Monday, August 31, 2009

2nd Year: Waterford NY to Albany NY w/ boat problems

Monday, August 31, 2009
Now, why would I get out of bed in the early morning, smiling in anticipation of yet another great day on the water, heading south toward Waterford, NY?  I should know better – it is becoming that any day on the water with this #@#@+!#** boat has GOT to be a BAD day on the water.
Heading south toward Waterford, NY
And today is ANOTHER bad day on the water.  Let’s see.  If this is the new DeFever 50, then it must be bad or must be a bad joke.  Me, I’m sick of laughing and excusing this freaking boat.  DON’T go there….DON’T say to me, “well, it’s a boat”.  We have had this conversation too many times.

Today, coming into a lock in the Champlain Canal, which can often be tricky enough, trying to get the boat parallel, trying to get the boat secure bow and stern to the lock wall without scraping and damaging anything, I am scurrying from bow to stern, trying to tie the boat off to those tiny little cables or grab the slimy ropes hanging down – whatever I can reach quickly – the boat suddenly lunges forward, throwing me off balance and putting the squeeze & stress and strain on the one rope I do have tied to the bow as the boat surges forward.  I’m yelling at Andy – “hey!  WHAT are you doing?!”  Looking up, I can see he is perplexed and clearly not happy about something.

Another memorable moment aboard our new DeFever as something ELSE has now broken.  Seems as Andy put the boat into gear, we had no proper gears on the starboard engine. When he put the boat into neutral, the boat goes into reverse.  When he put the boat into REVERSE, there IS NO REVERSE.  Pushing the throttle into forward puts the transmission in neutral.

This boat becomes difficult to control, but he finally figured out what was happening and could then compensate.  We got the boat secured to the lock wall.  Exiting the lock, we tied to the lock wall and spend a couple of hours trying to figure out the problem (translate that into a # of phone calls to people who might/should be able to but  really cannot help us).  Guess what, the manufacturer of THIS PART has a phone number and address in Japan.  Not much use to us now.  Andy finally, after a lot of troubleshooting and trying a number of things, wired the gear cable to the gear shift lever, so now we have neutral and forward but no reverse.  To you non-boaters, we use reverse in conjunction with forward on the other engine to aid in docking and turning the boat tightly in a channel, etc.  Going truly backward is not too often done..

There is a great deal of barge traffic in this area as GE has been forced to clean up the waterway, costing them billions.   Health hazard wastes are scooped off the bottom as sludge and transported out of here by dump trucks.  PCP levels are measured constantly and all folks downstream are a bit at risk with their water supply getting contaminated during the clean up.  Nice mess.   of dollars.  Seems GE dumped lots of toxic waste into this portion of the Hudson and got busted for it.  No wonder GE is profitable and pays no taxes...just dump your stuff!!

Hold your breath!  Barge takes up a LOT of room!

 At any rate, our RayMarine Chart Plotter that has NEVER worked properly and that continually, often as many as 12-15 times a day, cuts off - decided to pull its usual trick.  With a narrow channel and a very large barge coming at us, the barge asked us to pull to the far side to allow it to pass.  No problem except the Chart Plotter FAILS yet again, leaving us wondering JUST HOW DEEP are we?  Without depth, pulling to the side is risky business as running aground becomes a real possibility.
Lady Captain.  I love it!
It is obvious I no longer have a sense of humor regarding the performance of this boat – or shall I say, LACK of PERFORMANCE of this boat.  Since the dealer and his personnel CANNOT find the problem, I say it is long past time for them to replace all this equipment.  We have lived with this RayMarine Chart Plotter cutting in/out nearly every day since we got the boat.  Can’t fix it?  REPLACE it.

Oh shit moment.  Think we'll make it under this time?
Off we went, finally back underway and still hoping to make Waterford by late afternoon, struggling with the boat through 7 locks.  The infamous bridge C-5 between lock 4 and lock 3, the sole reason we worked so hard to get the boat lowered from 24 to 20 and for this bridge alone, to 17 feet high by lowering and propping our radar arch down at the very beginning of this Triangle Loop trip,  turned out to be NOT what the ‘experts’ said.  The bridge is supposed to be  17’, but  something is off - the bridge was slightly under 17 feet – and we BUMPED.  We could NOT get through.

The water level gauge shows 17 feet.  This is NOT that!!! 
 The 2nd and 3rd bimini top steel supports were hitting the bridge, the first one having made it though.  I’m standing on top of the boat, as high as I can get, sweating that if we start crashing, I’m jumping into the water or getting knocked into the water.  I’m telling Andy we ARE NOT gonna make it and he thinks, “well, we made it through one bimini strut, what is her problem?” not realizing the bimini top increases slightly in height – probably to enable the rain water to dump off better.  He finally stops as he hears the scrunching sound and begins backing the boat ON ONE ENGINE backward because we still have this gear/engine problem and gets us out from under the bridge.

Both our guidebooks tell us that the lockmaster can call ahead if you are worried about your height; that they will lower the water pond UNDER you, so you can have a couple more inches of clearance.  We did all that.  We had lockmasters during the day tell us we were ‘fine’ and the lockmaster or two prior to this infamous problematic bridge did call, saying we were coming and ‘tight’.  To no avail.  Crunch.  Our request then to please lower the water pond was met with “No way”  That takes “two hours”……we had been told also that the process takes 10 minutes.  Long story short, if we wait the two hours, the lock would then be closed for the evening.   We needed to figure it out ourselves.  Maintaining a tight passage in the narrow channel and not able to maneuver the boat as well as I would have liked due to no reverse, I kept us in the channel while Andy dismantled the bimini top.  I kept wondering when he would slip and fall 3 stories down into the water, leaving me with a bum boat, trying to figure out how to get to him. Finally-- success and as we held our breath and I stood yet again on the top of the boat, we cleared with not a full inch to spare.

Hold your breath.  Here we come again, bimini down.

Why is Andy ducking?  I'm the one standing on the higher deck!

He is making me really nervous.  He's ducking way down & I'm the standing on top fool.

Headed under.  Hold ON!  Watch OUT!

Shit, shit, shit.  BUT we made it!

We stopped short of our destination, tying to the wall in Mechanicsville, NY for the evening, planning to head the few miles on to Waterford in the morning.  We’ll attempt to get this boat freaking boat fixed yet again.  Tried to hook to aft shorepower here….no power is coming thru, yet the box on the dock works as another boater plugged in a hairdryer to show us it works.  Remember, this AFT shore power was ‘fixed’ this week at Shelbourne Shipyard for god knows what amount of $$$$.  Two days later, and the first time we’ve tried to use it --- no aft shore power.  I really cannot take any more of this. WHAT could be the issue now?

We have been on this trip – the Triangle Portion – since July 2 when we left NYC Harbor and have spent over $14,000 in repairs.  Does ruin one’s appetite for travel at this rate.  The upcoming discussions with the broker who sold us this boat and the individual who did a lot of the work on it will most likely be testy.  I am not in a nice mood any longer.  I am considering a sail boat more and more every day.  We have so many problems with this boat that I cannot remember a day when we DON’T have one problem or another

Andy just told me to buck up – that we did have a bright spot today in our travels.  He reminded me of the two white round mounds that we saw as we traveled down the narrow Champlain Canal this afternoon.  I mean, the ‘white’ was very white.  Focusing carefully with my binoculars on the small boat anchored barely off the channel, I finally figured out that the white orbs were two butts gleaming in the sunshine as the couple lay, buck naked, on top of their boat, absorbing the sunshine.  How conspicuous we were, both of us madly twisting the dials on our individual binoculars, trying to see more!  Don’t know how Andy kept the boat in the channel…..grin
Along the waterway sights abound
Our friends, Tony and Breta, abroad Side by Side, were tied up here and threw  a “cocktail party’ for us, & inviting another couple tied to the wall.  It was clear I needed something to bring me down from my ranting and raving about our day and this boat!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009
The other boats pulled out later than they planned, having to wait til after the FOG cleared.  Pea soup, thick fog, leaving one unable to even see the channel markers was everywhere along the water, but not much on shore.  It’s obvious the weather is turning to fall with cooler (ie cold!) evenings over the warmed by the sun water and fog ensues.  I’ve got to recheck out cruising schedule – I don’t want to be cruising in 17-24 degree weather like we did last year as headed south from So. Carolina to FL!

