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Old 22-05-2022, 14:56   #1
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Halifax to Lake Ontario

We are preparing to take our sailboat from Rhode Island to Lake Huron and are about to give up on the Erie Canal. The Erie Canal Transit Authorities believe the canal is too shallow in multiple spots for our 7’ draft to navigate. Our fall back is to stage the boat to Halifax next weekend then do the Down East Circle Route in reverse. We are struggling to get good data on time frames so any input from those that have done this would be appreciated. We calculate 8 days from Halifax to Quebec but don’t have good data on Quebec to Lake Ontario. Our Hylas 54 can do 8kts under power.
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Old 22-05-2022, 15:45   #2
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Re: Halifax to Lake Ontario

Few years ago a Canadian race boat did it in three days. Crew of four. Fueled by alcohol. That’s all I know.
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Old 22-05-2022, 22:13   #3
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Re: Halifax to Lake Ontario

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Originally Posted by AtlanticX View Post
We calculate 8 days from Halifax to Quebec but don’t have good data on Quebec to Lake Ontario. Our Hylas 54 can do 8kts under power.
I assisted in a delivery from Belleville to Quebec City last season which took us a week. That's downstream, though, meaning going with the current.

Going upstream against the current would probably double the time...? It's between 4-5 knots in some places of the Seaway, but at least 2 knots against you. Also certain tidal gates, like the Saguenay Rapids north of Quebec City, have to be timed precisely.

Bonne chance,
LittleWing77

Here's a useful thread for you:
Sailing the St. Lawrence
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ce-248550.html
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Old 23-05-2022, 05:38   #4
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Re: Halifax to Lake Ontario

About 7 days, leave early each morning. Day 1 Quebec to Trois Rivieres, Day 2 Trois Rivieres to East side of Montreal, Day 3 Montreal to Valleyfield, Day 4 Valleyfield to Morrisburg, Day 5 Morrisburg to Gananoque, Day 6 Gananoque to East end of Lake Ontario. These are pretty much guidelines, sometimes there will be waits at the 7 Seaway Locks that you'll have to go through. Biggest Currents: Quebec City to Montreal, The west end of Lake St.Francis on approach to the locks at Cornwall (5 knots in a few short spots). Iroquois locks to west of 1000 Islands bridge about 2.5 to 3 knots. Hope this helps, I've done the trip several times from West end of Montreal to Lake Ontario on my 30 which motors 6.1 knots.
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Old 23-05-2022, 05:55   #5
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Re: Halifax to Lake Ontario

Great info, 7 days is encouraging. We prefer to get started at dawn and push as far each day as possible. Unsure if traveling at night on the river is advisable. Assuming we'll have to time some of the tides to avoid the heaviest current. That racing team must have been going 24x7!
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Old 23-05-2022, 06:22   #6
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Re: Halifax to Lake Ontario

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Great info, 7 days is encouraging. We prefer to get started at dawn and push as far each day as possible. Unsure if traveling at night on the river is advisable.
When timing the downstream run through the Saguenay Rapids, we left the dock at 4am in order to reach the tidal gate by 6am.

We found the Seaway to be well-buoyed (not surprising, since it's a commercial seaway) and the buoys are very cleverly lit, with distinct flashing characteristics on wide bends, etc.

We had the full paper charts (as well as Navionics on the Owner's tablet) and found that we absolutely needed that guidance to navigate our way along. It's a very twisty-turny Seaway!

Top and bottom pictures are of a beautiful little harbour called "Salaberry de Valleyfield". Mooring alongside at the Ancienne Canal Marina overnight was absolutely lovely. As well as Marina Port Quebec (City), which is the view of Old Quebec City from the cockpit (middle picture). That was around noon on the day we went through the Saguenay tidal gate. We got into the Port Quebec Marina, cracked some beers - and sat. Do NOT underestimate that passage! It is a challenge.

Good luck,
LittleWing77
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Old 23-05-2022, 06:27   #7
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Re: Halifax to Lake Ontario

I did the reverse journey a few year ago in a much smaller, slower boat. The advice you're getting about timing sounds about right, but there will be little time for sightseeing. It's stunningly beautiful, so it's shame you have to zip through so fast.

A couple of comments, all of which you probably know well, but...

• Tides and tidal currents will dominate your journey up past Quebec City. Even with your boat you will have a hard time going against the currents at some points. When we did it, we basically timed our travelling hours to the ebb tidal current, and then stopped after things reversed.

• Prevailing winds are westerlies (SW mostly) so you'll be facing a headwind most of the time.

• Tides are large in some areas: something like 15' or more as I recall. We anchored the whole way through, but the tides and currents made it challenging.

As I say, it's a great journey. Take as much time as you can. Enjoy.
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Old 23-05-2022, 06:35   #8
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Re: Halifax to Lake Ontario

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Originally Posted by AtlanticX View Post
We are preparing to take our sailboat from Rhode Island to Lake Huron and are about to give up on the Erie Canal. The Erie Canal Transit Authorities believe the canal is too shallow in multiple spots for our 7’ draft to navigate. Our fall back is to stage the boat to Halifax next weekend then do the Down East Circle Route in reverse. We are struggling to get good data on time frames so any input from those that have done this would be appreciated. We calculate 8 days from Halifax to Quebec but don’t have good data on Quebec to Lake Ontario. Our Hylas 54 can do 8kts under power.
I had some buddies bring a 48 foot Brother Aluminum up from Quebec. They were old canoe dudes. They recommended sticking close to shore to pick up the back eddies along the river. Said it saved them a lot of time. Of course your going to have to keep an eye on depth but its a power and powering anywhere today is going to be expensive. Anything that can help boat speed is going to help save some money.

