Sail-Cruising the Ottawa River between Lac Deschènes and Chat Falls in the early 2000’s

The following two articles were posted in the ”Alberg 22 Site” no longer in existence, one in September 2001 and the other one in November 2002. They are based on the logs of two weeklong sailboat cruises in Vándor,  a vintage Alberg 22 sloop – last hull  to come out of Alan Nye Scott’s shop in Bloomfield, Ontario, before it closed doors n 1986. The “Quasi-Teenager” is now a certified and successful professional auto-mechanic. He lives in Rockland, Ontario, in a house of his own with his also very own ”quasi-teenager” daughter, Anya, to whom he is a role model of a father. Much of the information provided on the cruising areas may still be valuable today to anyone cruising the Ottawa River between the Deschènes Rapids and the Chat Falls. These two river cruises in the early 2000’s preluded the sail between Ottawa and Montreal in 2004 (see a previous posting to this blog at The three following seasons (2005 to 2007) Vándor left the Ottawa River for the Ontario Lake, where I sailed her out of Collins Bay Marina in Kingston, Ontario. I sold her in 2007 and believe she is still sailing happily in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

The pictures were interspersed in the original articles. However, for the present edition they have been gathered in two Picasa albums (click on the picture at the beginning of each article to link to the corresponding album). The pictures were taken at relative low resolution with a digital bondy-blue DC 240i Kodak camera, “state of the art” in the early 2000.

*         *         *

Cruising the Ottawa River with a Quasi-Teenager
August 22-30, 2001

Pinhey Pt. 2

After a significant sail across one of the oceans, a renowned sailor was being hailed as the “Conqueror of the Ocean”. He was quick to indicate that his achievement was far from an act of conquest and that he had been able to accomplish the passage merely because the Sea “this time had let him pass”… At a fluvial scale, this is how Ale* and myself felt after having cruised for eight days the stretch of the Ottawa River between the Deschènes Rapids and the Chat Falls. This was our adventure:

We acquired Vándor in July 2000. She is an Alberg 22 in excellent shape for her 15 years of existence. Since the beginning of the season we had been staffing the boat with all the necessary equipment for sustaining a crew of two during a “long” cruise of several days. We didn’t know at that time when and if that cruise would take place. It was just a wishful hunch that both Ale and myself hope it would materialize somehow… On the week of August 15 I went to a meeting in Guatemala and at my return I still had two weeks of holidays during which I hoped that our cruise could take place. Monday was too soon, Tuesday (any Old Salt would nod…) is never a good day to start a cruise, so we aimed at Wednesday.

Wed Aug 22

Wednesday afternoon we spent it doing some last minute shopping for provisions. Also, the hatch door had been fixed and had to be retrieved from the shop of a local a cabinet-maker and the new solar panel had to be picked from the chandlery. We left Britannia Harbour on Aug 22 at 19:00 under clear sky. The forecast was for clouds and rain during the night. There was no wind to the point that we thought of postponing our departure. But we quickly decided to put our engine to test and motored leisurely to Aylmer Island. We anchored behind marker K7, had a soup dinner and being tired from all the last minute shopping we quickly hit the sacks. The wind picked up during the night and neither Ale nor myself had a great sleep (as it is usually the case for a first night in the boat). Close to midnight lightning could be seen towards the SW. The Summer Triangle (Deneb, Altair and Vega) was prominent in the sky and served to determine the direction of the clouds (NE). The storm passed us on the side.

Thu Aug 23

Gray morning, cloudy, drizzling but with sun moments as spectacular as they were brief. (Fig.1). We had our first breakfast of “porridge” which Ale was quick to correct as being merely “oatmeal”… Forecast called for 15-knot winds from the S and risk of thunderstorms. We weighed anchor at 07:45 under motor and one hour and 10 minutes later we were anchored at Pinhey Point. We stayed the entire day, swimming, fishing, rowing the dinghy and walking the park. We enjoyed a succulent stake and I hooked a colourful “pumpkinseed” (Lepomis gibbosus L.) (Fig. 2). Had we fished more of their siblings we would have kept it but since no other one bit, this one was later released and Ale experienced the greatest pleasure next to catching a fish: releasing it!

