June 17, 2005 A Stormy Day in Sorel
White caps. Persistent pelting rain. Canvass-snapping wind. A temperature in the 50s with a definite
wind chill factor. We weren't going anywhere today.
After a week of slight variations on this weather pattern, we are wondering if perhaps this is why so many
places in Canada have such lush and lovely gardens.
Dick met sailors from Sodus Point Yacht Club while he was in the marina office extending our stay for an
extra day. He learned they were from Pittsford and Webster, near where Gayl grew up. He helped them move their
boat from an unsheltered spot where it was being battered on the dock to an inside berth. We ended
up having the two couples over for happy hour, which gave us a bright spot in an otherwise dull and dismal rainy
We probably should have been grateful for stormy weather -- it gave us time to rest, read,
and relax -- the three Rs we don't ever seem to get enough of aboard (or on land, for that matter). We did wish we could
have been held up somewhere with internet access, though.
June 18, 2005 Sorel to Longueuil
We waited until after 10 am to venture forth into the St. Lawrence River. It was another day of high
winds and rough water, but the weather radio called for the winds to begin to calm around noon.
When we left, we hoped that the two foot plus waves would diminish when we got past the wide part of the
river and turned just past a point of land a few miles away. We rounded the point, and nothing changed. So
we hoped that as noon approached, the winds would calm. Noon came and went, with no appreciable change.
We were traveling in the shipping channel, thinking that the deeper water would make for less wave action
than the shallower pleasure boat channel. After we were passed at pretty close quarters by a massive freighter,
we decided to give the pleasure boat channel a try. Maybe the lesser current and more sheltered segments would make
for less wave action. Not true. From the pleasure boat channel, the ship channel seemed to be less turbulent.
When the opportunity arose we switched back to the ship channel. It was much rougher than it looked from the vantage
point of the pleasure boat channel.
Conclusion: The water is always smoother on the other side of the channel.
Though we make no claims to be undaunted by weather, we observed lots of hardy Canadians who found
this windy day with temperatures that struggled to hit 60 degrees the perfect weather for pursuing their favorite water sports.
A kite boarder flew across the waves, this way and that, for so many long runs that we couldn't believe he had the strength
to keep maneuvering his kite. We saw wind surfers. We ran right through a sailboat race. Boaters zipping
by us in their little open speedboats were showing alarming amounts of bare skin, given the wind chill.
|The church that dominates the Varennes waterfront
Since we have been in Quebec, churches have replaced lighthouses as an architectural element of fascination
for us. Broadly generalizing, Canadian architecture seems austere to us. Homes appear more modest, spare
and square than homes across the border. They seem built for utility more than style. The churches are everything
that the homes are not. They are built on a massive scale, with spires that tower high over everyting else in town.
Elaborate carved stone work, fancy windows, impressive doors -- Quebec churches are rich with ornamentation for the glory
Traveling along the water, the first sign that we are approaching a town is invariably the church spire,
visible for miles. Since we haven't seen any towns yet with high rise condos on the waterfront, the church steeple usually
has no competition for sky space. How can so many little towns can afford such big churches? We don't know.
We made it to the massive marina in Longueuil, just east of Montreal, at a little after 4.
We suffered the frustrations of not being able to get anyone's attention at the marina when we called by radio (they
had the volume turned way down so as not to be disturbed, Dick discovered later, as he tried to diagnose whether we had a
problem with our radio), then being assigned a slip that was too small for our boat, and having to move it. All this made
for a very long day.
Which is why, when we heard fireworks at about 10:00, we checked to see if they were visible from our flybridge,
determined the trees blocked too much to be worth watching from the boat, and then decided we wouldn't expend the energy to
walk for five minutes to a spot where we could get a good view. I love fireworks. That's how tired we were.
Sunday, June 19, 2005 Longueuil to Montreal
It took a full hour to go the 3.5 miles upriver from Longueuil to Montreal. The current in the St.
Lawrence River near Montreal is the strongest we have ever experienced in Starsong -- we clocked it at six miles per hour
at its peak point. Since we don't go much faster than nine miles per hour with no current, we had a slow go of it fighting
the current up.
On the way to Montreal we passed the island where the Expo '67
World's Fair was held. Beyond all the amusement park rides, we could see the geodesic sphere above
the trees and the unique apartments that look like a pile of boxes, arranged so no one looks at anyone else's windows or terraces.
They were an exhibit for the Expo, but people live in them now.
A monument inscribed "Tribute to the Heroism and Devotion of our Sailors in the War of 1914-1918" stands
sentry at the Montreal Harbor entrance. It looks like there may be a light atop it, as a beacon to guide sailors safely
|Entering the Montreal Marina basin
Despite the current slowing us down, we were all tied up at the Montreal Marina just a little after noon.
The Marina is in the old shipping port, which has very tall cement walls on three sides to accomodate large ships. Now
there are floating docks in the harbor for pleasure boats, and the area that was once used for loading and unloading ships
and warehousing cargo is now a big park, restaurant and entertainment area. People lean over the railings surrounding
the marina and look down on the boats below. We are part of their entertainment.
We hopped off Starsong and headed up the ramp to . . . was it Paris? Artists
lined up their work for sale along the harbor wall. The streets were lined with cafes that had tables on the sidewalk
beneath colorful awnings. The buildings were built of stone and had bright shutters and flower boxes. Two old
men sat on a bench in the park -- one playing a small accordian and the other a guitar. A mime performed in the public
square. Cyclists in colorful jerseys wove through the strolling crowds.
We had lunch at a sidewalk cafe. Then we walked and walked through the narrow streets of old Montreal,
reading historic markers, admiring the architecture and ornamentation, and people-watching. We watched a glass-blower
shaping an art glass vase, and felt the heat of his glowing orange furnace. We window-shopped, and bought a fresh baguette
for dinner at a little neighborhood grocery.
When our feet finally started complaining, we went back to the boat to relax with cool drinks. From
our boat we enjoyed an international concert of performers above us in the old port public areas -- African drummers, an a
capella men's group singing madrigals, Mexican mariachis -- the music went on four hours, and it was all wonderful.
We ate aboard -- shrimp scampi and a bottle of fine sparkling wine from our cooking school restaurant, Tapawingo
-- enjoyed the music around us, and declared it a most perfect day.
Click here to continue to page 3.