Friday, November 30, 2012

Hard on the Hard

The mood is discernibly moribund at the marina come haul-out time. Day after day boats disappear form their slips and reappear in the parking lot on metal stands and blocks of wood. This is known as being "on the hard" and it's hard.

I had scheduled Topanga's haul out date to be as late as possible this year which allowed for some excellent autumn sailing. It was cool but also crisp and with significantly less pleasure craft traffic on the river which allowed for more room to freely maneuver.

In preparing for land the Rushmore team all pitched in for sail removal and folding. This is a job that is pretty difficult to do alone or with just two people.

The day inevitably came when we motored over to the fuel dock to pump out the septic tank and fill the fuel tank one last time. Then on the signal of the marina foreman we slid into the travel lift straps and were hoisted up into the air. I had paid $78 to have the hull immediately power washed; I was reticent because I thought I could do this myself once securely in place with my own power washer but figured I better go with the pros on this one. While the hull was being blasted I asked the guy how much pressure their washer produced and he said something insane like 5000psi and at 95 degrees Celsius. My power washer is give a piddly 1800 psi with no heating so I think I made the right choice on this splurge as the hull is clean as a whistle. I just wish it was included in the price of the haul out and not another marina "extra".

The marina reserves the right to place your boat wherever they choose and this year I was happy to be placed with all the other large sailing yachts. The previous year I was way on the other side with mostly motorboats. Additionally now she's on concrete versus gravel last year which will likely make less mess. Buoy do they pack them in! This guy was like a surgeon with the travel lift squeezing a 35' 15,000lbs boat literally a few inches from other boats.

Now that she's out we can see the full extend of the keel damage from hitting rocks earlier in the season. It actually looks worse that I had seen diving underwater, quite a chunk bitten out. We'll have to see the best repair options.

Once she was securely in place the long list of winterizing commenced. I am a huge believer in checklist and the one I've developed for wintering (among many other boat related checklists) is quite thorough...but can also always be improved. Antifreeze in the engine, antifreeze in the bilge, antifreeze in the head, empty water tanks, foot pumps, etc.

Last year my wintering protection was awful. I had such a hodgepodge of tarps covering the boat tied every which way that it looked like those Occupy Wall Street encampments. Unfortunately the snow and rain would pool and accumulate in the tarps instead of running off. This would thaw and refreeze forming huge heavy blocks of ice suspended 3" above the deck by a thin tarp at risk of tearing and disaster. I would go almost every weekend and from below with great exertion lift these block of ice and dump them off the side ("lookout below!") This was admittedly not one of my proudest engineering designs. This year however I have devised a system that I think will be far superior. Using some flexible pasting plumbing tubbing I am rigging ribs across the boat from stanchion to stanchion that should maintains an concave shape to allow snow / rain to run off. Two giant 40'x20' tarps on either side will create "seamless" protection. To overcome the challenges of the the side stays I will make precise incisions in the tarps to get the by the bales and then use Velcro tape to re-attach them. Thus far this design appears to be working well although not as perfectly as I envisaged. Firstly the tarps are actually too wide and run down to the ground causing all kinds if excess tarp that needs to be managed. Tarps 40'x15' would be ideal.
As usual, much thanks needs to be given to help from angels.

And now to winter thoughts of warmer winds.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labour of Love

Forget about the upcoming America’s Cup race in San Francisco, the Hudson Yacht Club Labour Day Regatta is where the real action is at. This is the preeminent event on the Montreal competitive sailing calendar and for a second year running Rushmore was there. The regatta is 3 full days and consists of a variety of racing formats. Last year’s race included some of the most exciting sailing aboard Rushmore and we came within a hair’s breadth of beating our nemesis. Needless to say we were looking forward to another shot at glory. Due to some “personal commitments” (another chapter in the Abi & Charles wedding - I mean some people need to get their priorities straight) our crew was one man short and included a replacement , our skipper’s lady friend, who, although we all assumed would be a liability and get special treatment ,ultimately turned out to be a valuable part of the team (and a great cook)!
The sail from our home yacht club to Hudson was pleasant and uneventful, including a lock transit (up only about 1foot!)

