Venturing across Lake St. Louis from Montreal towards the Ottawa River, and more adventures…and a big one that was unexpected! July 2 – 17, 2019

While it was sad to leave Montreal, we were anxious to continue moving.  The current in the harbor was still fierce, but this time it was at our tail, so we surfed past St. Helen’s Island!

There’s a lot of commercial traffic on the canal and locks leaving the city towards Ottawa, our next big destination.  We were expecting some heavy traffic and back ups at the locks, but we were fortunate.  We got to the  St. Catherine Lock just past opening, and we waited only a half hour for a tanker to finish locking through to Montreal.  We tied up to the wall before the lock, went to the phone provided, and let them know we were waiting to lock through.  This was the first time we’ve seen a huge commercial vessel in a lock, so it was pretty cool to watch this monster come through.  Then, when you get into the lock chamber, it’s a bit overwhelming.  The lock hands toss the lines down to you from waaaay up above, and as is typical with all of the Canadian lock hands, super nice and helpful.

We putted along in the canal for another 7 miles until we got to the St. Lambert Lock, then entered Lake St. Louis.  The charts had made us a bit nervous about crossing Lake St. Louis, as the channel makes a big zig zag across the lake that has a lot of shallow water, but it’s well marked and easy to navigate.  It was fun looking back at the Montreal skyline, and running across a sailing race.  It was a beautiful day on the water,

Our destination was the charming little town of St. Anne  de Bellevue.  We had numerous people tell us about this stop…everyone from fellow “Loopers” to locals in Montreal.  St. Anne is a popular spot for local Montreal boaters on weekends.  We were grateful to be there during the week!  There’s a small grocery store, tons of restaurants, and to Rob’s delight, numerous choices for ice cream.  After riding our bikes to the grocery store, we ventured into town for an early dinner. We tried out Chalet Tai restaurant, and it was disappointing, but had a lovely spot right on the canal.  The ice cream was great!

St. Anne de Bellevue

We were well aware of the heightened water levels, and you could see it first hand in St. Anne, as one side of the free wall was still 3′ under water!

High water covering the dock 

July 3 was a spectacular day.  Sunny, clear, calm with crisp blue skies.

We needed to get through the huge Carillon Lock, what we thought would be the biggest challenge of the day.  It was a quiet day on the water, and we enjoyed an easy lift tied to a floating dock in the lock.  So, easy! Nancy had a great conversation with a young mom lock hand about Geo-caching with her kids and our plans for the afternoon at anchor.

Carillon Lock

We were headed to a well-reviewed anchorage in Bonhomme Bay, throw some dogs on the grill and relax. As we approached, it got skinny, but we expected a bit of that, as all of the navigational information available said it would be, but if you stay in the middle it would be fine, and it would open up.  But it didn’t.  Within seconds of being OK, we weren’t.  We heard an awful crunch, and Misty actually lifted a bit out of the water on the port side.  The clear decision was to get out of there, so we turned around, hit again, and came to a dead stop.

Bonhomme Bay, the scene of the infamous grounding

When we called the Coast Guard, they told us to call 911, as they didn’t have assets in our area.  Within a half hour, two Police Officers arrived by boat, tied up with us and waited for help.  The Coast Guard helped us by finding a marina near by to get us off the rocks. The amazing team of Max and Patrick from Martha’s Cove Marina were there after another 15 minutes, and expertly guided Misty off the dumped cement foundation of an old church we had landed on.  Evidently,  this is well known among the locals, but completely undocumented or marked.

The local police and Martha’s Cove Marina, working together to get us off the rocks!

We limped our way, vibrating badly,  to Martha’s Cove, where they immediately hauled us from the water. This was remarkable!  Patrick backed a large boat trailer, attached to a tractor, down a steep hill to the boat ramp, and positioned it under Misty.  When he went to haul her up the hill, the wheels spun.  So, he got another tractor, attached it to the front of the first one, and tried to haul Misty up the hill.  Every wheel on BOTH tractors spun, and Misty didn’t budge.  Finally, they hooked up a caterpillar tractor and successfully got her out of the water.

The only evidence Nancy has of this is in pictures, as she hid up near the marina office and took pictures of the wildflowers blooming along the shore.  It was too painful to watch Misty get hauled!

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Perhaps the best thing to come of this pretty terrible situation, was meeting Terry and Pat.  As Nancy hid from the scary scene at the boat ramp, Terry walked by and asked if she was OK (no poker face, clearly).  Then she put 2 + 2 together, and figured out that this crazy haul out was starring our boat.   Terry and Pat just bought their first  boat, and are keeping it at Martha’s Cove.  Being the incredibly kind and generous people that they are, Terry and Pat were over at our boat as they “blocked” her to be on “the hard”, arriving with:  camping chairs, munchies, chilled water and beer, better yet, tons of conversation and laughs!

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Terry and Pat (They work for Air Transat, now Air Canada, can you tell?), and their new boat

Once we were settled, hooked up to electric (thanks to Max’s incredible perserverence!), the four of us decided to go out to dinner, rather than pull together dinner at the marina. It had been a day!  We had a lovely meal, enjoying pizza, Caeser Salad, beer and wine at Deja Vu restaurant in Hawksbury.  It was a fun evening with these two lovely people, and to top it off, they refused to let us pay for our meal!

