Our first stop after clearing the US Border was Singer Castle. A privately owned castle where we tied up for the morning on their dock and were able to take a private tour of the castle before tourists arrived on the tour boats! The castle was built as a “hunting lodge” and it is now possible to rent it out for the night to live out your own medieval island adventure – for a very reasonable rate! We thought about doing it that night, but unfortunately it was already booked :).

Our next major destination was to be another castle, which we wanted to do the following weekend, so we ended up on anchor in Lake of the Isles, a big bay surrounded by islands. This turned out to be my one of my favourite spots of the whole summer and luckily we had time to stay here for several days. It was incredibly beautiful and actually quite busy during the day with visiting day boats, but usually got quiet after sunset. We had several days of good weather and I was able to swim several times while we stayed there! On our first day, Russ and Jax observed some kids jumping off rocks nearby, so after work, Russ and I hopped in the water and swam over to the rock to jump off while Jax accompanied us in their dinghy for safety.

Rock Jumping

I also managed to build the pole and get some training in!

Due to some heavy winds at the end of the week, we started dragging anchor. Russ and Jax decided to head out to anchor just off Boldt Castle, and David and I joined them later in the evening after we finished up our work day. On Saturday morning, we all boarded Highwind and untied from InQuest who remained on anchor. We tied up Highwind to the dock on Heart Island (about 200 feet away) and unloaded to tour the castle. This castle was self-guided, so we were able to walk around the entire island freely and explore. The castle was built by George Boldt for his beloved wife Louise, but unfortunately she died a few months before they could move in, and he never returned. It was ultimately left to be ravaged by the elements before the New York Bridge Authority ended up owning the island and beginning a years-long project to restore it.

After Boldt Castle, we headed to Clayton, a cute town that had a maritime/wooden boat museum which we managed to squeeze in just before they closed. After that we headed across the street to a brewery and then a little further into town for quick distillery tasting before a lovely meal on the waterfront for dinner.

Waterfront dinner in Clayton

Next up for us on the journey was our crossing of Lake Ontario towards the Oswego Canal (and therefore the end of visiting new places for a while!). This was a trip that we knew we would need a weather window for, and had been tentatively planning to do a working/cruising day on Tuesday. However, as David was watching the weather, we realized that Sunday would be a not-great-but-decent day to do the crossing. Preferring to make the run on a weekend due to our work schedules, we left Russ and Jax, who preferred to wait for the better weather on Tuesday, and set out across the lake. We did encounter some 2-3 ft swells, but periodically hopping up on plane made the journey bearable, and after about 5 hours we passed through the first lock and tied up to the free wall in Oswego. We remained here throughout the week and enjoyed several excellent meals in town, including some amazing sushi, and we even came (a very close) second in a brewery trivia night!

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Kingston and Gananoque

Since our marina reservations wouldn’t start until Monday, we dropped the hook right outside the marina and hopped in the dinghies to shore. While searching for the dinghy dock, we ran into a very nice guy on the dock who offered for us to use his marina slip for the day!

We headed into town and found a brewery where I was reunited in person with Liana, someone I had met 14 years ago at a Harry Potter Conference, but not seen since! We were actually able to see her several times during our stay in Kingston, which was lovely!

On Liana’s recommendation, we had booked tickets for the Kingston Penitentiary Tour, which was really informative! This was the largest maximum-security federal prison in Canada (and the only one for quite some time).

Then afterwards we did an escape room. We decided to extend our planned stay in Kingston through the end of the week – it was nice to spend a few days in the same place after so much cruising on the Rideau! After spending 20 minutes clearing out the solid pile of weed on the entire chain and a huge ball of it on the anchor, we pulled into the marina for the remainder of the week. We had some lovely dinners and did a second escape room :).

After Kingston, we planned to spend some time in the Thousand Islands, first on the Canadian side, and then we’d do our border crossing back into the US. We spent our first night on anchor, and then headed to Gananoque. Unfortunately the marina was full, so we dropped anchor outside of town. We headed into town for a mediocre brunch and then had mediocre beers at a brewery while playing a couple of rounds of Hanabi before a sprint back to the dinghy, getting back to the boats seconds before the sky opened up into a huge rainstorm. At least there was a cool rainbow!

