September 22 - September 30, 2004

CORRECTION

Ken wishes to make a correction to the last update, concerning the statement that he was jumping up and down and "gesticulating wildly" during Beth's docking maneuvers at Trois Riviere. Ken states that he was merely offering helpful advice related to the fact that Beth was going FULL SPEED FORWARD DIRECTLY AT THE DOCK instead of motoring GENTLY IN REVERSE as she had been instructed. He denies "gesticulating" but agrees that he did occasionally get both feet off the deck in order to get a better view of the proceedings.

September 22, 2004

Docked at Cap al'Aigle After we left Quebec City, our next stop was Cap al'Aigle, a very small marina, and our first introduction to tidal waters. The staff at the marina spoke no English, but we managed to muddle our way through. (Thanks to Beth's college French.)  
We were tied to a floating dock so we rode up and down easily with the flow of the tide. The "cleats" on this dock were kind of rustic.   Tied up to wooden bollard

 

Kelp at Cap al'Aigle   We were finally in a salt water environment -- we saw kelp covering the rocks. We also saw our first sea lion near the harbor.

We found a little French country inn, Petite Plaisance, near the marina and had a delicious dinner. Ken is still raving about what a great restaurant that was, in the middle of nowhere. The French really know how to cook. Fortunately, we really know how to eat!

  Waterfall at harbor in Cap al'Aigle

Martin, our new friend from Quebec, had told us that the stretch from Quebec to Tadoussac was the most difficult we would encounter in terms of currents from the tidal flows. He suggested that we motor this stretch.

Ken spent hours studying the St. Lawrence tide and current charts to figure out the right strategy for getting down the river, and then checked his calculations with Martin. The currents can change from five knots upstream to seven knots downsteam within a matter of hours. Also high tide occurs at different times on different parts of the river, and the tides and currents do not relate in any simple fashion, so high tide is not the same thing as "slack water." You have to plan your trip so that you keep arriving at a new place on the river as the current there becomes favorable. Another step on the learning curve.

Motoring down the St. Lawrence We left early in the morning and motored down the river toward Tadoussac. The water was very calm and the scenery beautiful. The river depths were amazing -- 525 feet within half a mile of land.  

The countryside was beautiful and remote, dotted with an occasional lighthouse.

Lighthouse along St. Lawrence River Mountains along St. Lawrence River  

 

Ile Rouge floating in the water As we approached Tadoussac on the Riviere Saguenay, we saw what looked like a farm on Ile Rouge floating in the distance. We also encountered doubled wind speeds funneling down the Saguenay River, which is like a fjord.  
We docked for the night at Tadoussac, which was very much a tourist town. Not our style, although the surrounding country is spectacular. Tadousaac is famous for whale watching, and our friend Martin said we would be very unlucky if we didn't see Beluga whales in this area -- we were unlucky.   Docked at Tadoussac on Riviere Saguenay

September 23, 2004

We left Tadoussac under beautiful, sunny skies. With 15 knots of wind out of the SW, we raised our sails for the first time since entering the Seaway 12 days earlier. We flew at over 10 knots under just main and jib. Sure was exhilerating!

Beth in full gear   We are still going north and the temperatures have gotten colder (about 47 degrees outside). We wore full foul weather gear to keep warm. Glacier goggles really help with the glare off the water. We have a diesel heater in the boat, so we were toasty warm below. Also, the pilothouse acts like a greenhouse when the hatches are closed and can get nice and warm.
  We didn't see any whales, but we saw lots of bird life. We knew we were in Canada when we saw loons -- a bird we last saw while canoeing in the Boundary Waters of Canada many years ago. We were also even more amazed at the water depths. Our depth meter stopped reading at 1000 feet -- and we were only within 4 miles of shore. Loon floating in water

September 24 - 25, 2004

RIMOUSKI

We stopped at Rimouski, Quebec for a few days before making a big push down the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We thought we could do some provisioning there, but it turned out that the stores were quite far from the harbor. Beth tried to get to a marine supply store "just across the street" from the marina and ended up scaling one wall, climbing a fence, dashing across a four lane highway, climbing another fence, and squeezing sideways between two buildings that were 12 inches apart to get there. And of course, they didn't have any of the supplies we wanted, since it was the end of the season.

 

We were also told there was an internet cafe "just down the road" and Beth headed off with laptop in tow. She walked several miles only to find that the one antiquated computer at this reputed internet cafe was out of service! The owner of the cafe assured her there were computers at a hotel a mile or two away. This time Beth got smart and took a cab. The whole affair turned into a 3 hour expedition. Guess it's one way to get some exercise.

You all should appreciate your cars!

