July 17, 2006 - La Gaspésie
We left Shippagan on July 14 (la Journée de la Bastille, not very celebrated here) and crossed to l’Anse à Beaufils. We took some real pounding coming across because of confused seas. The boat is handling well but the gear is taking a beating. Every couple of days, I have to spend quality time in the engine room to make sure everything is working OK and no water is coming in.
L’Anse à Beaufils is a delightful little harbour (emphasis on the little) where all the tour boats from Percé come in at night to take shelter…and they needed it with a strong easterly blowing.
There is an art gallery right on the waterfront with terrific local artist exhibitions. Frankly, the 4,000 square feet of exhibition was as eclectic and modern as anything you will find in a big city.
The tour boat folks were fun. They put in a long day and bring in their ugly boats (pictured eventually to follow) into the harbour to sip their beer. The next morning as we were leaving (wedged between four tour boats), Olga did her magic at the helm and one of the tour boat captain yelled at me that “She’s a keeper…very impressive!!!””.
We made our way to Rivière au Renard in good conditions if a bit rolly. This is a big fishing harbour but the marina is not the most sophisticated. We decided to anchor in a big (supposedly protected) basin, but after a couple of hours found that the wind had picked up even more and we decided to move to the marina anyway. At $40 a night for less than 100V and 10 amps, we can’t even keep the batteries topped up or use the microwave…rough life!
The Coast Guard Station is very sophisticated and Olga made buddy-buddy with the Commandant, Gilles Bernier. That gave us a tour of their 48’ lifeboat, the Cap Rozier as well as the Station. These guys are well equipped and very professional. It is quite a life with 3 weeks on - 3 weeks off, on call 24/7. The Commandant visited us on board Mystic Bond. Very chatty and probably bored of talking only to his 3 other mates.
On July 16, we left very early for our next destination, Rivière Madeleine, just before Cap de la Madeleine. After a mile, we turned back with a faulty alternator on the engine battery. Since it was not charging, we decided to stay in Rivière au Renard to see what the problem is. Of course it is Sunday, so no help. I spent several hours in the engine room trying to find the problem but my expertise is limited. So we may be here for a few days.
Andre and Olga
On board m/v Mystic Bond
|Anse à Beaufils on the Baie des Chaleurs||Friendly neighbours: tour boats at Anse à Beaufils||
Lots of rock in Gaspésie, beautiful scenery
Percé Rock , Gaspésie
Sunset in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence
July 20, 2006 - Le Saint Laurent
Cruising conditions have certainly been interesting the past few days. The weather has been mostly sunny but, ever since we rounded the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, we’ve been running against adverse currents and taking strong winds on the nose. Result, short, steep seas (not fun!). Even the sailors we’ve met have complained. To avoid the worst of it, we’ve been going out early in the morning and coming in again anywhere between 1100 and 1400. Because the currents are slowing us down from 1 – 2.5 kts., we’re not making much progress either. Most days we’re lucky if we get in 30 nm vs. the 50-60 that we had estimated.
The steep elevations along the whole Gaspé Peninsula have also had a less than desirable effect on the sea state, as we experience an anabatic wind effect during the day and katabatic winds up to 25-30 kts at night in the small harbours we pull into. Needless to say, we’re gaining all kinds of valuable experience, even if it’s not always fun!
Right now we’re in Ste Anne des Monts, which is a nice little Gaspesian town just at the edge of the tail end of the Appalachian Range. André is also spending quality time with a local boatbuilder / marine mechanic, troubleshooting some issues we’ve been having with our alternators for the main engine and the house batteries, a dripping stuffing box and an auto-pilot that has a mind of its own. We may be here for a couple of days!
Andre and Olga on board m/v Mystic Bond
August 2, 2006 - Québec et Montréal
We made it to Montreal with an “escale” in Quebec City (running out of red wine…can’t have that!).
We had a good run to Matane in calm seas for a change. We stayed at the Matane Yacht Club marina on Saturday night and walked into town for a lovely meal at a little bistro called “Chez Ta Mère”. On Sunday night we moved to the commercial port so that I could have quality time with the CMC Electronics guy. He showed up bright and early on Monday morning, identified the problems and made arrangements for parts to be delivered and installed when we got to Quebec. We also did some sea trials with him and managed to get the autopilot working better. It relieves a lot of strain on us when we are underway.
