His Idea Goes Flying and Gets Locked Down for Winter

Our Time in Kingston

After completing the Rideau Canal we spent about three weeks in Kingston awaiting the haul out of His Idea for the winter. This interlude gave us plenty of time to explore Kingston and the surrounding area, including a day trip by car to Niagara Falls, meeting up with with fellow PDQ cruisers Bill and Carole Lowther, and a cruise in the Thousand Islands with Roy and Sue Dawson.

The Thousand Islands are at the eastern end of Lake Ontario where it transitions into the Saint Lawrence River, and are spread over the border between Canada and the United States. It’s a lovely cruising area interspersed with with many parks and sheltered anchorages, private cottages, and interesting historical sites. Even though it was mid-September we were fortunate to have mostly good weather and great swimming in water temperatures still in the low 20’s.

Kingston turned out to be an excellent choice to end this leg of our journey. It’s a small city with a lively downtown (loaded with Queens University students) and a long history as a maritime and military centre for Canada. Our berth at Confederation Harbour marina put us in the centre of town, convenient for shopping, dining, theatres and cycling to  the Royal Military College of Canada, Fort Frederick, and other places of interest. Although this was our longest stay in once place yet, we certainly managed to stay busy and entertained.

Just up the lakeshore from Confederation Harbour is Portsmouth Olympic Harbour (built for the sailing events of the 1976 Olympics) where His Idea will spend the winter ashore. While not quite as picturesque as Confederation Harbour – our next door neighbour is the Kingston Penitentiary – it’s well suited for winter boat storage.

A good portion of our time in Kingston was spent taking care of the details related to His Idea’s hibernation, including sourcing a suitable firm to winterize and shrinkwrap the vessel. Because of the very cold temperatures, winterization here is a much bigger deal than we have been used to in Vancouver, and we decided to leave it to the experts.

After doing everything we could to prepare His Idea for the winter, it was with decidedly mixed feelings that we left her behind.  She has served faithfully and with little complaint, transporting us safely over more than 3100 miles of rivers, lakes, canals and ocean. While enabling us to experience many things from a perspective often very different from road travel, she has also become a very comfortable home away from home.

So we feel we’re ending the first year of our travels in a good place – happy to be back home with family and friends after 6 months away, but also very much looking forward to our return, and more great adventures, next spring.

End of Season Statistics and Other Items of Interest (at least to the Captain)

  • Statute miles travelled (Stuart, FL to Kingston, Ont) – 3123
  • Hours of motoring – 335
  • Fuel used (not including generator) – 3991 litres (878 imperial gallons)
  • Average MPG – 3.6 (note: at typical ‘fast cruise’ of 15 to 16 MPH, estimated fuel burn is about 20 litres per hour)
  • Generator operation – 63 hours; 125.8 litres (27.7 imperial gallons)
  • Average fuel cost – $1.20/litre
  • Average fuel cost per mile – $1.54
  • Average daily moorage cost – $33.92 (over 158 days)
  • States & Provinces visited – Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virgina, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersy, New York, Vermont, Quebec, Ontario

Plans for Next Year

This will be our final post for 2012. Our tentative plan for cruising in 2013 is to depart Kingston sometime during the latter part of May, traverse the Trent-Severn Canal (which takes us from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay on Lake Huron), cruise Lake Huron and Lake Michigan through the summer months, and complete the season’s last leg from Chicago to the Kentucky Lakes region (via the Illinois, Missisipi, Ohio and Cumberland rivers) in September.

If you have been visiting our blog and wish to be notified when we start publishing again next year, please drop us a line at jaevans100@gmail.com. We’ll then send you a short email in advance of our first post.

Thanks for following along. We hope you’ve enjoyed travelling with us aboard His Idea.

John & Ria


Our trip to Niagara Falls was beautiful…..




…..and exhilarating.


Wet and exhilarating could also be usd to describe the gale that blew though our marina in Kingston while Bill and Carole were visiting.


The two captains surveying the scene inside the marina harbour, where Bill saw 50 knot gusts on his anemometer; note the waves coming over the breakwater.


Quieter times – Sue and Roy Dawson at our great anchoage at Camelot Island, which was…..


…..mostly quiet and benign…..


…..but sometimes not – this was an impressive little squall that lasted a few minutes.


Sue is a formidable Scrabble adversary, and the Captain was humbled (but also learned a lot about how to crush one’s opponent using small words).


Another peaceful anchorage, this time at Adelaide Island…..


…..where the water was great for a morning swim; not bad for mid-September!


