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Canada: Quebec, Montreal, Kingston 6.9. -1.10.2001

6.9.2001 Quebec, Canada
The challenges of the sea are behind us for a while, and we have already experienced our first miles of river sailing. The current and traffic make it interesting. The tide effects on the St. Lawrence river all the way from it's mouth up to 300 miles inland, near Montreal. The highest tide can be 6 meters and the stongest current 7 knots, so it's not worth going against the current.
We left Tadoussac on the Sunday morning, 2.9., on low tide, but the current was against us for the first three hours, despite our calculations. In the afternoon our speed was 8-10 knots over the ground. The current was suppose to turn, so we pulled in to the harbour of L' Cap-a-Aigle to wait. The six hour berth cost us 75 FIM, half of the 24-hour price! 
The harbour was full of yachts because there had been a two-day triangle race. We were invited to a quebecian yacht, Blanc de Memoire, and soon we discovered that we had the same way. The captain offered to pilot us all the way to Quebec, and we were happy to get the 20 years knowledge and guidance to our use. He was going to drive the 70 mile leg during the night, because forecast promised west winds for the next day. Around ten in the evening, when the current turned, the harbour began to empty of boats. Obviously there had been several visiting yachts. We started the engine as well, following our pilot boat to the dark river full of lights.
It was an exciting night. We kept an eye on Blanc de Memoire with the radar, following it 200 meters away. At some points the route took us only 100 meters from the shore. In this spot the other boats in the middle of the river were left behind. At three o'clock the wind woke up, only about 10 m/s, but it rose nasty waves. Our speed varied from 4 to 9 knots, and the bow could suddenly turn 40 degrees off the course because of the eddies. The narrow route, other yachts, big ships, the slowly blinking buoys and the constantly burning leading lights made the voyage unforgettable. In addition, we were navigating the first time without paper charts, just using the cd-maps on the pc.
We arrived to Quebeck at eight in the morning with an average speed of 7 knots. What an excellent pilot! We pulled in to the marina of the old port, which is in the middle of the city.
Quebec, which means "where the river narrows" in Indian language, was founded in 1608. The city has a very European feeling. The old town is beautiful and interesting with it's narrow allies, small shops and several restaurants. It is on the UNESCO World heritage list, so this is a second heritage site we visit during a short time. Quebeck is about the same size as Helsinki, and it is visited by 4 million tourists a year. Only five percent of the population is English-speaking.


The old harbour is right in the city centre


The marina is behind a tide door

12.9.2001, Montréal, Canada
Four months and 4683 nautical miles behind!
The attack on New York and Washington on Tuesday shocked us, as other people as well. We were just going to the city centre, when a TV in a shopping mall stopped us. Earlier we had heard about the first plane on the radio, but that time they couldn't tell more about the thing. All day Tuesday and Wednesday the media has been without a break on the topic. As a neighbouring country the attack concerns Canada as well, and the open immigration policy of this country was one of the first issues on the media.
The tourist attractions got to wait, we went back to the boat. We are on a buoy opposite the centre of Montreal, and could by own eyes see the total stop of air traffic. The night before, when we were sitting in the cockpit in the darkening night, we noticed the heavy traffic in the sky, but now there wasn't a single aircraft lights to be seen.

We arrived to Montreal on Sunday evening and spent one night in the old port marina, 270 FIM / 60 dollars! The most expensive marina fee we have ever experienced. There were cable TV and internet available, but we needed only showers, and they were not worth the price. Well, the other yachts looked like they have showers or two of their own. There was a constant gurgle coming from the coolers of the yachts, despite that most of them stood empty. And empty and boring was the harbour as well.
We had a hamburger dinner in a restaurant nearby. It was the last evening of our lively and tireless crew member Johanna, who took a train to Halifax the next day. We moved on the other side of the river, to the Yacht Club of Longueuil, where the mooring costed 45 FIM / 10 dollars. A charming place, tidy, spacious showers, kind people and shops and other facilities within a walking distance. The only negative thing is the noice from the nearby motorway, but with this price you can not blame.


