In this blog post, we cross into Canada, visit Montreal, and return to the USA in Clayton, NY. I am WAY behind on the blog. We’ve been traveling quite fast, and I’ve had a few boat repairs to deal with (nothing major, and there will be more details later). As of this writing, we are in Canada at the entrance to the Northern Channel. (See The Map)

Day 54 – Tuesday, 7/18 – In Burlington, VT – 00 miles, Travel Time: 0hrs 0min

Our friend Tim was born in Burlington, and on Tuesday morning, he rented a car to visit some relatives who live in the area. After picking up the car from the airport, he returned to the boat, and we went to pick up some oil I had ordered at the local auto parts store before he left for his visits. Unfortunately, it did not arrive as promised. Tim dropped me off at the boat and headed out for his visits. I was able to pick up oil for the generator, so I did an oil and filter change on the generator and some other cleaning projects.

In the evening, both Brendas and I walked into town, stopping at a local brewery for a pint, then headed to the waterfront and met Tim at a local restaurant for dinner when he returned.

Day 55 – Wednesday, 7/19 – In Burlington, VT – 00 miles, Travel Time: 0hrs 0min

There is a rails-to-trail bike trail that runs from Burlington along the side of the lake for 15 miles. In the morning, we got the bikes off the boat and took a ride. The trail is great, part paved and part hard-packed gravel. Part of the trail follows the old railroad causeway across part of the lake. There is usually a small ferry boat that takes you across a channel that cuts through the causeway. However, it was not running due to mechanical issues with the boat.

The day was nice and clear, not much haze from the smoke and just high puffy clouds.

We rode the 12 miles to the ferry landing, then turned around and rode back. It was a great ride! The views from the causeway were spectacular! We rode almost 25 miles in total. The electric bikes make it MUCH more enjoyable!

When we got back to town, we rode into Burlington to run errands at the post office and pick up a few things at the drugstore. Burlington has a downtown pedestrian mall that covers several blocks. It is full of shops and restaurants. We had lunch, then walked around for a few hours looking at the shops before returning the bikes to the boat.

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Late in the afternoon, I got a call that my oil had arrived at the Auto-Parts store, so I took an Uber to pick it up. Because of the engine rebuild, I’m using special synthetic oil and changing it at the recommended 150 hours. We will be in Canada when it is time for the oil change, and the oil I am using is not readily available in Canada, so I picked up the 8 gallons that I’ll need and will carry it with us.

Day 56 – Thursday, 7/20 – Burlington, VT to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada – 63 miles, Travel Time: 6hrs 7min

We left Burlington at 7:30 and headed toward the Canadian border. It was a nice day with just a few high clouds. The first hour, we were still in the lake, so it was wide open water, but as we approached Plattsburgh, NY the lake started to close in, and we entered the Richelieu River.

The Richelieu River is the main water drain from Lake Champlain and flows north to the St. Lawrence Seaway. With all of the heavy rain and flooding that Vermont had seen in the past two weeks, the river was pretty swollen and near flood stage.

At 11:30 we officially crossed into Canada at Rousses Point. Just after the border, there is a Canadian Customs dock that you are required to stop at to check in. We pulled up to the dock, got our paperwork, and entered the office.

When you read the customs rules, there are all sorts of restrictions, and they lead you to believe that Customs will come on board and tear your boat apart looking for too many tomatoes or an extra can of beer. Brenda and Tim were traveling with their dog Riggs, and we expected that there would be a lot of paperwork and questions regarding bringing in the dog. On our last Loop trip, we checked in by phone and it was a pretty simple process.

The Canadian customs officers looked bored. It was a warm day, and they were fiddling with the air conditioner and hardly paid us any attention. There were the standard questions. Over $10,000 in cash? Any marijuana? How long will you be staying? Is Riggs vaccinated? Would you like your passport stamped as a souvenir of your visit? That was it! We were back underway in under 15 minutes. They never even looked at the boat. I guess Loopers don’t meet the “profile” of the typical smuggler or terrorist.

From the customs dock to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, where our first Canadian lock was located, was in a shallow winding river. We had to watch the channel pretty closely and dodge big clumps of grass floating in the river.

As we were getting close to our marina, we passed the boat of a fellow Looper and friends who live in the area. They were having lunch at the marina, and we reached out to them as we passed and arranged to meet at our marina that evening for dock-tails.

