The Gaspe And Beyond…

Next morning we left Matane, it was a sunny day with a favorable following wind – we ended up sailing the whole day. Our only motoring was to get away from the dock and to anchor for the night. Winds were 20-25 knots gusting 30, so we had a great sail downwind! We made it as far as Mont Louis where we decided to anchor for the night. We pulled in on a dying West wind, so the anchorage was a bit rolly as the last of the waves came in. We anchored anticipating a wind switch to South which it did after dark. We saw a beautiful sunset, then turned in for the night.

In the morning Winds were offshore from the South, which was a favorable direction, so we ate, hauled anchor and left before 7:30. Of course soon after leaving the wind switched to the East at 20-25 – directly on the nose, so we tried sailing for 4 hours and made 15 miles. We decided to motor the rest of the way as we had no desire to sail another 20 hours to get the 45 miles we needed to Riviere Au Renard. It was cloudy and chilly, with temps in the low 50s. Eventually the wind moderated and we were able to motor sail a little to help our speed. At sunset we witnessed a few whale sightings, but most interesting was a circling flock of seabirds – they were Gannets – about 50-60 of them. They circled around about 50ft up and then as we watched, suddenly a whole bunch of them would close their wings and drop like stones into water, diving and swimming after fish. It was a fascinating sight to watch.


Our furthest point North!

We arrived at 9:30 – in Riviere Au Renard where Ivan greeted us at the dock and helped us tie up. This marina is a great location, very sheltered so after unwinding we went to bed and slept like babies.

As an aside I must say the winds here have been unusual for this time of year. Winds are usually out of the South or South West but this year they are having an unusual number of North East winds – exactly what we DON’T want. And the winds are either zero or howling (25-30) – there seems to be no nice 10-20 knot favorable breeze anywhere. Our luck I guess, but it sure beats you up when you are pounded day after day by cold, windy, cloudy weather and lumpy seas.

Next morning we took a long walk, then ate breakfast at a local diner (delicious) and came back to the boat where I installed the replacement inverter. Hopefully this one will work correctly. After I worked we took another walk to the post office to return the defective inverter, and then went grocery shopping before heading back to the boat so I could work again. Then we went to the local fish store – right on the docks where the boats come in – we picked up some Turbot and a bag of Bay Scallops – all for under $12 – boy its cheap when you get it right where its made. After a good night’s sleep we woke to gentle rain, went out to finish the laundry and ate breakfast at the diner again.

Then we packed up and cast off, our next stop Perce. This is a little town on the Gaspe Peninsula and its near an island called Ile Bonaventure, which is the home to a massive Gannet colony. These are seabirds who live on cliffs and raise their young in a huge communal setting there. We left with 20-25 knot NW winds which thankfully were helping us towards our destination. It was a rough rolly sea, and we trundled along rocking back and forth (fun when trying to work on the computer) at 7.5 to 9 knots depending on the size of the wave flinging you forward. We passed the cliffs of Gaspe and turned South towards Perce and arrived there on a dying wind where we anchored near some cliffs right off an RV park. We ate dinner and turned in.

Of course during the night, the wind came up and soon it was gusting over 30. We both prayed that the Lord would keep us safe and that our anchor would hold. It did, and after blowing for a few hours it died down to a reasonable 15-20 and we were able to get some sleep. Next morning we woke and after breakfast hauled anchor – or attempted to. Our anchor was stuck. I anchored in about 30 ft of water, and I could see the 30 ft marker about 10 ft under the water. We wrestled for a good half hour and just when I was about to give up, it suddenly came loose. I thought the line had broken, but no – it all came up and we were on our way. We motored over to Ile Bonaventure and then sailed down the East and South side marveling at the colony. The sight of hundreds of thousands of Gannets – everywhere – flying, sitting in the water, up on every square inch of flat space on the cliffs was truly beautiful. We left and headed South towards PEI. The wind gradually shifted around until we were sailing as close to the wind as we could, but it was a perfect day – we were moving about 5 knots in a calm sea and about 10 knots of breeze and all around us whales and birds performed their antics all day long.



