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Old 01-05-2014, 12:01 PM   #1
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Rideau Canal cruising

We are planning a tandem cruise this summer with our sister ship Shambahla to the Rideau canal and are looking for any and all nuggets of wisdom from our fellow cruisers. We have a 2 week window and will likely be setting out late July - early August. Our home port is Wilson, NY and will cruise to Bay of Quinte through to Adolphus Reach to Kingston. Would love to get to Ottawa but time may be a factor.

My research to date tells me that reaching Ottawa is a 3 to 5 day cruise from Kingston depending on multiple factors, i.e. locking through, local "traffic", and our own cruising schedule. My question then is, would it be worth trying to push through to reach Ottawa and then take a more leisurely cruise home or should we just soak in the sights and come what may?

Reading some entries yesterday gave me reason to believe that the locks have reduced staff as well as hours so that may have to be factored in also. Has anyone done this trip in the recent past and any recommendations - input to pass along?

As always, thank you in advance for your anticipated response and much appreciated advice.
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Old 01-05-2014, 12:15 PM   #2
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It's a great trip, and we wrote about it in a blog at Adventures of Tanglewood: The Plan: Complete the Downeast Loop You will need to skip ahead a bit to get to the Kingston and the Rideau since we started in Gloucester, MA. A lot of people make a loop of it. Take the Rideau to Ottawa, then come back via the Ottawa River, Montreal, and the St Lawrence. If you loop that way, you might consider going counter-clockwise so you have the St Lawrence currents in your favor rather than against you. It all depends on how much time you have. The stair-step locks in Ottawa a pretty cool to go through. In general I'd favor enjoying the trip over reaching some particular point.

One thing to be aware of is the Quebec Trades Holiday. Or it might be all of Canada - I'm not sure. But there are two week somewhere in the July/Aug time frame where all the plumbers, carpenters, roofers, pavers, electricians, etc get two weeks off, and I hear that at least half of them hit the Rideau, many doing the loop I described. We missed it, but I gather it's quite the zoo. Your choice whether you want to be part of the party, or avoid it. A little googling I'm sure will reveal the dates.

Enjoy the trip!
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Old 01-05-2014, 03:35 PM   #3
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Rideau canal passage
The Quebec trades holiday is specifically in Quebec. Generally a manufacturing type shut down,not disrupting tourism.
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Old 01-05-2014, 03:43 PM   #4
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Rideau canal passage
The Quebec trades holiday is specifically in Quebec. Generally a manufacturing type shut down,not disrupting tourism.
Thanks for clarifying. I didn't mean to imply that services would be curtailed, just that the waterway will be a lot more crowded and rambunctious than other times.
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Old 01-05-2014, 04:11 PM   #5
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Greetings,
Mr. S. In conversation with Canadian friends, the Quebec trade vacations do not impact directly on the operations of the canal systems. The slow downs are as as a result of increased volumes and congestion as Mr. tt inferred. That coupled with some decrease in operating hours (to save money or some such) could put THAT loop out of Mr. V's time limitations.
I hear it's quite beautiful.
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Old 01-05-2014, 06:09 PM   #6
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We did Rochester to Smiths Falls and then a few days in the 1000 Islands and back in two weeks. To go to Ottawa and back in two weeks from Wilson would really be pushing it.
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Old 01-05-2014, 06:32 PM   #7
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Rideau canal passage
The Quebec trades holiday is specifically in Quebec. Generally a manufacturing type shut down,not disrupting tourism.
Try finding a slip or an anchorage anywhere in the Thousand Islands or the Rideau during that period then tell me there is no impact.
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Old 01-05-2014, 06:41 PM   #8
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Try finding a slip or an anchorage anywhere in the Thousand Islands or the Rideau during that period then tell me there is no impact.
Ah it's busy because it's summer and it's beautiful to cruise. It's has nothing to do with the summer break in Quebec! Everyone and their dog take their vacation this time of year. It's busy everywhere on the water!
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Old 01-05-2014, 06:44 PM   #9
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Ah it's busy because it's summer and it's beautiful to cruise. It's has nothing to do with the summer break in Quebec! Everyone and their dog take their vacation this time of year. It's busy everywhere on the water!

Yes it's busy everywhere but you have to experience that area in the last two weeks of July when every boat in Quebec heads that way at the same time to understand.
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Old 01-05-2014, 06:53 PM   #10
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I have cruised those areas and others extensively during those time periods and yes there is a huge influx of the French all summer long. Still has dick to do with the construction break. JMO.

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Old 01-05-2014, 07:03 PM   #11
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We did the Rideau in 2000. It was a high point of a trip filled with high points. Say hello to the folks at Indian Lake. And bring US "Coke-a-cola" for the lock tenders.