We got into the La Natique Marina at 1:40. The marina is only about 200 feet from the lock and you get a great view. Having arrived in Quebec, we were now in French-speaking territory. Many Canadians in Quebec don’t speak English (or at least pretend that they don’t), so radio communications, ordering at restaurants, and directions will be challenging for the next week or so until we return to the US.

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That evening, our Looper friends Pierre and Rene from Shoreline Traveler came, and we had dock-tails and chatted with them about the trip ahead. Being local, they were able to give us some great tips for the trip ahead.

We walked into town in the evening and had dinner at a local restaurant. Thanks to Google Translate, we didn’t end up ordering snails!

Day 57 – Friday, 7/21 – Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QU to Chambly, QU – 12.2 miles, Travel Time: 2hrs 52min – 9 Locks

We pulled away from the dock and headed into our first of nine locks for the day at 9:00 a.m. The Chamblay Canal is an old canal, very narrow and shallow. There are areas where you must pull over and wait for boats coming in the opposite direction to pass. The Lockkeepers let you know when and where you will have to pull over.

The speed limit on the canal is six mph. You wouldn’t want to go any faster with as narrow and shallow as it is. The lockkeepers time your travel, so there is very little waiting. When you reach a lock, they are usually ready for you to go right in. There was just enough room in the locks to fit both Indigo and our boat in at the same time.

We did pretty well with the first several locks and bridges, but as the day went on, it started to cloud over, and we heard the rumble of thunder. We were waiting for some boats coming up in Lock 6 when there was a flash of lightning and a rumble of thunder. The rules are that they close the locks when there is a thunderstorm. They start a timer for 30 minutes when they hear thunder. Every time it thunders, they restart the timer. They kept the boats in the lock and didn’t open the doors to let them leave, and we had to tie up to the wall above the lock to wait. We were there for 2 hours before they finally decided that the thunder they were hearing was far enough away and let the boats go so we could get through.

With the delay, we just made it to the last two locks before they closed. Phew! Even though we were moving for 3 hours, we were underway for 9 hours! As we dropped in the last lock, the dock hands from the Chambly Marina stood along the wall and called out to us. They had stayed late to help us dock. Very nice!

After tying up, we walked into town to an Italian Restaurant, “Tri Colores,” that had been recommended to us for dinner.

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Day 58 – Saturday, 7/22 – Chambly, QU to Sorel-Tracy, QU – 47.5 miles, Travel Time: 4hrs 37min – 1 Lock

We left Chambly at 9:30. Todays section was on the Richelieu Canal with only one lock. The prior days rain had further swollen the river and as we cruised down stream, we saw lots of people tying down their docks to keep them from washing away. There was also lots of larger debris in the river again so we had to keep our guard up.

As we approached our first railroad bridge, it was not clear either from the markings or the chart where the pathway under the bridge was. We headed toward the last channel marker. At the last minute we saw a very narrow opening to the far left side of the bridge with red and green channel marker signs on it. We were quite close to a yellow caution buoy, and had to reverse into the current to swing and make it to the opening. The current was so strong, that as we turned sideways, it grabbed the boat and pushed us toward the yellow marker very fast. It was obvious to me that we were going to hit the marker (fortunately it was just a big plastic ball), so I gunned the engines to get as far away from it as possible, then put them into neutral as we passed over it (or rather it passed under us) so that we didn’t get it tangled up in the propellers. After a tense couple of seconds, it popped up behind the boat, and Brenda gave me the all clear, I gunned the engines again, and we made it safely through the opening under the bridge.

The rest of the trip to the junction of the St. Lawrence River was pretty uneventful. The lock was large with floating docks and lots of Lockkeepers to help tie us up. It rained off and on for the rest of the trip and stopped just as we reached the St Lawrence River, and turned down-stream (away from Montreal) for about a mile to the marina.

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On our last Loop trip, we put togeher goodie bags with small candy bars, gum, lollipops, gummy bears, etc. to hand to the lock staff as we went through the locks. Brenda picked up some extra supplies while we were in Chambly to make up the next set of bags. She saw a bag of lollipops and grabbed them, when she went to make up the bags, she noticed the flavors….

