Saturday, July 21, 2012

Longueuil, Canada

Yesterday we came down from Montebello to Ste. Anne de Bellevue. The cruise down the Ottawa River was very pleasant, no commercial boat traffic and open water.  On the way, we went through Carillon Lock, which dropped us 65 feet.  It was an easy drop, as you tie to floating docks. 

We have noticed many small, fast cruisers in our travels, and their mostly youthful owners are curious about our tug.  We've given a few tours, and the consensus is that when they retire, they want a tug, especially the ladies.

Arriving at Ste. Anne de Bellevue, a village on the south end of MontrĂ©al, we tied up on the upstream wall.  The town itself has many lively restaurants along the lock wall, but one block into town it quickly becomes less appealing. 

Boaters here have no inhibitions about running at night, and all but one of the boats tied with us left after the evening.  Between the beer drinkers hanging around the park, and the really loud train noise, it was a sleepless night. 

We decided to skip the tours of Montreal.  It would mean locking the dogs in the boat and leaving it unattended for many hours.  Have I mentioned this is the last time I am taking River on a cruise?  Amtrak charges $63 to get to Montreal from New York, a great bargain.

As far as bad days go, today, Saturday qualifies as an award winner.  We got up early and got through the Ste. Anne lock as soon as it opened, at 9:00 a.m.  We made the convoluted run through the lake around Montreal to Saint Lawrence Seaway and on to the Ste. Catherine Lock.  This is a commercial lock, not related to the Canadian Park Service and commercial traffic has priority. 

Had a terrible time trying to get tied up in the inadequate waiting basin, and then sat with a dozen other boats for 3 1/2 hours waiting to lock through while tankers and barges crawled in and out.  They finally took us, and they pack all of the pleasure craft into one lock through.  Sailboats, runabouts, cruisers, you are expected to raft up. 

We got through the lock and made the mad dash with the rest of the flotilla to Ste. Lambert, another commercial lock, where everyone place held for another hour. 

The only redeeming quality was that you got to talk to all manner of bored people.  Practice French, met a sailor from South America, and caught on some of the local stuff.  After Rafting up 3 deep and locking through we got to our Port de Plaisance marina in Longueuil at around 7:00 p.m.  The poor dogs went without a potty break for 10 hours!!!

Fortunately I had made a reservation ahead of time, as it turns out, Saturday is fireworks night in Montreal.  We got the last available slip.  MontrĂ©al is having some sort of fireworks competition, and every boat, RV, and human with a portable chair comes out to see them, which explained the many very small boats bobbing around in the St. Laurence seaway current.  Just as we were settling in around 10:00, BOOM! We couldn’t see the fireworks well due to the trees, and were too tired to walk to a viewing area, but we sure could hear them. Judging by the sounds, which went on and on, they were spectacular.

The best part of the day and the trip in general has been all the fascinating and friendly people we have meet along the way. Regardless of whether they could speak English or not they tried and we tried our French.  In the end, we learned about the local waters, points of interest, where boaters live and where they’ve been, what they do or want to do when they stop doing what they’re doing, and about their families and pets (the dogs are always a good conversation starter). 

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