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Old 16-05-2020, 09:06   #1
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Montreal to Kingston via Ottawa - is this feasible for me?

Hi, I would be very grateful for some advice about something I hope to do as pandemic restrictions ease a bit.

I moved to Kingston, Ontario from the UK last year. Prior to coronavirus I was planning to have my boat shipped across from the UK on a transporter. She had been due to arrive in Montréal at the end of last month and I was planning to make the passage up the St Lawrence river to my new home town. As it stands, my boat remains in England.

I appreciate boating is not the number one priority in the world right now and a bit of a ‘first world problem’ for me (not a liveaboard) at least, but I think there’s no harm having something to look forward to so I'm trying to plan for how I might eventually get my boat to Kingston.

It seems to me that even if I can get my boat to Montreal, I may not be able for some time to make the passage up the St Lawrence. Firstly, I understand it is closed to all recreational traffic. Secondly, I may have an additional challenge with stopping on the US side/US locks (depending what is decided about the borders) as I am in Canada on a work permit only and don’t have permanent residence or citizenship.

My thoughts are turning to whether I could get my boat from Montréal to Kingston via the Ottawa river and the Rideau canal. I think this possibility was mentioned in passing when I posted a couple of years ago on this forum, but now I am thinking about it more seriously.

I was also reminded of this by an article in this month’s Practical Boat Owner mag concerning two intrepid souls who made this passage on a 16 foot Falcon Daysailer (in 7 days) – excellent to see some Canadian sailing making its way into a UK sailing mag!

With this in mind, I have a couple of questions:

1) Would this route (Ottawa river-Rideau canal) be feasible for my boat which is a fair bit bigger than the daysailer in the article-it is a small cruising catamaran with length of 28’, beam of 16'4". She is powered by 2 x 20 hp diesel engines. Has a holding tank.

2) Which parts of this route are also currently closed to recreational traffic as well?

Many thanks indeed,
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Old 16-05-2020, 09:34   #2
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Re: Montreal to Kingston via Ottawa - is this feasible for me?

The Rideau Canal is currently closed due to the pandemic. At this point there is a faint light at the end of the tunnel. Some of Parks Canada operations are opening as of June 1. In typical government speak, their only statement is that "Lockage and mooring will remain suspended until May 31." But they do not say it will open after.

It is certainly possible to make the journey, but I think your boat may be too wide. Your limitation is draft of 5', air height at 22' and width of 28'. So you're right at the edge for width. Don't know about your other specs.

Here's the technical specs page:
https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/on/r...vigation-facts

Traversing the Seaway Locks do not normally require one to officially enter the US -- at least this was the case for us as Canadian citizens. I really don't think we were questioned, or had to provide any citizenship info. But we were flagged as Canadian, and showed an Ontario license number.
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Old 16-05-2020, 09:56   #3
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Re: Montreal to Kingston via Ottawa - is this feasible for me?

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
The Rideau Canal is currently closed due to the pandemic. At this point there is a faint light at the end of the tunnel. Some of Parks Canada operations are opening as of June 1. In typical government speak, their only statement is that "Lockage and mooring will remain suspended until May 31." But they do not say it will open after.

It is certainly possible to make the journey, but I think your boat may be too wide. Your limitation is draft of 5', air height at 22' and width of 28'. So you're right at the edge for width. Don't know about your other specs.

Here's the technical specs page:
https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/on/r...vigation-facts

Traversing the Seaway Locks do not normally require one to officially enter the US -- at least this was the case for us as Canadian citizens. I really don't think we were questioned, or had to provide any citizenship info. But we were flagged as Canadian, and showed an Ontario license number.


Thanks so much, Mike

My boat is stated by the builder as 28'0". Sounds like I would be right at the limit. Some careful checking needed. Thanks for the technical info.

I'm extra twitchy about the locks because of the way the lockdown began when the border was closed about 15th March. I believe the Canadian Gov limited return to those with permanent residence and citizenship.

Perhaps I'm being over cautious. But perhaps I could find myself in the slightly ridiculous situation of my boat making it over here and me being deported to the UK(!).
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Old 16-05-2020, 13:09   #4
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Re: Montreal to Kingston via Ottawa - is this feasible for me?

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Thanks so much, Mike

My boat is stated by the builder as 28'0". Sounds like I would be right at the limit. Some careful checking needed. Thanks for the technical info.

I'm extra twitchy about the locks because of the way the lockdown began when the border was closed about 15th March. I believe the Canadian Gov limited return to those with permanent residence and citizenship.

