We started the day a little later because the Beauharnois Lock typically did not have its first pleasure boat locking till 11:00. We took a different channel back to the main St Lawrence Seaway Channel today to save a little time. All the channels are marked well and deep water so no problems.
Just as we arrived at the main channel we saw a sailboat, Gap Ocean, that was about 1 mile in front of us and they had been in the locks with us yesterday. We passed them and went on to lock and tied up.
On the way into the lock we saw a Canadian Coast Guard hydrofoil pull into the lock area. They set up quite a spray and they were using the lock area land for staging. They pulled onto shore, loaded the boat with more buoys and weights, had lunch and then set out for the afternoons work. It was quite a site to see. With the cushion of air under the boat they can get into pretty shallow areas.
After we were tied up, 10:50, I called in on the phone to let them know we were here. The electronic message sign said that the next pleasure boat lockage was about 19:00 hours (not good). The gentleman on the phone said it would be about 2 hours and I told him what the electronic sign said and he said he believed the sign to be wrong.
The sailboat arrived and we talked about the lockage and he finally called in and they told him they had 2 ships coming down the locks. The Beauharnois Lock is actually 2 chambers about 1 mile apart. We sat there thru the 2 ship lockages and it was about 1:30 that we got into the lock.
The people on the sailboat said the Canadian Government has cut the lock staff by 25%. The union has decided to really make the pleasure boaters take second seat and they do whatever they can to delay the lockages. They want the people to complain to the Government and have them hire more people for the locks. I guess I do not understand the concept of making the customers angry when you have a problem with management.
As the hydrofoil was leaving another pleasure craft came in for lockage, a 52’ SeaRay Sundancer. When all 3 boats went into the lock, they told Champ III to raft off the other SeaRay. This made it easier for us but seemed a little dumb for the 3 boats to be configured with the 2 largest rafted to each other in a lock that is 730’ long by 80’ wide. It did mean that the lock personnel had 2 les lines to drop down and retrieve later.
After we left the first chamber we could see a freighter entering the upper chamber and we all sat and waited between the 2 chambers for the freighter to be brought down and then exit the chamber before we could enter. This whole procedure took probably 45 minutes. I had earlier called Cornwall Ontario and made reservations for the night but I ended up calling them back and delaying that for 1 day and called Valleyfield Quebec and made reservations for tonight.
By the time we were out of the locks it was about 3:30 and we still had 2 lift bridges. The bridge tender knows how many boats are in the locks and he waits for all the boats to get to the bridge before he opens it. The time is dictated by the slowest boat and in this case it was the sailboat doing about 7.3 mph against the current.
It was another long day after we got tied up at the Valleyfield Marina it was after 6:00. The crew is starting to get a little weary of the locks. The people on the sailboat said that the American Locks are much faster and the workers don’t try and slow things down like the Canadians. We are finished with the 3 Canadian Locks and have 3 American ones to do.
Valleyfield is a really large marina that has 450 slips and it looks like in the bay outside the marina they hold power boat races. There were grandstands on each side of the bay and what looked like a control tower. When we were still in the Lock Canal, just before the last lift bridge, there was a hydroplane that was practicing and it must have been a big class boat because he was doing some serious speed in the straightaways.
Tomorrow on to Cornwall and no locks to pass thru so the crew should be happy for the day.