For our last stop in Canada, we ended up on the hook in Grenadier Island where we took the opportunity to swim even though it wasn’t actually very hot! (I just love swimming!!)

Thus completed our cruise in Canada as we would next be crossing the border and heading to visit some Castles in the US side of the 1000 Islands!

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Rideau Canal Pt 2

From the locks at Perth, after I solo-ed the dinghy down through the locks, we headed on Sunday to Colonel By Island, where Russ had read that there were mooring balls. It turned out to be a pretty popular spot – and by the time David and I arrived all the moorings were taken, so we dropped the hook a little outside the mooring field. I prepared waffles on Highwind, while Jax cooked her breakfast specialty of “corny eggs” (she even made some without the eggs for me!), and we hopped in the dinghy over to InQuest for a lovely brunch. After that we took the dinghy’s over to the island and did a “2 mile” hike around the island. After we returned to the boats, I decided that I wanted to do a little swim and thought that maybe I would swim over to InQuest from Highwind. Due to there being a lot of boating activity in the area, David hopped in the dinghy to accompany me for safety and then when I arrived at InQuest Russ jumped in the water with me for a while.

Swimming! (Thanks Jax for the photo!)

In the evening we played some board games while it rained and produced a most excellent rainbow!

We had such a good time on the hook here, that for our next stop we decided we wanted to try for another anchorage on the next lake after one lock. However, after each of us attempting and failing at setting an anchor a couple of times (pulling up mountains of weed each time to be cleaned off the chain and anchor) in two different bays, we gave up and headed to the next lock wall. This turned out to be another lovely park, which was actually quite busy. After my work day, I pulled out the pole and set it up across from the lock.

The next few days were a series of morning locks with stays on anchor or lock walls. One one of the days I had a string of morning meetings, so Russ and Jax boarded Highwind to crew for David up a set of 4 step locks, and then walked back down and brought InQuest up afterwards! We are so grateful for their willingness to adjust to our week-day working cruising schedule and for their help when I’m unable to assist David; it’s been such a wonderful summer so far cruising together!

From Moton Bay, after a very narrow entrance expertly navigated by David, but entirely missed by me as I was in a meeting, we took an evening dinghy to a local restaurant that turned out to be a little bit disappointing. We were surrounded by some good places for cliff jumping, but the weather just didn’t cooperate to be warm enough for post-work swimming. August 3rd was David and my’s 10 year anniversary, which we celebrated while on the hook. I had bought some nice steaks from our Costco run, so we fired up the grill and had a wonderful meal! David might be annoyed whenever I make him take a selfie where LOVE is in the background, but I think it’s worth it to be able to create collages like this!! 🙂

My friend Liana, who lives in Kingston, had been following our progress and recommended some hiking in the area near to us, so on Friday morning, I blocked off my calendar and we dinghied to shore to do a short but steep hike up to an amazing viewpoint.

We completed the final locks on the Rideau canal on Saturday morning and arrived at Kingston!

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Rideau Canal Pt 1

The next day was Monday and we started to settle in to what would become our regular week-day on the Rideau pattern – we would wake up in time to arrive at the next lock right when it opened (at 8am), travel as far as our morning meetings would allow, and then set up for the day of working (either on a lock wall or on anchor). With no specific date that we wanted to complete the Rideau, we were not in a rush and planned to spend at least a few weeks making our way through the 45 locks.

What we really came to appreciate throughout the canal is that the grounds for each lock were treated like a park – with beautifully maintained grounds, often picnic tables etc. This was so much more picturesque than the lock walls/grounds in the Trent-Severn.

We spent the week in this pattern of morning locks and setting up for the night on lock walls. After work, I took the opportunity to take a few runs along the canal, sometimes running between or past locks that we had traversed earlier in the day!

As I mentioned in the last post, we have discovered that the Rideau canal is EXTREMELY weedy. The entire canal is pretty shallow – mostly controlled to around 6ft with weeds growing up to the surface of the water. This presents a challenge to us as we have several things on the boat that intake water from around us (the engines, the generator, and the A/C). All of these systems have strainers that capture particulates as they suck in the water, but if you suck up some weed, that can immidiately gum up in the strainer and then prevent any water from entering the system – which results in overheating and blowing at best an impeller and it just goes down hill from there. So, we have to be pretty careful with use of the engines as we leave lock walls (where the weed grows the tallest), and we are being more careful than usual with our power management since we want to avoid using the generator as much as possible. As a result we basically haven’t been turning on our A/C, even during the humidity and heat of the summer!

