By Mary Bogan and Doug Bell, Mountain View Woodies Chapter Members
With Photos by Chris Bulen, Toronto Chapter Member
This year’s Antique and Classic Boat Society (ACBS) International Show was held in Burlington, Vermont, on Lake Champlain. We planned to trailer Baxter, our 22-foot Lyman, to the show and spend the weekend on the lake, hoping to get more “on the water” time than most boat shows offer. While reading about the ACBS show, we saw that a “Northern Adventure” trip had been planned as a pre-event event. The 4-day excursion beginning in Montreal and ending in Burlington sounded fun and provided a great opportunity for some quality time on the water — the Saint Lawrence and Richelieu Rivers to be exact.
So we signed up! On September 2, we hauled our boat 284 miles from Belfast, Maine, to Montreal and launched it in the Saint Lawrence River to be part of the Northern Adventure flotilla. The Northern Adventure was planned by Kathy and Bo Muller who you may know from their eponymous Muller Boatworks on Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire. The seventeen-boat group was made up participants from Canada and the States, piloting boats of a variety of makes, models, and sizes ranging from two 1929 Elco cruisers to a 2021 Hacker Gentleman’s racer built in a basement workshop. The largest boat — one of the Elco’s — was 46-feet and the smallest was a 17-foot Chris-Craft. We made the trip with our 1968 22-foot Lyman Sleeper.
The 164.2 mile excursion that included pre-arranged stops at marinas and hotels along the route began early Sunday morning, September 4, at the Port de Plaisance La Ronde in Montreal, Quebec. We launched from the marina and headed north into the very bumpy Saint Lawrence River. After some early-going rough water on the seaway we made it to the town of Sorel-Tracey and stopped for the night at Marina de Saurel. We checked into the Hotel de la Rive and had a delicious meal with the group at the restaurant.
We made an early departure on Tuesday morning to arrive on time at the historic Chambly Canal and Lock in the town of Chambly. Special arrangements had been made with Parcs Canada to operate the locks for the Northern Adventure group, as the locks operate on a very limited schedule after Labor Day. It was a fantastic trip through the 9 hand-operated locks. At each lock, many spectators turned out to watch the antique and classic boat parade. Lots of waving and well-wishing was enjoyed by everyone on land and in the boats. It was a relatively relaxing and easy day on the canal, and we stopped for the night in Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu and enjoyed some much deserved cocktails at the Le Nautique Marina and Le Bleumarin restaurant.
The following morning we got underway for the final leg of the journey. We headed the final 22 miles up the Richelieu, passed through US customs via a smart phone app, and were treated to 43 calm, warm and beautiful miles across Lake Champlain to Burlington. We arrived in plenty of time to check into the hotel and walk downhill to the ACBS Welcome Reception at the ECHO Waterfront Museum. The weekend’s weather was picture-perfect and the boat show was fantastic. We were able to go for several boat rides on Lake Champlain. Over 100 boats were on view at the show and nine of those were lapstrake style, four of them were Lymans, three Whites, and two Sea Skiffs.
The Northern Adventure was great fun. It was nice to navigate unfamiliar territory with a group, and we enjoyed meeting fellow boaters from California, Michigan, New York, Maryland, various provinces of Canada and even Australia! And we hope to see some of them at the international show next year in Michigan. Maybe we’ll see you there too?
Travel by boat: 164.2 miles on the Saint Lawrence and Richelieu rivers and Lake Champlain
Travel on the road: 693 miles or 13 hours 56 minutes – Hauling boat except for three + hours with empty trailer from Montreal to Burlington, and bus ride back to Montreal. From Belfast, ME to Montreal, QC, drop the truck and trailer in Burlington, VT, and then back to Belfast.
Longest travel day by boat: 62.4 miles – Rouses Point, New York to Burlington, Vermont
Cross an international border: Four times in 6 days
Mechanical breakdowns: Zero for the Lyman (Ed. Note. The Lyman had zero breakdowns but towed one Shepherd, assisted one Chris-Craft, and checked in on a drifting Elco that threw a fan belt. One gentleman’s racer had to replace a failed bilge pump)
Number of boats on the Northern Adventure: 17 boats
Number of people aboard: 52 including captain and crew
Oldest boat on the trip: It’s a tie – two 1929 Elco’s, one 46’ the other 38’
Newest boat on the trip: 2021 Hacker Gentleman’s Racer
Largest boat: 1929 46-foot Elco cruiser
Smallest boat: 1946 17-foot Chris-Craft
Chambly canal and lock system: The system was built between 1831 -1843 originally for commercial traffic and commerce between the US and Canada. After WW I, use declined and then by the 1970’s traffic was all recreational. It is currently operated by Parcs Canada.
Number of Locks: Traveled through the 12 mile canal system consisting of 9 locks, eight of which are hand operated.
Number of bridges: 10 total (7 active) with half being swing, rolling, or lift bridges, manually operated.
Total elevation: 78 feet from Lake Chambly to Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu
Hours to pass: 3.5 hours