Day 1: The first race of the regatta is a “Long Distance” race between all boats. With over a hundred boats registered the start line is the most exciting chaos I have ever experienced on a boat. Big boats, little boats, all squeezing by one another, vying for that prime spot that will give them an edge. The first leg is downwind and our start was respectable. The rules state that you cannot be flying a spinnaker when crossing the start line so it’s really incredible to see all the colourful parachutes pop up at the same time as each boat crosses. Unfortunately after about an hour of downwind sailing the wind started to shift and die about ¾ of the way to the mark. The breeze lessened so much so in fact that the race committee decided to shorten the course and just make that mark the finish line. Nature would not be thwarted however and the entire fleet was becalmed, whole bunch of sleek racing sailboats just floating there like tubs, inching forward. Frustrating. While we could have retired and motored in to the docks (many did) we persevered and ultimately finished, getting at least a few points on the board. After Day 1 there is a festive BBQ at the Yacht Club and we ate well while schmoozing with other sailors (and gathering competitive intelligence).

Day 2: Becalmed – no racing

Day 3: Definitely the best conditions – a beautiful day with enough wind. Today’s series was “one-design” which means that all the boats are exactly the same (all J24’s) and there is no need for any handicap scoring system – if you cross first you win, second, second. At this point we had really gelled as a team and things were going well. The competition however was fierce, some very talented teams. We’d need to squeeze every possible knot out of the conditions and the boat. Communication was good, cooperation was tight, no major mistakes. Yet while we did have some respectable finishes, in the final standings we were edged off of the podium. This is the most frustrating aspect; at least if you lose because of some assignable cause you know what needs to be improved and can work on it. Here, there was no assignable cause. Oh and our nemesis took first place.

There are no photos from the actual races because we were busy... racing. But here are a few photos of the trip up, festivities and the awards ceremony.
A great time was had by all and Rushmore’s legacy continues to grow.
Rushmore T's
Juice? Unlikely...
More great Rushmore gear

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Wizard of Oz

A few weeks ago a little sailboat showed up on stands in the Marina's parking lot. There was significant damage to the hull along the waterline. I heard around the dock that they had hit a buoy (can't really claim the buoy hit them) and had taken on water and started to sink. A radio Mayday call summoned the Coast Guard who apparently deployed some kind of balloon flotation device to save the vessel from sinking. Word around the dock is they had come from Australia to Hawaii, and then done what's known to cruisers as the “Great Loop”, down the west coast, through the Panama canal, up the east coast and through the Erie Canal to the Great-Lakes. Apparently they were headed west, by Montreal en route across the Atlantic to England when disaster struck. How unfortunate that having traveled so far they would have such a disaster befall them here. I guess it demonstrates how the strong current here in the mighty St-Lawrence river is like no where else. I was also struck at the miniature size of their propeller, which in my opinion likely made fighting the current next to impossible here. They had repairs done and the boat looked as if nothing had happened (I've noted the company that did them heaven forbid I should ever need such repairs).

This week I was joined by two new friends for an evening sail; Jacob, a Marina employee who has recently purchased his own boat and Richard, a colleague's husband who's sailed in the Southern Ocean on an 84 foot ketch for months. While the weather was bleak, the wind was excellent (a rare northerly breeze) and I thoroughly enjoyed having experienced sailors aboard. It was nice to focus on just enjoying the sailing without being distracted by the safety concerns of newbies. As we entered the marina we were actually discussing the trials & tribulations of the afore mentioned Australian sailboat and lo & behold there she was, in the water, but grounded at exactly the same spot I had gotten stuck a week earlier!(see previous posts) They shouted for assistance and after evaluating the situation we maneuvered Topanga around, to take a line from them and tow them off the bottom. This was the first time I've ever actually done this and I was quite concerned because 1- I didn't want to get stuck as well and 2- the maneuvering is so tight in the marina that we risked colliding with something ourselves. Given the experience we had on board though I evaluated that we could at least make an attempt and through great team work on my crew's part; me at the helm focused on maneuvering, Jacob communicating with the Australians and Coast Guard officer standing on the dock and Richard managing the tow line we succeeded in getting them safely to an adjacent dock. They shouted their gratitude and we made a smooth re-entry into our slip. Once secured, beers were cracked, hands shaken and a sense of satisfaction at having helped a fellow sailor in need. We celebrated our outing with a BBQ dinner, some wine and trading of sailing stories.
I know size doesn't matter but c'mon look at that mini prop