On Friday we arrived at Smith Falls – a destination of sorts. We actually managed to snag a spot on the wall that had power, so were able to run the A/C for the afternoon -a luxury!!

After work, we ventured into town for Happy Hour and dinner with Russ and Jax. The town turned out to be pretty small with not much to do, so we decided instead to head to Perth, which had been recommended by some people we had met with on a lock wall earlier in the week.

Perth is actually a side-trip off the Rideau, up a small river that is not navigable by our big boats, but doable by dinghy.

We pulled up to the lock wall on Saturday and dropped our dinghy. Russ and Jax joined us and we ventured through 2 locks and up the river. We enjoyed a lovely afternoon with a visit to a Brewery, a fun game of mini-golf (I scored a hole in one!!) and dinner at a German restaurant. The last lock down was early in the evening, and we knew we were going to miss it, so we took our time and enjoyed a dinghy ride back down the river at sunset and left the dinghy tied up at the top of the lock to retrieve it in the morning, which I ended up doing solo!

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Saying Goodbye to Alex, on to Ottawa

From St Anne, we had only a few more days with Alex. Our plan was to get as close to Ottawa as possible so that Alex would be able to catch a train back to Montreal where he would fly home. We went through a GIGANTIC lock; the entrance into the lock was a massive garage door – something we hadn’t seen before, and as you entered into the lock and tied to the floating dock inside, you could see a massive staircase on the opposite wall that would get completely submerged as we rode it up.

We dropped the anchor for the evening and because it was just about warm enough we jumped off the bow for a quick swim! (thanks Jax for the pic!)

The next day we headed to Montebello where we tied up in a marina and then walked a short distance to the “largest log cabin in Canada”, which is actually a huuuuuuge hotel. We had a lovely dinner that lasted over 3 hours as a goodbye to Alex.

For Alex’s last night, we set up on anchor just outside Ottawa. We planned to be here until Friday morning when we would pass through the 8-step lock into Ottawa city that marks the entrance of the Rideau Canal. We were treated with a dramatic sunset and a lovely meal aboard InQuest that evening and the next day Russ took Alex to land in the dinghy as we waved goodbye between our daily meetings.

We had such a wonderful time with Alex aboard!

On Thursday after work, we pulled anchor and headed over to the wall just outside the 8-lock entrance to the Rideau. Just above the locks on the top of a hill are the Parliamentary buildings of the Canadian government. The views from the river were simply stunning.

The next morning, we woke up just before the lock opened and coordinated with the lock masters for our ride up. There are 8 locks in a row, each one opening into the next. This is a huge tourist attraction, so we were literally surrounded by crowds, some of whom followed us up the entire way! We were crammed in the lock with 2 other boats and almost no room to spare – Highwind and Inquest taking up the majority of space in the lock :). As we rode, there was some kind of re-enactment band parade marching up and down the hill as we rode! As we arrived at the top of the locks, we passed under a low-ish bridge but completely forgot to take down our antennas. The tallest radio antenna (we have two) scraped along the bottom of the bridge. Luckily there was no damage other than a big lump of dirt/mung/spiderwebs that we pulled from the bridge!

Rideau Timelapse

We tied up on the wall of the canal, right in the heart of the city and then after finishing out our work day, we wandered into the city for some dinner with Russ and Jax.

On Saturday morning, I had booked us a walking tour of Ottawa to learn about the city and orient ourselves for the weekend. When we woke up we realized Russ and Jax and Inquest were no longer on the wall ahead of us! They had headed up the river to pump out at a marina, but then sucked up some weed into their engines (weed would become a recurring theme of the next month as we travelled the Rideau) and were stuck making some repairs! Not being able to do much to assist, David and I headed to meet the tour group. Luckily they were able to make some temporary repairs and joined us for the latter half of the tour.

In the afternoon, we walked over the bridge across the Ottawa River and visited the the Canadian Museum of History, which was actually a fascinating museum – one of the best we’ve been to in a while.

