Thursday, August 21, 2014

Scattering ashes on the Saint-Lawrence

This is a letter from one of our readers.

Hello Mr. Portelance,

I found your blog site online about sailing around the Montreal area. Unfortunately I do not have a boat, but was wondering instead, if maybe you could help me find some information.
You have obviously spent a lot of time on the water around Montreal, and I was wondering if you knew of anybody whom offers Sailing Tours. I have not been on a sailboat since I was a child, and therefor don't have much of any experience, and have never had a big interest in sailing myself. I ask, because I lost my father recently. He passed away at Lakeshore Hospital in Pointe-Claire. In his younger days he was an enthusiastic sailor. He even had his own boat (although sold it many years ago).
One of his final wishes, were to have some of his ashes left in the St Lawrence river (since that is where he spent so much of his life). I felt that rather than going on a small cruise boat, it would be a fitting tribute to go out in the boat that he loved so much.
Do you know of any companies or persons who sell rides? I ask only because I have had a lot of difficulty trying to find any companies who provide tours online.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my email.

Yours truly,
John Doe

Griffin Sailing Tours would be happy to take you out I am sure. They do short tours up and down Lac St. Louis. 2 people can go for 2 & 1/2 hours for $80. Like the boat Etienne mentioned, the Griffin boat is a larger comfortable sailboat. Griffin Sailing Tours home base is near the locks in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. Click the link above to go to their webpage.

Ralph Stocek


Hello John,

Beaconsfield Yacht Club has a learn to cruise program.  You can certainly schedule an hour with an instructor on a comfortable 27ft keel boat. Their number is 514 695-1272.
Tony Pattison at Baie d'Urfé Yacht Club also runs a learn to cruise program through his sailing school: Ynotsailing. He has 3 locations: Pointe-Claire, Baie d'Urfe and Gananoque. His number is 514 622-3397.

These are the two sailing schools that use keelboats with a cabin on Lake Saint-Louis that I know of. If your father enjoyed sailing, you will find that scattering his ashes from a sailboat is the most appropriate way to go about your mission.

If you don't mind getting your feet wet, Ecole de Voile de Lachine can also certainly accommodate you with a sail on a smaller sailboat.

Good luck in finding the best way to proceed with your father's last wishes.  Hopefully, you might also discover an activity you would like to do more of.

Etienne

Friday, August 15, 2014

La voile à Montréal #6 - Le Lightning au Royal St-Lawrence Yacht Club

C'est la 6e expérience de navigation du projet de faire de la voile à Montréal. Bien que le lieu de départ soit le même que pour l'épisode 5, l'expérience en Lightning et en Laser 28 est radicalement différente.  Pensez moto ou voiture.

Ce 14 août, il fait 14 degrés et il vente à 14 noeuds (avec des rafales à 18).  14 navigateurs sont rassemblés au club du Royal St-Lawrence pour naviguer sur des Lightnings.  Ce sont des dériveurs ouverts et lourds qui sont stockés sur l'asphalte du club.  Ce sont des bateaux sécuritaires et larges qui permettent de naviguer de jour en famille.  Ils sont aussi utilisés en régate par des passionnés.  Lucas Bartulovic a un excellent album de photos de Lightning. 

Nous sommes normalement 3 par bateau, il y a 5 bateaux, il manque donc un équipier.  Ce n'est pas très grave lorsque le vent est faible, mais ce soir, ce sera déterminant. Le bateau aux deux équipiers sera loin derrière les premiers.



Le Lighning est un bateau de 700 lbs.  Il est très difficile, même pour un équipage de trois personnes de le faire chavirer lorsqu'il y a peu de vent.  Il est très rapide à mettre à l'eau et à ranger: toutes les voiles restent à poste, on met une toile pour tout cacher et c'est prêt pour la prochaine navigation.


L'endroit où on met à l'eau les Lightnings est très abrité.  Nous ne nous doutons pas du vent qu'il y a à l'extérieur.  J'ai enfilé pour la première fois de l'année mes gants de voile. Ces gants permettent de tenir les cordages fins sans se faire d'ampoules.


La navigation se fait assez proche du port. En quelques minutes, nous y sommes.  Le courant n'est pas un facteur déterminant aujourd'hui, comme le vent est très fort. Le Lightning possède un spi proportionnellement très gros.


