01 Jun Weekend Update – Wind, Rain and Locks
Here’s a recap from the locks over the past few days.
We are well-prepared for the transit, with extra fenders and a drape for the hull to protect us. As the water swirls in, the boat bucks and heaves – we raised the daggerboard quickly to limit the effect of the cursing water on the boat. The lock fills quickly, the doors open and it is time to push on to the next lock. Some of them are close together, others are miles apart.
After the fourth lock, around Saturday afternoon, while transiting one of the lakes, the wind began to build….and then build some more. It was directly on the nose – of course – and in the stronger gusts of 33+ knots, our boat speed would drop, once to just .01 knots. Arete does not like to motor in these conditions, and keeping her heading into the wind was tense. After transiting one lift bridge (impressive structures with twin gantries that lift the entire roadway 121 feet into the air) during which we could not motor over 1.2 knots through the bridge, we took a look at the weather, which predicted even stronger winds, and began considering our options.
Matt noticed a small commercial harbor just a few miles ahead, and we headed for it. Approaching it, the harbor appeared perfect for our purposes – empty on a Saturday afternoon, the water was flat an inviting inside. We headed in and made fast to a dock normally used by cargo ships. It was like someone had shut off the fan – the top of the mast recorded gusts over 40 knots, but all was calm inside. When the security guard showed up to to ask us what we were here for, Matt not only obtained permission to stay, but ordered three pizzas for lunch!
A huge shout-out to Port Valleyfield, for the hospitality and safe refuge!
By late Saturday night, the worst of the storm had blown through, attended by a soaking rain. We got some rest and pushed off early Sunday morning. We had a better day, getting through the final locks in this system. Now, we are working our way down to Lake Ontario, where we hope to sail a bit before reaching the Welland Canal, where we will bypass Niagara Falls.