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Category Archives: Sailing in the St. Lawrence

July 26th – Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine

So, you may have been wondering what has happened to us in the last few days. We stayed at Anse-a-Beaufils for three nights and were going to go down to the Bay of Chaleur but according to the local people, the ports that we wanted to visit are very shallow and silted. For example, Chandler, is the second biggest port after Gaspé and our draft (five feet) is too deep. We did not want to get stuck on the bottom. Also, we had a good opportunity to go east and I am glad we did because the wind is supposed to blow the wrong way for the next three days.
Anyway, we have made it to the Îles-de-la-Madeleine! It took 31 hours to get here but it was totally worth it as it is beautiful here. The scenery is nice – lots of sand dunes, beaches, grassy fields and very colourful old style houses. I will post more about the island once we go exploring but I want to tell everyone about our voyage across the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

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You can see our route from the map. We left at 8:30 on Thursday morning and sailed all day. The winds were kind of going in the right direction but the sea was a bit rough – not horrible but we couldn’t move around too much on the boat. Good thing I have my satellite radio so that we could listen to the CBC!
We motored for a while too and then sailed some more throughout the night. We didn’t exactly have “watches” but we did take turns catnapping in the cockpit. Time was very strange – I thought that it would drag on and on – like you’ve been in an airplane forever, but it wasn’t like that at all. Time kept jumping ahead a lot – suddenly it was 2:00 in the morning, then 4:00. Once it started getting light, time seemed to turn back to normal.
We spotted Corps Mort (Dead Body Island) at about 6:00 am. You can see why it was named!

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We also spotted Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine and thought that we would be there right on time. No such luck! In order to get to the marina, it was another 20 miles. We followed a sand dune forever, then went down an extremely long channel. We didn’t dare take any shortcuts because of the sandbars. Somewhere along the channel, Dennis noticed that the engine was vibrating in an odd way. This could not be good. So, we fretted over this for a couple of hours and he checked things out but couldn’t really tell. He knew though, that there was something wrong with the engine – maybe the prop had caught a fishing net? He realized that we needed reverse to work if we wanted to get safely to the marina and thought that he had better try it out in the open. He was thinking that he would have to dive down on the prop and cut the tangled debris. So, we went in reverse and a long piece of seaweed suddenly appeared on the stern of the boat. He then put the boat in forward and the vibration disappeared! Whew! Of course, he is going to dive down today and double-check but at least he won’t have to dive in 20 knot winds!
We finally, finally made it to the marina (this was the longest part of the entire passage!) at 1:00 and tied up. Our friends, George and Alice (who crossed over with us) are rafted to our boat. They are very nice and had hoped to cross the Atlantic but had engine trouble in Cornwall and got stuck there for three weeks so their window of opportunity closed. We have met up with them a few times now and have played Euchre – the score it tied (Ladies vs. ex Navy). We are looking forward to a rematch. Here is a link to their website: http://alisonandgeorge.blogspot.ca/.
I took a picture of their boat, Wyvern lll while we were in the channel.

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Anyway, we have reached Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine safely and are ready to go exploring now that we’ve caught up on our sleep! This was the longest passage either of us have done on the Split Crow – 31 hours in total. The boat handled well the whole way and Captain Dennis was very competent. We are now in the Atlantic time zone and are officially in the Gulf of St. Lawrence! Our next stop will most likely be Souris, PEI if whether permits or perhaps Cape Breton. We will be staying here for a few days though – it is a very interesting place!

If you are looking for an interesting way to spend an hour, listen to the CBC Ideas podcast – Sailing Alone Around The World.

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Posted by on July 26, 2013 in Sailing in the St. Lawrence

 

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July 22nd – Percé Rock, l’Île-Bonaventure, L’Anse-à-Beaufils

We are exhausted! Being a tourist is hard work! However, we did have an excellent day and saw lots of sights, so we are happy that we made the effort.
First of all, the guidebook says that there is a shuttle from our marina to Percé but that is wrong. We got a ride with the guy who runs the marina and he was nice enough to take us past the town and see Percé Rock from another viewpoint – very spectacular!
Once Jacques let us off, we went down to the tour boat. We were able to tour Percé Rock up close. Here is another shot:

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After that, the boat went over to l’Île-Bonaventure and we were able to see thousands of birds flying around and resting in the cliffs. There is a huge gannet colony but there were many other types of seabirds too. We also saw lots of grey seals lounging around on the rocks.
We docked on the island and were met by the Quebec Park people. The lady asked who wanted the introduction in English and three of us put up our hands, so she sent us over to the other park worker who gave us the spiel in English (which took about two minutes – don’t go off the trail, don’t smoke, don’t pick anything…) The other lady’s speech was apparently much better. I am not sure, but it was definitely a lot longer!
Anyway, we paid our park admission fee and headed off on the trail to see the bird colony. The hike was about 45 minutes and as we arrived, we could hear and smell the birds first! It was a sight to behold – I have never seen so many birds in one spot! Here are a few pictures:

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We headed back on a different trail which took about an hour. Dennis set a mean pace as he wanted to catch the 1:00 boat back! (We did with plenty of time to spare).