The Seaway…

Once North of Quebec city, you are out of the St Lawrence river and into the St Lawrence Seaway, a gradually widening slit in the earth going from a few miles to over 60 miles wide with depths in some places over 500ft.

The last morning in Quebec was spent walking – to Carquest – for a fanbelt. I found a fan belt that looked like a fit, came back to the boat and it did not fit. So we cleaned up, washed the boat and then left for Tadoussac, praying that the loose belt would not break. 20 minutes after we left the marina lock it started raining and it just poured for 3 hours. Blinding rain with visibility less than a mile. We were cold and frozen. We put up the golf umbrella we bought along as a rain shield and that helped a lot. We made good pretty progress on an ebbing tide with a 10 knot following wind and in 5 hours we had sailed 26 miles.

We still had 2 to 3 hours to our planned anchorage and it was getting dark, so we anchored behind a very small, low, rocky island on the east shore of the Seaway near Point Rouge. During the night the winds came up and when we awoke the next morning our stern was pointing into the wind. We thought perhaps the keel had become entangled in the anchor line, but that was not the case. It was the current that was strong enough to turn the boat around against the wind!

We had woken around 5 a.m. and we left at 6 (its light by 5am, dark but 8:30pm), the winds were increasing fairly quickly, and soon it was 25 to 30. We were running down wind with apparent winds of 26 to 27 at anywhere from 8 to 12 knots! We picked our way through the islands and in 7 hours had managed to do 61 miles! We saw a top speed of 13.1 knots and we were in the 11s and 12s for most of the time. It was an exhilarating ride, very choppy with waves 4 to 6 feet and sometimes coming from 3 different directions. Then when we were 20 miles from our destination the wind just pooped – in 5 minutes we were reading 0.0 on the anemometer, so we ended up having to motor the last 20 miles to get in before dark.

As an aside, before we left we tried to potty train Windsor so that he would go on a piece of astroturf that we had acquired. We were successful 3 days in a row when we were at the dock and thought that everything was golden. Well once we moved the “grass” to the boat, things couldn’t be further from the truth. He just would not go, he would just sit there and look at me with this face like “where’s the real grass and trees?”. Well I think through desperation he went twice on the mat that day. So we are feeling that he might finally be getting the message, especially when he gets praise and the cookie when he does go – lol.

Anyhow, the last 3 miles into Tadoussac harbor took 3 hours – we were motoring against a 5 knot current and our little 20HP motor can only squeeze about 6 on a good day, so I moved over to the very edge of the channel to get out of the main current and we “crashed” a whale watching party. We got to see a number of Minke whales close up as we struggled our way up the North shore against the current. We eventually made it in and anchored around 7pm, then went ashore so Windsor could feel “real grass” and we could stretch our legs. Then we crashed and slept like babies. All night the wind howled – about 20 to 25, but the anchor held, and in the morning after I got done with work we went ashore and did some walking and exploring.

Tadoussac is a very quaint town, very small but loaded with tourists – much like Port Clinton in the summer time. Whale watching is their big attraction, and you can see Right Whales, Humpback, Blue, Minke and Belugas in abundance depending on the time of year. Right now it was Minke and Beluga season.

We got a dock in the afternoon and explored further, went grocery shopping and then went to dinner in a wonderful restaurant called the Galouine. Melanie’s knee was acting up, so we decided to stay another night at the dock and went out to dinner at the marina restaurant where we had calamari and some really tasty fish and chips. Next day we decided to leave and motored over to the gas dock for diesel and a pumpout. As I was throttling back to slow us down for the dock we ran out of fuel! First time ever – I knew we were low but the gauge still registered a little. We filled up and then had to bleed the lines to get fuel back into the injection system.

Well, we ended up staying another night as I could not get the engine going. I did some research on line and found a repair manual for my engine, so $9 later I think I had found my problem. Next morning after work I was able to successfully bleed the lines – I will say these engine designers should be forced to work on these motors in the same conditions as we do for 6 months before a design is released – the bleed valve for the fuel injection pump was almost impossible to reach – it took the removal of some of the equipment off the engine and then a 30 to 40 minute struggle to get the bleed bolt loose as it was in a very hard to reach spot. We headed out about 2 p.m., and boy was it cold! Land temps said that it was 68, on the water which is only in the low 50s it felt like 40. We were bundled up with gloves, fleece, hats, foul weather gear, sailing boots – looking like Shackleton in the Antarctic. We brought along a bunch of old army surplus emergency heat packs – stuffed those in our foul weather gear and boy did they feel good. We rolled out of the harbor, against the incoming tide, trying to use the river current to help us get out. The collision of the two caused some rough water – small waves but very choppy.

Once clear we were able to make good progress and sailed a good 30 miles before motoring the last hour so we did not get into the anchorage in pitch blackness. We saw whales along the way – in the distance we saw their spouts. Also saw a lot of seals, and the island (Ile Du Bic) was a favorite hangout for them. We could hear them squealing and grunting all night long. It was a sheltered anchorage so we had a good calm night’s sleep.

After breakfast the next morning, we motored into deep water and hauled up the sails and with a series of long tacks we were able to make pretty decent progress up the coast, past Rimouski towards our next stop. It was 49 at 11am – so we were bundled up once again with heat packs and struggling to stay warm. It was a cold day, but uneventful and we ended up motoring in the afternoon to counter a rather strong current to ensure we got to the anchorage in daylight as it was littered with rocky outcrops.

We anchored in a rocky cove called Metis Sur Mer. There were seals laying on the rocks and playing in the water. The evening started out calm and serene, but in the early morning we noticed that it was getting quite rough. The cove was sheltered from East, West and South winds but not from a North wind which we now had. We woke up with two foot swells rolling in. We hauled anchor and took off into a 20-30 knot northeast wind. We slogged into the wind from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the motor and the staysail until we reached Matane. We pulled in there to a small marina and went into the club house and had two strong Irish coffees while talking to some of the locals.

Had a very nice time meeting Dan Cooper and his family. They were from Quebec City on a 3 week sailing trip headed out in roughly the same direction as us; 4 of them on a 28 ft Hinterhoeller. After socializing we went out to dinner. There was a motel across the street with a restaurant called Cargo, so we took a gamble and went there. It was on the water, all glass frontage, and we both enjoyed a wonderful seafood dinner and appetizers with a dessert of chocolate and raspberries. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and had a very nice waitress to boot. We came back to the boat exhausted from our day in the wind and the cold. Temps on the water were in the low 50’s with windchill in the upper 40’s – it was freezing!

After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast of eggs, we showered, did laundry and readied for departure. However we were delayed as the tide was out and the water level at the marina entrance was less than 4 ft. We were a little disappointed because we had a honking (25-35 knot) South wind which could have taken use 7-8 knots under jib alone.The entrance would not have been deep enough until around 4pm, which meant coming into our next port of call around midnight – I don’t like doing that – going into unfamiliar places in the dark – so we decided to spend one more night here in Matane and leave early tomorrow on the high tide. Winds are supposed to be good tomorrow as well – we shall see.


Off To Kingston And Beyond…

After transiting the Welland Canal, we found a small marina just beyond the last lock and turned in for the night. Water, power – no one around so we docked and slept like babies. Next morning we awoke and found that the marina was actually a delivery site for the Neptunus power boat company. We talked to a new boat owner who explained the situation, so we pottied the dog, hopped aboard and took off before the employees arrived. We saw the Nina and the Pinta tied up just outside the first lock! How cool, they must have come in during the night. We headed out into the lake about 6 miles in heavy seas – 6-8 foot rolling waves, then set the sails and aimed for Kingston.

We had a great sail for about 4 hours, then off course like clockwork the wind died. After bouncing around for a while, we decided to motor. We took off and made slow progress Eastward. The wind had died but the waves had not; there was this ugly chop that really hampered progress. We stopped after a few hours to re position the dinghy in the davits because it was not balanced properly. While balancing off the back, the dinghy support system snapped! The boat slid backwards and dropped engine first upside down into the water. We were able to recover it quickly and get the boat back up and secured in the davits, but not before the motor had spent some time under water. I was furious – the davit harness had failed. We had to jury rig a solution to let us safely lift the boat, and then we headed on our way. The wind remained very light through the night and so we were both able to get some good sleep while off watch.

