We headed out of Montebello on a fresh sunny morning and made the 42 miles to Ottowa uneventfully for a change while enjoying the pleasant Ottowa River and shoreline (….oh wait, we might have been sold some crummy gas along the way…time will tell on that!) So we said adieu to Quebec and all the french-speaking moments. It was great and, as I write this a few days later, already missing the french fun.
Hello Ottowa! We have to get the boat up some stairs to hang out up there first though!
Okay enough locking pictures! Oh, but we are basically living on a lock so still a few more:
With the Jazz Fest scheduled for the coming week, by Saturday evening the wall had over 30 boats tied up. Even while on board, we enjoyed parts (ie NOT all!!) of the very loud jazz fest that blasted just a block away…we even heard Kenny Rogers alleged “last” public concert! Wow….free too!
Just a couple of blocks from the boat, By Market had some great produce, cheeses and fun stuff.
Although most of these pix make it seem that we have had nothing but fantastic weather, suffice to say that, in fact, we have been drenched by a handful of thunderstorm outbursts. Avoided one big one while getting lots of fun facts during our tour of the Parliament Building.
Parliament: nice wood and uncomfortable desks in the House of Commons and arches with columns in the hallways –feels like jolly ole England, right?
The On-Off Bus tour and then again later on a water ferry taxi got us back on the other side of the Ottowa River (and hence technically in the French speaking Quebec), in the small town of Gatineau (but really more like a neighborhood zone of Ottowa), is the not -quite-ready history museum as well as the also not-quite-ready outdoor plant display showcasing 150 years of Canadian history, values, culture, and art.
Lots of public art/ sculptures all over town:
After some provisioning, a good weather boating day got us rolling around 10 in the morning
Although the way feels very peaceful and rural with sections of waterfront homes, we get glimpses of roads, nearby Ottowa airport and civilization as we go.
Play this for the next pic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guKoNCQFAFk
The waters opened up into small lake/wide-ish river sections as they gave way off and on to the man made canal zones and locks. Very pleasant ride in fresh air and sun….despite N’s frustration with the 5 mph speed limit for the entire day. We’re coming to the firm conclusion that there is no way we could be content with a boat that only goes slow.
Tucked in at Hurst Marina after a day of 8 locks, only 25 miles of distance covered, 4 running engine hours but 8 hours of actual journey time…..just in time to batten down the hatches for some rain….again.
We left St Ours’ Lock and Dock fairly early in the morning after spending the night there and enjoying the little park.
We pushed through some rain dumps and thunderstorm threats, hit the St Lawrence Seaway and made the 42 miles to Montreal!
Wow….we really are in another country! It’s a weird feeling when you boat only 30 or 40 miles and things change so much–usually it takes hours on a plane to get to such a “foreign land”….well, not counting South Tacoma Way!
Great location at the Montreal Yacht Club…right at the foot of Old Montreal
Spent time getting the broad lay of the land with the “on- off” bus (which we love!), walking tons of kilometers, shopping for Cuban cigars, eating tons of good food (and not so good-for-you food— smoked deli meat sandwiches and poutine– French fries covered with gravy and cheese curds!), drinking micro brews, hanging w/ other boaters, laundry, provisioning and vidagedes eaux usées ….oh which reminds me! Time for:
French Fun 401: So this french here is way more difficult than French from France…but then I am older now, so who knows who is more difficult (or why)! It is still fun though to explore the language so I have to share a couple of things! Hope you enjoy!
Pas de Vague = No Wake Zone I just like the way that sounds and actually had no idea that the english word vague meant wave in French….so being vague must mean having wavy thoughts, right ?!
La bord= port while la tribord=starboard Ok, I already thought starboard in english was weird (I mean, what does a star have to do with it ?) so now what does a tri / three have to do with it in French? Etymology experts, pls chime in…my internet is too slow to do the research!
And back to what got me sidetracked to that language section:
Vidange des eaux usées = emptying of used waters (aka pump out!) Ok ok, back to our sophomoric interest in bodily functions….but gee whiz, it sounds so pretty in French ! (clearly not the same sophomoric impact as Reader Henry’s comment a post or two ago tho) Not to mention how cool to have all those vowels working to agree in gender and plurality!
Ok back to our tourism:
Not quite as colorful and as cheery…but still a bunch of neat grey buildings. Third largest basilica in the world there at bottom left.