Marc avec qui je navigue pour la première fois ce soir prend un excellent départ.  La première course démarre vers 18:30 et se termine vers 19:00.  Peter Hall est le seul à nous dépasser dans cette course.  À la fin de notre course, nous voyons au loin les Sharks et autres bateaux se préparer pour leur course du jeudi.  Malgré le froid et la pluie qui menace, beaucoup de voiliers sont sur l'eau.

La deuxième course ne se passe pas aussi bien pour nous.  Le comité organisateur indique d'abord que nous devrons faire 3 fois la boucle et ensuite nous mordons le départ, ce qui nous force à retourner en arrière après le départ afin de partir comme il faut.


 Le Lightning est un bateau sur lequel il faut faire du rappel: assis sur le bord du bateau, on met ses pieds sous une sangle et on se penche vers l'arrière.  On compense ainsi la force du vent qui essaie de chavirer le bateau.

Nous arrivons à la première bouée derrière nos rivaux.  Un petit mot sur nos rivaux.  Sur un bateau il y a Peter Hall, champion du monde à plusieurs reprises dans la catégorie "Masters".  Sur l'autre bateau, il y a Chantal Léger, participante aux jeux olympiques de 2004. Sur un autre des bateaux, Rod Hayes, navigant sur Lighnings depuis plus de 30 ans.

Marc, le propriétaire de Nickels and Dimes
Après avoir laissée la bouée au vent à bâbord comme il se doit, nous hissons le spi. Ce qui fonctionne très bien jusqu'à l'empannage.  L'écoute de grand voile s'enroule autour de la main de Marc, ce qui fait dévier la trajectoire du bateau qui "s'enfarge" sur sa dérive et plouf! Tout le monde à l'eau. Je monte sur la dérive, Hélène affale le spi et Marc maintient le bateau face au vent. Une fois remonté, le bateau est plein d'eau. Nous naviguons au largue quelques minutes afin d'aller vite et de vider le bateau.  Lorsque le bateau est enfin vide, nos compétiteurs sont loin dans leur 2e tour.  Nous décidons de rentrer nous réchauffer.



Le bateau est vite rangé et nous profitons de nos vêtements secs et chauds qui étaient restés dans la voiture. Qui l'eut cru pour un 14 août?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Shark U.S. Nationals see good Representation from Montreal

 A lot of SLYVRA (St. Lawrence Valley Yacht Racing) members in the Shark Class went to the U.S. National Championship this weekend in the nearby and gorgeous Mallet's Bay, Vermont. A whopping fleet of 10 teams from BYC, CVDM and PCYC sailed their hearts out and performed well in a regatta of 23 entries. Conditions were light but good after a delay, still allowing for 4 highly-competitive races. Sunday, one race was completed but most of the fleet DNF'd. A great regatta was put on by wonderful volunteers and Shark friends. Top three SLVYRA teams were Chimere (BYC, 3nd), Nuisance (PCYC, 4th), Ketchup (maybe 5th or 6th, PCYC, final results still to be posted). 

Our team, sailing on Ambitious, #901 did very well placing 14th overall. This was our only away-regatta this year. Having just club racing thus far for practice, going into a highly-competitive one-design regatta was a good challenge! We managed to best some more competitive boats in 2 particularly strong races. This tells me the team continues to improve, and the sailing just gets better and better. We have some more good challenges coming up. They will all be local, with the most competitive probably being the Coupe du Quebec Shark Championship in September. Collette sailed her heart out as usual, and it was great having our good friend, current competitor, and Team Ambitious alumni, David Bowen on board.

Chimere (BYC) is becoming the Top Dog of Montreal sail teams with their victory at the Trillium regatta in Toronto, and this performance at Mallet's Bay. Look forward to an exciting performance by Chimere when Team Ambitious mid-crew Collette joins Helmsperson Marion (and I believe Toby's daughter on foredeck?) for this week's Womens' National Keelboat Championship hosted by PCYC.

Fellow Montreal Sailing blogger, Etienne sailed with his team on Ketchup. Crackerjack team that they are, I knew they would be a distant speck ahead on the horizon. This summer, I found that we often mange to stay a little ahead during club racing. However, that is contingent on them having their kids on board and either under their feet, or playing on the low side! Well done Ketchup!

