Brenda LaPointe

Sep 152021

St. Catharines, Port Dalhousie Yacht Club – Port Colborne, Sugarloaf Marina – Sept 15, 2021

Starting off from our home port at Dalhousie Yacht Club (DYC) at 7:00 am we head off with a full crew with Patti Jo and Doug, and Heather and Joe to the start of the journey upbound on the Welland Canal.  After registering online with the St. Lawrence Seaway and paying our $200. plus some fees we are waiting for another recreational vessel to join us in the climb from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.  Waiting until almost 11 the two vessels head toward lock 1 after being hailed on the radio by  the Lock Master.  Turns out the staff start at 11:00 but we are asked to stage for 9:00. 

Lines are dropped down to waiting vessels from a team above.  They will stay with you for the entire trip southbound.  Two lines are tied together and dropped down to your waiting crew.  Untie the lines from each other from the wall and hand the lines to the crew.  Each takes a line and loops the rope around the cleat on the opposite side of the boat.  For instance, if you are starboard tie then you loop to your port stern and bow cleat.   Do not tie your lines to your boat or have them not easy to release from the cleat. 

A quick run through the first lock and open doors at the second lock we are enjoying the journey as the sun comes out and warms the day.  Note that upbound is a starboard tie in locks 1 and 2.   It has taken us to almost 1:00 when we reach Glendale Bridge.  We see our DYC buddy Leigh meet and wave us on at the viewing station at Lock 3.  Thanks for being our papparotzi Leigh.  Wanna see those pics you took.  Lock 3 was a fun lock with the viewing station there and several folks watching us lock through.  Lots of waves and people watching as we slowly climb this big lock.  Passing General Motors and the head office of the St. Lawrence Seaway we head to the flight locks of 4, 5 and 6. 

The flight locks of the Welland Canal are 3 locks in succession climbing the Niagara Escarpment.  Not only are these 3 locks flight locks but they are also twinned.  So when you are upbound there may be another vessel going downbound in the chamber next to you.  Each lock takes about 10 minutes to fill according to the St Lawrence Seaway website.  The turbulence isn’t too bad but it does come up under your boat on the sides of the locks.  Don’t forget to take that picture of the gorgeous view and lock doors.

Lock 7 is an even more beautiful view.  As you get to the top you see all of St. Catharines and the locks you just came through.  Another photo opportunity not to miss.  After lock 7 you have approximately 1 hour and a bit to reach Port Colborne and the last lock, lock 8.  Lock 8 is a leveler lock or more of a guard gate to meet the level of Lake Erie.  It can fluctuate depending on lake levels.  Today we climb 2 feet.  There are no ropes to worry about and crew gets to take a break from handling lines.  The captain stays in the centre of the lock monitoring the vessel’s stability as the water climbs the last few feet. 

Now with 1 more bridge to go under we can head to Sugarloaf Harbour.  A beautiful marina with large docks and many amenities.  Laundry, restaurant, restrooms, a fabulous staff, 50 and 30 amp power, water available for your requirements.  Dinner with the crew was amazing and docktails are available at this time.  A great thank you to all our crew Heather and Joe, Patti Jo and Doug. We can’t thank you enough. We will start our journey to the north to get to the south on our own.