Monday, September 22, 2008

Rivieres Madeline to Shediac - Bienvenue a L'Acadie

When we left Toronto we had visions of tropical beaches and palm trees in our heads. The visions are still there, but there are days when they seem more like the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, then a realistic objective. I know the beaches are still there, and the palm trees are still swaying, but for now we have to contend with 30 knot winds and temperatures that are more conducive to thermal underwear than bathing suits. The simple fact is that cruising is hard work.

The theme for last week was into the wild. This week we went from wild to savage. The remoteness of the Lower St. Lawrence gave way to the undeveloped reaches of the Acadian Coast of New Brunswick. When we were in Quebec, we followed the “Corridor Bleu” which is a Quebec Tourism sponsored network of member marinas. Although the facilities are primitive at times, they still create a trail of safe harbours for the cruising community. A voyager could at least count on a reasonably secure dock, and some type of electrical connection…very important at night when temperatures drop into the single digits.

As Pat and I headed out from L’Anse a Beau Fils, our last port of call in Quebec into a building SW wind, I had the unsettling realization that we really had no idea what was on the other side. Sure we had the place names, and the charts, but there was very little information describing what was in store. The quality and depth of information contained in the Ports Guide in Ontario and the Guide Nautique in Quebec was replaced by a few photocopied pages from a fellow sailor’s notebook. Perhaps it was better than nothing, but incomplete information sometimes is more stressful to deal with than no information at all. At least when you have nothing, you either accept the void as a fact and move forward, or you stay home. When you have partial information, you start to fill in the gaps in the information with visions of sea monsters!

Certainly the quality of the ride on the voyage across the Bay of Chaleur, did nothing to dispel the uneasiness of heading off into the unknown. When you are standing at the helm for extended periods of time, you have lots of time to think. My ah ha of the week relates to the difference between true wind and apparent wind….please note that you will not find this in a textbook on sailing theory.

True wind, is the wind that God, or whatever supreme being you subscribe to, gave you for a smooth and comfortable voyage. Apparent wind, is what you get when you don’t listen to God, and end up with a crashing, banging, stomach churning roller coaster that lasts for 9 hours. The lesson is made even more poignant when we suddenly realize that for the first time since we left home on August 12 that we were finally heading in a southerly direction. Only 2500 more miles and we will be in Key West!!!! As the lurching belly slapping square waves, splashed over the dodger there are a few additional moments that revolved around the theme of “what the hell were we thinking???”

In New Brunswick the boating facilities are designed for shallow draft fishing vessels. In the harbours we visited, a low tide water level of 5 feet was considered to be pretty good. In Shippagan Gully for example, the fuel dock is only accessible at high tide. If one needs fuel you need to wait until the tide comes in, or you do without the fuel. After my experience at st-Anne-des-Monts, I waited. The good news is that when you finally get to the fuel dock, you are paying fisherman’s prices from the local Co-op, which means something around $1.00/L.

The lack of facilities however creates a closeness amongst the people that live here that is both astonishing and heartwarming to an outsider. There is a sense of community and looking out for one another that simply does not exist in larger more ”civilized” centers. We had total strangers drive us around like family, and in Shediac, we were brought into the local yachting community as if we were long lost relatives. In the space of 30 minutes while doing our laundry, Pat and I were welcomed into a circle of friends that turned a trip to the laundry room into a very late evening by the fire.

Thanks to Diane, Daniel, Richard, Marco, Sylvie, Odette, Alan, Elizabeth….. and the names that I can’t remember but who’s warmth I will never forget. The clams at Goulds were wonderful and yes we are looking forward to returning for an Acadian Poutine in the future. Next time we’ll call ahead! We are off to PEI and Nova Scotia, next week and hopefully we will be able to stay ahead of the frost. Have a great week.

click on the pictures for the captions, and run the slideshow to view full screen


Sailorman said...

Pat & Addison ... The blog is great, and we look forward to your posts. It looks a bit lonely in some of the pictures, but the scenary is beautiful. Are there any other cruisers taking the same route as you guys. Take care and keep the posts coming ...

Barb & Alan Musgrave

Mark1954 said...

Hi Pat and Addison:

What a terrific adventure....I am truly green with envy! Claudette's family is from Shediac so we are very familiar with the area. We have raced out of both PCYC and Shediac Yacht(Sailing??)Club and enjoyed the apres-voile.


Mark and Claudette Searle

Pat & Addison said...

Hi Alan

We have only met one other couple, Richard and Connie on a Defever 49 who are on the southbound portion of their Downeast circle trip. We have not seen any sailboats other than local ones.


Jeanie said...

Just wanted to let you know that despite my silence, I follow this journal regularly and marvel. I’m sure my sentiments are shared by all who indulge. Your photographs and textual descriptions are a spectacular feast of imagery across a breadth of emotive and sensual experience. You portray well the awesomeness of nature (both the power and glory of the intangible … and the skills and basic humanity of the earthbound). For now, the spectrum remains within my comfort zone. Enjoy an adventure with Kyle and whatever thrill rides may be injected into your coming stories.

From your entries, may I assume that your Internet access is restricted to its availability during times you are docked? And are you staying in touch pretty much only via blog? If you still have an email address, please let me know.

I am still fuzzy on the capabilities of satellite routers, but this relatively new power line communications technology fascinates me. Some of my students are plugging their own routers into our electrical outlets to access the Net directly through microwaves in the air and/or satellite. This way, they conform to Board restrictions re: direct connectivity into our Ethernet and/or wireless networks. I’m told that the devices use the same technology as cell phones with the bonus of stronger signals. However, dampness (as in the case of the high seas) may cause substantial degradation to reception. Perhaps you already subscribe.

As always: take care, God bless and much love.