Since the middle of May, I start many of my sentences with “…well there less a month before we leave, so I’d better….”
Strathspey is in good shape; we know this because we have reached the turnaround point and have pitched the dirty clothes and used paint brushes and started moving the boat cushions back on board. I’ve vacuumed the entire boat and removed all evidence of carpentry, electronic work, espar installation and bottom stripping from the wood below decks. It’s a good feeling to see Strathspey clean again; it makes us think we’re on the home stretch to launch.
High on my list of tasks this month is to verify that we have all the charts we need. We’ve purchased quite a few charts and other boaters have generously loaned us the rest. Lady M, a Bayfield 36 currently in the Caribbean, loaned us all their Canadian east coast charts and Naut a Dory from Brockville let us root through all their New York to Oswego and Lake Champlain charts and pick the ones we needed.
We launched Strathspey on May 11 and sailed upriver to Trident Yacht club on May 12. It was probably the coldest trip upriver that we’ve ever had; 6°C with a north wind plus the St Lawrence current pushing against us. I know it seems like we are going in the wrong direction, heading west and upriver, but the plan is to spend a few weeks at Trident, giving us time to wrap things up at home, and then head out on a shakedown cruise in Lake Ontario to verify that all our new toys work properly before we officially leave.
On the way upriver, we got a taste of what it would be like to be up close and personal with big tankers. Hopefully this is as close as we will come to them this year and only because we’re in the Seaway. To be this close to a big ship while sailing offshore would definitely make me an unhappy camper! These behemoths put out a surprising stern wake. They steam by at twice our speed, which is slow for them as they abide by the Seaway speed limit. We’re lulled into some complacency, thinking that this isn’t so bad, and then as their stern comes level with our bow, we start riding higher and higher in the water and start feeling their effect. We’re ever mindful that the stopping distance for these big ships is measured in miles and try to keep a healthy distance when in these tight quarters.
There are many lighthouses in Canada and a huge proportion of them are on the St Lawrence River so they are a fairly common sight. What we didn’t expect to see though was a relatively new landmark near the Ivy Lea Thousand Island bridge.
Way up high on one of the cliffs is the new statue of St Lawrence, a Catholic deacon who was condemned to death for not turning over the church’s treasure to Rome’s pagan prefect. Instead, he gathered up all the townsfolk and brought them to the prefect and said, here is Rome’s treasure. They tied this saint on top of an iron grill over a slow fire and roasted him alive. The storey goes that he joked as he burned and said “Turn me over, I’m done on this side!” Just before he died, he said, “It’s cooked enough now.” It’s a bit of a shakeup to discover who this big river is named for and to see this five meter statue high aloft where we had just cruised on by before. We Canadians tend not to celebrate our saints and politicians in a big way through statues and I’m thinking perhaps it’s a good thing although the grid iron does give us pause.
This past week our calendar is full; dentists, doctors, hairdressers and sailmakers. A pretty diverse group, but all necessary to keep us in top form. Our doctor gave us the last appointment of the day and we spent a leisurely hour or so discussing our health interspersed with sailing topics and whether the Senators would make the playoffs this year. At the end of the appointment he said it was interesting how stressful the preparation for a vacation could be. We’re not unaware that we’re really privileged to have this year of sailing and we’ve been trying to avoid the “S” word so as not to cause people to roll their eyes and say I wish I had your stress.
Nevertheless, it feels like a big accomplishment to finally get Strathspey upriver to our eventual starting point for this year long cruise; a small step, to be sure, in the grand scale of this trip but now we can concentrate on settling all the outstanding tasks in the non-boating part of our life.