Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Valleyfield to Montreal, QC

We had a reservation at Port d' Escale for a week in Montreal, so we planned our longest day 55 miles, two bridges that had to open and 4 St Lawrence Seaway locks, an optimistic schedule.  We booked another marina after 2 locks to be safe.  We followed a freighter soon after we left the marina at 8:30AM.  We stayed close behind so that we could pass through two bridges that had to open not far from the marina.  Since we knew the lockmaster (eclusier!) would lock him first there was no need to rush so we proceeded at 9 knots or 10 MPH which was the speed limit for all except Quebec pleasure craft.

This bridge only had 13 feet of clearance so the bridge had to open for us and the freighter.

Upon arrival at the lock you tie up to a dock and wait.  The ticket machine is available for purchasing the $25 pass for lockage.  Rafting off is expected.  Since the lockmaster does not answer the radio, there is a phone on the dock to call him to request lockage.

  The eclusier then announces on a loud speaker when the lock is ready.  Everyone scrambles to move into the lock.  Smartly the smaller boats lay back to let the big boats tie up to the wall.  The lines are provided by the eclusier, one dropped to a person on the bow and another dropped to the stern.  The eclusier then directs the smaller boats to their rafting position.  We had 3 boats rafted to us.  Total of 17 in the lock.  This lock is Beauharnois, Upper.   Link to Lock Website

Pictured is the raft up.  Note yellow "rope"

We dropped 42 feet and then the boats proceed out.  Note the crew waiting for the command from the Captain to cast off.  Life jackets are required of all on board except Bryce.

I won't bore you with pictures of each lock except the last one here, St Lambert.  Note the steel lift bridge that traverses the lock, which is in the up position.  We arrived at the lock at 3:30, the Quebec boaters arrived  much earlier as they "hurry up to wait" and ignore the speed limit.  At 6:30 the ship that we followed was still in the lock and the gates were not closed.  One of the Quebecers called the eclusier to learn there was a mechanical problem with one of lift bridges.  The eclusier expected that we would be ready to lock at 7:00PM.  Sure enough we entered at the appointed time.  Out by 7:45PM and in the marina at 8:15PM after bucking  a 6 knot current in the St. Lawrence for 2 miles.  

We were very glad to tie up to the dock and enjoy a cold beverage.  Port d'Escale is located in Old (Vieux) Montreal so very handy for sightseeing. Island Hopper is along the wall with the bow facing out along the top of the picture.      Link to Marina Website

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