Andy spent his morning on the internet, on the phone and finally located a U.S. company that handles the part on our gear that wasn’t working.  A couple of hours later, with me pushing/pulling the controls in response to Andy’s shouts from the engine room, “Forward!”, “Reverse”, “Neutral”, he got the thing FIXED and off we went.  This “break” turned out to be a gear cable that became misaligned in the electronic control box, most likely due to vibrations.  OK, I give on this one.  I will consider this a normal “it’s a boat” explanation !!

Off to Waterford, NY, we went, officially closing our Triangle Loop as we started up the Erie Canal here in early July.   We’ve crossed our wake; cruised more than 750 miles just for the 'Loop',locked up or down 99 times at least; traveled through two countries (U.S. & Canada); two states (NY and VT), seven rivers (Hudson River, Ottawa River, St. Lawrence River, St. Lawrence Seaway, Richelieu River, Three Rivers & can't remember )4 large lakes (Oneida;Ontario; Upper Rideau; Champlain) and five canals (Erie; Oswego; Rideau; Richelieu; Champlain).

An amazing trip - one that we loved & will cherish every memory of!

  We’ll stay here in Waterford til Friday morning when we pull out for Albany to pick up Bob and Chala.  We’ll scrub the boat, get the radar arch back up, clean the lines & big orange fenders that are black with slime from the Champlain Canal walls – the dirtiest of all the canals, shampoo our rug and couch and scrub even in the engine room.  In our free time, we’ll walk around the cute town and hit the grocery store.  Obviously, not every day is a beautiful cruising day!

Friday, September 4, 2009
A quick, uneventful cruise through our LAST lock, the Federal Lock, in Troy, NY, only a few minutes out of Waterford.  A brief, bittersweet moment!  No more up/down slimy walls (this one was clean, clean, clean!  Must have been scrubbed in anticipation of winter storage?!). 
Albany NY

Bob and Chala were waiting for us on the dock at the Albany Yacht Club – timing was perfect.  We both arrived at the same time!  How fun to have friends aboard.  Andy and Bob share high school memories and the same birthday and the same love of fine scotch, which Bob brought plenty of aboard for them to share!  We had a great evening grilling out and catching up!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

2nd Year: Lake Champlain

Wednesday, August 19, 2009
With the boat no where near ready to be fixed until we can resolve just exactly what part do we have on this boat, we decided our best bet was to find a larger, more full service marina and continue our search for the part along the way.  We thanked bubba electrician; paid his bill and that of the marina and pulled out, headed to Shelburne Shipyard, that has a good reputation for repairs and a good electrician.  Hopefully, they can resolve this part issue.

Burlington, VT in the background across from Shelbourne Shipyard

Coming into Shelbourne Shipyard dock

Ah, Lake Champlain lives up to the reputation.  Absolutely beautiful!  A wide lake, ringed with mountains on both sides that we could just make out through the mist and cloudy skies.  I look forward to spending time on this Lake, anchoring out, swimming and just enjoying.  We are to meet Dale and AnneMarie on Friday at his house at South Hero Island to spend a few days with them on and off the boat and then off again.  I hope this electrical problem doesn’t ruin our plans.  Dale has even gotten a baby sitter so he can take off for a night or two aboard.  We have had too many plans screwed in the past because of ‘issues’ with this NEW boat.  We will have to traverse back to Dale’s as this Shipyard is about 20 miles south of them.
Troublesome switch

The electrician showed up right away and also diagnosed the electrical problem as the switch.  By now, and more hours on the phone and computer while underway today, Andy finally had a fair idea of what the part might actually be.  The electrician did locate a ‘son of Sam’ part that should work, at a cost of $400+ just for the part.  Of course, we are now at the mercy of someone packing and shipping the part in a timely manner.

The WORST - Can't someone FIX this thing?!!
Again, I HATE that this NEW boat won’t work properly.  Ask me why….on this trip alone, just since the Chesapeake Bay about two months ago, we had to turn back after having work re-done where we got the boat and we still have problems with the RayMarine Chart Plotter shutting down…the other day it was 6 times in a row.

Try cruising along, minding your own business and carefully watching depth and having NO depth reported, nothing. Add to that the fact that we have had NO music for nearly a year and that seems to be not able to be fixed either by the same shop….After spending a fortune adding the stereo, speakers, iPod connection and all the stuff that goes with our Clarion AM/FM radio, CD player, etc. it is for crap, still shorting out and skipping constantly.

The VHF Radio that we had worked on in the Chesapeake to be certain all was well when we would have to lower the boat’s arch did not work after all after lowering the arch in the Erie Canal.  Then, several hundred dollars later paid to yet another ‘expert’, at Bremerton, we departed there to find that while the radio did work if one was within shouting distance of us, it would not work a mile or so out. … a very dangerous situation for us.

Working to turn the shafts in Bremerton
Add to that the $9,000 we spent at Bremerton because the cutlass bearings apparently were the wrong size (I now wonder if China made their own cutlass bearings and screwed that up?) and the shafts would not turn and we had to replace them.

We are now in a spitting contest with the builder in China and the boat broker.  The DeFever builder, POC in China and the Broker, Andy, have  basically called us stupid, naïve and gullible and intimated that the marina where we had the work done and the boat surveyor we hired to document the issue were in collusion and scheming to get money I guess. Amazing.  Now this no name or maybe it is a two brand name part fails.  I am sick to death of all this.

We are now here until at least Friday, the earliest the part can come in, tied up to a working boatyard.  No place to get off the boat and no place to go if we did.  So absolutely frustrating……………why can’t all these ‘experts’ we’ve had to deal with over the past year FIX anything and have it STAY fixed?  Why do things fail so short in their life span?  I am still convinced there is something wrong somewhere.  Again, back to WHY do we have these problems?  WHY is this switch FRIED?   WHY have we fried 4, yes, FOUR, coffeepots, one iron, one hair dryer and nearly fried my curling iron?  We are out about $600 - $700 thus far just on these personal fried items, not counting the upcoming repair for the switch.  It’s probably a very good thing we are several weeks of cruising time away from Chesapeake.  Perhaps I’ll cool off before we get there and have to deal yet again with getting all these things REfixed.  Again, ##**%!!#.

Thursday & Friday,  August 20, 21, 2009
Lazy Thursday, tied to the Shipyard dock, with waves bouncing us about day and night.  We occupied ourselves while waiting for the part to be delivered doing catch up work all day.  I’m running out of food as we have been unable to re-provision for some time..

 Six hours of work by the electrician Friday got us started up so we can recoup our planned weekend with friends 30 miles back up the Lake.  The aft power source doesn’t work, and we will return here next week so they can figure out and fix that problem that just cropped up. We can live without that for the time being as we plan to anchor out anyway.  We have a forward power source, so we could use that should we need to be in a marina with shore power.
Dale & AnneMarie aboard Finally Fun

We located Dale’s house at Hyde Point on Grand Isle and via cell phones, pulled into a small cove just south of him to tie to his neighbor’s mooring ball.  Well, long story short, the ball wasn’t set up properly for us, with only a polypropaline line tied to a chain somewhere deep below.  Neither Andy nor I taking turns pulling or handling the boat could pull it up.  Also, no one told us that there was a shale shelf closer to shore and 30’ out, we hit it.  Frustrated, we pulled out of that cove, seeking shelter in another cove just north of Dale that was more protected and larger and had a mud bottom we were told.

