The next morning, June 22, we set off in the Portland Pudgy for the dinghy dock at the Yacht Club de Quebec (YCQ). They were very nice and let us leave our bright yellow Pudgy at their dinghy dock for no charge while we went sightseeing in the old walled city of ancient Quebec.
Ray and I began with a cab ride to the Hotel Frontenac with its astounding edifice overlooking the St. Lawrence River and all of old Quebec City. The Citadel was very fascinating with its two 15 feet deep ditches or dry moats surrounding the main rock fort. It truly seemed impregnable, especially when we saw how effective their camouflage worked. The entire fortress seemed to an approaching enemy to be nothing but a wide rounded hill with some rock fences. In fact, all the buildings and approaches were below eye level and the few buildings' roofs that were higher that the surrounding ground were all the green copper color which blended into the surrounding “Plains of Abraham”. It was quite impressive.
While on a free tour of the residence of the Gouverneur General, we met fellow tourists from Ontario, the US, Australia and Holland. The residence is part of the active military fort that is still in active operation today and hosts foreign dignitaries and domestic heroes regularly.
On concluding our tour of the Citadel we walked down the hill through the walled city and finally into the portion of the old city that was along the river. There were excellent murals painted on the walls of two large buildings depicting life in the ancient city as it once was. While walking through this portion of the town, we ran into our new friends from the earlier free tour and swapped stories with the Australians and the citizen of Holland.
Just a little later, I ran into the brother of an acquaintance from Wabash College. I was wearing a Wabash shirt and when they asked me about it, we found our common bond. They live in Massachusetts and invited me to visit when I sail by their area. Ray and I walked back to the YCQ, about 3 miles. After relaxing at the club, we dinghied back to Kelly and made our plans to pick up our newest crew, Ed.
The next morning, June 24, we pulled up the anchor and motored across the St. Lawrence River to Parc Nautique Levy, the municipal marina of the town of Levy. Levy is the suburb of Quebec City directly across the river from Quebec. It is a smaller city, very friendly, and the people at the marina, both staff and boaters were truly accomodating and most helpful.
Ed showed up after his flight and we got him settled into a berth on board. The weather was forecast to be rainy with winds from the northeast, so we were not going to be sailing into the nasty waves and wind. Instead, Ed and I took the Levy ferry into Old Quebec and rode the Funicular (inclined railway) from the waterfront to the Citadel. We walked in the rain and mist exploring the winding streets and wandered through a gate in the ancient wall to find ourselves in modern downtown Quebec City. A band was warming up in the plaza so we stopped in the restaurant across the street for a meal.
It turns out that at midnight, Quebec City kicks off their celebration “Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste”, so we saw a terrific fireworks from our slip in the marina. We also met some terrific people, including a fellow cruiser who calls Levy home. He will be taking his boat through the NY Barge Canal then down the Hudson to visit New York City in July and August. I would truly enjoy seeing him again, but the earliest I might get to NYC would be late September and I may not get there until summer 2012. He was our best friend right from the moment we met. There was nothing he wouldn't do to help us, including giving me his car keys so we could do some shopping and visit the Levy bonfire & concert for their celebration of Saint-Jean-Baptiste.
While at the bonfire, I met a young couple and after testing my minimal language skills, I noticed that the young man was wearing a Pittsburgh Penguins hat! He proved to be a fan of all the Pittsburgh sports teams, including the woebegon Pirates. If the Pirates are doing well at this point, please forgive me. I haven't checked their activity since leaving Erie. Ed, Ray and I also found a lady our age who used to own a sailboat and had cruised many places along the St. Lawrence River and Atlantic Coast. When we ended our conversation, she kissed all three of us on both cheeks as we had seen many French Canadians do with their friends.
Between car trips the owner sat with us and collected several of his friends so the Kelly crew could absorb as much local knowledge as possible about our next few legs down the St. Lawrence. Of course, we had terrific fun learning French, sharing stories and laughing together as we learned about sailing the St. Lawrence River.
With the overwhelming friendship shown us by our newfound friends in Levy, I can assure all crusiers that Levy is a great place to visit when in this area.
The leg from Levy/Quebec to Cap a l'Aigle is about 77 nautical miles, significantly further than from Erie to Port Colborne. For that trip we needed over 13 hours. Since we would be boosted along by some strong tidal and river currents, this leg only required 11.5 hours, meaning that we could do the distance as a day trip, if the timing of the tides was with us. Our new friends, the guidebook and the books with the current data all made very clear that we would either depart at night or arrive at night. The timing of the tides was not with us.
Since I prefer to enter new ports (new to me) in daylight, we decided to depart on the appropriate tide after 11pm on June 25. Making sense of the navigational lights was quite challenging with the dazzling background of city lights on both shores. We motored into the lightening northeast breeze and small choppy waves. Even though the motoring in the night was a challenge, our crew carried it off very well. We successfully identified and passed a freighter in the tight channel to the south of Ile de Orleans as well as 2 other freighters in the wee hours as the first wisps of daylight were trying to break through the clouds and gray mist.
As the morning grew brighter we also saw our speed over the ground pick up. The tide was changing in our favor and while our boat speed through the water stayed about 5.5 knots, our velocity made good increased to well over 10 knots! In fact, we hit a maximum of 11.3 knots! We were following a formal watch schedule to be certain that one person had responsibility for the boat at all times, allowing the other crew to get some sleep. As skipper, I discovered that I had stayed up with each crew as they stood their respective watches, so I was pretty tired after being awake for over 30 hours. Ray and Ed were both doing very well even though they had only enjoyed short catnaps while off watch.
I took a couple hours to rest and joined the crew in the cockpit as we approached Cap a l'Aigle just east of La Malbaie. We pulled into the slip just behind “Deuce Menace”, a black-hulled beauty of a sailboat. The woman aboard Deuce Menace came to help us with our lines and we learned they were also sailing from Quebec to Tadoussac and were preparing to depart Cap a l'Aigle just as we were arriving. We met her boyfriend, Eric, and then said au revoir as we headed to our assigned slip.
Ray and Ed headed to the restaurant for lunch while I stayed with Kelly IV to tidy up and take my lunch on board. While Ray pursued the local internet connection, Ed and I took a walk up the steep hill from the marina and checked out the “town”. We discovered that the only restaurant was at the marina and the only commercial activity within walking distance were a few auberge's or small country inns. The exercise was good even if there proved to be nothing to discover beyond the dramatic view of the now very wide St. Lawrence River. The opposite side of the river was now over 11 miles away.
To avoid a contrary tide at our next port of call, Tadoussac, we had to delay our departure on June 27 to Noon. The fast curents helped us make good time as we tried to sail the following breeze. Unfortunately, it was just too light, so we motor-sailed down the river.
One of our most exciting moments to date occurred when Ray sighted some beluga whales a few hundred yards off our starboard bow. They were quite far away so we sometimes confused the occasional whitecap with the white belugas. Suddenly, Ray and Ed were pointing directly aft of Kelly where two belugas whales had just surfaced! They were only a few yards behind us and coming up fast so they were just under our transom. Without slowing down the large white mammals dove under Kelly's stern and disappeared under her keel. The whales were so close, we could see the lines in their skin just a foot or so beneath the surface of the water, before they dove deep.
By this time we were in position to turn north into the Saguenay Fjord and the harbor at Tadoussac. Fortunately, we saw another pod of beluga whales to our west as we motored north into the dying current and tied up for the night.
The next morning Kelly and crew were off the dock and motoring norhtwest into the Saguenay River and Fjord. The craggy rock cliffs and thin, tall evergreen pines were beautiful. The sun even escorted us as we pressed upriver away from the St. Lawrence. Finally about 2pm the breeze increased so we were able to sail wing and wing. Over the next couple hours the gradual changes in the wind had us performing an occasional jibe and finally we were sailing on a close reach. It was a wonderful sail, even if it was a brief one.
We had plotted our course using waypoints from Rejean and Helene, who call the Sageunay Fjord home. Their waypoints took us to a spot immediately below the large white statue of the Madonna, which has been overlooking Baie Eternite' for a hundred years. After a few pictures were taken, we sailed into Baie Eternite' and picked up a mooring. The water in the bay is much too deep for anchoring, as is most of the Saguenay Fjord.
On June 29 we dinghied ashore to hike the 3km over the mountain to the site of the Madonna Statue. It was very steep, but had some terrific and exciting views of the Baie, the mountains, and Kelly IV tugging on her mooring. It was a cool, damp day, but that proved fortuitous as the cooler temperatures kept us comfortable as we hiked over 200 meters in elevation to achieve our destination at the statue.
Upon our return, we realized that we could just get back to Tadoussac in time to join the marina crowd for some singalong fun at the local pub, if we left right away. So we hopped into the Pudgy, tied the yellow dinghy into a towing position (faster than raising it into the davits) and motored out of Baie Eternite'. By 10:30pm we were sitting alongside Celine and Eric as they and the entire crowd in the small pub sang traditional French songs following a guitar and accordion duo.
The forecasted weather was for northeasterly winds, so we couldn't sail to Rimouski, our next stop, until Friday at the earliest, and maybe not until Saturday. With lots of duties piling up at home and no sailing for the immediate future, both Ed and Ray decided Tadoussac was a good place to take their transportation back home. By 9am, both were on their way to the bus station. Sailing with them was a fun and worthwhile experience. I am glad they were able to join me. They are good company and helpful sailors.
The balance of the day was cool and rainy with a lighter than forecasted breeze. It was time to change the oil as well as tidy up the boat and do some laundry. With the day being so gray, damp and cool, it was no bother to do the chores.
In addition, I enjoyed the company of another sailor, tied up near Kelly. Jim has a 31 foot steel cutter that he gutted to a bare hull and rebuilt in 2001-2003 and he's been cruising on “Steel Farm” ever since retiring in 2004. Tomorrow, July 1, we will depart together, setting sail for Rimouski, about 55 nautical miles away.
Kelly IV has now travelled 872 nautical miles from Erie, PA.
Last Updated ( Saturday, 25 February 2012 17:43 )