As we’ve probably noted before, some days are easy, some days are hard, and some days just have to be survived. Some days, however, are both hard and incredibly awesome. Today was one of those.
It started out cool and clear. Just like we like it. Off the dock at 8, which is early enough to get a good start, but late enough to not suck from a getting-up perspective.
The first obstacle was a stretch of old pilings from an abandoned causeway. Meh. We found the opening with no problem.
About five minutes later, we passed the ruins of Fort Montgomery.
Fort Montgomery was built in 1844, the same year early Seventh-Day Adventists somehow concluded that the world was about to be destroyed. (Turns out it was just bad math and the world actually is going to be destroyed at some later date.) The fort either was to be defensive protection from the Canadians or as a launch pad for an assault on Canada, depending on what country the historian you ask calls home. It was named for General Richard Montgomery.* Through diligent research we’ve learned that Alabama’s capital is named for the same Richard Montgomery, which we find shocking. We would’ve guessed that Alabama adopted the name Montgomery out of respect for the line of camouflage underwear—men’s, women’s, AND children’s—available in the high-fashion department at the Montgomery Ward in Sylacauga.
About five minutes later, we passed into Canadian waters. The physical evidence of the line of demarcation is limited to one small floaty thing that’s less conspicuous than a plain old channel marker.
We almost missed it entirely. It’s a good thing we didn’t though, because five minutes later we reached the Canadian border patrol office.
The border guards were super pleasant and nice. Then they boarded Misty Pearl and tossed her like Andy Dufresne’s cell after he stole the warden’s money and escaped through the sewer.
Fortunately we’re clean, of course, so they let us head on down the Richelieu.
The river was cool and all, but then we reached the Chambly Canal—Canal de Chambly to the Québécois—which was downright fun. The Chambly Canal is a National Historic Site, opened in 1843. That’s before the Civil War. And it’s just about the same today as when it opened. The name “Chambly” comes from the Native Canadien word for “buttload of bathtub-size locks.”**
In spots the canal barely was wide enough for us to squeeze through. Especially with seemingly random channel markers (red to port, green to starboard?) and port-o-potties.
But it was crazy scenic.
In several places the bridges and locks jumbled together in a pretty confusing way.
We’ve been through a ton of locks, but the small size and frequency of these bad boys was new.
But here’s the coolest part. It’s all synchronized. Listen on 68 and they’ll tell you if there’s an issue. Otherwise just hold at the 10 KPH speed limit and cruise on through.***
Just like we suspect was the case in 1844, the bridge tenders nowadays sometimes run from bridge to bridge. Or in this case, drive from bridge to bridge. That’s right. This isn’t just another canal photo. The girl from the last bridge is in that car rushing to open the next one for us. She stayed with us for at least three bridges and one lock. That’s a trooper right there.
Then the last three locks dumped us in the lake.
Although all of the canal was awesome, the prettiest and most narrow part was the first half. Just after that point, Dana asked the second-most important question of the day: “This is so beautiful. Why didn’t you do a time-lapse video?” Grrrr. So for anyone with two-and-a-half minutes to kill, here’s the second half of the canal.****
After the lockset in the photo above, we wheeled into the Chambly Marina. Marina de Chambly to Québécois.
In Burlington we were docked next to Frank and Frank, cousins who told us their other cousin had an Italian restaurant in Chambly. So we went. Cousin Joey even stopped by to chat and offer us free drinks.
Hey, here’s an interesting tidbit. Fort Chambly is just around the corner, so close we could take a photo from our stern.
Fort Chambly was captured and held—briefly—by Americans in 1775. The American commander? Richard Montgomery. Dude apparently was a big deal up in these parts. Which still doesn’t explain the whole Alabama thing, but then most of Alabama defies explanation.
Nice view of the church through the twilight haze from our bow.
Tomorrow we’ll explore Chambly.
* Not to be confused with Robert Montgomery Knight—nicknamed “the General”—whose Hall of Fame career was destroyed by scandal but who still holds records for chair tossing and funny quotes mocking Dale Brown.
** Okay that may not be true, but it could be.
*** We’re from Tennessee and Texas. We don’t do metric. However, from all the years Dana has spent running road races and all the years Doug has spent thinking about not running road races we know that 10 kilometers is 6.2 miles. From there it just takes another hour or so to convert the speed to knots.
**** Clearly the most important question of the day was “Why didn’t you ask me that earlier?”