During the night strange scratching noises were heard on the side and stern of the boat. I woke up at midnight to see Ale, flashlight in hand, exploring the lazarette and swearing that some uninvited stowaway had climbed on board. When the noises repeated themselves I went to take a look and saw two little dark beady eyes staring from behind the engine shaft: a muskrat was peeking from beneath the engine! (Fig. 3). We tried several tactics (light, noise) but the visits were repeated throughout the night. Next morning the lazarette was a mess with clam shells and muskrat droppings all over and a major clean-up was undertaken.

Fri Aug 24

We weighed anchor at 09:00 happy to sail (albeit close-haul) for the first time of the trip. And happy also to leave behind our noisy and messy night visitor – or so we thought. We docked for a few minutes at the Port-of-Call Marina to get extra gas. We quickly left behind the Twelve-Mile Island and followed the range on Baskin Beach to avoid the shoals N of Constance Bay. At 15:00 we were anchored on the S side of the anchorage at Mohr Island. Swimming and sailing the dinghy and fishing kept us busy for the entire afternoon. After dusk we heard the “toot-toot” of a steam whistle. The little train hypothesis was quickly dismissed as the sound was coming from the middle of the river. Then we heard the noise of a small steam engine and guessed more than saw the silhouette of a small “African Queen” happily puttering up-river.

Just past midnight, familiar scratches from the lazarette left very little doubt as of their cause… “It followed us”, said Ale. “Nah, couldn’t possibly, unless…”. “Unless, it took a ride with us inside the lazarette!”. I shook my head and argued about the scent having attracted a second one. “Ok” said Ale and we both went back to sleep knowing that all was ok with the boat (or our visitor would not have climbed on board, would it?).

Sat Aug 25

After sunrise the river became covered in mist (Fig. 4). At 07:30 Ale solo-caught his first fish (a bass). At 07:35 Ale solo-returned his first bass…! At 08:00 we weighed anchor and headed to Quyon. At 09:00 we sailed the Woolsey Narrows under the power lines (Fig. 5). We anchored in the little bay E. of Quyon at 10:00 (Fig. 6). Went to Lynn’s Café for breakfast, got provisions and ice. At 12:00 we weighed anchor and headed back to Pinhey where at 18:00 we had a rendezvous with Martha and Sofía for some Shakespeare-on-the-Park. At 15:45 we were again at anchor in Pinhey Pt. Martha, Sofía and Ben arrived at 18:00. We had Subway sandwiches for dinner – a sailor’s dream! – and sat on the grass to see the play (Fig. 7). It started with a rap telling the story of Romeo and Juliet followed by a very energetic representation of a scene of the Taming-of-the-Shrew in which the audience asked for the actors to switch in the roles of Petruchio and Kate. Very well done! Two hours later the landlubbers departed and the full crew (Ale and myself) stayed for a gathering of the local Astronomy Society. Telescopes of all sizes had been set on the hills up the gardens around the mansion and we were able to see close-ups of Mars, the Moon, M31 (or was it M13?) and other celestial bodies. Then we rowed back to the boat where Ale asked for a one-on-one primer on star identification. I had anticipated and hoped for this moment since before buying the boat! We lied on deck on our backs and had a close encounter with the Cygnus and Deneb, Lyra and Vega (and little Epsilon), Aquila and Altair, Scorpion and its red heart, Antares and many other old and distant acquaintances that through the eyes of my son I was being able to see for the first time once again… a great moment!

Past midnight… nothing. We were getting worried and could not catch any sleep, until we herd or rather felt the vibrations of a familiar presence, first alongside the boat and then happily munching mussels inside the lazarette…

Sun Aug 26

We spent the entire day anchored at Pinhey Pt. (Figs. 8 and 9), walking the point, visiting the mansion, rowing the dinghy, swimming and fishing. At 16:30 we decided to go for a shower on land. We were caught up the hills by a vicious electric storm. We took shelter at the entrance of the washrooms. While there I felt a discharge on my back that coincided with lightening nearby. I had been leaning against a wall with an electric outlet. I quickly realized that lightening had touched me and, as Martha would later put it, I was “lucky it had not been my day”… Shortly after Ale saw lightning striking behind the mansion where we figured that Vándor was moored. The boat was properly grounded with two sets of chains dangling on its sides from the boom and mast. To this day we are convinced that the boat received the discharge but we have been unable to find any evidence of it. Had we been in the boat we probably would have been all right, albeit quite scared and maybe transiently deaf from the noise of the discharge… Quite an exciting evening. I later tried to get Martha to rescue us for the night but Ale refused as he insisted in spending the night in the boat. Good for Ale!