Here are some pictures from the trip. There were no blogs back in Y2K so you have to use an old version of MS Internet Explorer and mouse over the thumbnail pictures to see the comments. If you click on a picture it will expand. Someday I'll redo it. Both the webpage and the trip.

welcome2

I wouldn't worry too much about the "crowds" of Québécois. Yes - the locks are filled with speedboats with guys in speedos and babes in bikinis. But they only usually wear the bottoms. Sorry - no pictures.....
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Old 01-06-2014, 08:29 AM   #12
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We did the Rideau last year. The 1st half or so was during the 2 week holiday period and it was without a doubt more crowded. The shortened hours also had an impact.
All the step locks were very crowded and we waited to get thru. Not a really big deal but something to consider as it definately slows you down esp if you are locking down (they do the up locking first).
There are also bridges that have shortened hours now and that also has an impact depending on which way you are headed.
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:01 AM   #13
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We transited the Rideau from Ottawa to KIngston. At anchor off of Kingston I was doing the log and commented to THE WIFE that we had just spent 3 WEEKS on that leg of the trip and could have spent more.
There is a lot to see and do in that short, mileage, trip.

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Old 01-07-2014, 02:48 PM   #14
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Ah it's busy because it's summer and it's beautiful to cruise. It's has nothing to do with the summer break in Quebec! Everyone and their dog take their vacation this time of year. It's busy everywhere on the water!
We have a summer home and dock on one of the islands between Kingston and Gananoque Ontario. Summer is busier, a few more boats pass by than in May or September. When the QC holidays start in July, there is a boat highway in front of my dock ... all back to summer normal in August.



Beautiful area to sail, boat, and cruise nevertheless ...
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Old 01-08-2014, 06:25 AM   #15
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The most interesting chore on the Right loop is needing to have fendering at the water line to ride the wires up or down.

The locks are part of the park burocracy , so they are awash with helpful kollege kids that understand the drill.

We found it very easy as a 50 ft launch was larger than most locals and our preference for the Port side of the locks ,so usually we entered first .

3 or 4 little boats would raft on after the lock side walls were filled to capacity.

The locals seemed all prefer to tie overnight at the locks , and party hardy at the local resturiants till the AM.

Since we prefer the hook, there was no 3AM cross deck traffic .
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Old 01-08-2014, 01:42 PM   #16
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Yes, they fill the lock chambers right to the brim. Sometimes a little more! It looks like you are boating in a puddle.... Until you start to sink down into the chamber.

They drain the locks at night so the walls are not slimey like the Erie and Champlain's.
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Old 04-21-2015, 03:29 PM   #17
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I know this is a thread from last year, but thought I'd add a bit. I live on, moor my boat on and cruise on the Rideau River, and canal system.


I have 50 years of boating experience offshore and inshore in Canada, ICW, Caribbean, Panama, Mexico and the south Pacific. We go on a Rideau cruise. our boat every summer and multiple weekend trips as well.


Cruising the Rideau system is a pure pleasure. Gorgeous old towns, great scenery, clean, beautiful water for fishing and swimming. Generally not extremely busy. Excellent 175 year old, well maintained locks, manned by nice, helpful and friendly lock staff.

June or early July a great time to go, very quiet. The last two weeks of July it becomes a zoo with Québec visitors, who are largely very nice folks. But there are a lot of boats. If we go cruising in June, August or September we are often alone in a lock. During the last two weeks of July, I've seen as many as 30 boats waiting to lock through in the busy spots, with 6-8 boats in each lock. Lots of big, disrespectful, unseamanlike, major wake producing boats going waaaayyyyyy too fast. 99% flying Québec flags.

Our rule is stay away from mid July to the end of the first week of August. The second half of August through September is fabulous, and cruising in October, although cooler, can be stunning with fall colors out.

There quite a few good anchoring spots in the lakes and in several places along the river/canal system and of course, you can dock for the night at all lock stations, many of which have power, clean shower facilities, etc.

There are multiple great restaurants along the way and a few good marinas and boat yards as well.

Depths can get as low as 5 to 6', which is a factor to consider and bridge clearances are about 22-23' minimum in most cases. Lower clearance bridges open and some are amazing 175 year old examples of great engineering (a swinge bridge that can be opened by a single person with minimal effort).

There is a good "Ports" cruising guide to the river and canal system.

Definitely go. Avoid the last half of July unless you like big wakes, lots of boats and late night dock side parties.

We'd love to see you on the way.

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Old 04-21-2015, 03:31 PM   #18
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard.
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Old 04-29-2015, 09:26 AM   #19
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Thank-you all for the wealth of information on the Rideau Canal and points of interest. We're looking forward to this trip after an especially brutal winter. Maybe we just need to extend our trip a few more days to get the full experience. After all, life is short and my bucket list is long - life is either an adventure or it is nothing!
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Old 04-29-2015, 01:36 PM   #20
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I second everything windled said. I'm glad to hear it hasn't changed over the last 15 years. We are looking to get back there within the next couple of years.
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