An easy, successful dropping of the hook and we were firmly set, but all was NOT well.  Andy suddenly hollered, “Sharon, we’re screwed!”.  Let me not have to repeat again all my frustration with boat repairs that are never done right.  We were looking at exactly the same problem we went into the Shipyard with.  NO power, same voltage readings, etc. etc. after 3 days there and an $800 bill.  Their repair must have lasted the 2 minutes it took to 'check it out'.

Back to square one, except now we were in desperate straits.  It was getting DARK, and we HAD to get to a shore power source or we would face dead batteries and no AC power in the morning as we had no way to generate power to charge them.  Bottom line, that means: We discharge the batteries used to produce AC power or not power to the two refrigerators. You replace the batteries at a cost of several thousand dollars. We were also in the “Inner Sea” of Lake Champlain with a drawbridge that does not open up from 8 PM til 8 AM.  We were stuck and could not get out.  I called the only marina in the Inner Sea that we were aware of, having passed it on the way in.  Ladd’s Marina answered the phone – now nearly 8 :30 PM!  Emily and her husband, the owners, were catching up on paperwork!  They understood the significance of our problem and walked their marina docks looking for empty spaces.  In reality, they were full and no room for such a large boat as ours.  BUT a couple of their customers had their boats out already for the weekend and they had someone else move temporarily so we could get to a larger space!  Talk about going over the top for us!  After pulling the anchor in quickly, mud and all splashing on our deck,  and fighting that anchor YET AGAIN, because the anchor still wants to flop back into the water just as it enters the boat (another issue we have had worked on to NO AVAIL) we pulled out in the nearly dark night.

About 20 minutes later, we  turned into Ladd Marina in total darkness.  Guess what, the Guess spotlight doesn’t work.  Same spotlight we had replaced last year because it didn’t work.  We have used that spotlight ONE TIME in the night in the Bahamas and now it has failed when we needed it the most.   Have I said I AM SICK and TIRED of ALL THIS CRAP. 

Suddenly, we saw several flashlights waving from boats along the dock we needed to turn into and another light waving us along side a dock, so we were able to see were we needed to be!  Again, friendly boaters to the rescue!!!  We tied down with a lot of help from the crowd that had gathered, I guess, hearing our plight from Emily as she & her husband searched for space for us. Dale & AnneMarie picked us up about 9:30 for dinner at their house.  We tumbled into our beds about 11:15, all weekend plans trashed as we have to go back to Shelbourne Shipyard immediately to get this fixed and to have our props looked at.

I am taking names, dates and issues and I do believe I should start publishing all on the DeFever blogs and other boating industry blogs.  I can’t take much more.  I either do that to vent or start a business of fixing boats – one stop shop.  Of course, I’ll only work on boats I KNOW are departing for places far away, no one local,  so I get paid for crap work and not have to worry.  This seems to be the way business goes in the water world from my perspective, so why not?

This is the most frustrating experience ever.  The only comparison was the house we bought in Atlanta and had to sue the builder due to such lousy work.  (We won big time.) I love boating but am beginning to NOT love this boat and anyone connected to it.  I think I’d better start scrubbing again and drinking before my blood pressure pops my veins……that OR sell this trawler thing and buy another sailboat.  I did learn to sail and owned two sailboats years ago simply because we bought a power boat that never worked.  After months of frustration and hauling the powerboat back for repairs every single weekend we tried to use it, we got ugly and got all our money back   We used the money to buy a sailboat, took sailing lessons and never had any mechanical problems after that….Sweet.  A lesson here I do believe.  Wonder if Andy can bring in a sailboat to the dock as well as this trawler thing???  Hummmm.

Saturday, August 22, 2009
Curled prop - we had TWO of these!
Before departing Ladd’s, Emily showed up with an underwater camera!  Checking the props and rudder, we think we have a curl and not major major damage, so maybe we can get it worked on and not have to replace.  Still means hauling the boat for about $400 and maybe $800 to fix the props – we have to see.  Bah.

An uneventful 4 hours back down Lake Champlain to Shelbourne Shipyard traveling at low speed due to the props.  A LONG discussion ensued with the Chief Electrician who does believe there is something behind all this and pointed out a couple of issues with what he’s seen already.  They will start work on Sunday and haul out the boat on Monday.  Here we go again.  Me, I'm finally please this electrician listened and listened to the litany of things that have gone wrong electrically, especially all the appliances we've had to replace, the spotlight, the surges to the chart plotter which shut it down, etc. etc. etc.  Previously, my litany of all these woes was always met with a patronizing look and basically a pat on my head from the broker & the guy who did all this work, other electricians along the way and also included from my husband......let's see where this ends up.

Sunday, August 23, 2009
Well, no one is available to work on the boat as we had been led to believe.  Another day off the life of our cruising and another day of quiet fury on my part.  We’re tied back up to the side of this shipyard and it is rather bouncy and loud, with the waves slapping hard…sleep is interrupted quite a bit.

Salvation!  We learned that a Vermont Cheese & Wine Festival is being held at Shelbourne Farms, near here.  Unloading the bikes, we pedaled the 11 mile round trip without too much difficulty, walking UP some of the hills.  Our gears are now rusted closed and we pedal with whatever gear each bike happened to be in when it was stored in the aft cockpit – my ‘garage’ as I call that area.  Ah, doesn’t take much salt spray to ruin everything….  We thoroughly enjoyed the day sampling cheeses made from cow’s milk, from goat milk, from water buffalo milk & from sheep’s milk.  FACTOID:  Did you know that ewe’s milk (that is sheep to you non-country folks) has 90% more calcium and 65% more protein than other milk sources!!

Seems VT has been making cheeses since the 1800’s and is noted for their small batch, specialty cheeses.  While these were great, we had the opportunity of sampling many Canadian cheeses while in Montreal at their local food festival.  We both agree, those Canadian cheeses are to DIE for, they are so rich, so creamy and so very tasty!  Very different from VT and other brands and I much prefer those Canadian cheeses, especially any from the Province of Quebec.  We also sampled the VT wines made locally – just ok to our palates.  I especially loved a demonstration of how cheese is made. Andy got so excited he now wants to make our own cheese…okay by me, but NOT on the boat!!  And of course, not to be missed is the ability to people watch.  Vermonters do live up to their ‘granola’ image.  We had a delightful day and ultimately slept like logs in spite of the loud slapping, bouncing from the dock.  An 11 mile bike ride will tire one out!!

Monday thru Thursday, August 24 – 27, 2009
Worker bees all over the boat every day, trying to get it fixed.  All agreed that the switch we replaced for $800 was not likely the culprit and that other problem(s) exist somewhere.  I’m impressed, because these electricians at Shelbourne Shipward are listening to us and do see all these little issues as an indicator there is something amiss…In the past, my recital of the litany of things going wrong has been met with a patronizing look by the macho repair folks. “ Me, Macho.  Me know what is wrong.“   Mucho chest pounding.  Mucho repair bills.  Mucho continuing electrical problems.  Send the monkeys back to the cages.

Finally, these electricians found that the neutral wire in the generator must have become disconnected and burnt through, thereby creating all these false and erroneous readings.  Why did this come loose?  Vibrations?  Not secure enough to start with???  Why NOT?  Remember, this is a NEW boat.  We paid big bucks for NEW so we would not have to deal with repairs.  What a joke.

