Monthly Archives: July 2019

Au Revoir Quebec!

Here is an update of the last two days. We will stay in Shippagan on Sunday and (weather permitting) move further down the New Brunswick coast on Monday.

Gaspe to Shippagan

Gaspe to Shippagan

Shippagan, New Brunswick – Canada (Friday, 7/19):
We had a very small window of good weather, with impending wind, rain and thunderstorms forecasted for later in the day. With this in mind we left Gaspe at 6:30 in the morning in order to cross the Bay of Chaleur with the calmest possible water.  From the start, all was quiet on the water and we had the Baie of Gaspe totally to ourselves.

We headed southeast along the coastline of what was now a changing geography.  There were still steep cliffs mixed in with rolling hills covered in green. Some of the cliffs were now a different color including a sandy-brown and Georgia clay-like red.  Once again small communities dotted the coastline until we came to Pointe St Pierre.

And then once we rounded this rocky point, with Ile Plate to our left we spotted the famous Percé Rock and Bonaventure Island.  It is so huge that you can you see it miles away.

Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock

Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock

We approached the area, spotting a few small fishing boats on Malbaie to our right.

We approached Percé Rock and hung out around it for about 15 minutes, taking pictures and observing all the different birds which call this place home.

Percé Rock and the town of Percé

Percé Rock

Percé Rock

Birds on Percé Rock

Birds on Percé Rock

We moved around the back side so we could also get a view from the other side and here we could more clearly see the town of Percé.

Hole in Percé Rock from back side

Hole in Percé Rock – back side

Unfortunately the only wharf area in town is for the commercial tour boats and not a place we could go into in our boat.  It is suggested that boaters visit one of the neighboring towns (like Gaspé) and rent a car to visit here.

Percé wharf and downtown

Percé wharf and downtown

From there we cruised over to the identified anchorage at Bonaventure Island. We were hoping to be able to anchor here, take a dinghy to shore and then go to National Park here. They have a walkway up to the other side of the island and you can go see the gannets in their rookeries up close.  But we didn’t feel comfortable leaving the boat in these conditions. Additionally, it was only 8:15 am and the park did not open until 9:00 am.  So we would have had to wait for them to open and then taken too much time away from our crossing the Bay of Chaleur; an area known for kicking up winds and seas as the day unfolds.  Instead we opted for a cruise around the island to get a “birds-eye” view from the water. There were literally millions of gannets hiding in all the crevices.

We have never seen so many birds in a single place. It really is fascinating. Gannets are some of the most amazing birds with a wingspan of over 6.5 feet.  You can learn more about Perce Rock here, Bonaventure Island here, and about the gannets here.

Once we had completed our cruise around the island, we headed directly across the Bay of Chaleur to our destination in Shippagan, New Brunswick.  All morning long we spotted seals and dolphins, which are very small here (2 -4 feet) and difficult to get close to.

Seal in water

Seal in water

The water ended up being very calm and mostly flat for a while so Mark took to checking on the engine and to see if there was any more water residue in the fuel filters; there was not. Despite this we still got the warning light on the engine monitor when we started the engine this morning. He also took to some other boat maintenance issues while Denise was on watch and the boat was driving via the autopilot.  About this time is when Denise spotted the whales, first by the spray from their blowhole.  They were a ways away and she had time to break out the camera, but it is still so difficult to photograph them.  The best part was seeing the “whale tail”; what a thrill!

Whale on Bay of Chaleur

Whale on Bay of Chaleur

Whale Tail on Bay of Chaleur

Whale Tail on Bay of Chaleur

We continued cruising along and noticed a change in the upcoming water. Sure enough it was a wind line and we were not even halfway across the bay.  Fortunately, it was still light and we were able to enjoy a smooth ride.  Eventually, we were able to spot the very low lying area of Ile Miscou and the windmills that are all over this part of the New Brunswick coast.

Windmills in NB

Windmills in NB

As we got closer the area reminded Denise of the ICW through GA and SC and stated so. We later read this description in a cruising guide and had to chuckle of the similar impression.  We also noticed a tremendous difference in water depth; we were now back in 35 feet of water.  And with the shallow water came the chop as the wind picked up a bit.  We were glad we were now in Shippagan Bay and did not have much further to go.

Bay of Chaleur bumpy

Bay of Chaleur bumpy

Chaleur Bay and Quebec Mountains in background

Chaleur Bay and Quebec Mountains in background

Houses near Shippagan

Houses near Shippagan

By 11:30 we were tied up to the dock at the Shippagan Marina; but it was now 12:30 here as we had crossed into the Atlantic Time Zone.  We settled the boat, registered for a two-night stay and went back to eat our lunch.

After lunch Denise went for a walk to confirm the 11:00 Sunday mass time at the Catholic Church. The church could not be more convenient as it is only 2 blocks away from the marina. She also walked around the adjacent cemetery and then by some of the buildings that make up the Shippagan campus for the Université de Moncton (largest town in NB). Completing the full circle she walked past the convention center which is actually part of the entire marina, restaurant and aquarium waterfront park.

Mark met up with her and they walked over to the aquarium to check out all the activity we had noticed when coming in.  We learned that this week has been the Fisheries and Aquaculture week (seafood festival) and the aquarium was a primary hosting venue. We got some information on the activities remaining for Friday and Saturday from locals, but sadly we missed the food tasting and other events that morning at this location. However, they did have several children’s activities going on and there was a country singer playing songs in the pavilion in the park. It was quite something to hear a Johnny Cash country song (“Reign of Fire”) being sung in French.

In the afternoon we did some office work and watched as the wind and clouds came in, and eventually some light rain.  We had met several local boaters, all of whom speak an Acadian-dialect French, and some speak English well enough to communicate with us. From their suggestion we went to dinner at “Pinokkio” – an Italian inspired restaurant that was about a mile away.  It had stopped raining sufficient for us to walk there, but brought the umbrella just in case.  The place was busy and loud, and had great food. But the service was horrible and it took us almost 45 minutes to get our meal, both of which was fish (not a thing that takes long to cook).

Inside Pinokkio

Inside Pinokkio

Shippagan is a fishing port and everything caters to the large fleet of those who catch lobster and snow crab, as well as those who farm mussels and oysters. Along the path to and from the restaurant we saw all the fishing boats stored on the hard at the wharf.  The season here is early April to July (lobster and snow crab), then again in August and September (herring). In the meantime the boats are hauled out of the water and maintenance is done.

On the way back to the boat we stopped into “Entreprises Shippagan” the local ACE Hardware store. This is THE PLACE for all things boating fishing and Mark was seeking a backup set of fuel filters. He had been in contact with our mechanic back home about our issue and he suggested changing out the fuel filters. While we have extras onboard, we truly need to save these for an emergency and if he could pick up extras that would be good. Unfortunately, they were out of the ones needed for our boat.

We walked back to the marina and just in time as the rain started again.  It continued to rain almost all night, but this time came lightening and strong winds. We were glad we were tucked into a safe comfortable spot.

Shippagan, New Brunswick – Canada (Saturday, 7/19):
Beautiful skies can be deceiving and today was one of those days.  Although sunny and gorgeous out, high winds means it’s a day to stay put and not try to be out on the open water of the St. Lawrence Seaway.  We had earmarked the day for one of chores and maintenance.  We took advantage of the free laundry and got a few loads done.  Mark worked on cleaning the ac/heater filters, running the generator, and other related items.  Denise worked on cataloging pictures and writing the blog.

As part of the seafood festival week, there was a 5k and 10k race this morning. It started and ended at the Aquarium and we got to see runners and their families come out for this event. It was quite small in comparison to the ones back home, but then again so is the population of this area.  Of course this was pulling at Denise’s heartstrings to jump into the event, but with her injured leg she really needs the time off to rest.

In the afternoon we planned our next few days. We have a small weather window to move down the coast before crossing the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island (PEI).  With this in mind we made reservations for the yacht club in Summerside on PEI for next week; subject to change of course.

We ate dinner on board and then went for a walk on the boardwalk which runs for over 2 km along the Shippagan Bay.  It ended up being a pleasant and warm evening with little breeze. We continued on the boardwalk until the bugs almost ate us alive and picked up the pace to head back to the boat.

As we came up to the lighthouse and aquarium we spotted our friends Terry & Francine (“Orca”) whom we met in St. Anne des Mont.  They are docked on the northeast side of Shippagan at the commercial wharf because their sailboat could not fit under the lift bridge at the harbor entrance. This required them to sail the long way around Miscou Island and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence before taking the Shippagan Gully into the wharf. This is the path we will take to leave and head down the NB coast.  We chatted for a while and they agreed (once again) to send us their contact info so we can see them when we get to Nova Scotia.

We went back to the boat and started to watch the movie “First Man” in honor of the 50th anniversary of man’s landing on the moon.  As part of the seafood festival there was a rock concert at the wharf and we considered going. However since we could hear them warming up all afternoon, and since we don’t really know any of their music, we decided to save the money for the tickets and enjoy the music from our boat.  Even with the door closed there were times it was hard to hear our movie.

And then at about 10:40 pm we were treated to a spectacular fireworks display, right over the harbor. It was so loud and lasted for about 20 minutes.  Since we missed the Independence Day fireworks this year, this was a special treat.  We finished watching the movie and when we went to bed (well after 11:30 pm) the music was still going strong!

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

Advertisements

Whaling adventures!

Hi all, it has been a busy week and here is where we have been in the last 11 days:

QC to Gaspe with stop pointsc

Tadoussac, Quebec – Canada (Wednesday, 7/10):
Finally today we were able to leave Quebec City and head to Tadoussac; a town at the intersection of the Saguenay River and the St. Lawrence. It would be a long run and the weather in Quebec City was forecasted to be overcast with a very slight northeast wind. Denise was very nervous about making this leg of the trip as the currents can work against the wind and/or the tides to make it a bumpy ride.  Because of that we had a “bailout” location identified at Cap L’engle about 50 miles from Quebec City, and a location most trawlers stop at for the night.

We left Quebec City just after 8:00 am and along with a sailboat had to wait on the lock to open. Our new friend Anton took this picture of our boat as we left, and Sabre/Back Cove have now asked to use it in their social media platforms.

IMG_8387c.JPG

After getting through the lock we turned east and took the north channel along the coast, passing Orleans Island (Ile d’Orleans) to our right, and going under the Ile d’ Orleans Bridge.  Orleans Island is large and about 16 miles long.  There are several parks, historical sites and homes all throughout the island, and a great place to go explore if spending any amount of time in Quebec City. Just past the bridge we were treated to the magnificent Montmorency Falls.

