Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pearls of Wisdom

One of our favorite photos:
Sea Star on anchor for the night,
40 miles from shore,
on the Grand Bahama bank.

As this is our last post on our landfalls blog we thought we'd share some of the "pearls of wisdom" we've learned while cruising in the hopes they may be of some help to others who consider heading off on an adventure of their own.

Pearls of Wisdom
1/ Always respect the weather and the sea.
2/ Always arrive in the light.  Even a harbour you're familiar with can be very difficult to navigate with the town's lights behind it.
3/ Take the courses - CPS/CPR/swimming stroke improvement....etc.  Be Prepared!
4/ Preplan and prepare for emergencies.
5/ Use your street smarts.
6/ Respect the locals - remember you are a guest in their country representing Canada.
7/ Be inconspicuous - keep a low profile.  (don't sit at a beach bar in a t-shirt with your boat's name emblazoned across it.  You may find someone visits your boat while you're away)
8/ If it can break .... IT WILL!!
9/ Cruising was one of the hardest things we've ever done, but also one of the most rewarding.

Lest we forget, the famous cliches:
a/ The hardest part is pushing off from the dock.
b/ If you wait until you're ready, you'll never go.
c/ Don't be afraid to amaze yourself.
d/ Courtesy of the Purdy's ... "go simple, go small, go now".
e/ Everything worthwhile starts with a dream.

Sea Star's Equipment List

This is how our 35 foot C&C Landfall sailing sloop was outfitted for our passage south.
Next time we wouldn't carry the EPIRB but would buy a SPOT instead.  We also would forgo putting on insulated back stays.

What we didn't have but would've liked:
a/ some form of self-steering
b/ a chart plotter
c/ radar

Equipment List:
Safety Equipment as required by Transport Canada (Collision Regulations) for a 35' vessel:
- 2 - 10BC fire extinguishers (we carried 4)
- buoyant heaving line and approved lifebuoy (life sling and man overboard pole)
- life jackets (we had ones with built-in harnesses and tethers)
- ladder
- flashlight
- 12 flares (A,B,C & D)
- sound signalling device
- navigational lights (we had masthead tri-colour)
- bailer
- anchor (we carried 3 - a 20lb. Danforth, a 25lb. Danforth and a 33lb. Bruce)
- manual bilge pump
Other Equipment we carried:
- binnacle mounted compass
- single side-band radio
- GPS (we had 3 hand-held and 1 fixed mount)
- liferaft
- 120 feet of golden braid nylon rode
- 150 feet of 5/8" nylon rode
- 200 feet of G4 hi-test 5/16" galvanized chain
- Lewmar Pro 1000 Windlass
- man over-board pole
- first aid kit
- jack lines
- 1000 Watt Inverter
- 130 Watt Solar panel
- 450 Watt wind generator
- 27 HP Yanmar Inboard diesel
- Jerry jugs (2 water, 3 diesel and 1 gas), plus a fender board to support them on deck
- 150 % Furling Genoa and main sail with 2 reef points
- engine driven refrigeration
- propane stove and barbecue
- Force 10 kerosene heater
- radar reflectors (2 - one on each upper shroud)
- laptops with fugawi and ocean navigator software hooked up to a GPS
- full (canvas) cockpit enclosure
- awnings and screens for hatches
- wooden floor inflatable 2.7 M dinghy with 5 hp outboard motor
- ATN mast assender

Questions and Answers - Briefly Put

In the question and answer blogs we'll attempt to answer some of the questions we're often asked in the hopes they may offer some guidance to others who are considering cruising.

1/ Q. - Do you need to be physically fit?
    A. - We were considerably more fit and felt much healthier upon our return than when we left.   
            While cruising we were required to walk great distances on shore for provisioning etc.         
            plus we lived a more active lifestyle.  We felt "great" while cruising.