The aft shore power connector ceased working for us(meaning we had no way to connect to shore power from the rear of the boat)  was found to be wired backwards so it acted like an off/on switch and not like the circuit breaker it should have been, however that was not the problem, the neutral wire in the generator was the problem. THAT alone could have created a fire aboard.  Guess it was a good thing it just QUIT.  Who wired this?  

The CD/AM/FM radio that no one could figure out why it would not work (skip/on/off) for the past YEAR was found to be wired incorrectly so we are told.  Who to believe????   If one has more than two sets of speakers (we have 3) you should only wire one set of inputs to the distribution box.  Both ours were wired, thereby explaining why it cuts in/out all the time.  Radio no longer works (probably fried as a result) and has been shipped back to the manufacturer.  We’ll see what they report as to what is wrong & what the guy who installed & has been trying to fix this radio, has to say.

The GUEST spotlight that will not turn on, nor MOVE around, will have to wait to be fixed by the same guy who replaced it already once.  He replaced our original one as it NEVER worked and now this one worked once, in April, in the Bahamas.  Wonder if this is yet another backward wiring issue????  Update:  Guess finally admitted they had a problem with this particular spotlight and replaced it for us....WHY don't they notify purchasers?  We had to pull that info out of them after loudly complaining to them about their TWO faulty spotlights, both of which failed quickly and always at a critical moment.

Belinda, the 3rd engineer on this team at Shelbourne Shipyard, spent a lot of time working with the faulty RAYMARINE Chart Plotter and cannot determine what is wrong either.  I’m sick of this….over a year and the damn thing still doesn’t work properly.  I’m for ripping it all out and buying another totally different brand.  Maybe GARMIN makes a better quality product that would work.  I’m so underwhelmed by all the ‘experts’, by the ‘brands’, by the crappy workmanship.

The anchor & chain that keep unwinding and dropping into a rapid free fall into the water as I try to bring it up was partially fixed.  Seems the windless might not have been set into the boat properly.  One nut was missing from the aft bolt; and the holes originally drilled for the windless are too large.  This thing needs to be re-secured better…another major job that will be addressed when we get back to the Chesapeake.  We had the windless tightened; put another nut on; and added an additional roller on deck just in front of the windless to keep the chain flatter against the deck as we pull up the anchor.  This should prevent the anchor & chain from coming up, flopping a bit and the chain then flipping OFF the windless, thereby starting its free fall back into the water.  This has been very scary for me since it started happening in the Bahamas – and it has been a dangerous situation for several reasons.  (1) Sometimes many other boats are very close, limiting our maneuvering room (2) Andy has taken to placing a wooden cutting board by the chain & holding it against the chain coming up with his foot.  He brings it up while I handle the boat.  I live in fear that the wooden board will slip and the chain will somehow grab his ankle or shoe.  He could lose his foot in a sudden amputation or get pulled overboard and drown as the chain and anchor take him under.  Our ‘repairs’ done to this while we were back in the Chesapeake at Mears Marine in June did not solve the problem at all.

The VHF radio that we had worked on at the Winter Harbor Marina in Bremerton (ie giving us enough slack in the wiring since we had to lower the arch) that never worked properly after that repair was fixed by Belinda. We could be heard at close range, but not at any distance.  Imagine, we have to cruise outside in the ocean along NJ; cruise across Delaware Bay & Chesapeake Bay, just for starters on our return trip south… a very dangerous proposition without any ability to communicate should a problem develop.   Belinda put in an entire new wire from the arch and through the antenna and ran it into the radio. We are now booming over the radio waves…….

Up & down in this lift so many times we lost count!!

And as to the repairing of both of our props – another repair gone wrong.   We hauled the boat (for you non-boaters that means the boat is driven onto a sling and hoisted out of the water and held in the sling or placed on a wooden support if repairs will take time, like in Bremerton) and had both props removed.  Both had a couple of dings/curls to a couple of the blades on each….nothing huge.

It was determined that we could DRIVE the props to Chambly, Canada, for quicker repair at a place deemed to be very good.  We rented a car and took off with several hundred pounds of props in the trunk.  Long story short, we drove the props up on Monday, 8/24 and I returned on Tuesday to pick them up.  The props were put back on Wednesday morning & off Andy & I went to check them out.  Within a few moments (1100 to 1400 RPM), this god awful eardrum piercing sound assailed our ears.  If I were a dog, I’d have been howling in agony!!  It was both props, yet at higher RPM, it went away.  A call to the prop repair place was met with disbelief and what I later determined was a pretend ignorance.  Hauling the boat out of the water yet again (now our 3rd time in/out), the guys removed the props, re-checked everything & I headed BACK to Canada for the 3rd day in a row.  Questioned at the Border Customs crossing, the guy said to me, “Lady, didn’t I hear this same story about boat props from you yesterday?!!”  I told him if he saw me tomorrow with this same story that someone better check the mayhem I would leave behind in Canada.  Good thing he had a sense of humor – unlike the airlines.  I could have been spending some time in either the US or Canadian ‘jail’ or whatever, answering a lot of questions stemming from my flippant comment.………….ah, feels good to vent.

Seems the initial ‘disbelief’ or disavowal of any knowledge of singing coming from props was a ploy.  As soon as I got there, one of the repairmen discussed with me what he would do to fix this harmonic sound, sanding down the brass on one side vs the other side.  He also told me, tongue in cheek, that perhaps I might not want to get it fixed….that whales would come from near and far to follow our boat……frankly, I don’t want to get into some kind of weird mating dance with a WHALE out in the ocean!!!  We have more than enough troubles as it is without encouraging any more!  One hour on each prop repair and I was headed back to Shelbourne, two hours away.  Yet another haul in/out on Thursday morning, props reattached and yet another check ride…Much much better,with only a hint of sound that quickly goes away as we increase RPMs.  We will live with this.

By about 5:00 PM Thursday, the boat was cleared of all workmen (and one woman) and we were deemed ‘ready to go’.  The Shipyard was fair to us and negotiated the bill.  All agreed that the first $800 spent on that switch was probably unnecessary given all that transpired since.  No one is willing to take that part off and ship it back to the manufacturer, however, because they are not certain.  We are WORKING now and that is what counts…well maybe.  I’m still angry that we now have a $400 spare part (the old switch that probably is working just fine) that we will never need, as apparently these things rarely fail….Bottom line, the Shipyard reduced their overall bill and did not charge us for dockage and for half of the haulouts.  We are still in four digits for the bill, however!!  We feel okay with this and don’t feel ripped off.  I do feel ripped off, however, by Winter Haven’s VHF radio repairman, by China and by repairs that fail to work by Rick.  All these issues will be addressed within this coming week.

Friday, August 28, 2009
We pulled out of Shelbourne Shipyard about 7:00 am, 9 days after we first checked in here, headed for Champlain Canal, a 7 hour cruise.  The entire Lake runs from the US Border at Rouses Point, NY to Whitehall, NY, 109 miles away.   While we never did get to explore the Lake as we had planned, cruising down it today was a beautiful experience.

  Over 9 miles wide in many places, and very narrow later as the Lake turns into more of a river at about Crown Point,  mountain ranges rise high along both the VT and the NY shorelines.  We spot sandy beaches, numerous coves and little islands and few people and little wildlife.  Seagulls are the predominate bird…this IS fresh water, not salt!

