Thursday, August 26, 2010

Charlottetown to Souris

We had planned to leave by 7am, but I was slow getting going, and the Raymarine GPS failed to get a fix for a long time.  It finally started working and we got out into Hilllsborough Bay right at 8.  I took a few pix, and then we had a smooth, but motoring trip to Souris.  The wind was coming straight from where we wanted to go, so no sailing today.
8/24, 8:30 am:  Blockhouse Point Light is the 2nd oldest lighthouse on PEI
We saw at least 10 harbor seals alsong the way, and near Souris, more harbor porpoises than we could count.
8/24, 5:30pm:  Fin of a harbor porpoise
There was no answer from Souris Marina, but we got some help from some folks on the dock and tied up behind the Morris 42.  It had looked so grand yesterday, but Anomaly made the Morris look so small. We walked up to Shirleys Place for very yummy fish and chips.  Jon had a chocolate dipped ice cream cone.  Cars were coming and going to eat from this popular tiny fast-food stand.

Eric showed up around 7pm and we got registered and the key to the very nice washrooms.
It was a beautiful day and the light towards evening was stunning.
8/24, 8pm:  Sunset over Souris Harbor

Five Days of Lobster - Day 5 (8/23/2010)

Monday, 8/23/2010
Today Chris and Monica Brittain drove us all around the Eastern shore.  We visited all the lovely sites in that area.  Everyone was pretty tired when we got back around 7 pm, but it had been a lovely day.  We walked up to Paul and Christine's to return her sunglasses, (they weren't home).  Stopped at Fish Bones restaurant on the way back where I had lobster linguine.  That was pretty filling.  We found the Extra Old cheddar at Cows Cremery in town; Jon had chocolate icecream while I had a peanut cluster and maple cream from Anne's Chocolates.
Todays sights:
- Montague Harbour's nice new facility

- Panmure Island light house with beautiful views of the beach and St. Mary's Bay.
8/23, 11:52:  The palomino colored draft horses liked Monica.
8/23, 11:55:  The view of Panmure Island Provincial Park beach
Panmure Island Light

- Bay Fortune House which has beautiful gardens and a screened in dining area from which to enjoy them, but did not serve lunch that day.
- Lunch at the Inn at Spry Point where I had a delicious Scallop Saffron risotto, and we all had the blueberry tart which was more like a creme brule smothered in wild blueberries with a biscuit standing in for the crust.
8/23, 2:30 pm:  Photo op on the deck of the Inn at Spry Point with Monica and Chris Brittain

- Souris Harbor, our next destination with a spanking new facility and washrooms all done out sweet smelling clear pine, a common construction technique on PEI.
- Basin Head where the singing sands would not make a peep despite Chris' best efforts.

Five Days of Lobster - Day 4 (8/22/2010)

Sunday, 8/22/2010
Up at 7:30 but the showers still not open; had to walk upstairs to the restaurant to find someone to open them.  Jon spent the morning at Starbucks.  Upon his return, we tried to find some of the art studious listed in the Craft-Art directory I'd found, but a lot of them are closed on Sunday.  We did see a nice video about the birth of Canadian Confederation in the historic Province House.

Had lunch on the boat and then walked along the nice board walk past the Yacht Club.  We ended up back at the top of Queen Street again where a craft faire was closing down.  By then some art galleries on Great George Street had opened up, so we browsed some interesting art there.

Later we were invited to the Nonsuch 30 Monicat by Chris and Monica Brittain, longtime residents of PEI.  It actually started to rain for awhile which allowed Monica to show off her nice full cockpit enclosure.  We learned a lot about the island from them.

Later yet Christine and Paul came by Anomaly and we reviewed charts on Jon's computer (which kept zooming in and out in an annoying way), and they gave us many waypoints in Nova Scotia and the Bras-D'ors Lakes that they have enjoyed.  Jon gave them his construction slideshow which was interesting to them since they are now building their own catamaran.  We tried to take them to dinner, but they insisted now, so we walked back up to Gahan for the chowder which was surprisingly more chunky this time (more lobster!).  The service was painfully slow again, albeit cheerful.

Five Days of Lobster - Day 3 (8/21/2010)

Saturday, August 21, 2010.
We had such a late night last, that we didn't get going until 10 or so. I could hear many passers by making comments about the boat.  Jon finally popped up when Paul and Christine Melarson (correct me if I got that wrong, guys!) came by.  They really seemed to know what they were looking at, and Jon always likes to show Anomaly off.  They generously offered us the use of their car which they brought down later.
8/21, 10 am:  Anomaly's first berth in Quartermaster Marina was right on the wharf, behind the cow and I
Ever in search of espresso, we walked up to town.  Many little shops and even some convenience stores with fresh produce are located within walking distance, even a Starbucks.
Jon at Starbucks on University Ave in Charlottetown, PEI
I was more interested in the Bookmark bookstore which had a very nice collection of art supplies.  I got a red micron pen to aid in drawing seascape boating scenes, and one of the many editions of Anne of Green Gables.  Apparently, the author, L.M. (Lucy Maud) Montgomery was born on PEI which is the setting of 19 of her 20 novels.

Returning to the boat, we found the keys to the car along with a note that the Farmer's market was closing within an hour, so we drove up there as quick as we could.  They had some nice cheese, and I think some of the produce stands had already closed, but we have yet to find a Farmers market as fantastic as the one in Hamilton, Ontario.  I did have a nice maple sausage, however.  I wasn't brave enough to ask what an "ugly dog" was.

We had less luck with both the Atlantic and Sobey's supermarkets- there had been quite a bit of traffic attributed to Old Home week (the last hurrah of summer, I'm told), and our favorite beverages had been depleted.  A better find on the way back was the Queen Street meat market, inexplicably on University Street.  The sign advertised a delicious 4 year old cheddar.  We bought a big chunk and I also got some nice boneless chicken breasts.  The proprietor was quite a character.

Returning to the boat, we moved it out to the end of the dock's into a spot that was labeled Sobey.  Apparently, the Sobeys of supermarket fame had just left for the summer.  We had to slog through the mud a bit to get next to the dock, but it's a lot quieter away from the main pier.

Finally left to do some sightseeing at 3:30pm so only had time to go out to Brackley Beach.  It cost over $15 to get into this Provincial Park, but the green grasses running down to the pink and red sand beaches are nice.  I had my best lobster in a sandwich from a little snack shop at Covehead.
8/21, 3:51 pm:  Beach in Brackley Provincial Park
Dinner at the Merchantman Pub featured excellent seafood chowder (more lobster!), light tempura battered Haddock and crispy fries.  I saved room for Cows Ice cream Chocolate Monster (chocolate with heath bar).  The Peak's Grille band fired up at 10:30 PM and was even louder than the night before.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Five Days of Lobster - Day 2 (8/20/2010)

A couple of days at Point du Chene is an exaggeration, Jon!
     He wanted to leave at 8 am the day after I arrived- 31 hours after I arrived, to be exact, but I knew my jet lag wouldn't wear off that fast, so we got going around 9:30.  I insisted he make his aforementioned mocha's before we left, after all, what was the rush?  The trip to Charlottetown was estimated to be 11 hours.
8/20, 8:30 AM:  Jon at the helm on a beautiful day
8/20, 8:31 am:  Departing Pointe du Chene Yacht Club

    Well, it was a lot longer slog than that.  I'll let him fill in the details, but suffice to say it was a long choppy trip dodging lobster pots all the way to Charlottetown.  The only interesting feature was the Confederation Bridge, and it really is a homely looking thing compared to our Golden Gate and even our San Francisco Bay Bridge.  The best that can be said of it is that it has a simple, clean line to it.

Confederation Bridge - Designed by the pop artist Christo?

     It seemed to take forever to get to Charlottetown, and the skies both before and behind us became dark with periodic flashes of lightning that lit up the entire sky more often than producing a bolt.  I didn't hear any thunder which made me believe, wrongly, that we weren't going to get too wet.  By the time we reached the harbor, it was very dark and drizzling.  Fortunately, the range finders for the harbor are well lit.
     Then the excitement began as we called on 68 to find no room at the yacht club, and no answer at all from Quartermaster marina.  Note to self:  if no answer, try 16 instead.  We decided to go for the fuel dock and figure it all out later, but that seemed to hug the shore and it looked too tight to spin around and tie up on port, so Jon backed all the way out and we switched all the lines and fenders to starboard.  By this time, Anomaly had attracted quite a bit of attention, and we received instruction to tie up on the pier, again, right under a soon to be booming night club.
     By this time it was after 10 pm, and the grill had stopped serving food.  We received helpful instructions, and settled in at the brewpub Gahan for my second lobster meal, more of a taste really- Buttery, creamy, seafood chowder with mussels, shellfish and of course, lobster!
     There were a lot of people in the place and it took a long time to get our meal.  When she brought the check, the waitress said we might want to wait out the rain.  It was coming down in buckets.  We waited for a while, but it never slowed, so we thanked our foresight to bring our umbrellas and returned to the marina.  It was coming down so hard that we got pretty wet anyway.
     Another unpleasant surprise was the the washrooms were locked by the restaurant, and the marina doesn't have a key to that deadbolt.  We had to shower on board Anomaly, and tried to go to sleep to the pounding of the beat from the nightclub and the rain.  It seemed both went on for about 5 hours.

There is No Espresso in New Brunswick

Espresso cafes can be widely found throughout the Great Lakes. We found them in Toronto, Cobourg, Youngstown, Hamilton, on the Detroit and St. Clair rivers, several shops in Tobermory, Killarney, Little Current, and throughout the North Channel. We found them on the St. Lawrence river too: Kingston has several including a Starbucks only 5 minutes walk from the Confederation Basin;  in Cornwall and Prescott, nearly anywhere in Quebec City (though the Starbucks is a walk up the hill to the Chateau Fontenac). We found espresso in Cap a l'Aigle, Taddousac, Rimouski. St. Anne des Mont may have had - certainly they had a Tim Horton's which doesn't count - but we did not explore the town enough to know. Riviere au Runard has no food at all except an ice cream truck seemingly open all night, but there are numerous espresso shops in Gaspe. 

Then we arrived in Shediac.

There is no espresso in New Brunswick. Shop after shop and restaurant after restaurant - no espresso. In Bouctouche - no; in Shediac - no…. well, at the Giant Lobster tourist attraction there is a lady with an Illy pod machine. This is kind of like methadone for the addict, not quite the same thing but you take it anyway. One had to drive to Moncton to find a Starbucks, and then it is in the Chapters book store, not even a real stand alone store. Over to Prince Edward Island and Summerside - no espresso at either the Tim Horton's, Burger King, or anywhere else within walking distance. Then to Charlottetown. You can find it here, there is a recently opened Starbucks 7 minutes walk from the marina (eyes watering slightly, and the skin itching a bit as the DTs begin) also a Timothy's, a Mr. Beenz, and a couple of others. Still not common in restaurants though, even the more expensive ones.

The Bellman left, the Atomic right. 

On 'Anomaly' we carry 2 espresso machines - down from 3 after Ann drew a Line in the Sand. Both are stove top machines made by Bellman in Taiwan. The one known as the Bellman is really a single pass moka pot type machine, but sealed with a steaming wand for steaming milk. This works well for steaming, but the coffee produced is much weaker than real espresso. It also results in the whole inside being dirty with coffee and grounds, and is hard to both load and clean. The second is a reproduction of the Atomic Stovetop Cappuccino Coffee Machine produced in Austria and the UK in the 50's, itself an interpretation of the Robiatti Italian machine from the 40's, now being manufactured by Bellman and sold by La Sorrentina of Australia. It has a real portafilter and a steaming wand in a very compact design. Coffee only contaminates the portofilter basket, making cleaning easier. Experts will argue that it cannot develop the 12 Bars pressure necessary for a true espresso extraction, which is true. It also requires fairly high heat from the burner (higher than the Force 10 galley stove can produce) to do a really good job of foaming milk. One further drawback is that the whole machine is scalding hot for at least an hour after use. Despite these challenges we manage to survive somehow. 

The Atomic Coffee Machine - Google it!
'Anomaly' is currently lying in Souris, Prince Edward Island, Canada

The Northumberland Strait

Leaving Summerside for the short run over to Shediac, New Brunswick we were treated to a bit of wind. Starting at 6 knots it built throughout the day to 13 or so and we finished with a nice broad reach through the lobster pots into Shediac Bay. This was the first port out of Quebec City where we saw significant sailing activity. There were a number of sailboats on the bay as it was National Acadian Day and New Brunswick is definitely Acadian country.

After the English conquest of French Canada, there were several attempts to Anglify the area, one of which involved deporting all the French speaking residents. Many objected (having lived there for generations) and fled to the woods. These Acadian Francophones have a dialect and a culture distinct from the Quebecois. New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in Canada, most of the residents seemed to speak French or English with equal ease. They were certainly enjoying their day. 

In any case, we came sailing through the fleet at 8 knots or better, looking good, then in the process of getting the sails down strayed slightly from the channel and struck the sand bank, looking bad. It turned out (when viewed at low tide) that much of the bay has silted in and looks very little like the chart and you will see the depth sounder go from 15 ft to 5 in a glance. After some twisting and turning, we freed ourselves and headed towards the green buoys of the marina entrance, these looking peculiarly close to the rock breakwater. Before long we struck the sand again, having cut the corner across across a charted 14 ft depth which would in fact dry at low tide. Once again we freed ourselves and with scrupulous adherence to the buoyed channel entered the Point du Chene Marina, at the same time entering a rather wild Acadian Day celebration. 

'Anomaly' is a little long for the 35' slip but we were comfortable nonetheless

The Marina is quite a friendly place, run by the 125 shareholders through their manager, Walter. We very shortly met Larry and Sheila on a recently new-to-them Nonsuch 30 who where extremely generous in their hospitality. After spending the next day cleaning up the boat and exploring the immediate area, brother Jerry and friend Bob were parceled off to the Moncton airport (at 4:30 AM) to return to California. 

The Pointe du Chene Marina and wharf

Ann arrived from California the following day, at 1 AM and 'Anomaly' was back to her normal crew. We spent a couple of days re-provisioning and watching the local kids run through the parking lot and hurl themselves from the end of the wharf in a manner that would have California attorneys reaching for their contingency contracts, and then left for Charlottetown.

Shediac is the self-proclaimed "Lobster Capitol of the World". I have to admit they are big there...

'Anomaly' is currently lying Souris, Prince Edward Island, Canada

A Dearth of Wind and a Plethora of Lobster Pots

We waited to leave the Sawmill Marina in Bouctouche until the tide had risen to the same level that we entered on, then once again clearing the channel by mere inches departed for Summerside on Prince Edward Island. As soon as we entered the Northumberland Straight, we encountered the lobster pots.

Lobster season opened only a week or so prior, and in the deeper water of the Strait (only about 70 feet) pots are everywhere. Looking out across the horizon it looks like a minefield, thousands of buoys and probably 15 or 20 lobster boats within view. The pots are set only 50 - 100 yards apart, each has two buoys about 5 feet apart with a line between them, and a line going down to the pot. These are not set in strings as seems to be done in Maine, with a buoy at each end (and the lines weighted), nor are they as picturesque; they are plastic buoys which have the appearance of gayly painted trash. 

Ann poses in front of a stack of navigational hazards on PEI

And so with no wind (15 knots forecast….) we motored towards Summerside, making course adjustments often several times a minute to weave between the navigational hazard that is lobster fishing. Some are responsible enough to shorten the line such that one need only avoid running between the two buoys and clear them by a few feet, but many leave an extra 75 feet or so of line which floats on the surface upwind of the buoys, ready to tangle the keel, rudder, or prop if you come near it. Under good light, they can be seen from some distance, however if you are looking into the sun and there is a little chop, they seem to appear out of nowhere 50 ft ahead of the boat. If you tangle one, it could damage the prop or engine, is likely to stop it and require gyrations and machinations to free it at a minimum, and perhaps a dive into the 64 degree water to cut it free. 

We finally arrived at the Summerside Marina, known as the Silver Fox Yachting and Curling Club. They did in fact have a curling alley, or field, or whatever it is called. They also had a lounge that seemed to be the hot spot on a Saturday evening in Summerside. We were directed to the dock nearest the lounge, and so got to enjoy both the loud music until well after midnight, AND the exuberant patrons smoking on the patio outside during the breaks. It was reminiscent of weekends on 'O' dock back at the Port Credit Marina, so I felt right at home. The CCA guide says that the Summerside town center "lacks cohesiveness" which is an apt description. However it does have a bank, propane, a grocery store, a Burger King, and a Tim Horton's all within a few minutes walk of the marina. We did not have time to explore the town any deeper as we had to get the crew to Shediac to meet airline schedules. 

'Anomaly' tied up within shouting distance - and hearing distance - of the Silver Fox Yachting and Curling Club
'Anomaly' is currently lying Souris, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Five Days of Lobster - Day 1 (8/19/2010)

Thursday - I woke up with a terrible headache due to lack of sleep and the 4 hour time difference; we're in the Atlantic time zone in Shediac, New Brunswick, Lobster Capital of the World.  Otherwise, it was a lovely sunny day.
     I finally forced myself out of bed and had a nice shower at Pointe du Chene Yacht Club (PCYC)
after discerning that the hot and cold are again backwards.  Amazing how many showers have had that issue.  I got Jon to take me to Bayou for a real breakfast (rather than his normal espresso and pastry) since I didn't get much real food to eat yesterday.
     Back on Anomaly, it was time to get the provisioning done and after making the appropriate lists we headed for Sobey's supermarket (more on Mr. Sobey, later), but not before stopping to pose next to the Largest Lobster in the World.  We managed to score 2 packages of Lemon Perrier in plastic bottles, a rare find, but no "mocktails".  Chicken also seemed very expensive.
     Later, Jon showed me the pier and how the locals liked to go running and jumping off the end.  We had some nice ice cream- Death by Chocolate, and that was about all I could do before succumbing to jet lag and a nap.
Pointe du Chene Pier

     Jon woke me in time to get to dinner at Paturel's Shore House Restaurant where we had a delayed anniversary dinner.  I had boiled lobster hot with melted butter and the recommended french fries.  The owner came by to make sure I had dispatched my lobster correctly and he seemed as surprised as I was that I remembered how to eat one.  He did say, however, that he thought lobster is best served cold because then they can stop the cooking at just the right time by plunging it into salt water.  It's true that the tail was a bit tough and chewy.

Ann Rejoins the Journey in New Brunswick

     August 18, 2010.  My brother-in-law, Jim, drove up to the barn even a little early around 5:15 am.  Lucky, of course, jumped into the open trunk and had to be extracted.  Poor cat; I felt so bad leaving him.  I was bound for the 6 am airport shuttle to catch an Air Canada flight from San Francisco to Moncton, New Brunswick via Toronto.
     The flight goes relatively painlessly, being a direct connection to Toronto and despite the on-demand entertainment system totally blanking out for about 30 minutes.  I had already finished watching Shrek Forever before that happened.
     Customs in Toronto at 9:30 pm went smoothly; it seemed mostly to consist of picking up my luggage and putting it back into the Air Canada domestic system, although the customs agent had a bit of a bee in his bonnet about Jon not having a captains license for a boat over 40 ft until I told him Anomaly is US registered.  I was annoyed by the domestic connection, however.  Although signs direct you to the connection, they really practically dump you out the door.  I lost my bottle of water because I had to go through security all over again.
   On the hop to Moncton, I sat next to a fellow who looked and sounded just like John Holland, our granite expert.  He was returning from Alberta where he drives a petroleum truck for 4 months at a stretch.  What a commute!
     The plane had been delayed, but made good time and neither of us finished our movies.  Jon seemed happy to see me and we collected my luggage and drove in a borrowed car the short distance to Pointe du Chene pier and Yacht Club.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Anse a Beaufils to Bouctouche

We left Anse a Beaufils a bit late considering the day ahead, and with once again very little wind motored across the Chaleurs Bay and down the coast to New Brunswick. On the way we passed into Atlantic Daylight time, an hour later than Eastern time. It seemed odd to cross a time zone while heading more or less due south, but New Brunswick has decided to keep the whole province on one time zone, Quebec, on another. 

Our destination was the Portage Island anchorage in Mirimachi Bay, that being about half way to Shediac bay where we would change crews. Mirimachi itself was described in the CCA guide as somewhat seedy and dirty and without merit; in any case it was nearly 20 miles up the river and therefore well out of the way, while the anchorage is just inside the bay. The other recommended stop was Shippagan, but it is behind a lift bridge with an open clearance of 39 feet, about 25 feet lower than 'Anomaly's' mainmast. The terrain around Gaspe is mountainous, however south of Chaleurs Bay the land is quite flat and featureless, the water shallow and riddled with sand bars. When we arrived at the Mirimachi channel buoy it was quite dark, the waning moon had already set, and there was no light to tell land from sea. Using the GPS and radar, we crept into the anchorage, with the nice surprise of a large unlit buoy appearing suddenly out of the dark and gliding by one boat length away. Entering a strange anchorage at night is spooky and potentially dangerous and I don't like it. But we managed to anchor in 20 ft, and the next morning we were still there. 

Reviewing the route
Gaspé to the Northumberland Straight and PEI

It all looked quite different when you could actually see the island and sand bars, without being either more attractive or less ominous. But we crossed the bar back into the Gulf, found 10 knots of wind and set the sails. 15 minutes later the wind had died to 6 knots and it continued to lighten until nearly calm giving us another day of motoring. I had intended to go straight to Shediac or perhaps Summerside, but we were ahead of schedule and a cruising guide mentioned Bouctouche as a pleasant stop, just 12 miles to the north west of Shediac. The caveat being, there was 6-7 feet of water in the channel - 'Anomaly' draws 6.5 feet. We would arrive on about a 2 ft tide which might give us enough. On the way in we passed a sailboat headed that way and asked: "You should be OK," they said, somewhat uncertainly. Carefully following the channel marked with tree branches stuck in the mud on both sides, we found 7.2 feet at the shallowest point, and with 8 inches of water under the keel made it into the harbor.

Bouctouche is a small Acadian community that happened to be the home town of John Irving of the Irving Oil company. He had built a marina in the style of a yacht club, surrounded by a park, and donated the whole thing to the community prior to his recent death. The result is a very nice marina facility, the sort of thing that doesn't get built by committee or government agency. 

The Bouctouche Marina office and clubhouse

The marina surrounded by Irving Park

'Anomaly' is currently lying Point du Chene Marina, Shediac, New Brunswick, Canada.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Gaspé to Ansé a Beaufils

Another sparkling morning (2nd in a row!) we had breakfast in then Cafe des Artistes and then headed over to the fuel dock in the harbor. While waiting for the fuel attendant, three men working on a boat came by to chat and informed us of some of the history and significant residents of the harbor. He described the large deep bay upriver from the town, "but then zey beelt de fooking bridge" he said in a marvelous French accent; which makes it inaccessible to sailboats. We finally filled up and were on our way, a short distance into the bay we were able to raise sail and in light wind sailed towards Anse a Beautif. This required rounding Rocher Perce, a postcard headland with a very large natural bridge. It is noteworthy enough that together with Ile Bonaventure (the bird sanctuary island just off the coast) there is a thriving tourist boat business out of the town of Perce to service the throngs of sightseeing tourists. We had brought our own boat however, and got a good look at the rock.

Rocher Perce

Anse a Beautif is a small harbor used by fisherman and the tourists boats along with a few yachtsman. It looks too shallow on the chart for 'Anomaly's' draft, however Guy (who we met in Gaspe) said it was okay except in the middle of the harbor, just go around the outside, not across the middle. We did this, tied up with the help of the jovial harbormaster, then discovered 'Balthazar' and Guy tied up further up the quay. We sat down with him and his wife at the local bar/restaurant for a beer, and were quickly joined by 4 or 5 others of his friends. The Boreal brewery is just on the the side of the harbor and they brew a "blanch" beer, very blonde with a citrusy taste. Among the friends were Bruno and Michele who gave us a tour of their very unique 24' junk rigged steel 'Tiguidou', which Bruno had modified and completely refitted from an existing sloop hull. Here was a someone I could relate to, every part custom made by him exactly to fit the boat with inventive solutions on exhibit port and starboard. They left the next morning early, northbound for Gaspe, and we left southbound for Mirimachi Bay.

Running away from the Perce. We resisted the temptation to sail through.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Rounding Cap Gaspé

Leaving Riviere au Renard early and in company with the sloop we had passed yesterday which had  also spent the night in the harbor, we set sail in 15 knots and for once enjoyed the forecast conditions for a couple of hours. Running dead downwind averaging speeds of 8 knots and greater, we sailed around Cap Gaspe, which is a spectacular narrow rock ridge, with shear cliff on its northeastern side. rounding the point into Gaspe Bay, the wind lightened eventually to zephers and we once again had to motor up the bay and into the harbor.

A pano of Cap Gaspe, the end of the Appalachian chain
Here we are running up to the Cap:

We found the town of Gaspe to be quite a picturesque setting, sloping up the hill across the bridge from the yacht harbor. There are a couple of cafes and restaurants on the street just above the bay which we sampled. Adding to it was fine sunny weather, this being the first day in many with no rain at all. 

One of the Cafes in Gaspe, owned by a sailor

A fellow came over from another boat to look at 'Anomaly' and introduced himself as Guy from 'Balthazar', a steel sloop in which he and his family had circumnavigated a few years back. He suggested we stop at Anse a Beautif which we resolved to do.

The yacht 'Anomaly' is currently lying Summerside, Prince Edward Island

St. Anne des Monts to Riviere au Renard

The morning forecast was a Strong Wind Warning for 10 - 20 knots, so we knew we were in for some motoring. And sure enough, with only brief periods on 12 - 14 when we could shut off the motor, we made our way east towards Riviera Renard in typically 3 - 8 knots of wind from behind. 

The O'Day sloop berthed ahead of us at St. Anne des Monts left about an hour before us, by just after lunch we had caught her and passed close by, both of us motoring and neither with an explanation for the lack of wind. The mountains on the peninsula had grown taller and steeper to the shore, and the settlements fewer and farther between. 

More mountains, less town on the eastern Gaspé Peninsula

The wind died and then filled in from ahead, then we were overtaken by a series of squalls bringing heavy rain. The first one also brought one lightening bolt which seemed to hit very close by. Looking at the Sirius satellite weather plot, it showed a lightening strike right on top of the boat position, a bit scary! All of the other lightening fell well behind us. 

Sailing directly through a rainbow - it looked better if you were there, and a relief after the rain and lightening!

We entered the harbor at Riviera au Renard after dark, but found the attendant still there to register. They had some of the nicest washroom and shower facilities anywhere, seemly new and spotlessly clean and free too! This in a working fishing port with very few yachts. The only eating facilities nearby were the California style "roach coach" taco van and the similar ice cream van on the dock. Curiously, the taco van was closed but the ice cream van open for business at 9:00 PM, and the ice cream van again open at 7:30 the net morning.

'Anomaly' at Riviere au Renard

Rimouski to St. Anne des Monts

It seemed windy overnight, and with again a forecast including Strong Wind Warnings with 10-20 increasing to 15-30 we anticipated another day of sailing the 90 miles to St. Anne des Monte. There is an intermediate marina of Matane, but it has only 1.5 meters of water at low tide and 'Anomaly' only floats in 2 meters or more. 

Setting the sails with 10 - 12 knots, we turned downwind and slowly watched the wind die away, started the engine again, and motored most of the way to St. Anne des Monts. The coastline is mountainous and green with forest and occasional cleared farmland, with towns every few miles. We slowly entered the harbor at our destination, listed on the chart as having 1.5 meters at low tide (and we were at low tide) but assured by the guidebooks that there was more, and indeed found 12 feet. We tied up behind an O'Day 40' sloop and registered with the Gardien through a passerby entrepreneur pressed into service for the purpose. 

Farms and wind farms on the Gaspé Peninsula: click to expand

A very rare sighting of a pleasure boat on the Gulf - the Oday 40 bound from Rimouski to Bonaventure

St. Anne des Monte is also not a tourist town, though not unattractive. And it did have a Tim Horton's for morning donuts an easy walk from the marina. It also had a plague of gnats which defended on 'Anomaly's' decks in hordes, they expired in drifts in the bulwarks and had to be hosed off the next morning. The marina was cheaper still than Rimouski, but the showers more expensive: $1 for 4 minutes!

Baie Eternite to Rimouski

How it is that a town came to be named "Rimouski" on the otherwise very French Gaspé peninsula is still a mystery to me, but that was to be our next port of call. Rimouski is on the south shore and we were up the river on the north shore, making for a long day. I slipped the mooring at Baie Eternity at about 7 AM, first raising the sails then reversing out of the anchorage by backing the mizzen, then a J turn and sail away without ever starting the engine. Neat trick and hard to do in a sloop! Fortunately the wind of the night before was still there and now with the current and wind with us we made good time out the river, retracing in 3 hours under sail what had taken 6 hours to motor the day before. 

At the mouth of the river we noticed what looked like large whitecaps, but turned out to be beluga whales. We did not get a close look, but they are a pure white small whale that rolls through the water a bit like porpoises. They could easily be mistaken for whitecaps on the water. We then began to look for whales (Taduassac has a thriving whale watching business) and began to see a few more belugas and some other whales, possibly Fins. There is a deep canyon just off of Tadoussac that causes upwelling of krill, and as we approached this we noticed that the best indication of whale activity was the swarm of whale watching tour boats which converge at high speed on any spout they see. We ended up getting a close look at some of the Fins or perhaps they were Minkes - they were hard to identify from the description and did not introduce themselves - as close as a boat length away. 

A Fin (or a Minke?) whale 2 boatlengths off the port quarter

A swarm of sightseeing boats harass every whale

For once the forecast winds appeared, and with 14 - 24 knots at various times we sailed across the Gulf of the St. Lawrence to the southern shore town of Rimouski. Rimouski is accurately and euphemistically described in the guidebooks as "not a tourist town". The restaurant in the marina seems popular though, we could not get in until 9 so we walked the 20 minutes to the IGA supermarket, paid $5 for delivery of the groceries to the marina, and were delivered ourselves as the same time for free. We then enjoyed a fish dinner served by a cheerful and absolutely English-Free waitress.  In Quebec, at least in the tourist areas, most service personnel will speak at least enough English to overcome our shortcomings of understanding no French. As we sail east, this is far less the case, and with no Ann to translate, we resort to polite pointing or the occasional Good Samaritan who does speak a bit of English.

As we go east to more remote regions, the marinas get cheaper but showers are now extra: $1 for an 8 minute shower in Rimouski.

The Saguenay Fjord

Up anchor at Tadoussac bay (all 240 feet of anchor rode) and we rounded the point into the river. As soon as we entered the river, we had 24 knots of wind directly down it combined with a 1 - 2.5 knot outflowing current and so it remained for the rest of the day. The wind funneled down the river such that at each turn, the wind was still from directly ahead. This made it slow going, it was not practical to sail at all with any hope of covering the 24 miles in daylight, so again we motored. A guy on the dock had told us that the National Park moorings would likely be full but contradicting the guide books, said you could anchor there (and he was right). But after a scenic trip up the gorge, we arrived to find the last mooring still vacant, and picked it up. 

Upbound on the Saguenay, crew working hard

The Saguenay River is supposed to be the largest fjord in North America, some claim the largest in the world. When only 2 boat lengths from the steep rock shore, the depth sounder reported 500 - 600 ft, when it could find a bottom at all. Baie ´Eternité is a small bay at the ´Eternité River entrance, with shear rock walls extending up hundreds of feet from the bank. It is quite a picturesque setting, though difficult to photograph with any accurate depiction of the feel of the place.

A Pano representing about 170 degrees of the view: click to blow up

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cap a l'Aigle to Tadoussac

On departing Cap a l'Aigle, it quickly became apparent that the Raymarine Autopilot control head was Tango Uniform: it powered up but there was no display and it was unresponsive to button pushes or verbal abuse. I made a couple of cell calls to Raymarine without any real help, and finally called the service people at CMC in Toronto who had helped with the autopilot problems last year. They suggested I express post it to them as soon as possible and they would see what they could do. In the mean time, I was able to engage the pilot with the remote control, which was kept electrically isolated  from the rest of the system for just this reason. However I was able to construct a replacement out of materials and tools on board, that worked just as good as the one removed.

Made of masking tape, plastic sheet, and Sharpie pen, works as good as the Raymarine version

With a forecast of 15-25, we motored and motorsailed, occasionally and momentarily with wind as high as 14 knots. Approaching Tadoussac a squall went over, and we beat into Tadoussac with 20-30 knots and rain for a few minutes. Again a call to the marina, again some language difficulties but the message was clear: No room at the inn tonight. You can however, anchor in Tadoussac Bay. It shelves rapidly from too deep to too shallow but we found a place in 65 ft (deeper than ideal)  with enough room to anchor, launched the dingy and went ashore for dinner. 

Tadoussac Bay, click on photo an expand to see us anchored middle-left frame

The next morning the first order of business was to discover the post office and communicate through no common language whatsoever that this part had to be express posted to Toronto. That done we explored the town a bit, sampled some of their espresso cafes, and headed up the Saguany River toward Baie Eternity.

Return to Quebec

After a 10 day respite in Napa, I have returned to Quebec City with brother Jerry and our friend Bob, the new Hardworking Crew of 'Anomaly'.

After saying goodbye to our new friends Gilles & Lise and Yvan and Henriettae and with a forecast of 10-20 we motored northeast towards Cap a l'Aigle, which is a harbor of refuge built specifically for eastbound yachts from Quebec. I say forecast, because true to form the winds were in fact 3 - 10, with gust only to 15 or so around the rain squalls. We motored the entire way, though with sails set for the occasional help they provided. Due to the tides and some last minute shopping, we did not leave until noon for the 68 mile trip, and arrived around dusk (once more in a rain squall). A call on channel 68 to the marina to query about space only proved what I already know: I cannot speak or understand a word of French! However, they seemed to indicate there was space, or so I took it, and headed on in. We were waved over to raft against two 30' sloops, captained by some very jovial and bilingual gentlemen (Mark and Philipe, if memory serves). The restaurant had closed, so we microwaved a frozen pizza. This interesting only in the fact that Real Cruisers on the internet deride posers for microwaving frozen pizza while cruising. Salt pork and hardtack warmed over a coal fire is what you are supposed to be eating I think. But even hard core Cape Horners wouldn't eat salt pork and hardtack if they had a freezer and a microwave on board.

Quebec City is astern

Brother Jerry, one of the Hard Working Crew

In any case, Mark and Philipe departed at 6 AM, so we had to untie, back out of the  tight marina, and could then retie to the dock in their place. At this point 'Anomaly' was drawing a small crowd of the curious, including the two Nonsuch owners in the marina. Both Norman and Jaques turned out to be friendly, entertaining, and possessing of two of the finest Nonsuch 30s anywhere. After giving them a quick tour of the boat, we had breakfast and went for a walk on the town. The CCA guide says of Cap a l'Aigle,"Too far from anything so just a layover for the change of the tide.". We found this to be far from the truth. A very picturesque setting, nice people, decent and friendly restraint right in the marina, beautifully gardened B&Bs up on the main road and a nice little botanical garden occupied the morning and we finally left just before noon bound for Tadoussac.

'Anomaly' at the Harbor of Refuge at Cap a l'Aigle
There were flower boxes on every dock!
Norman and Jaques, two local Nonsuch owners and entertaining characters both:

Norman: "I will live to be 140 because I am 70 and half dead."

Jaques owned a beautifully customized Nonsuch 30U

Travelogue Summary

We are now in Gaspe, and I am well behind in posting! I will try to fill in the details as internet access allows. Our route has been Quebec City - Cap a l'Aigle - Tadoussac - Saguanay River - Rimouski - St Anne des Monts - Riviere au Renard - Gaspe.  Our expected route from here is Anse a Beaufils - Mirimachi anchorage - Summerside on Prince Edward Island - Shediac.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Holding down the Farm...

I spent last week at Stanford watching the professional women play tennis.  I got to see some of them in person for the first time including Vicktoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovich, Aggie Radwanska, and Yanina Wickmyer.  I also won tickets to a San Francisco Giants Baseball game when I caught a ball that was hit into the stands by the Bank of the West Bear mascot.
Maria Sharapova lost to Vicktoria Azaranka in the Final of the Bank of the West Classic

I'm now at home trying to harvest all the lavender and get my dahlias ready for the fair next week.  This evening, I had to take time out to rescue a fledgling kite.  I would have liked to have left him alone, but he was sitting on the ground shrieking, and I was afraid that Lucky (my cat) would find and pounce on him.  Lucky seems so nice until he sees a bird.  The rescue woman called and inquired about trying to put him back in the nest, but I explained that the pine trees are at least 30 ft tall, maybe taller.  She said she would try to return him to his birthplace after his flying feathers grow out. He is really beautiful.

Baby raptor (white-tailed kite)
Jon is already in Tadoussac with his brother Jerry and friend Bob.
From the internet:  Tadoussac is a village in QuebecCanada, at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence andSaguenay rivers. It was France's first trading post on the mainland of New France and an important trading post in the seventeenth century, making it the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in Quebec, and the oldest surviving French settlement in the Americas.

7/22: Last Day in Quebec

Our last day in Quebec together Jon and I tried to go the the Marche' Vieux Port just before 8am for breakfast, but it was all closed up.  Had to settle for not so good mochacino at Le Boulangerie et Cie again.  I returned to the market to use the internet before going back to Anomaly to help Jon run over to the fuel dock and then move to our final berth for the time away.

In the afternoon, I took the cute little electric bus as close as I could to the Fine Art Museum.  It dropped me near the Quebec Armory

From the Internet:  The Quebec City Armouries (French: Manège militaire de Québec, or simply Manège militaire) was a Gothic Revival drill hall for the infantry regiment Les Voltigeurs de Québec in Quebec City, Canada. It was built between 1885 and 1888 and designed by architect Eugène-Étienne Taché. The armoury was destroyed by a fire on April 5, 2008 and all but a rear wall and turrets from the front door were destroyed

I walked through the Parc Jean D'arc to get to the museum.
Flower Garden at Joan of Arc Park

The Quebec art was either very religious or ultra modern, but there was a nice visiting exhibit of Victorian era paintings on loan from London.

I returned along the Plains of Abraham with sweeping views of the river.
The St. Lawrence River
We had a nice final visit with our new found friends.  Jon will see them again.
 Great new friends (L-R):  Gil, Yvan, Lise, and Henriette