Perhaps I'm being over cautious. But perhaps I could find myself in the slightly ridiculous situation of my boat making it over here and me being deported to the UK(!).

Just re-read the post and think there may have been a confusion between length and beam. The beam of my boat is 'only' 16'4". 28' is the length. So should be alright form the dimensions perspective. The draft (having no keel) is next to nothing (2'6").

We have enjoyed visits to Ottawa (pre-COVID, of course). Perhaps staying over on the boat for a few days in due course would be kinda cool.
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Old 16-05-2020, 13:41   #5
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Re: Montreal to Kingston via Ottawa - is this feasible for me?

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Originally Posted by stibbles View Post
Just re-read the post and think there may have been a confusion between length and beam. The beam of my boat is 'only' 16'4". 28' is the length. So should be alright form the dimensions perspective. The draft (having no keel) is next to nothing (2'6").

We have enjoyed visits to Ottawa (pre-COVID, of course). Perhaps staying over on the boat for a few days in due course would be kinda cool.
Sorry, my bad . You're fine then ... once the apocalypse passes .

I grew up in Ottawa. It would be grand to tie up at the top of the locks and stay for a while. You're right downtown. Most things are very walkable from there.

It's a trip I'd love to do someday, if I had a different boat. There's lots to explore all along the route.

Here's a couple of online sources that might be of use:

https://www.waterwayguide.com/explor...10&mode=marina

Rideau Canal - Boating Information
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Old 16-05-2020, 13:42   #6
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Re: Montreal to Kingston via Ottawa - is this feasible for me?

Sounds doable after things open up a bit
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Old 17-05-2020, 06:21   #7
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Re: Montreal to Kingston via Ottawa - is this feasible for me?

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
Sorry, my bad . You're fine then ... once the apocalypse passes .

I grew up in Ottawa. It would be grand to tie up at the top of the locks and stay for a while. You're right downtown. Most things are very walkable from there.

It's a trip I'd love to do someday, if I had a different boat. There's lots to explore all along the route.

Here's a couple of online sources that might be of use:

https://www.waterwayguide.com/explor...10&mode=marina

Rideau Canal - Boating Information

Hadn't found this Waterways Guide website - much appreciated!

Wouldn't have considered a 'mast down' route over a mast up route prior to the apocalpyse. This looks interesting. It has opened my mind (on this subject, at least)
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Old 17-05-2020, 06:37   #8
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Re: Montreal to Kingston via Ottawa - is this feasible for me?

Downtown Ottawa sure is a nice place.

What about keeping the boat in Quebec just for this season if all else fails? You could drive out for a little holiday from time to time.

Just a random thought.
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Old 17-05-2020, 07:35   #9
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Re: Montreal to Kingston via Ottawa - is this feasible for me?

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Downtown Ottawa sure is a nice place.

What about keeping the boat in Quebec just for this season if all else fails? You could drive out for a little holiday from time to time.

Just a random thought.

Hi Chotu,

Thanks very much for this suggestion. It had sort of crossed my mind a while, at least in terms of what would I do if I got my boat to Montreal and then found I couldn't move her. Glad to be reminded.

I should research this, perhaps, but one thing that put me off was something said by our neighbours in Kingston. Their children live in Montreal and they explained to us that they were hesitant to visit in case the provincial border with Ontario is closed or might close whilst they were there, or there might be other roadblocks, Montreal sadly being a bit of a COVID hotspot, I understand? Maybe this is excessive caution and hopefully things are going in the right direction now anyway.

This would be less of a problem if I knew the boat could stay comfortably at the port in Montreal. When I first enquired about this crossing from the UK (with Peters & May) the drop off was going to be at Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, but now it has changed to Termont. The former looks to have lots of recreational boating facilities, but the latter looks from my internet searching to be more exclusively a commercial or container port. Are you or any other kind soul reading this able to guess whether there would be somewhere at Termont for a recreational craft to be kept (on the hard or in the water) if needed?

Apologies if these are at bit basic geographical questions, but as I put I am not long 'off the boat' myself (or out of Pearson International, at least) and still very much finding things out.
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Old 17-05-2020, 08:27   #10
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Re: Montreal to Kingston via Ottawa - is this feasible for me?

Many years ago, I travelled, mast down, from Belleville, up the Rideau Canal to Ottawa, then down the Ottawa River to Montreal, then up the St. Lawrence to Kingston. (If I remember correctly, and my fuzzy brain has not confused the route). WONDERFUL trip, as I recall, single handed in a Northern 25, with an outboard.

