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.