2/ Q. - What compelled you to undertake this journey?
    A. -  We had travelled to the Caribbean several times on week long hotel packages and even
            chartered once.  We were enticed by how unique one island could be from another even
            though they were within sight of each other.  We had a desire to take an extended vacation
            to explore all of the islands and since we had sailed when we were younger cruising seemed
            like an economical method to reach them.  As well, we had the opportunity in that we could
            both retire early plus our children were both adults.  We had no one tieing us down, therefore
            the answer is simply - we had the desire and the opportunity.

3/ Q. - What would you do differently if you went again?
    A. - With no hesitation what-so-ever we would only sail where the sailing is good (offshore from
            Florida, south to the Bahamas.....Caribbean).  We've had more than enough of motoring along
            the ICW, swamps, ditches, rivers and canals.  Next time we'd put Sea Star on a truck and all
            happily travel down the highway to our next good sailing destination.

4/ Q. - How did you access cash?
    A. - We were able to find ATMs that dispensed the local currency to us on all the islands except
            the Dominican Republic.  We were forced to use our credit card while there but all the others
            accepted our credit union or President's Choice debit card.  Of note, U.S. dollars seem to be
            universally accepted.
            At one time we had ten different currencies on board.  (Pound sterling, U.S. dollars, Bahamas
            dollars, Dominican Republic Pesos, Canadian dollars, Dutch Guilders, T. T. (Trinidad &
            Tobago dollars), E.C. (Eastern Caribbean dollars), Euros and French Francs)

5/ Q. - How do you clear through Customs?  Are all the islands different countries?
    A. - Yes they are which brings up the point of clearing in and out through Customs.  Be aware
            there is a fee involved and time constraints.
            When you arrive at an island and drop anchor you immediately hoist your "Q" (yellow 
            quarantine) flag.  The captain gets cleaned up (dressed smartly), takes all the crew's
            passports, the ship's documents, a pen and currency (cash - the island's currency if
            possible but U.S. is accepted everywhere) to the Customs and Immigration office.  This is
            done immediately upon your arrival regardless of how tired you may be or how long a
            passage you may have had.  You can find their office hours on the (  
            web-site or by contacting a local marina by radio.  If the office is closed you must remain
            on board until they're open.  Only the Captain goes to shore,
Questions and Answers - Q. - How do you access the Internet?

In the question and answer blogs we'll attempt to answer some of the questions we're often asked in the hopes they may offer some guidance to others who are considering cruising.

A. - There are many ways to pick-up wi-fi while cruising.
On some of the islands "pay-per-use" wi-fi packages are available in the harbours.  These conveniently give you access in different locations as you travel along the island chain. 
Another method to get email is by way of a single side-band radio and modem.
We found internet cafes available in most harbours.  As well, bars and libraries are good sources.
You can also get a data package for your phone. 
When anchored off of large hotels we always had a peek to see if wi-fi was beaming out into the bay.
As well, we checked when we pulled into a busy anchorage to see if we could pick up wi-fi from one of the other boats anchored nearby.
These are the sources we're aware of though we're sure there are others.  Generally speaking, internet access was not hard to come by.
Questions and Answers - Q. - What size boat do I need to go cruising?

In the question and answer blogs we'll attempt to answer some of the questions we're often asked in the hopes they may offer some guidance to others who are considering cruising.

A. - An ideal boat would be one that is well-built and seaworthy; one that doesn't overwhelm or intimidate you.   A boat in which you feel confident. 
Bare in mind, the bigger the boat, the bigger the expense.
We travelled comfortably in our 35 foot boat but did note that most boats in the Caribbean were larger than ours. 
Our boat's mast height is 46 feet from the water-line and the draft is 4 foot 10 inches.   Draft and mast height are two things you'll want to consider based on where you intend to travel.... i.e. the Bahamas and most of the U.S. eastern seaboard is shallow - a deep draft vessel would be ill-suited there.  If you intend to travel along the InterCoastal Waterway mast height is limited to 65 feet.  A higher mast will necessitate you travel offshore more often.
Questions and Answers - Q. - How much does it cost?

