Atlantic Ocean St. Lawrence Seaway Summer Trip 2006

Getting Ready for Locks

St. Lawrence Seaway between Quebec City and MontrealShortly after 0300 this morning the Picton Castle anchored off Quebec City and said goodbye to Francois and Benoit, our pilots from Escoumin. I awoke this morning to a beautiful view of this historic city, founded in 1608. The Chateau Frontenac, the famous castle-like hotel with a green copper roof, was an easy landmark to spot. Quebec City is known for its historic buildings, narrow streets and old world charm, but it is clear from our angle that there is more modern stuff going on there. Behind the old stone buildings are huge glass office towers, across the river is a container port, a big Coast Guard icebreaker sits at a dock, roads and traffic run along the water and inland. The old fort is visible on top of a cliff on a point that sticks out into the river and, as someone said this morning, with all the cannons up there nobody would have been able to sneak past.

Around 1100 we took on two new pilots and a pilot trainee, heaved up the anchor and passed the fort without incident. The watches have been busy today preparing the ship to transit the locks further up the river near Montreal. Our efforts have been directed toward making the ship as narrow as possible and also protecting the outside. The yards are braced up sharp on starboard tack, the fore and main yards have been cock-billed (really, really tilted) so that they fit entirely within the width of the ship. Everything has to be inboard. The ship’s rigging was designed to be able to do this; it’s the same technique we use when going through the Panama Canal. We will hoist onboard the boat currently hanging in the starboard davits on to the cargo hatch and turn the davits inboard. The giant wooden fenders which have been prepared in the past few days were greased and installed today, lashed over the t’gallant rail and through the scuppers below. Rubber tires have been brought out on deck and wrapped in old rope to be lashed to corners of the ship that might touch lock walls when they are filling and we are going up. We will be ready for the locks tomorrow. We have 13 locks to go through before we get up to Lake Erie, 7 in the seaway and 6 in the Welland Canal which connects Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. That makes 14 including Canso lock. Before long all hands will be lock experts.