This Lake is drop dead gorgeous, reminding us of our cruising last year in Desolation Sound in British Columbia, way up north towards Alaska.  These mountains aren’t as high, nor is there snow on top, but still equally scenic, remote looking and glorious.  This experience has also generated a new interest in the history of our country as so much of it took place along these routes that we are cruising.  I want to read about Samuel de Champlain, the first European to discover this lake; read about the Revolutionary War and especially about Benedict Arnold…why did he become a. traitor?   So many events critical to the birth of our country took place along this route!  I also want read about John Quincy & Abigail Adams and this time period…..I know nothing about them, but hear from a fellow boater that they and especially SHE are fascinating.    Wisps of stories and facts from grammar school and middle school history are swirling about my brain and now I am truly interested – some how many years later?!  And there will be NO test….

Harvesting water chestnuts in Lake Champlain

Who knew water chestnuts were in these waters??

Cruising along in the afternoon near Crown Point, the ‘river’ portion of this Lake and the site of large battles and where Fort St. Frederick is located.  This Fort was first French in 1759, then captured by the Brits almost immediately and renamed Ft. Crown Point.  The Americans gained control in 1775.

About 11 miles later, we turned fairly sharply starboard and I just happening to look back behind us, spotting huge Ft. Ticonderoga sprawled atop the high bluff overlooking the Lake!  Built by the French in 1758 as Ft. Carillon, this Ft. was also attacked by the Brits in 1758 but it was not until a later attack in 1759 that it actually became British. The taking of this Fort in May, 1775 by Benedict Arnold & the Green Mountain Boys was American’s first important victory during the Revolutionary War.  We, however, lost this Fort in 1777 to the Brits and could not gain it back.  The War then ended shortly thereafter and the Fort abandoned.  It has now since been restored and opened to the public.  Gotta find a library or book store!!!

Ft. Ticonderoga
Truth Time.  How TALL is this boat REALLY?  We are coming into the Champlain Canal system at Whitehall, NY, where SIZE MATTERS.  Concerned, as one miscalculation has the potential to destroy much equipment on the boat, we pulled into Lock 12 Marina for some assistance in dropping our radar arch.  The arch has the radar on it, as well as the Satellite TV antenna – large, round sphere, and our anchor light towering above.  We’d already dropped the anchor light to upside down long ago during this trip.  We pulled in quickly, got some help (it takes 3 to lower the arch onto the wooden brace that Jim built for us back in Waterford – Chase, our able crewmate, was back in school in Oklahoma), dropped it and sweated our way under the low bridge after coming out of Lock 12.  We were able to gain space along the Whitehall City Lock Wall, get free power and water and quickly secured Finally Fun.  We plan to hunker down for a couple of days while this tropical storm out off MA and NY brings us rain and maybe some wind.

Surprise!  Our friends aboard Side by Side that we met during our cruise in Canada at St. Anne de Belleview are tied up here.  We had a fun ‘reunion’ catching up on stories aboard their boat on Friday evening.  They have a great ‘tradition’ I think we should implement.  Every Friday evening is cocktail night (mind you, Friday is not the only night one is sipping spirits of some kind!).  On Fridays, Tony mixes a real drink, like a martini, etc. (instead of their normal wine, beer, etc.) and they celebrate the end of the week for them.  I think this is a great idea, not because I want a mixed drink, but because this is one way to help fix in my head WHAT DAY IS THIS?  While cruising like this, it is hard to keep track of what day it is.   Forget about figuring out the DATE – it is the DAY of the week that also escapes me.  I could now at least count back ….let’s see, it has been 3 days since I had a gin and tonic, therefore, this must be Monday,  Might help, as long as I don’t drink too much of the hard stuff and forget everything.  Certainly would help in getting rid of the hard stuff we have on board that we don’t drink, nor want.

Saturday, August 29, 2009
Lazy day with drizzling rain spent aboard Finally Fun tied up at the wall in Whitehall, NY.  I cooked up a storm, filling the freezer with chili, and several soups made from all the produce I had bought on my last trip in Canada with the props.  Andy cleaned bilges.
Cruising down Lake Champlain

Whitehall, NY
I took advantage of the showers provided by the city, schleping over girly stuff to the shower and probably using up half the city’s hot water allocation.  I took a deep breath and dyed my own hair with stuff I’d bought at a beauty store awhile back.  I am trying to hide some of the gray roots, but most importantly, get rid of the brassy color.  The sun strips the color from my hair rather quickly.  I also used a half jar of salt scrub over my body, loving sopping all that oil into my skin.  Neither of this things would I do on the boat, as all the guck would go into the bilge, gumming it up.  The hair turned out just fine, getting rid of the brassy look but not changing any color.  Successful day!!

View from Skene Manor - Finally Fun on the wall below
A couple of other boaters along the wall with us discovered the Bridge Theatre, spreading the word among us all.  Tonight is the last night for the play, “Champlain Onward”, the Quadricentennial Discovery of Lake Champlain.  We quickly agreed to go and hosted a brief ‘cocktail’ party for the six of us who went.  Ah, a great evening…a short walk in the evening air to the temporary theatre, basically sitting on a big porch with a little stage and curtains and plastic keeping out the elements.  The actual theatre on the bridge (the only one in the US and perhaps the world that is built ON a bridge) is under renovation as the old bridge was deemed unsafe, so we missed seeing the real thing.

We loved the play which told the story of Samuel de Champlain and a bit of his personal life and certainly about his explorations and battles here.   Some of my questions regarding Benedict Arnold & his role during this time period were answered during the play and we learned about the town of Whitehall (formerly known as Skenesborough) and how this town is the birthplace of the U.S. Navy.  B. Arnold fought America’s first great naval battle on this lake and we heard all about it during the play.  A Great Evening!   There is much to treasure about small town Americana and this is one of them.  This is a very small rust belt town, with really nothing here and all on the decline.  Sad place, but full of nice people.  At least four groups offered us all rides home as they saw us walking down the street from the theatre.

Sunday, August 30, 2009
Ah, Leslie’s birthday today.  How can I possibly have a daughter that is 39 years old?  Can’t believe it…bet she can’t either!  Grin

We are the only boat left on the wall – lazy day again, just catching up.  We hiked way up a hill to Skene Manor, the castle on the hill for a sandwich lunch and tour of the place.  Interesting, but with a long way to go toward full restoration as they rely on donations and grants..  Lunch was okay, but ever so slow.  An all volunteer ‘army’ here that is well intentioned and not necessarily professional.  After the hiking up the hill, TWICE, because there were no road signs, I thought my tongue would hang out on the table I was so thirsty.  Twenty minutes for water……..ah well, rural Americana.

Skene Manor
We have enjoyed this tiny place but will head toward Waterford, NY, to tie on those walls.  We want to get space with electric before the big Labor Day Weekend hits coming up so we better move out.  We must be in Albany on Friday, September 4 as Andy’s high school friend, Bob, and wife, Chalala, will come aboard & cruise with us back to their house at Chesapeake City on the C&D Canal.  Will be fun & am looking forward to their company for about a week’s trip.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

2nd Year: Richeleau Canal to Lake Champlain

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Successfully pulling out of the narrow slip and tight spaces at the Old Port Montreal Marina at 8:30, thanks to Andy’ s acquired skills, we headed to Sorel and into the Richeleau Canal system, the compass finally aimed southbound for the first time since February!

Phew, the current is something to behold around Montreal, churning and swirling and with little whirlpools all over as two channels merge here on the St. Lawrence..  This time it’s in our favor and we were surfing at nearly 14 mph versus the 4 mph coming in here the other day!  A record speed for this boat, which can’t do that on its own!