Just as we were at the eastern-most tip of Orleans Island, we passed by the town of Saint Anne- De-Beaupre.  Here is where Denise’s two great aunts who were nuns had lived, and where she visited in 1977.  The church here is magnificent both inside and out. For this trip we would not be able to visit here, or any of the other locations where Denise’s ancestry lived as we just didn’t have enough time.  This begs for a return trip when we can do such things when we have a car.

St Anne de Beaupre from the St. Lawrence River

St Anne de Beaupre from the St. Lawrence River

We continued cruising along the north (nord) channel of the St. Lawrence River, passing a long shoaled area called Banc Du Cap Brule, with the most interesting set of channel/navigational aids we have ever seen.  On our left the Laurentian Mountains were covered with trees and rocks, and periodically we would see a small town and lighthouses along the capes (called “cap”). Eventually we came to a ski (beach in summer) resort town of Le Mastif and soon thereafter the Island “Ile aux Coudres” with its ferry service to the mainland town of St Joseph de la River.

As you can probably guess by now this area (known as the Charlevoix area of Quebec) is very Catholic and there are magnanimous churches in even the smallest of towns.  You can almost always spot the church spires before you can see anything else in the town. Additionally, all these towns are usually in some area of the coast that form a bay and here is where the currents get really squirrely. Our Looper friend Anton had warned us about this and we found it to be true.  We would be cruising along and all would be great, then we would be in 1’ – 2’ seas and choppy, and 5 minutes later it would be calm as can be. Several times we thought we would pull in at Cape L’Engle as many trawlers do, but we really did not want to if we didn’t have to as we were already a day behind where we wanted to be, and some incoming weather would make tomorrow not as comfortable a ride.

As expected we passed several container ships and freighters, but these were nothing compared to what we have faced when crossing the Savannah River (tighter quarters) or from our years boating on the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, FL.  Nevertheless, it is always a time to be cautious as they all produce a terrific wake from bow and/or stern that can rock our boat.

2nd Freighter of day

2nd Freighter of day

Just after the town of Saint-Siméon we noticed a boat that we thought might be a pilot boat coming out to meet the oncoming freighter. But it ended up being a Canadian Coast Guard and there is some kind of comfort knowing they are right there should you need them.  We ended up following them the rest of the way down the St. Lawrence River to the mouth of the Saguenay River and the town of Tadoussac.

Coast Guard out of Saint-Siméon

Coast Guard out of Saint-Siméon

And just when we thought the day could not have gone any better, we saw our first pod of Beluga whales.  They are hard to spot, but even harder to photograph.  And then we spotted a few darker whales, but could not see them sufficiently enough to know if they were blue whales, minkes, or the North American Right whale.  It was thrilling and we were so excited.

Whale in water near Saguenay entrance

Whale in water near Saguenay entrance

Whale in water near Saguenay entrance

Whale in water near Saguenay entrance

Just before the Prince Shoal Lighthouse we turned north up the entrance to the Saguenay River. We had been forewarned about the cross currents, wind against currents, and currents against tides here. However, we seemed to time it all perfectly and entered without issue. Our only concern was dodging the whale watching boats that were all coming out to spot the whales riding the incoming tide.

You can line up the entrance to the harbor by looking for the Tadoussac hotel on the shoreline. It is an impressive landmark and makes navigating this area easy, as long as there is no fog.  We were directed to our slip and pulled into it without issue. It had been a great day on the water and the sights were spectacular.  But the best part was that it was only 2:00 and we still had hours to explore the area.

Once the boat was settled, we checked into the marina office and got a map of the area, along with suggestions for dining options.  We then headed out to explore the town but got distracted by the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre.  Here we learned all about the whales and their habitats, as well as all the research that has been going on, and why it is so important to protect them. We were able to climb out onto the rocks by the center and take some shots of the Saguenay River to its west.

We then proceeded along the boardwalk that follows the bay and up the hill into downtown. We passed by the Tadoussac Hotel, the oldest church in North America, and the town’s “new” church.  We were trying to decide what to do for dinner and investigated several of the dining options, but settled on the restaurant back at the marina.

Tadoussac beach and harbor

Tadoussac beach and harbor

The Saguenay River and the town of Tadoussac are part of a national park and are environmentally protected areas. Whales migrate here because of the 900 foot trench in the river, and the cold temperatures even in the summer. As a result, we were in long pants and jackets once again.

Tadoussac, Quebec – Canada (Thursday, 7/11):
Denise was up early and was able to go for a walk to the footbridge behind the Coast Guard station. The path takes you around the peninsula that has the harbor on one side and the Saguenay River on the other.  She only walked down to the rocks by the point to see what the St. Lawrence and bay looked like. Hoping to see seals or even some whales, this morning she would be disappointed, but the sight was still spectacular.

Not wanting to waste a day in our schedule, but still wanting to see the major attractions on the Saguenay River, we decided to go up and back the river in the same day.  This means we would be cruising for 4 – 5 hours, but would allow us to still see this beautiful fjord and come back to Tadoussac for the night, before the forecasted bad weather would show up.

At 8:00 we headed out of the marina and up the Saguenay, dodging the ferries as they crossed the river between Tadoussac and Baie-Sainte-Catherine.  We then were able to speed up the boat to our normal cruising speed of 20 kts. As this area is all a national park and is protected areas for whales, there are limits to our speed. However, you can go fast unless whales are spotted and then you must slow down to idle.  The exception is when you cruise past Baie Sainte-Marguerite where the belugas go to give birth to their young. Here this is a restricted zone and you must slow down as they often venture out into the river.

We cruised up the Saguenay passing some amazing cliffs and beautiful scenery.

Western cliffs on the Saguenay River

Western cliffs on the Saguenay River

We approached the Baie Sainte-Marguerite and were amazed at how many belugas were here. We saw so many and tried to photograph these very elusive small whales, especially when they are at least 400 yards away. It was thrilling to see them and we stayed for a while watching them frolic in the water.

Belugas in Baie Sainte-Marguerite

Belugas in Baie Sainte-Marguerite

We then cruised north to the Ile Saint-Louis where we saw a US-flagged sailboat at anchor.

Ile Saint-Louis

Ile Saint-Louis

We continued up the river and passed by Club De Yacht De Sacre Coeur on the eastern shore, and a little further north we noticed a handful of small buildings perched on the cliffs.  Come to find out this is a resort of sorts and these can be rented for a “Saguenay experience” like none other at Alfred le voison d’Oscar. Click here for more info.

Further up the river on the western side there is a small town and marina (L’Anse- St.-Jean) where we had considered staying. Some cruising friends stayed there and recommended it, but due to losing a day in Quebec City we pressed on with our trip.

Anse Saint-Jean

Anse Saint-Jean

Our destination was to go to Bay Eternité, the most beautiful spot in the fjord. The entrance to this bay is bookended by two capes “Cap Trinité” and “Cap Eternité”.  Cap Trinité is called this as there are three distinct ledges, and on the first step there is 9.75 meter (approx. 32’) tall statue of the Virgin Mary. It was carved from wood, then coated with lead and hoisted into its present position in 1881. On the second step there was supposed to be a large cross, but we could not see it. On the 3rd step is the overlook of the entire fjord, but requires a hike up a steep cliff (not for the faint of heart).

Cap Eternite

Cap Eternite

Cap Trinite

Cap Trinite

Statue of Mary on Cap Trinite

Statue of Mary on Cap Trinite

After taking a few pictures and cruising a bit around the bay, we headed back down the river. The wind was out of the south and had created a bit of a fetch making it bumpy by Cap Eternité. However, by the time we got back down towards the Ile Saint-Louis it was calm and we cruised by the Baie Sainte-Marguerite again to look for more belugas. We were not disappointed, nor were the people in the park observatory. Just after this point is where we realized our Island Office was in some of the deepest waters it has ever been.

We returned to the Tadoussac Marina in time for lunch as it was only 12:00.  We spent the early afternoon doing some work for clients and working on the business. We also watched the handful of different whale-watching boats go out of the marina with their customers. At one end of the spectrum was a smaller boat that was enclosed with glass all around it protecting the customers from the cold and wetness.  At the other end of the spectrum were the two larger cruise-ships that would go up the Saguenay River and out to the St. Lawrence.  But our favorites to watch were the center console rib boats that were open to the elements, and whose customers had to wear bright orange foul-weather gear. They had a whole spiel they would go through before launching and we could hear it from our boat. But the funniest part was they would start the tour at their facility up the hill, then they would all walk down the hill (in the orange gear) to the boat in the marina. All day we could see the parade of about 10 or 12 people per group, and off they would go in search of the whales.

Periodically the fog would come in and hand around the harbor, but would then dissipate.  In the meantime we watched the low tide turn to high tide and then back to low tide. Families would be on the nearby beach playing in the sand (or was it really mud).

We stayed near the boat for the rest of the day. Denise continued cataloging pictures and writing the last blog and Mark did some work for clients.  We ate dinner aboard and in the evening we checked in with our families and a few friends.

 Tadoussac, Quebec – Canada (Friday, 7/12):
As expected it was a rainy and foggy day and a great day to hunker down and get some things done. First we did a few loads of laundry before most of the marina was even awake.  Then we hunkered down into finishing the last blog, doing some work for clients, communicating with business associates and planning our next stops.

During the afternoon the rain had let up, but the fog came in. Initially, it was light, then it lifted for a while. During the break we went for a walk into town to get some Canadian cash from an ATM at the bank, and to get some milk at the market.  It was in the market that we got the idea to have a simple dinner of bread, wine, cheese and sliced meats for dinner. We picked up the few things to supplement the food we already had on board, including a freshly baked loaf of French bread.

Along the way back to the boat we stopped to see what the “Chauvin Trading Post” was all about, and here we learned a little bit of history and the importance of trade in this area in the 1700’s.  However, we did not go into the building as it was close to closing and not worth it for us to pay the museum fee for such a short amount of time.

When we got back to the marina, we ran into dockmaster Robert and chatted with him for a while. He was only here for the summer and would be going back to Montreal when the season was over. He told us that there are roughly 800 people that live in the town year-round. Unfortunately, only one of the many restaurants stays open year round and for this reason he does not live here year-round.

Robert the dockmaster

Robert the dockmaster

And as we went down the very steep (because of low tide) gangplank to the floating docks, Denise took a tumble near the bottom and skinned her knee. Fortunately her pants were not torn, but her knee was a bit bloody and required some Band-Aids once back on the boat.  It was time to call it a day and enjoy our light dinner.

