Friday, June 27, 2008

Chambly, Sorel, and Montreal

Today is Friday, June 27th. We have successfully made our entry into Canada, and are now in Montreal. Hooray--we have wi-fi! And what an interesting last few days we've had.

We left Rouses Point, NY early Tuesday morning, going about 3 miles north into Canada and to a small building on the water to clear customs. We tied up alongside the customs wall, Louis went in with our passports, boat documentation, and Buddy's papers--they asked if we had any firearms on board, the purpose of our visit, and how long we intended to stay in Canada. Louis said, "No firearms---doing 'the Loop'---and 6 weeks". The customs official smiled and said, "Have a nice stay in Canada." That was it--simple! Whew! For some reason, we both had worried this might be difficult.

OK, so it's 8:45am and we've cleared customs, and we're so excited to be in Canada, Quebec Province--too early to break out the champagne--but we seriously thought about it! There were 3 boats traveling together that morning--"Prime Time, "Segue", and us. I don't think any of us realized it was June 24th---Saint Jean de Baptiste Day--a Quebec Province only holiday. No wonder EVERYONE was outside--bicycling, rollerblading, walking, fishing, etc. As we were going through the Chambly Canal and its' locks, all along the sides of the canal and at every lock, people would stop to watch the boats lock through. Mile after mile of this. We felt as if we were in a parade--waving and talking with people on both sides of the boat--it was so much fun!

Lake Champlain feeds into the Chambly Canal, which feeds into the Richelieu, which feeds into the Saint Lawrence River, at Sorel. The Chambly Canal is a series of locks, all going down to the Richelieu. The Chambly is very narrow in most parts, with a road on the port side, and a great bicycle/walking path on the starboard. This goes on for a good 12 miles, we estimated. The speed for the boat has to be very slow (max speed 5.4 knots), so slow that in fact an elderly man on a four wheel scooter passed us twice! (locking taking up the "lap" time for us) That was hysterical! We saw thousands of people of all ages out enjoying their holiday--it was a beautiful day.

We arrived at the town of Chambly by mid afternoon. We tied up along the wall there, and were soon to find out that this place was a Looper's paradise. A grocery store not a block away, lots of ice cream shops, several nice restaurants right there too, and eureka!--a nice, green, grassy, park right alongside the wall--not 4 feet from the boat. Perfect for Buddy--he finally got off leash and got to be himself again. Color him a super happy Looper dog!

We had drinks on "Chaos", joining "Distant Shores", "Segue", and "Prime Time". It's always fun meeting new Looper friends and sharing stories and information--especially with the Loopers who are on their 2nd or 3rd Loop. We had a great evening!

Wednesday morning we left the wall about 9am and went through our last 3 locks on the Chambly Canal. These 3 were especially interesting because we went directly from #3 into #2 into #1--a "step" down lock if there ever was one. We had the same young people helping us with our lines at all three locks--that was nice for us.

We traveled the Richelieu seeing pretty houses and several cable ferry boats---the houses, trees, and water color being very similar to Lake Hyco. Most houses had clothes swinging on clotheslines in the stiff breeze and others seemed to have white glider swings down by the water--although we saw not a soul in a single swing! What a shame and what a difference from the day before when everyone was outside. We had no one to wave to that day!

We arrived in Sorel, gave the boat a good bath, and went to dinner with "Prime Time" at a nearby, lovely french restaurant--having probably the best creme brule we've ever had. Reading menus in french is awkward at best for us, but we had a great translator--thanks Gary! If our calculations are correct, Sorel will be the furthermost north we will go on this trip--unless we find a spot in the Georgian Bay that's more north. We didn't spend any time sightseeing in Sorel, hoping to get an early start for Montreal on Thursday. We knew we would have to fight the current all the way up the Saint Lawrence--a long, slow day of traveling.

Thursday, after 6 hours of traveling, we get to Montreal---coming through currents that were terrible. At one point right before we got to the marina here, we were going against a 6 knot current! Louis remarked that some sailboats would not be able to make any headway--they's be sitting still. Amazing. And in fact, there are two marinas here and I haven't seen a single sailboat--they just can't get here.

Montreal is the second largest french speaking city in the world--over one million people live here too. It is also a huge port city, employing over 23,000 people at the 16 mile long port. Our path to the marina yesterday took us past all 16 miles of it too--boring--not a particularly pretty route, but the only one to take. We had several huge container ships and barges pass us on our way here--they don't even notice the current--the wakes were fun for Louis and Buddy.

Our marina, The Yacht Club Montreal, is a 3 year old one--right in front of "Old Town"--a perfect spot! Debbie Lapalme, the Agent de port here, has been wonderful in guiding us to interesting places nearby--she speaks wonderful english, TYJ! The city is gearing up for Canada Day--July 1st, (like our 4th)--and no where is it more visable than along the water right here in front of us. Lots of white tents have been put up today, there's a small circus down just one wharf, and we expect a lot more activity all around us--building up to Tuesday night's fireworks. It's exciting! Canadians will take off from today through Tuesday--and we expect a lot of them will be on the water too. Ugh.

We took a 3 hour tour today of the city---on a Coach Canada bus! Who's reading this at Southern Coach?! We had a super driver/tour guide who's been "in the business" for 46 years. He and Louis had a good time talking about all the old buses that have come and gone and just business in general--making Louis happy. Our tour was really wonderful--making five stops at important places, but now I'm tired, so I'll have to blog about it later. Yawn. I want to get this one posted right now and go to bed! G'night!


Vance said...

Louis and Diane

It is great to take this trip with you. We at Southern Coach Co have been keeping up with you daily. We talk at lunch each day to find out what is going on. Diane you have done a great job letting all of the readers know just what you three are going thru. Keep up the great job and look forward to future readings.

Geni Slaughter said...

Dee, you're doing a wonderful job on these posts. We miss you guys here at the beach, but will video chat with you soon.
Love u bunches ~ Geni, Thomas, Clay, Katie and Taylor