Awatto, Ottawa!

Ottawa marks the beginning of the Rideau Canal.

Is it Ottawa or Awatto?

A palindrome reads the same way backwards or forwards (such as kayak, mom and pop); a reverse gram or a mirror word is the formation of a new word when you flip the order of the letters, like lap and pal. Although Awatto has a FaceBook page, it’s probably not a valid “word”.

Lock 13

Many of the canals in Canada allow a few transient boaters (usually about four, depending on size) to tie up on the wall near the locks.  Surrounded by a pristine view, Lock 13 was a restful haven.

Ottawa – Museum of Fine Art

Spiders are Creepy at any SizeThe Spider Art at the entry of the Museum was daunting, now I know why Rick has a healthy fear of spiders, and he insists on bringing in the shoes every night!



It was a treat to see one of my favorite pieces from Van Gogh inside the Museum!

Chateau Montebello – celebrating Father’s Day

Thank you to Ray and Caryl for encouraging us to enjoy the Father’s Day brunch at the Fairmont Chateau Montebello.  In Rick’s opinion, the meal was ranked in the Top 3 brunches of all time, over the course of six decades (yep, he’s that old).

For all of you dad’s out there – hope you had a wonderful Father’s Day!

Canadian Museum of History

We highly recommend the Inuit Art Gallery – reportedly the largest totem pole collection in the world.


Rideau Canal

Ottawa marks the beginning of the Rideau Canal, a 125-mile canal system connecting natural lakes and rivers, in a combination of dams and locks, to Kingston. Completed in 1832, there are a total of 45 locks at 23 stations located along the canal, beginning with a stair step of 8 locks  to learn more click here.

In winter, a section of the Rideau Canal passing through central Ottawa becomes officially the world’s largest skating rink

Changing of the Guard and Parliament

At the top of the hour we heard the traditional bagpipes during the changing of the guard at the Memorial Park.


Hello Craig & Maureen!

Craig and Maureen joined us at Hurst Marina in Manotick (Ottawa), Ontario. Together we traveled to Merrickville, where Craig handled the locks like a pro, while Mo took over cookie duties (dock trash).

Merrickville CraigMerrickville3Merrickville2

Thanks, Parc Canada – we are truly enjoying the journey in your canals.

Thanks Houlegan again for navigating, and traveling with us, you are the very best buddy boat!!  MOST OF ALL thanks for hanging out with MS in Ottawa while Rick made another side trip to LA.

Dogs of all Sizes love Ray!


Canadian Geese

We reported earlier about Coyote lawn art – these Canadian geese were not fooled.

Geese are not fooled

Next Stop:

Heading towards Kingston along the Rideau Canal with our most experienced crew members, Craig and Maureen! And, YES, they brought lots of fresh coffee beans.

Where Have We Been So Far?

States and Provinces traversed on the water, commencing March 1, 2018:

U.S. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Vermont.  Canada: Quebec, Ontaria.

Side trips (via land or air):

Los Angeles (MS [April and May], Rick [May and June] & Maddie [May], Cleveland (RMG, Craig, Maddie, & MS [April])


Bon Jour Quebec!

Maddie’s hair was getting a little wild and crazy after more than 100 days on a boat.

The water was smooth as glass at daybreak (4:30 am).  We traveled from Saurel to Montreal with Houlegan again and Vagabond, leaving well before breakfast, again.

Before Breakfast2

Friday Sand Bar

Perfect blue skies attracted countless small boats that were intentionally beached on a shoal; think of it as a local sand “bar.”


Sand Bar

Montreal, the City of Mary (really!!)

Alongside Houlegan and Vagabond, we docked at the Old Port of Montreal, surrounded by a plethora of historic buildings dating back to the early 1400s.

Originally called Ville-Marie, or “City of Mary”, Montreal is named after Mount Royalthe triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city.  Archaeological evidence demonstrates that First Nations native people occupied the island of Montreal as early as 4,000 years ago.  To learn more, click here.

City Hall Montreal

Playground – SOS Labyrinthe

More than just a zip line, next to the port was a popular entertainment venue that offers numerous ways to walk a tight rope.  No, thanks.