Once we got back to the mainland, we watched a guy play the accordion.

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After that, we had lunch and shopped for a bit. Jacques picked us up at the post office. Here is a picture of his and his car. It was a fun ride back!

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We then went to the museum store. This store was the general store for 150 years in the community and in 2001, the father decided to close the doors and served his last customer at 2:00 pm. At 4:00 pm, he died of a heart attack. His children decided to turn the store into a museum and it was quite interesting. Here are a few pictures:

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After the store, we walked back to the boat and we saw this in the parking lot:

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That is all the excitement for the day. There is a full moon and all the tour boats are in this harbour – they do that when bad weather is expected. However, it is quite beautiful out and Environment Canada does not have any warnings out, so we are not sure what this is about. Oh well, we will see in the morning. We will be heading towards the Baie de Chaleuar – perhaps Chandler.
Last picture – full moon.

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Posted by on July 22, 2013 in Sailing in the St. Lawrence

 

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July 21st – Percé Rock, L’Anse-à-Beaufils

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Well! Percé Rock is as impressive as all the guidebooks say, so if you are in the area, you should definitely go and see it!
We set out this morning from Gaspé at 7:00 and had a very nice, lazy sail for a couple of hours. There was not nearly as much wind as predicted, so it was quite calm. We turned the corner and could soon see Percé Rock from a long way away. It took an hour or so to come up to it. Pretty cool!

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Here is a website with some excellent pictures.
http://www.travelet.com/2009/05/discovering-the-wonders-of-perce-rock-canada/

After we passed the rock, we headed toward L’Anse-à-Beaufils. Suddenly, we were in some turbulent water and had a few good smashes around, but this quickly subsided and we made it safely to the entrance of the harbour.
The marina was not answering the radio, so we weren’t sure where to go. We could see this man waving and asking us a question. We had no idea what he was saying. Dennis finally figured out that he was asking us how deep the boat was. Another man from across the harbour called back to him and said that it was probably five feet. (We learned all this later as the conversation took place in French!)
We made a very dramatic entry onto the dock – the wind had picked up considerably and Dennis had a hard time controlling the boat. We now have a lovely scratch along the left side (which matches with the scratch on the right side that I did last year). At any rate, we managed to tie the boat up without any other damage.

I rode by bike back to Percé to see the town (along the very nice paved shoulder) and the rock from up close. The town looks like a lot of fun so we are going back tomorrow to check it out. Very touristy but there looks like there is a lot to do.

Here is of picture of Percé Rock from land:

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This is a picture looking in the opposite direction of Percé Rock – it is also very beautiful.

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Here is a picture of the area right across from the marina – this is where we had supper.

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On the way back, we spotted Dennis’ dreamboat, complete with a hole… 🙂

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For those who are planning on traveling here by boat, you should bring cash to pay for many of the marinas as quite a few don’t have debit machines. Also, if you’re planning on loading up with groceries, don’t go to Percé – it is geared for tourists. Gaspé has two good grocery stores within walking distance.

More info to follow tomorrow. We are going to go to Île Bonaventure via a tour boat and check out the thousands of birds that nest there.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2013 in Sailing in the St. Lawrence

 

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July 20th – Gaspé

We decided to leave Rivière au Renard so that we could get to Gaspé even though the weather forecast wasn’t that great. It was calling for west winds and that meant that when we rounded Cap-des-Rosiers, we would get choppy water. Once we cleared the harbour, we noticed that it was quite foggy out although we could still see.
It stayed foggy for a couple of hours but we weren’t too worried because we used the radar, the GPS and the phone app – Boat Beacon (which tells you if there are boats nearby – as long as they have an MMSI number). So, we kept our eyes out for logs (there are quite a few floating around) and other boats.
Here is a picture of the worst part of the fog (this was only for a few minutes):

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We were thankful that the sun eventually came out and we were able to see Cap-des-Rosiers. The lighthouse is the tallest in Canada and was erected in 1858. Here is a link to it: http://gaspesie.quebecheritageweb.com/attraction/cap-des-rosiers-lighthouse-national-historic-site
The cliffs were amazing as you can see from these pictures:

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We rounded the point and were expecting rough seas, but luckily the wind had either died down or had never come up and it was actually coming from another direction so Dennis was able to put up the sail. Within 15 minutes, the wind had died completely…

We did see many seabirds today and a couple of grey seals popped their heads up and stared at us for a few seconds (until I grabbed the camera and then they ducked under). I also saw another minke whale.

We are currently at the Gaspé Marina (Jacques Cartier Marina, to be exact) and will most likely leave tomorrow for Percé Rock. It depends, of course, on the weather!

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2013 in Sailing in the St. Lawrence

 

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July 18th, 19th – Rivière-au-Renard

We had a bit of a time leaving early yesterday morning. As usual, we set out at 6:00 and I was on the wheel while Dennis pushed the boat off the dock. As I was going backwards, the boat stopped moving and it appeared that the rudder was stuck on the bottom. A variety of people offered their opinions and it was agreed that we couldn’t leave until the tide came in a little more. So, we went for a walk while we waited.

Dennis, being cautious, decided to wait until 7:30 and even then, we still had a bit of trouble leaving. Luckily though, the people on the boat beside us were very helpful and got us off safely – somehow, they swung us around with the lines, and we crept out of the harbour.

We actually sailed the boat with both sails for most of the day. The wind was perfect. (Of course, if we had been going in the other direction, it would have been horrible with lots of smashing around). So, we tacked back and forth a few times. Here’s our track:

Track - July 18

At around 11:30, while I was staring vacantly out to sea, (this seems to occur fairly often), I suddenly spotted a pretty big whale off to the side of the boat swimming east to west. It surfaced three times and then blew. It had a fin on its back, so we figured it was a minke whale. This is a good website that we are using for identifying whales.

A little while later, another whale surfaced off of the side of the boat, going in the same direction as us. It surfaced a few times but then we lost sight of it.

We arrived at Rivière-au-Renard uneventfully at around 3:15 and had no problems docking. We spoke with another boater (the guy who helped us at Rivière-Madelaine) and he saw a whale without a fin, so he thought it might have been a blue whale.

Riviève-au-Renard is one of the largest fishing ports on the Gaspé. It has many large fishing boats in the harbour which is a commercial and pleasure craft harbour. Here is a picture of the boats:

Riviere-au-renardWe wandered around the town and stopped off at the poissonerie (fish market) for our supper.

Rivière-au-Renard was originally populated by immigrants from Ireland, mostly those who remained in the area following the sinking of the Carrick in 1847. There is an interesting article on the CBC (with an audio interview).

Here is another website about the Carrick Shipwreck Monument.

Here is another article on the Carrick: http://www.independent.ie/regionals/sligochampion/lifestyle/remains-of-sligos-forgotten-famine-ship-emerge-from-canadas-icy-waters-27564386.html

We are staying here for the day and will probably leave for Gaspe tomorrow.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2013 in Sailing in the St. Lawrence

 

July 17th – Rivière-Madeleine

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At about 9:00 last night, after having the entire day of no wind whatsoever, the wind suddenly picked up (of course!). I was worried that I wouldn’t sleep because we were anchored and I thought the anchor might break free. So, after about two minutes of worrying, I woke up at 5:00 this morning (very refreshed too, I might add!). Dennis had assured me that our anchor and the 150 feet of chain would hold and it did. He didn’t lose any sleep either!
I think that the reason the wind came up was because of the katabatic wind phenomenon that occurs here. This is what the guidebook says:
“The katabatic wind is a land breeze that at night blows down a valley and out through its mouth. The deeper and broader the valley, the more the wind will be violent. A breeze swoops down from the hilltops and easily reaches 25 knots, while the rest of the coast has only dead calm.”
Anyway, it all worked out and we carried on to Rivière-Madeleine this morning.

We are officially heading south now! We reached the most northern point at the village of Gros Morne – 49.15 degrees (about the same as Kapuskasing).

Not much happened today after we arrived. The village is very beautiful and the people are extremely nice. I would like to add that if anyone does stop here, the french-fries are delicious (Frites Maison). They are peeled right in the cantine which is also the marina office. A bit of advice though, you really only need the petit serving as the moyen would fill an entire platter!

After we ate the fries (we are saving some for supper), we went for a LONG walk. I am glad we did because I got a couple of good pictures of the coastline from the top of a hill.

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We are headed to Rivière-au-Renard tomorrow if weather permits and then we will be one day away from Gaspé.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Sailing in the St. Lawrence

 

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July 16th – Mont St. Pierre

It turned out that the big boat was not Guy LaFleur’s, but somehow, one of the workers at the marina got it into his head that I was very disappointed. I guess Dennis mentioned that we were from Parry Sound, the home of Bobby Orr, so he thought that I would be cheered up by giving me an autographed picture of Guy LaFleur!

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So, because there is absolutely no wind and hasn’t been all day, we are anchored at Mont St. Pierre. This village is renowned for hang gliding and we have been watching them jump off the cliffs! Very interesting but too scary for me! Here is a video that I found online:
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUd0oSCsp2k&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DZUd0oSCsp2k
Here are a few pictures:

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We met up with some people when we went ashore in the dinghy and they said that we have to go to the Magdalen Islands, so once we get to Gaspe, we will probably head over there for a few days.
Here is a picture of the boat at today’s anchorage:

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Posted by on July 16, 2013 in Sailing in the St. Lawrence

 

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