Montreal marina, 270 FIM (45 euros) a day


The buoy is not motored, the current is 6 knots

We are going to continue towards the Great Lakes and the USA, although our first though after the attack was uncertainity of entering the States. We have been told stories about the tight attitude of the U.S. immigration officials. We hope that the situation is normal again when we reach the border, which is in Detroit, between the Lake Erie and the Lake Huron.
The speed giving tide currents are behind us now, from now on we have the current always against us when going up the river. The first lock is just behind the corner. The first lake, Ontario and the Thousand Islands are about 150 miles from Montreal.

20.9.2001 Kingston, Canada
The city of Kingston on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario was our ending point on the nearly 800 miles long St. Lawrence Seaway, which connects the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. The seaway was completed in 1959, but already the explorers in the 1700th century had constructed ways to go around the fast-flowing rapids. The first cargo ship sailed from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic in 1844.
Jacques Cartier, a frenchman, sailed over in 1534 to find a route to China. He found the river mouth and named it according to the saint of the finding day, St. Lawrence. His exploring was stopped by the rapids behind the place were Montréal is today, and he called it the Rapides de Lachine, the China rapids. Cartier made several journeys to the new continent, not founding the route to China, but leaving behind the name Canada. The story tells that it was a misunderstanding, however. The word kanata in Iroquois means village, but Cartier understood that it means the whole vast area.

St. Lawrence Seaway consists of the gulf and river with the same name, as well as several lakes and canals. There are seven locks located between Montreal and the Lake Ontario. The USA-Canada border runs part of the way along the river, and two of the locks, Eisenhower and Snell, are on the U.S. side. The Seaway has an average depth of 10 meters, and 230 meters is the maximum lenght for the ships. Near the Lake Ontario is the Thousand Islands archipelago, which is shared between the USA and Canada. Some of the Canadian islands, 24 altogether, compose a national park. 

The first two locks of the Seaway are just behind the city of Montreal, so we cleared them on Saturday, 15.9. Then we crossed the Lake St. Louis, and that was about the first day's saldo, because it became dark. We found the unlighted route to the abadoned canal Soulanges, and tied Kristiina on the old stone wall. When we figured out that every lock cost us 20 CAD, we decided to look out for free docking. The Soulanges canal was built on the 1900th century and replaced by the Beauharnois-canal in 1959. The old canal area is very attractive and beautiful, fortunately it has not been filled up like some of the old canals on the Seaway.
Also the next day took us through two of the locks, and we spent the night in Cornwall using the free public dock. It seemed that we were making only 30-40 miles per day. In the next morning we went through the US locks, which are equipped with handy flouting bollards. You just tie your boat on it, and there is no need for tightening or loosing the lines. We managed to find a free dockage againg, from a closed marina beside the Iroquois-lock. This lock is just a controll lock without a height difference, but you have to pay the twenty for this one, too.


The first lock, St. Lambert, is almost in city centre


In the Eisenhower lock

There is an advantage on boating out of season. We were the only vechile in every lock and could easily find a free dockage for every night. In summer there are queues for the locks and marinas are packed. During the best season all the berths and moorings are reserved already early in the afternoon and it can be hard to find even an anchorage.