By 7:30 pm the fog rolled in again, only now it was so thick we could only see just beyond our dock.  Hopefully, it would burn off in the morning so we could leave without issue.

Really foggy now - end of dock

Really foggy now – end of dock

Matane, Quebec – Canada (Saturday, 7/13):
We left Tadoussac with some fog, but we had over a mile visibility so it was not an issue.  We had a mostly diagonal course to make a crossing to the south shore of the St. Lawrence River.  The water was a bit bumpy but not intolerable.  We were less than half an hour out when we saw our first ship, and about the same time saw some seals in the water.

Ship & seal in water

Ship & seal in water

Soon thereafter it got very foggy and for the next hour it required us to blow the horn every minute, and be constantly on the lookout for other boats. Of course having radar helped and with our AIS we could identify any boats that also have AIS.  Once across the big shipping lanes, it got easier and soon we came up to and hugged the south shore of Ile du Bic; part of Canada’s National Parks. About half way past this low-lying island the fog lifted and we had a much better visibility.

Our original intention was to stop in Rimouski for the night. It is a big city and the best place to provision or shop for any needed items. Capt. Mark had also determined this would be the best place to buy fuel until Rivieré au Renard, but we couldn’t go that far without at least some fuel.  However, the seas were very comfortable and we decided that we would stop only for the fuel and continue on to Matane or possibly even St. Anne des Monts if everything stayed stable.  The weather forecast called for rain and high winds on Sunday, so wherever we would end up we knew we would sit for a day or two.

We pulled to the fuel dock at Rimouski marina and had to wait for the sailboat there to finish up before we could take on our fuel. While Mark worked with the attendant (“Charl”), Denise watched a few locals play with their remote controlled boats near the docks. It was quite a set-up with tugs, tugs pulling containers, and they even had a marina.  Everything on these tiny boats worked, including the horns; which at one point Denise thought there was an alarm going off on our boat until she realized it was the remote tug.

We left Rimouski and immediately passed by the Point au Pere Lighthouse and Maritime museum; which is dedicated to the history of the St. Lawrence River, and where they have a submarine dry-docked that you can see from the water.

Point au Pere and Maritime museum

Point au Pere and Maritime museum

The seas were mostly flat, but there was still a slight fog.  We cruised past several small towns (all with churches) and past lighthouses that are certainly contenders for postcard photography. The mountains in this area are smaller than those one north shore, but are still impressive in size. Along the way many are littered with power-generating windmills.

We continued along the shoreline until the sea swells started to build and decided to pull into Matane.  We had gone 101 miles and felt like pressing on to St. Anne des Monts (48 more miles) would be pushing our luck. While cruising along we called the marina to make sure they had space. They spoke little English, but we were able to communicate sufficiently enough to secure dockage for the evening. We entered the harbor through the rocky jetty and pulled into the slip right near the marina office. It could not have been more convenient.

IO at Matane Marina

IO at Matane Marina

Once we had the boat secure, Brian (“Lazuli”) came over to ask if we saw his boat on AIS. He was in a sailboat that we had passed just before the entering into to the harbor, and he pulled into a slip not far from us. He had recently installed the AIS system but was not sure if he was broadcasting well enough; we assured him he was.

During the afternoon we watched the clouds and wind build and knew that we had made the right decision. Additionally, we knew Matane had a Catholic church and we could attend mass on Sunday.  We were unsure about the church in St. Anne des Monts as there is little information on the diocesan-shared website and it is all in French. Many of the old churches here have closed or have only one mass and the schedule changes depending on the time of year. The church in Matane also had little information on their website and despite assistance from the dockmaster we were unable to confirm their mass times; he was pretty sure it was at 11:00.

We had a chance to briefly meet Brian’s wife Sharon and to walk around the marina grounds, which also are part of a local park that has a beach facing the St. Lawrence River.  There is a big model ship for kids to climb on, as well as picnic tables, restrooms, and a community center where they host many events.

The weather continued to deteriorate so we hunkered down and ate dinner on the boat. We were not interested in even walking the half a mile up the street to the restaurant that came highly recommended. We took to reading and planning our next stops along the southern shore of the St. Lawrence.

Matane, Quebec – Canada (Sunday, 7/14):We woke up to pouring rain and gusty winds; thankful that we were not moving the boat today. Although it was only 1+ miles to the church, we decided to take a taxi to mass because it was raining, and because we had to cross a big highway to get there.  With the assistance of the dockmaster, he called and scheduled it for us for a 10:30 am pickup. It was a good thing he was early and it only took us 5 minutes to get there, as we discovered the mass actually started at 10:30.  Saint-Rédempteur Catholic Church was the more modern smaller church in town; sadly, St. Jerome on the other side of the river was no longer open.

By the time mass was over the rain had subsided and we were able to walk to downtown. To do so we walked through a residential area, then across the bridge that goes over the Matane River and up the main street where all the restaurants are.

Finding most of them closed on Sunday (not unexpected) we ended up at “La Fabriqué”; a restaurant with an adjacent microbrewery next door.  The food was excellent and we arrived just before the big rush.  By the time we left the place was packed and we were glad we had chosen to have an early lunch.

From there we walked through town to the boulangerie for some French bread, then on to the fish market (Poissonnerie Matanaise) for some fresh mussels and salmon.

Fish market

Fish market

On the way back to the boat we passed by the Metro supermarket and the strip mall that had other local businesses and shops, but we didn’t stop. We stopped at the park on the west side of the river to take a few pictures and to see the marina from a different perspective, then walked across the highway bridge back over the Matane River and back to the boat.

Just as we were coming up the street to the marina it began to sprinkle, and by the time we got our purchases stowed away in the refrigerator it began to rain hard. We made it just in time.  Unfortunately, it was not soon enough for two Tiara powerboats (“Moving on” & “Manitou”) from the US who pulled into the marina and tried to dock in the gusting winds. The awesome dockhands worked so hard in the pouring rain to get them secured in their slips and hooked up with appropriate power adapters. We noticed one boat was from South Haven, MI and the other from Indiana; obviously they were traveling together.  Eventually, when the weather broke Mark got to talk with them and learned they were planning to leave tomorrow and head to St. Anne des Monts. They are also doing the Downeast Loop together, but only hoping to get their boats to New York for winter storage.

We spent the rest of the day reading and doing emails. It was a day to catch up on things and for some needed relaxation. In the evening we cooked up the muscles in some garlic and white wine sauce, and along with the French bread had an awesome dinner on a this cold and rainy night.  The weather for tomorrow was still changing and we were not sure if we would stay or move the boat. We agreed to look at it in the morning and decide then.

mussels & french bread for dinner

mussels & french bread for dinner

St. Anne des Monts, Quebec – Canada (Monday, 7/15):
With the improving weather situation, Brian and Sharon (“Lazuli”) left at dawn.  We also watched “Moving On” and “Manitou” pull out mid-morning. We then looked at the weather forecast and saw that we did have a window of time that we could make our way up the coast for the 50 miles, so we checked out of the marina and at 11:00 went on our way.

Denise was very nervous about the coming days as the St. Lawrence River widens and turns into the St. Lawrence Seaway at St. Anne des Monts. Here the weather can be unpredictable and can change rapidly.  We had identified several “bailout” spots should we need to pull into a safe harbor, but most are very small ports with walled wharfs that are geared for the fishing boats. In some cases you can raft to a fishing boat for the night.

About halfway into our journey an engine alarm went off signifying we had water in our fuel (not a good thing). We slowed the boat and Mark went in the engine room to investigate and found water in the engine drain pan. After some deduction and troubleshooting, he was able to pump it dry and felt secure enough to continue on our way. He also investigated and could not find anything indicating where a leak could be coming from (i.e. a hose clamp, etc.), so we continued on. As we came upon the town of Les Méchins another alarm went off and so we pulled into the harbor. It is a small fishing/commercial port with a shipyard and dry dock and there was nowhere for us to tie up. We ended up anchoring in the harbor so Mark could do some troubleshooting. After about an hour he determined what he thought was the cause and we were able to clear that warning message.  We pulled up anchor and continued along our way, with Mark periodically checking that everything was ok and that we could safely get to St. Anne des Monts.  Denise was so anxious and nervous, she forgot to take pictures at Les Méchins.

We continued heading east (and north) until just before the town of Cap-Chat (another possible bailout location). Here there is Le Nordais Windmill Park; a park that has over 130 power-generating windmills, including the world’s tallest (110m) vertical-axis windmill.  And just before the town is the Cap-Chat lighthouse – another postcard worthy scene.

Along the way we were also were graced by a seals and small porpoise (not at all like our bottlenose dolphins), but they are so difficult to photograph when there are waves so we have no pictures.

Finally, we arrived at the harbor entrance to St. Anne des Monts, with the church’s twin spires acting as a beacon for how to line up and enter the very narrow breakwater.  We had called ahead to the marina before leaving Matane and so they were expecting us, and showed us to our end-tie up.  Already tied up to their slips were fellow cruisers on “Moving On” and “Manitou”, as well as Brian & Sharon (“Lazuli”).

Approaching St. Anne Des Monts Harbor

Approaching St. Anne Des Monts Harbor

We checked into the marina with the assistance of Roland & Sylva, and had them make reservations for us for tomorrow night at Rivieré au Renard marina – some 90 miles further east.  After that, Mark went to work on further troubleshooting the source of our “water in fuel” issue, and Denise went for a walk around town. She needed some terra firma under her feet as it had been a quite stressful day.

Her first stop was the church of St. Anne des Monts to give a prayer of thanksgiving for safe passage and for continued blessings until we are home in November. Here are some pictures of this beautiful church.

She continued with her walk around town, taking pictures of all the driftwood carvings. This area became famous for all the pieces of driftwood that washes up on its shore and therefore they have plenty of large pieces to carve from. Each year this town hosts an art festival (“Feast of Driftwood”) where driftwood is carved into amazing sculptures. The winning sculpture is then placed around the town for all to see. You can learn more about this festival (which takes place in August) here.

Many of the carvings are located in the property near the marina and the Exploramer Center; a museum and educational center about all things related to living off the sea.

Another area of carvings are in a park near the shoreline, and some are made into birdhouses that are located behind a hotel that overlooks the bay. It is fascinating and uniquely authentic; a terrific find!

On the return trip to the marina, Denise went to investigate a fish display located across the street from the church.  Here was a very huge mackerel fish that was on display to celebrate the catch during a fishing tournament that took place from July 19 – 22, 2018.  The fish weighed in at 327 pounds and will go in the record books for the team that caught it.