In the question and answer blogs we'll attempt to answer some of the questions we're often asked in the hopes they may offer some guidance to others who are considering cruising.

A. - The cost depends on what you want your cruising lifestyle to be.  Your comfort level will dictate how much money it's going to cost. you. 
Some items to consider when determining cost are:
1/ Do you need to stay in marinas or will you be happy to anchor out?
2/ Who will be doing your boat maintenance and repairs?
3/ How often do you anticipate returning home?  Will you haul the boat out or leave it in a marina?
4/ How often do you intend to anti-foul?  Will you haul out for regular maintenance?
5/ Will you be preparing your own meals?  How often do you wish to dine out?
6/ Do you plan on taking island tours/ sight-seeing excursions?
7/ Will you carry medical insurance?  Boat insurance?
8/ Do you intend to maintain a residence back home?
Other costs to consider:  fuel (the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) is a 1,000 mile motor trip), and boat upkeep.
So, as you can see, the cost is completely dependent upon your lifestyle choices but if your desire to cruise is strong enough we bet you'll be happy to endure some hardships to do so.
Questions and Answers - Q. - Did you encounter hurricanes?

In the question and answer blogs we'll attempt to answer some of the questions we're often asked in the hopes they may offer some guidance to others who are considering cruising.

A. - While in the Caribbean we made every effort to keep south of the hurricane zone during hurricane season (June to November), though even while in Trinidad there was always speculation that a hurricane might veer south and hit the island.
In an effort to catch a flight out of St. Martin we found ourselves in the midst of Tropical Storm Olga in mid December, 2007 which proves that Mother Nature's calendar can be different than ours. (see blog entry: "Olga was Ugly" - Jan 8, 2008).
In the Caribbean the closest 2 hurricanes we encountered were in the summer of 2007 - "Felix" and "Dean".  "Felix" passed 120 miles north of us and "Dean" was just slightly higher.  (see blog entries: "Tracking Dean - Our first hurricane experience" - August 28, 2007 and "Flirting with Felix" - September 27, 2007).
We experienced high winds and spectacular lightning from strong thunderstorms but survived unscathed.
We encountered 2 hurricanes while making our way north along the U.S. eastern seaboard - "Irene" in 2011 (see blog entry: Nov. 20, 2011 - "Red Sky in Morning - Hurricane Irene") and "Sandy" (unofficially known as "Superstorm Sandy") in 2012 (see blog entry: "Stow, Stow, Stow your Boat" - Sept. 15, 2013).
Questions and Answers - Q. - Are there pirates?

In the question and answer blogs we'll attempt to answer some of the questions we're often asked in the hopes they may offer some guidance to others who are considering cruising.

A. - Yes, I'm sorry to say, there are real pirates in the Caribbean.
While cruising, we heard horrific stories of Venezuelan pirates but also a first hand account of an attempted boarding off Puerto Rico's N/W coast.
News of pirate activities spreads by way of the daily VHF "cruiser's net" which is broadcast in several of the islands that are populated by larger "cruising" communities such as Trinidad, Grenada, Bequia, St. Lucia, Martinique and St. Martin.  Also there are web-sites that are constantly updated with and and even on facebook (Grenada Cruiser's Net).
The free publication "Caribbean Compass" available at marinas and chandleries (also on-line) is also a good source of information.
When we arrived in the Caribbean in 2007 cruisers were split between spending hurricane season (July to November) in either Trinidad or Venezuela.  By the time we left in 2010 the Venezuelan pirates had been implicated in cruiser murders.  It was rumored they faced no repercussions.  News of them spreading into Trinidad waters had cruisers reluctant to make the 110 mile passage south to Trinidad and many now simply stay in Grenada through hurricane season.  Their plan being that should a hurricane threaten they will sail en masse to Trinidad to seek shelter.  Of note, hurricane "Ivan" devastated Grenada in 2004 and "Emily" hit 10 months later.
Our plan of defense was to avoid known pirate areas and keep a low profile. Our only weapon on-board was our flare gun. 
A "yachtie", which is the locals terminology for a white person travelling on a yacht, is always considered to be rich for indeed on many of the islands we are much wealthier than most of the locals and as such one must consider oneself to be a target.
Questions & Answers - Q. - You're so brave!  Aren't you afraid?