The next morning, Terry and Pat were running errands and took us to Enterprise to pick up a rental car.  If Misty is going to be on “the hard” for at least a week, we were going back to the boys in Vermont!

We can’t say enough about the kindness and generosity of everyone that touched us during this awful event!  The Canadians are truly incredible!  We had numerous people offer their cars, or to take us where ever we might need to go.  Rob was even invited join the crew at Martha’s Cove for their 10 am coffee break, as it was a great opportunity to connect with the folks who held Misty’s fate in their hands. GREAT people, through and through!!

Despite the awful traffic getting down to Colchester (the entire city of Montreal is under construction), we arrived at Greenwood Drive just in time to order a yummy New York Pizza (yes, pizza again…hey, we’ve been deprived of it lately!).  We love Vermont and being with our boys and Madison (and the cats, Ellie and Arthur), so going back was fine with us!

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We forgot to turn off our location app, so it looks like Misty is hanging out on Greenwood Drive!

While we planned on continuing to help with the landscaping project, we did want to take advantage of the beautiful weather and enjoy the area.  The drive up to Stowe, over “the Notch” and through Jericho is a favorite, so we decided to head up there, with a stop at the Von Trapp Family Lodge.  The Lodge is in the mountains above the town of Stowe, and they have beautiful gardens with a backdrop of the Green Mountains.  And, yes, this is same Von Trapp as the Sound of Music, and the family is buried in one of the gardens close the the Lodge.

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Von Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, VT

The road past Mount Mansfield is known as “The Notch”, and it’s twists and turns through the rocks and trees are only open in the summer.  After passing Smuggler’s Notch Ski Resort, you’ll go through lovely Vermont countryside before you get to the small village of Jericho.  The old mill there is a small gallery and shop featuring the work of Wilson Bentley, a local farmer who spent his lifetime studing the art and science of snow crystals.  In 1885, at the age of 19, he produced the first known photograph of a snowflakes.

Old Mill, Jericho, VT

We had fun finishing up the gardens with the boys, celebrating our 40thanniversary at Hen in the Wood in Burlington, and relaxing around Burlington.  And of course, grilling and relaxing at the house with the boys and the usual shenanigans!

160 Greenwood Drive, landscaping project complete!!

And the garden is popping!

Delicious anniversary dinner at Hen of the Wood

BBQ sillinesss

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Beautiful Mallet’s Bay, Colchester, VT, near the boys house…and Bri’s Fries, the food truck with the awesome Michigan burger and fries on Lakeshore Drive

Before we left Burlington, we took one last stroll along the waterfront in town, rocking on the swings, watching the sunset, and a group of people doing yoga in the park.

Burlington waterfront at sunset

We headed back to Martha’s Cove on July 13.  As sad as we were to leave again, we were anxious to get back on the water.  We stopped to provision after we crossed the border back into Canada, and were quickly reminded that we weren’t in the U.S. anymore!

Entertainment in the grocery store outside of Montreal

We spent one last night on the boat while she was on blocks before she got splashed the next morning.  The amazing crew at the marina had everything all set the night before, to get Misty back in the water at 8 am.

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Misty  all set to be splashed…but first, one more beautiful evening at Martha’s Cove

Once again, Nancy disappeared while they maneuvered Misty, this time down the hill, through the very narrow opening to the boat ramp, bordered by cement barriers.  Remember that Patrick had a 15 ton boat (about 30,000 pounds!) on that trailer! Hats off to Patrick, who nailed it on the first shot, and to Takis, who worked tirelessly for 9 days making Misty whole again!

Misty back in the water, and Patrick and Takis with the Captain giving them a round of applause!

We spent some time running up and down the river with Takis, to ensure that everything was AOK, paid our bill (ouch!), and said good-bye to the wonderful team at Martha’s Cove. We weren’t going far, just 27 miles up the Ottawa River to Le Chateau Montebello.

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Le Chateau Montebello is on the site of Louis Joseph Papineau’s(a prominent politician in the early 1800’s) estate. The Papineau mansion still stands, but is currently closed for estensive renovations.  The real attraction is the Chateau, said to be the largest log cabin in the world.

Chateau de Montebello peeking through the trees

The structure is centered around a huge atrium with a five sided stone fireplace rising to the roof, several stories up.  The marina is pricey, but it was charming, with maginificent views of the river, a super friendly and helpful staff, and the perfect respite for our first day back on the water after running aground.

The marina at Chateau de Montebello

The facilities, gardens and grounds are beautiful, and in typical Canadian tradition, profuse!!

Chateau de Montebello

Have to share the sign for the ladies room at the marina!

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They’re known for their BBQ buffet on the balcony, so we decided to splurge and go.  There was a huge variety of meats, salads and desserts, and the patio overlooks the Chef’s Garden with a backdrop of the river.

BBQ night at Chateau de Montebello

The Chef’s Garden

There was a big thunderstorm right overhead as it was getting dark, and we were happy to be safely back on board to watch it without worry.  Others were not so fortunate!

