Cruising the locks in luxury

Cruising the locks in luxury

Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Montreal, Canada: Guy Gravel knew he would be undertaking an epic journey when he took delivery of his Riviera 5800 Sport Yacht Miss Liberty in Fort Lauderdale, Florida … but he was genuinely excited ahead of her trip home to Montreal, Canada.

The voyage took 14 days, covering 1550 nautical miles and taking in some incredible sights, particularly up through canal system linking New York to Montreal through the Hudson River, Chambly Canal, across Lake Champlain and into the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Guy is no newcomer to boating and he admits spending a considerable amount of time researching luxury pleasure craft before deciding the Riviera was right for him. “I finally went for the 5800 because it is everything I wanted – it has a wonderful layout, large saloon and galley, wide decks, four staterooms, three heads and a minimum number of steps,” he says.“There’s also great vision through the windows.”

Guys says the yacht performed even beyond his expectations: “It’s smooth, makes great speed – the two Volvo Penta 900s and IPS-2 drives offer very efficient fuel consumption. The yacht is extremely seaworthy, quiet and very comfortable while cruising at 22-23 knots (2000rpm) per hour. The Volvo equipment proved very reliable and requires little time to do the daily checks and maintenance.”

Of course, many of the checks are made easy thanks to the innovative C-Zone central digital switching system which enables control of all AC and DC circuits from either of two convenient central control panels in the saloon or at the helm.

For the trip to Montreal, Guy commissioned the services of experienced seaman Captain Denis Charbonneau. On-board for the 14-day journey were two guests and Guy reports that every day was enjoyable. “We found the 5800 very pleasant to use and to live on,” says Guy. “The bedrooms are spacious and extremely comfortable and it is especially fun to cook and prepare meals, since the large awning window opens out from the galley to the BBQ grill on the starboard side of the cockpit.”

Miss Liberty, purchased new through Coconut Grove-based Yachting Experts, has luxurious appointments throughout its spacious saloon, sporty helm and full-beam master stateroom amidships.

Guy says conditions for the trip were ideal from the very beginning, leaving Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, June 11, Miss Liberty arrived at St Augustine in Florida the same day after 275 nm of navigation, and the advantages of the 5800’s awning window were immediately evident. “We had dinner on the yacht and the open window feature was very convenient, opening up the area from the BBQ to the kitchen. While Captain-Chef Denis cooked us a 5-star meal, we got to enjoy his company.”

From there the smooth sailing continued to picturesque and friendly Charleston in South Carolina where the shopping and restaurants were stand-out attractions, and then to the Crystal Coast fishing and port town of Morehead City in North Carolina where expensive private fishing boats and ospreys nested in the navigation markers were sights to behold.

Next stop was Norfolk in Virginia, where navy ships and a jet-carrier loomed as a reminder of its rich naval heritage. “The ocean navigation was beautiful, smooth seas and we saw a few dolphins,” says Guy.

When Miss Liberty entered the marina at Cape May (New Jersey), the first picture taken was of the Coast Guard, a reflection of the fact that it’s home to the US Coast Guard Recruit Training Center. Cape May, located where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, is also one of the oldest vacation resort destinations in the United States. “We also took pictures of the fishing fleet and the beautiful little houses in the area – we saw a few people kayaking around the marina,” he says. “We took a nice walk in the old part of town – along the ocean, there are several quaint bed and breakfast Bed & Breakfast, many of them Victorian-style.”

The Big Apple (New York City) was next stop on the voyage, and Miss Liberty cruised proudly sailed past the iconic Statue of Liberty – a monument to freedom gifted by the French in 1886  … and the World Trade Centre. “The sight of New York from the water is very impressive, embellished by the profile of the skyline decorated by millions of lights, and continuously changing from day to different times of the night,” he says.

Guy admits it was mostly open water up until this point, but next came the crossing of 20 locks on the leg from New York to Montreal. Passage through this system is seasonally restricted to the warmer months between May and October, when the winter ice has melted.

“Along the side the Hudson River, mountains, low and high shores bring admiration and relaxation to the sailors,” says Guy. “Trains and cities and the N.Y. State Capital, Albany, remind the travellers that modern life is flourishing. During the month of June, the Hudson River has reached its normal water flow, making the trip more easy and mostly without floating wood and debris. It is to be noted that the combination of the IPS drives and the joystick facilitate greatly the delicate manoeuvres through the locks … the yacht maintains its responsive movements even at low speed.”

After the locks on the Champlain Canal, Miss Liberty sailed 85nm of the splendid Lake Champlain, then crossed the narrow and shallow Chambly Canal and its nine locks. Thereafter, the journey to Montreal was completed by sailing down-stream on the Richelieu River, down to Sorel, and upstream the St-Lawrence River to Montreal.

Miss Liberty is moored at the Montreal Yacht Club, just downtown from the near Old Montreal district. She has been used during the Canadian summer for travelling to Quebec City, and even up to the Saguenay River, where different kinds of whales can be observed.

Guys tells is a visit to the Great Lakes is also in the schedule, and Miss Liberty will return to Fort Lauderdale by the end of October.


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