In the question and answer blogs we'll attempt to answer some of the questions we're often asked in the hopes they may offer some guidance to others who are considering cruising.

A. - We often hear comments that we must be very brave to be cruising.  We'll I'm pretty sure that's not the case.  We work at keeping safe and we try to be smart enough that we don't need to be brave.  In an effort to minimize the risk we've armed ourselves with the best information we could access to face problems we might encounter.  Together we evaluate the problem and make a decision with uppermost consideration given to our safety, to handle the situation.  We make every effort to not take chances by preparing ahead for emergencies.
Once we left Canadian waters it became apparent that we were responsible for our own well-being.  It was obvious that no one was going to "save" us.  We learned by necessity to be self reliant.
Our time cruising has taught us that together we have the where-with-all to manage most situations, so hopefully we don't need to be brave.
Cruising is one of the hardest things we've ever done but also one of the most rewarding.

Home -  (July 4, 2006 to August 18, 2014)

 A broadcast by the Coast Guard announcing that the St. Clair River would be closed to boating traffic for an unsanctioned event saw us underway early, heading north, to clear the river.
In the sunshine at 1100 hours on Sunday, August 17, 2014, Sea Star slipped under the Bluewater bridge at Sarnia and sailed off into the clear, cold waters of Lake Huron - finally back  home!
We had a cold, wet sail as we tacked into a north 17-20 knot wind for 27 hours (110 miles) to arrive at our final destination, Kincardine, Ontario at 1100 hours on Monday, August 18th, 2014.
Our journey of approximately 13,000 nautical miles (15,000 statute miles) over 8 years (5 years, 8 months undersail) has finally come full circle and reached its end.
It's been an amazing voyage! 
We extend our most sincere thanks to all those who supported us along the way - it meant more to us than you'll ever know.  Our thanks also go to the volunteers of the London Power and Sail Squadron for they are the ones who showed us how our dream could become a reality.

Joining Two Giants - Lake Erie to Lake Huron

We motored into the swift, opposing current on the Detroit River on August 10, 2014 amidst heavy boating traffic; freighters and (mostly power) pleasure craft.
We attempted to drop anchor at Boblo Island in an area that our guidebook listed as the river's "only" anchorage.  A shallow and very weedy bottom coupled with a great amount of power boat wake saw us changing plans and anchoring just outside the shipping lane channel in front of cottages, beside red buoy 22. 
After dark, one of the cottage owners yelled to us that we were anchored in an unsafe location.  We anxiously assessed his comments:  open to west (yes, but wind not forecasted to turn that way) and heavy freighter traffic could be expected (we were in 14 feet of water behind a stoney point - too shallow for freighters).  We decided it was safer for us to stay where we were rather than attempt to move on in the dark but we had a restless night as we didn't take his comments lightly.
It took us one week to make our way through the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River to Lake Huron.
During that week the weather was so horrific we actually took refuge in Windsor's municipal marina for 3 days.  This was a first for us as we've never found it necessary to go into a marina due to weather in the entire time we've been underway.  We endured days of strong winds and thunderstorms but while anchored behind Peche Island (off Windsor, south end of Lake St. Clair), when we heard the coast guard broadcast a warning of gale force winds and thunderstorms for the next 24 hours we finally said enough was enough and took shelter in the marina. 
We motor-sailed along many stretches of the lake and rivers to compensate for the current; averaging 2.9 knots as we enjoyed the sights along the way: rows of pastel coloured homes at Harsen's Island, power plants, ferries crossing, private docks, cottages and water skiers.

