So sorry for our absense the past few days. We have been having lots of fun but continue having challenges of finding safe anchorages and a consistent internet signal since leaving Rimouski Marina.
Keeping with our off-grid focus it would have been very difficult to move farther east. We have talked with locals who have been really helpful with their wealth of experience and they confirmed that unless we are willing to stop each night at a marina our pushing farther up the Saint-Lawrence would be very challenging. With that in mind and with a good deal of discussing we are heading westward to find places missed along the way and maybe spending more time at some of our favourite anchorages.
So moving on with the story, we left Rimouski Marina under heavy fog which disipated near noon, giving us a few glimpses of the yachts of the Quebec-Satin Malo race. We had the perfect front row seat at our anchorage in Le Bic Harbour as they passed.
Havre du Bic anchorage
Sunset Over Le Bic
For the next night we anchored across from Trois-Pistoles at Îles aux Basques, a place used by Basques whalers during the 16th century. It’s now a bird migration sanctuary and preserved historic site.
…and while I’m on the topic of whales, now that we are in deep waters (150 feet +) we’ve had many sitings of whales, belugas and the ever-present grey seals.
Seals and Belugas
From time to time we would see what looked like flying penquins or what François referred to as flying torpedos and what we now know are razorbills, a penguin relative. One of the things on my ‘to see’ list was a photo op of a puffin but this ‘tordedo’ bird will do for now.
On our ever-growing list of things to see and do during this adventure was to see the Îles Verte Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse on the Saint Lawrence. The grey foggy day didn’t allow for a very clear image but there you have it, completed in 1809 and still guiding our way through the mist.
At Île Rouge the wind was perfect for taking us the rest of the way across the last few miles to Tadoussac.
With limited visibilty we were very thankful for radar to guide us past the big boats which loomed up on the screen very quickly as a big yellow blob.
We are once again safely anchored in Tadoussac Harbour waiting for a good weather window to allow us to continue westward.
Shades of Blue Grey
The day started very well yesterday. Early morning departure from Berthier-sur-Mer. Winds were strong but manageable so we set sail with full Genoa. Not too much later the winds increased so Genny was furled to 3/4’s…then to1/2…then barely a triangle of a storm sail. Even at that with the wind strength and force of the retreating tide waters we were flying at 9 knots. Because of the speed we reached our day-end waypoint shortly after noon, found what seemed like a protected spot well out of the channel and dropped the anchor. Super rolling water so Francois decided to place the second anchor at 60 ° just in case. We don’t know why, but the boat turned and that perfect ‘v’ completely reversed bringing wave after wave into our back. And as you MacGregor sailors know, the engine well is probably one of this fine boat’s biggest design flaws. Water started gushing into the engine well and of course into the bilge below. With pure brute strength in those 30-40 knots winds and 1-2 metre waves, Francois dragged in the second anchor. His description, like weight lifting for a whole week.
So with everything apparently secure, bucket after bucket of water was emptied from the bilge…from port side then when the boat shifted…from starboard. A little supper straight out of the can. I tried my best to ‘class it up’…grape leaves, camembert, smoked oysters and crackers with a good stiff tot of rum. Only one of those to warm our insides because we knew the storm wasn’t over yet. Even with the anchor digging in we heeled 30 ° port then 30 ° starboard for several hours.
This kind of situation really does dig into a person’s self-confidence. We started doubting that maybe this trip was too ambitious. Could we or would we want to spend many more days like this at anchor? The whole point of equipping R.E.D. the way we did this year was so we could be more autonomous. Up to Berthier-sur-Mer we had been off-grid for 6 days at anchor. We were really proud of ourselves and it was fun…rocky at times…but fun. Now we have been forced to rethink our plans. We talked over supper-from-the-cans then went to bed hoping the weather would calm down during the night.
Sunset and Aproaching Storm
We were so tired and things seemed secure so decided not to do a 2-hour on, 2-off anchor watch. Instead, we put the chart plotter’s visual on the iPad and put the plotter on sleep mode. This way we could view the anchor radius in the relative comfort of the cabin or even in bed.
Well, things got worse…much worse. Just before midnight we were hit with the first storm, a really severe squall. It lasted only a few minutes but it was fierce. Within a half hour the second round hit. More fierce winds, this time with pelting rain. Then another, this time with thunder and lightning. We watched from our berth the visual of poor R.E.D. circling her mighty Bruce anchor, thinking that any minute the line would surely break. But she held fast. At one point, I heard Francois say: “You’re a brave little boat, R.E.D.” I didn’t feel so brave at that point though. Francois being the calm one, put together our contingency plan should the anchor break. We prepared ourselves, got dressed and waited. Another storm hit us. I’m no longer allowed to say: ‘well it’s calm now’ because every time I did another storm would hit us. And it did, one more time. Around 04hr00 things seemed to slow down. I kept my mouth shut. We slept. We got about an hour of sleep before the alarm woke us at 05hr00. Time to grab a coffee and take advantage of the high tide.
So there you have it! Still uncertain how far we will go on this trip but reaching Tadoussac is on the horizon, meeting up with friends, then possibly crossing over to the south shore and home. We’ll see. Today was an amazing beginning after last night. So much beauty from so much hell. Confidence is bolstered…for now.
Sunrise over Baie Saint-Paul
Morning Fog Bank Lifting
…and the one thing that erased all the hell from last night. Francois found me a pod of Balugas romping on the shoreline. We respected the 400 metres distance but there they were, little mounds of white in the cold blue water.
Much more to come from our brave little R.E.D., her trusty companion Ballon de Rouge, the mighty Bruce and her crew.