News 17

Quebec City to Gaspé

St. Lawrence River

We are on the road again, on the road of the adventurers, traders, coureurs du bois and soldiers, still a main artery of Canadian life. Everywhere we run across the names of Cartier, Champlain (the discoverers) and Richelieu (the high profile gangster who financed all these lucrative "liberations" in "Nouvelle France" as they called it). Landscape and nature are simply overwhelming. The Big River put a magic spell on us. We have to be on the alert all the time, tidal currents of 7 knots and more in some places are not funny.

The weather rather reminds us of home - with a few special effects. Now we know what a "white squall" is. These microbursts are really impressive: winds above gale force from every direction, torrential rain and zero visibility normally last for about half an hour, but you definitely need a stiff one when you´re through. Of course they always get you in the most difficult and narrow places. Sudden fog patches are also very popular, especially with one of our big brothers close by. Well, sometimes it´s hard to just stay cool and keep going...

We cover 460 nm between the old city and the Laurentian gulf in ten days. But we meander along spending a day here and there and also going up the Saguenay River for 20 nm, reminding us of the fjords in Norway. The whales live here, but they are shy and always far off, we couldn´t take a single good picture. But let me tell you, they are there and a lot of them. The singular mixture of a cold current going upstream in depths of over 600 ft and warm water rushing downstream on the surface provides a lot of food for seals, porpoises and whales. The biggest surviving colony of belugas lives here. But although the summers are beautiful and warm, the climate is harsh and hostile. Of the first 16 settlers who tried to spend the winter in Tadoussac only 5 could tell their story in springtime. The massive lighthouse buildings speak for themselves. You don´t fool around with nature here.

The passage from Rimouski to Gaspé is a sailors dream: wind from behind, 20-25 kts , beaming sunshine, 230 nm in 30 hours, quite an achievement for heavily laden boat. But the night is cold and there are a lot of fishermen around. Still these are the moments we live for, this is why we chose this sort of life and uncomfortable travel. Although we sometimes hate it (mainly because we think the boat is too small, but isn´t that what they always are?) we are living the dream.

From Cap des Rosiers lighthouse to the totally protected Bay of Gaspé are only a few more miles. We spend the night at anchor, together with three million hungry moskitoes. The next morning we motor another hour to the small town marina, where people treat us like rare animals. Visitors from overseas are almost unknown here, too far off the beaten track. Hardly understandable, the town is neat, a well stocked supermarket around the corner, the pubs have a lot of french atmosphere, the harbor safe and people are friendly despite the fact that almost nobody speaks a decent language. A nice place to sit and wait till the gales have blown themselves out.

In the end it turns out to be more than a week of sitting around, one front follws the other and all of them bring a lot of wind from the wrong direction. We share our fate with several other boats all waiting to go on. Everybody is getting itchy feet but when you´re in a hurry you shouldn´t sail...

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