Beth heading off on internet update odyssey

 

  While we were at Rimouski, a large wooden ketch, Flaneur II, docked nearby. There were some scary looking young people aboard. We found out from the captain that they had just returned from a 9 week voyage in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The boat was crewed by troubled teenagers from the Montreal area. Ketch rigged Flaneur II

Beth was haunted by the face and eyes of one of the girls on Flaneur II -- she had a very unsettling vacant stare. She wore a powder blue running suit and attempted to implement the "low-rider" style by rolling down the top of her pants (including underwear) precariously and disconcertingly low. One of the other crew resembled Brad Pitt in a wilder version of his Achilles incarnation.

Petit Deliree The captain of Flaneur II owns this boat, Petit Deliree (translates to "Slightly Crazy"), which was also docked nearby. He sailed her singled-handed (and without a motor) to South Africa, St. Helena, Azores, and the Caribbean, among other places. Now that's hard core!  

We had a few plumbing adventures while in Rimouski. The forward toilet overflowed when we forgot to close the water intake valve after flushing. Fortunately it was clean water from the harbor, but it still was an ugly mess to clean up. The sink in the aft head also overflowed when a step stool we had stuffed in the aft shower fell and hit the faucet, turning it on. Fortunately, we discoverd the flood while it was still confined to the head. We've made changes to prevent both problems in the future.

September 26 - 28, 2004

PASSAGE THROUGH THE GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE

The St. Lawrence widens out past Rimouski -- enough so that we finally felt comfortable sailing at night again. Which meant we could really make tracks! We left Rimouski early in the morning for our first long run since we left the Great Lakes, and didn't stop until we reached Souris, on Prince Edward Island at the south end of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. That passage was 444 miles long, making it the longest continuous distance we have sailed since we brought the boat in from North Carolina in 2000. It took us three days and two nights.

The weather was sunny and beautiful when we left Rimouski. We flew our asymmetrical spinnaker for a few hours, but the wind went too far aft to fly it easily. We took it down and tried some other sail combinations.

  This "wing and wing" configuration worked very well going dead downwind. Here the main is pulled to starboard and the jib is held out to port using a whisker pole. Ken rigging for wing and wing configuration

We passed a real milestone about 100 miles out of Rimouski . We turned SOUTH. After trying to get to Australia by going 2000 miles in the wrong direction, and after watching all these tough northern sailors put their boats away for the season while we kept going toward the land of polar bears, and after we started to see our breath in the morning inside the boat, we can't tell you how good it felt to start heading to where it's warm. We're ready for some of those tropical breezes. Of course we were still about 350 miles north of Portland, Maine. And the nearest tropical breezes are in ex-hurricane Jean, heading up the Atlantic coast.

If the first 36 hours of our passage were great, the last 24 hours left something to be desired. We had about 25-30 knots of wind ahead of the beam, with two meter seas close together, like Lake Michigan waves. This combination gave us a kind of corkscrew, rolling, rocking, rolling, rocking, rolling. you get the idea. Anyway we both tossed our cookies, along our oatmeal, sandwiches, Gatorade and a small supply of seasickness prevention ginger candies (which didn't). This was a big event for Ken -- first time he had ever actually barfed on a boat. He celebrated by doing it again. As for Beth, she said the 11:00 pm to 3:00 am trick felt like her longest watch ever.

Beth recovering from seasickness Here's Beth using the off-watch to recover her bearings after a bout of seasickness.  

The sad thing is that this wasn't even a gale - just a "fresh breeze." We'd both lost our sea legs after motoring for weeks on the St. Lawrence River. Fortunately, Eagle's Wings really came into her own and took care of us like a proper cruising boat should. We went to a staysail and two reefs in the main, and then hardly touched the sails for 24 hours.

We both decided we are going to experiment with seasickness drugs for our run down the East Coast. We may be proud, but we aren't stupid.

Later in the day Beth felt sufficiently recovered to heat up our speed by rolling up the staysail and unfurling the jib.   Rolling out the jib

September 28 - 29, 2004

We had hoped to reach Ballantynes Cove in Nova Scotia, but we realized we wouldn't make landfall during daylight. The weather had turned drizzly and it got dark well before the scheduled sunset. We decided to duck into Souris, on Prince Edward Island. Our friend Martin had identified this as an emergency stopping place. It is very protected, but is industrial and not intended as a pleasure boat harbor.

NADINE

As we came into Souris, late on that gloomy, rainy evening, we passed by a giant fishing boat called "Nadine". She was rusted and battered and listing to port, and her bridge windows were boarded over. We tied up just ahead of her, and remarked that she could be a character in a horror movie. We didn't know how right we were.

Nadine in the bright sunshine. She looked even worse on the dark, rainy night when we came in.   Nadine in the sunshine

Some local fishermen told us her story the next morning. Around ten years ago she was based in the Iles de la Madelene (which we had just passed by). Caught out in a violent storm one night, she made the mistake of running for home instead of keeping her big bow into the waves. She broached, her rudder jammed, and a wave boarded her stern. Water likely entered some open hatches and when she went down, 8 of 10 hands were lost, including a young woman who was on board as a government fishing monitor.