Monday, August 6, 2012

Back to Beginnings

It's officially a summer! Sailed on Lake Chaplain this weekend. Went down to visit with my wonderful cousins in upstate New York and got the chance to go out on Laughing Gull,my cousin's Mariner 19ft day sailer. For those who follow this blog regularly you'll know that this is where it all began for me as a child. It was a perfect sailing day with good steady wind and we crossed the lake on a beam reach almost all the way to Vermont on the other side. We only had the main sail up but we made good speed over ground regardless. It was so nice not having to worry about shallow water depths as we do in Montreal these days. Cassandra took a try at the tiller and once she got the hang of steering pointed us exactly where we wanted to go. A natural! The only thing missing from the excursion was chilled boat wine! Unfortunately the following day's weather was dismal but at least we got out once. My cousin was kind enough to give me a large fender that had washed up on her shoreline earlier in the season, much needed additional protection for Topanga's hull when transiting locks. Thanks! When we pass through Lake Champlain on our way to the Caribbean I wonder if we could moor on her ball, or if we'd be too big/heavy or too close to shore?

Laughing Gull at rest

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mean Lower Low

Water is so low now we actually got stuck on the muddy bottom in the marina!! On our way out for a day sail on the river I wanted to make a stop at the pump-out / fuel dock but we got stuck about 20m before it. Tilting the boat with crew to one side and increasing engine power was enough to get us going again but c’mon! I’ve heard rumours that commercial ships are halving their loads in order to stay off the bottom in the dredged channels. I’ve also heard that the authorities are going to literally open the floodgates from Lake Ontario to increase water levels around Montreal.
X marks the spot where we got stuck on the muddy bottom

Monday, July 23, 2012

Duke of Wellington

Just back from jolly old England! We traveled to Chichester on the southern coast to attend a friends’ wedding. Abigail & Charles make up the foredeck and mid-deck part of our Rushmore J24 racing crew. They were married in the tiny village of Bosham (pronounced Bosum). Charles had arranged an opportunity to sail on 100 year old wooden Solent boats at the local yacht club where a strict dress code is in place and pre-race tea is mandatory. Unfortunately due to the characteristically British weather, sailing was cancelled (it was pretty nasty out). Actually, it turns out the weather had been uncharacteristically wet all summer with record rainfall. All this water flooded the wedding reception tent set-up on the bride’s parents’ waterfront lawn. There was about 2 inches of water above the installed burlap floor. All the local guests seemed to be prepared for this but we had not packed appropriate footwear (I was in dress shoes and Cassy in 5 inch heels). I ended up borrowing a bicycle and cycling, in my suit, on the left, round round-abouts about 10km through the English country side to find a local garden. There was obviously a rush on Wellington rubber boots (“Wellies” as they’re commonly known) because there were only two pairs left on the shelf, luckily in our sizes! The girls ditched their high heels and we partied all night in our Wellies. We had a wonderful time!

The bay in Bosham completely empties at low tide. All boats moored in the bay end up on the bottom twice a day. A multitude of sailboat lying over on their hull; it’s certainly not a sight we are used to. There is a road with parking that runs along the bay at low tide and apparently it’s a favourite local past time to sit on a nearby bench and watch the tourists panic to move their parked cars as the tide comes in. There was much signage in all the local pubs warning of tidal times but I guess after a few pints it might slip one’s mind.

While in Chichester we “couchsurfed” with Anda and her two adorable children. It was great meeting and spending time with them, which just re-enforces my love of the couchsurfing concept (being hosted or hosting with visiting travellers). I’ve hosted at home and surfed many times around the world, always had great experiences.