Heading back to the boat she walked down the docks past the very fishing boat that was in the picture above. Aboard was a man that she stopped to ask if he was the one who caught the fish (albeit in terrible French). Fortunately, Yvan Theriault spoke enough English that he was able to confirm he was the owner of the boat and the one who caught this terrific fish. They chatted for a while and she wished him congratulations, then went back to tell Mark about this terrific fish story!

Yvan Theriault - Mackerel catcher

Yvan Theriault – Mackerel catcher

In the meantime, Mark and was able to work on our engine warnings and believes it will be a non-issue.  He also met the owner of the sailboat who was docked right off our bow and had a chance to chat with him.  Later, Denise went out to take pictures of the terrific sunset and met Terry (“Orca”) and his wife (can’t remember her name).  They had just purchased their boat and were taking it home to Nova Scotia where they live and have a huge piece of land overlooking a bay. They invited us to come visit them when we reach that part of NS.  Since they just took delivery of the boat they have not had a chance to get boat cards, but Denise gave them one of ours and they promised to email their contact information to us.

Finally, we ended the day with a dinner of fish tacos, courtesy of the leftover salmon from the fish market in Matane.   We then looked at the weather and decided that tomorrow would be a good day for cruising and we should have no trouble going all the way to Rivieré au Renard.  Mark had even suggested that we may want to go the additional 30 miles into Gaspe, should the weather and seas prove acceptable.  Based on that, we made plans to leave early in the morning when the winds would be the lightest.

Here are some other pictures from the area:

Gaspe, Quebec – Canada (Tuesday, 7/16):
At the crack of dawn we watched “Lazuli” and “Orca” take off and make their way out of St. Anne des Mont marina and we pulled away at 6:45. It looked like a good day to be on the water with less than 1’ seas and a beautiful sky free from fog.  We passed our sailing friends and wished them well; we all have different speeds and destination so it is unlikely we will cross paths before Nova Scotia.

Leaving St. Anne des Monts

Leaving St. Anne des Monts

Within an hour we passed the town La Martre; identified by the of Lighthouse & Church spires. We passed by the town and cliffs of Mont-Saint-Pierre (known as a paragliding hangout) and then the fishing town of Mont-Louis.

The cliffs off of L’Anse-Pleureuse were also spectacular and we inched our way to Gros-Morne, the northern-most latitude on our trip. From here we would be heading a little further south (mostly) every day.

Cliffs at L'Anse-Pleureuse

Cliffs at L’Anse-Pleureuse

Highest Lattitude

Highest Latitude

Cliffs near Gros-Morne

Cliffs near Gros-Morne

We creeped up on the town of Rivieré la Madeleine and it was only 9:00. But we only had 40 miles to go to Rivieré au Renard and now we are considering pressing on to Gaspe.  About this time we were also passed by “Moving On” and “Manitou” who we had seen coming up from behind us for a while. They were cruising at about 25 – 30 kts and we were able to see them for a long time thereafter.

To say the day was nearly perfect is an understatement.  The scenery could not have been more spectacular and the seas could not have been any flatter.  We had a spectacular view when cruising past the lighthouse and museum at Pointe á la Renommeé where this beacon was the first maritime radio station in North America, established in 1904 by Marconi (physicist who developed the first effective system of radio communication).

Pointe-à-la-Renommée Lighthouse, & Marconi museum

Pointe-à-la-Renommée Lighthouse, & Marconi museum

We were making good time thanks to the flat seas and outgoing tide, so by 11:00 we had reached Rivieré au Renard.  We decided to push on, figuring we could be in Gaspe in the next 2 hours and before any serious winds would kick up. So we cruised on, past the cliffs at Cap-Bon-Ami where we were now seeing flocks of the beautiful gannets.

Cliffs at Cap-Bon-Ami

Cliffs at Cap-Bon-Ami

Gannets near cliffs at Cap-Bon-Ami

Gannets near cliffs at Cap-Bon-Ami

Finally, we were able to round the Forillon Peninsula with its Cap-des-Rosier Lighthouse sitting atop the rocky cliffs. It is the tallest in Canada and marks where the mouth of the St. Lawrence River that dumps into the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Forillon Peninsula Lighthouse

Forillon Peninsula Lighthouse

And now we were in the Baie of Gaspe where there were two noticeable changes: the hills were now green with trees again, and the wind was now on our bow. It was a little bouncy, but nothing we couldn’t handle for the last 50 minutes of travel.  We saw a small pod of whales but were too far away to photograph them. We even picked up a jet skier who loved the wake behind our boat.

We made our way around Sandy Beach Point and into the harbor where the marina is located just east of the very visible highway bridge.  When we arrived “Moving On” and “Manitou” were at the fuel dock and we had to tie up and wait for them to get fuel before us.  To make matters worse, they arrived right at the lunch hour and had to wait for the dockmaster to come back.  Finally, 3 hours later we got assigned to our dockage for the few days we would be here; a nice side-tie near the marina office and restrooms (and the microbrewery marina bar).

We took showers made a much-deserved cocktail and walked to town for dinner.  We arrived at “Brise Bise” and had to wait about 30 minutes for a table, but the food was worth it. Denise loved the bouillabaisse and Mark got a rack of ribs (with some for leftovers).  We walked back over the bridge to the marina and called it a very long, but successful day.

Periodically throughout our journey, the “water in fuel” warning would come on and Mark would go inspect the engine. He made it a habit of checking it every hour and found nothing to be of concern. Once we arrived in Gaspe he noticed the fuel filters did have a small bit of water in the bottom, despite having checked them before. So now he believes we may have picked up some water in the fuel at Rimouski and will have to treat it when we can.

 Gaspe, Quebec – Canada (Wednesday, 7/17):
Today would be a work day aboard Island Office. The weather forecasted rain and the rising temperatures meant it would include thunderstorms. Not wanting to take our chances on the Bay of Chaleur, we had planned to stay here a few days and get some work done.  “Moving On” and “Manitou” had advised us late in the evening that they would be leaving in the morning and so we don’t expect to see them again.

When not doing work, Denise worked on cataloging pictures and trying to get the blog updated. Periodically we would watch the comings and goings in the marina, including how they splash the boats that have been on the hard, using a front-end loader, a trailer and a long line. It was amazing to watch as they man-handled these items like toys.

Splashing sailboat

Splashing sailboat

The rain never came so in the late afternoon we walked up the hill to the shopping plaza that had a grocery store and a Canadian Tire.  First we went to Canadian tire which is like a small Walmart (sans food) and where Mark was looking for a fuel treatment. He also purchased a pair of gloves to wear when working on the engine as it is hot and he doesn’t want to get burned.  Then we walked to the grocery store to buy a few items we will need for the coming week.

On the way home we stopped by the “train” station, which is also the tourist office for the town of Gaspe. Here we talked to the woman about some of the buildings in town and about the area.  We also learned that the train was shut down due to damage to the tracks during the 2013 flooding and how the cruise ships no longer come to Gaspe due to the newly-imposed speed limits to protect the whales. She advised us of the concert along the water tonight, and answered our question about where to order a pizza for delivery.

Armed with lots of information and a new t-shirt for Denise, we headed back to the boat. We ordered the pizza and while waiting on the delivery we decided not to go to the concert and instead spoke with some of our family members.  Before going to bed we checked the weather forecast once again to see if had improved.  While it looked like it was going to be a sunny day, the wind was forecasted to be really strong with gusts to 40 kts and seas expected at 3′-4’; we are not going anywhere tomorrow and will use it as another down day.

Gaspe, Quebec – Canada (Thursday, 7/18):
It is hard to imagine that we could be waking up even earlier than when we were in Quebec City. However, the farther east we move, the closer we come to the Atlantic Time Zone and now sunrise is at 4:30 in the morning. So naturally just before sunrise the sky is bright and Denise was wide awake. The crazy thing is that we are so far north the sun does not set until 8:30 pm which makes for long days and short (almost sleepless nights).

For Denise, today was another day to work on the (very delinquent blog) and finish cataloging the pictures taken so far.  She also did some research into future stopping points and where we could be that would enable us to go to church on Sunday.  Meanwhile, Mark washed the outside of the boat and continued to investigate a solution to the “fuel in water” issue.

We also spent time looking at weather over the next week and at the possibility of leaving tomorrow morning for Shippagan, New Brunswick. Our plan is to head out of Gaspe, stop at Perce Rock and ile Bonaventure, and then cross the Bay of Chaleur to Shippagan, hopefully before the serious winds kicked up the seas.  Mark made marina reservations for several nights as the weather will not be good enough for us to leave Shippagan right away, and then we will most likely need 2 more days to get to Prince Edward Island (PEI) – weather-depending, of course.

In the afternoon Mark went to the store with “Doris”, the (male) dockmaster here who helped him identify the product he would need to treat water in the fuel. Mark was able to learn that Doris has worked at this marina for 40 years and lives upstairs of the round building that houses the marina restrooms and laundry facilities.

Marina facitilites & home for "Doris"

Mark returned with a fuel treatment that should help eliminate water in the boat fuel and immediately put it in our tanks. Hopefully this combined with running out the existing fuel will eliminate the problem once and for all.  We still have lots of big water to cross and need things to be in working order.

We ate a low key dinner aboard the boat and watched a group of locals enjoy some fellowship at the marina bar. Then we watched a huge moon rise over the mountain near the marina before turning in for the night.

Here are some other pictures of our time in Gaspe:

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

Je me souviens – Quebec!

In our last post, we left off at Gaines Marina in Rouses Point, NY.  We pick up from there as we headed into Canada for the next 8 weeks.

 St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec – Canada (Thursday, 7/3):
Before heading north, Denise attempted a run around the town of Rouses Point, seeing the sites in the other direction that we missed last night. She ran past the Pfizer plant and discovered that it was being demolished and remaining buildings were all boarded up. She learned from a couple of local women out walking that the plant was recently closed and the town has been badly hurt by its closing.  This was a very large facility, employed hundreds of locals, and the loss of property taxes is going to have a devastating effect on the local economy.  Here are some pictures from the run:

After only 2 miles Denise’s leg and back forced her to walk it back into the marina, where Captain Mark was already making preparations to leave.  And after a quick breakfast and some coffee, we did just that.

Our first stop would be 1.5 miles north of the marina as we entered Canadian waters, passing the US Customs and the (now abandoned and for sale) Ft. Montgomery.

