24 June, 2010
Day Nine: Lunenburg, NS to Oswego, NY
1200 Pos. 47° 44.1′ N, 069° 46.2′ W
332 Miles run since 1200 20June.
Barometer at 1018Mb and falling
Force 3 West
Motoring towards Oswego, and readying sail as the breeze fills in.
The days since the vessel’s last post have been hectic with river navigation, authorities navigation, and some unexpected and welcome shore side navigation by the crew.
After Sunday’s post, Lynx met the full force of the St. Lawrence in the Ile aux Cordres passage, where at one stage her speed through the water was registering as 8.5 knots, but her speed over the bottom was a mere 1.5. A seven-knot current! The wind was opposing it as well, so the river had a defined chop. Add to that thick patches of fog and a few downbound ships and the afternoon was chock full.
By evening, we found we were not in a position to make slack or favorable water at the river’s fastest flowing location, known simply as “the rapids.” The current there runs as high as ten knots. As Lynx is unable to motor that fast, she would have actually been losing ground if we had proceeded.
Instead we anchored off Quebec for the night, and got under way to time our passage at the rapids for the last of the flood. Pride of Baltimore II, pressed on that evening, and we parted company, but the Schooner Roseway past us just before we got underway, so we followed her up the river at about 1-2 miles astern.
As had been the case since we passed the pilot station at Escoumins the previous dawn, Lynx was the only vessel making check-in-calls to the vessel traffic system in English. All other vessels had Franco-phone pilots aboard, but you’ll remember, we had hove in the jib boom so as not be captured by the Pilotage length of 35m. This fact had not been lost on the Pilots, who made enough mention of it to their dispatch office in Montreal that I was instructed by vessel traffic to contact Dispatch coordinator Sylvia Mason personally by telephone. In a brief and polite conversation, she informed me she would be visiting Lynx in Montreal to verify our length as under 35 meters. One more official visit to hold up our progress.
In just under 24 hours, Lynx reached Montreal on Tuesday 22 June at 0900. The watches began a rotation for much coveted (and unexpected) time ashore. And the series of official and operational visits began – the Seaway Authority, the fuel delivery, the navigation instruments specialists. And of course, the Ms. Mason from the Laurentian Pilotage Authority.
Still polite, but skeptical, Ms. Mason came to the ship and asked frankly, “Ok, what is a jibboom. With Lynx moored stern to on a finger pier, I simply replied “come with me,” and guided her out to where Lynx’s still hove in Jib boom didn’t even extend past the pier. “Parfait” she said, “I like your cleverness.” As a courtesy, I offered her a tour of Lynx, during which we discussed the 35m length for Pilotage on the St. Lawrence.
For years, there has been a great deal of squawking about the interpreting the length of sailing vessels as including their spars, and not just their deck length. Because of the long overhangs on ships like Lynx, Pride II and Roseway, the vessels have been required to outlay tremendous expense to get into the Great Lakes. But Ms. Mason said she thought her Association should reconsider, given the lengths we went to (or, actually, reduced) in proving our point. So all the hard work the crew put into housing the jibboom might end up benefiting all traditional vessels transiting the St. Lawrence.
After the pilots came the Seaway Authority inspection, then the fuel truck, then the hassle of faxing documents back and forth to Customs and immigration. And then it was 1300 and there had been no respite since I took the watch at 0600. We had 51 hours to cover the 200 nautical miles to Oswego, bearing in mind the seven locks and adverse current along the way, and still needed to run the jibboom back out.
Plus, the crew stared longingly at the French Canadian city we were moored at. A compromise evolved- re-rig the jibboom and as soon as it’s done you’re free to explore. The caveat: We’re turning to at 0400 to start locking through the Seaway.
So on Wednesday morning pre-dawn, with a full length Lynx, a mostly rested and certainly crepe-filled crew, we go underway to start climbing into the Lakes. The locks, a total of seven, are spaced out over 109 nautical miles of the St. Lawrence river and range in height from 33 to 49 feet, with the Iroquois lock serving as a control lock at the very end. The process of getting through requires heavy fendering for a wooden vessel. At the main and fore channels rafts of fenders are rigged with a load spreading fender board across. To keep the horizontal board from tripping up on the rise, a vertical 6×6 timber called a spud is rigged at the perpendicular to help the vessel slide up the lock wall.
This is a great deal of work, and doing it six times means a full day for the crew. The first four locks are Canadian, and we passed them before 1300. Then, quite fittingly, after 11 days of being in Canada, Lynx entered United States waters at 1812! Two more locks gained us 84.5 more feet in elevation, and a squally night of weaving through the 1000 Island mean that Lynx is officially in the Great Lakes.
Now, to get some sailing in, and get the engine shut down for a welcome change.
Captain Jamie Trost and the crew of Lynx