Your going to have to watch the tides. There are tides all the way up to Montreal I believe

You can plan your course on line here...

https://webapp.navionics.com/?lang=e...key=yyekGjhdkM
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Old 24-05-2022, 02:56   #9
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Re: Halifax to Lake Ontario

On thing I should correct on my itinerary, likely easier for you due to your deep draft. From Morrisburg stay on the American side which is the shipping channel and head for either Alexandria Bay or Clayton instead of Gananoque. When I do the trip on my 30 footer I'm able to use the Canadian pleasure craft channel west of Brockville but that won't be an option for you. From Clayton its a short hop to Cape Vincent which is right at the mouth of Lake Ontario.
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Old 24-05-2022, 03:04   #10
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Re: Halifax to Lake Ontario

Thank you everyone for the good information. We are going to move ahead with staging the boat to Halifax this weekend and then make the run up the St. Lawrence at the end of June. I'll try to post the results when we complete the passage in July.
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Old 24-05-2022, 06:59   #11
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Re: Halifax to Lake Ontario

I understand that 7' is LOTS more yet I/we brought a 55' x 18 x 6' powerboat from Midland to Albany two or three summers ago.. via the Trent Severn, Lake Ontario, and then the Oswego and Erie Canals.

Paperwork was required to absolve CA authorities of the "what if" re our running aground and that was fitting as we bumped along through the Summit of the Trent Severn system. I don't, howevdeer, think we gave any thought to other shallows. I wonder where the Erie's shallows are !

A greater consideration is both handling a sailboat's mast and having that on-deck. Since I adore Halifax, the Bra D'Or, NB and Quebec and the Thousand Is. and think the Erie Canal is pretty hum-drum, I think I would opt for the "reverse route".
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Old 24-05-2022, 07:05   #12
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Re: Halifax to Lake Ontario

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Originally Posted by AtlanticX View Post
We are preparing to take our sailboat from Rhode Island to Lake Huron and are about to give up on the Erie Canal. The Erie Canal Transit Authorities believe the canal is too shallow in multiple spots for our 7’ draft to navigate. Our fall back is to stage the boat to Halifax next weekend then do the Down East Circle Route in reverse. We are struggling to get good data on time frames so any input from those that have done this would be appreciated. We calculate 8 days from Halifax to Quebec but don’t have good data on Quebec to Lake Ontario. Our Hylas 54 can do 8kts under power.
Did they specify where the canal was too shallow? The route from Waterford to Three Rivers to Oswego is generally deeper and has a higher bridge clearance.

From Oswego sail to the Welland Canal and then to Lake Erie.

Going up the St Lawrence will have you going against he current and upwind. Timing the current and tides in places will be important.
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Old 24-05-2022, 07:48   #13
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Re: Halifax to Lake Ontario

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Did they specify where the canal was too shallow? The route from Waterford to Three Rivers to Oswego is generally deeper and has a higher bridge clearance.

From Oswego sail to the Welland Canal and then to Lake Erie.

Going up the St Lawrence will have you going against he current and upwind. Timing the current and tides in places will be important.
Here's the depths on the Erie Canal, from the authority https://canals.ny.gov/wwwapps/navinf...ay=eriewestern

Note that depths given are for North, South, and Mid channel. Note that some say 5'. Note also that many are blank. When they drain most of the canal for winter it's easy to see that the natural channel isn't mid-channel, it weaves like a river. And you can see the shoals. And the shopping carts, and chunks of concrete. IMHO I'd not do it with 8' draft; it will be a bumpy ride.


My two cents on night navigation upstream of the Ogdensburg locks:

It is well marked (lit) at night. In fact, it's gorgeous at night. If one stays between the bouys there is more than enough water.

In MOST cases, one can stray outside the marked channel and be OK. MOST. There are several markers inside of which there is zero tolerance- virtually zero water. One marker is commonly cut inside of, I've done it, but I also know a boat that got wrecked there.

In some places (e.g., American Narrows) the channel is VERY narrow. Not really a problem, except that the shipping pilots vary in skill and attitude, and some may force you to the very edge or beyond.

If I (that means "I" not suggesting anything for anyone else) were to travel the seaway, I'd do it during the day, or a very flat moonlit night. I've done it, but I'd prefer not to.

After breakout from Cape Vincent into the open lake there are a few shoals to avoid, which are of course marked. As an aside, headed downbound into this area using only visual clues at night can be scary, since the lights get washed out by all the noise pollution. But OP is going up; so the only real concern here is the amount of freighter traffic (which does NOT have pilots at that point) converging fast on a small slot. I've experienced and plenty of friends have reported that "some" of these freighters don't care about your puny sailboat, or navigation laws. I've seen them without bow lights. They don't answer the radio. And on and on.

So personally I'd avoid night navigation between Ogdensburg and Cape Vincent. I usually leave CV just before sunup; CV is about 4km from the mouth of the river/ open lake, so by the time I get to the lake there's plenty of space for manouvering.
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Old 24-05-2022, 08:03   #14
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Re: Halifax to Lake Ontario

Here's the link to Canal Depths for the Eastern Canal

https://www.canals.ny.gov/wwwapps/na...ay=erieeastern
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Old 01-06-2022, 13:59   #15
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Re: Halifax to Lake Ontario

Completed the passage from Rhode Island to Halifax as planned over Memorial weekend. The wind was SE at 20-25kts most of the way. We did 426 miles in 50 hours... a fun ride! I will post the results of our push to Lake Ontario when completed. Thanks again for everyone's feedback.

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