After the wedding we travelled by train and tube to London to visit with some of Cassy’s friend’s. We had both been in London before but we still did a bunch of fun tourist stuff; a Thames cruise, Les Miserables, changing of the guard, Oxford street shopping, etc. One thing I had really wanted to visit was the Royal Maritime Museum; I was especially interested in seeing Suhaili, the sailboat that carried Sir Robert Knox-Johnston on the first single-handed non-stop circumnavigation of the globe. This was all part of the famous Sunday Times Golden Globe Race of which there are so many exceedingly remarkable tales. One astonishing story is of competitor Donald Crowhurst who, with very little sailing experience, bet his family’s meagre assets on building a trimaran to join the race. Long story short, Crowhurst continuously falsified his positions over the next 8 months alone at sea but ultimately went insane from bearing the guilt and likely committed suicide (his boat was found empty). During his final days he wrote blithering log entries the last line of which reads “It is the mercy”. This line is discreetly inscribed on the mezzanine railing overlooking the winning boat Suhaili. I highly recommend the book “A Voyage for Madmen” if you’d like to learn more about this extraordinary race. Unfortunately, in my research just before departing across the pond I discovered that apparently the environmental conditions in the museum were causing Suhaili’s hull planks to separate and, that soon after she was recently in the water as part of the Thames flotilla honouring Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee, Sir Robert Knox-Johnston had decided to reclaim her for a re-fit to make her seaworthy again.

While our trip was a wonderful experience we are very happy to be back in Montreal with Topanga who waited so patiently for us.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012


My best friend Josh and his fiancée Alexandra joined us this long weekend. Additionally this was the inaugural trip on board for Cassy’s little dog Dexter who I must admit was very well behaved. The girls and Dexter sunned themselves on deck between quick lock transits and we were in Lac St-Louis by 14:00.

We picked up a good army buddy of mine, Dennis, at the Pointe-Claire Yacht Club (PCYC). Dennis is a character; he had made his way onto the yacht club property and docks where we found him having a drink with some random people on their sailboat. Fortuitously he had picked the right people because there was no space left on the dock for us to tie up to so we just came along side their sailboat so Dennis could hop on. Back out in open water we got the sails up and the engine off and generally spent a very pleasant afternoon on the water. Dennis is not only also getting married but is additionally a wedding animator/DJ. Needless to say the topic of conversation was dominated by all things matrimonial! A lot of good information was shared. I learned a lot. By late afternoon everyone was sailed out so we dropped anchor on the sandbar in the middle of the lake and went swimming. Well the boys went swimming, while the girls were wearing bikinis they preferred to continue bathing only in the sun’s rays. I donned the goggles and dove to see the keel damage incurred the previous weekend (see earlier post). To my amazement the damage was relatively light, small shallow scars. Interestingly the damage was pretty high up on the keel meaning it wasn’t just a couple of inches too shallow, this rock was sticking way up!
The BBQ was fired up and everybody pitched in preparing dinner. Delicious salmon and veggies. The weather was forecast to be calm overnight so we decided to sleep in the middle of the water. After a glorious sunset the booze started flowing and the music got turned up. We had a blast but the four of us who had travelled all morning through the canal faded fast leaving Dennis (always a ball of energy) to his own dance karaoke party! Dennis was ready to party like it was 1999 which was remarkable because the following day he was animating a mega stunt-motorcycle event! He’s a legend!

The next morning after a great breakfast we dropped Dennis off at PCYC and motored over to St-Anne-de-Bellevue, a nice little boardwalk town at the western tip of Montreal Island. We poked around the lake for a while, the girls still laying about the deck enjoying the sunshine. At one end of the lake we joined many boats anchored, a little party spot. Rest & relaxation filled the next few hours. While everyone was napping I started considering our overnight anchoring options on the chart. Josh and I debated the various options, none too soon because the wind picked up quickly and we (and all the boats) weighed anchor to make for safer harbour. It actually got pretty bad and the boat was rocking & rolling in following waves. Incredibly the two ladies napped peacefully below deck on the couches! I was amazed. When we finally dropped anchor in our chosen spot they asked where we were as if nothing had happened. Just goes to show how quickly one becomes accustomed to the motion of a boat (and how comfortable it is down below!)