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Sunday, the 14thwas a spectacular day….sunny, light winds and a comfortable 76 degrees, which is great for boating.   We were super excited to finally get to Ottawa, and the approach to the city did not disappoint!  We passed the Prime Ministers House (24 Sussex Drive, currently in the throws of a major renovation), the French Embassy, Rideau Falls, and then you start to see the towers of Parliament.  As you sail under the Alexandria Bridge, the spectacular Ottawa skyline comes into full view.  It’s truly something to see to be believed!!

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The Prime Ministers House, 24 Sussex Drive

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The French Embassy

Approaching Ottawa, and the skyline appears

However, today was the day we would be heading up the “Ottawa Staircase”, which marks the beginning of the Rideau Canal.  The Step Locks (also known as a “flight”), run right through the center of Ottawa, with a lovely park lining every level along every step of the lock.

Waiting for our turn in the lock at the “Blue Line”

The oldest building in OttawaThe Bytown Museum, sits on the right side of the canal (a great little museum), and the majestic Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel looms over the left bank.  As we’ve mentioned before, the locks are a sightseeing attraction, but no where quite like Ottawa.  So, given the fact that it was the weekend and a beautiful day, we weren’t surprised by the crowds of people watching.

Here we go!

While people chat with you along all of the Canadian locks, both the lock hands and locals stopping for the show, it’s completely different in Ottawa.  Most importantly, the people are much closer to the edge of the lock, therefore to the boat and YOU!  This is an 8 step lock, and people start at the bottom of the park and work their way up, step by step.  There was lots of conversation along this lock, more with the folks observing than the other boaters, which is usually the case.  Locking isn’t difficult to do, but it’s hard work and mistakes happen easily, so the audience provides a little bit of extra stress.  When the gates open after the 8thlock, you approach the short tunnel under the  Wellington Street Bridge, lined with people watching the progression from the top of the bridge. As the gates opened and we exited the last lock, the crowd broke out into cheers and applause.  It made the whole thing worth it, and we proudly took a bow!

The Ottawa Wall

Ottawa provides a “wall” for boaters to tie up on over night for a minimal fee, up to 48 hours, but they’re very flexible with that (we stayed 3 nights). Parcs Canada charges a nominal fee for electric, and it’s a convenient spot to stay in the center of the city. Boaters be aware that we heard several stories of local kids trying to steal dinghy’s and bikes from boats. And, as we had heard before, it’s best to tie your boat lines back to the boat, or even lock your boat to the dock. As local bars empty along the canals, there have been incidents of boats being untied to drift while their owners are asleep inside!  Fortunately, we had no problems.

After getting settled, we took some time to wander the neighborhood to familiarize ourselves with the area. We didn’t go far, just wandered down Wellington towards Parliament, but even that small walk is loaded with things to see!  On Wellington you’ll find “Women are Persons” in front of the Senate BuildingThe Valiants MemorialConfederation Square and the National War Memorial (which also has a changing of the guard, and we could hear their bag pipers from the boat!).  And, Sparks Street, a pedestrian mall with shops, restaurants and bars is just one block off of Wellington Street.

“Women of Persons” sits in from of the Senate building, marking the 1929 victory of having women recognized as persons under the British North America Act

The Valiants Memorial honoring men and women who helped shape Canada in time of war…oh, and look, there was a LeMoyne involved!

Confederation Square and the National War Memorial…that has it’s own changing of the guard, and we could hear the bag pipers from the boat!

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Sparks Street

Our real exploring began the next day, when we rented bikes and got a suggested route from a bike rental company in town.

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But, before we set off, we walked over to the Parliament Building to watch the Changing of the Guard.  This is quite a spectacle, that includes a marching band, bagpipers, and a huge regimen of soldiers.  It’s really something to see, as they all parade from different directions to converge on the lawn in from of the Parliament Building, a magnificent backdrop.

We then got our bikes, and set out to explore Ottawa!  While we found Montreal to be very bicycle friendly, in Ottawa, it’s kicked up a notch!  There are bike trails and lanes everywhere in Ottawa! There are even special traffic lights (shaped like a bike!) that provide special turns for cyclists.   We rode west along the river towards Wellington, then came back through the center of the city, and rode northeast, passing Notre Dam Cathedral, the National Gallery of Canada , the Prime Ministers home at 24 Sussex Drive   Rideau Hall (the home and workplace of the Governor General, the Queen’s representative in Canada), Rideau Falls and the dam.  We enoyed delicious hot dogs with toppings at Tavern on the Fallsoverlooking Rideau Falls lunch.

As you head towards the Wellington area, you’ll pass the Supreme Court, the Library & Archives of Canada, beautiful parks and gardens, paths along the water and “Art in the Tunnels”.

Library & Archives of Canada, Supreme Court and Art in the Tunnels

Notre Dam Cathedral is just across the street from the National Gallery of Canada, and worth a stop.  While significantly smaller than Notre Dam in Montreal, it really is lovely.

Notre Dam Cathedral

As you head towards Rideau Hall, you’ll pass the French Embassy, the Prime Minister’s Home (currently undergoing major renovations), all surrounded by a beautiful residential neighborhood.