Captain’s Log – Navigating the Rapids at Île RichelieuJune 27, 2016
Date: Sunday, June 26, 2016
Time: 0645 EDT
Position: 10 nautical miles downriver from the Rapids at Île Richelieu
From more than a mile wide to a dredged ship channel trench 300 yards wide, the “Rapids” are an area of significant narrowing of the St. Lawrence River. As the high water level in this area recedes (ebbs) the rush of the water narrows down to 300 yards and 50 foot deep. Anecdotally, the currents at the Rapids are said to be as much as 10 knots, but I have not been able to find any data to support this; I have found strengths of 5 knots. As I write this, predictions say the Rapids will go slack-water around 10-11 AM. We are 18 miles away and going slowly to give the strength of the ebbing currents some time to slow.
This area of the St. Lawrence River is mostly farmland: pretty flat land with the river cutting through it. The sides of the river are sheer cliffs dropping to a bedrock bottom on both sides of the dredged ship channel. The climate has turned warm and buggy – a great contrast to the maritime cold and damp of just yesterday.
PRIDE has been motoring since early Thursday afternoon, beginning just north of the Gaspé Peninsula. Looks like motoring will continue until arrival in Toronto next Thursday morning. This is what it takes to get into the Great Lakes from the sea: a long trek up a flowing river, consistently gaining altitude until reaching Lake Ontario, around 243 feet above sea level. Most of the altitude gain occurs after Montreal. From Montreal until 123 miles southwest of Ogdensburg, NY, PRIDE will pass through a series of seven locks that lift vessels various heights (between just a few feet to 55 feet).
From where PRIDE is this morning, 111 nautical miles of freely flowing river remain before reaching the first lock in Montreal; the plan is to reach the first lock around 9 AM on Monday. Then another overnight run 40-odd miles beyond Ogdensburg to Cape Vincent, NY to stop for fuel, followed by a 140 mile run to Toronto.
As a saltwater sailing vessel, PRIDE must do a lot in order to sail in the Great Lakes.
Jan C. Miles