Onward To Lake Champlain

Written Sept 18, 2021

We did a fairly fast trip to Lake Champlain. One day from Montreal to Chambly, where we took 5 days on our way to Montreal. And then one to Lake Champlain to Chambly where we took 4 going north. Beautiful country, but we were heading south. That headed for the barn syndrome does kick in. However, there are things we want to do farther south, so want enough days of weather fudge and unexpected stops.

The currents on the St Lawrence can be quite strong. This is a 5 knot current Our boat does about 8.5 knots happily. With the tail-current, we were doing 13.4 knots. Quite a thrilling ride out of Montreal.
One last glimpse of the the St Lawrence as we head into the Richelieu River headed south. A bit bitter sweet. The river is not nearly so scary to us as when we first entered it.
Our first lock south is St. Ours. As the lock water lifts us, I see loo sorts of painters, drawers and sculptors. I guess the local art society comes to the lock to create on Saturdays.
The infamous railroad bridge. A sliver of an opening with a current, rocks on both side and a blind corner. Definitely not wide enough for us and another boat. We called on the radio an alert we were coming through, but no one in these waters uses a radio. Blast the horn. Did I tell you our horn is VERY loud. We proceed. Around the corner comes a boat. He uses good judgement and waits for us.
We are late in the canal season so there are limited hours of operation. the Chambly Canal only opens at 9:30 and again at 1. If you fit, you go, if not, you wait for the next opening. We missed the 1 PM opening so anchored in the Chambly basin. Very pretty. Next morning, there were already two boats waiting to lock through. So, we got the 1 PM opening. They fit, but we could not have fit with them.
Our sunrise view from our anchorage in Chambly. Quite a lovely spot.
The bottom was a bit weedy. They anchor pulled up a big salad.

Crossing the border

Crossing back into the US was uneventful. Yeah! We used the ROAM app on our phone, entered all our info and even told them we had fruits and veggies and meat, because we did. Cross the boarder, hit send. Pending. Processing. Approved. We never stopped, just kept going and we were in!

There are forts up and down the Richelieu, lake Champlain and the Hudson. This is Fort Montgomery, Literally on the US-Canada border. It is for sale if you are looking for a fort.
Just south of the fort are the remnants of an old bridge which we have to go through. There is a tiny opening for boats. It does seem like a blockade, but is just a bridge that was not removed.

Lake Champlain

When we headed north we did not spend much time in Lake Champlain so wanted to on the way south. Most of our time was in Burlington, exploring and getting COVID tests to prepare for Canada. I really WANTED to visit several bays and anchor out.

The lake was like glass. Such an inviting return to the US.

We had two issues. 1. There were anticipated winds on 40 – 50 MPH out of the south. Champlain is notorious for building pretty big waves when you get a south wind. And 40 – 50 MPH could product 4 – 5 foot waves. We DID NOT want to be somewhere where we’d be subjected to this. We don’t know this lake so were perhaps overly cautious. But, that is not always a bad thing. Unfortunately, most or all of the anchorages that had been recommended to me might not provide the level of southern wind protection we wanted. Willsboro bay is a long narrow bay that you enter from the north. Narrow and deep. We WILL have southern wind protection here. And 2. The mast is down and we can’t get the dinghy off the boat with the mast down. So, if we anchor out, we can’t do any excursions.

Anchor or a marina? We’ve not done tons of anchoring and definitely not in strong winds. So we are a bit uncomfortable. And, the mast is down and we have more low bridges through the Champlain Canal. We choose a marina. It has good reviews and can take us.

The marina is fairly empty, but a very pretty spot. The wind is already picking up a bit, but easy docking. Actually twice. We docked and a local suggested we might want to face into the wind as opposed to having the stern slap from the winds. Talk to the marina and move inboard in the marina and facing south. Perfect!

Rincon tucked into her slip with the lovely mountains around.

The big winds are not expected until the middle of the night. We enjoy our evening, making sure the boat is quite secure before going to bed. About 2, we definitely head and feel the wind, but we are snug and is good.

A very pretty bay. It was totally calm the next morning.

The spot is so nice and there MIGHT be bigger waves in the main part of the lake, so we decide to spend another day. We’ve got catching up to do on life and happy to have a down day.

We took a nice “bird” walk down the road from the marina and into a local “neighborhood.” A mix of farming and boating Summer homes.
The folks that live here year round need lots of fire wood!

We also have to figure out what we are doing next. The mast is down which means we can’t use our dinghy (it’s trapped). We want to visit our friends in Ticonderoga which is father down the lake. No marina there, nor one close so we need to dinghy to them. We’ve got to raise the mast. We are feeling motionless and tired of this up and down activity. But, we finally decide, lets do it. We’ll find help.