Not wanting to repeat the Canadian Customs fiasco of 2015 when on the Loop, the Captain opted not to tell them about our CANPASS (that was supposed to enable expeditious customs clearing, but did not). Instead, he acted like any other typical cruiser; handed over the passports, ship documentation and answered a handful of easy questions.  It took less than 10 minutes and we were back on our way, now flying the Canadian Courtesy flag and stowing our “quarantine” flag; it was hoisted for less than 15 minutes.  What a nice welcome!

Canadian Customs

Canadian Customs

We continued our path north in Canadian waters on what was now the Richelieu River. It was a hot day, with little wind making the water calm. It was mostly flat with houses on both sides of the water. Sometimes the river is somewhat wide here and is similar to parts of the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) in Florida. The difference here is the water is very clear and the houses are spaced apart more with trees and small hills.  The houses are a mixture of older homes and very modern ones, but all seem to have blooming flowers.

About 2 hours into our trip we passed by one of Canada’s historic forts, Fort Lenox.  It has a public dock and mooring balls which you can tie to for the day, but the fort is currently closed for restoration and we really had no intention of stopping anyway.

Soon the Richelieu narrows as you approach the town of St. Jean sur Richelieu and you can tell by the homes that this is the high rent district.  We approached the town dock where we intended to stay the night and be ready to start the Bridges and Locks of the Chambly Canal in the morning. Despite no services (electric, water, etc.), there is still a fee to spend the night but is pretty inexpensive. As there were no other boats on the dock, we had our choice of where to tie. It had been a pretty easy morning cruise and here we were before lunch ready to explore a new small town.

However, once we settled the boat, it was clear it would not be a comfortable afternoon. It was brutally hot (88°) and without electricity it meant we would have to run the generator for the rest of the afternoon in order to have air conditioning. It didn’t take long for the Captain to decide that a marina would be better, and since there was one immediately before we entered the canal, we called and got dockage for the night.  They did some maneuvering of other vessels to squeeze us in on the long dock, but we got in and were very happy.

We ate some lunch and then went exploring the town. We walked down one of the streets and then looped back to the dock where we had previously tied up and saw a Looper boat coming int. We stopped to help them tie up and then introduced ourselves.  Pete & Sue (“Reverie”) where early in their Loop as they had started last year but had to stop.  They were headed to Montreal and were also queuing up for the Chambly Locks and bridges in the morning. We exchanged boat cards and agreed to talk in the morning.

Loopers boat "Reverie"

Loopers boat “Reverie”

We continued our walk, heading north through the pedestrian path which had to be altered due to the “new” bridge repair work being done. We headed up to see the first of the Chambly locks as we had heard they are the smallest locks in all of Canada.

We arrived to find a pleasant park and very informative dock attendants who explained to us about the Chambly locks, gave us a canal map, and explained about what to expect the next day.  Denise smiled when she learned the lockmaster for the day was named Claire, just like her sister.

The Chambly Canal is considered an historic site and (like the Trent-Severn Waterway) is managed by Parks Canada.  All the locks and bridges along the canal are manually operated (except Lock #9) and you can learn more about them and their history here.  Many of them have beautifully maintained parks around the locks and it is not uncommon for spectators to watch as the boats go through the locks.

We walked around the park, then back through the main downtown street that was littered with restaurants and bars awaiting opening during the evening.  During our walk we decided to eat dinner on board; a fair tradeoff in exchange for dockage at the marina, and especially because there was no restaurant that we felt we had to taste while here.

We walked back to the down dock to share our information with Pete and Sue (“Reverie”) and then headed back to the boat for a leftover dinner from our freezer stash.  Throughout the late afternoon we watched local boaters and even a few paddle boarders enjoy the water along this river.

Paddleboarders enjoying the afternoon

Paddleboarders enjoying the afternoon

But after dinner we were treated to a spectacular sight of hot air balloons appearing in the sky. The first ones appeared in the west, and then more appeared on the eastern side of the river. It was an amazing sight just watching these 8 or so balloons.  We were later told by a local that in August they have a big festival and there are at least 75 balloons that come out at once.

Two more balloons from east

Two more balloons from east

Four balloons to our north

Four balloons to our north

Chambly, Quebec – Canada (Thursday, 7/4):
It is Independence Day in the USA and we were in a foreign country, but flying our USA flag proudly.  We met up with “Reverie” for the 9:00 am opening of the bridge before and entrance into Lock #9 of the Chambly Canal. We had to wait for 15 minutes as there was technical difficulty opening the old bridge (the new one is under repairs), but finally we were able to get through and made our way to the first lock (#9).  We were first in line, then “Reverie” followed and we would stay in that sequence all day. The system is very efficient as they will group boats together to minimize the wait time at each lock and bridge.  Since the locks are small, it would be just us two until we got through the canal at the town of Chambly.

It was a long hot day with the temperature now 90°. It took us 4 hours to go through the 9 locks and the 10 bridges (most requiring an opening for us) in part because the canal is so narrow and you can only go 5 miles per hour. When not at a lock with the surrounding parks, the canal is bordered on both sides with houses and much farm land. There is also a bike path that lines the entire eastern side and we saw many people riding, stopping at the locks to watch us go through.  Like the Erie Canal in New York, there is a bike trail in Canada that follows the Chambly Canal.

The last 3 locks on the canal (#3, #2, and #1) are a step down lock into the Chambly Basin, where one lock feeds into the next lock chamber.  Immediately after getting through these we turned right into the Chambly Marina located at the bottom of Lock 1, where we had reservations to stay for the night.  We said goodbye to “Reverie” who was continuing on north for until the last lock on the Richelieu River; the St. Ours Lock.

After settling the boat and registering at the marina, we went and got a bite to eat at a local bistro (Les Grillades de Fort) for a late lunch. It was located right on the water and we could see the marina and our boat from our balcony seat.

The one thing we wanted to see when we were here was Fort Chambly. It is a very prominent landmark in this area and contains a lot of history for the people of Canada. Built in the early 1700’s this fort is now part of Parks Canada and has quite a history of changing hands between the French and British.  You can learn more about it here.  We walked from the restaurant back to the other side of the locks and our marina, and into another part of town that had a few restaurants, bars and businesses.  Then we came to the beautiful park where the fort sits just along the Richelieu Rapids – that part of the Richelieu River that is not able to be transited by boat because of the currents and thus the reason for the Chambly Canal.

We were early for the architectural tour, so we first went inside the museum and walked around to read about the history of the place.  Then we met our guide at the appropriate time and we were the only ones on the tour.  We started inside the fort, but then walked the entire outside with our guide explaining about all the features as well as the history. We also got to walk over to the Richelieu Rapids and see how the water really rushes around down river and eventually out to the St. Lawrence River.

After the tour of the fort, we walked back to the boat and started laundry. We wanted to take advantage of the free laundry offered by this marina. With only 1 washer and 1 dryer, it literally took us all evening to get done 3 loads. It was a good thing we had a big lunch as we didn’t have time for dinner.

Sadly, today Denise learned that one of her very long time friends (Bob Wheeler) had passed away unexpectedly over the weekend. Denise met Bob when they worked together in Miami. He moved to a different division of the company and moved to CA in advance of Denise, but met up with her the first weekend she moved out there. They shared many ski days, running days, movies and even Thanksgivings together before either married their respective spouses.  Even then, they have stayed friends via email, Skype, and Facebook.  It was stunning news and Denise is still reeling from it; but even sadder that she will not be able to attend any type of funeral service.  Please pray for his family; they will miss him terribly as we will too.

Robert Wheeler

My Friend Bob Wheeler

We really liked Chambly and would have liked to stay here another day. As it is only 30 kilometers from Montreal, it has a lot of amenities that you find around a big city, but has a wonderful small town, which we did not get a chance to more thoroughly explore.  Here is a pictures of the marina office and a fantastic sunset we saw from our boat:

Trois Rivieres, Quebec – Canada (Friday, 7/5):
In the morning, Denise went to the Maxi Grocery store located near the marina. It is a large supermarket and it has a lot of food products we have in the USA. However, there are still things that are hard to find in Canada (Fritos Scoops, Activia low-fat Yogurt, etc.) however, we are frequently able to find acceptable substitutes. Of course we are in a part of Canada that speaks French, so checking out at the register can be interesting.  Many people (especially the young) speak good English; way better than Denise’s poor French.  But that is all part of the adventure.

Maxi grocery store

Maxi grocery store

We left Chambly and headed across the Chambly Basin (looks like a lake) with Mont Saint-Hilaire to our east and Mont-Saint-Bruno in the distance to the west. Surrounding the basin are homes and a few prominent buildings like Fort Chambly and Église Saint-Joseph-de-Chambly Catholic Church on the southeast and southwest corners, respectively.

The Basin feeds back into the Richelieu River and narrows considerably.  We cruised under many bridges and past many small communities, all of which have at least one church with spires you can see for miles. And these churches are so beautiful! We also had to traverse several cable ferries, not unlike the one on Lake Champlain. These are smaller and only have about a quarter of a mile to traverse from shore to shore, but we had to wait for them to dock before we could intersect their path so our boat would not run afoul of the cable.

The weather was nice at first, then it started to rain, but we had a current that was favorable and helped push us along. The rain stopped just before we arrived at the St. Ours Lock; the last lock for us on the Richelieu River.  This is much bigger than the ones on the Chambly Canal and instead of holding onto lines, the boat is tied to the floating dock that rides down as the lock empties. We had to wait on another boat, but that gave us a chance to talk with the dock attendants who are incredibly friendly.  One had been to the Saguenay River (where we will head in a few days) and told us of things to see and even a place to anchor near there.  Once the second boat arrived and was secured they started the operations and locked us down.

Once through the St. Ours Lock we continued north through several more residential areas before coming to the industrial area and the town of Sorel. Here the Richelieu meets with the St. Lawrence River and we turned right on our way to Trois Rivieres where we would spend the night.

As we left the industrial port of Sorel to our right, we cruised past Ile de Grace and its surrounding smaller islands (Ile a la Pierre and Ile des Barques) in the middle of the St. Lawrence. It is mostly low-lying and there are a few anchorage areas in a rural setting. Just past this area the St. Lawrence turns more residential with houses on both sides of the waterway. We continued to have rain intermittently, but the wind stayed calm so the cruising was very tolerable.

As we made our way east, we passed a freighter, a container ship, and even saw a few pleasure boats on the water.  We went under the Laviolette Bridge and the coastline was more developed, first with homes and then with more industrial sights as we approached the town of Trois Rivieres.

