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Schooner Lois McClure | SHIP'S LOG
MEET THE CREW
Leo Straight
Leo Straight 
 
I was born in Keene Valley, NY and moved to Marshfield, Vermont in 1994. I have been fascinated with sailing vessels for most of my life and try to sail regularly on the windjammer fleet from Camden, Maine.

When I learned of the "Burlington Schooner Project" I went to check it out and have been as involved as I could be in my spare time. I volunteered some time during construction, crewed during the Grand Journey to New York, helped with scraping & painting during the 2006 haulout, crewed on the Plattsburgh tour in 2006, as well as other weekends throughout the season, and crewed during the '07 Erie Canal Tour as well. I enjoy being a part of the journeys and learning more as I teach others about how these boats and the canals (not to mention the people who made it all work) shaped the countries around us. I look forward to my next trip on the Lois and more in the years to come.


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Trois Rivieres to Montreal | July 14

Leo Straight
 
Mon. July 14,  Trois Rivieres
7:00 AM Monday in the cargo hold of the Lois McClure...  "Since everyone is here we should start our morning meeting now," Roger says.
 
Towing on Lac St. Pierre
(right) Towing on Lac St. Piere. Photo by Leo Striaght.
 
That being done we cast off at 7:30 with a strong wind pushing us against the wall at Trois Rivieres, but with the C.L. Churchill and the Grey Oocher working together we made our way off the wall and got underway towards Lac St. Pierre ... Once again head on into the wind.  As we entered the lake the Oocher was moved aft of Lois for towing and I now boarded Churchill along with Roger & Art for the day and the long tow across Lac St. Pierre.  The Churchill is moved to Lois' bow and the tow hawser is secured and fed out as we start across the lake.  Towing from ahead rather than pushing from the hip is better here due to current and possible rough water.  Wind is across the port bow so we make good time, about 3.5 knots.  This changes though when we veer onto the broad lake and the wind is once again head on slowing us to 3 K or less. 
 
Looking at the water flowing past one would think we were screaming along.  Water speed under the hull is probably 5.5 - 6 knots, but our actual speed is more like 1.5 -2.5 K.  Strong current and some choppy waves.
 
At noon Roger, Art and I dined on gormet sandwiches, chips and cookies prepared by Kathleen.  Actually, it was more like we took turns munching our lunches and catnapping.  I was surprised how tiring it can be on the tug.  The droning of the engine, constant vigil watching for buoys and oncoming traffic, and I wasn't driving!
 
A squall develops ahead, looks like we are heading for it.  Approaching the channel it is time to haul in the tow line.  Then we ready the bow and stern lines to hand off to Lois as Churchill nestles up to the starboard hip.  Ten minutes later we are underway and the squall has missed us.
 
6:00 PM we are in the channel again and I go back aboard Lois.  Sorel is in sight, but still plenty of time for dinner.  After dinner we approach the Richeleau River and our berth for the night.  Secure to the dock at 8:00.  12 1/2 hours today!
 
Then Scudder discovers the trestles are not where they had been left, and it turns out a barge came earlier and loaded everything and left.  Erick & Scudder left in the Oocher to track them down.  They were located and with a couple of phone calls were assured that they would be there when we returned.
 
Later, below deck, laughter erupts as Zach, Molly, Tom, Kathleen, Barb and I engage in an energetic game of spoons.  No wounds occurred during this game.  Still not sure who was the winner, but we had fun.
 
Tues. July 15, Sorel
Up at 6:00 a crowd gathered around the coffee pot waiting for the red light.  Erick couldn't wait and went in for an early cup. 
Meeting at 7:00 once again and cast off at 7:30.  Kerry and Tom take a detour with the Oocher to a marina to get ice and fuel for Churchill and return shortly tying up to port side and offload the supplies.  With Oocher pushing the speed once again gets a boost.
 
We are underway, but no slacking.  There are decks to be scrubbed in the hold. Once that is finished, we can relax for a bit.
 
Smooth going now, but as is the norm, the wind picks up in late morning and we are going right into it.  We keep plugging at an average of 2 to  2.5 knots.  Around 1:00 Erick flakes the anchor chain to be ready when we reach Iles aux Prunes, which is in sight but still 2 hours away.  Roger brings us out of the main shipping channel and we anchor between Ile aux Prunes and Ile Bouchard.  3:00 anchor set and holding.  This is such a peaceful spot, we will sleep well tonight.  The afternoon is spent relaxing.  A good time to catch up on reading, or catch a nap, but not Art or Erick.  They are busy making phone calls and dealing with logistics of the trip. 
 
After dinner we watch a spectacular sunset and enjoy the moon for a while before everyone turns in.
I sleep on deck tonight under a starry sky and almost full moon, keeping an eye on the range markers, just for peace of mind. 
 
Sunrise at Ile aux Prunes

Sunrise at Ile aux Prunes. Photo by Leo Straight.

 
Wed. July 16, anchored off Ile aux Prunes
5:00 AM brings a stunning sunrise, which I was able to photograph.  Then back in my sleeping bag for more shuteye.  The next thing I knew the aroma of coffee was drifting up on deck.  Everyone else was up and the red light was on! 

7:00 meeting, then prepare to be underway once again.  I am once again aboard Churchill to handle lines as we move to portside.  Back aboard Lois we raise anchor and find we didn't need to worry about dragging the anchor, it was set so hard in the clay bottom that we broke a handspike trying to pull it free with the windlass.  Better to work both sides together for leverage as opposed to alternating for speed at this point.  We also employed the Churchill to push us forward to break the anchor free.  An option not readily available in the "old days".  Anchor aboard and underway at 8:00.  More traffic on the river as we approach Montreal.  Around 11:00 Montreal is in view and we ready ourselves for a tow by a pilot boat.  The Ocean Kallik arrives at 12:30 and takes our tow line and puts the 1000 horsepower into action.  I don't think I have ever moved this fast on the Lois
 
There were docks full of shipping containers as far as we could see at this point and a flurry of activity as trucks came and went and containers were lifted off and stacked in preparation for loading on freighters.  Trucks, forklifts cranes all in motion.  Modern shipping in action.
 
What would Theodore Bartley feel if he could see this?  Would he be impressed? 
 
We reached 5.5 - 6 knots under tow against a powerful current into Montreal and when the pilot boat left us we made our way into the basin and secured to the dock by 2:30.
 
Here we go again!  Gangway run out, awnings up, scrub the deck and hull, coil lines.  Looking like 1862 again.  Ready for visitors tomorrow.  Next is a welcome shower before exploring the city.
 
Lois McClure, Churchill and Oocher in Montreal
 
Lois McClure, C.L. Churchill and Ooocher in Montreal. Photo by Leo Straight.
 
The trip from Trois Rivieres to Montreal seemed so slow to us, who are used to traveling 60 MPH wherever we go, but, reading Theodore Bartley's journals we discover that his journeys were very much like ours was this week.  Slow and patient, we will get there when we get there.   And we did.  
 
Fair winds,
Leo    


 


  
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