We dropped anchor (for what would be our last time during this trip) behind Stag Island, in the St. Clair River, 7 miles south of Lake Huron.  Sea Star spent the night shuddering as she faced into the 3 knot current with the wind blowing on her from behind.

 Many freighters continue to slip by us as we motor along the Detroit river past sights such as the steel plants at River Rouge, the Ceasar's casino in Windsor, the GM Renaissance complex in Detroit, Windsor salt works, the Ambassador bridge and Windsor's sculpture park.
One of the most spectacular sights, yet also the most unlikely is the profusion of beautiful swans that can be seen in the marshes at the river's edge.
We easily spotted at least 500 in the Windsor area (3 black).  We find ourselves wondering how many there may actually be in Lake St. Clair?  They certainly make a remarkable contrast to the somewhat shocking reality of a river that passes through 2 major cities.

Would you like wine with that?  - Pelee Island 

We chased the lee shores on Pelee Island to keep Sea Star in calm water as we spent a couple of days exploring the island.
One location we dropped anchor in was beside the Government ferry dock, offshore from the LCBO store and the legion.  The island offered no wi-fi, convenience or grocery stores......just a LCBO store and a winery (!?)
We thoroughly enjoyed dinner and a tour of the beautiful winery grounds and happily stowed 6 bottles of "special reserve" wine on board to be shared with friends upon our return.
A forecast of inclement weather 1 day off saw us undersail heading to the Detroit River.  We experienced perfect light conditions to run down-wind, "wing on wing"; averaging 6 knots with the swell running with us.
During a summer of more than enough nasty weather we really lucked out in Lake Erie with 3 great sailing passages:
Buffalo to Port Maitland, Port Maitland to Pelee Island and Pelee Island to the Detroit River.  We will remember them fondly as we motor against the 2.5 - 3 knot opposing current in the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers to make our way north to Lake Huron.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Lake Erie Passage - Port Maitland to Pelee Island
At 1800 hours on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 as we cleared the piers at Port Maitland, a slipping belt was detected in the refrigeration compressor.  We returned and anchored while Barry replaced the belt.
At 1830 we left again only to find the problem was more extensive.  We returned again and dropped anchor for the night.
Twelve hours later, rested and with the repair made, we slipped through the piers at Port Maitland in a light north wind, heading westward.
170 miles and 34 hours later we dropped anchor at the south end of Pelee Island; averaging 5 knots overall.
We motor-sailed in light winds with hot, buggy conditions for most of the day.  An hour before sunset the wind shifted to the north and picked up to between 12 and 17 knots.  We, and the dragon-flies who chose to spend the night on board, endured a few splashes into the cock-pit as we experienced a fast sail through the cold, bright moon-lit night.
We had a good view of the International Space Station as it passed through the starry sky.
With interest, we note the water currents.  Often we found we'd been pushed of course and our dinghy could oddly be seen sometimes towing off to the side. (?)
As Lake Erie has limited harbours with enough depth for us to take refuge and even less anchorages, plus a nature of acting like a bath-tub with the jacuzzi jets on, we were happy to be safely across the open lake and quietly nestled in the lee of Pelee Island.

On Anchor in the Grand River
An opportunity arose that allowed us to travel home and visit with family over the August 1st long week-end.
We spent the week leading up to the August 1st week-end on anchor in the Grand River.  During the day we did some long over-due cleaning and repairs which included putting up the curtains we've had swinging in the cabin awaiting window repairs for the past 8 years. We also motored the mile or so up the river to visit the town of Dunnville.
The weather that week was quite inclement; cold with numerous thunderstorms.
We noticed how pleasant it was to be able to sit on anchor with no worries or weather concerns as we were snug and safe in the river.  We were able to walk out to the beach and watch the waves break over the pier while Sea Star sat very calmly nearby.
We sadly departed from the Port Maitland Sailing Club on August 6th.  We will fondly remember the many kindnesses shown to us by them, especially by Stephanie on "Horizon".