The folks in the boat next to us from Canada helped us get our mast down. Thanks Mark and Jane! We CAN take it down with 3 people total. We are learning. Their boat dog. Turns out that Americans can go to Canada by boat, but the US still views personal boat travel as discretionary and thus, you cannot take your personal boat from Canada to the US. Their boat was already in Champlain, but they have to fly down to use it. Flying is not discretionary? The US has some crazy Covid rules that are hurting border boating businesses. The marina we were in is at least 50% Canadian boats. Most of the folks could not come this year.
Mark and Jane were preparing their boat for winter and to head back to Canada the next day. They joined us for dinner on Rincon Feliz. The sunset was a lovely last day reminder for all of us of Willsboro bay.

Ticonderoga

The mast is up and we have a plan. Anchor off Fort Ticonderoga and dinghy to their boat ramp where we can then meet up with our friends Penny and Rob. They have an extra car we can use as well which will make doing a few chores easier. There are three potential spots to anchor, none perfect from the reviews but we choose the one with southern wind protection as there could be some gusty winds the 2nd afternoon.

See the floating white dot in the distance? That is Rincon Feliz in her anchorage (with the kittens keeping watch). Amazingly, the canons from the 1700’s could hit a boat as far away as ours. In the foreground is the passage that ships would take up and down Lake Champlain. One can see why this was strategic. This pic is from the top of Mt. Defiance, immediately to the south of Fort Ticonderoga.

We have a lovely dinner with our friends the first evening This dinghy-ing thing is pretty easy. Weather is great and the ride is not too long; just around the corner. The next day we visit Ft Ticonderoga. They have folks in custom doing all sort is activities that would have happened at the fort during 1775 when held by the British.

Officers quarters within the fort.

An interesting place in that it was originally built by the French, captured by the British and finally the Americans. This is all over a period of years between 1755 and 1781 during the French and Indian Wars (the 7 Year War) and the American Revolution.

Making shoes. The enactors actually make the shoes and clothing worn by the enactors. They also cook their food while working with (at least some) produce from the “Kings Garden”.

The most interesting story is that early in the revolutionary war (May 10, 1775), Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold (he was till on “our” side) and the Green Mountain Boys from Vermont capture this fort peacefully from the British who only had a very small garrison there. There was great concern that the British would use the Champlain route to move troops and supplies in the the Colonies and cut off New England from the rest of the budding country. Thus, between the capture of Ticonderoga and the battle at Saratoga, the US shut down this route for the British.

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This Red tail Hawk was hanging around the veggie garden. There were lots of chipmunks which I believe is the reason for his visit. I love his bloomers.
well, I just had to include this one.
I don’t remember seeing any bee hives, but there were LOTS of bees in the Kings Garden. I believe this is a bumble been though and not a honey bee.
As well as the very large veggie garden, the Pell family who bought the Fort in the 1920’s added this beautiful garden which they called the Kings Garden. The Pells restored the fort which is now owned by a private foundation.

We also visited our Friend Rob’s family home about 30 miles out of Ticonderoga up in the Adirondacks. The original home is pretty rough at this point, but makes a good place for Rob to escape and paint.

An old home with lots of character. Robs family farmed this land in the Adirondacks for many years.
Rob uses the house as a studio for painting. Him with some of his abstracts in progress. He also does very lovely plein-air work.
The trees are beginning to change. A piece of the pond with the mountains at Robs place. Time to migrate south.

Heading South

Today we left our oh so lovely anchorage off Ticonderoga and headed and headed south. We were a bit say to leave, but did I mention the barn? We did not leave until nearly 11 as we had to get the dinghy back on the boat, deflate it and then lower the mast. Jim and I can lower the mast buy ourselves! We still think we need one extra person to raise it.

Waiting for the northbound boat to drop in the lock. There was a boat following us and this northbound boat. About as much traffic as we’ve seen.

We were hoping to make Fort Edward this evening, about half wa through the Champlain Canal (6 locks through). We got into lock 9 and the Lock master told us 8 and 7 were closed due to lightening and potential tornado’s. Best to tie up. Smith Basin as Lock 9 is rural and quite pretty. So, here we are! It has rained on and off, but we did manage a nice walk.

Our mooring tonight. A very pretty and peaceful spot.

Tomorrow? Not sure yet. Maybe Troy, NY.


Comments

Onward To Lake Champlain — 8 Comments

  1. Well on your was south. Glad putting the mast up/down is getting a bit more “routine”-though I know you would like to not have to do it at all

  2. SPOT shows you actually tied up inside the lock and still there this morning 9/19 at about 0900 your time. Was this true or had SPOT stopped while you were in the lock (as often happened in the locks during my time on the boat) and it just didn’t get restarted as is most likely? The picture in this post doesn’t look like you are in the canal, likely just beyond

  3. Just past the lock. True, did not restart as was occupied with locking, talking to the lock master and now figuring tying to bollards.

  4. Fun time. When our son was in 8th grade and studing American history, we rented a boat and sailed to fort Ticonderoga as they did hundreds of years ago and rowed the dingy to the fort dock and walked into history. A fun time spent the night on the hook and swam just below the fort.

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