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Day 59 – Sunday, 7/23 – Sorel-Tracy, QU to Montreal, QU – 46.6 miles, Travel Time: 5hrs 21min – 0 Locks

The St. Lawrence River flows from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, basically Southwest to Northeast. This means we are headed “Upstream” against the current as we travel from Sorel-Tracy, past Montreal, to Lake Ontario.

The current on the St. Lawrence is at least 2 knots and in places, can reach 5-6 knots when the river narrows. This means that if we run our engines where normally we would make 8 knots, we will only do 6 knots at best. So, we must decide to use more fuel to overcome the current or do a slower passage!

Also, the St. Lawrence is a major shipping channel. We read that during the normal shipping season (April-December), as many as 30 large ships a day will transit the route. As a result, we had to keep our eyes open for ships coming toward us or catching up with us from behind. Fortunately, there is usually one side of the river with plenty of room and depth outside the main shipping channel for us to get out of the way.

As we left Sorel-Tracy for Montreal, we went past a large grain terminal where they were loading a grain ship. We had passed this grain terminal on our way out of the Richelieu River yesterday. We were glad that they were not loading when we went past, as the entire mouth of the river was covered in a dust cloud!

Our trip to Montreal was uneventful. We did have to dodge a few large ships, but it was a nice day and we made pretty good time. As we approached Montreal, we could see the support arm from the Olympic Stadium. At first we thought it was a ski-jump but the Montreal Olympics in 1976 were the Summer Olympics.

As we got close to Montreal, it got quite industrial with huge grain silos and the Molson brewery. It also got quite rough from all of the water taxis, other boats, and the chop from the river. The current here runs quite strong, 6 knots plus. It’s so strong that smaller boats have trouble overcoming it, so they “draft” larger boats like ours, following in our wake 15-20 feet off the back of the boat where the water is smoother. As you approach the Montreal Port, the main river continues straight to the Montreal Rapids, the St. Lawrence waterway enters a canal to the left, and the marinas and cruise terminal are up another protected channel to the right. So, it’s run at almost full throttle until you get out of the current, then back off quickly so that you don’t shoot by the entrance to the marina!

We arrived at the Old Port Montreal Marina at 3:00. The Old Port Marina sits down in an old ship dry dock, so it is surrounded by walls about 30 feet tall. It’s quite a long walk up the ramps to the park and waterfront area above. Riggs wanted to get to dry land for shore patrol, and even in the heat (around 80), he did really well walking up the ramp, then promptly found a tree, did his business, and then laid down in the shade for a nap.

We walked around the waterfront, then later on went into Old Town to Bistro Modavie for dinner which was excellent! After dinner, we wandered around the Old Town area and picked up a few postcards and souvenirs.

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Day 60 – Monday, 7/24 – In Montreal, QU – 00 miles, Travel Time: 0hrs 0min

I mentioned it during our last visit in 2019, and I’ll mention it again. Montreal is an angry city. They want to be Paris, France so bad, and know that they will never be. It comes across with almost every Quebecan you deal with, from marina staff to waiters and waitresses to shopkeepers. They are just plain unfriendly. I thought it was just toward Americans, but I talked with other foreigners who got the same vibe. You would think that they would make an effort, especially in an area of the city that thrives on tourism! Perhaps, like Paris, it is meant to be part of the “charm.” Anyway, off of my soap box.

We slept in a bit on Monday. In the late morning, the power to most of the marina went out. The overnight staff had no idea it was the Quebec Construction Holiday, so they said they were having trouble finding an electrician.

We left the boats, walked into Old Town, and visited the Montreal Museum of History. Brenda and I visited it on our last visit and found it fascinating as it details the history of the founding and development of the city. Brenda and Tim seemed to enjoy it as well! After the museum, we went to the “3 Brasseurs Saint-Paul” (3 Brewers of Saint-Paul), a brewery in Old Town, for “lunch,” and again walked around seeing the sights.

It was a hot day, so we returned to the boats, hoping the power had been restored. It had not. We started up our generators to run the A/C and cooled down a bit before dinner.

In the evening, we invited another Looper Boat at the marina “Voyager” to come to dinner with us at “Jardin Nelson,” a unique restaurant we found on our last visit that is an outdoor garden restaurant, but inside four walls from an old building. They have removed the roof and installed huge umbrellas, and you sit outside while technically inside. Very unique!