No visitors that night… We almost couldn’t sleep.

Mon Aug 27

We weighed anchor at 09:00 and on light winds motor-sailed back to Quyon. We had just left behind Twelve-Mile Island when we came abeam of “Black Jack” with several of her mates aloft (Fig. 10). She used to ship loggers up the river before the advent of steamships… now she is operated by a foundation and used as a training camp for square rig sailors. A sailboat had come aground on the shallow waters North of Sandy Hills. No distress signals were being displayed but as I was studying the chart and considering an approach we saw the boat leaving the area towards Constance Bay. We anchored in the Quyon waterfront at 13:15 (Fig. 11). Bought more ice and other goodies and quickly left for Pontiac Bay. On the way to Pontiac Bay we encountered numerous dead heads and floating logs. When abeam of Rubble Island (the artificial island made with stone rubble from past constructions) we sighted the long line of piles bisecting the river towards the dam. The power station East of the dam was imposing and did not match the rest of the landscape and, for that matter, the spirit of the entire trip. Once at Atchison Pt. we failed to sight one of the two red markers indicating the entrance to Pontiac Bay. We made an attempt nevertheless and quickly came aground in soft mud. Ale went to the rescue and pushed the boat back out. We decided that the signalling was not correct and that we would not attempt to get any further. While motoring out, Ale at the bow sighted a rock to port. Too late!! We hit it quite hard. Fortunately the water was deeper and clear to starboard and we quickly got out from Pontiac Bay, which we left behind with no regrets. We sailed past Quyon, through the Woolsey Narrows and anchored in Mohr Island, this time deeper into the bay. We had another steak BBQ (the steak was still excellent!). During dusk fishing was big: I caught a catfish and Ale got a bass and a huge catfish (bigger than mine!).

Big noises at the stern during the night. Was it the same one from Pinhey having fetch another ride? Or was it our second friend from last time we had anchored at Mohr island?

Tue Aug 28

We overslept! The night was quiet and we needed the extra sleep… The late breakfast was fried fish. This breakfast reminded me of the many fish-breakfasts at the cottage in Arthur Mills with the Branda’s and I felt lucky to have been able to share a somewhat similar experience with my almost-teen-age son. At 12:45 we weighed anchor and headed to Constance Bay. We soon entered Constance Bay, cleared Sandy Pt. and anchored close to three rafts and other small boats at 45º 29′.575 N, 076º 04′.313 W (GPS fix). We rowed to shore all the way back to the point (a row of red piles separates the public beach at the tip of the point from the row of privately owned beaches along most of the West shore of the bay). We later found out that every 10 houses there are public fire-lanes allowing public passage from the shore to the road. We walked the street (Bayview Ave.) West under the foliage of mainly oak trees and had a late lunch at “The Lighthouse” restaurant at Sandy Hills Pt. We bought some drinks and chocolates and made it back to the dinghy and rowed back to the boat. The sky cleared up. Sunset at Constance Bay was a symphony in pink (Fig. 12). The wind picked up from the SW and kept the stern towards the Moon that shined into the cabin most of the night. The boat kept pitching and rolling but overall it was very pleasant and we had an excellent night.

The lazarette remained quiet throughout the night.

Wed Aug 29

Weighed anchor at 09:25 and sailed in NW 10 knot winds. The sky was clear and it started to feel like Autumn. At 10:40 we anchored in Baskin Beach. Rowed to shore and had lunch (fish and chips!) with Leona at the “Mmmm… Canteen” across the road. We weighed anchor at 12:00 and at 14:30, after running, gybing and broad reaching in 10 knots SW winds, we anchored right at the center of Pinhey Pt.. We went for a walk under the cedars and found a mooring buoy that had drifted away. Dinner was hot dogs with scallop potatoes au gratin (prepared by Ale) (Fig. 13).

Our friend returned! I tried to put some cardboard around the engine shaft but only succeeded in contributing further to the big mess inside the lazarette…

Thu Aug 30

Overslept again…! Great breakfast (toasted German bread with jam!). Weighed anchor at 11:00. SE winds 10-15 knots. Tacking with a reefed main and full genoa (Figs.14). At 12:00 we were abeam Aylmer Island and decided to dock at Aylmer Marina. The dock was empty except for “3’s Company”, one of the Sonar’s of the Ottawa Sailing School (Maciek, one of the other instructors, had taken his student crew for lunch at the marina). We docked past “3’s Company” and went for a walk under the elms bordering the beach. Lunch at the marina. At 15:00 we left the dock in a textbook manoeuvre using the wind to fold our bow to the entrance of the port. Well-done Ale! In a single starboard tack we were able to reach Britannia before 16:00. At 16:05 we were moored at berth SS8, left the dinghy and went back to the gas dock for a pump-out. Went to look for help and we found out that the Junior Club was about to have its annual dinner and Award Ceremony where Ale was to received his White Sail III certificate. We had forgotten…! The pump-out was successful and we were able to return to our berth to wait for Martha to find us. When Martha arrived we decided to stay for the Junior Club dinner. Ale received his certificate; Martha went to get Sofía who that same day had passed her Swimming Bronze Cross. We cleaned the boat and removed all perishables, covered the dinghy and headed home commenting with Ale how easy it would be for us to go on living in that way for ever… Too bad the river ended at Chat Falls!


Two days later I climbed on board to clean the lazarette… and not two but four dark beady eyes were looking at me as I opened the hatch… Ale also came to say hello to our guests. Did they follow us downriver, as Ale had originally suggested? Were those a third couple living in the marina? We didn’t have time to ask as they both dove down past the propeller and we never saw them again for the remaining of the season. I couldn’t help thinking that now we knew the look and colour of the eyes of the Potameid Naiads of the Ottawa River, those same ones that “this time had let us pass”… the first time – we hoped – of many more to come…


* “Ale” is short for Alexander or Alexandre or Alessandro or Alejandro (which one it is difficult to say as those four spellings correspond to languages spoken in the family within the last two generations…).

Exclusive for “The Alberg 22 Site” – Sept 2001 © J. Campione

*         *         *

Single-Handed on the Ottawa River – with no Muskrats and no Almost-Teenagers
August 26-31, 2002


Single-handing is the ultimate style in sailing (Fig 1). It is the kind of sailing that remains when everything else fails except the water, the boat and the sailor. It evokes daring travels at the boundaries of safety and human exertion in heaping oceans and under dark menacing skies. However, it can also be practiced and enjoyed in less extreme environments. Yet even in landlocked waters, single-handed sailing can offer the sailor and the boat a feel for their real dimension and significance within cosmic proportions and perspectives. One of the problems of sailing with almost-teenagers is that they eventually loose the “almost” and become full bloomed teenagers in their own right. When that happens the surge of hormones that invades their blood stream causes them to develop some — not entirely unexpected, at times unpredictable and always difficult to adapt to — behaviours. Thus, Vándor and myself lost our First Mate, at least for the immediate while. Muskrats can be cute (and some have even compared their eyes to those of mythological maids…) but they are wild rodents and as such have little acceptance within our aseptic-prone modern world, least of all in a lazarette locker! So, the motor was ushered to a bracket attached to the transom and the well in the lazarette completely closed with newly laid fiberglass. Thus, the muskrats were permanently locked out from Vándor’s stern… August came, and with it the full glory of midsummer and the always too short two weeks of “self-assessed as well-deserved” holidays. Arrangements had been made for immediate departure. However, two major hindrances had to be resolved before cast off: Loved ones’ and one self’s. Tania Aebi during her circumnavigation on “Varuna” quickly discovered that saying good-bye could be very difficult. In addition, finding oneself — which according to Reese Palley is the ultimate aim of any single-handed travel — can be a scary proposition even within a downscaled reality of fluvial scope.

Day 1: Monday, August 26

Thus, on Monday morning, with a gentle push from the bow pulpit by Paul, my neighbour in the marina, I motored out of the north basin, turned right on the main channel, locked the tiller to quickly tour the deck lifting the fenders, checked for trailing lines, removed the mainsail cover and prepared to hoist the main as soon as the port gate was cleared. The wind was from the NW at 10-12 knots and the sun was shining, but for an upriver departure it was rather late. It was almost 17:00 and tacking upwind it would take two hours to leave behind Lac Deschènes and two more to reach Pinhey Point while sunset would occur around 20:30. I am used to single-handed night sails up-river but I also longed for a sunset at anchor. I decided to sail up to Aylmer Island and then motor-sail the rest of the way straight into Pinhey Point to drop anchor before dusk. It felt good to be once again swinging from the anchor with the Pinhey mansion illuminated to port and the distant lights from Nepean and Kanata twinkling astern. The oil lamp went up at the end of the main halyard to comply with the regulations and assert Vándor’s right to swing from her anchor (Fig 2). While doing that I noticed the boats arriving after Vándor and anchoring along the South shore way out from the cove and protected by the point only as long as the wind would not veer to the East. I also noticed that most did not have a lit anchor light, one had a green fluorescent light at the spreaders and another was displaying tri-coloured running lights at the top of the mast. I concluded that observance of rule 30 in the Colregs was not a unanimous priority on the Ottawa River.

Day 2: Tuesday, August 27

Next morning I decided to row to land and try the beautiful shower facilities reserved for sailors at Pinhey Point. The problem was that the mansion was closed for the day and I could not remember the number for the combination lock to the showers… One year of collateral duties had erased that number from my memory. I tried asking another sailor but he said he never used the showers (I thing he meant those at Pinhey…), I even interrupted the gardener that was busy driving an old mowing tractor. I felt really sorry when he switched off the motor just to listen at my question. He looked at me with amazement and declared his complete lack of knowledge on the subject. I apologized and rowed back to the boat. Then, it occurred to me to called the yacht club on the cellular phone. After a quick visit to the pin board the person that answer the call was able to spell the precious code… Electronics does have a place in a boat going up the Ottawa River!

Day 3: Wednesday, August 28

Dawn was glorious. The forecast was for winds from the N at 10-15 knots, then veering NE later becoming Easterlies at 10-20 knots. Spent the morning rowing, gunholking and inventorying rocks in the shallow waters around the point. At 10:00 I decided to weigh anchor and go for fish and chips at Baskin Beach. A Contessa 26 had sailed out ahead of me and I was quite content to see that Vándor was able to keep her pace as we run and gybed upriver. True, I was keeping Vándor wing-o’-wing (Fig. 3) but again, I was dragging the tender… I picked a mooring at Baskin Beach I rowed to the beach and climbed the sand among the tall trees only to find out that the Cantina was closed and was unlikely to open that day. I went to sit on a rock at the beach and watched a very handsome boat that I first identified as an Alberg 37 pick a mooring right beside Vándor. The skipper came to shore with similar hopes as mine and once it was revealed to him that the Cantina was closed he stayed for a chat. It was then that I learned that the boat was the locally famous “Morning Dove”, a Stephen-Sparkman “Classic” 37 with a very tall rigging designed to enable sailing in the Nordic fjords and also, that the boat was permanently moored at Constance Bay not far from an ally leading to a pizza parlour… Early in the afternoon, Vándor followed the wake of the “Dove” in pursuit of pizza… On returning to the shore I recognized the blooming colours of two indigenous water plants: the blue of the Pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata) (Fig .4) and the white of the Arrowhead (Saggitaria latifolia) (Fig. 5). Back to the boat, the kerosene lamp went up at the end of a halyard followed about watching the sky and meditating on the role of humans as witness of Nature: “The role and perhaps even the purpose of Man is to allow Nature to become aware of itself…”.

