Jan 4, 2016

Exploring the St. Lawrence with Blount Small Ship Adventures

Our Blount small cruise ship called Caribe Grande made several stops along the St. Lawrence River after leaving Montreal but first we went through the St. Lawrence Seaway locks. Like a stealth ship, while everyone was sleeping, we departed Montreal
and traversed the South Shore Canal’s two locks. The St. Lawrence Seaway system is connected by five short canals that bypass the rapids.  They include 15 locks 766 feet in length that are filled and emptied by gravity. During the day we locked through the rest of the Seaway’s locks. The Snell Lock raised us 45 feet.  The process of locking through never loses its appeal. Truly an engineering marvel.

We went through US customs in Ogdensburg, NY, after which
there was a tour of the Frederic Remington Art Museum. Remington is famed for his bronze sculptures of the Old West. We had time to walk around the waterfront where there were signboards detailing Ogdensburg’s role in the Revolutionary War. There are so many interesting personal stories.  It seems that the Sheriff Joseph York was left alone to man the cannon against hundreds of British soldiers at which point the British commander raised his hand to cease firing and said, “… there stands to brave a man to shoot.”

The western end of the St. Lawrence is home to the 1000 Islands and Millionaire’s Row. Midday we docked on Dark Island for a taste of lifestyles of the rich and famous. We had a guided tour of the five-story Singer Castle that the owners referred to as their “hunting lodge.” The owner, Frederick Bourne, was president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company.  Singer Castle has 28 rooms and secret passageways. The secret passages were used by the servants so they could spy on the diners to see when it was time to serve the next course and maybe for other less appropriate reasons. It is possible to stay in the Royal Suite. 

Our last stop on the St. Lawrence was at Clayton’s Antique Boat Museum, a boat-enthusiast’s dream come true with every kind of boat from Native American dugouts to private luxury yachts to Gold Cup Boats. I liked the collapsible boats, the one made out of paper, and the one that was a cape that could be pumped up to be a boat! 

From Clayton we set sail across Lake Ontario to Oswego at night when the pilot thought the water would be calmer.  It wasn’t.  I wished we had crossed during daylight.  I was looking forward to seeing the shore from the Grande Caribe.

I bought the book “Know Your
Ships” which lists all the ships - salties and freshwater ones – that ply the Seaway. When I saw a ship I would check it off in the book. The book gave a lot of information on the vessels – country of registry, cargo and other information.