We visited two of the thousand islands. The other was the tiny Battersby Island near Brockville. We were the only boat on the flimsy floating dock, which would not have taken the 12 ton weight of Kristiina in a rough weather. But the weather continued to be sunny, warm and windless. Early in the morning we woke up in a sound of some little creature stepping on deck. It was a squirrel - with a big nectarine! We had left some fruits in the cockpit to ripen. Well, we still had three nectarines left. 
Only 12 miles from Kingston we stopped at the Mermaid Island, where overnighted three other boats as well. During the night it suddenly turned to autumn: it was raining and blowing ordently. The deck was spotted with leaves and needles in the morning. But there was still 20 degrees warm.20.9.2001 Kingston, Canada
The city of Kingston on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario was our ending point on the nearly 800 miles long St. Lawrence Seaway, which connects the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. The seaway was completed in 1959, but already the explorers in the 1700th century had constructed ways to go around the fast-flowing rapids. The first cargo ship sailed from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic in 1844.
Jacques Cartier, a frenchman, sailed over in 1534 to find a route to China. He found the river mouth and named it according to the saint of the finding day, St. Lawrence. His exploring was stopped by the rapids behind the place were Montréal is today, and he called it the Rapides de Lachine, the China rapids. Cartier made several journeys to the new continent, not founding the route to China, but leaving behind the name Canada. The story tells that it was a misunderstanding, however. The word kanata in Iroquois means village, but Cartier understood that it means the whole vast area.

St. Lawrence Seaway consists of the gulf and river with the same name, as well as several lakes and canals. There are seven locks located between Montreal and the Lake Ontario. The USA-Canada border runs part of the way along the river, and two of the locks, Eisenhower and Snell, are on the U.S. side. The Seaway has an average depth of 10 meters, and 230 meters is the maximum lenght for the ships. Near the Lake Ontario is the Thousand Islands archipelago, which is shared between the USA and Canada. Some of the Canadian islands, 24 altogether, compose a national park. 

The first two locks of the Seaway are just behind the city of Montreal, so we cleared them on Saturday, 15.9. Then we crossed the Lake St. Louis, and that was about the first day's saldo, because it became dark. We found the unlighted route to the abadoned canal Soulanges, and tied Kristiina on the old stone wall. When we figured out that every lock cost us 20 CAD, we decided to look out for free docking. The Soulanges canal was built on the 1900th century and replaced by the Beauharnois-canal in 1959. The old canal area is very attractive and beautiful, fortunately it has not been filled up like some of the old canals on the Seaway.
Also the next day took us through two of the locks, and we spent the night in Cornwall using the free public dock. It seemed that we were making only 30-40 miles per day. In the next morning we went through the US locks, which are equipped with handy flouting bollards. You just tie your boat on it, and there is no need for tightening or loosing the lines. We managed to find a free dockage againg, from a closed marina beside the Iroquois-lock. This lock is just a controll lock without a height difference, but you have to pay the twenty for this one, too.

There is an advantage on boating out of season. We were the only vechile in every lock and could easily find a free dockage for every night. In summer there are queues for the locks and marinas are packed. During the best season all the berths and moorings are reserved already early in the afternoon and it can be hard to find even an anchorage.


One of the thousand islands

We visited two of the thousand islands. The other was the tiny Battersby Island near Brockville. We were the only boat on the flimsy floating dock, which would not have taken the 12 ton weight of Kristiina in a rough weather. But the weather continued to be sunny, warm and windless. Early in the morning we woke up in a sound of some little creature stepping on deck. It was a squirrel - with a big nectarine! We had left some fruits in the cockpit to ripen. Well, we still had three nectarines left. 
Only 12 miles from Kingston we stopped at the Mermaid Island, where overnighted three other boats as well. During the night it suddenly turned to autumn: it was raining and blowing ordently. The deck was spotted with leaves and needles in the morning. But there was still 20 degrees warm.

1.10.2001 Detroit River, Canada
Although coming up the river has been relaxing and offering a change to open sea, we waited anxiosly the lakes - to be able to sail again. The only worry was prevailing southwesterlies, which would make us to motor. We were warned about the suddenly changing weather and nasty waves of the Great Lakes. Especially the Lake Erie could be dangerous, we were told. However, first there was the Lake Ontario, the smallest, but most heavily trafficed of the five lakes. There are several cities and population centres on the shores, one of them Toronto with seven million inhabitants, as well as a lot of industrialisation.