Again, history finally comes full circle in my head.  After all those history lessons as a kid that talked about the St. Lawrence Seaway, it has been enlightening to learn about it from the Canadian’s perspective.  Once discovered, this river became the major shipping channel, opening up and enabling settlement of the country two centuries ago or more. Pretty impressive – from canoes back then to the enormous ships on it today.  Most interesting is the fact that ice breaker ships work the Seaway, keeping it somewhat clear for most of the winter.  However, for about 2-3 months in the worst of the winter months, no traffic is on the river as the ice is too thick and too dangerous.

Don’t forget also that the Rideau Canal came to pass as an alternate means of a commercial transportation channel because the Canadians were afraid we Americans would invade, given our close proximity to the Seaway  and cut off shipping in the St. Lawrence Seaway….we never did.  I guess once we lost the War of 1812, we gave it up and decided it might be best to make friends and not war.

A long travel day today from 8:30 to 6:00 along the 70 miles of the St. Lawrence River to Sorel and the beginning of the Riviere Richelieu (Richelieu River) and on to Lock #1 at Chambly Lock,  Mile 39.6 of the Richelieu Canal.

We are beat after fighting the currents and all the little boats, water skiers, etc. along the way.  It is Saturday and everyone with a boat must be out and zipping around.   A critical observation…..not one boater along this stretch nor any other stretch since entering Canadian waters has ever slowed for us nor for anyone else, including tiny fishing boats and canoes or kayaks.  Boaters speed past with only a few feet between us, narrow channel be damned.  With no room to turn into the wake, we rock and roll.  I spent much time today putting things back in place, including picking up and refiling papers that had been tossed out of the forward cabin closet onto the floor.  I’ve tried not to become an ‘ugly American’ but am so tempted to give it back to them, shoving the throttle forward to see how THEY like our enormous wake!  That or a horn blast and a one finger wave….road rage has become water rage.  There is a God, however, and payback is sweet.  A bunch of little boats buzzed past us, racing for the lock the other day….ie to beat us out.  HA, we are so big, the lockmaster waited for us and then put us in first.  Sweet revenge.

The countryside today as we cruised along is so very pretty.  Farms and homes along the way, many obviously very very old, turned into more modern homes and older cottages as came down the Richelieu Canal. Mountains began appearing in the distance and we wonder if we are looking at Vermont perhaps?  Gotta find a map to figure it out.

We put on an unanticipated show at the lock wall coming into Chambley.  Our guidebook said mooring available on the west wall, so I set up lines and finders for the starboard tie.  Making a hard left turn around a somewhat blind corner, Andy was focused on getting the boat beside the floating dock.  HOWEVER, the book was wrong and this is an EAST wall, therefore making it a port tie.  I’m yelling from below (why don’t we wear those fancy headsets so we can hear each other?!) to WAIT and to give me time to switch all around.  He either (a) doesn’t hear me or (b) chooses to ignore me or (c) thinks I can get it all done in 30 seconds. With only an aft line, and two fenders, we crash into the floating dock with a Frenchman yelling something…obviously along the lines of BACK OFF.  Andy finally did back off and we got set and pulled back in…..can’t imagine what the Frenchmen were saying about the idiot Americans.   When uncertain, I rig BOTH sides of the boat, but given the guidebook description, I did not this time.  Surveying the locks later while walking about, we realized the guidebook has mixed up the walls at Chambley Lock.  Mooring is available on the EAST bank above the lock and on the WEST wall below the lock.   The guidebook has it the other way around.  I will send them a note to correct this as it is impossible to see until the last minute given the turn one must make to get into here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009
It’s me, not the guidebook.  Not one to give in easily to being wrong, however, I still say it is confusing.  The guidebook says, “mooring is available both on the west bank above and on the east bank below these locks”.  Well, since I am coming toward the lock, I figured above was where we were, at the NORTH end and below would be at the DOWN the hill, then it is BELOW-- therefore, tie up is on the east bank side.  Hard to get my head around that quickly especially since I didn’t know til we turned the corner if the lock was an up or down, as I could not even see it.  Bah, ah well, there was a show put on which amused folks.

Spent an uneventful night on the wall here again this time BELOW the Chambly Canal Locks 1,2,3 after we locked through early in the morning from being ABOVE these three locks.  This is yet another lovely town and one I’m looking forward to spending time in.  We wandered about, did a bit of grocery shopping in the best grocery store I’ve seen in months got Andy his ice cream and in general, just relaxed. We’ll spend about 3 days here, resting up, catching up on chores and walking back to the grocery store to re-provision our nearly bare cupboards

Monday, August 17, 2009
***!!#*#*#*! There are days I HATE this boat.  Here we go again.  We awoke to find that the power from the generator was NOT going to the inverter.  That means, in spite of the noise from the generator, nothing was being powered, which becomes a major serious issue quickly.  Our batteries are not charging via the inverter and soon we would be ‘dead’ on the wall, unable to start our engines.  How one would jump start this boat is beyond my understanding.  I think we would have to stay on the wall forever, with hell freezing over in the winter….  Thanks to Andy’s constant vigilance in surveying all our systems, he caught the problem just in time, ruining my lovely morning and certainly all our plans for a restful stop.  He does get a little excited from time to time and this was certainly one of those times….hurry, hurry, hurry!!!  I quickly got us ready to pull out and off we went, in search of the nearest marina that would have an electrician.

We locked through six more locks and about six bridges, passing  Saint-Jean-de-Richelieu, waving to our friends aboard ‘Side by Side’, walking along the Canal, eating ice cream.  I’m so envious!!
Seaplanes everywhere

Guess what, after a lot of chart checking and phone calls while underway, we learned the nearest marina is in the USA…Clearing US Customs at Rouse Point, NY, at  4:45 PM was an easy task, as there is a floating dock now, equipped with the Customs Officers, who kindly helped us tie up.  They boarded our boat for an inspection while we went inside to fill out the paperwork.  Only comment later was, “You sure do have a lot of liquor on board”.  We explained we had closed out our condo and brought all the remnants of the booze aboard, including such yucky stiff as Melon Liquor from some obscure party long ago.  Andy also quickly volunteered that we had told Canadian officials that we had a bunch of booze on board, ‘ship’s stores’, and that it was all open and explained about the sale of our condo.  Canada said OK.  We were prepared to pour it all overboard because we were not going to pay the Canadian tax on stuff we don’t even drink, (the tax would be as much as the actual COST of the booze!) should Canada have enforced their limit on liquor being brought in.  We keep inviting guests aboard and offering up all this yuck, but no one wants it either….guess one of these days I WILL get the fish below us drunk.

We pulled into Gaines Marina at Rouse’s Point so we could hook into power to charge the batteries and to await the arrival of an electrician the next morning.  I spent my evening cursing the boat and everyone that had anything to do with it.  Thanks to yet another breakdown in this NEW boat, we had to blow off the last 3 days of our trip through Canada and condense those days into one long cruising day..

Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The electrician arrived about 9:00, not the agreed upon 8:00 and diagnosed the problem as a fried (?) main power switch that allows either generator power or shore power to come through to the things that need power on the boat.  Something is prohibiting the power from coming through the switch to power us. 

Andy then spent the remainder of the day trying to get a part number off the switch as a search revealed that we have no paperwork on this particular part and it is not easily identifiable.   Emails to China, to the boat builder, emails to the guy who commissioned the boat, numerous web site searches of parts and manufacturers, emails to the DeFever Club to see if anyone might have the same switch, and numerous phone calls to manufacturers and distributors were to NO avail.  We got some helpful hints, but nothing definitive.   The builder in China replied, and his information did not match what we were looking at.

We finally determined that although there is the manufacturer name, “Westerbeke” on the switch, the actual switch is NOT from that manufacturer, but is a Kraus & Naimer brand.   Here goes China again, stealing stuff I guess and remaking or some such nonsense.   The builder in China also inadvertently typed the part number with one number incorrect, further complicating & delaying our search for a part.  After spending about 12 hours on this task, Andy drank two glasses of wine and went to bed.  Mr. Always Nice Guy was totally disgusted with it all.  (Good!  Finally!)