We left around 11:00 for Rimouski, arriving there at 16:30 after a pleasant 50 nm run. We stayed at the Rimouski Yacht Club marina that night for a hefty fee of nearly $70. Fortunately, not all marinas are that pricey. This is obviously a staging point for the north shore and as there are few other harbours on the south shore, they can command a premium price. The marina, I have to say, is nice and well maintained. As usual, it is mainly sailors that we meet, mostly from Montreal, Quebec and one from Toronto…must have got lost in the fog or the current took him down too far.
On Tuesday, we carried on to Le Gros Cacouna (it really is a place on the map) and travelled in fog mostly. The currents are quite noticeable and at times we lose 2-3 knots coming up the St. Lawrence. This is despite our best plans to leave with the rising tide. The harbour is a big commercial basin with lots of room for anchoring. We had a nice quiet evening with no wind, no sound and no wake.
As usual I have mechanical challenges. It looks like my stuffing box is overheating from me being too diligent in not letting water in. The alternator belts are still not perfect but will have to do. Every morning I spend quality time in the engine room to make sure everything is in working order. At times I wonder if I am doing more damage by being diligent than good. I think ignorance is bliss. I can’t imagine people buying boats, turning the key and leaving it to the Great Electro-Mechanical God to take care of things. The marine environment is not very good to running machinery, especially in salt water and rough seas. Anyway, we are managing, there is still plenty of wine and beer and Olga does magic on the propane stove. She even stooped to make me instant mashed potatoes (my favourite!) last night, with sausages.
From Gros Cacouna we went to St. Jean-Port Joli. We hit the motherload with good currents and went as fast as 13.5 kts. Once there, we also had a great meal in a little café, bought lots of bakery stuff and got ready for our Quebec trip.
Again the gods of currents (Olga reading the right charts) helped us to Quebec and we hit over 11 kts for a while. We arrived in the old Bassin Louise and tied to the wharf owned by Global Marine, the local company representing CMC electronics. We tied up just as a strong thunderstorm was coming through.
The owner of Global Marine has his wood hull sailboat tied to the dock and lives there. He allowed us to stay for four nights free. At $1.75 a foot just 100 yards away, we were very pleased. Of course, we had to spend that saved money and bought lots of boat stuff at his shop. Really nice folks. Unfortunately, they could not fix my electronics problem and our PC is still not talking to the Raymarine toys we have.
We visited lots of family and spent too much on restaurants. A few pounds later, no regrets and it was a nice rest from our travels.
From Quebec, we went to Trois Rivière and anchored in a fork of the river. Very nice and quiet and a family of ducks hopped onto our swim platform looking to share in the leftovers from our meal that evening. This is where we’ve really started noticing the currents from the St. Lawrence. Since we always leave the engine on 1600RPM to get fairly economical fuel consumption, we really notice the effect of currents and wind. Despite our best efforts, we did not manage to get past 9 kts. The ride to Contrecoeur, 30 miles east of Montreal was even worse. At times, our progress was less than 6 knots.
In Contrecoeur, we tried anchoring and eventually tied up at one of the two local marinas when our anchor dragged and Environment Canada announced a severe weather watch for that night. Just after supper, we encountered the mother of all thunderstorms. We were right in the middle of several cells and winds went up to 40 knots in the “protected” harbour. Really interesting 3 hours! Olga had her first thunderstorm shower of the season.
We had a nice run to Montreal through the Chenal des Plaisanciers but managed only around 6.5 knots most of the way. We did get a close call at the Louis Hippolyte Lafontaine bridge. The mast antenna scraped the bottom of the gangway under the bridge which was under repair. With me standing on the roof top of the boat making hand signals to Olga, we barely cleared it and did not have to detour back 20 miles.
We are now sitting pretty in the old port of Montreal, well tied up. Of course we were welcomed by more thunderstorms. It seems we always get to port just in time. We will be spending 3 expensive nights here so will plan to enjoy every minute even if it does cost some more extra calories at all of the great restaurants in this area.
Andre and Olga on board m/v Mystic Bond
Canadian Coast Guard survey ship
Not a baguette, just charts
Vieux Port de Montréal
Maxine & André visiting