On Sunday, we cast off from the wall and went under a very low fixed bridge where we dropped the hook in Dowe’s Lake, also in central Ottawa. David and I first stopped at the marina to pump out. We had to nose-in to their tiny pump out dock, blocking most of their breezeway – ooops! We tied up with Inquest who had dropped anchor, and then dinghied to shore with the scooters and bikes and did a group trip to an escape room. Our original plan was to then Uber to Costco and then return to the boats on the dinghies. However, as we looked at timing and geography, we decided that it would be better to do a few more locks on the weekend day and then Uber to Costco from a lock wall further up the river, even closer to the Costco. At this point, we were getting used to being crammed into the locks! All the locks on the Rideau are the same size and there are 45 total on the Rideau, so we have a lot to look forward to!! Our trip to Costco was uneventful and after a much needed re-provision we settled in for a delicious salmon dinner aboard Highwind after a very long day!

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St. Anne and Montreal

As I mentioned in an earlier post, when we left Quebec City, we would be re-tracing our steps, but this time going against the current. We had therefore 2 veeeeeeerrrry long cruising days ahead of us – cruising at around 6kts. These were working days, which despite me attempting to clear, I did end up having quite a few meetings scheduled. Therefore, I took the first driving shift very early in the morning, while David napped since he would be doing the bulk of the driving in the afternoon with me trading off when he had to join calls. It rained the entire day, and as we were cruising during the week day we met with several shipping container ships that passed us with several large wakes!

He’s cute when he’s napping *heart eyes emoji*

We stopped for the night in Trois Rivieres on anchor and then again just off La Pierre island. These were long cruising days with low key dinners on the boat while rafted at anchor.

We were trying to get reservations in Montreal, but as it would turn out it was a Quebec regional holiday and we could not find any capacity in any marina anywhere! After formulating and throwing out a few different plans, we decided that we would aim for St Anne, which is on the island of Montreal, but at the western-most tip. There is a free lock wall in the middle of the town, which had a 2-night stay maximum, but we had heard that it might be possible to ask nicely to extend our stay. We would arrive just shy of being able to spend the weekend there, where we might be able to make it to Montreal by bus.

The last portion of our cruise to St Anne, the wind started to pick up and we had some pretty strong waves – so Alex had a true boating experience. We arrived in St Anne just after lunch time, and Alex headed off to the bus to visit Montreal and catch up with a mutual friend who also happened to be in the city for work. Unfortunately I was not able to join due to having to complete the work day, but they had a nice time catching up. Just after Alex boarded the bus, the sky opened up as our phones started warning us of a marine thunderstorm.

The second day in St Anne, we confirmed that we would be able to stay through the weekend – yay – and made plans to bus in to the city on Saturday. On Friday night, we had an amazing Fondue dinner. Our waitress, who owned the restaurant along with her husband, was quite the character! The meal was incredibly delicious, starting off with three different kinds of cheese fondue.

The next day, after some quick shopping at the St Anne farmer’s market, we rode the bus into Montreal, about an hour’s ride, and wondered around the city on something of a self-guided tour, ending with a couple of breweries.

On Sunday morning, because we had been able to find Rugbrod, a special kind of Danish bread, Alex was about to make Smorrebrod for brunch. This is a kind of sandwhich buffet with fillings like eggs, potatoes, danish meatballs, and garnishes such as fresh tomatoes, lettuce, blanched onions, and caramelized onions. It was delicious!!

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Quebec City with 1 Dane, 1 Brit, and 3 Americans

The day after we arrived in Quebec City we were joined by our friend Alex, visiting us from Florida. For the evening, we had been invited by Jamie on No Rush for an evening cruise to view a waterfall just south of the city, so we ate a quick dinner after work and headed over to their boat. It was a lovely evening for a cruise and we enjoyed beautiful views and good company all through sunset.

The next day, we hosted a huge potlock with the three of us, Russ, Jax, Jamie, Trish and a couple of their friends too. Luckily our fly bridge table can fit a large party and we had a wonderful time.

