St. Lawrence Seaway - high water summer 2017 - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 5 Old 06-13-2017 Thread Starter
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St. Lawrence Seaway - high water summer 2017

I am planning to sail/motor the St. Lawrence Seaway (SLS) in June/July 2017 for the first time.

Water levels from Lake Ontario to Montreal are very high, and the outlook for the summer is that the SLS operators will be spilling water at higher than normal rates. Is this a major concern if I am traveling down the SLS to Montreal, which is still flooded I understand?

Other than maintaining appropriate boat speed to avoid shore damage, and keeping a sharp watch for floating debris, etc., are there any hazards, specific to the high water to be aware of, or route changes to consider?

Thanks in advance for any info.

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post #2 of 5 Old 06-14-2017
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Re: St. Lawrence Seaway - high water summer 2017

I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Your biggest concern will be strong currents. I guess if there are hot spots to be concerned about, going from West to East:

-Fiddler's Elbow: just above Gananoque will be ugly if you chose to take the Canadian Middle Channel. I would expect eddies, boils and possibly whirlpools. Not a big deal, they may swing you 90* but there is room to correct. Or you could avoid the area by taking the main shipping channel.

-Brockville Narrows: no dig deal, will just be slow getting back up.

-Above Iroquois Lock: No big deal, it will just be slow getting back up.

-Below Iroquois Lock there is a cross current that will push you towards the Canadian (North) Shore, no big deal provided there isn't an upbound freighter. Maybe wait if there is, it's pretty narrow in there.

-Above Morrisburg there is strong current in line with the river. Avoid any water that looks white, might be very slow going back up river.

-If you decide to go into Cornwall, expect both a cross current and significant downbound current approaching Cornwall. It might be worth skipping Cornwall if that was a planned stop.

You should be okay below that. Use caution around the bridges at Valley Field, currents are weird, give freighters lots of room (and there isn't much room to give, wait, let them clear if you can).

I would say the main thing is to give the big boys room, they are struggling a bit. Getting mashed into a freighter would be bad, but common sense and timing should easily mitigate the risk.

Leave extra time for getting back up river. Have fun, you will fly down river, but the truck back up may be dog slow, depending on your engine.

Edit: Couple of things to remember, if you are getting a 4 knot push down river, your speed differential coming back up will be 8 knots (+ 4 knots coming down, -4 knots coming up). Also remember, the down bound freighters will be moving fast and this will influence there maneuverability, their advance and transfer may be increased, so be cautious if you are on the outside bend in a river if there is a downbound freighter, it might be worth avoiding a situation like that unless you can get right out of the channel.
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Last edited by Arcb; 06-14-2017 at 09:05 PM.
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post #3 of 5 Old 06-14-2017
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Re: St. Lawrence Seaway - high water summer 2017

Originally Posted by Arcb View Post
I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Your biggest concern will be strong currents.
Having dived on the wrecks near Brockville I can attest to the current of the St. Larwence Seaway and at 90 feet hearing the freighter props over head I was hoping I was still deep enough...
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Re: St. Lawrence Seaway - high water summer 2017

I'm only heading east, no return voyage planned, so this sounds fine. Thank you for the advice. I have heard the 'avoid the big vessels' advice before, and plan to be extra careful.

Thanks again,
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post #5 of 5 Old 06-15-2017
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Re: St. Lawrence Seaway - high water summer 2017

Good info from Arch. Considering the conditions this year, it might be just as well to check with the Seaway Management before you set out. I am sure you have checked their web pages Seaway System - Recreational Boating

They put out regular notices here: Seaway System - News and Information - Notices - Montreal . The seaway is about to release an even larger amount of water in order to try and reduce Lake Ontario levels. Many reports on web. Here is one: St. Lawrence surge to break record today | News |

Another thing to be aware of, is that many of the normal spots where boaters like to stop en-route, may not be usable. As an example, just heard that the annual EYC regatta scheduled to be held at Henderson Harbour YC on South Shore of Lake Ontario has had to be cancelled and will be moved to Oswego.

Last edited by FreeAgent; 06-15-2017 at 10:48 AM.
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