As we entered the channel off the St. Lawrence, we made several attempts to contact the marina as to our slip assignment for the night. No one answered the telephone or the VHF radio so we pulled into the long dock that the guide book said was for transients, and tied up there as it started to rain again.  Mark walked up the hill to the marina office and managed to get us checked in; the person in the office spoke little English and Mark knows no French.  But we he did come back with a slip assignment, and we had to move the boat to another dock, which we did. Once on that dock, we had difficulty locating a power outlet to use and had a local bi-lingual boater call the office who would send someone down to help us out.  Fifteen minutes later a dockhand came by and showed us the connection point and we were finally able to settle the boat.  It was raining again and had been a long day.

Although near the larger town of Trois Rivieres, it is too far to walk to any restaurants and the marinas “café” was not open.  We ended up eating dinner on the boat and watching boats run down the St. Lawrence with favorable current, including this cruise ship. The rain had stopped and the skies were clear, so all the locals came out. Here are some pictures from around the marina:

Quebec City, Quebec – Canada (Saturday, 7/6):
We left Trois Rivieres just before 7:00 am as we wanted to take advantage of the calm river and currents that would run in our favor for most of the morning. This also would allow to have most of the day to spend in Quebec City. As we left the marina we cruised past the beautiful church of Notre Dame du Cap, and crossed the path of cruise ship heading up river who was fighting the current.

As we headed east we saw more homes on both sides, and a few marinas.  It was a bit foggy, but we could see for a few miles out so we were not too concerned.  The river has wide turns in places and reminded us a lot of the St. Johns River in Jacksonville; it goes from industrial to residential to rural and sometimes is wide and sometimes narrow.

Thirty miles east of Trois Rivieres the St. Lawrence narrows to a width of .25 miles and forms an area known as the Richelieu Rapids.  Here the current picks up speed and can run as fast as 8 kts. This allowed us to maintain 20 Kts of speed, but under less power (and therefore burning less diesel).  Unfortunately, this only lasts for a few miles, and eventually we had to power back up. About this time we also encountered a shift in the current and the water got a little choppy.  We also were dealing with on-again, off-again rain and an occasional passing freighter or container ship.

On the north shore we passed the Portneuf marina; a place many slower cruisers stop if they cannot make it all the way to Quebec City in one day.  Here the landscape becomes hilly and you get the first hint of the Laurentian Mountains; a range that runs all the way out to the St. Lawrence Seaway. Periodically there are waterfalls, but we were unable to experience this as visibility was reduced due to the fog.

Portneuf Marina

Portneuf Marina

As we were getting closer to Quebec City we cruised under the Pierre Laporte and the Quebec twin bridges, but not before having to negotiate our way around a sailing regatta. First there were 20 or so mono hauls, then as we got closer to the bridges a slew of “Hobie-style” catamarans. Of course Captain Mark relied on his sailboat racing experience to do a great job of moving around them all without any collisions.

It wasn’t long after this that we rounded the “Cap Diamant “and saw the roof of the Chateau Frontenac; Quebec’s famous landmark hotel (now part of the Fairmont chain).

In order to get into the Quebec Marina, you must first have to pass through a lock. However, we timed our arrival to take place when the marina and St. Lawrence were at the same level and so we cruised through the lock without stopping and went right into the marina.  We pulled into the fuel dock in order to top off the tank and got them to throw in a pump-out (usually a $25 charge).  Denise went up to the marina office to register us while Mark took care of the fuel and pump out.  This is a very large marina and our boat would be far from the office, so we wanted this done now so we wouldn’t have to walk all the way back to register once we were in the slip.

After docking and settling the boat we went off to explore the old city of Quebec. With a tour book and map in hand we set out to locate the Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral so we would know how to get there for mass on Sunday.  We left the marina and first had to get to the other side of the water.  We took the shorter path that allowed us to cross over the lock and go by the Naval Museum. We continued on a path that took us past Le Festibière (a most creative beer garden with splash pool), the cruise ship pier (no ships in today) and eventually up Rue St.-Pierre where we stopped at Uncle Antoine’s pub for a beer.

We continued walking up and down the streets of the old city and taking in the many historical statues, sculptures, and artwork.  There were street performers out in all the public areas and they included musicians, jugglers, and even a low-wire artists.  We discovered old excavated home sites, parts of the old city wall and a few other churches.  We got a recommendation from a local for a dining spot, which was several blocks and a staircase away on Rue St. Jean; the main pedestrian path with restaurants and shops.  We ate an early dinner at L’Entrecote-St.-Jean then walked up to the arch where the old city and new city come together.

In the nearby square a band was performing and people sat out on the grass on the top of the city wall, as well as in the square where the stage was set up. During the day we learned that the city’s 10-day summer music festival (FEQ – “Festival d’ete de Quebec”) was underway with many live music acts performing over 7 different venues.  This was just one of those many acts.

Old City Quebec

Old City Quebec

Hanging out on the wall park

Hanging out on the wall park

Another act scheduled for tonight was Lynyrd Skynyrd (of “Freebird” and “Sweet Home Alabama” fame).  They were to be at the “Plains of Abraham” and we had no idea where that was or how we could get there (remember we had only been in the city for under 4 hours). Not that we wanted to go, but if we did we would not have been able to get tickets; apparently you buy an “all venue” ticket for over $100 and you can attend any and all of the shows. However, the tickets had sold out weeks ago.  Other performers coming this week include Mariah Carey, Blink-182, Buddy Guy, and many others that we did not recognize through the various genres (punk, rap, hip-hop, rock, heavy metal, etc.).

Another happening in the city while we are here is the projection of colored lights on the grain silos that are adjacent to the marina. It was quite the site and they rotate colors between pink, blue, green and red.

After dinner and walking around the shops on Rue St. Jean, and then headed back to the boat by way of the city wall that overlooks the St. Lawrence. It was lined with cannons and runs past the seminary and college that has one of the most prominent buildings in the Quebec skyline. It had been a very long day and we had walked over 10,000 steps in the few hours we had been here.

Quebec City, Quebec – Canada (Sunday, 7/7):
We started the day with a brisk walk to mass. We intended to go out the marina the same as yesterday, but the lock was open and due to the missing (in repair) bascule bridge, there was no way to cross the lock. This meant we had to walk all the way around the marina and then up to the old city.  We arrived barely in time for the start of mass at Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral.  Of course the mass was all in French, but most of the music was performed by a handful of men who chanted many of the usual prayers sung by the congregation. There were also at least 6 priests who were concelebrating the mass. In this most beautiful church, it was a sight to be seen.

After mass we went on all-day stroll starting with the Dufferin Terrace and the park near the Chateau Frontenac. It was a perfect day to be there as the sun was shining and there was not a cloud in the sky. The views down the St. Lawrence were spectacular and there were many people out in the parks and in boats on the water.

We walked up the street to “Peppe’s” for a couple of sandwiches that we then took back to Dufferin Terrace and ate on the plaza watching the people go by.

From there we walked along the water and up the 300+ steps to the Citadel and the Plains of Abraham. We now know where it is, and saw the stage set for all of the performers.

We walked into the Citadel and after conversing with the docents there, decided we would return in the morning for the changing of the guard ceremony which happens daily at 10 am. The Citadel is still an active military garrison and Headquarters of the Royal 22 E Regiment. Therefore admittance is only with a guided tour, or for the changing of the guard ceremony. You can learn more about this fascinating place here.

Visitor Entrance to The Citadel

Visitor Entrance to The Citadel

We left the Citadel and continued our walk along the city wall, now taking us away from the water and back down the hill to Rue St. Louis and into Esplanade Park. He we discovered several see-saws that play music as you bounce on them. Naturally, we had to try them out.  We also found the Churchill & Roosevelt sculptures that were nearby; a tribute to two great leaders that saved the world from Hitler.

From there we walked through the FEQ Family area; a place set up to allow families to participate in the summer fun. It was set up like a carnival with performers and a circus-like tent, as well as booths with kids activities.

It was about that time that an ice cream craving came over us. It was hot and it seemed like the perfect treat.  We were able to find a gelato place that was on Rue St. Jean, but this time in the part of the “new” city only and only a quarter of a mile away.

With the heat and spending all day walking, we decided to head back to the boat. We were tired and both wanted to take some time to get caught up on emails and work items.  When we returned to the marina we noticed a Looper boat was on the “C” docks and so we went over to talk with them.  We met Steve & Sylvie (“Pilgrim”) who were from Quebec, and are doing the Loop in parts over several years. They purchased their boat in Ft. Lauderdale this spring and brought it home to Quebec City. They hope to continue the Loop next year.  Also on board their boat were cruising friends Guy & Lise (“Enchanter I”) who spoke little English, but with Steve & Sylvie’s help we were able to converse.  We gleaned some information about heading east from these knowledgeable “locals” and we were very appreciative.

We left so they could have dinner and went back to our boat to do the same.  After our light dinner of Chicken Caesar salad we walked over to the boat behind us to talk with Patti & Andrew (“Sharki’s Wake”). They came in late on Saturday night and Mark had assisted them with tie-up.  We had not had a chance to get together, and they had wanted to talk with us about our boat.

So went over and spent a good time talking with them about their cruising adventures including when they owned a sailboat and went all over the world. They hail from Ontario and were originally intending to cruise further east, but have commitments that were forcing them to cut this trip short and head back home.  We had a chance to talk about the St. Lawrence River and shared other life stories, and now we have some new cruising friends.  They will be leaving in the morning to head west, so we said good-bye and wished them well on their trip.

Finally, we were back on our boat and had a chance to relax. It had been a fun and jam-packed day of activity and we were tired; our step count for today was nearly 17,000.

Old City Quebec at night

Old City Quebec at night

Quebec City, Quebec – Canada (Monday, 7/8):
Wanting to make sure we could make the “changing of the guard” ceremonies at The Citadel, we needed to leave in plenty of time to walk there, allowing time to correct mistakes in directions. Fortunately, we found the short route through the old city.

Unfortunately, the Lock was once again closed and that meant we had to walk all the way around the western side of the marina just to get across the main street and up the hill to the old city. (Note: we later learned that the lock is supposed to close periodically for 10 minutes to allow pedestrians to cross there).

Long way around marina

Long way around marina

So we managed to get to the Citadel right in time to buy tickets and see the start of the “changing of the guard”. While not quite as spectacular as the one at Buckingham Palace in London, it was still filled with ritual and lots of pomp and circumstance. Here are some of the pictures from this outing:

After this we walked back down to Rue St. Jean in search of a lunch spot.  Mark was in the mood for fish & chips, so we found a pub that served this and allowed us to sit outside and watch the people go by.