Me, I ranted and raved and took my energy out on cleaning the dirty boat.  I must have certainly used up enough water to offset the cost of the marina overnight stay.  I scrubbed til I could hardly walk, including scrubbing all our fenders.  It was slow going to get all the scrapes and slimes off the fenders from all the lock walls we’ve been through for the past six weeks.  It also took forever to get all the bug poop off the boat.   I’m from the South, where bugs were born and I’ve never seen so many tiny gnatty things that leave droppings and dead bodies everywhere on the boat.  I drank my glass of wine and fell into bed, still angry but tired enough to sleep at least.

Friday, August 7, 2009

2nd Year: St. Anne de Bellevue & Montreal

Friday, August 7, 2009

Pulling out early in hopes we can get to Sainte Anne de Bellevue before the weekend crowds, we locked through the 65 foot Carillon Lock.
Coming up to the huge lock

Impressive & a bit intimidating!

Wow!  Huge, with the gate lifted up over the boat as we exit…it it is over our head, just like Lock 17 we went through on the Erie Canal, but this one is so much bigger.  They will stuff every boat around into the Lock at one time, with rafting side by side mandatory!  We made it through with no mishaps.
One huge lock & deep!

Note how the lock closes from the top down!

Cruising out of the giant lock
 Much confusion at the much smaller Sainte Anne lock with boats milling about back and forth and no one tied to the blue wall.  We could not figure it out and could hear French shouting all around….Finally, we came to understand a boat had broken down in the lock and there was a problem pulling it out.  I kept yelling “Do you speak English” and finally, a lock hand answered in English, telling us to take the wall inside (and NOT the dock as one was supposed to do).  We handily grabbed the cables and secured ourselves.  Exiting the lock, we were thrilled to see spaces along the mooring wall in the heart of Sainte Anne and grabbed one to settle in for about 5 days.
Sainte Anne de Bellevue - along the wall

Ah, to be seen is the game here!

Walking the town revealed not much here by the restaurants along the wall.  Chase and I hiked to the train station across town only to find no one there and we could not figure out the French schedule or how to operate anything.  Ah, there is tomorrow and we will be fresher and perhaps more able to sort it all out.  We have to get ourselves to Montreal via train or bus in order to sight see everyday

This little canal where boats are tied to the city wall reminds me of Ego Alley in Annapolis, only this is a little wider.  A busy, busy place, with people walking up and down peering into the boats; the restaurants with outside seating providing more space by which to gawk at the boats.  Added to that, boats cruise back/forth in the canal, showing off – see and be seen….just like Annapolis!   Sitting on our boat taking it all in was fun and people would stop to chat --- viewing our port of call on the back of the boat ..“How long did it take you to come from Florida?” and “Nice Boat” and in general, lots of questions which we patiently answered.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

We all slept til 9:30 AM, a record!  Chase was actually the first one out of bed today!  We wandered through the Sainte Anne farmer’s market before finding out where the bus stop was.  Another 30 minute hike across the other side of town to catch a bus to Montreal.

At the top of my “Things I’d Wished I’d Known” is the fact that while Sainte Anne’s is the recommended stop for those wanting to see Montreal.  One is to take the bus to Montreal from here as it is much cheaper than docking in Montreal. However, no one mentioned that it is a 2 HOUR ride ONE way to Montreal.  Four hours a day in transportation just to/from certainly eats into our sight seeing.  We’ve decided that as soon as our mail arrives here in Sainte Anne hopefully by Tuesday, we’ll pull out for Montreal and bite the bullet and stay in a marina in order to better experience the city.
Did I mention?!  Red leaves already and it is just early August in Canada!!!
We finally got on a bus and then once in Montreal, got on the correct subway to the Tourist Information Booth.  We walked around a little bit and headed back to Sainte Anne as the day was already over before we really got started.  A early start tomorrow we’ve promised ourselves, with a city bus tour and a visit to a local art/music festival on the agenda for Sunday.
City of Montreal

Sunday, August 9, 2009 – Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lots of sightseeing in Montreal – a very large city of mostly French speaking Canadians.
Old and new architecture all over the place and amazingly, an ‘underground city’ of shopping malls, entertainment, restaurants, etc., stretching for 33 kilometres  (20 ½ miles) of connecting passageways along with the metro (subway).  Remember, there is a ton of snow here every year!

Novartis Canada
I feel as though I ‘cheated death by cold’.  The city tour bus driver informed us that Montreal has only 120 days a year of non-freezing weather!  There was a time a few years ago when I was in discussion with my employer, Novartis, about a career opportunity here in Montreal for me.  The opportunity did not come to pass, as the individual in the actual job did not take a position in Basel, therefore, the job did not open up.  I would have been most unhappy here.  I knew it was cold here, but did not realize the long long extent of it. Now, I understand why the streets are packed everywhere day and night in the summer with Canadians…..there is such a short period of time to get outside and enjoy!  This year, however, the Canadians are complaining as they have had very cool weather and lots of rain…so much again for global warming.

Statutes to the hockey heros are everywhere

 A great city bus tour, seeing all Montreal has to offer!  Beautiful Victorian homes mixed in with medieval, Greek, Roman, Gothic and everything in between are everywhere, as are beautiful green parks, loaded with statutes, flowers and people.

Canada's embarrassment built for the Olympics & not in use due to poor building construction

Canadian beer bottling plant in Montreal

 I could walk and sit and people watch 24/7 here, but the boys always want to turn in.  We visited the BioDome, the “House of Life” which is a zoo, aquarium, rain forest, polar world and botanical garden all rolled into one building.  This was a great educational opportunity for Chase, as Oklahoma certainly does not have these plants and animals!  The penguins were a favorite of us all, as were the beavers and sea otters.

Otters are my favorite!

Parrots in the BioSphere

Our mail finally arrived at the Sainte Anne post office Tuesday afternoon after much confusion and hassle.  Now we face a mountain of paperwork as this is mail since the beginning of June.  UPS lost our 48 pieces of mail that was to have met us in NYC on July 1.  Fortunately, they found it 5 weeks later so we just received all that mail, plus everything else since the end of June…Andy could hardly carry the box to the boat AND I did not have magazines and other such mail forwarded at this time.

We struck up a conversation with Will and Monique aboard Katchina III,  docked behind us on the wall at Sainte Anne’s.  They are a delightful Canadian couple who winter in South FL for 6 months a year (all their medical insurance will allow before dropping them) and who (MOSTLY HIM) dream of shipping their boat to So. FL and cruising back along the ICW to Canada.  We were full of encouragement and give them lists of books to purchase and websites to visit to aid in their preparation and to lessen her anxiety.  We shall see if they do embark on what would be a great adventure…take that from one who is living the dream and enjoying every moment of it!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pulling out about 8:15 AM, we headed for Old Montreal and the Old Port for the remaining few days of our stay here.  Andy spent a lot of time studying the charts as it is VERY confusing through here and on to Old Port.  Seems buoys and channels are everywhere.  He yellow highlighted our ‘path’ and the three of us kept careful watch as we cruised along, taking note of the buoy numbers to be certain we were in the correct channel.   I focused on getting ready to traverse the St. Lawrence Seaway locks and being prepared for what was to come.  A bit intimidating – these two locks are huge and designed for commercial shipping….translate that to extremely large barges and container ships! 
St. Lawrence Seaway lock - waiting our turn

Finally Fun trying to figure it all out @ the Seaway Lock
The locks tolerate recreational boats like ours, but make us wait til there is no commercial traffic.  Waits can be up to 5 hours or more, but we were lucky with our longest wait only about 30 minutes!  One must tie up to a floating dock and as we came in, looking through the binoculars, it appeared the floating dock was much too small for our boat, creating some anxiety as to where to dock.  None of the locks will respond via VHF, so no way to communicate.  After successfully docking, one must get off the boat and phone the lock master from the telephone located on the dock with your intention to lock through.  They collect $25 per lock on the St. Lawrence Seaway, cash needed as the credit card machines never work……
Don't tangle with these ships!