(Note Sept 17, 2015: A reader provided a link to an article that provides more information about the tragedy... http://bynancywillis.com/?page_id=115. We corrected our original description where we said all hands were lost.)

Nadine viewed from her stern Nadine's bow is big and high, but she has a low cut stern to accomodate her fishing gear. A wave that hits here can get on board.  

After lying on the bottom for some time she was raised by a salvage expedition, but then abandoned in a harbor on the Madelenes when rehabilitation proved too costly. A few years later the people of the Madelene Islands, whose friends and family members were lost on Nadine, got tired of looking at her and had her towed to Souris, where she sits today.

Nadine towers over the surrounding boats as Beth talks to a retired seaman. In the 1950's, he helped set up a base camp in Antarctica.   Talking to local seaman with Nadine in background
Nadine in background So anyway, if you want a used fishing boat...  
Friendly Souris fishermen

Many people stopped by to talk with us in Souris. We thought the place would be deserted. The previous night we were very glad when four young fishermen showed up and helped us dock our boat in the rain and darkness. During the day, several retired fishermen, including John and Wendell (pictured here), came by. John (foreground) stayed to help us with our lines when we left.

Retired fishermen seem to really like to come down to the harbor and check out the fishing action -- you get the feeling they miss it.

 

 

Retired ship pilot and his dog, Scooter We also met this retired ship pilot and his new dog, Scooter. We didn't get the pilot's name (guess we're still apprentice reporters). He lost his longtime dog and bird last year in fire.  

The fishermen sniffed out that we had been seasick and offered advice on various remedies. Drinking large quantities of black rum seemed popular. You may be sick, but you don't care. One of the guys told a very distressing story about getting seasick 50 years ago after eating a chocolate bar. He couldn't eat chocolate for 20 years!

September 29 - 30, 2004

We left Souris under light winds and motor-sailed toward Ballantynes Cove, Nova Scotia.

Approaching Cape George The sky looked ominous as the remnants of hurricane Jeanne approached. Our destination, Ballantynes Cove, is just on the other side of the point (Cape George). We had tranquil conditions, but there were gale warnings for the south side of Nova Scotia.  

As we motored into the harbor at Ballantynes Cove, we quickly realized this was not a large harbor. The docks were very small and a fishing boat occupied the one location that was ideal for us. However, we did spot an old, rusted out pier that was vacant. We called out to some fishermen and asked if we could dock there. They said sure, but no one docks there because the pier has jagged metal sticking out of it. In fact, the whole structure was condemned and was going to be torn down. We decided to go for it, with the help of our big fenderboards to ward off the metal. Fortunately, the fishermen came over to help. One fisherman even got out his small skiff and motored our stern line to a bollard at the end of the pier that was inaccessible by land (to most normal people).

After we were docked, we decided the line the fisherman had tied for us was at risk of being chafed through by the rusted pier, so Ken climbed out on a very narrow ledge to retrieve the line. Of course he was wearing his best shirt.

  Ken climbing out on pier   Ken nearing end of pier to retrieve line

After he got the line off, he found a small hole in the side of the condemned wharf building and climbed inside, hoping to find an easier way back to the boat. Unfortunately, Ken was locked inside the building. The harbor staff found a key and released him. They were quite surprised -- no one had ever done that before!

We finally managed to get tied up as securely as we could. The yellow line in the picture below on the left is a polypropylene line tied to a cinder block inside the building (which Ken discovered on his exploration of the building). We hoped the block wouldn't pull through the side of the building. The metal pier had big gaping holes and there was lots of ugly, sharp metal along the length of the pier. We had two fender boards and about 10 fenders out to protect the boat. Fortunately we came through our two nights just fine.

Tied up at rusted wharf in Ballantynes Cove Closeup view of rusted wharf  

 

Docked at Ballantynes Cove Even though it wasn't an ideal docking situation, the price was cheap ($15 CDN) and we had no other alternatives. We did find showers (they cost $2 CDN for five minutes).  

Ballantynes Cove is a real fishermen's harbor. Boats come from all over the area to fish. The Mackerel season opened while we were there and the harbor staff told us they expect about 150 boats to be in the harbor this weekend. We were glad we were leaving soon -- we're not sure we could have gotten out with all of those boats crammed in. They were already rafted four deep in places and there were only 30 or 40 boats in the harbor.

Fishing boats rafted up in Ballantynes Cove Most of the fishing boats leave early in the morning and return after dark. They raft up next to each other to save space in the harbor.  

We took a close look at some of the boats that were still in the harbor during the day. They all had their own personality.

Fishing boat in Ballantynes Cove Lobster attack warning sign  

We had a delicious fish (haddock) and chips plus seafood chowder meal at a nearby fish takeout place. We found the harbor to be pretty isolated, though, as the fishermen went out early, came back late and went straight to bed. There really isn't any town at Ballantynes Cove, so no retired fishermen to talk with during the day.