We crossed the border into Canada on Sunday July 12! It was a beautiful day and a short two hour cruise. We were on the Richelieu River which Lake Champlain flows into. The countryside is changing. The mountains of Lake Champlain and the Hudson have receded. The Quebec countryside is a flatter farming landscape punctuated by many small villages.
Just about a mile from our marina we crossed the border and a mile further up was the stop for Canadian customs. Instead of our having to call in and dock at customs, customs came to us! A boat with three customs officers rafted onto our boat and one of them came aboard. He was very polite, asked the perfunctory questions and proceeded to look throughout our boat including opening cabinets! The three main questions he asked were: are you carrying firearms (no), what’s our itinerary and when do we plan to leave (cruising up the St. Lawrence to Gaspe’ and around New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia until the end of August), and how much alcohol do you have on board (34 cans of beer, 10 bottles of wine and 5 bottles of liquor). Although our “ship’s store” exceeded the stated limits, he made no comment and we passed the inspection!
As we proceeded down river, we were amazed by the number of boats that were on the waterway. Motor boats of all sizes were buzzing around us the entire time. Quite different from the preponderance of sailboats we saw on Lake Champlain! There were also a few unusual specimens.
We stopped at St. Paul de Ile-aux-Noix because it had five marinas and we wanted to get some more work done on the boat. It was also described as being somewhat akin to Fort Lauderdale with numerous canals lining the coast.
At the Gosselin Marina we met a very interesting guy named Michel who was working there and who took great interest in helping us. He and his girlfriend have traveled extensively on the catamaran that he built and in three weeks they are leaving for their home in Florida and eventually to sail and live in Martinique for awhile. It’s amazing how many Canadians we met who have homes in Florida! We invited Michel and Nathalie onto our boat as they were interested to see a trawler up close. We had a lovely time exchanging stories – maybe we’ll see them when we return to Florida.
St. Paul is really a tiny village but our new friends recommended a wonderful restaurant owned by a woman from Alsace. Although it was not open on Sunday night, we went there for breakfast the next morning and had an amazingly delicious Alsatian breakfast in a perfectly charming little space.
By the time we finished our boat repairs and chores which included adding new windshield wiper blades, replacing the A/C main breaker panel switch, putting in a new shower head, cleaning the heads, and stocking up on new safety supplies it was too late to move to our next stop. Instead, we finished up the day by eating a very early dinner at the same restaurant where we had breakfast (having skipped lunch).
We returned to the boat and hung our Canadian courtesy flag and did some more trip planning. We will be heading north on the Chambly Canal through all nine locks bound for a marina in the town of Chambly.