Waiting to be called into the lock

Somewhat confusing for us!

These ships get big, big & bigger!

Passing a big freighter out of the lock as we turn to go in

We barely made it into Old Montreal port with the extremely strong current against us, making only about 4 mph with full engine power, trying to make headway…pretty slow, very bouncy, causing Andy to struggle with the wheel constantly!!!

Ah, Old Montreal is beautiful with its 1770’s buildings, narrow streets, cobblestone streets and full of life.  The street entertainers are in full force with music everywhere and dancers, jugglers, folks making animal balloons for the kids and adults sipping beverages in all the street cafes.  My kind of place. I finally ditched the guys, leaving them to their computers back on the boat.  I walked the city for a couple of hours, scouting out the place and making a plan for what to see and do in the morning.  That will teach the guys…..I’ve got a To Do To See list a mile long already!

La Loupiote show

Back on the boat in the evening, we had ring side seats on our aft deck of a bright yellow sailboat, La Loupiote”, moored 15’ off our beam.  Two of the most graceful individuals I have ever observed performed the equivalent of a high wire act aboard their boat. 

Note the crowds peering down at the show

So graceful

 A great ending to the day – sipping our evening glass of wine, feet propped up on the deck rail watching the dancing and aerobatics.  However, a bit like an animal in a cage, as all the tourists were high above us, hanging over rails watching La Loupiote and also watching us!

Finally Fun in Old Port Montreal where people peer down at us

It was a bit weird eating dinner on the aft deck with everyone above watching us eat.  I kept insisting on great table manners from the two guys, so the Canadians would not talk about the American pigs…….

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Festival with entertainment
A great day in Old Montreal, starting with grazing our way through a Food Festival…umm, snacks of Canadian cheeses, wines, sausages, and on and on.  So very delicious.

All the cheeses and sausages are so very French, reminding me of my days sightseeing over there ever time I had to go to Basel on business…maybe it wasn’t all work and no play after all now that I recall those trips!  Later, a walking tour of the old section with so much to see and learn.  Then, Chase & I unloaded the bikes from the boat and took off with the couple from Side by Side to the old farmer’s market in Atwater.  A great bike ride along the Lacerne Canal and through parts of town, all along a bike path.  I so enjoyed buzzing through, panting only somewhat on the hills and then selecting the most beautiful fruits and vegs ever to backpack back to the boat.  During a break in the day, sipping Canadian beer and ice cream for Chase and that famous dish, Poutine.  Maybe I mentioned this before, I don’t remember, but Poutine is French fries with brown gravy and this one was served with melted matzellera cheese and not the cheese curd we had in Ottawa.   As we ate in the street café, we were entertained by the small band from Peru the entire time playing their unusual horns, flutes and drums.  So vibrant a city!

The Basilica

We attended at 8:30 PM The Light and Sound Show in the Notre Dame Basilica…an extraordinary performance in a magnificent Church...  with lights and music playing all around the Church as the headsets in English told the history  from the 1500’s and how settlement in this “New France”  began.

Interior alter

Amazing show that makes one humble and grateful to whatever created all of this and for those that settled this country as well as ours!

Chase watching the Canadian landscape pass by
Before turning in, we played “What did you like the best about this trip?” with Chase as he departs tomorrow for Oklahoma and school.   Eighth grade beckons!  Chase responded with (a) just being on this big boat because no one else has been on such a boat and (b) all of it!

He has had a great trip, as have we all.  He will be missed but we are all looking forward to next summer already with plans to head back this way, but turn LEFT after leaving the Erie Canal and go through the Trent-Severn Canal System and Georgian Bay, Canada, on our way to Chicago, completing next year the GREAT LOOP.
Friday, August 14, 2009

An early departure to the airport for Andy & Chase was to no avail, with the usual and routine delays by the airline.  Much scrambling here at the Marina as we were to pull out, freeing up their space for this busy weekend.  Stuck….”No Sir, I am NOT able to move this boat until my husband returns!”  Dedicated, friendly, understanding staff and we were okay temporarily, before ultimately moving to another slip at the marina in the afternoon.
Pride of Baltimore entering Old Port Montreal

The delay was fortutitious!  I came racing up from my cleaning chores inside the boat at the sound of cannons – yes, there WAS cannon firing!

Firing at Old Port Montreal

Proud to be an American!!

  An awe inspiring sight to behold as the tall ship, Pride of Baltimore pulled into the Marina with our American flag waving from on high! 
Welcoming the Pride of Baltimore to Montreal

 Suddenly, one of those replica 1700’s military marching bands appeared, welcoming the ship with full regalia and music.

More cannon fire from the Americans and a return salute from the militia and the tall ship lowered all its many sails and slid into the long dock, right beside me.

It was so interesting to watch the crew throw the heavy thick lines to dock just as they did 200 years ago….Ah ha!  I learned something…..there is a thin, manageable line attached to the heavy line with a weight at the end.  The crew throws the thin weighted line ashore and whoever is catching that simply pulls until the heavy docking line follows.   Then the normal docking tie up proceeds.

Actually a replica of the original which burned

Look at the lines

Fire power!

THEN, even more excitement as the two entertainers from the sailboat, La Loupiote, performed yet again, this time a show more oriented toward children.  It was slapstick comedy at its finest as the man and woman struggled to raise sails and clean the deck.

Much laughter as he would pull on a line that, of course, had her foot in it, and he’s pull her to the top of the mast and then look around, wondering where she’d gone!  These two are so very graceful in all they do and their performances several times a day are not to be missed!

I never did finish the cleaning inside!

After Andy returned much later in the afternoon from the airport – to late to pull out for Sorel.  Begging forgiveness from the marina,  we moved the boat into the new slip and took off to just walk about Old Montreal one last time.

Another memorable meal – fantastic!  Cabaret du Roy, located in Marche’ Bonsecours, is a theme restaurant that claims ‘the living experience of New France in Old Montreal’ in a restaurant sidewalk café dating back to the 1700’s with staff dressed in the period clothing and speaking the old English…..’My Lord and Lady, …..”
Sharon & Andy @ Cabaret du Roy

Duck pate and the best bread, including a fruit type bread that the First Natives would have made followed by a salad of duck over greens with fresh raspberry dressing and a selection of fresh, locally made cheeses made a great meal, including a glass of French chardonnay.  Dessert was raspberry risotto!  I wandered about the inside of the restaurant, all three levels, and it looked as though I had stepped back in time into old England or France.  This is a must DO on anyone’s list that is coming to Old Montreal!  This place ranks as a top highlight of our overall trip through this Triangle Loop.  It’s also not at all expensive with a wide range of regional foods, including game and native specialties.  Saturday night is always entertainment night with the Corsairs singing seafaring songs,
serving rum and also a ‘clandestine gambling den’, (whatever that means) in a performance that is the ‘worst’ of New France.  Sounds like a lot of fun and I wish we could stay, but we need to move along in order to meet Dale and AnneMarie this coming weekend at Dale’s summer house on Lake Champlain.

After that meal and walk, we were asleep at 9:30….boater’s midnight struck again.