Across the Border

by Rosemary Zamore

Wednesday, June 20

A boy and his box
Hiltion Dier with the new ice box (photo: Kerry Batdorf)

I arrived at Gaines Marina in Rouses Point amidst the process of taking the rig of the schooner down.  It was quite an ordeal, laying the masts on the deck and then hoisting them along with the sails onto the braces above the deck.  As if that wasn’t enough excitement, Hilton Dier arrived shortly after I did, bringing with him a new ice chest! The stair railings had to be removed to get it below.   Of course the close to 90 degree temperature and high humidity didn’t help the crew any.   Much discussion followed on where to put it and rearranging the space, all in good spirited humor.

After a great dinner prepared by Kathleen, most of us took refreshing showers at the marina.  I was lulled to sleep by the humming fans.

Thursday,, June 21 Travel to I’lle-aux-Noix

Border crossing
Customs building at the border (photo: Rosemary Zamore)

We began the trip up the River Richelieu, traveling under the Rouses Point bridge.  After dropping anchor, Art and Roger gathered our passports and motored to Customs in the inflatable, the Oocher.  Entering a foreign country is pretty simple, until you want to sell things while you’re there.  Thankfully, we had worked with Customs prior to arriving, and had only a few things to finalize upon our arrival.  Art had nothing but praise for the officials and we happily set off once again.

It was a smooth ride to I’lle-aux-Noix, docking across from Fort Lennox.  We set up for an evening event upon our arrival and had about 40 visitors on board.  The amount of interest and excitement surrounding our visit was fantastic and contagious.  After the event,I managed to go for a swim before dinner which was wonderful.

Friday, June 22
Summer solstice and another scorcher.  After a good cleaning, the boat was opened to the public.  I was able to take the ferry to the fort during my break and walked around taking pictures.  I returned for my shift and greeted a very enthusiastic school group who came on board in the late afternoon.  It was hectic but fun.

Lined up for dinner (photo: Rosemary Zamore)

We were treated to a barbeque steak dinner expertly grilled by Tom.  As if that wasn’t enough, Barb melted the Lake Champlain Chocolates chocolate squares into fondue for dipping fruit and graham crackers.   Decadently delicious!  After dinner, we sat on deck and watched the parade of power boats heading south for the weekend.  I wonder how many of them are going to Lake Champlain.

Saturday, June 23
After breakfast, Kerry, Barb, Kathleen and Roger rode in the Oocher to take showers at Marina Ile-aux-Noix.  We picked up some ice and got a second shower on the way back.   A steady stream of visitors toured the boat and I was definitely ready for my break at 4.

After the boat closed and we finished dinner, Barb and I started  a scrabble game on deck.  She is killing me!  We had to postpone finishing until tomorrow since it got too dark.  Maybe a days rest will help.

Sunday, June 24
I began reading Bartley’s fascinating journal.   There’s so much you can learn from a day to day account of life on board.  After a slow start, visitors arrived mostly after their picnic and tour of the fort. I think we had over 200 people come on board.   Art met a 4 yr old boy, with aspirations to be a fireman, who stole his heart.

Scrabble game

Rain and wind kicked up in the evening, and the crew scrambled to get the awnings and signs down.  The Scrabble game was brought to a close (I lost) while Isaac and Noah played Yahtzee.  Early bed time.

Monday, June 25:  Travel to St Jean
“Safely, safety, safety”  was the captain’s message at morning meeting.  Roger reiterated the rules, basically to move slowly, speak quietly, except in case of man overboard or fire.  His gentle, soft spoken manner really  sets the tone.  I became a bit choked up as I thanked everyone for being so welcoming.

I spent most of the trip on bow watch, guided by Len and Tom.   After a bit of supervision and tutoring, they left me to do it alone, which was very enjoyable.  It was a smooth two hour  trip.   I could see the church steeple in St Jean getting closer as we approached the dock.  We had to wait a bit for a sailboat to move, but with the expert navigating, we pulled in near the start of of the Chambly Canal.

Another flurry of activity as the gangplanks were set up.  I handed out brochures to interested onlookers and told them when our public hours were.   After lunch, most of the crew set off looking for banks, groceries, etc.  Back on the boat, I waited for Elisa to return from grocery shopping with Kathleen and Barb.  Fighting back tears, I said my goodbyes and rode back to South Hero.

What a privilege  it was to be part of the crew on the Lois McCLure.   I loved being on the water and doing something that is educational.   I  learned so much history, met some great people and even spoke a bit of French!

Special Thanks to:

•    Matthieu Paradis and the Fort Lennox National Historic Site
•    Parcs Canada
•    Marina Ile-aux-Noix for great showers

Rosemary Zamore
Joining us for her second year of volunteering, Rosemary teaches elementary school music at South Hero in her real life.