Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rouses Point, NY - "USA"

This morning we were anxious to get going early and enter the Chambly Canal as soon as it opened, 8:30 a.m. Another boat docked near us, named Haddock, had a similar idea and got to the "Blueline" tie up a little bit after 8:00 a.m.  They entered the lock, which could only hold 2 boats, ahead of us and remained  there, to our consternation,  for the entire Chambly Canal.

Lock after lock after lock.  If we thought the Erie Canal was a ditch, the Chambly is a trench.  Narrow, with small locks and many swing bridges, it is single file only. 

Haddock was sightseeing, and it was like being stuck on a back road behind the Buick with Florida license plates.  The limit on the Chambly is 6 knots; Haddock crept along at around 5 knots.

The Chambly Canal runs alongside the Richelieu River, bypassing the many shallow places and rapids.   By using the dams and locks, the depth can be controlled to 2 meters, or about 5-6 feet. Right off, there were 3 flight locks, followed by another 6 close together.   It took 2 ½ hours to get through them all. 

The old towpath, used originally by mules to pull barges, was still intact and had been turned into a popular bicycle trail.  All of the bicycles were going much faster than we were.  While locking through, we chatted with a group of about 25 bicyclists who were traveling from Burlington, Vermont to Montreal, where they would take the train back.

The last serious obstacle was Swing Bridge #10.  According to the guidebooks, it closes down for lunch hour at 11:45 a.m., opening again at 12:45.  Thanks to Haddock, we arrived at Bridge #10 at 11:50 and had to wait for an hour for it to open.  

At 1:30 we approached the last swing bridge, but had to wait for a 3rd boat to clear lock #9 before it would open. If we planned to make time, today was not going to be the day.

At this point, the Chambly rejoins the Richelieu River, the channel opens up, and we headed for the U.S. Border at Rouses Point.  There we were met by two friendly customs agent, who quickly processed us. 

We have settled in at Gaines Marina after a long day.

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