Day 4: Thursday, August 29

Up at 04:00. Out on deck to count the vanishing stars and see the sunrise, pictures (Fig 6). Then hit the sack for another couple of hours. Breakfast at 09:00. Geese flying off around Vándor, more pictures. No wind. Rowed to shore for gas and milk (shorter walk than at Quyon…), pictures of the landing site (Fig. 7) (look for a big oak at the end of a fence or for the patch of purple loosestrife – at the time of the trip it was the only one in Constance Bay) and of water flowers: purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata), arrowhead (Saggitaria latifolia) (Fig. 8). Used Fugawi in the Toshiba to pick new waypoints for the GPS. Weighing anchor at 11:00. Hoisted sail once out of the bay but the wind was barely enough to keep it full. Decided to motor sail all the way to Quyon. Arrival at 16:00. The brand new docks were almost empty, only a fishing boat and a pontoon boat were moored. Noticed that no lines were properly belayed to the brand new cleats (one of the privileges of being a sailing instructor…!). Leading to the ferry docks, waiting for the next ferry, people in big, old air-conditioned cars with the motor running, smoked behind raised windows only barely open at the top to let out puffs of cool smoke. Bought fries at the stand beside the ferry and walked to downtown. Local faces surfaced from behind a broken truck and struggled to identify the sailor-looking foreigner nonchalantly munching fries while walking their streets… Children played in the park, the exhibition grounds were empty, at a corner a group of bored teenagers seemed to wait for an improbable bus. An old sign advertised a hotel in front of a building with several driveways along one of its sidewalls, evoking images of motels of ill repute from long ago and far way… The omnipresent cathedral was – as usual – closed and empty. Bought steaks and a big onion at the grocery and returned to the waterfront (Fig. 9). Then I remembered a tragedy that had occurred locally a couple of weeks before: a girl and her father had drowned at the mouth of the Quyon River. A yellow ribbon with black words was still attached, on one side of the path to a low branch and on the other to the underbrush, but it had already been ripped in the middle by a car that had forced its way through. The sandbar was still there and so were the sandy banks eroded from underneath by the swirling stream of water. They still looked ready to cave in. A bouquet of faded flowers wrapped in plastic wrap imitating lace had come ashore and was lying partly buried in the wet and rich sand. I lifted the bunch, washed the sand away and returned it to the water where it seemed to regain some of its freshness. Together with the torn ribbon mentioned before, it remained the only reminder of the tragedy and the danger still lurking in the area. I decided to spend the night at the dock and was offered in exchange a spectacular sunset (Fig. 10). More meditation. Before hitting the sack I went on deck for a last break, to give some puffs to the pipe, enjoy the fresh air and watch the teapot of Sagittarius tilted over Pontiac Bay pouring from its spout the glittering flow of the Milky Way, right at the center of the galactic saucer… To its right, Antares, Scorpio’s red heart, twinkled, and my thoughts drifted towards the Southern Seas that were reflecting its twinkling at that very instant…

Day 5: Friday, August 30

Local Forecast: today: winds N 20 km per hour, tomorrow: winds E 20 km per hour. Breakfast at the dock. Sailed away at 09:00 running and gybing all the way to Sandy Point where I decided to stop and go ashore for lunch at the Lighthouse and to buy a present for Sofía’s birthday (the following day). Finding the lane to reach the road is easy in this part of the river: it is right beside the big pine tree at the shore tree line (Fig. 11). Depth in the area gets very shallow about 200 m from shore and I was fortunate not to go aground as I anchored in 7 feet of water a few feet away from depths of less than 3 feet! The water gets progressively shallower from there to shore but for over a 100m it gets too shallow even to row or drag the dinghy to shore and it is better to leave it also at anchor. At the Lighthouse (Fig. 12) the special was a homemade pot roast! They also had toy-jewels and other children paraphernalia, perfect for the birthday of my teen-age daughter… At 14:00 running and gybing to Pinhey Point. Arrival at 17:00, Shower ashore and BBQ aboard. After dinner, after hoisting the anchor light, a quick row to shore for a pipe smoke and sunset under the cedars. Back at Vándor, shriek-owl started to call every few minutes from the woods at the Point. And at midnight it started… the wind shifted to the East, and Vándor was no longer on the lee of the point and the entire province of Ontario turned into an ominous lee shore a few boat-lengths away from the swinging stern… The wind increased to 20 knots. I could hear the waves gushing under her hull and a couple of seconds later breaking on the shore not too far from the transom… Half asleep I found myself timing them to assess dragging anchor… Then, fully awake I popped my head on deck to confirm the situation. The only consolation was that some other thirty boats were in similar or even worse predicaments. Three boats that had rafted together were in the process of breaking the raft. A big motorboat decided to leave the anchorage and powered its way through the anchorage… with no running lights! Forward of Vándor’s bow the Bruce was holding nicely. I decided to set the alarms of the sounder and the GPS and go back to sleep “duck style”: half the brain asleep and half fully alert…