After lunch we walked to the tourism office to get tickets to take a hop-on-hop off bus tour of the city.  The entire circuit takes about 1.75 hours to do the whole circuit, but if you want to get off on any of the stops then it will take longer. The next bus was leaving at 1:30 and the buses stop running at 4:30, so we decided it was not worth the price for the short time remaining in the day. In other cities we had visited, a ticket was good for a full 24-hour period, but not here.

Instead we walked a little bit more around the city, and then headed to the supermarket to buy groceries to get us through the next few days.  Along our path we encountered the car used to make deliveries from the sandwich shop we ate at yesterday. How cute:

Both the old and new city of Quebec are full of artwork and sculpture wherever you turn. On the way to the supermarket we had to pass underneath the freeway and saw these beautiful pieces of artwork on the support beams.

Once back at the boat we did some work, worked on this blog, and talked with our Looper dock-neighbor Anton (“Dora”), whom we had met the day we arrived in Quebec City.  He is from Toronto and is doing the DE Loop backwards. He purchased his boat in Portland, Maine and has been heading back to Toronto. On board he has had his 20-something son, Daniel, and his wife Elena has flown in from Toronto for the Quebec stop.  Anton has been a great source of information about the waters we are going to encounter and was kind enough to give us a book “Cruising Guide to the Gulf of St. Lawrence”, for which he had two of. It was very generous of him and we will use it to supplement the guide we already have.

With our big lunch neither one of us were really hungry for dinner out, instead we fixed up a snack of cheese and crackers on the boat. We ended the evening watching the colors of the grain silos, and hearing the heavy metal music from one of the FEQ venues. It was very loud and the colorful language could be heard all through town. We wondered how the people who lived in condos nearby the venue would have liked it. Finally just after 11 pm the concert ended and we could get some rest; we needed it as we had walked another 12,000 steps (and 6 floors in elevation) today.

Quebec City, Quebec – Canada (Tuesday, 7/9):
Today we were supposed to leave and head northeast up the St. Lawrence. Our plan was to make it all the way to Tadoussac on the Saguenay River. But, if we could not then at least get to Cap L’engle about 50 miles from Quebec.  However, the area around the marina had a major power outage during the night, and at 6:00 a.m. the workers were in the process of replacing a transformer near the grain silos.  While we had power on the docks, the marina office was shut down, and so was the lock. Since we need the lock to be operational to get out to the St. Lawrence, this meant we could not go leave.

All morning long they would estimate how long it would be, and it kept getting pushed back. Finally, we reached the point where we could not leave and expect to make our destination, so we ended up staying an extra night in Quebec. The good news is that marina did not charge us for the extra night stay and it allowed us time to sit tight on the boat and get some things done.

We both did work for our business, and Denise also was able to spend time writing the blog and cataloging pictures; now upwards of 4000.  We literally spent the whole day on the boat without going anywhere until dinner.

The Captain was in charge of dinner arrangements for the evening, and found a pizza place (no surprise there) about a half a mile from the marina (long way around).  But this was no ordinary pizza place. “Pizzaio” was like a gourmet pizza restaurant.  It had all kinds of combinations and only make individual-sized flat bread-like pizzas.  They also have a few appetizers and we naturally went for the escargot on the menu.  The food was really delicious and unique, but we could have easily split a single pizza if we would have ordered a side salad.

On our way back to the marina, we ran into Anton and his wife, whom we finally had a chance to meet.  We stopped and chatted for a while, and then said goodbye as we are going to leave early tomorrow and probably won’t see them again.

Elena and Antoin ("Dora")

Elena and Anton (“Dora”)

Tonight we noticed the grain silos were not lit, and we wondered if it had to do with the power outage earlier in the day.  I guess we won’t know as tomorrow we are leaving and heading east.

Here are some other pictures of the area around the marina and of Quebec City:

FYI – “Je me souviens” is the Quebec motto and literally translated it means “I remember”. But it really means “never forget”  and that is something we will never do.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office.

Burlington and Beyond!

We left off our last post with our intention of flying home on Friday night (6/21) but Delta had other plans.  The delayed flight was going to be so late that we would miss our connection in Atlanta and no other flights were available. We were rebooked to an early morning flight on Saturday and returned back to the marina for another night on Island Office.  We flew home Saturday morning and had a wonderful weekend with family and friends. Denise was able to get a haircut, a pedicure and a few runs in with her family & friends. Mark was able to get his new notebook computer set up and we all shared a nice dinner with his mom, sister and brother-in-law.

We attempted to leave home and fly back to the boat on Tuesday evening, but once again a delayed flight and the connection to Burlington had to be rescheduled to an early flight on Wednesday morning.  This just meant another night in our dirt-home bed and a few more things done before returning to the boat.  As luck would have it, flight attendant friend (Susan) was on our outbound out of Orlando on Wednesday morning and she treated us like we were in First Class!

Flight Attendant Susan

Flight Attendant Susan

Once back on the boat, the adventures continued:

Burlington, VT (Wednesday, 6/26):
Once we landed at Burlington airport, we picked up a rental car as we had some provisioning to do before entering Canada. We also wanted to explore some of the area surrounding Burlington that required a car as they were too far to walk or bike.

Rental car in Burlington

Notice the license plates on the rental car

We returned to the boat pretty tired from the early morning flight and all the weekend activities. We had time to do a little work, talk to some of the local boaters, and take a quick nap.  It was now hot but not for long; in the late afternoon a weather front came through with fierce winds and rain.  And just like in FL, after the storm passed, we were treated to a lovely sunset and clearer skies.

Sunset over Lake C after the storm

Sunset over Lake C after the storm

Burlington, VT (Thursday, 6/27):
Today was a day of adventure and one where we got to play “tourist”.  We used the rental car to go to Stowe and the surrounding mountains.

Highway to Stowe

Highway to Stowe

But first we stopped in the town of Waterbury, where we visited the Cold Hollow Cider Mill.  We got to see how they make apple cider (and other products) by pressing Macintosh Apples, filtering, pasteurizing and then bottling the product.  We also got to taste some apple cider donuts which were delicious!

We had wanted to tour the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream plant that was nearby, but production was shut-down for a week of Preventative Maintenance. They would still take your money for a tour, but you would not see any ice cream being manufactured, so we passed on this excursion.

From there we headed to Stowe Village.  We walked around the downtown looking at the buildings and architecture, and browsed through some of the stores.  We then headed up Mountain Road, stopping along the way to check out the covered pedestrian bridge and the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.

Once up Mountain Road we stopped at the Smuggler’s Notch Visitors Center and talked to the guide there. We discussed things to do in the area, most of which involved hiking. However, we were not equipped with hiking boots (only our Keene sandals) so that limited some of what we were going to be able to do.

Near the visitor’s center we walked to the nearby wetland areas and saw the “Smugglers Notch” pass and a wetland area where beavers build dams that keep the ecosystem in check.

We then continued up Mountain Road to a place near Sterling Pond (too rough for us to hike to in sandals) and stopped to look at the rock formations.

Near Smuggler's Notch and Sterling Pond

Near Smugglers Notch and Sterling Pond

We then went down Mountain Rd to Bingham Falls, which we had passed along the way up the mountain.  It was quite a hike down along the falls and we could really only get a few glimpses of the falls. The path down was steep and full of rocks, and a lot of the edge was roped off as the soil was wet and unstable.  We got to a point where we did not feel comfortable going any further, so we never made it all the way down to the bottom to see the full affect, and we still had to hike all the way back up to the car. It was a good work out, but would have been more fun if we had the right shoes.

Bingham Falls

Bingham Falls

Steep climb up rocks at Bingham Falls

Steep climb up rocks at Bingham Falls

By the time we got back to the car it was way past a normal lunch hour, and the apple cider donuts were no longer sustaining us. We drove down Mountain Road and headed to the von Trapp Lodge for some lunch. The lodge is owned by the von Trapp family, who settled here after fleeing Austria during the German occupation. We all know this story from The Sound of Music.  However, not everyone knows that the family still owns and runs this now resort in Vermont.  In addition to the main lodging complex, there is pool and recreation area, timeshare villas, a bakery-delicatessen and a “Brewery & Bierhall”.  The views from the main lodge are spectacular and worth the drive if for no other reason.  We ended up eating a late lunch at the Brewery & Bierhall and learned we had just missed Johannes the youngest of the original von Trapp family. He is in his 80’s now, but frequents the Bierhall which is decorated throughout with his safari big-game trophies.

We left the von Trapp Bierhall and headed back to Burlington, stopping along the way at Cabot Cheese farm store in Waterbury where we got to sample and purchase some Vermont cheese.

Cabot Cheese farm store

Cabot Cheese farm store

We then headed to West Marine and Costco for our last stock-up before going into Canada.  We returned back to the boat for the evening and for a quiet light meal aboard our floating home.

Burlington, VT (Friday, 6/28):
Mark started the day washing the port side of the boat hull.  There was still the foam residue since the flooding in Vergennes, and we had not had time to do it before leaving for home.  Since we were in a slip with long finger piers, he took advantage of it and managed to get the one side done.  Then we moved the boat to a new slip as we had extended our original planned departure but it was the only way the marina could accommodate our extension.  The new slip was only a few away from the existing one, but was on a starboard tie, so we had to move fenders and lines.  This afforded Mark the opportunity to then wash the other side of the hull.

IO in second slip

IO in second slip

But the deck, top and cockpit would have to wait as we were in a race against time: by 9:00 am we had to get the rental car off the street parking, or put more money in the meter, which is done via a phone app. Who knew that parking fees would move into the 21st century?  But if you don’t have a smartphone; the meters still take coins.  Since there was no way we were going to make it, we just added more money for 30 extra minutes.  We did have places to go, however, and so we had to get moving to get our errands done and in time to get the car back to the airport by noon.

So off we went to a liquor store (more pre-Canadian provisioning), then to the grocery store being careful not to overbuy. There are several items that are on our usual shopping list that we cannot take into Canada. We remembered apples and fruits with seeds or pits from the Loop trip in 2015. However, a local boater we met in the marina also advised that peppers (red, green, jalapeno, etc.) all have to be cut up and have the seeds removed, or they will not be allowed in.  But we still needed milk, yogurt and other items that we can’t keep large quantities of in our small refrigerator.  We will pick up the other items at a grocery store as soon as we get into Canada.

Once this was done, Denise was dropped at the marina while Mark returned the rental car to the airport and caught an Uber back to the boat – all in time for lunch.  We then spent the entire afternoon doing work for clients, attending to some business issues, and writing a proposal for another project for an existing client.  We like that repeat business!