All ten SLVYRA teams sailed hard and passionately at this regatta, and it is wonderful to see Montreal teams making our sport so successful.

http://www.ussharknationals.com/

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Les Jeux du Québec

Les jeux du Québec sont en cours!

Boarding the bus for the Jeux du Quebec representing Lac St-Louis: JT Kelly (PCYC), Liam Parnell (PCYC), Alexa Antoniazzi (RStLYC), Michelle Antoniazzi (RStLYC), Chantal Bourque (coach) & Caroline Bourque (PCYC). Not pictured Justin Robichaud (RStLYC).


You can see great pictures from les jeux du Québec here.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Voile à Montréal #5 - Même quand il n'y a pas de vent

Voici l'article #5 sur la voile à Montréal.

Je fais de la voile depuis 38 ans sur le Lac Saint-Louis, et c'est la première fois que je sors du Yacht Club du Royal Saint-Lawrence à moteur. C'est un port étonnamment accessible pour les puristes, même si les dériveurs doivent parcourir le plus long chemin pour se rendre aux rampes et grues de mise à l'eau.

J'ai eu la chance d'être invité sur Andiamo, un Laser 28 du Royal Saint-Lawrence Yacht Club. J'ai momentanément dérangé la quiétude des membre avec mon appareil photo, et David, le gérant, m'a rappelé que je devais rester avec le membre qui m'avait invité. Voici un Laser 28 avec l'équipage qui endraille le foc


Le Yacht Club situé à Dorval est le plus exclusif et cher. Il offre un tennis et une piscine en plus des espaces à quai.  L'école de voile pour enfants est très actif.  Il offre aussi à ses membres 5 quillards Sharks.

Nous sommes partis du Yacht Club vers 17h30 afin d'être sur le plan d'eau navigable (en face de Pointe-Claire) 35 minutes plus tard. Le bateau est beaucoup plus confortable que le Shark auquel je suis habitué.


La cabine offre de la place pour dormir confortablement à 5 sans déplacer la table, un réchaud à deux feux et deux petites glacières font en sorte qu'il est envisageable de faire de la cuisine dans ce bateau de course.


Une fois arrivés à la ligne de départ, triste constatation: pas de vent. Le diesel fidèle nous ramènera au port 30 minutes plus tard.


Des averses tout autour et du vent à l'arrivée au port. Tous ceux qui font de la voile le savent, il faut souvent être patient.  Le vent revient toujours, mais on sait rarement quand.


Merci à Valérie et Tony pour cette sortie et j'espère que je pourrai me joindre à vous une autre fois.



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Coupe du Quebec 2014 Regatta Report






 Here is another excellent report from Jenn Davey keeping us up to date on the enthusiasm and racing in the growing Martin 16 class. Congrats on the new boat added to the local fleet too! - Ralph

 
It was an exciting weekend of racing at the Pointe Claire Yacht Club as the Association Québécoise de voile adaptée (AQVA) hosted the largest Coupe du Quebec in event history, welcoming 18 boats and 35 sailors from 7 clubs. Sailors arrived from Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and the Northeastern US for the two day event. The weekend kicked off with a special ceremony to christen AQVA’s newest addition to their fleet of club boats, a fifth Martin 16 purchased with the support of AQVA’s new corporate partner, Sperry Top–Sider. 
 
Saturday opened with moderate breeze for the Gold Fleet’s 17 competitors and race Committee fired off three efficient races. As is tradition, while the Gold Fleet raced, the Silver Fleet participated in a rules and tactics session on land, led this year by Tom Bird and Jenny Davey. In the afternoon, the Silver Fleet had their work out for them as the breeze built steadily, settling in around 17 knots with gusts pushing 23. The determination and boat handling were impressive, the companions worked hard to provide support, and there were many smiles to be seen after their two races were finished. 

Sunday brought a mix of conditions, starting with light and shifty breeze for the Silver Fleet’s only race of the day. Gold Fleet saw just about everything, starting with breeze in the 3-5 range, then picking up to more moderate conditions, followed by a quick squall that diminished visibility and brought heavy rain and strong, shifty breeze before the sun finally broke through at the end of the second race. The variable conditions made for exciting racing, and sailors who were able to maintain focus in the challenging conditions made big gains. 

