A couple more images from our stop in Burlington, Vermont before I move on to our crossing into Canada.

The second evening in Burlington, my fraternity brother Doug Roszman (Rosz) and his wife Kathy joined us for dinner on the boat; after dinner, we were mesmerized by an amazing sunset:

Left to right, Janey Chellman, Al Johnson, Doug Roszman, Louise Bombardieri, Kathy Roszman, Paul Coates, Jim Small

Rouses Point was our jumping off spot into Canada. Just before the border, Fort Montgomery is located on the western shore of Lake Champlain:

Fort Montgomery has an interesting legacy. The original fort was started in 1816 to protect against a possible attack from Canada by the British. However, it was discovered that, due to a surveying error, the fort was actually being constructed in Canada! When the error was discovered, all work on the fort immediately stopped, and construction of a new fort on the U.S. side of the border was commenced in 1844. The new fort has become known more by its nickname than its actual name – Fort Blunder!

It’s also interesting to note that construction of the fort took on a frenzied effort during the American Civil War amidst rumors of possible British intervention against the union.

Just past Fort Blunder, we crossed the border into Canada. In case you’re wondering how they mark the border in the northern tip of Lake Champlain, here it is:

Immediately after crossing the border, we had to visit the Canadian Customs office, which is set up for boats coming from the U.S.:

When I went through here 7 years ago on the Great Loop, clearing customs took about 10 minutes. This time it took an hour and a half, and we never would have gotten into Canada if the wonderful officers on duty hadn’t had mercy on us, taking us under their wing, and helped us through the process. Due to Covid, Canada now requires each person to download and complete an online app which requires identification information as well as a complete vaccination history. Try as we might, we could not get the app to work, possibly because our U.S. internet service now had to mesh with the Canadian service. With infinite patience, Officer Parant and Officer Dugauy walked us through each step on the app until we all got checked in. In addition, a police boat happened to pull in while we were there, so they boarded the Joint Adventure and did a complete safety check of all required equipment- we passed!

The customs officers expressed an interest in our trip and our blog, so I provided them with information to access it. In addition to another “thank you!”, I have a personal message for them, however, that I hope they see if they read this post – we misplaced the email address to send you notifications, so please send it to me at jkoningisor@verizon.net!

Lake Champlain quickly turns into the Richelieu River, which drains Lake Champlain northward to the St. Lawrence River. Our first stop on the Richelieu was Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, which is a small city. After biking around the city in the afternoon and enjoying a wonderful meal in a French restaurant, I went for a walk very early the next morning (6:00 AM). Upon hearing a strange noise and looking around in vain for the source, I looked skyward, which solved the mystery:

The noise was the occasional blast of fire into the balloon to heat the air. As I gazed skyward mesmerized by the beauty of the colorful balloons drifting eastward in a very gentle breeze, a total of 15 hot air balloons rose nearby and drifted across the river to whatever their destination might have been.
Notice the large flame above the basket at the bottom of the balloon – I happened to snap this picture at the moment that the balloon pilot fired up the torch to raise the balloon higher in the air.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, the British tried to put down the American rebellion in 1776 in part by invading from the north using Lake Champlain and the Hudon River to get to New York and elsewhere. Since they controlled the St. Lawrence River all the way to Montreal, they could bring large ocean-going vessels to the mouth of the Richelieu River to bring in vast numbers of men and vast amounts of military supplies to that location. The ocean-going vessels were far too large to transport to Lake Champlain, so they built smaller warships and supply ships for use on the lake. However, since some sections of the Richelieu weren’t navigable due to rapids, they had to dismantle the ships and transport them part of the way over land, then re-assemble them when they reached the northern tip of Lake Champlain. Nonetheless, the Richelieu was an important strategic waterway both for military and economic reasons, serving as a key transportation route for trade goods, including furs and later the exchange of raw materials and manufactured goods.

In order to create a navigable connection between the St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain, The Chambly Canal was completed in 1843 to bypass the rapids. Consisting of 9 locks in the Chambly Canal plus one additional lock further down the river, boats are lowered 84 feet to the level of the St. Lawrence in Sorel (12 feet above sea level). The canal is a historic gem, and most of the locks are still hand-powered.

The Chambly Canal is a highlight of any trip of which it is part, so here are a series of images to try to provide a flavor for the canal:

Note that only lock 9 has hydraulic mechanisms – all the others on the Chambly Canal are completely operated by hand
Boats lined up to enter the first lock on the Chambly Canal northbound. Since the canal was built in the 1840’s, the locks are short and narrow, generally accommodating only two boats at a time, depending on their size. Therefore, boats are queued up on a fist come-first served basis, with each group released an hour apart to allow for passages through low bridges, locks, etc. and for the passage of southbound boats on the narrow canal. We arrived at 7:30 AM, but didn’t start our passage until noon. It takes about 4 -5 hours to pass through the 9 locks and 12 bridges.
Just before the first lock going north, Bridge 12 is quite interesting!
There are two sets of hand-operated mechanisms to operate each lock. The first, shown above, is a hand crank that opens and closes the lock gates; there is one for each gate, so it takes two operators to open or close the lock gates at each end of the lock.
The other hand-operated mechanism, of which there is one on each gate, operates by pushing the lever back and forth. It opens a cover over a hole near the bottom of the gate which allows the water to flow by gravity to either fill the lock from above or lower the water level to the canal below.
That’s Jim Small, our shipmate, on someone else’s boat! The park service that operates the Chambly Canal requires two people on each vessel, but Loren Rich, owner of this vessel, was operating single-handed; therefore, he wasn’t allowed to transit the canal without a second crew member. Jim graciously offered to crew on his boat.
Loren going through the Chambly Canal with Jim as his crew – notice the name of his boat. If you haven’t seen the movie that it’s named after, it’s an interesting movie about a German submarine.
One of the interesting aspects of a trip like this is the interesting people you meet – Loren was no exception. His kids didn’t want him to be alone on his trip, so they made “Wilson” for him, which he prominently displayed in his front window. When asked if talks to Wilson, he said yes, but Wilson doesn’t respond, even when Loren needs advice.
When we arrived at Bridge 10, the bridge tender rushed out to tell us that the bridge wouldn’t open, so we had to tie up at this floating dock. Fortunately, they were able to coax the bridge to open within about 15 minutes. Due to the small size of the lock, only the Joint Adventure and the small sailboat Kouac-Kouac shown above would fit in a lock together.
Another lift bridge as we traveled north
Several of the bridges on the Chambly Canal are swing bridges, which rotate to allow passage
It may be hard to tell from this picture, but the canal at times is significantly higher than the surrounding landscape, especially as it approaches a down lock. Here we’re about even with the top of the adjacent roofs. In other locations, we pass by corn fields 10 or 15 feet higher than the fields.
Locks 6, 5, and 4 (we were descending) are “series locks”, in which one lock follows closely upon the previous one to break up the drop or rise into smaller drops or rises – this was necessary when constructed in the 1840’s due to the technology at that time
Locks 3, 2, and 1 are step locks, meaning you exit one lock directly into the next, eliminating the need for one set of gates for each lock. Located in the town of Chambly, the step locks descend back into the Richelieu River in a large basin. Notice the storm cell in the distance – miraculously, we managed to avoid it as it drifted just far enough to the east as we passed by on our way to our next stop.

This is the back of a gate after the water in the lock has been lowered. The gates are very old, so the water has created significant leaks at some of the gates – a bit disconcerting as one considers the consequences if the gate were to fail!

I know, quite a few pictures of locks and bridges! I couldn’t help myself, as the Chambly Canal is so cool!

After transiting another 15 miles or so on the Richelieu, we stayed a short distance from the very small village of St. Charles that had one restaurant and one convenience store. At the marina, we invited a family who seemed interested in the Joint Adventure to come in for a tour. Matthew, a farmer who raises hay and other similar crops and has a boat at the marina, and his family spent 20 minutes or so chatting with us:

A friendly and interesting family!

The next morning, we made the final run down the Richelieu River to the St. Lawrence. Along the way, we encountered a sea plane in which the pilot appeared to be practicing touch-and-go landings. On two of his runs, he appeared to be giving us a show as he passed by quite closely:

Around noon, we made our next major milestone on the trip – the St. Lawrence River, Sorel, Quebec:

Our debut as we entered the St. Lawrence River! This will be a new and challenging segment of our trip.

More to come!!

5 responses to “O CANADA!”

  1. Another great Treat— Tganks Jim

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. I’m so glad you made it onto the St Lawrence and not the Mississippi😂


  3. excellent


  4. Looks like a grate adventure so far


  5. Thanks, Jim! Ken and I are along for the ride via your interesting and well-written blog. We love witnessing your latest adventure with Paul and Smalley. Our best to all. Gayle


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