On Sunday morning 23.9. we left Kingston Confederation Basin and came out to a sunny and calm lake. We took course to the mouth of the Niagara River and the small town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, 130 miles away. We motored the morning, but then the wind woke up, and we got a perfect southeasterly from behind. It lasted the whole starbright night. The next morning the weather changed completely, it was raining and we got the wind against us, but we were already in the harbour of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Yacht Club, and were given a free dockage because the season was over.
On Tuesday we took bus to the Niagara Falls. Somehow naive I had thought that the falls are in the middle of nature, but the 18 million tourists per year have given birth for a whole city of hotels and restaurants in the area. A bit away is located the shabby town of Niagara. Despite the masses and sheratons, the falls are an impressive sight. The border of Canada and USA runs along the river and both countries have their own fall, the horseshoe fall being on the Canadian side. It is 52 meters high and 674 meters wide, and about 100 million litres of water is running through the fall in one minute. The edge of the fall moves all the time because of erosion, and 12.000 years ago it was 11 kilometers away. Still in the 1950's the edge moved one meter in a year, but nowdays the movement is only 36 cm in 10 years. Niagara is famous for the barrel riders, but did you know, that the first human to come down the fall in a barrel was a woman, Annie Taylor, in 1901.

The Niagara River connects the two lakes, Erie and Ontario, and there is a 100 meters height difference between them. So, in addition to the Niagara Falls, there is another 50 meters of rapids. In 1824, started the first attempt to build a waterway around the falls. Five years later, in 1829, the Welland canal was ready. It contained 39 locks, the doors were made of wood, and horses took ships into the locks. With the increase of traffic, a second and a third version of the canal was built in 1845 and 1887. The present, 43 kilometers long canal was ready in 1932. It has 8 locks and the height difference is 99,5 meters. Three big locks called "the flights", have a height of 42,5 meters. There is about 91 million litres of water in each lock.
We were also warned about the Welland canal, especially the flight locks. The water sprouts to the lock with such a power, that your boat can be in danger. The sides, spreaders, bow or astern can be damaged on to the wall. There are rules concerning the canal, of which one orders the boat to have a minimum of three crew members. We got our e-mail friend Mike from the States to come over and pass the canal with us. Early on the Friday morning we got green light to enter the first lock. The seven locks of the St. Lawrence river were clearly in our minds, but this was something different. The huge concrete mouth was waiting to swallow our tiny Kristiina, the walls rising high above the mast tops. Water was sprouting here and there through the massive iron gate. I began to fear that the warnings were not exaggeration, but we'd really fly. 
Was it the foreign flag, out-of-season or -- exaggeration, but we got a safe and fast ride through the canal. We were prepared for a 12-hours day, but after six hours we motored through the last control lock. The only remainder was dirty fender covers and the only loss was 160 Canadian dollars. We were now 168 meter above the sea level. We overnighted in a marina just outside the canal, and in the morning there was the dangerous Erie waiting for us.

Lake Erie is about 200 miles long, and it is the most shallow of the five lakes. In the western side there is only 10 meters of water, in the east 30-40 meters, and the average depth is 19 meters. During a hard wind the water gathers to the other end of the lake causing even two meters depth differencies. There are few harbours to enter in a bad weather, and the lake can be "really nasty", as many of the local sailors told us. In addition to the sudden changes in weather, thunderstorms and watersprouts are quite usual.
I had a cautious wish, that at last we would get something to tell on our voyage. But the morning was sunny, and a smooth northern wind promised us a wind from behind. We digged out the mizzen staysail, after that the spinnaker, which had been down below all the way. Now, on the bad Erie, was our first spinnaker weather! It lasted the whole day giving us a nice 7-8 knots speed. In the evening the wind died, and we continued by motor under the stars and the allmost full moon. The next day we entered the shallow and hot harbour of the Pelee Island. The island is largest on the Lake Erie, and most of it is farmland. Obviously tourism and summer guests play an important role for the islanders, but now the beach huts and cafees were empty. Also the other of two marinas was closed, and we had chosen that one for docking - luckily to be able to have a free stay.
The first October we motored against the wind the 25 miles to the mouth of the Detroit River.

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