We enjoyed another delicious dinner and then things got competitive; board games! Couples teams. After much rule checking and relationship testing prodding there were winners and there were losers. In the name of good sportsmanship I won’t name who was who... A good time was had by all and I’m still the Best Man at their wedding.

After a shmorgasborg breakfast we set off down the canal to get through the locks. There was just over an hour wait at the first lock so instead of keeping a holding pattern we tied up at the pleasure craft dock next to a huge motor yacht. We all took a nap and when they came over the loudspeaker announcing the opening we rushed out to get off the dock. I started the engines while Cassy and Josh untied our lines. It was rather windy and once untied was difficult to hold the boat to the dock. I called for everyone to get on but by the time Cassy made it to the starboard gate we had drifted too far from the dock. She wisely did not try to jump (a point in my safety briefing) and we did a whole about turn to pick her up again. You should have seen her poor face as we drifted away from her.

Unfortunately the return trip was not as efficient as the outgoing one and we again had to wait at the second lock. Here the pleasure craft dock was already full and thus we maintained a holding pattern for about 30 minutes. Another sail yacht was also in a holding pattern and we remarked on what a unique vessel it was. Upon entering the lock the sailboats typically all raft up together the biggest going against the wall and managing the lock lines. I estimated this other sail yacht was about the same size as us but since they only had two crew I thought with more hands on board we would take the wall position. This other sail yacht came in after us but was initially headed against the wall behind us. When the lockmaster yelled at him to raft up next to us he changed course and came very close to rear ending us, in fact his wife and I had to push him off. They were an older Ontario couple and once next to us we got to talking; it turns out this was their last lock before heading across the Atlantic ocean to Ireland. They had a 40ft iron sail yacht Grey Cloud he built himself! He had previously sailed down to South America and spent time exploring the jungles. Their French was inadequate so I helped translate the lockmaster’s instructions. I communicated their travel plans to the lockmaster and he told me from the looks of their disorganized vessel their crossing was questionable. I did not translate this part to them. When the lock doors opened we wished them well on their journey.

Another 15 minutes to the marina, a stop at the septic tank pump out and we’re back in our slip. The first time we stood on solid ground in the 60 hours. We unloaded the gear and bid our friends goodbye.
Another great sailing weekend!

Monday, June 18, 2012


“I’M IN!” that was the response from Caroline B. to a weekend cruising invite. Caroline is the newest member of our Rushmore racing crew. She’s a wonderfully active girl who has focused in on sailing as an activity of choice. She’s even chartered a sailboat in the Caribbean (something I should probably do before heading down myself). Due to scheduling constraints she was the only person who could come aboard for the weekend. We were headed for a leisurely two days at the Iles de Bouchervilles (Islands), a small protected nature park on Montreal’s south shore. On hot summer weekends revellers raft up and party hard. I distinctly remember my new marina neighbour first describing these island parties; “if the provincial police tell you to turn down your music just disregard them, the water is federal jurisdiction!” This gives you an idea of what kind of parties go on (and an idea what a party animal my neighbour is!)

We set out late morning, got the sails up and engine off as soon as possible, cracked open some beers (as sailors are wont to do) and tacked downriver in light breeze. Usually we raft up at the islands with other boats from my marina but as we chatted away dodging freighter traffic and speed boats I got a call from my marina neighbour that they were having some mechanical issues and would not be joining. They did however recommend that we raft up with Waikiki, another boat from the marina, Jean-Guy and Josee, a couple I had thus far only said hello to in passing. They were already there and would be waiting for us to tie up to.