In the end, the friendly rivalry between the host club and their “neighbours” from the Nepean Sailing Club (NSC) Able Sail team continued, with strong performances from both clubs in both fleets. Paul Rees of NSC took third place in Silver, with team mate Karell Regnier taking second. Guy Bergeron, of AQVA, took the top position in his first ever regatta. With the win, he also received the Peg Cup inaugurated at the prize-giving as the permanent trophy for the Silver Fleet winner, named in memory of longtime Coupe volunteer Peg Davey. Gold Fleet top honours and the Faye Schipper Cup went to AQVA’s Pierre Richard, who finished the 5-race series with 6 points after one drop. Second and third places were duked out between a pair of Shark sailors who have turned their attention to the Martin class, with Queen’s Quay Disabled Sailing/National Yacht Club’s Peter Eager taking second ahead of Richard Laxton (Nepean Sailing Club) in third.

As always, the staff, volunteer, and family support from all clubs involved was huge. A big thank you to the Pointe Claire Yacht Club, Principle Race Officer Katherine Bliss-Johnson, Dock Coordinator Paula Stone, Regatta Chair Matt Palardy, the AQVA staff and volunteers and the many out of town supporters who made the trip from near and far to ensure an excellent weekend of racing.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Where to learn to sail around Montreal

First thing you should know: there are keel boats and dinghies.




A keel boat is a sailboat with a heavy keel underneath.  It is stable in will not tip over. It usually has sleeping quarters, a toilet, a navigation station and a place to cook inside, but not always. Smaller keelboats are used for disabled sailors  


A dinghy is a lighter boat.  It will react faster, allowing you to experiment more with the wind. As all things are lighter, sails will be adjusted faster, and you will feel the acceleration from proper sail trim.

I strongly recommend learning how to sail on a dinghy, as it will take less time to understand where the wind is and how the basics work. You will have a head start once you get on a keel boat.  Learning to sail on a dinghy is also usually less expensive per hour. So if your time and money are scarce, you get double advantage: less time required, less time to learn the basics.

The Québec Sailing Federation  will give you a list of the sailing schools in the province.

Most Yacht clubs in Montreal offer sailing courses for adults on dinghies on weekday nights.  Ecole de voile de Lachine also offers introduction sailing classes on weekends on dinghies.

There are sailing schools that focus on keel boats. The program is known as learn to cruise. The Royal Saint Lawrence, Beaconsfield Yacht Club, Ecole de Voile Gilles Tetrault and Ynot sailing offer beginner lessons on keel boats. Ynot still have room in their 2 weekend introductory program that starts July 19.

There may be others, please tell me if there is information missing.

Friday, July 11, 2014

How to crew - a reader's letter

Hi Etienne,

I'm a 20 year old guy with basically zero sailing experience who would love to crew in some regattas, but I'm not sure where to start! I live near McGill, and don't have a car, so it would be a bonus if it was not too far.

Could you point me in the right direction, or offer any me any tips?

Thanks,
Nathan

Hello Nathan,

There are lots of different ways to start sailing. Some read sailing adventure books and dream of inaccessible faraway places. Some want to participate in ocean crossing races.  Some look for a Tuesday night race on the lake followed by a beer.  I'll assume you're just looking for the fun sail on the lake.

Some people accept neophytes into their boats for racing, as long as a commitment is offered.   I started a Facebook group for that purpose, but for now it's still very small.

I recommend a boat with less people on board, you'll be doing more tasks. A 2 person boat means that you'll be doing everything the helmsperson (driver) cannot do, and that may be too much in a race for a beginner. The Fireballs at PCYC are active.

There are two 3 person boats active in Montreal: Sharks and Lightnings.  The Sharks have their own online group at Montreal Shark 

Most clubs have some sort of available crew list, you might want to register there. If you're a strong biker, you can take the Lachine canal bike path and stop at the 3 biggest yacht clubs, in Dorval, Pointe-Claire and Beaconsfield.  You can add Baie d'Urfé if you can bike over 80 km in the day.  All these clubs are accessible by 211 bus from Lionel Groulx metro.