Incidently...Do you know why the capital of Canada was located in Ottawa?

Answer....The British believed that the hostile Americans would never find it.
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Old 17-05-2020, 08:32   #11
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Re: Montreal to Kingston via Ottawa - is this feasible for me?

Dear Stibbles,

Given the dimensions of your vessel that should be doable.
If you want to keep the boat in Quebec for a while this year due to virus issues then there may be room at the Royal St. Lawrence, our side of Montreal. Obviously, as usual, beam is the issue.
The route via Ottawa is likely more interesting since it goes through many more places suitable for exploring compared to the seaway. It is, however, going to be much longer.
I presume that you're on a work permit and not a landed immigrant? If so it may well be very possible to get a US visa from here.
I'm located NW of Kingston in the country and came from the UK a long time ago so if you'd like to get in touch then please just send me your contact information to niall1.leslie@gmail.com.
Cheers,
Niall.
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Old 17-05-2020, 08:46   #12
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Re: Montreal to Kingston via Ottawa - is this feasible for me?

You will have no problem with your catamaran doing that trip. We've done Montreal to Ottawa on the Ottawa River, then down to Kingston on the Rideau on our Prout Catamaran (37' x 15"3" beam).

It's a great trip - don't rush it if you can!
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Old 17-05-2020, 09:47   #13
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Re: Montreal to Kingston via Ottawa - is this feasible for me?

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Originally Posted by taxwizz View Post
Many years ago, I travelled, mast down, from Belleville, up the Rideau Canal to Ottawa, then down the Ottawa River to Montreal, then up the St. Lawrence to Kingston. (If I remember correctly, and my fuzzy brain has not confused the route). WONDERFUL trip, as I recall, single handed in a Northern 25, with an outboard.

Incidently...Do you know why the capital of Canada was located in Ottawa?

Answer....The British believed that the hostile Americans would never find it.
Actually, at the end of the American Revolution many Torries (British loyalists) relocated to the Ottawa area out of fear of reprisal from their former neighbors. At the early stages of the war of 1812, the Americans attempted to invade Canada, thinking the locals would welcome them with open arms. Much to their chagrin, they faced fierce opposition from the citizens of Ottawa. I presume the British made Ottawa the capital as they felt there would be much more loyalty to the Crown there than the mostly French cities like Montreal, which was the largest city in Canada at the time.
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Old 17-05-2020, 10:05   #14
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Re: Montreal to Kingston via Ottawa - is this feasible for me?

Last time you wrote about this I replied as well and I repeat it is a wonderful multi day trip or at least it was 30 yrs ago. I made that trip in a wooden 35 ft Nova Scotia built sloop drawing 5 ft twice a year from her winter's berth in Manotick to first a marina in Kingston and later the PEYC in Picton for the summer, for many years and enjoyed it each time. As others have said take your time for it.

I have done the other route also many times first in that wooden sloop REVA perhaps three or four times and later in GAIA, the junk rigged schooner in which we recently completed a 23 yr long circumnavigation. I recently in a write up for the JRA, the Junk Rig Association entitled The Gaia Story, I wrote that the St Lawrence Seaway locks are 'easiest of all' and compared them to the locks in Sweden, England, the Netherlands, and in Panama. They were also incredibly cheap but 1995 was our last use of them. As was it Mike above said you do not, or at least did not then, have to do a formal entry when using the US administered locks.

Having said all this the Ottawa River route (I lived along the Ottawa river for 35 yrs) and the Rideau ro Kingston is much much nicer.. once in Kingston it is easy then to take your boat down the St Lawrence as far as Brockville say through the region they call The Thousand Islands and that way you will get to see the best of it as well.

Jim sv GAIA currently locked in in Guatamala
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Old 17-05-2020, 10:09   #15
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Re: Montreal to Kingston via Ottawa - is this feasible for me?

Hello

We live be on the canal and nothing is open or opening in the foreseeable future. Normally this is the opening weekend for the canal but so far they haven't even filled the locks with water. The trip you want to do would be no problem as it's the depth of the canal that would be a concern more than the beam of your boat. The are areas around Smiths Falls that through mid summer only have 4-5 ft of water. Some of the locks are also shallow like upper and lower Nicholsons just outside of Merrickville.
As a thought, seeing as how your boat hasn't shipped yet would it be feasible and cheaper for you to purchase a boat here and then sell it when you decide to return? I'm sure you here are going to be some deals coming up with all that is happening
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