Log #50b Kingston to Brockville and the St. Lawrence Seaway

August 3, 2010 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 50, The Logs

Marina Cap A L’Aigle, Quebec

Aug. 3, 2010

Hi Folks,

We spent a few days in Quebec City, and are now well down the St. Lawrence into the estuary, about 40 miles from Tadoussac and the Saguenay River. All is going well on our voyage. Judy is using her high school French quite well. Mine is very poor. We have both our Max Sea and our Garmin GPS working well, and we are playing the tides as much as we can to take advantage of the ebb tide and the outflow of the St. Lawrence to help us downstream. Our hull speed is only about six knots, but we have been averaging 9 to 11 knots with the currents downstream.

There are few marinas or anchorages on the St. Lawrence, as the shoreline dries out with over 18 feet of tide. So we have to calculate our distances and departure times carefully to make the next port in daylight.

I hope to get this off tonight, and hopefully will be up the Saguenay River tomorrow night.

All the best,
Aubrey

PS – If any of you are interested in logs and pictures from others doing liveaboard cruising, you may want to look at Alexina of Shoreham’s website. These are British friends of ours, met in Rome, sailing with their ten year old daughter named Tiger. They have spent a couple of years wintering in Greece and other places of the Mediterranean.

CTRL + Click to follow link” color=”#0000ff”>http://sites.google.com/site/alexinaofshoreham/home/2010/may-2010

Another Canadian couple who have been sailing the Baltic for several months each year and periodically returning to their condo in Toronto are Brian Stewart and his partner Jane Witherspoon on board Pilgrim. Brian has some very lovely pictures of their travels, an excellent website.

CTRL + Click to follow link” color=”#0000ff”>http://www.pilgrimspassages.com/

If you look up either of these voyagers, let me know.

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Log #50b Kingston to Brockville and the St. Lawrence Seaway

Quebec Yacht Club, Quebec City, PQ

July 31, 2010

We left Prinyer’s Cove in company with Serenity, my son’s Cal 35, and bid them a fond farewell as they headed down to Sodus Bay in New York and back to St. Catherines. We continued motor sailing to Kingston, where we stopped in Portsmouth Harbour to pump out and take on fuel. There has been an increase in fuel prices in Ontario because of the Liberal government’s tax grab with the new Harmonized Sales Tax (Harmonized HA!) known as the HST. It cost $1.14 per litre for diesel, or for our American friends, that would be about $4.00 US a gallon, depending upon the current exchange rate estimated at 10%. Ouch! The teenage girl attendant was pleasant enough, but when we asked if there was a chandlery in the marina, she asked, “What’s a chandlery?” (For the landlubbers reading my logs, a chandlery is a store specializing in sailing and boating gear and equipment.)

From the marina in Kingston we could see the wind farm of 85 wind generators on the west end of offlying Wolfe Island. There are varying opinions as to the desirability or even the utility of such. For some it is an eyesore, a noise pollutant, or a hazard for bird life. Others feel it is a step in the right environmental direction, even though heavily subsidized; especially the landowners on whose property the rigs are built as they received $10,000 or more for the permission to build on their property for each unit. Some of these wind farms are being built over water, to alienate some of the boating fraternity. Canada is behind in wind generation development as many European countries have wind farms of hundreds of units on land and sea. In Canada this is only the second largest development to come on line so far.

As a sailor I am very cognizant of energy and resource conservation and production. An offshore boat has to be prepared for extended periods of total independence, as there are no grocery stores, no gas stations, no plumbers or mechanics on call at sea or in isolated anchorages. Our main energy hog is our refrigeration. We have no microwave, no air conditioning, no beer machine or ice maker (although our fridge will make a few ice cubes at a time). Fuel is used when we have the engine on (We have a 28 gallon fuel tank and another 25 gallons of diesel in jerry cans lashed on deck.), burning diesel, but it also has a 100 amp alternator to replace energy simultaneously into our battery bank of four six volt golf cart batteries, and a 12 volt starter battery (totally isolated from our house bank so it cannot be accidentally drained, thus allowing us to start the engine even though the house bank might be flat). In addition, without using engine power we have a wind generator and two 85 watt solar panels to meet our power needs. The solar panels are more effective and efficient than is the wind generator, especially in temperate and tropical climates. We only have 55 gallons of water capacity plus a 5 gallon jerry can for fresh water. We have a water maker that can convert sea water to fresh water, but it uses power too. So at sea, we supplement our water supply only when the engine is on, also producing power for our batteries which is used by the watermaker. I mention this to illustrate that most real sailors by necessity have to be conservationists.

We motorsailed 14 miles from Kingston to the east end of Wolfe Island to Brakey Bay where we anchored (44 13.50N, 076 13.50W) in this large bay, an island destination for the Kingston Yacht Club boats, well sheltered from any west winds in 15 feet of water, and called our friends David and Betty Anne Field, to meet us for an enjoyable overnight visit at their lovely home with them and some of their friends. Next day we borrowed their car to run a number of errands in Kingston before returning to Veleda, preparing to set off down river in the morning.

However as Judy was setting up our next route on our new Garmin GPS plotter, she became aware that the charts of the lakes and the US east coast did not include charts of the St. Lawrence or the eastern seaboard of Canada. In addition our Max Sea computer charting system would not call up any detail of the world charts it has, or connect to the GPS. Without the Garmin or the Max Sea charts, we were blind. As we were heading out the St. Lawrence, such charts are essential. We called the West Marine in Kingston and they assured us they had a chart card of the Canadian east coast. So we called up David and he was kind enough to loan us his car again to catch the ferry across to Kingston. However when we got to the store, it turned out they did not have what we needed. When questioned about the Canadian card, they had found eight listed in stock, but when they actually took them out, they were for a different area. The ones they had listed had been sold and the listing not updated! We were getting desperate. Where could we get one? Otherwise we could not go on.

We had West Marine call the Toronto store. No go. The Oakville store had one, but it would take three days to get here. What to do? We called David and left a message that we were taking his car to Toronto and would not be back until early evening. So we drove 300 kilometres (about 140 miles) each way, but we finally were able to purchase it. After we returned to Wolfe Island, David drove us back to Brakey Bay. He mentioned a possibility we had not considered, namely that of contacting a West Marine in St. Vincent or one close by on the American side. If there was a West Marine there it would have been much closer, but at least we were now able to continue.

So after three nights in Brakey Bay, we set off the next morning into the Thousand Islands area. We did notice a considerable amount of weed on our anchor, which might indicate poor holding in adverse conditions. On we went into the picturesque Thousand Islands, watching carefully for another 1000 or so that didn’t quite make it above the surface. There are beautiful “cottages” on most of the islands as well as many islands available to the public through a national park system. Many of the cottages are on large landscaped areas with screened in gazebos on dramatic headlands with verdant pine trees and pre Cambrian rock outcroppings, and with copious dock space and boathouses for all the toys the wealthy have to play with. We also saw intimate small cottages nestled into the trees, but with panoramic views across the channels. Unfortunately we also saw several cottages on different islands with large trees fallen across their roof lines, or the leafy tops crashed onto their verandas. The shallow root system of the trees could not penetrate the underlying granite rock base and many trees were blown over by the same gale that caused us to drag our anchor in Prinyer’s Cove. These were sad sights. We subsequently read in the local Kingston paper that the squall of a few days earlier was more intense than we thought, with winds of over 115 kilometres per hour (55 miles per hour plus), with water spouts photographed, and many power outages as well as cottage damages. No wonder we dragged when anchored in weeds.

There are several pleasant small towns along this stretch of the St. Lawrence, with town docks lining the shorelines for recreational boating and for a variety of river excursion boats that ply the waters of this island studded stretch of the St. Lawrence River. We passed Gananoque, with its riverside summer theatre that we visited many years ago on Northern Spirit, our Northern 25 sailboat. One of the first islands of the National Park area as we entered from Lake Ontario was named Aubrey Island. We stopped there when we were down in this area in the early 1990’s.

Our destination was Brockville, as we have reciprocal membership with the Brockville Yacht Club, allowing us to tie up there free of charge for an evening. This is one of the advantages to belonging to a yacht club on Lake Ontario, in that most of the clubs extend reciprocal privileges, allowing very pleasant sailing and visits to the yacht clubs in many towns and cities on both the Canadian and U.S. sides of the lake, and even to some down the St. Lawrence free of charge. We were also interested in stopping in Brockville as that is where we bought Veleda in 1996, and we wanted to invite the former owner to come down to see her. We were greeted by the BYC Officer of the Day who helped us in to a slip for the night after we used the pump out. We were settled in for the night after a 38 mile trip through the Thousand Islands. The club is right downtown next to a large inlet where the main town docks and lovely park areas are located. Fred Smithwick, the previous owner, and his daughter came down early next morning to see Veleda and reminisce about their times aboard, and see the changes we had made or not made since we bought her. The daughter was only a child when she last sailed with her parents on Veleda.

We left shortly after their visit to motor and motor sail the 17 miles downstream to the Iroquois Lock, the first of the St. Lawrence Seaway locks.