it will be fine. On the way up, we had bypassed Quebec City and stopped here at the marina, but this time we want to spend a few days in Quebec City.  I can hardly wait!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Varennes to Ile de Sables

We are both tired today as it was such a long tiring day yesterday, so we decided to make a short day of it (40 NM) . Again there is almost no wind (3 knots) and it is hot and sunny.  We left Varennes around 8am and had a very uneventful morning. At 1:30pm we dropped anchor in the Lac St. Pierre Archipelago. We are anchored in a small channel running between Grand Isle and Isle de Sable.  It is very peaceful and beautiful. We plan to spend the afternoon relaxing and maybe doing a bit of work.

The cottages are all small, unassuming little places built on stilts. Docks disappear into all grasses which line the banks of each of these islands. It is very different from the Thousand Islands.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The last locks on the Seaway

Today has been a long exhausting day. We left Salaberry de Valleyfield for the 40 minute motor to the start of the Beauharnois Canal. There is a bridge near the entrance to the Canal. When we arrived, a sign stated next opening was at 1pm. It was 7am! We tried raising the bridgemaster on VHF to confirm, but there was no response. This had been the case in this area for us when we had come up two years ago. You do not hail the bridgemaster, the lights communicate. We checked the Seaway website which indicated a ship was due at the bridge in just over an hour downbound and shortly thereafter another one was scheduled for upbound. This information is actually for motorists indicating if the bridges are open or closed, but it gave us the information we were looking for. So we decided to circle, hoping we could squeeze through with the commercial traffic. Sure enough, an hour later, we could see two ships, one coming in each direction, converging on the bridge. It opened, but the light remained red. Jay tried one last time to reach the bridgemaster and this time was successful. He gave us permission to go through ahead of the two boats. We quickly motored through and continued up the Canal.

At 9am we reached the St. Louis bridge, but it opened as we arrived and we passed through quickly and easily.  At 9:50, we arrved at the Upper Beauharnois Locks. The lock lights were red and we could see a ship in the lock, so we tied up to the Pleasure Boat dock to call the lockmaster from the phone. Two other power boats arrived at the same time we did. We were told it would be an hour wait. That our turned into two hours before we were given the go ahead to enter the lock. By this time, there were 15 powerboats and two sailboats (one of them us) waiting to enter. They ask the large boats to go against the wall and smaller boats to raft up to them. There were four rows of power boats in front of us and we had the other sailboat (a Beneteau 352) rafted to us. The man from the other sailboat came aboard our boat to help keep us off the wall, while I tended the bow line and Jay the stern line. At Beauharnois you descend 42 feet at each of the Upper and Lower locks. The extra person aboard was helpful as we were able to easily keep the boat off the wall, and the other sailor’s spouse made sure that their boat  was properly secured to ours as we descended.
By 1:30pm we were through the Lower Beauharnois lock too, again rafted to the other sailboat. They were a very nice French couple from Sorel-Tracey. They provided us with helpful information on anchorages in Sorel-Tracey and Trois Rivieres. I spoke more French this afternoon than I have in ages. It was great to practice. We ended up motoring/locking with them all day.
The CPR bridges opened easily without waiting and we arrived at the St. Catherine lock about 4pm. Once again we were told it would be an hour before the next lockage. Again we were rafted with the other sailboat when locking through. We had all become old hands at the procedure. We would enter before them. Lines would be lowered to us bow and stern and we would tie them off. We would then grab lines from their boat and tie them to us as they pulled alongside us. The man would come onto our boat with his boat hook and we would chat while waiting. When we would begin to descend, Jay and I would untie our lines and hold them wrapped around the cleat, slackening them as we descended, making sure that the spreaders did not touch the side and that the radar, etc. on our stern pole did not touch. When we had reached the bottom, he would return to his boat. We would temporarily tie off the lock lines, untie his lines and push him off, then untie the lock lines and push off the wall, motoring on our way.
At 7pm we exited the last lock (St. Lambert) and passed by la Ronde amusement park. The current is strong in this area in Montreal, about 2.5 to 3 knots. We reached speeds of 10 knots as we left Montreal behind us. Given the late hour, we chose an alternate anchorage off Varennes for the night and dropped anchor around 8:40pm, as the sun was setting.
It is calm tonight, so we are not too concerned even though this secondary channel is a bit more exposed than what we would normally select. Jay has elected to sleep in the cockpit tonight as it is so hot. I can see the red glow of Montreal off our bow.  We have only travelled 55 NM today in 14 hours of travelling and I am exhausted.

It had taken a full day for us to do this same stretch in the opposite direction two years ago. Most of the way there is a very small current that helped out, pushing us to 8 knots or more. However, there was a lot of waiting for bridges and locks.