When the Saints go marching in

We can’t leave Montreal behind without a big thanks to Debbie the Dockmaster at the Montreal Yacht Club, who helped us in a bunch of different ways, although we didn’t take a single picture with her.  But we did take a picture of our old pal Zaandam, who we last saw three years ago on our way from PEI to Nova Scotia.

Anyway, we left on Sunday, heading for Saint-Anne-de-Bellevue via the Saint Lawerence Seaway.  The Seaway is how big ships get to Cleveland and Detroit and, if they’re brave, to where the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior.  When we arrived at the Saint Lambert Lock, only Brutus was waiting ahead of us.  Here’s why boats wait.

Maria G is 660 feet long and fast enough to have left Norway on June 22, right about the time we were hunting for restaurants with Brent and Karen some two miles from the lock.   Like Mother Abbess, we solved the Maria problem by staying out of her way as she left to find her purpose in life.

Over the next two hours, more and more relatively little boats piled up to wait for the green light.  We all waited long enough for Algosea to come along, which also was long enough to fly the drone and take some photos, but then a police boat zoomed in, which scared those of us who thought maybe there was a law against droning over a commercial lock, but then they just picked up another fellow and left, so Doug put the photo chip back in the drone because they didn’t confiscate it after all.

Saint Lambert is the patron of farmers and surgeons, who otherwise don’t seem to have much in common with each other or with commercial shipping.  He was murdered in 700 A.D. because he criticized the wrong dude for having an adulterous affair.  As an historical aside, the “mind your own damn business” rule apparently was invented sometime after 700 A.D.

Between the Saint Lambert Lock and the Saint Catherine Lock, the Seaway looks a bit like the ICW.

Except it’s 35 feet deep, so we didn’t need Bob423’s latest Aquamaps overlay to successfully avoid recent shoaling.  And it’s a commercial shipping channel.

Saint Catherine Lock was the second one of the day.  St. Catherine—whose bio for some reason stresses her virginity—is the patron of people who work with wheels, and she supposedly protects against sudden death, although her protective super-powers were of no use to Saint Lambert.  We figure she’s a big deal in NASCAR.  Anyway, we waited patiently for yet another ship to pass and nobody died suddenly.

All fifteen of us jammed in the lock, plus Tomijean zipped in moments before the doors closed.

The last hurdle of the day was Lake Saint-Louis.  Saint Louis probably isn’t the patron saint of arches, but he should be.  This is the oddest lake we’ve ever crossed, because it’s kind of like a huge corn maze except the walls and dead-ends are rocks and shallow spots and they’re covered by water that varies between 30-feet deep and one-foot deep.  We asked several Montreal locals whether the route advised by the last local was acceptable, and each time we got “No!  Don’t go that way!”  But our new friend Brutus rafted to us in the Saint Catherine Lock and, despite the language barrier, we concluded that they also have a five-foot draft, so we decided to just follow them and turn around if they hit a rock and sank.

It worked like a charm.  We safely followed Brutus right into Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, where someone we won’t identify but who left that morning assured us there would be plenty of space.  There wasn’t.  The walls were jammed, with boats already rafting.  Loopers on Irish Mist and Tomijean knew our ETA, however, and were kind enough to ask a small boat to move just enough to free up space for us.  The small boat kindly agreed, and moved just enough to free up space for us.  Which worked out great for Brutus, who—after a very long and stressful day—undoubtedly was overjoyed to find one perfect trawler-sized slot into which they slid just as we arrived.  Et tu Brute?

But Tomijean graciously allowed us to raft on them, and we joined Andy and Miguela for a wonderful meal at an average Canadian Mexican restaurant with margaritas of unacceptably small volume.  Which was fortunate in the end, because when we went back to the boats the wall had an open spot, so we moved up to it.  By morning, everyone but us and FelixO were gone.

Quebec requires two line-handlers in the locks, and Rosie—being a dog and all—lacks opposable thumbs.  So Doug helped Matt on Seaview when he headed out.  And by “help” we mean Doug sat on the boat chatting.

Everyone said we should stay an extra day in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, so we did.  Cool little town.

Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is at least the third Sainte Anne we’ve encountered, following de-Monts and de-Beaupré.  Although unmentioned in the Bible, Saint Anne was Jesus’ grandma.*  Her namesake towns may be cool and all, but for some reason we imagine Grandmother Anne being stern and serious and giving underwear and sandals—instead of Legos—as presents.  Hopefully she at least doubled up on the gifts for Jesus, since he was one of those unlucky slobs who gets stiffed every year because his birthday falls on Christmas.

The Sainte Anne Lock is the busiest lock in Canada and we don’t like crowds,  so—in anticipation of a start to Montebello that didn’t include waiting for the 9:00 lock opening—we locked through and tied up on the other side for Monday night, thereby setting a personal-best record for most times docking at one town.

Later Dana channeled her inner air-traffic-controller skills and helped Nice Goin’, Dog House, Mountain Mermaid, and Amy Marie find spots on our side of the lock.

Tuesday morning we all took off for a rainy day trip up to Montebello.  Gray, wet, and cool.  So the opposite of Phoenix.

Not much excitement, other than maybe the Carillon Lock, which at 65 feet is the highest traditional lock in Canada.

Big whoop.  We’ve done the Wilson Lock on the Tennessee.  Oh, there also is an artsy lighthouse in the Ottawa River.

A few hours later we pulled into the Montebello Municipal Marina, which is where—to use a phrase we recently learned from our British friends on Tomijean—things went pear-shaped.  First day alone for the single dock attendant.  No cleats in the slip she directed us into right after she directed Dog House into the slip where she first told us to go.  On second thought, Tumbleweed and Nice Goin’ “might be big enough to pull out the dock anchors,” which makes sense when the dock literally is anchored over a hundred feet below.  Hmmm.  Much funny business later we tied up outside.  Where we had plenty of river current but no alternating current.  Downwind from the RV campground toilets.

With a generator, heater, TV, and some residual protection from Saint Catherine, however, somehow we survived.  And then today was a glorious day to wake up in Montebello.

Montebello’s claim to fame is the “World’s Largest Log Cabin,” in the form of the Fairmont Le Château Montebello.  We popped over by foot, then by drone.

Although we once stayed at the equivalent hotel at Lake Louise to celebrate our unexpected survival after backpacking through Banff, these numpties foiled our attempt to eat at the restaurant because we weren’t registered guests.**  Their loss, as we’d planned to put on real shirts.

The Fairmont is located on grounds once owned by Louis-Joseph Papineau, who is famous in these parts because he founded Montebello.  His mansion now is managed by Parcs Canada, but there wasn’t an angle for a decent picture.  So instead we photoed the family mausoleum, which was built in 1853 and now holds the remains of six Papineau generations, thereby putting Chuck and Jann’s Burlington joint to shame.

We first met Done Tacking at Shady Harbor in 2019.  We took pictures of them in their first lock.  Then way later George and Judi joined us for dinner and took us over to their yacht club in Salem.  None of that would be relevant here, except they showed up in Montebello.  Great to see them again.

Tomorrow, Ottawa.


*Among other things, Saint Anne is the patron of lost articles of personal property, which probably makes her pretty important to the good folks of Scottsboro, Alabama.

**Adding to our education on international slang, 800 Words taught us the word “numpty,” which we now plan to work into everyday conversation the way General Melchett did with the word “gobbledygook.”

Your thoughts?

%d bloggers like this: