24 July 2014

Bon Jour mon amis,

I’ve been bad, bad, bad.  Where do I start?  The transit of the Richelieu Rapids was a non-event.  It was a narrow channel, but no commercial stuff coming the other way.  We had a big guy a couple of miles behind us, but after some hasty calculations, and not some minor debate, we decided that he wouldn’t catch us until we were out the other side.  Immediately after exiting the rapids, PortNeuf was hiding behind an old freighter breakwall, augmented with a newer stone one.  We threaded our way in the “S shaped” entry, and found ourselves in a square, well-protected little marina.  There was only one dock big enough to hold us, so in we went.  We started out on a fairly long dock, where they also sold gas, but by the time that the harbormaster quit saying “pull forward, pull forward” (in French), we were wedged between the dock and a 20 foot finger with about 3’ to spare on either side, bow in (more on that later).  So, I pay Annabelle, the high school aged marina gal for the nights’ stay, and happen to mention that if she looks like her Mom (who I met earlier, and doesn’t parlez vous anglais), when she grows up, she will be very pretty.  The restaurant here is a good one, and the only one for quite a few miles, so making an earlier reservation was helpful.  The deck dining area is right above the yacht club’s patio, and I hear 2 women below my table chatting it up about how that American told Annabelle that her “Mommy was pretty”. I lean over the rail, and it’s Mom talking to one of her friends.  She blushes ever so slightly, and then asks me if I’d like to take a look at her bateau.  Given that the Admiral is in the washroom, I politely decline, as I value my life.  The next day at the time of our scheduled departure, the wind is blowing 24 knots, with gusts to 30 or so, with high wind warnings until midnight.  There isn’t much of a village, and the Catholic Church is in disrepair and locked.  They do have a bar, however, so after our 5 mile power walk, a few brews are in order.  Back to the boat, and dinner there, as the restaurant is pretty proud of their food (as evidenced by the prices).  After dinner, the wind calms down, and I think that we should turn the boat around to get ready for our morning exit.  Had a little redpop with dinner, so we figure we’ll just turn and leave in the A.M., as the winds are predicted to be light and variable.  Wake up to the 17 knot light breeze (we’ll talk about the veracity of Canadian weather forecasts later), and curse ourselves for not taking “the bird in the hand” last night.  Turning the boat in a 64 foot space (we’re 53 overall) becomes a production, as everyone around feels obliged to help, and offer advice without being able to speak a word of English.  We retie after turning, as we now have to take tide and current into account for our travels, and it’s not time to leave yet.  This really gets everyone on the dock’s panties in a wad, ’cause they just can’t understand these crazy Anglais.  By the time we’re ready to leave, the wind is a sustained 20-good call on turning the Girl early.  Just a quick comment about tides and currents.  Since Trois Riviere, the St. Lawrence River has been tidal, that is, sometimes the current is withya, sometimes agi’nya.  It can be as much as a 7-9 knot swing, depending on the state of the tide.  So…you don’t just travel when it suits you, you have to look down the line and calculate time, speed, and distance, and the state of the current on different segments of your course.  This is aided, in our case, by “The Atlas of Tidal Currents of the St. Lawrence River”.  Very important when you’re travelling in an 8 knot boat.

By 1300, the Girl is stern-to at the Port of Quebec (Quebec City), not without a little drama, as the young lady (who can’t see this whole huge marina from where she sits) is on the VHF, telling us to pull into a slip that already has a boat in it.  Who’s there to catch our lines?  Bill and Lauren (remember them?-Grand Banks Classic).  They’re fresh from Ottawa, and Canada Day, feelin’ real proud to be Canadians, and we want to hear all about their trip.  We take a look across the fairway, and there on the wall are “Texas Ranger” and “Spirit Journey”.  Lauren has wanted to meet Ron from “S.J.”, as they have carried on an email correspondence (long story about Krogen blogging), but haven’t met.  You know how much we hate parties, but it’s time to take one for the team.  A couple of calls on the VHF, and its cocktails aboard “Alizann” at 1800.  One of our Quebecois friends, Clairmont fondly calls these get togethers “5 to 7’s”-I don’t know if this is endemic to the region, or just one of his personal “isms”.  Anyhow, one thing leads to another, and soon we are all out in the Old Port, foraging for food.  A good time had by all, but an early night as the other Krogens are off on the tide at 0700, and we have tourist stuff to do tomorrow.  Quebec is really two cities, an old and a new.  Like Montreal, they have gone to great pains to preserve their rich heritage.  The Old Port, and area inside the old city wall could be any small village in western Europe.  With Bill and Lauren, we walked just about every inch of the old city.  After breakfast in an Old Port bistro, we walked every street, window shopping (and more).  Then it was a ride on the funicular up to the high ground, where the Chateau Frontenac, fort, Citadel and the Plains of Abraham (a sight of 2 historic battles-English and French) are located.  Next to the Citadel was an amphitheater, where some rockers were doing sound checks, and just havin’ a good time rockin’ some familiar riffs from various artists.  Of course, we had to see what was going on, so we strolled over to make some inquiries-Oh yeah, Billie Joel is the headliner for the Quebec Music Festival this week, and he’s playing tonight-cool.  From there, we walked the top of the old city wall from beginning to end.  Along the way, we had to stop at a few incredible churches, including the Notre Dame basilica and the Ursiline Nuns Monastery.  The day morphed into evening, and after a 5 to 7 at Bill and Laurens’ (where she informed us that her pedometer had recorded something like 8,990 steps today), we finished with dinner in an Old Port restaurant, with the promise of more fun stuff in the morning.  Sadly, Lauren was a bit under the weather, and anyway, they had to reprovision for their next days’ departure, so we left them, carrying an invite for dinner at their place after our day.  Suzanne and I walked up to the John Baptiste quarter, which is old, but not too touristy, where the Admiral found an “Aveda” salon.  (I don’t know much about this stuff, but our friend Jeff, who cut MDO’s hair for 20 some-odd years, told her that those were the places to go when out of town).  Yep, they could take a walk-in at 1330, and yep, they liked doing short hair, so the deal was on.  Killed a few hours going through the small neighborhood marches (markets), butchers, vegetables, cheeses, specialty foods and etc., as well as getting a personal guided tour of (of course) the St. John the Baptist church by a Master’s student from France.  Oh, did I forget?  There’s also the chocolate museum (actually a chocolate shop with a funky little “museum” attached) - a good spot to get a little gift for tonights’ hostess.  While Suz was getting sheared, I had a bierre at a sidewalk bistro, and watched the peeps.  Musta’ been close to the college, as there were lots of tats, piercings, and generally a predominately youngish population-good fun.  The Admiral was happy, happy, happy.  Short hair again.  On the way back to the boat, we stumbled upon another music venue, and listened for a while to some French-Canadian Hiphop.  Down the road was a street performer from the local street performing community (yes, there really is one) who entertained us for a bit.  Had to get back, as we were flying out the next morning at 0500 for the family reunion in Charleston, SC.  Bags packed, boat buttoned up, we ask Lise and Guy, our Quebecois boat neighbors if they will watch our babies (herb garden) while we are gone.  Heck yeah, and our boat too, if we’d like.  I love boaters.  Dinner at B & L’s, home too late, and up too early (0300), and off to the International airport on July 13th.  I’ll fire this up into space, and catch up in the next few days, got to catch the tide now.  No pictures, cause I’m on somebody’s home network up here in the Saguenay fiord with my Rogue, and it’s SLOW.  So slow, it didn't go.  Now I'm even behinder-I'll get some stuff written tomorrow-11 hour day.


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