Since there are Aton of native English speakers here as well as substantial bilinguals, the big dilemma here is whether to speak/ greet in English or attempt some French or just simply some muffled greeting that could pass as a French “halo” or English “hello.” This fun boat name seems to describe the situation perfectly with its bilingual play on sounds:
Experienced lifers know there are always two sides to every story and often an epilogue too. Based on the number of comments in the last post, apparently Z-Bedspread (NOT to be read with a French accent…yet!) story piqued some level of interest. So, Dear Readers, here is that other side: while B was in HER bathroom shouting for N and Z to stop overly rough-housing on the bed (aka: remember when your older brother would relentlessly tickle you?? Did he ever blow in your fuzzy ear nonstop!?!) perhaps a half -thimble full escaped from Z (I mean she weighs all of 11 pounds, her bladder is probably smaller than a thimble, in fact!) But N would have NO thoughts of B washing it out and saving the blanket. AND the epilogue and always sunny side of things??!?!!:: Until now we have really generally been surprised at how deeply and well we sleep on board, but now we are getting even better nights’ sleep because the new blanket is all cotton/natural and the perfect weight. SO…Z opened our eyes to an even greater life!
As we exited North Hero Marina, we passed some more railroad remnants described in the last post.
A short ride to Deep Bay at Point Au Roche State Park, NY. We only scratched the surface of all the trails here. N has been randomly throwing out all sorts of french sentences getting our minds prepped for Quebec and even more so during our long walks: “Vous avez des yeux verts”, for example, which only laughingly infuriates B….doesn’t he know by now that we are, after 47 years, on the informal TU basis!!!??!?
After a morning loop hike (and temporarily getting lost), we set off for a quick trip up to Alburgh anchorage/beach for a picnic and exploration.
Captains always have to be prepared to take on new jobs; in this case: pizza delivery!
We knew (well, we actually didn’t believe the forecast given the unbelievable day we had just experienced) weather was moving in and decided to play the departure and final push into Canada by ear. Around midnight, the wind hit 40+ mph (accompanied by buckets of rain) and didn’t drop to 20 mph (in the harbor) til late morning. Still after lunch as I write this there are gusts hitting 30mph. A high of 62. Quite the dramatic change from the last few days.
Killing time on our 200th DAY of this journey (wow !!) (which looks to be another night by the time I am posting this) at our last US pit stop — Gaines Marina, Rouses Point, NY– eating, doing laundry, streaming TV shows, walks during rain breaks and even some time at the library across the street from the marina. Dominoes with Margot and Jerry is on our busy docket while waiting out the weather.
UPDATED ROUTE MAP ON HOME PAGE as well as an enlarged section of the Champlain and Canada areas
Although still in New York State, the hustle and bustle of the City and the East coast in general seems to be melting away….it certainly should with all the rain we’ve had. Luckily we’ve had a bit of a break with two days in a row of nice sun—haven’t had that for several months!
We’ve continued north up the Champlain Canal enjoying the water, the green, the small little towns/hamlets and relative solitude. Most Loopers have turned left to head up the Erie Canal (only to be stuck for days with flooding and closed/damaged locks); but there are apparently about 5 of us on this route sprinkled among even fewer Canadian sailboats returning north for the summer and handfuls of fisherpeople playing hooky in their little skiffs. So overall very quiet boating!
Arrived in the afternoon at Fort Edward for a free night “on the wall.” All of these little towns are struggling to find a reason to exist (for now, anyway, we don’t need to worry about being invaded by Canadians….) Even their fort is so old it’s existence is merely marked with a big boulder.
We made it to Whitehall and again “stayed on the wall” for free! Yummy bakery across the street too. ….but more exciting was the random discovery of the Elks Club just 2 blocks away!
Looming over the wall where we were tied up for the night is the picturesque, mega-big, 1872 Skene mansion (nicely restored on the exterior…interior might be another story!)– now historical tea room/museum type thing with minimal hours:
Nice leg stretch up. Cool thing about these pano pix is that B can get 2 N’s for the price of one! Bonus points if you can spot our boat below!
Whitehall, NY makes claim to being the home of the US Navy (as do at least 5 other towns). It is clear that the first American naval battle did occur here. Sticklers (ie those from the other 5 contenders) claim that the US government had not “commissioned” the boats before the battle. Just a small detail as far as I am concerned!
In fact, Benedict Arnold had many other great successes (and severe injuries) while fighting for the Americans; but other men, including Ethan Allen, took much of his credit. As a result, Arnold was overlooked when it came to a promotion—perhaps compounded by a charge of minor corruption (unproven) for which he was found not guilty (maybe a story planted by other jealous competitors?). As a result of that treatment, the embittered Arnold turned to the Brits and offered his services…..and the rest is history.
We stopped for lunch at a little boat launch (but failed to get around to eating!) and left on a long trek to visit Fort Ticonderoga– a reconstructed, privately run fort (read: expensive to get in—even with our Triple A discount!). It was neat and good way to get a lot of the history from the French-Indian vs American- Brits War, the Revolutionary War, fur trading, settlement life, etc. This trip seems to be one long middle school field trip!