You'll be more attractive to boat owners if you learn how to sail. You can also read about the owner's perspective. I'll write a post on how to learn in the Montreal area soon.

By the way, I'm also looking for opportunities for the Montreal Sailing communities project.

Etienne 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hard Lesson in light fluky air.

The Good Neighbours race June 24th was one of those races where you get bounced around in light, wacky winds.

Our team managed a good start not straying far from the start line in the last minute. The countdown of the last 20 seconds were spent holding a nice clear lane right at the line. Nastier situation for #324. They got caught out on course side before the start, and struggled too late in the light air to get behind the line before the gun. The wind was negligible from the north shore. We found a stream of light ripples on the water and followed it up and clear of the struggling fleet. We didn't even glance at the compass, sticking with wherever we could keep the boat moving.

When the stream of light moving air disappeared on the starboard tack, we switched to port, to hopefully use the current to bring us a little closer. Encore Une Fois which had been ahead on the left chose to stay the starboard course but ran out of gas. The current was pretty much the only thing working for us, but it helped. When we tacked back onto port, we found ourselves on a long lay line to the windward mark and the lead boat.

At the mark, we rounded first, with Yin & Yang asking for room at the mark. They were most certainly entitled, but we managed to squeeze around just clear and ahead. To round ahead, unfortunately required a less than optimal angle out the other side. The breeze had shifted, and we had to launch the spinnaker while moving too far off the optimal course. Yin & Yang managed to flip on to port more quickly than we could jibe our chute. Aaack, they took the clear windward advantage and walked away. The horrible part was not just losing the lead, but the parade of Sharks and other faster boats were then able to all move past us on the windward side. My mistake was not responding by accepting our fate and getting clear away. Instead of soaking to leeward for clear air, I opted to try and fight my way to windward. But with the wind now skewed in direction from the left side, the spinnaker would just collapse in the disturbed air. We got blanketed by boat after boat, and we could not move into a clear gap in the traffic. We got spanked for the error.

Painful lesson re-learned. Sometime the less optimal direction, sailing away on the longer course is still the best course available. Sailing farther, but moving more quickly, would have still meant losing to some competitors, but still beating others who sailed ahead. The tough part is, little time is afforded for making such tactical decisions. Don't be stubborn and unaccepting of your situation. React, or get chewed up and spat out the ass end of the fleet!

We rounded the leeward mark wounded badly, but struggled back into striking position on the final leg to the finish of three boats. Another big shift of the fluky wind came under cloud cover, and this time we were not slow to react. A quick jibe switched our position from behind to windward, and we nipped three boats at the finish. Team Ambitious finished 6th. Yin &Yang sailed brilliantly to win. Ketchup with George and Tof on board sailed from no air on the first leg to a magnificent recovery and third place, second Shark. In between Ben Waring sailed his Grampian into second place. Great to see Ben and crew breaking up the usual standings!

Tonight, we are expecting another light breeze moving from the north shore side, so it might be another crazy race.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Sailing from Montreal #4 with the complete family


When I started the year, I wanted to write about different sailing experiences around Montreal.  Some may argue that this one is too close to #2.  After all, I was on the same boat, with the same skipper.

Pointe-Claire Yacht Club is located in the heart of the Pointe-Claire village, a historical Francophone enclave in an English speaking suburb of Montreal.



When the engine didn't start, there was no panic.  After all, we are in Pointe-Claire, and there are fewer rules here than at Beaconsfield Yacht Club where sailing out of the harbor is frowned upon.  Sailing in and out of harbor is seen here as good seamanship.

What makes the difference this time is the crew.  My whole family is on board George's Shark, with Agnès the prettiest foredeck to grace Ketchup in years. George's son is also on board.


With a crew of 6, we could have sailed two Sharks.  What makes the experience bearable is that the older kids were captivated by tablet games inside the cabin.  With too many feet in the cockpit, releasing sheets gets risky, and sails go down painfully slowly.




George sailed masterfully well and shared the helm for the last run of the race with his son.  We finished second in our class, but the Tanzer 22 that passed us doesn't count, according to this boat owner.  We're really against the other Sharks.  There were at least 9 other Sharks on the race course, the most active boat on the lake.

Thanks George for the great sail and I'll miss you for the next few weeks.