Historic Montreal

It was a spectacular weather day in Montreal, prompting us to walk over 15,000 steps 🙂



Notre-Dame Basilica – La Basilique Notre-Dame

Saint Joseph’s Oratory

Gay Village, Montreal

Gay Village Montreal

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Chihuly exhibit
Historic Montreal
Maddie’s new best friend, Ray Houle, carries dog treats in his pockets every day.

Hydro Dam, floating dock locks

Although this lock resembled a guillotine, there was a floating dock inside, perhaps making it the easiest lock we had experienced so far!

Quebec Scenery

The scenery in Quebec is pristine, at the least.


Canadian Rules – Rafting Off – Size Matters

To maximize the number of boats that lock through the Canadian commercial locks, larger boats tie off to the walls, and smaller boats raft off. Houlegan again was a pro!

Canada Transit – Cars, Boats & Trains


Transit in Canada is extremely efficient.  Notice two train tracks immediately above Vagabond in the locks!

Currents against, and in our favor – setting two speed records.  

When the current is pushing against the boat, at 2800 rpms her top speed was 1.76 knots – Yes, Trevor, that’s about 0.1 mpg.  After a u-turn the current was in our favor causing us to break a new speed record, running 15.3 knots at only 1200 rpms. WhooHoo!

Doggie Salon 

Maddie’s hair was getting a little wild and crazy until she spent the afternoon at the Spa Doggie Style in Gay Village, Montreal where a lovable French groomer successfully transformed her back to a little princess.

Next Stop:

Heading to Ottawa to pick up Exhales’ most experienced crew members, Craig and Maureen! And, YES, they are bringing fresh coffee beans.

Where Have We Been So Far?

States and Provinces traversed on the water, commencing March 1, 2018:

U.S. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Vermont.  Canada: Quebec.

Side trips (via land or air):

Los Angeles (MS, 2 times; Rick & Maddie, once), Cleveland (RMG, Craig, Maddie, and MS)


Ohhh, Canada!

As you approach the Canadian border by water you are supposed to fly a yellow quarantine flag, signaling you have not yet cleared customs.  Once you are processed by the authorities, you are allowed to lower the yellow and raise the cherished maple leaf!

The northern end of the Hudson River is bordered by Vermont and New York. At Fort Henry, Dave Floyd noticed a hilltop cannon on the Vermont side – strategically pointing across the river …

Port Henry, New York was one of the cleanest marinas we have ever experienced.  The manager, Dave, even gave our Dave, #8, a ride to the train station so he could join up with a dear friend in New York, to enjoy the Big Apple for a few days before returning to Fort Myers.  Thanks again, #8 for spoiling us with your great cooking, again!!

Port Henry, NY

Otter Creek

We took a breathtaking side trip along the windy and picturesque Otter Creek  – 7 nautical miles to Vergennes, VT.  The creek was bustling with life.



Purple martins on the hillside, surrounded by bird feeders.


These guys were getting ready to do some serious bbq action


Vergennes, VT

Docking at the City Wall meant 50w power, water and a short walk to the village, all for a small donation.  We will be back!!



Maddie was very happy to find a field of soft green grass


Otter Creek Falls – from Shipyard to Hydro Dam

Vergennes was settled in 1766; incorporated in 1788, it is the oldest city in Vermont. During the War of 1812, nine military boats were built in the Vergennes Shipyard, vital to the American victory over the British Royal Navy.   The fleet included the 26-gun Saratoga and the 17-gun schooner Ticonderoga. After the War, from 1815 until 1916, Lake Champlain Steamboat Company offered both passenger and freight service from Vergennes. Now the falls are the source of hydro power for the county.


Otter Creek Falls2

Otter Creek Falls

Historic Vergennes

Vergennes City hall

Vergennes Church

Mat 150 year old family home

Vergennes was worth the detour; friendly folk, family owned boutiques, and great restaurants within easy walking distance.

Lake Champlain

Delighted to see deeper waters, we marveled at the blue sky over Lake Champlain.


Deep waters measured over 410 feet!

410 feet



Ohhhh Canada!  

When approaching the Canadian border by water mariners fly a yellow quarantine flag, signaling you have not yet cleared customs.  Once processed by the authorities, you are allowed to lower the yellow and raise the cherished maple leaf!



Clearing Customs in Canada with Vagabond.


Champlain Locks – over the course of two days we traversed 13 locks with our travel buddies, HMS/Vagabond and Houlegan again.  



Sometimes it was a tight squeeze, as you can see there was no room to spare between Vagabond and this Canadian boat.