Lake Champlain straddles Canada and US. We’ve got a few more days in the USA while we dust up on our high school French for the locks, docks and eats!
We left Sheepshead Bay (Long Island) after a night on the mooring ball to get a notch closer to “the action” in “The City” …no to mention just inch a little further north. Since our plans included a photo shoot with friends on their boat at the base of the Statue of Liberty on the following morning, we were going to by-pass her and loop back a little the following day. However, just seeing her majestic-ness in the near distance, B was so excited and, of course, wanted to capture a picture from afar. That excitement, compounded by the major rocking in the current, river and the wakes from all of the big boat traffic, resulted in B’s knee smashing into the kill switch. For non-boaters that means the engine immediately turns off. Not a problem…normally. However, if your knee snaps the plastic and it breaks, then there is a big problem. The engine won’t start short of cramming your thumb into a little tiny inset button and permanently holding it there. We did manage to devise a bottle cap and duct tape aid (which still required constant thumb pressure but at least we could take turns and switch hands and not have our fingers get half inch depressions!) and limped into the nearest dock…nearly under a May Day call…but not really! Needless to say, there are no pix memorializing the event due to all the difficulties! An uber ride to another marina that had a set of universal kill switches brought only short-lived relief as, of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, none fit! SO much for “universal”!! N carved the plastic of one with that handy Swiss Army Knife (while also slicing his finger!). And we were underway again after about a 1.5 hour delay. In hindsight not too bad overall….but B was so bothered by the whole thing that she had to literally choke back tears as we ultimately and safely made the emergency landing in high winds and current!
So we finally actually made it to Manhattan! See feature photo at the top of post.
A respite in an actual home! Yay! And Kids! haha….Yay!
We subwayed our way around Manhattan (a bit more than necessary…ie we took the wrong train at one point! Haha)
We pushed off in the morning to get our Statue of Liberty photos (the other couple had decided to bag on the idea!) So we were left to selfies…still fun and special!
And one more of just her!
Out of the concrete jungle where dreams are dreamt and into the countryside:
With rain threatening, and certainly the wind picking up we stopped for the day.
Got some miles in to get out of incoming weather the next day and arrived at Albany Yacht Club…well technically we are in the town of Rensselaer (which btw is NOT where the University of R is…that’s a few more miles north!)
After our fast and furious long 130 mile run down the Potomac and out to Solomans Island, we just kept up that pace (even though the water was a bit choppy) the following day with 97 miles to Sassafras Harbor Marina. It’s weird what sitting still in D.C. did for a week. Seems to have produced a combination of feelings: antsy to get going, feeling like we’re “losing the race,” curious to see what’s next, longing for some quiet environs, and tired of “iffy” weather….to name a few!
But, the downside is, of course, that we are passing things that we wanted to see (not to mention things we don’t know that we want to see!). So I guess that again confirms that there is Part Deux somewhere in the cards. Along the way though, we did see a few things and again were surprised by the overall non-development of the shoreline.
At the risk of having Homeland Security come check us out, we’ve spent the last few days honing in on our target: Washington D.C. Overall the Potomac is far less developed than what we expected; in fact, the majority of the journey up it felt quite remote and uninhabited. We took a few days to make the 100 miles. We thought it prudent to have the extra days built in for any unforeseen circumstances (ie weather and/or boat problems) since the one and only hard date on our calendar is our son’s graduation ceremony.
Just shortly after leaving Chesapeake Bay and entering the mouth of the Potomac River, we were flagged down by a distant speck– the only human life/water craft in sight.
We made it to Bayside Marina in Colonial Beach, Virginia—clearly a vacation destination but mid-week before Memorial Weekend it was still a nice, quiet place.
Colonial Beach, Va: Sunrise on the Potomac and Sunset on the Marina side
We had an uneventful journey the next day as we continued up the Potomac where we spent 2 nights. I’m not really sure where those 48 hours went though!??!? No town reasonably nearby: just some docks and walks for us.
BUT, should you think it was restful….this was perched over our heads:
The second night we were joined by Tom V and Betty B for dinner who were kind enough to drive 4 hours roundtrip to make the visit!
A couple of shots to show just how undeveloped the Potomac is. On the left: just 10 miles away from DC and on the right: 22 miles away
Made it to Washington Marina right downtown and only blocks from the National Mall:
We had Kaj and Paola over for appetizers on the boat and then out for dinner… it was so exciting I forgot to take a pic of us! But after dinner, we did take a tour of Kaj ‘s and Paola’s SAIS classrooms.
Since we missed the group shot at the boat yesterday, this may have to do: