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.

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