Day 6: Saturday August 31

I was suddenly awakened by the strangest of all possible sounds. It sounded like the stertorous expiration of a huge dinosaur. Ruling out quickly the dinosaur theory I imagined a gushing mud volcano. That quickly gave way to visions of a huge steam-engine mowing tractor… I raised my body from bed and through the port light to port I saw it… the huge yellow mass of a “Montgolfier”, an air balloon, coming to land behind the Pinhey mansion… (Fig. 13) a few others followed in the fresh air of the morning, all powered by the strong Easterlies after having set sail from La Belle Province. After breakfast I decided that if I wanted to arrive in time for the birthday celebrations at home it was time to head to Britannia. However, I was facing a dilemma. The winds were still blowing from the East at 20 knots and the lee shore was always a few boat lengths away. I was concerned that as soon as the anchor would break ground the wind would fold the bow down wind and Vándor would be aground before I had time to reach the tiller and power the motor (much the same to what happened to Paramour on the Hudson River after she survived at anchor the tail of Hurricane Floyd). Besides, the anchorage was still very busy and the boat would need to be controlled and steered appropriately at all times. Weighing the anchor from the cockpit was a possibility but it was inelegant and bound to be messy. After several minutes of deliberations I decided on the following course of action: I would retrieve the rode to one scope length, i.e., until the rode would be vertical to the anchor, I would cleat it to the cleat on the forward deck and then I would walk back to the cockpit and try to override it by motoring ahead. Then once in mid-river I could retrieve the anchor, which by then would also be completely clean of grass and mud. The manoeuvre worked so well that it has since been incorporated to my collection of single-handed tips. I hoisted a full mainsail (Fig. 14), nudged the furling genoa out to the size of a working jib and tacked all the way to Aylmer Island. From there on I changed course and beam- and broad-reached across Lac Deschènes all the way to Britannia where I arrived in the early afternoon. But not without a final adventure… while abeam of Aylmer Island, as I was trying to snatch a picture from the lee side of the boat, a big puff caught Vándor from the side and before I could let the main out I was in the middle of the nicest broach I was able to imagine that Vándor could offer… The water scooped downwind momentarily filled 1/3 of the cockpit and all I could see was the bondy-blue case of my faithful DC 240i Kodak camera (holding in its memory card all the pictures of the trip) swirling in the bathtub… the boat had just given me notice that broaching can happen without a spinnaker or big waves from astern: all that is needed is a big puff on the side, a main that does not let go in time and a mass of dead ballast – in this case, myself – shifted to leeward… I was home on time for the cutting of the cake and almost immediately the DC 240i was carefully put apart and made to lay wide open on a mat. Then, using a small hair drier I blew warm air into all its slots and crevices. After reassembly it miraculously worked (and has been working since…) and I was able to load the pictures to the iMac.

The total distance logged by Vándor during the trip was of 75 nautical miles. This had been a great trip, which in Vándor’s annals would rank second (in more ways than one…) only to a previous trip with muskrats and almost teenagers…

Exclusive for “The Alberg 22 Site” – Nov 2002 © J. Campione.

*         *         *

5 thoughts on “Sail-Cruising the Ottawa River between Lac Deschènes and Chat Falls in the early 2000’s

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s