Morning saw us rounding West Point and heading down into the St Lawrence river towards Kingston. The wind picked up a little; enough to allow us to switch off the engine and sail a little. We were headed deep downwind so we put up the spinnaker for a little while and ran wing on wing with it for an hour or so until the wind reached 12-15 – then we dropped the chute and broad reached down the channel and into Kingston.

We arrived mid afternoon, tied off and went ashore. The marina we were in was right in the center of downtown, so we took a long walk around before taking a shower, doing the laundry (which was free in the marina) and then going out to dinner in a neat bistro with a view of the water and the park. This is a very quaint town, it reminded us of Old Westerville, lots of tourists and very clean.

Next morning after work we went to the grocery store for a few necessities and then tackled changing the oil in the engine. I took the oil out of the engine and then walked a good 2 miles to a disposal location before walking another mile to pick up the oil filter and then returned back to the boat to install and add the new oil. After we finished that and got cleaned up, we left in a 15 to 20 knot breeze from the South and headed down the river on a beam reach. It was a beautiful sunny day, blue skies with puffy clouds and great wind. We saw speeds of 8.5 knots, so there must be a current here already. We sailed for about 4 hours and enjoyed some tasty sangria and a quinoa salad along the way. We weaved our way through the islands and into the American Channel, past Clayton and under the bridge to Wellesley Island and found a small Cove near Fishers Landing called Swan Cove. There we anchored for the night; it was so calm it felt like we were at the dock.

We left early in the morning and headed upriver. Naturally the wind was blowing towards us, so we had to motor sail. Around noon the wind backed more to the west and we were actually able to turn off the engine and sail. We had to tack in a few places but with the current we were over 9 knots a lot of the time! It was exhilarating. We went through our first lock on the river – Iroquios and then decided to find a spot to spend the night. We found a free marina run by the Lions club near Morrisburg, so we pulled in and decided to tackle the next few locks in the morning. While dinner was being made, I spent the time trying to get the obviously flooded (water) engine to start. A gentleman named Guy from Quebec struck up a conversation with me and with his help I was able to get it going – he is a true genius when it comes to engines! He also had suggestions for me to try to fix the engine racing issue I have when the motor is in idle. I did try one of his ideas and it helped a great deal; the motor still idles high, but now its manageable and not out of control. Thank you Guy for you insights and your help – hopefully our paths will cross again.

Woke up rather late the next day and after breakfast we left with a nice breeze from the nose, so we had to motor and we put out the staysail. We motor sailed to the Eisenhower lock, and along the way started having issues with the engine. The engine alarm was going off but not loudly. So after we passed through the Snell lock we pulled over to one side, anchored and we checked the water system over. I checked and cleaned the water intake, the raw water impeller and the engine impeller. Then we got going again and the alarm came on again so we are thinking it might be the thermostat. We found a nice place just north of Cornwall and anchored in a residential area in a Cove for the night. We saw a beautiful sunset, it was very calm with about a one knot current that held us into the wind perfectly. Around sunset someone came out and played the bagpipes on his back porch. We enjoyed a good salad for dinner along with a glass of sangria and then went to bed.

Next morning we woke to a beautiful sunny day with a gentle breeze blowing. After eating breakfast and taking the dog for a walk, the wife went up the mast to replace the courtesy flag halyard and then we set sail. Winds were very light but gradually increased during the day and with the current we saw speeds of 6 to 7 sometimes. We averaged about 5 knots; there was not a lot of commercial traffic but being Sunday, there were a ton of power boats and sailboats. We ended up finding a free anchorage on a wall that was part of the old Canal system before the current locks were built. It was in Les Coteaux near an RV campground. We were able to refill some of our water bottles, then enjoyed a nice light dinner took a nice long walk. Talked to some young girls that were going to college in Montreal and convinced them to jump off of the bridge (15-20ft high) that we were walking over. We walked around the campground and then came back for dinner, took a shower and then turned in for the night.

We woke up early the next morning, filled our water tanks and then departed for the next lock at Beauharnois. We transited through the locks into Lake St Louis, set sail and sailed to our next lock which is outside of Montreal at St Catherines. The winds were light and it was a beautiful day; we moved along at about five knots comfortably with the wind on our stern. When we arrived at the canal entrance, we lowered our sails and drove down the channel to the canal that takes you to the last two locks on the river. While in transit we heard a Mayday call, a small aircraft crashed into the st. Lawrence river behind us; apparently it was a false Mayday.

While waiting for the first lift bridge we got caught in our first bad squall. It rained cats and dogs for about 45 minutes and we were soaked. Just when we thought it was over, the next wave of blinding rain and wind would blow through reducing visibility at times to less then a few hundred yards. It was very frustrating because the lift bridge operator would not respond to our calls for a time when the bridge would open. That was after I confirmed with the Coast Guard what channel they respond to. I thought that was very rude. Once the bridge came up, after about an hour and 15 minutes, we motored through and down the channel to the second-to-last lock where we were made to wait for no reason for almost an hour. We locked through there and then motored down to the last lock where they took us in almost immediately.

Free! Finally free of the locks, we motored out of the canal and North of the city to an anchorage I found on Active Captain. When we arrived we realized it was too exposed so I started to look for another place to anchor. I found one that said “Good for sailboats”. We headed over to it and dropped anchor in about 30 ft of water in a channel between 2 islands. It was 12:30 am – a looooong day. It turned out to be a great spot; we were facing West into a 2 knot current which held the boat steady and calm all night long – we slept like babies.

We decided to stay in this spot for two nights. We explored the island and did laundry among other things and just lazed around all day. The weather was nice and sunny with just enough of a breeze to cool things down. It was nice to relax after such a long tiring day.

In the morning after a great night’s sleep we went to explore the other side of the island we were anchored by. The whole island was a paintball haven – almost looked like a military training ground – pretty amazing. We headed back to the boat and prepped to leave.

Then we hauled anchor and headed North towards Quebec City. We motored pretty much all day, there was very little wind. We were able to sail for a short while and then Anchored In Lake St Louis. We found a group of islands to nestle down in between and prepped for an impending storm. We had three waves of rain, winds of 30 knot and plenty of lightning and thunder but it was very sheltered so the anchor held well.

Next morning we got up early and headed off down river. Our destination was Portneuf. There was very little boat traffic, and of course no wind, so we motored all day, which is getting sort of boring. The sides of the river are getting higher and steeper and the river is getting wider. The good thing is that with the current we are able to make 7-10 knots while only running the engine at half throttle, so we are getting pretty good gas mileage!

We anchored off a point in in the river at Portneuf for the night, arriving around 5pm. There were gentle winds, and a small current that held the boat nicely pointing towards the West. We went ashore and explored the area; it was a private park, very heavily wooded and beautiful. We turned in early in anticipation of the 30 mile trip to Quebec the next day. During the night the winds came up from the north and the boat turned around, the anchor held but I was rather nervous because if it did come loose, we would have had very little time to get away from the shore.

We got up very early in the morning and after we walked the dog we hauled anchor and took off. The winds that were blowing through the night became stronger, and soon we were looking at 25 to 30 with a very long fetch, so we had four to five foot waves on the nose which made things VERY slow going. We had to motor; very slow going at first, but when the tide turned in our favor – yes Portneuf is 30 miles from the ocean and has 10 ft tides – that helped our speed and after starting at about three knots we ended up doing 8 to 9.

We pulled into Quebec around 1:30, took a nice long walk, explored and went grocery shopping. Then we left the dog on the boat and went for a walk in Old Town, stopped at a cafe and had some coffee and gelato and did some window shopping. It is a very quaint and European looking city. Came back to the boat showered and went to bed.