The next night we had booked an escape room. Alex was feeling a bit tired after doing a ton of solo-touring through the city while David and I were working, so he wasn’t able to join us, but we did manage to escape. I had been told that it was bi-lingual, but our first clue that we found was in only french. I was able to translate it well enough to help us solve the clue! (Just as they were bringing us the English version after realizing it was not provided to us).

We escaped!

Finally it was the weekend and we started off with a walking tour of the city. We learned a ton about the history of the city and got to see some amazing views wandering all around old and lower town.

We stopped for lunch in an instagram-worthy street with some umbrella street art.

After lunch we walked up the hill again to the fort for some more amazing views.

Later in the evening we had made reservations for a fancy dinner, so we arrived back to the boat very sweaty from the hot day and showered and got fancy and headed out for a fantastic dinner! Of course I failed to take any photos of us looking fancy or dinner, ooops!

On Sunday, the weather was supposed to be a complete downpour so we had not made any plans. Of course, the weather turned out to be ok, but after our extremely busy day on Saturday we were glad for a low-key day hanging out on the boat with Alex and playing some board games while David did a few boat projects, of course!

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We woke up early and cruised for about 10 minutes when we reached the Canadian border. David and Russ hopped off the boat and after about 5 minutes we were both cleared! (No questions regarding our alcohol on board after we went through all the trouble to get it stored!). We stopped for the night at St John where Jax and I went for a grocery (chocolate) run to stock up on Canadian goodies (chocolate). It was a Friday so we had a typical working day, though starting now and for the remainder of our time in Canada we will be almost entirely dependent upon Starlink for our internet (just with a small backup of Google Fi for emergencies), so we’ll see how that goes.

The next day we entered the Chambly Canal, our first of several Canadian canal systems that we’ll be traversing this summer. We had been warned by our friends who went ahead of us that the canal would be narrow and the locks small! As it was a weekend day, we were attempting to get through as many locks as possible. After some conferring once we had shared the dimensions of Highwind, along with those of Inquest, we were cleared to attempt to enter the lock chamber together. With our anchor practically touching the front gate and about a foot of space between us and the other wall, and Inquest’s swim step inches from the door behind us (after we lowered our swim platform so their anchor could overhang better) we were able to fit! Thus ensued a day of approximately 8 thousand locks (i.e. 8) that were all exactly this size!

Russ took some great timelapse videos from his bow, where you can see us squeezed into the locks and passing through some of the narrowest waters that we’ve ever navigated!

We arrived in Chambly and tied up on the wall. It was a charming town and we wandered in to a brewery for a tasting. To our delight, they did a large tasting of every beer they make, which gave us a perfect opportunity to re-create a Short family photo!

The last locks after Chambly are a series of cascading locks – 3 in a row that each empty into one another. We cruised a little further north and stopped on anchor rafted together. The next day we ended up on anchor at Trois-Rivieres. I pulled out the pole, but it was so hot and humid and I was already sweating by the time that I’d finished building it that I spent about 30 minutes slipping and sliding before giving up!

At this point, we are cruising with the current of the St Lawrence River, heading towards Quebec, which is to be our next stop. Technically this is a detour, as we will need to re-trace our steps to get to Montreal, while going against the current (but that’s a concern for another day!).

The next morning, we arrived in Quebec city, which has the most amazing architecture visible on a hill overlooking the marina where we would be staying. This marina has to be entered by a lock during anything except high tide when the doors are left open. We arrived at approximately low tied and piled into the lock with several other boats. It was July 4th – just your average day in Canada!

We were set up in Quebec and intended to stay through the remainder of the week and then we would spend the weekend touring the city.

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Lake Champlain

The next morning, we headed north a bit and dropped anchor just south of Fort Ticonderoga and rafted up with Russ and Jax on one side and some new friends Jamie and Trish on the other side! Though we had work, Jamie mentioned that they were planning to visit a Star Trek museum the next day. I managed to free up a little space on my work calendar, so later in the afternoon we dingy’ed ashore via a jungle-like river into town.

The museum turned out to be an exact reproduction (and I mean exact!) of the original sets for The Original Series. It was very cool and we learned quite a bit about the creativity of the props and set departments and also how William Shatner enthusiastically interacts (aka breaks) everything whenever he visits the museum!

We returned to the boat and I finished out the work day, then built the pole up on the boat and tried out some new combos.