As we approached the bay we dropped sails and started the engine. The party was in full swing! There were so many boats; big boats, little boats. Muscle dudes and bikini babes everywhere! Music pumping! Our anchoring spot was all the way at the end and I had to weave through. Now this bay is extremely thin and manoeuvring a 35ft sailboat through the mess was not an easy task! Any wrong turn could cause a collision. To add even more pressure everybody is watching intently! It’s obvious that most revellers have never seen an actual real life sailboat up close! There’s a hush that rolls over the party. Jaws drop, fingers point.The mast, the wires, the ropes. “Look! the Pirates of the Caribbean!” It’s actually quite humourous and we really should take a video next time. Anyway ultimately we reached our spot and tied up to Waikiki. Jean-Guy and Josee congratulated us on successfully running the party gauntlet (they watched our mast approach for afar) and Jean-Guy offered us the “best Bloody Caesar you’ve ever had”. At that point there was nothing more that I wanted in the world and soon I was indeed sipping the best Bloody Caesar I’ve ever had.

We partied and swam in the sun all day. Before having too many drinks I went half-way up the mast and took some photos of the surroundings. Jean-Guy and Josee are great people and we had a grand time. Really glad we met them! We slept well at anchor. The next morning two more marina boats joined our raft and we continued to enjoy the good times. Early afternoon we were the first to depart; with light headwinds, only a little diesel engine and a mast height that prevents us from taking a shortcut, our return can take up to three hours (vs. 40 minutes for our motorboat friends). We weaved our way out again and once into more open waters stayed in the marked channel. There are some shallow areas and it’s especially important to be cautious. As we passed through the last set of safe channel markers into charted slightly deeper waters I increased the throttle a bit to about 4 knots. We were chatting in the cockpit with me standing at the helm when all of a sudden BANG! I flew forward onto the wheel, Caroline slide across the bench. The whole 15,000Ibs boat lurched up and came to a dead stop. We had hit something big, big and hard! Immediately I was sure were sinking! Adrenaline shot up. After making sure we were each physically OK I ran below to see where water was coming in. I grabbed the handheld VHF radio ready call for help. Below many of the floor access panels had popped up & out. The dining table had moved which is crazy because it’s bolted to the floor! I cleared the floor panels away but saw no water below. Up on deck Caroline had gone forward to asses; she came back to report that the anchor had dropped! The 15kg anchor had actually flown forward from the impact and was now resting on the shallow bottom. We hauled in the anchor and I was able to drive the boat away slowly. We were both in shock. That was by far the worst running aground I’ve ever experienced. The rest of the journey home was quiet; coming down from the adrenaline and reviewing what had just transpired. I checked all systems but all in all everything seemed fine and she was handling normally. I will get a bolt and wing nut to secure the anchor (I never thought it would ever come off like that).

I expect the keel damage to be pretty bad. The marina water is pretty gross with algae so I’m not too keen on swimming in it. Next weekend we’re going to Lac St-Louis with friends. When we go swimming I’m anxious to dive and see the damage then. I’ll report back with my findings in a future post.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Shake Down

After a night on board in the marina we cast off early Saturday morning heading up river to Lac St-Louis in the west of the island of Montreal for the Victoria Day long weekend. Our friend Abigail joined us to help out transiting the locks. Not only are there two locks and one lift bridge between our home marina and Lac St-Louis but they are the massive industrial locks for the huge tanker freighters headed up the seaway as far as Chicago on the great lakes. These locks are quite daunting. Not only are they massive but each one raises/lowers our “tiny” boat about 60 feet! The huge flow of water necessary to move this vertical distance causes some eddies and turbulence in the lock. Transiting these locks is one of the manoeuvres I am most concerned about on the boat. I’m very uncomfortable transiting with only 2 people on board, especially while Cassandra is still getting comfortable with boat handling. Frankly I just wouldn’t do it. Abigail has been on sailboats since she was a child and has plenty of experience. Her presence was greatly appreciated!
It took us about 5 hours to motor all the way (especially because we suspect that the lift bridge operator had fallen asleep, making us wait about thirty minutes in a holding pattern). The trek was definitely worth it though as we arrived into open water, sun shining and a warm breeze. We immediately crossed over to Pointe-Claire Yacht Club where we hooked up with our friend Jesse’s J24 Rushmore, overloaded with people, food and beer! Eight in total, we were more than happy to take on some cargo and sail in tandem around the lake. Winds were light but everyone was just content to enjoy the first days of summer on the water.