Marina Saurel

We found a retreat at Marina Saurel. Here’s a link to the marina – in French, or English  Not speaking French is a handicap for us, but the Canadians are sooo friendly, and surprisingly forgiving if you just try, a little, and, they love it when we leave cookies and Vagabond leaves a bag full of candy at the locks!  It turns out, Rick’s high school French was very helpful. So glad you were surrounded by French at a young age, Looper buddy, Ray!



Special thanks to the staff, we appreciate both your humor and your kindness.

Here’s a special photo for Scrapman Mike

Scrap for Mike

Next Stop:

Heading to Montreal, with a few locks in between.  Merci!

Where Have We Been So Far?

States and Provinces traversed on the water, commencing March 1, 2018:

U.S. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Vermont.  Canada: Quebec.

Side trips (via land or air):

Los Angeles (MS, 2 times; Rick & Maddie, once), Cleveland (RMG, Craig, Maddie, and MS)



Locks & Fixed Bridges – Time for Plan B?

We arrived at a fork in the road.  For months we had agonized over the better route, “Erie or Champlain?” The challenge: several fixed bridges on the Champlain route (bucket list preference) restrict access, causing most loopers to opt for the Erie Canal route (Plan B).

In 2017, the Erie canal celebrated its 200th birthday! Originally 4 feet deep and 40 feet wide, it successfully floated boats carrying up to 30 tons of freight.

Cross-section of the original Erie Canal




If you want to learn more about the Erie Canal, click here.

Erie New
Looking up the Canal
Erie Old
Waterfalls from the original lock
Erie Old2
Looking down the Canal

The original canal runs along side the enhanced canal which is now 70 feet wide and 7 feet deep.  Now it can handle boats carrying up to 240 tons of cargo.

The “air draft” (height) is measured two ways – first with all the electronics in place (Exhale is 19’3″),  second with everything you can possibly remove lowered from the hard top –  radar, radio antennae, wifi, you get the idea. The measurement changes slightly when the water and fuel tanks are full as well as when there are people and provisions on board – don’t worry Maddie, you and your food won’t make much difference, Donna’s luggage on the other hand might have …Our air draft was 17’2″ after we took everything off the hardtop. 

Many of our boating friends were avoiding the Champlain route, frightened off by a 17′ fixed railroad bridge near Whitehall.  During the AGLCA rendezvous we heard the water levels were low, making that bridge height more like 17’4″. If it did not rain heavily we just might make it. Not a lot of room for error.

Plan B was to take the Erie Canal. We docked on the wall at Waterford, gateway to either route, planning to measure the boat, again, to consider our options.

Waterford. Decision time.

WWRD? So glad you asked, Rick successfully connected with the NY Canal Section Superintendent, Timothy McInerney. He’s the guy who gives direction to “raise and lower the water pools” 🙂 We were shocked when Tim arrived at our boat in Waterford, and elated when he said, “Go for it!” We would reach the lowest bridge by mid-day tomorrow, worst case we could turn back.  We were even more impressed when he not only was at the first lock of the day, but he drove ahead to all of the low bridges, to monitor, and cheer, the nail biting journey!    Traveling with loopers HMS/Vagabond and Houlegan Again, we took off early in the morning.

The first low bridge

Tall Guy, ready to measure the bridge clearance.

Our trusty crew member, Dave Floyd, aka Almost #8, is 6’2″.  He volunteered to monitor the hardtop. We nervously drifted under the bridge, down below Capt Rick was prepared to throw it in reverse if there was any danger of getting stuck.

23 inches to spare!
Looks good so far, Capt.

Railroad Bridge #2

Houlegan (We call them hooligans and shenanigans) decided to measure as well.

Hooligan Shenanigan making fun of the measurements.

It was smooth sailing under the second low bridge, again, nearly two feet to spare!

Approaching another low bridge.



In between bridges we went through a total of 12 locks in the Champlain Canal.  Our Guardian Angel, Pilgrim HMS/Vagabond, stayed close all day.

In Fort Edwards we were surprised to discover the flood control gate was not fully raised to it’s normal height of around 25′.  We think it was closer to 18′, and it looked like a deadly guillotine.  Yet another nerve racking moment.



Along the Champlain Canal we noticed a growing trend of lawn sculptures – apparently to detour pesky geese and other critters.