Setting Sail in the Great Lakes
By 1400 hours on July 22, 2014 we found ourselves amidst very busy power boat traffic in the town of Tonawanda, N.Y. - the western end of the Erie Canal.
We cleared under our last bridge and pulled up to the dock at Wardell's in order to step our mast.  Here we experienced a trip down memory lane as we scrolled through Dennis Wardell's logbook and found our entry from Sept. 6, 2006 alongside Nausicaa ad Wingspread, when we stepped the mast to enter the canal heading south.

On July 24, 2014 we locked through the Buffalo Federal Lock, motored down the Niagara River and set sail into Lake Erie.
We were euphoric as the perfect sailing conditions allowed us to enjoy a wonderful sail to our Canada Customs check-in point at Port. Maitland, Ontario (on the Grand River).  We spent our first night back in Canada aground in a slip, guests of the Port Maitland Sailing Club - very happy to be back home in the Great Lakes again.
Locking Through
In just over 2 weeks we locked through a total of 45 locks (12 in the Champlain canal, 32 in the Erie canal and 1 in Buffalo).  During that time we came to the conclusion that going down was considerably easier than going up.  Unfortunately the climb heading westward from the Hudson River to Lake Erie's altitude at Tonawanda is 540 feet - that's a lot of "up" locks!

For the most part we did very well.  We did however have a slight problem in lock 5 on the Erie canal.  It was raining heavily as we locked through.  We wouldn't have entered in the rain but lock 5 is part of the "Waterford flight" of 5 locks where one lock feeds you into the next.  Once started, you have no choice but to carry on.
Lock 5 is a 33 foot lift with ropes and cables.  The cable which runs the height of the wall is housed in a 3 foot square well indentation in the wall.
When the water flooded the locks it tended to throw Sea Star against the wall, the force of which depended on the speed of filling.  Perhaps since it was raining, the lock master chose to fill quickly.  Whatever the reason, our fenders were sucked into the cable well and Sea Star's starboard side slid unceremoniously up the slimy wall.  Our radio call of distress was answered by the lock master when we got to the top of the lock....not much help at that point.  Fortunately damage was minimal.
The canals and locks suffered extensive damage from hurricane Irene in 2011, hurricane Sandy in 2012 as well as from the severe flooding in the area in 2006.  Construction was underway on most of the locks in the eastern half of the canal as the hurricane relief funding from the Government had finally been approved.
Our last 2 locks in the Erie canal, #33 and #34 were recently constructed to replace the western end "flight of five" that were originally there.  The two locks seem to virtually be stacked one on top of the other.  As we sat in lock 33 and looked up to the top of 34 the height was absolutely staggering!!

Tranquil Serenity (well almost) - Motoring Through the Champlain and Erie Canals
On July 11, 2014 we set off from Westport, N.Y., mast across our deck, in our "floating motor-home" Sea Star.  We headed south for Whitehall which is the northern end of the Champlain canal.
Through most of the canal's 400 miles the passage was slow and serene, more often than not through rural or forested areas but we also periodically traveled through small towns and "cottage country"; once even motoring straight for 20 miles across Lake Oneida.
We passed just south of Rochester, N.Y. and found ourselves in the midst of planes, trains and automobiles; a truly hectic place to be afloat!
It seemed that around every bend in the river a new vista and experience awaited, but one thing seemed to always remain the same - the railway.  It snaked along hugging the low, flat tow path that edged the canal and even was found within feet of the locks.  It was terrifying at times to be at anchor, tranquil, all tucked in for the night and have the train go screaming by mere feet away or to cringe as we reached the top of a lock to be greeted by a full-speed freight train thundering through.
Blissfully for the western 100 miles of the Erie Canal the tow path is a biking/hiking trail which pushes the rail lines blessedly back a short distance from the canal.
As we motor along at 5 knots we note the joggers need exert little effort to pass us by.
We had many interested bird sightings in the canals: great blue heron, ducks, Canada geese, swans, osprey, kingfishers,a rough legged hawk and bald eagles.