I managed to convince David to get out the drone to get some shots as well!

The next day, I had a string of back to back meetings, but David had some open time in the morning, so he and and the rest of our group went ashore one more time to visit the fort.

The next day we headed to a bay just outside the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum that is run by Basin Harbor Resort. We arrived on a work day, so for us it was picking up a mooring and then head inside for a day of working, and then went in for happy hour and dinner at the resort in the evening. This was my first time in the state of Vermont! As a happy coincidence, a former colleague of mine happened to be in the area on holiday with his family and drove out to join us for the evening!

On Saturday morning, we woke up early and went ashore to the Maritime Museum, which was very interesting and had some actual artifacts rescued from wrecks on Lake Champlain from the Revolutionary War. We then headed back to the boats and cast off towards Burlington where we had decided to spend the weekend. Once attached to a mooring we headed into town to try out some local breweries (and a distillery and a cider-maker), but unfortunately were un-wowed by all 4 places – quite surprising! We did however do an escape room, which was pretty good.

The next morning, we went back to shore and got mani pedis in a big group (only Russ was missing!) and went to a couple more breweries, which were much better! We even used the local bus system, which was completely free.

After Burlington we headed to an anchorage north of Valcour Island to find shelter from some incoming wind. Russ and Jax tied alongside and an uneventful workday passed.

Next, we headed north towards the Canadian border and tied to a mooring in Gaines Point. Our plan was to fill up with diesel at “good” US prices and we hope to avoid needing to get fuel while in Canada. I ordered an Instacart delivery and David received some packages, but there was otherwise not much else to do here, so we mostly remained on the boat.

Friday would be Canada Day, so we decided that we would head to the customs dock (a 10 min cruise north) early in the morning to be there when it opened. We are ready for our Canadian Adventure!

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Seattle and Locks on the Champlain Canal

We had another wonderful and busy trip to Seattle, starting out with an impromptu day walking around the Ballard locks with friends – slightly ironic given what we would be spending the next week doing! As usual, every night we had plans to visit with various friends and family. I also spent a day with some work colleagues in downtown!

The week flew by and we were soon returning back to Highwind on the Hudson. After a red-eye flight, we arrived in the morning and then spent the afternoon working on a few projects, including replacing the original VHF antenna and cable.

We then left Shady Harbor and cruised north to Waterford where we tied up on the free wall for the night. This is the furthest north that we had ever been on the Hudson, as it is the point at which you take a left and enter the first lock of the Erie Canal when doing the Loop. From this point forward, everything is new! Since it was the day before Memorial Day, and late-ish on a Sunday night, pretty much everything was closed, so we had dinner together with Russ and Jax on the boat and called it a night.

The next morning, we headed north to enter the Champlain canal. This is a series of 12 locks that bring you from the Hudson to Lake Champlain. Since it was a holiday and neither David nor I had to work, we were aiming to get through as many as possible.

After the first few locks, we knew there would be a low bridge with just over 17′ clearance. We had been asked our height at the first locks and the lock masters upstream had worked to lower the water depth as much as possible. Even so, I hopped out on the balcony to eye our progress. It was going to be close with the FLIR on the front of the roof clearing with mere inches. I told David to slow down. As we kept moving forward, I kept my eye on the radar dome (on the collapsed antenna). I shouted to David – we were not going to make it! He quickly grabbed some tools and with our boat half under the bridge, detached the dome from the antenna and I held it in my arms as he returned to the wheel and moved us forward. We passed under the bridge very slowly with literally 1 inch of clearance!

For the remainder of the day, we proceeded to pass through at least 20 more of these low bridges – some with only 4 or 5 inches of clearance. At this point we had fully detached the radar dome! Russ and Jax very much appreciated that we were in the lead since they were a little shorter than us and knew that if we cleared the bridge, they could pass on by without worry!

The balcony all day!

The remainder of the day passed without incident and we made it all the way to the wall at the base of the last lock on the canal. Since it was back to work for us, the next day we did a quick lock through as soon as it opened and went only a few more miles north to tie up at the free wall at Whitehall before our day of calls started, but we had made it to Lake Champlain!

For some reason, we never feel particularly rested after a weekend of boating…

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