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Crashing into Pointe-Claire and Visiting Montreal

We meet the nicest people at the friendliest yacht club ever!

Pointe-Claire Yacht Club, Isle of Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The thing about Montreal is you can't get there in a big, slow sailboat. The current near the city is too fast for a poky boat to manage the rapids. In fact, that is the exact reason the Cote St. Catherine and the St. Lambert Locks exist, to skip past Montreal and the rapids there.

We knew this and knew that if we wanted to visit Montreal we would have to visit before we went through the last two locks. We scouted out our anchorage in a wide part of the river. The river is so wide in this part, it is referred to as Lake Saint-Louis. However, when we exited the Beauharnois locks, we were greeted by a 3 foot chop due to wind against current. The boat was pounding into it, the northeast wind was gusting up to 25 knots.

Emergency Landing

We ditched the idea of anchoring in these conditions and looked for a safe haven. Dave spotted a marina, I located it on the map, saw it was a yacht club and verified that we had reciprical rights through our yacht club to go there. It turned out that this club, Pointe- Claire, actually gives clubs 3 Free Nights as the reciprical. That's an incredible offer. Usually you get the 2nd night free after paying for the first. I checked out their map online to see where we could dock. I called their office too but it was closed on the weekends (this was a Sunday).

I was eyeballing the club with my binoculars and it looked like we could get to their visitor's dock even with the wind blowing us around. Dave was doing great, heading right for it. I saw people waving to us from the dock and felt relieved that we would get some help coming in with the strong winds.

This is what was supposed to happen.

As I was prepping the lines to throw these people, they all started yelling. When I looked up I saw the wind was pushing us to the wrong side of the dock. When Dave tried to reverse to correct this, the wind gusted and blew us further off the dock into the break wall. The break wall is shaped like an L and we heard a terrible scraping noise as the stern of the boat slammed against the corner of the steel break wall. Dave tried reversing but the wind had pushed us into a corner that we couldn't escape.

My first thought, well we made it two weeks into our trip and now we will be crashed on this wall with a big hole in our boat and that will be that. Positive thinker that I am.

Our boat was stuck in a corner being shoved into a steel break wall.

Fortunately, the group helping us, Rich, Diane, Francis, and Michael jumped into Rescue Mode. They quickly hopped on the boat in front of us and pulled it back out of the way so we didn't trash it. They yelled for us to throw them lines to pull our boat onto the dock by hand. Our boat is heavy, she weighs about 30,000lbs with all our stuff on it (not an exaggeration) and with the wind pushing us, they had to use all their muscles to pull our boat over.

At one point Michael said to Francis, "Are they tied up on the other side!?" because the boat wouldn't budge. But they succeeded in pulling us over and tying off. Dave and I felt the biggest sense of relief. Francis introduced himself, told us to take a minute to relax then come to the clubhouse and he'd buy us a beer. We told him absolutely not, drinks are on us for the Rescue Team!

And that was our introduction to the kindest, friendliest yacht club we have ever been too!

We met some wonderful people that afternoon. Francis and his family, Don and Joni, Peter, Manon and of course Rich and Diane (who first spotted us coming in and quickly got to the dock). We had such a wonderful evening talking to everyone. Don and Joni had been liveaboard sailors for years in the Caribbean. They had great stories to share.

For the next three days, we went on to meet more and more of the members and staff. All were incredibly friendly and gracious to us.

Our very favorite evening there was our 2nd night. Manon came over to our boat and invited us to come by her boat for a beer. Her boat was still on the hard. Her husband Andy was fixing a problem it had with the power steering system. Manon was entertaining herself by playing her clarinet while he worked. She is a professional musician, among her many talents.

We pulled up lawn chairs and chatted with her while poor Andy worked away on the boat. Jan showed up next. He has a Contessa 26 sailboat that was parked next door to Manon and Andy's boat. He came to work on his rudder and shaft but ended up getting pulled in for a beer and conversation as well. Later, Diane and Rich (our saviors) strolled in with their doggy and set up their chairs too.

We were having a great time hanging out with the Pointe Claire bunch learning so much about Québécois, hearing their own personal stories, and the history of Pointe-Claire. They are all so hilarious and easy to talk to, Andy would stick his head out of boat every now and again for a funny comment. Then Manon decided to play some songs on her clarinet. This inspired Jan to get his guitar as well. We learned that Jan is also a professional musician, a classical piano player.

We really enjoyed their jam session. They both could listen to a song on the phone and then play it by ear. Amazing talent and they reminded me why music lessons were wasted on me for years.

The Impromptu Concert!

The next day we headed to Montreal but honestly, we enjoyed Pointe-Claire so much more than sight seeing in the big city. The village of Pointe-Claire is charming and fun to walk around in as well.


I could lie to you and tell you how smart Dave and I were for figuring out how to get to Montreal and find our way around the big city when all the signage is in French but the real answer is an app. Manon told me about the app Transit.

The app works in over 300 cities worldwide. It literally shows you where to stand to catch the right bus or train and how long you have to wait. It gives you all the options including lyft or uber. It then maps out your trip with gps and shows you on the move on a map. It's a game changer when visiting new cities and I know we will use the app again on our travels.

Public transit in Quebec was amazing. The bus from Pointe-Claire to Montreal came every 10 minutes. The ride itself lasted about 40 minutes and only stopped three times. We even hopped on the expressway in the bus lane. In the US, that would have been a 4 hour bus ride with 123 stops along the way. It cost $3.50 CAD per ride. Once in the city, we took the subway to Old Montreal. There were a lot of other places we wanted to see too but we only had one day in the city. It's very touristy in Old Montreal but hey, we are tourists so away we went.

When we popped out of the subway station, we immediately walked down to the waterfront to check out the river from there. We saw the rapids that we were happy to avoid. The whole marina was full of motorboats that can handle navigating there.

We walked around enjoying the beautiful, old architecture. You really do get the feeling you are in Paris when you visit Old Montreal. After partaking in the local food and drink, we decided we better retrace our steps and head back to Pointe-Claire before rush hour.

The next morning we set out for the final two locks. Later down the river, we anchored ifor the night. Anchoring where there is a strong current takes some getting used to. You hear your chain jingling from the water rushing past it all during the night. We stayed there and planned our timing to get to Quebec City. We didn't have any more locks protecting us from tides and currents and planning is everything from this point on.

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Jun 29, 2023

Don and Joni here

Thanks for the kind words and it was great to meet you

Diane Rhodes
Diane Rhodes
Jun 29, 2023
Replying to

You as well! :-) Thanks for reading.


Jun 20, 2023

Ahoy Dave and Diane. I am enjoying your blog and wishing you the greatest time of your life. It seems to be going in that direction. I can see a book in your future Diane. Your Lunky friend, Bonny Bonin

Diane Rhodes
Diane Rhodes
Jun 21, 2023
Replying to

Bonnie! Thanks for commenting! We miss you and the Lunk crew! Hope all is well. We are having the time of our lives. It feels a bit surreal after 5 years of planning to actually be doing it!

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