The Seaway…

Once North of Quebec city, you are out of the St Lawrence river and into the St Lawrence Seaway, a gradually widening slit in the earth going from a few miles to over 60 miles wide with depths in some places over 500ft.

The last morning in Quebec was spent walking – to Carquest – for a fanbelt. I found a fan belt that looked like a fit, came back to the boat and it did not fit. So we cleaned up, washed the boat and then left for Tadoussac, praying that the loose belt would not break. 20 minutes after we left the marina lock it started raining and it just poured for 3 hours. Blinding rain with visibility less than a mile. We were cold and frozen. We put up the golf umbrella we bought along as a rain shield and that helped a lot. We made good pretty progress on an ebbing tide with a 10 knot following wind and in 5 hours we had sailed 26 miles.

We still had 2 to 3 hours to our planned anchorage and it was getting dark, so we anchored behind a very small, low, rocky island on the east shore of the Seaway near Point Rouge. During the night the winds came up and when we awoke the next morning our stern was pointing into the wind. We thought perhaps the keel had become entangled in the anchor line, but that was not the case. It was the current that was strong enough to turn the boat around against the wind!

We had woken around 5 a.m. and we left at 6 (its light by 5am, dark but 8:30pm), the winds were increasing fairly quickly, and soon it was 25 to 30. We were running down wind with apparent winds of 26 to 27 at anywhere from 8 to 12 knots! We picked our way through the islands and in 7 hours had managed to do 61 miles! We saw a top speed of 13.1 knots and we were in the 11s and 12s for most of the time. It was an exhilarating ride, very choppy with waves 4 to 6 feet and sometimes coming from 3 different directions. Then when we were 20 miles from our destination the wind just pooped – in 5 minutes we were reading 0.0 on the anemometer, so we ended up having to motor the last 20 miles to get in before dark.

As an aside, before we left we tried to potty train Windsor so that he would go on a piece of astroturf that we had acquired. We were successful 3 days in a row when we were at the dock and thought that everything was golden. Well once we moved the “grass” to the boat, things couldn’t be further from the truth. He just would not go, he would just sit there and look at me with this face like “where’s the real grass and trees?”. Well I think through desperation he went twice on the mat that day. So we are feeling that he might finally be getting the message, especially when he gets praise and the cookie when he does go – lol.

Anyhow, the last 3 miles into Tadoussac harbor took 3 hours – we were motoring against a 5 knot current and our little 20HP motor can only squeeze about 6 on a good day, so I moved over to the very edge of the channel to get out of the main current and we “crashed” a whale watching party. We got to see a number of Minke whales close up as we struggled our way up the North shore against the current. We eventually made it in and anchored around 7pm, then went ashore so Windsor could feel “real grass” and we could stretch our legs. Then we crashed and slept like babies. All night the wind howled – about 20 to 25, but the anchor held, and in the morning after I got done with work we went ashore and did some walking and exploring.

Tadoussac is a very quaint town, very small but loaded with tourists – much like Port Clinton in the summer time. Whale watching is their big attraction, and you can see Right Whales, Humpback, Blue, Minke and Belugas in abundance depending on the time of year. Right now it was Minke and Beluga season.

We got a dock in the afternoon and explored further, went grocery shopping and then went to dinner in a wonderful restaurant called the Galouine. Melanie’s knee was acting up, so we decided to stay another night at the dock and went out to dinner at the marina restaurant where we had calamari and some really tasty fish and chips. Next day we decided to leave and motored over to the gas dock for diesel and a pumpout. As I was throttling back to slow us down for the dock we ran out of fuel! First time ever – I knew we were low but the gauge still registered a little. We filled up and then had to bleed the lines to get fuel back into the injection system.

Well, we ended up staying another night as I could not get the engine going. I did some research on line and found a repair manual for my engine, so $9 later I think I had found my problem. Next morning after work I was able to successfully bleed the lines – I will say these engine designers should be forced to work on these motors in the same conditions as we do for 6 months before a design is released – the bleed valve for the fuel injection pump was almost impossible to reach – it took the removal of some of the equipment off the engine and then a 30 to 40 minute struggle to get the bleed bolt loose as it was in a very hard to reach spot. We headed out about 2 p.m., and boy was it cold! Land temps said that it was 68, on the water which is only in the low 50s it felt like 40. We were bundled up with gloves, fleece, hats, foul weather gear, sailing boots – looking like Shackleton in the Antarctic. We brought along a bunch of old army surplus emergency heat packs – stuffed those in our foul weather gear and boy did they feel good. We rolled out of the harbor, against the incoming tide, trying to use the river current to help us get out. The collision of the two caused some rough water – small waves but very choppy.

Once clear we were able to make good progress and sailed a good 30 miles before motoring the last hour so we did not get into the anchorage in pitch blackness. We saw whales along the way – in the distance we saw their spouts. Also saw a lot of seals, and the island (Ile Du Bic) was a favorite hangout for them. We could hear them squealing and grunting all night long. It was a sheltered anchorage so we had a good calm night’s sleep.

After breakfast the next morning, we motored into deep water and hauled up the sails and with a series of long tacks we were able to make pretty decent progress up the coast, past Rimouski towards our next stop. It was 49 at 11am – so we were bundled up once again with heat packs and struggling to stay warm. It was a cold day, but uneventful and we ended up motoring in the afternoon to counter a rather strong current to ensure we got to the anchorage in daylight as it was littered with rocky outcrops.

We anchored in a rocky cove called Metis Sur Mer. There were seals laying on the rocks and playing in the water. The evening started out calm and serene, but in the early morning we noticed that it was getting quite rough. The cove was sheltered from East, West and South winds but not from a North wind which we now had. We woke up with two foot swells rolling in. We hauled anchor and took off into a 20-30 knot northeast wind. We slogged into the wind from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the motor and the staysail until we reached Matane. We pulled in there to a small marina and went into the club house and had two strong Irish coffees while talking to some of the locals.

Had a very nice time meeting Dan Cooper and his family. They were from Quebec City on a 3 week sailing trip headed out in roughly the same direction as us; 4 of them on a 28 ft Hinterhoeller. After socializing we went out to dinner. There was a motel across the street with a restaurant called Cargo, so we took a gamble and went there. It was on the water, all glass frontage, and we both enjoyed a wonderful seafood dinner and appetizers with a dessert of chocolate and raspberries. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and had a very nice waitress to boot. We came back to the boat exhausted from our day in the wind and the cold. Temps on the water were in the low 50’s with windchill in the upper 40’s – it was freezing!

After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast of eggs, we showered, did laundry and readied for departure. However we were delayed as the tide was out and the water level at the marina entrance was less than 4 ft. We were a little disappointed because we had a honking (25-35 knot) South wind which could have taken use 7-8 knots under jib alone.The entrance would not have been deep enough until around 4pm, which meant coming into our next port of call around midnight – I don’t like doing that – going into unfamiliar places in the dark – so we decided to spend one more night here in Matane and leave early tomorrow on the high tide. Winds are supposed to be good tomorrow as well – we shall see.


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