Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cap a L'Aigle to Rivieres Madeleine - Into the Wild!

So today is the 12th of September which marks our first month away from home. Very gradually Pat and I are making the transition from recreational pleasure boaters to liveaboard cruisers. The transition in many respects has been subtle, but on other dimensions there is clearly a synergy that can only be attributed to new routines, somewhat harsher conditions and a lack of the resources that we tend to take for granted in the pleasure boating realm.

We have all seen the cartoons of the sign that says “last gas for 200 miles” with a pair of hungry vultures perched on top. This week, we figuratively passed such a sign, only to find that the last gas station was actually closed. The result was we squeaked into the tiny, but charming village of Ste-Anne-des-Monts, with only fumes remaining in the tank.

Since all is well that ends well, we fully expected to refuel and were frankly a little puzzled by the cryptic message from the harbour master that we were to enter the harbour and tie up to a quay that was not exactly a fuel dock, but we would know what he meant when we saw it?? What we saw was JP Letourneau, the assistant harbour master waving his arms from a long quay that was to port. We were to turn around and tie up on starboard. The not exactly a fuel dock part referred to the multiple trips up and down the quay to a 45 gallon drum of diesel, from which jerry jugs were filled and hauled back to the boat by hand.

The first trip was pretty easy, but by the 4th trip carrying a 20liter jug in each hand, I was not moving nearly as fast as the old man who was watching me work from the side of the main wharf. It is truly an acquired taste to fill a 42 foot boat with diesel, by carrying 20 liter jugs 2 at a time. Now that the boat is full, I have not missed an opportunity to keep the tank filled, even if it means hauling the dreaded 20 liter jugs, because 1 or 2 trips is much better than the experience of the other day. My back will never be the same, but then neither will be my perspective on what it means to be prepared.

We are getting a taste of the rougher conditions of the lower St. Lawrence and the Saguenay River fjord. The pictures will tell one story, but for the past week, the only English conversation I’ve had has been with Pat. Even with the linguistic challenges aside, it is pretty clear that we have stepped into another world. Fuel, going out to dinner, decent docks and power are pretty much hit and miss. The compensation however is the privilege of experiencing some of the most beautiful settings in this country, from a front row seat. A week ago we were wandering around Quebec City in shorts and t-shirts taking in the sights as tourist. This week, we are in multiple layers of technical underwear and polar fleece, tied to an anchor ball that is in front of a 1500 foot cliff and relying on Threepenny Opera as our personal biosphere.

Threepenny Opera has proven to be a truly cruise worthy vessel that is ready to accept all challenges she has met so far. The long hours invested by yours truly crawling through the bilges and getting fibre glass rash from reaching into tiny spaces along the hull to install heat, ventilation and electronics has paid its dividends. We are truly comfortable, even if we have to make a few compromises now and again.

Not all has been perfect however; as she has a few battle scars to show for her first week in the wild. In the end however there was nothing too serious, and nothing that will do anything more than to keep her crew a little sharper and a little more cautious before settling in for the night. Who knew that the wave action from tidal surges would work all of our fenders up and cause gel-coat to rub against a wooden wharf. Or that tying a dinghy up on davits requires horizontal as well as vertical support. And of course bits and pieces for the boat, like oil filters and even plain old motor oil are just not as readily available as they are when Mason’s and Bristol are just down the street.

The Gulf of St. Lawrence awaits as tomorrow we prepare to round the eastern extremity of the Gaspe Peninsula and head south towards the famous Perce rock. Yes Tom we will crack the champagne that you gave us as we round the fabled cape. This week it is Gaspe, tomorrow maybe the Horn??

Best to all. Please write and let us know what you want to know.

click on the pictures for the captions and run the slideshow to view fullscreen


jeffrey said...

Thank you great read
Good to see you are well, the length between postings had me a little concerned.

Great pics I see now you are the truly lucky one.


Simon said...

Super blog Addison ... my wife never met you but is enjoying hearing about the adventures. Might need to drag out a map shortly (or should I say "chart"?) to figure out where you are though....

Keep up the excellent news, and congratulations on the first month!


Daniel and Diane Gallant said...

Bonjour Pat & Addison!

As promised we looked up your blog and will keep track of your voyage. You're probably well on your way to Summerside by now. We just wanted to let you know what a pleasure it was meeting & chatting with you both last night. Too bad you will not be able to join us for our potluck at the marina this afternoon - we will think of you when we're eating our "poutines rapées". We wish you a safe & wonderful voyage south and if your future travels happen to bring you back to the beautiful Shediac area, we hope you will look us up.

Vos amis acadiens,
Diane & Daniel Gallant

Carol & Helmut said...

Hi Pat and Addison. Sorry for the delay in viewing your blog. Seems that someone took your business card down from the bulletin board in the club and we didn't have the link. John Williams as per usual is on top of things and kindly sent us the link to your blog yesterday. You are marvellous writers, we feel like we are on the voyage with you. Look foward to catching up with you regularly.
Our love & best wishes to you both!
Carol & Helmut