Although a bit cool, our last day was a beautiful one for sightseeing – we headed for the American side to see….


…..the Boldt castle, an unfinished monument (now restrored) from a 19th century industrialist to his wife, who died before it was completed.


This is a portion of the main building, which is huge……


…..and this is the former power house building; the owners of nearby estates have clearly been inspired by the castle, as many have embarked on all manner of elaborate garden monuments of their own (sort of a steroid-driven competition of the garden gnomes).


His Idea about to be hauled out by crane at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour


His Idea soaring above us – it’s an impressive sight, as she appears much bigger when out of the water.


His Idea snug in her winter berth – shrinkwrapping to come – under the watchful eye of the Kingston Penitentiary Guards (the guard towers are but a short distance away across the fence.


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Exploring Canada’s Capital and the Rideau Canal

Although this post covers a relatively short distance – about 225 miles – it spans the longest time period yet, more than three weeks of our travels. We spent a good deal of this time exploring the Ottawa River and the Rideau Canal, which in their own way were as important to the development of English Canada as the St. Lawrence River and Lachine Canal were  to the development of Quebec.

The Ottawa River provided power to supply mills of many kinds, and the means to export raw materials to Montreal and beyond.  The main export was wood, and for a time during the 1800’s Britain could not have maintained its navy (or naval superiority) without lumber from the Ottawa Valley.
The Rideau Canal also had a military connection (as it appears much did in those days). The canal was an outcome of the War of 1812, built to provide a ‘back door’ supply route if the Americans again threatened the St. Lawrence River connection between Montreal and Kingston. Constructed between 1826 and 1832, it is one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century. Perhaps more impressive, it has enjoyed continuous operation in essentially the same manner since it was first opened.

Our other focus was Ottawa. Formerly called Bytown after Lt. Colonel John By, the British Royal Engineer who oversaw the construction of the Rideau Canal, it developed from a remote lumbering and milling town into a beautiful national capital. Sir Wilfred Laurier, Canada’s Prime Minister when many of the legacy buildings were constructed in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, professed that he wanted to build a capital as impressive as Washington DC. Although the dominant styles are quite different, with Ottawa displaying a more British/European look (no surprise there), we would say this has been accomplished.

It was also interesting to visit the national museums in Ottawa. We spent time at the Aviation Museum, the War Museum and even the Currency Museum (we had previously been to the very impressive Museum of Civilization, so it wasn’t on our list this time). The buildings and exhibits were on par with the Smithsonian institutions we saw in Washington DC, had the advantage of being much less crowded, and were well worth the time. Admissions were modest (or free).

Like Quebec, this was a great region to brush up on our Canadian history, and we very much enjoyed our time here.

The huge ‘dropgate’, which weighs 187 tons, is a unique feature of the Carillon Lock; at 66′ feet in height, it was one of the largest locks we encountered on our trip.


Sunset – and margarita time – at our anchorage Baie Des Atocas.


A fellow early morning traveller.


Where the Rideau and the Ottawa Rivers meet; Rideau in French means ‘curtains’, which the falls resemble from a distance.


View of the Parliament Buildings from Entrance Bay: the Ottawa Locks, entrance to the Rideau Canal, are to the far left.


Working our way up the Ottawa flight locks, of which there are eight; it only took about 90 minutes, although it can take up to four hours when busy (the Chateau Laurier is on the left).


And for those of you who haven’t visited Ottawa, here’s what the flight locks look like from above.


Our berth for five days in downtown Ottawa – very convenient!


The European influenced architecture of everybody’s favourite Canadian institution (the CRA).


Of course the British influence is not just in the architecture – here’s  the Changing of the Guard at Rideau Hall, residence of the Governor General.


View of Entrance Bay and the Ottawa River to the west from behind the Parliament Buildings; note the winding  bike path in the lower left, part of an excellent system in the capital city.


Farewell to Ottawa…..


…..and hello to the Rideau Canal.


Another serene evening at anchor.


Locks, locks, and more locks (47 in all)…..


…..bridges too….


…..and great little historic towns like Merrickville, a major manufacturing centre in its time.


Merrickville was the only place where we got to look down on the world from our berth.


Another impressive sunset, this time from the canal basin in downtown Smiths Falls.


Large portions of the canal consist of deep, clear lakes; this is the view from one of our anchorages on Big Rideau Lake.


We were joined for 4 days by John’s sister Pat and her husband Bruce; Pat demonstrates her boating prowess at the helm of His Idea……


…..and Bruce his skills as a line handler extrordinaire.


The entire canal is a national park (and UNESCO World Heritage Site); all of the lock stations are well preserved, and many are very picturesque.


A momentus occasion – 3000 statute miles travelled, just as we pulled up to the dock at the Jones Falls lock!


A rare picture of both the Admiral and the Captain.

The next and final installment (for this year) will be from Kingston and the Thousand Islands.

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Montreal and its Waterways

We have spent the past two weeks within 35 miles of Montreal, first in the downtown area and then exploring the lakes (Lac Saint-Louis and Lac Saint-Francois) and satellite communities (Lachine, Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue) to the west.

The city core of Montreal is quite familiar to us from our visits with our daughter, Vanessa, when she attended McGill University. This time we spent a full week there, revisiting old favourites (Mont Royal for its excellent views, the Old Port for its restaurants, fireworks, and always vibrant street scene) and discovering new gems (the Botanical Gardens). We went for two extended bike rides, one along the Lachine Canal (a National Park because of its natural setting and impressive historical significance) and another beside and across the St. Lawrence to view the Lachine rapids (which also took us through extensive parkland).  Great cycling – another reason why we love Montreal!

The areas we explored in the second week were new to us. We had imagined this section of the Seaway would be quite industrialized and perhaps not that appealing to recreational boaters, however we found the river setting to be very enjoyable. The waters of the two lakes that comprise the St. Lawrence here are very clean and warm, excellent for watersports. We swam often, because it was very hot! Even the Seaway locks and connecting canals are mostly framed by green surroundings (and impressive for their size and engineering too). The satellite communities were also fun, Salaberry de Valleyfield in particular. It caters to boaters – for $20 per night we tied up right next to a splendid park adjacent to downtown. Free evening entertainment we could enjoy while lounging on the bridge included a sound and light show on the old canal and an oldies rock concert at the park bandstand.

We`ll soon begin our trip up the Ottawa River to our nation`s capital. When we turn to port to enter the Rideau Canal we`ll have spent about seven weeks travelling through Quebec by boat. The desire to see this province and other parts of eastern Canada from the water was one of the compelling reasons for purchasing His Idea and embarking on this trip. Without a doubt, the time we have spent in Quebec has provided a great experience.

Montreal skyline at dusk, from the Pavilion viewpoint on Mont Royal.


Cycling the Lachine Canal (its about about 13k from the Old Port to Lachine); many of the old factories lining the canal have been converted to condos.


Surfing the Lachine Rapids at the riverside park in suburban Montreal; there were about 25 surfers at this location.


The streets of the Old Port at night, which are filled with people (both tourists and locals) who come for the abundant restaurants and variety of often free entertainment.


Summer festivals that fill the streets and plazas are common in Montreal; this one was to celebrate the conclusion of the Comedy Festival.


Montreal and various corporate sponsors provide bikes for a relatively modest rental charge throughout the city (pick up in one place and drop off in another).


Ria racing the Montreal Grand Prix circuit (the race will be run in a few weeks).


A couple of our larger neighbours at the marina (Blue Moon,198 feet, and Rochade, a paltry158 feet)


Our anchorage in the southwest corner of Lac Saint-Louis, about 15 miles from downtown Montreal; the waters were clear and warm.


Our berth at the old Solanges Canal (which closed after 50 years when the Seaway opened in 1959)……


…..where we tied up to the old canal wall; due to the low water levels right now, the Captain had a few challenges climbing up to secure us to the old bollards.


Waiting to enter the first Beauharnois lock, our deepest to date.


Our berth at Salaberry-de-Valleyfield…..


….where we met up with fellow PDQ owners Doug and Charlotte (from Annapolis) and Serge and Nicole (from Berharnois, who spotted our PDQ and had to come and investigate).


Watching the Baby Boomers Band perform oldies in the park bandstand at Salaberry-de-Valleyfield.


A vessel damaged the Beauharnois lock and delayed our return to Lac Saint-Louis by a day; given the summer traffic, there was a full house when the lock reopened.

Next up, Ottawa and the Rideau Canal.

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More from La Belle Province

Our travels since our last post have brought us back up the St. Lawrence River as far as Montreal. We plan to spend at least a week here because it’s one of our favourite cities, with many things to do.

Stops along the way from Tadoussac included Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, a small town on the south shore about 50 miles downriver from Quebec City, Levis (right across the river from Quebec City), Trois Rivieres again, and a surprisingly quiet anchorage on the Saint Lawrence only 5 miles from downtown Montreal.