We returned to the boats at about 8:30, and the power was still off. The marina staff said it would not be back on until the next day at the earliest. We had already planned to leave in the morning, so we ran the generators on the boat to cool things down and went to bed.

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Day 61 – Tuesday, 7/25 – Montreal, QU to Bainsville, ON – 66.2 miles, Travel Time: 8hrs 34min – 4 Locks

Our original plan was to make it to Cornwall, Ontario, about 100 miles from Montreal. We knew it would be a very long day as we had to go through six locks to get there, but given our last trip, we thought we might be able to make it.

Well, were we wrong! First, we were going upstream, not downstream, like last time, which meant we could not go as fast. Second, they changed the rules for the locks. In 2019, you showed up, and they would lock you through as soon as possible. The longest we waited was a couple of hours. Now, the rules for the Canadian locks are that they have morning and afternoon pleasure craft lockages. You need to sign up and pay online ($25 per lock) the day BEFORE to reserve a spot. What a pain!

So, that meant that we could only do four locks that day: two in the morning (they are a pair) and two in the afternoon (again a pair). These are not the hand-crank locks that we’ve been doing up to now. These big commercial locks handle the ships we’ve been going past on the St. Lawrence. The first two locks in the morning went fine. They let us in on time, and aside from the locks being large and taking some time to fill, it was a quick passage.

Even though these locks are huge, they make you “Raft Up” in the locks. This means that one boat is against the lock wall holding onto ropes that they drop down, and then other boats (sometimes 3-4) tie up to the side of the first boat, and so on out into the lock. When you are the “wall” boat like we were, this means that not only are you holding your boat steady as the water fills the lock, but you are also holding the boats attached to you! Fortunately, we only had Indigo rafted to us for these locks so it was not a big deal.

The distance between the second and third/fourth locks is only 25 miles. However, the schedule for pleasure boats at the third lock was not until 4 p.m., which meant that even if we went at dead idle, we would still have to wait at least two hours when we got there.

When we arrived, we went to the waiting area and tied up until it was our time to go. Given that they knew how many boats were coming, and we were all there, and there was no upbound traffic, you would think that they would lock us through. But no!!!! We had to wait until the designated hour. Jerks! While waiting, I decided to take out my drone and take some aerial photos of the locks. Also while waiting we looked for a marina within range and found a little marina in Bainsville just off the channel called “Creg Quay Marina”. We called, and they were able to fit us in.

A mile after the second lock there are two lift bridges that we had to have opened. You would think that they would coordinate the opening of the bridges with the opening of the locks. But noooooo….. “We are French. You stupid Americans can’t tell us how to run a river!” (Actually, you are NOT FRENCH! You are more British, and no, you do NOT know how to run a river!) So, we ended up waiting almost an hour for the first bridge, and we got lucky as a commercial container ship was heading downstream and they opened for him, so we were able to sneak through after he went through, otherwise, it would have been another 45-minute wait. Jerks!!!!

After getting through the second bridge, we opened up the throttles and headed for Creg Quay, pulling in just before dark. The marina does not see a lot of transients, and we were about the largest boats they can handle, so it was quite an event for the locals when we pulled in. Everyone there was very friendly and helped us tie up.

The locals suggested a local pizza shop, and we called them for delivery. Very good pizza!

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Day 62 – Wednesday, 7/26 – Bainsville, ON to Iroquois, ON – 32.7 miles, Travel Time: 4hrs 17min – 2 Locks

We left Creg Quay at 8:00 a.m. and made our way back to the St. Lawrence Seaway. Today, we were going to do the two American Locks, Eisenhower and Snell. We also hoped to do the last Canadian Lock, the Iroquois. We had a reservation for the 3:00 afternoon pleasure craft locking.

On the way to the Snell lock, we stopped at the Ahnawate Marina for fuel. This is on an Indian Reservation, technically in the US, but as they are a sovereign nation, there is no need to check in with US Customs. We both were below half a tank and ended up taking on about 230 gallons each. This took us almost 2 hours as they only have one diesel pump, and it’s slow. The good news was that the fuel was only $4.05 a gallon, the lowest price we would probably see until we reach Lake Michigan.

The American locks do not have set schedules for pleasure craft. You show up, give them a call, and they put you through at the first opportunity. When we arrived at the Snell lock, they informed us that there was a large ship in the Eisenhower lock heading downstream (toward us) and that we would have to wait about an hour to get through.

