27 July, 2014
The trip to Charleston for the Admiral’s family reunion was uneventful, although clearing customs and catching our next flight in an hour and fifteen minutes at JFK was kinda tight. Thank goodness for Nexus cards. Told a Customs officer about our tight connection, and he walked us to the front of the line that snaked twice around the room, opened the barrier with a “have a nice day, folks”, and we were on our way. Our niece, Emily, a Charleston resident, picked us up at the airport, and the three of us bar-hopped through the barrier islands to Wild Dunes Marina, where we met the rest of the gang (8) for lunch while we waited for our beach house to be cleaned and readied for our week of fun in the sun. During the week, the gang swelled to 20, but no one went hungry or thirsty (we know the drill, been doing this for 28 years or so). 3 books, and lots of beach time for me is typical of these vacations, where we all parallel play, meeting on the porch for cocktails and chatter before dinner every evening. Suzanne is a great cook and organizer, and her sisters Sharon and Sheila are no slouches in this department either-Betty Ford and Weight Watchers cross my mind often after our annual Julyfest. The high point for me (and the Admiral) was having our Alison’s beau, Ben ask me if he could marry her. Awesome-another kid to worry about (just kidding-sorta). Problem was we had to keep our mouths shut, as he hadn’t asked her yet. Back at the Girl, we found a boat card tucked into our door from “My Dreams”, a 42’ Krogen moored in the marina. Unfortunately, between cleaning Alizann, farmers marketing, butcher shopping, and entertaining our neighbors, Guy and Lise-all in 25 hours, we couldn’t hook up with Ted and Sue who had spent the day touristing in Quebec City. Hope to catch them along the way. Had to catch the tide at 0400, so spent the night in the outer commercial harbor as the lock into the marina didn’t open until 0700. The pilot boats going in and out at flank speed didn’t do wonders for a peaceful night, but we were wide awake at 0’Dark-thirty so left early. Quebec City from the river at night was a sight, as many of the old buildings are illuminated, standing out beautifully against the moonless sky. Eight hours later, when we arrived at Cap A L’Aigle, our stop on the way to the Saguenay, it was blowing around 17-20 knots, and we were happy to be there, as the seas were building (steep, close lake waves-not long ocean waves). Not a lot to share about this stop, just an overnight. Severe wind warnings were in effect for the following day, so we thought we might get stuck. After checking the weather charts, our prediction was no wind until afternoon. At 0500, the winds were light and variable, so off we went. By 0700, winds were sustained at 24, with gusts in the 30’s. Three hours later, we were happy to be at Tadoussac, the opening to the Saguenay. So sorry, the docks are almost full, and your boat will overload them in this heavy wind-#@!&!!. No way to anchor here in this wind and with water this deep. Up the way to Anse St. Jean. This time, the Admiral calls them on the phone-no problem, we’ll keep a space for you-whew! The next few hours, we’re beating up the river in 28 knot winds which are howling down the fjord. We’re in whale country, but there is no way to see ‘em, as the tops are blowing off 3 foot waves. Turn the corner into the bay, and the waves subside somewhat, but the wind is still fierce. MDO talks to the marinadude, he takes one look at us with the binocs, and tells us no way we’re coming in there in this wind-strike two. Up at the head of the bay, there’s little wave action, and the wind is down to 15. The bottom shoals up quickly from over 150’ to 5, so there’s little room to drop an anchor. If the wind changes, the Girl will be laying on her side on the bottom when the tide goes out. Looks like the wind will stay steady for the night, so we shoot the hook down for a good grab on a silty bottom. Our dinghy ride over to the marina doesn’t reveal a pretty picture. All the boats (and docks), are rockinanrollin’, creakinanbangin’-looks like a real puker at the marina tonight. In spite of this, the place is pretty proud of their docks-they want $10 Canadian francs to tie up the tender and go in to town to spend money on dinner and trinkets and trash. No can do, bucko-it isn’t the dough, it’s the principle. Back to our calm, but shallow anchorage for some red meat off the grill. That’s what I’m talkin’ about! Shallow water was a non-event, wind stayed steady. Early A.M., and they’re pouring out of the marina like rats from a sinking ship. Late breakfast, and we’re off to Baie Eternite (the prettiest anchorage in the Saguenay). Cruising guides say that there are 8-10 mooring balls in the bay, as it’s too deep to anchor,200+ ft. As we round the corner, cool, only four boats on the moorings. Not cool, there are only 4 moorings to be seen. We’ll do a drive-by and see if anyone’s leaving. We approach the first; the Admiral shoots across a greeting in French, and gets the reply “we don’t speak French”. Okay….So this American couple from Atlanta, doing the Down East route and is leaving on the tide in 2 hours. We just hung and waited after I launched the dinghy and went in to shore to pay for the mooring. Samuel, the ranger and I had a long conversation, made longer by the fact that he spoke very little English, and I very little French. When he discovered that the Admiral is a marine biologist, he ran back to his boat to get a flag for our boat indicating the we were “Ambassadors of the Saguenay”, as well as phone numbers to call and report any whales in trouble, or humans not following the guidelines. When I returned to our little ship, the Admiral was happy, happy, and happy. Lunch, then on the ball by 1300, and we were off to hike to a statue of the Virgin, some 500 metres above the bay, and erected in the late 1800’s-good story, I think Suz will fill in the details. When we returned a few hours later, the Girl was riding peacefully, as the wind had died. Quick cocktail cruise before dinner took us past “Sunshine Express”, owned and crewed by Robert and Michelle, a couple from Quebec City. After yakkin’ for a few minutes, they invited us aboard, and regaled us with tales from their 30 years of cruising from the St. Lawrence to the Bahamas. They shared some favorite spots with us, and were just a delight to be with. Finding our way home on this moonless night was a challenge for me, but MDO had us dialed in. Just when I started to doubt her, the Girl loomed up out of the darkness about 20 feet ahead of us (no lights, ‘cause we were just going on a short cruise before dinner). Dinner is overrated, bed is good. After Robert telling us that we had seen the best of Saguenay, we decide to cruise back to Tadoussac to spend the night, and, hopefully, see some whales. We’re beginning to feel jinxed, as we haven’t seen any yet. From all reports, we thought this would be like our trip to Antarctica, where you saw a whale every time you turned your head. On our way down the fjord, Suz spotted a pod of Belugas from over a mile away. We crept over, and watched as about 20 or so cruised up the bank, moving upstream. They are a stunning, pearly white, and just take their time ambling up the shore, cruising inches below the surface, and breaching (sorta) every few seconds. Back at Tadoussac, we are refused a dock space again (strike three). It’s late in the afternoon, and there are high wind warnings again, but we’ll cross the St. Lawrence and make our way 30 miles or so to Anse L’Orignal, a fairly sheltered anchorage. Two hours into the trip, the wind comes up as promised, but its 20 knots on our stern. We round into Anse L’Orignal (Moose Bay) after sunset, and anchor in 20 knot winds just before dark. There are 2 sailboats in there as well, and we’re all rockin’ and rollin’. Winds are now gusting to 32, and the wind generators are howling, but it’s a pretty big bay, and we have plenty of chain out, so we’re sleepin’ tight. Get up at first light, and one of the sailboats is gone, the other pulling anchor. We’ll be on our way after breakfast for the short run into Rimouski,QC.