Monday, August 23, 2010

The Log: Iroquois Lock to Lac Saint Louis - How to Lock on the St. Lawrence Seaway

Leaving Smith's Island our first encounter was the Iroquois Lock - first of the St. Lawrence Seaway Locks.  It is a standard lock.  Here is how you do it:

1. As you approach the Lock:

 You look for a series of diamond shaped red signs.  These signs are Limit of Approach Signs.  There are 3 of them at each lock: LA1, LA2 and LA3.  If any of the LA signs is lighted red DO NOT GO BEYOND LA3.  Here is what a Limit of Approach Sign looks like:

This is LA 1.  It is dark.  Here is what a lighted LA sign looks like:

You can see the green lights above the LA diamond.  Always watch for the LA3 sign as it is the critical one.  When the LA signs light up green you should be able to enter the lock.  You confirm that you have permission by looking at the big black sign just at the entrance to the lock:

If you look to the right of the mast and just above the granny bars you can see a big black board with two tiny green lights, one over the other.  This means you can enter the lock.  Here is a blow up of the sign:

Now you can enter the lock:

You can't really see them but there are two seaway employees standing at the side of the lock just where they want you to secure your boat.  You take your boat to that place on the lock wall and the seaway people hand you two lines.

One person on bow and one at stern will take the lines and hold them.  At one lock the seaway employees wanted us to secure the lines on cleats which we did.  At the rest we just held the lines.

The lockmaster lets the water out of the lock and you pay out line at bow and stern as you go down.  You end up here:

When the lock doors open you let go the lines and steam out.  Just make sure you watch for incoming traffic:

There are some oddities:

1.  You pay $25 per lock.  If you want you can pay at each lock with no problems.  Try to have exact change.  If you want you can buy "tickets" from a machine located at a pleasure boat dock which every lock has.  We did not and we do not recommend you do.  I mean Why?  Unless you don't have the cash.

2. At the US docks you cannot use the tickets you buy at Canadian ticket machines.  The fee is $25 US or Canadian.  No exchange rate is applied.

3. At the US Locks they make you wear your lifejackets while they are locking you through.  There are 2 US locks - Eishenhower and Snell. 

4. Each lock has a pleasure boat dock for use if you have to wait at a lock.  The docks are all located at convenient and sensible locations at each lock.  It may seem as if you are going past a LA3 sign to get to the pleasure boat dock.  You are but it is ok to do so.  Just stay off to the side.  At the pleasure boat dock there is a direct phone line to the seaway and a guy who will tell you how long you have to wait.  There is also a ticket machine if you insist on buying the silly seaway tickets.

5. If you buy tickets at the Canadian machine DO NOT BUY ANY FOR THE US LOCKS.  They will not take them and I suspect you have just wasted $50.

Leaving Iroquois lock we contined that day to the Eisenhower and Snell Locks and anchored behind Saint Regis Island.  We had great protection from current and wind and slept well (see, I told you)

Next day we rose early and set off for Montreal.  We cleared the Beauharnois Locks 1 & 2 anchoring for the day behind one of the Isles de La Paix.  We have already written about the approach to Montreal.  

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