Partridge Harbour - Safe Shelter from the Storm - La 44.12.0', Lo 73.23.5'
Partridge Harbour is a natural cut on Lake Champlain's western shore in the undeveloped slope of the Adirondack Mountains.  It's narrow entrance allows for complete protection.
The mountain's steep rock palisades rise quickly to great heights above the water creating numerous secluded, sheltered, tree-lined bays.
A storm arrived shortly after we set anchor in Partridge Harbour.  It came with a vengeance of lightning, wind and rain.
We were grateful to be tucked into the snug, natural harbour and found ourselves wondering about the others who may have taken shelter here through the years.....perhaps a gunboat or two during the 1776 Revolutionary War.
Partridge Harbour measures approximately 500' X 500' with 38' maximum depth and a 300' entrance.
It is surrounded by a tree-lined steep (100' or so) rock facade.  Truly a very safe and secure location for a stormy night!

Westport, N.Y. - La 44.11.1', Lo 73.25.7'
We spent the first week of July sailing through Lake Champlain.
We re-visited some of our favourite anchorages and had front row seats to numerous fire-works displays as the U.S. celebrated it's Independence Day week-end.
The town (and marina) of Westport is located on North West Bay which is where Lake Champlain starts to narrow (60 miles south).  We had Sea Star's mast taken down here and made use of the marina and town's many amenities as we enjoyed the ever-changing view of Vermont's Green Mountains.
Westport is in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains Park; Lake Placid neighbours just 30 miles to the west.

Barry used Westport as a UPS shipping address to take delivery of a new compressor for our Sea Frost refrigeration unit.  He installed it, hoses and a receiver dryer.  As well he installed a sight glass and fixed the tach.
While in the process of repairs as we sat on anchor in the bay we heard a Coast Guard securite broadcast of a severe thunderstorm approaching (winds forecasted 50 to 60 miles per hour).  As Partridge Harbour was just 2 miles north of our location we lifted anchor and took shelter there for the night.
Show Me The Way to Go Home
We were plagued with indecision in regard to choosing a route back to the Great Lakes.
If we go north on the Richelieu River we would de-mast Sea Star for the 9 Chambly canal locks, re-step the mast at Sorel (on the St. Lawrence Seaway), pass through the 6 locks south of Montreal and motor-sail against the strong current into the thousand islands.  We'd de-mast for the 2nd time at Trenton (Bay of Quinte, Lake Ontario) and motor through the 44 locks (240 miles) to Port Severn on Georgian Bay.  Once there we'd re-step the mast (for the 2nd time).
Our other option was to go back into the U.S. and sail south through Lake Champlain.  At the south end of the lake we'd de-mast Sea Star to motor through the 12 Champlain canal locks and the 33 Erie canal locks.  We have 2 options in regard to exiting the Erie canal; one at Oswego which would put us on the southeast end of Lake Ontario, the other at Buffalo which would put us on the southeast end of Lake Erie.
If we exit the canal at Oswego we are faced with either putting the mast up and down again or motoring across Lake Ontario to the Trent-Severn canal.
If we exit the canal at Buffalo we would re-step the mast and sail against the prevailing winds and current through Lake Erie to Lake Huron.

As you can see, it wasn't an easy decision, but after great deliberation (no, I'm sure there wasn't a coin toss involved), we chose the southern route.  Our reasoning being concerns that Sea Star's aged engine may not withstand the (up to) 6 knot sustained, opposing current we'd face in the St. Lawrence Seaway.