Watch Dog Lawn Sculpture

We were happy to see Canal 8, brought to you by #8.  Yes, Mo, the little paper bag on the shore is special dock trash.  This one contained a mini bottle of Titos and a granola bar – breakfast of champions.

Testing the Air Draft

There she was, the infamous 17′ Railroad Bridge.  With Houlegan Again and Vagabond slightly ahead of us, we took it really slow.  They told us later they were all going to jump on our boat, for extra weight, if we got stuck.  Photos from both boats show how close it really was –  we made it!!


Duck Dave, only 2 inches to spare.
She Cleared!!!

Thanks, Tim – for lowering the water pools – and for escorting us all morning, you are one in a million!

Electronics Reinstalled

Rick and Dave reinstall the electronics.

Thanks to the handy work of Rick and Dave, we were back in business.

Champlain Bridge – what a welcome sight.  Now that’s a comfortable clearance!

Champlain Bridge

Blue Skies Ahead


Next Stop:

Heading towards Burlington, VT.

Where Have We Been So Far?

States traversed on the water, commencing March 1, 2018:

Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Vermont (9).

Side trips (via land or air):

Los Angeles (MS, 2 times; Rick & Maddie, once), Cleveland (RMG, Craig, Maddie, and MS)




Roosevelt, West Point, and the CIA

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) had a lasting impact – regardless of your party choice.  During the first 100 days, he signed into law the Beer-Wine Revenue Act; paving the way to repeal prohibition in 1933.

“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), served as the 32nd POTUS, 1933 – 1945. Elected to office four times, his administration introduced and implemented countless programs to benefit Americans, young and old, regardless of your party affiliation.

Eleanor and FDR

The Roosevelt Library

FDR was deeply involved in every facet of the library’s development; he chose a Dutch Colonial style of architecture, to represent a sense of endurance. The library opened on June 30, 1941. The first Presidential Library, it has the distinction of being the only one that has opened while a President is in office.

Born in Hyde Park, NY on 01/30/1882, FDR died on April 12, 1945 in Warm Springs, GA.  He contracted Polio in 1921, and carefully hid is disability from the public. Many have said the pressures of World War II killed him; the war ended on Sept 2, 1945.

Roosevelt tomb

The Library included the original March 4, 1933 Inaugural address.

March 4, 1933 Inaugural address. the Fear speech.

“… the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”

During the 1932 campaign, backed by the union, FDR came out against prohibition.  During the first 100 days he successfully passed the Beer-Wine Revenue Act, announcing “Beer Returns”.

Although elected 4 times by popular vote, he knew not everyone was a fan.

Hate Mail

“I voted for you, I shall always be deeply ashamed of that vote.” 

Roosevelt childhood home

FDR was born in this home. Remodeled and expanded over time, his mother, Sara, remained there until her death.

Planting Trees – New Farming Initiatives

During the Great Depression, farms were abandoned; massive fields of cleared land, without water or vegetation, became nothing but dust.  One of the earliest programs of FDR was the formation of a civilian conservation corp that enlisted 250,000 youth, ages 17 to 25, who planted over two billion trees to stop the soil erosion, eliminating the Dust Bowl. It was nice to see his farming efforts stretched all the way to the territory of Alaska (yes, Finny, the Matanuska Valley farms stem from his program).

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (10/11/1884 – 11/7/1962)

First Lady Eleanor, was a diplomat and an activist.  She even faced death threats, rumored to be from members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).  Founded in 1890, the DAR remains a controversial, highly selective organization (to read more click here).

DAR hate

President Harry S. Truman later called her the “First Lady of the World” in tribute to her human rights achievements.

On behalf of all the ladies out there who were deeply inspired by the love and courage of our First Lady; thank you, Eleanor. 

Here’s a little trivia quiz:  What – or who – was:

  1. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s maiden name
  2. The President credited with the repeal of the 18th Amendment
  3. The only president elected to four consecutive terms
  4. The president who included credit legislation in his farm programs, introducing the Emergency Farm Mortgage Act and the Farm Credit Act.
  5. The President credited with the formation of the Tennessee Valley Authority
  6. Who designed the first national presidential library.

Answer is at the very bottom of this blog post. 

FDR – Senior Programs

In 1935, his lasting gift to seniors was the creation of Social Security; a program that has survived MUCH longer than anticipated.