Right on schedule, we saw a large ship emerge from the lock, and we were cleared in. This time, we didn’t need to raft up. Each of us was given our own lines to hold onto. When you exit the Snell lock, its only about a mile down a channel to the Eisenhower lock. When we arrived, the lock door was open and waiting for us.

Locking through took about an hour for the two locks, and by the time we got through the locks at around 2:00, it was clear that we would not make it to the Iroquois lock by 3:00. We still had 20 miles to go, and the speed limit in that area is 9 knots. We looked on the map for a marina we could stay at and found the Galop Canal Iroquois Landing marina right next to the Iroquois Lock. The marina is actually the old lock that was replaced by the Iroquois Lock. You tie up to the walls of the old lock, very cool!

We arrived at the marina at 4:30 and got settled in, then walked about a mile into town and went to a Greek restaurant for dinner.

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Day 63 – Thursday, 7/27 – Iroquois, ON to Clayton, NY – 57.7 miles, Travel Time: 4hrs 46min – 1 Lock

The weather for the day was unsettled, they were predicting rain showers, so we had not made a final decision to leave the night before. In the morning, it looked like scattered showers with light winds, so we decided to head out.

The morning lock-through at Iroquois Lock was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. We went online at 8:00 a.m. to pay for our passage, only to find that we could only purchase afternoon passage as it was “too late.” I hate this Canadian system. It seems that it’s designed to deter pleasure boaters from using the system. We bought an afternoon pass and decided to show up for the morning locking and beg for forgiveness.

We left the marina at 10:15 and were waiting at the lock 5 minutes later. There was a bit of a delay, but we got in at around 11:00. This lock is actually more of a toll booth. Unless the river is in flood, if you have a small boat you can actually go through the floodgates on the dam and not pay to lock through. We were too big so we had to use the lock. The gates opened, we drove in, and as we were entering the front gates started to open, as the back gates were closing. We never talked to anyone, we didn’t have to tie up. We just floated right through. What a system!

Our plan was to stop at Singer Castle and take the tour around 1:00. Singer Castle is on an island and was built around 1900 as the “Hunting Lodge and Summer Cottage” for the family that owned the Singer sewing machine company. We had off-and-on rain through the morning, but overall it was good traveling. As we were passing Ogdensburg, NY, we crossed the river to the US side and called into US Customs with the CBP Roam App to check back into the US.

The CBP Roam App is great! After registering, you just open the app, enter where you are checking in, pick your vessel and people off the list, and press enter. In just a few minutes, a CBP officer comes on and asks you the normal questions, then says, “Welcome back!” Easy! While you are talking to them, they can see you through your phone camera, and they want to see the faces of the people on board so that they can compare it to your passports.

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As we neared “Dark Island,” the home of Singer Castle, the rain stopped, and we tied up to the dock just in time to catch the 1:00 guided tour. It was just the four of us and one other couple, so we had pretty much a private tour.

On our last trip, we visited the castle by tour boat. Even though we had been there before, we still found it interesting and learned some new things about it. If you want to check it out, the website is:

After our tour, I flew the drone to get some ariel photos of the boats at the island before we left and headed for Clayton, NY our stop for the next few days.

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On the way to Clayton, we went past a lot of lighthouses and quite a few tour boats. In Alexandria Bay, NY, we went past Boldt Castle on Heart Island. We plan to come back by tour boat in the next couple of days.

Just past Alexandria Bay is an area called “The American Narrows”. The St. Lawrence River shipping channel is only 700 ft wide here, and the current is very strong. There are lots of tour boats, pleasure boats, and jet skis, and you hope that you don’t meet a big ship here. We did! Interestingly, the big ship’s wake was less than many of the pleasure boats that went past!

At 4:30, we pulled into the Mary Street Dock in Clayton, right next to the Antique Boat Museum. For dinner, we went just up the street to the Wooden Boat Brewery, then settled in for the night.

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We are in Clayton for two reasons first, to visit the Wooden Boat Museum and Boldt Castle, and second to pick up our replacement refrigerator. We ordered it two weeks before and arranged to have it shipped to Clayton.

More on that in the next installment of the blog.

Kiss Some Frogs To Find Your Prince
Thanks for visiting! –Tom & Brenda