Around dinner time we rafted up together and anchored on a shallow sandbar in the middle of the lake and prepared a potluck dinner.
It was such a pleasure to have great sailing friends on board sharing a delicious meal and drinks on the water.

Unfortunately four of our crew could not spend the night on board so we weighed anchor and motored to the docks for a drop off. I’m always a bit apprehensive of boating at night (sailing or motoring) but we took it slow & cautious and ultimately all went well. We did however lightly run around in soft mud on our first attempt at the public dock. A subsequent attempt at the yacht club dock was more successful. Cassandra and I motored back to the sand bar and anchored a short distance from Rushmore, who were likely already sleeping soundly. Cassandra continues to amaze with her uncanny strength to drop and lift the heavy anchor while I’m at the helm.

The following morning we woke up early and immediately motored back to the dock to pick up my roommate Lucas who had just taken public transit all the way from the south shore to the west island. Surprisingly this journey was simple and only took an hour.
Anchored back on the sandbar the Rushmore crew joined us on-board and we hung out in the cool below deck. Rushmore decided to head home and after bidding them adieu we weighed anchored and raised sails for a day of leisurely sailing around the lake. We explored the south western area of the lake near the Beauharnois power dam. This area was actually quite good for sailing; enough space, good wind and deep enough water that we didn’t have to always be plotting a course through a maze of shoals. Lac- St-Louis is a shallow lake and especially towards the end of the season one must keep a close eye on the chart plotter and depth meter. Everyone got a turn at the helm and trimming sails. By the end of the day Cassandra and Lucas had a better understanding of propelling our vessel through the water by harnessing the power of the wind. I think we hit a speed over ground (SOG) of 5.1 knots!

This would be our last overnight on board and to save time the next morning I wanted to anchor closer to the canal opening. I’ve always anchored overnight on the sandbar in the middle so this was new ground (pun intended). While Cassy was cooking dinner below we made our way across the lake. I thought I had charted a safe little spot near a small island to anchor. It was iffy getting in though and the depth meter was giving jumpy readings. The water’s surface seemed to be flowing fast around us which can be an indication of shallow areas. I had a strange feeling but assessed the risks and proceeded anyway. We dropped anchor but as were letting out some rode BAM the keel hit some rocks. We had a hell of a time easing her out of there but finally freed ourselves. As a new anchorage we chose a little bay just off the Kanawake First Nations Reserve. In fact we could actually see a big tepee on the shore and the next morning a lone native paddled by in a canoe. Here we had much better luck anchoring. It was interesting that being only about 300 meters from the canal we could actually hear the tankers before we could see them. Sound travels extremely fast underwater so below deck, which is half beneath the waterline, we would hear this deep ominous rumbling from their enormous propellers. The wind was blowing from a direction that if our anchor didn’t hold we would drift into the tanker channel. We kept a close eye on this. At one point during the night Lucas heard the rumblings and sensed we were moving, he lept out of his berth and darted above to see a massive ship passing but was relieved that we were still solidly secured. Even though it proved to be a false alarm he demonstrated the best attitude on a boat: When in doubt... check!

Monday morning we were up bright & early to commence the voyage home. Our original plan was to wait for a tanker to pass going in our direction to ensure that we made it under the lift bridge without delay and then a “known” wait time for the locks. While waiting we had a light breakfast (instead of the grand one we had planned for because the stove/oven propane tank ran out). After about half an hour we got impatient and just set off on our own which ultimately proved a very good idea as everything seemed to just open for us immediately! I think we made record time in getting home which was a very satisfying way to end the weekend!

Who has right of way?

Fastest J24 on the water!

Into the locks

Abigail - Sailing Chick of the Week


Rafted up together (let's give them some privacy)

Otherwise known as Windmill Point

After only a few hours at sea Lucas crosses the line into person cartoon courting