In the evening we decided to explore the downtown area, including Church Street, a pedestrian-only street with all kinds of restaurants and shops.  While there are the usual places (Starbucks, Eddie Bauer, etc.) there are also many local shops and that is what makes it so interesting.  There was much to see and on a Friday night the sidewalk cafés were full and the street performers were out.

We ate dinner at “The Farmhouse”, a place Nancy & Rob (“Misty”) had recommended to us (along with a slew of other places to eat).  There was a long wait inside the restaurant, but we got an outdoor table in the beer garden.  Although forecasted to rain, it seemed to have held off so we were able to enjoy a delicious farm-to-table meal and had fun watching all the people.

Afterwards, we walked further up Church Street and here we saw former Presidential candidate Howard Dean (DEM) talking to some of his friends.  Mark recognized his voice and was pretty sure it was him, so we nonchalantly turned around to get a second look.

Howard Dean on Church St.

Howard Dean on Church St.

After that we walked around some of the other streets and then meandered back down the hill to the marina, stopping for an ice cream at the Burlington Bay Market which was located right up the hill from the marina.

Walking back to the boat we stopped to talk to some of the boaters who had come during the day. The marina was packed and almost all of the boats were from the Montreal area. It provided a good opportunity for Denise to practice a little bit of her (awful) French, and for us to glean information from those who flock south to this beautiful place every year.  And the rain never came and we were treated to a spectacular sunset once again.

Sunset on Lake C

Sunset on Lake C

Burlington, VT (Saturday, 6/29):
Denise finally had the opportunity to go for a run and was hopeful to get in some good distance. The venue was perfect as there is a long flat bike and pedestrian path that follows the shoreline of the lake. It is nirvana for runners and there were many out with the same idea. However, her right leg and back continues to plague her and after 3 miles she had to quit.  But along the way she passed by the new marina, a skate park, the Sailing Center, a campground and cemetery.  And the views of the NY Adirondack Mountains across the lake were spectacular.

Once back on the boat, the chore list was handed out by the captain. He would be cleaning the rest of the boat on the outside while the Admiral would scrub the inside. So we buckled down and were hard at work, all the while watching the usual daily activities in this busy marina.  In addition to cruisers coming and going, there is the tour boat “Spirit of Ethan Allen” that goes out at least 5 times a day. There is also a charter sailboat business that has two “Friendship” class sloops that takes people out.  And at the pier next to the marina is the ferry dock which takes cars, bikes and pedestrians over to the “NY side” of the lake.

The marina also has a restaurant and bar (“Splash”) and many people come down to the water to eat or drink there. As it is a community marina, there are Adirondack chairs on the dock, and many people come just to see the sun set.  Likewise local boaters pull up for a drink or a dinner, or to have fun with friends.

Also along the waterfront and near the south docks of the marina is the museum known as the Echo. It is mostly a children’s museum, but also has a 3-d movie theater in it. Next door to it a University of Vermont Energy Research lab, and across from the Echo is the train station and Bob’s Ice Cream. If you continue south between the marina and the ferry dock there is a special piece of land that houses a Navy Memorial.  The US Navy was born on Lake Champlain and this memorial is here to honor the men and women who served in the US Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Maritime Academy.

After our boat chores and showers, we walked back into town and to the Cathedral of St. Joseph.  Here they have a 4:00 pm mass that they unfortunately had to have in the basement chapel. The marble staircase leading up the main sanctuary was undergoing a 4-month renovation and restoration project, rendering the main church inaccessible for mass participants. While we were grateful for a church in walking distance, we felt cheated when after mass we had the opportunity to see the main sanctuary. How can you not be inspired in this place!

In the evening, we were finally able to meet up with friends Wendy & Bruce.  They came to the boat for cocktails and brought some treasures of Vermont Cheese and beer. What a great gesture!  We walked up the hill to Church St. where they had made reservations at a French bistro restaurant (also recommended by friends on “Misty”).  Although we wanted to eat outside (café-style), they seated us upstairs and at a window table.  This worked to our advantage as the rain finally came and we did not have to get wet. We had a wonderful meal and enjoyed our time getting to know each other better. It is too funny that we live 4 streets apart in Winter Park, but had to see each other here in Burlington.  It was a fun evening and we are so glad we got to know these fine people.

Burlington, VT (Sunday, 6/30):
It rained all night long with some hard rain and blowing wind out of the North. The temperature dropped again into the low 60’s and the day was beautiful.  We hung out around the boat and the docks for a while and then decided to go to the LL Bean store near Church St. in hopes of replacing Denise’s backpack.  But first we wanted some lunch so we went to Uncle Henry’s (recommended by “Misty”) and had a terrific meal.  It was so filling that neither of us were hungry for dinner later in the evening.

We did some window shopping, nixed the back pack, but found Denise a dress at another (local Canadian) store, and walked back to the boat. We then planned an itinerary for the next several days and Mark shopped for fuel to top off before going into Canada.  Denise spent time doing major cataloging of pictures and we talked with family on the phone.

We have enjoyed our time in Burlington and find this area is so interesting. There is so much to do and see, and there is always some activity going on.  Politics aside, this is a great city to put on the radar and come visit, although it is probably better in the summer when the lake is not frozen with ice.  Here are some other pictures from our time in Burlington:

Tomorrow we are leaving and heading north.  We would love to hang out here longer, but we have other places we want to go and see, and Canada is calling.

Stave Island, VT (Monday, 7/1):
We left our slip early and headed to the marina service dock for a pump-out just as the marina opened.  We were assisted by the usual summer helpers and were not there long before saying goodbye to Burlington. We headed south for 2 miles then to Shelburne Yacht Basin to take on fuel at the cheapest price in the area.  It would be 9:30 before we finally set out and headed north, but we were not going far so it didn’t matter too much.

Our destination is a privately owned island where the owners generously maintain a few mooring balls for guests. You are not allowed to go ashore, but the scenery and view is spectacular.  We learned of this place from a local when we were in Burlington and decided to check it out.  When we arrived there was another sailboat in the cove, but there were several other empty moorings and we chose the one that was furthest away from land.  There was a man working on the floating docks on shore, and a sailboat was tied to the owner’s fixed wall dock. There was almost no wind and since it was not a weekend there was little boat traffic (or jet skis) creating rocking wakes.  However, it was hot and very buggy, so eventually we had to crank up the generator and turn on the air conditioner.

We spent the entire afternoon planning our next week and abandoning our previous itinerary in favor of spending more time in Canada.  We changed and made future marina reservations that will take us through the Chambly Canal, the Richelieu River, into the St .Lawrence River and a weekend in Quebec City. Denise also worked on cataloging pictures and writing this latest blog.

In late afternoon a local kayaker (named “Mark”) came by and talked with us for a while. He had his sailboat on the other side of the island and told us about his plans to retire and do some cruising, but not the Great Loop.

Kayaker "Mark"

Kayaker “Mark”

We then watched a down-east boat come into the cove and pick up the mooring that the sailboat originally had.  Then the man from shore took his dinghy out to this boat and then eventually back to his sailboat on the dock.   He left, but the Downeast boat stayed for the night.  We watched all this while speculating on who these people were and did either of them own the house and property with such a spectacular view.

Cove at Stave Island

Cove at Stave Island

Meanwhile Mark grilled a few burgers on the barbeque for dinner and eventually when the sun started to set we were able to turn off the generator.  We were hopeful for a great sunset and seeing lots of stars (a main reason for anchoring), but a cloud cover came in and squashed both of these ideas.  As soon as it was dark we turned in for the evening, hoping to get a good night’s sleep.

Rouses Point, VT – Gaines Marina (Tuesday, 7/2):
During the night the wind kicked up and turned our boat in all kinds of directions on the mooring.  The waves were banging loudly against the hull and caused a rolling action that was uncomfortable, keeping us up and down all night.  Just before dawn the wind settled down and things were calm enough for us to sleep in and get some rest.

The Downeast boat left the anchorage at 8:00 am and we considered taking the dinghy out to explore around the island, especially with no one around. But we were anxious to get to a place where we could do some work and make preparations before entering into Canada.

So by 8:30 we left Stave Island and headed north, passing Valcour Island and Isle La Motte (with a shrine to St. Anne); they will have to wait for another time.  Along the way the lake narrows and we watched the Adirondack Mountains fade to hills and eventually to more flat land.  The same was true on the Vermont side, but far away we could catch glimpses of the White Mountains on the horizons.  The wind had picked up, but since it was out of the south the one foot waves were not uncomfortable, and they eventually faded as the land mass grew closer.

Approaching Gaines Marina

Approaching Gaines Marina

We pulled into the fuel dock at Gaines marina, only to top off the tank before heading into Canada. Then we pulled into our slip and began working on all the things we had to do. There was client work and business related items, as well as confirming upcoming marina reservations.  Denise also worked on the blog and downloading & cataloging pictures.

This marina sits less than one mile from the Canadian border and is full of Canadians who come to the Lake for the summer.  It is a big marina with a mooring field and winter storage, as well as many marine services.  But it sits in the town of Rouses Point which is about 30 miles north of Plattsburgh, NY and is a small but lovely town. The library and Catholic Church are directly across the street from the marina, and the pharma giant Pfizer has a plant 2 blocks away.

Gaines Marina buildings

Gaines Marina buildings Catholic church in background

For dinner we walked to a mostly-Italian restaurant called Angelo’s that was nothing special, but inexpensive and good.  The walk allowed us to see some of the houses in the neighborhood around the marina. It took about 15-minutes each way, but most of it was along the water and we didn’t mind the much-needed exercise.

After we got back from dinner we were visited by Gold Loopers Darcy & Wally (“Summertime”).  They live in inland Maine, but are leaving their boat here after having completed a cruise through the Thousand Islands. They have been through the Chambly locks and Richelieu River and shared some good information with us.  We appreciated their information and we agreed to stay in touch via our mutual blogs. And then we were treated to a great sunset.

Sunset over Gaines Marina

Sunset over Gaines Marina

Throughout the day today we met several Canadians and all are very friendly.  Some speak little English but still try to communicate and others are fluent in both English and French. Unlike when we were Ontario and everyone spoke English, people from Quebec speak French first.  We soon will be like them not fluent in the language of the land, but sharing all things boating.

Since we accelerated our schedule from previous plans, tomorrow we will be leaving the USA and entering Canada.  We will miss our nation’s’ birthday celebration on July 4th, but we will fly the American flag proudly.  We will still have email and cell phone access and should be able to stay in touch with everyone as usual.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office.