Thursday, 2 June 2011

Locked and Loaded

Next stop Montreal. Or is it? Despite our best efforts to keep the events of our sailing day to day on the down low, steering clear of sticky situations continues to be an uphill battle. Perhaps that's a perpetual state of existence for a crew. Weather conditions, as well as moods can change abruptly, and these shifts can sometimes catch us off guard. Getting used to changing weather conditions as well as each other took some time, but now, in the wake of our last stretch before Montreal, we feel like we have become a part of a well oiled machine. 
After spending a quiet night in Saleberry de Valleyfield, a quaint little waterfront community, we set out for the second set of locks on Wednesday June 1. There were warnings of gale winds for that day, which got pushed back to the evening, so we decided to set out early and make our way down the river to get through the locks as quickly as possible. We should know better by know than to count on things to go smoothly. We had to wait nearly 3 hours at Beauharnois Locks to allow a slew of commercial carriers to pass through before us. These guys pay big bucks to move back and forth across the locks, therefore get the right of way. So we waited. Once on the other side we were on Lake St.Louis. We got lots of open water and increasing winds to play with so we let out the small genoa and sailed. It was great. The wind came from behind and despite choppy waters we enjoyed a smooth ride. Gabriel was teaching me that because of the wind coming from astern, we got what's called "following seas". The waves came running after the boat pushing the stern of the boat to the side. This made the bow swing in the opposite direction, so whoever was steering the boat had to compensate for the movement. This is hard to do, because you have to make sure that the boat doesn't tack from side to side as you're fighting the waves. But that's exactly what happened to me. The wind gusted, filled the sail, and before I knew it the boat went with it. It turned fast and hard, heeling right over and made a 360 turn around, nearly dunking poor Gabriel in the water. The boys hassled to roll the sail in before I could wreak any more havoc and we continued on our way, motoring through the rest of the lake. 
We had one more lock to go through and the winds kept picking up. So much so that when we got to the waiting dock of the next lock, we could hardly tie off Rodeo. The gales have come untimely and unwelcome. On top of that we were set back hours waiting at this and the following lock, as they resolved technical problems. Night had fallen, and though we were just across the river from Old Montreal, St.Helen's Island stood in our way. In order to get to Montreal Marina we would have to round the island and approach the city against the river current and against the gusty wind. We had no chance of making it over there under such conditions...

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