Visiting the CIA Headquarters

We were excited to visit the CIA – no, Craig, it was not the Central Intelligence Agency – YES, Danielle and Sandra, we went to the New York campus of the Culinary Institute of America, the world’s premier culinary college! To learn more about the school, click here. As they like to say, Food is Big Business. It was a magnificent tour of the central campus, including the main building, a pristinely restored Jesuit church constructed in 1903, complete with original tiffany fixtures. Our charismatic guide, Ezra Cohen, will be graduating soon, with a plan to expand his culinary talents in Italy.


CIA logo


West Point US Military Academy

As you can see, West Point sits on prime real estate, overlooking the Hudson.  Here’s our view from the water.

Westpoint Academy

Unfortunately, we ran out of time to visit it, due to a repair of the thrusters. And then there were three.

There should be 5 blades ..

Captain in Training

Bravo to our return crew member, Dave (also our first guest – in early March), who is learning one of Rick’s best captain techniques, driving with his feet.

Dave driving with his feet

Donna found a moment to relax with a cup of hot tea.


This little boat, seen in Roundout, NY, is for Mathilda, aka Sam.


Next Stop:

Heading to Albany, New York. Guests on Board – Donna and Dave 🙂

Trivia Answer:  Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Roosevelt ...  All of the answers are Roosevelt, including Eleanor’s maiden name; married in 1905 – she was a 5th cousin once removed to FDR, her uncle was Teddy Roosevelt. To learn more about Eleanor, click here.


New York, NY – Let Freedom Ring!

Great Loop Bucket List Item 2 – anchor out behind the Statue of Liberty.  Check!

The Statue of Liberty is more than just symbolic.  Majestic, at a minimum, it was emotional to get up close and personal with buddy boats Vagabond and Meanders, while dodging a steady stream of commuter ferries and commercial marine traffic!

Liberty Lady Full Size
Liberty Lady – photo by MaryS (iPhone8)

Lady Liberty was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the US, in 1886. The unique copper statue is recognized as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. For lots of fun facts about the magnificent greek goddess, including the story of the first ticker-tape parade and dedication ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland click here.

Vagabond and Liberty Lady
Donna and Liberty Lady
Donna Wallace
Seeing Double Exhale Meanders and Liberty Lady
Seeing Double! Exhale and Meanders. Photo by Mats Persson, Vagabond.
Exhale and Liberty Lady
Exhale and the Statue of Liberty. Photo by Nancy Rea, Meanders.

Great Loop Bucket List Item 2 – anchor out behind the Statue of Liberty.  Check!

Did you know you can actually drop an anchor behind the statue?  Vagabond, Meanders and a small handful of private boats spent a magical night protected by Lady Liberty.

New York Harbor

Even on a cloudy day, the view of New York from the water was magnificent.

Hudson River

If you saw the 2016 award winning movie Sully (here’s a quick link), you have certainly seen footage of the Hudson River – Sullenberger’s January 2009 emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549.

We were amazed by the magnificence of the natural cliffs.  Surrounded by bedrock and mature trees, it was definitely not a flood zone.

Hudson Bridge3

Connecting with North Pacific friends

Thanks Pam & Rick Bunting (they also own a North Pacific).  Rick B. commissioned Exhale a little more than 2 years ago, handling all the final mechanical and engineering details to get her up and running smoothly.  He is a true guru.  It was a sincere pleasure to see you guys in Half Moon Bay!  The sushi dinner was yummy, too.

Also known as Looper Ville, Half Moon Bay was gorgeous.

Half Moon Bay Marina Sunset
Sunset at Half Moon Bay Marina
Half Moon Bay Marina

A big congrats to Penny and Mats Persson, Vagabond, who are celebrating the citizenship of their son in Philly.  Let Freedom Ring!

And a warm hello to my little sister Frances and her boyfriend Michael, on holiday in France.  Finny, please tell your new friends thanks for the sweet copper statue!

‘lil sis, Frances, in France

Welcome back #8.  You win a special award for packing light.  It was a lot of fun attempting to unravel the mystery of whether it was you, or #7, joining us. We look forward to Hazel showing up in the future!

Details about our adventures at the CIA and the Roosevelt home in the next post.

Mystery guest arrives.

Next Stop:

The looper parade is heading up the Hudson River. Guests on Board – Donna and Dave 🙂