Although we have driven through a good portion of the area before, completing our ‘St. Lawrence Loop’ – about 625 miles – provided us with a much richer image of the river and the region. The ‘on-the-water’ experience added a new perspective that one does not get from land. It also gave us a better understanding of  the river’s significant influence on our country.

Upon reflection, gaining new perspectives that add to or change our pre-conceived notions is true for all for our travels aboard His Idea. It’s one of the rewards of cruising that we have come to highly value and enjoy.


A view of the distinctive Prince Shoals lighthouse, about 5 miles off Tadoussac; many beluga whales were again evident during this early morning departure.


The Saint-Jean-Port-Joli harbour entrance, shortly after our arrival near high tide…..


…..and the harbour basin at low tide; the wide tidal range here and very shallow shores require entrance to the basin at least one hour before or after low tide.


A view of the south shore of the St. Lawrence, looking west towards the small islands of l`Ile aux Oies.


A view from our marina in Levis of the start of the Quebec City to St. Malo, France, sailboat race; we counted about 25 boats, including three very large trimarans.


A view of Levis from the heights of the Plains of Abraham; we took a guided tour of the inside of the Citadel for the first time, and found it very interesting…..


…..including Batisse, the regimental mascot for the Van Doos regiment stationed there (the Citadelle remains an active military post to this day).


A street scene from Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage site; it celebrated it`s 400th anniversary in 2008.


A scene from our quiet anchorage between two islands just a few miles from downtown Montreal.


The approach to Montreal from downstream, with the Jacques Cartier Bridge in the foreground.


Right in the centre of the action at the Old Port – the view from our berth at the Port d’escale of the Quays (one of the newest and best marinas we have seen so far).


Hosting the Doyon family – Mattea, Mindy, Makinley and Patrick – while visiting Montreal.


Makinley quickly claimed the guest stateroom as his `man cave`.


Patrick and Makinley enjoy the rush of cruising from the bowsprit (a la Titanic).

More to come from Montreal in our next post….


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Down the St. Lawrence and up the Saguenay Rivers (Part II)

This post covers our week spent cruising the Saguenay River, which at about 70 miles in length and with depths greater than 500 feet is also the third longest fiord in the world, after another in Labrador and the longest in Norway. Much of the fiord and the land surrounding it has now been preserved as a marine park. Although it ends in the large regional centre of Chicoutimi/Lac Saint Jean, it has a very remote feel that reminded us of our cruises to Desolation Sound, on the coast of B.C.

In addition to being delighted by the scenery and marine life, we also learned about the history of the region, which has seen European settlement since the 1600’s (Jacques Cartier first dropped anchor here in 1535), and native habitation for much longer. Many of the communities we visited, such as Anse-Saint-Jean and Tadoussac, have been in existence for over 300 years.  After spending our entire lives in a ‘young’ city like Vancouver (which was incorporated in 1886), it is thought provoking to wander small Canadian villages that have been in existence for such a long period of time.

The view near the entrance – we started our day with calm waters and finished with 25 + knots of wind and 4′ seas on the nose, but the views were spectacular all the way to Anse-Saint-Jean.


View of Anse-Saint-Jean marina and public wharf, which is set in a broad and beautiful bay.


The cliffs of Cap Trinite, at the mouth of Baie Eternite.


A view of our anchorage at Baie Eternite – the bay extends for about a mile from the fiord; from this lookout we spotted a moose down in the river delta.


The outboard decided to get cranky when we needed it most, and it was a long row to the dinghy dock; a fellow boater gives us a tow back.


A view of the fiord from Cap Trinite.


Ria enjoying a mid-hike rest at the well furnished refuge cabin.


This is the statue of the Madonna of Saguenay, which overlooks the river from high on Cap Trinite – this monument, hauled up the cliff by hand in 14 large pieces, was erected in 1881.


A view of the statue from the water.


Approaching the marina in downtown Chicoutimi, about 5 miles upriver from open water.


Hot weather brings an evening thunderstorm to Chicoutimi – this one created a very unique cloud formation, and a lot of rain.


We were fortunate to see many more beluga and some minke whales in the Saguenay on our return trip to the St. Lawrence River.


Canada’s first official trading post was established in Tadoussac, where the Saguenay meets the St. Lawrence River, in 1600.


Farewell to Tadoussac; the red roofed building is the Hotel Tadoussac, in operation since 1864.

Our next stops will be along the St. Lawrence, where we hope to visit some quiet anchorages as well as Quebec City and Montreal.

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