31 July, 2014
July 26, and the day is kinda’ gloomy for our run to Rimouski, but the wind has died to 11 kn, and the seas are pretty calm. On the way, we see a Harbor Porpoise (the smallest whale in these parts), and a seal. The commercial and public harbors are side by side in this port, so we follow an Oceans (company name) tug in the channel. These guys seem to have a stranglehold on the market from Quebec City out, as they are the only tugs that we’ve seen. Their boats are immaculate, and look like they really mean business. The Admiral has a bad case of tuglust. Every time she sees one, she mentions how much she’d like one. You know-the boaters’ disease-you’re always looking for your next boat. Anyhow…we’re tied up at Rimouski by 1100, and it’s time to explore. At the dock across from us is the sailboat that went missing the night before. It’s all buttoned up tight-my theory is they’re sleeping below after dragging anchor during the blow. Our buddy, Nick, (the dock dude, confirms that they got in before he got here) prints us a Google map, and I.D.’s the poissonnerie (fish market), the mall, grocery store, and a pizza joint. The highway runs right along the ocean, and there is a 2 lane bike path separated by a divider from it-makes for easy walking. Fish market is our kinda’ place. Lobster is $8.95 Canadian francs/pound. I donwanna even tell you how cheap Crevettes (shrimp), Moure (cod), and Turbot is. The lady at the market speaks English (un peu), so we get her favorite lunch place located on the Googlemap. Gotta pass the marina to get to town, so the fruits de mer go into the fridge. An hour of hoofing later, we’re thinking damnitsalongway, but the Target sign is visible in the distance. Yours Truly has grabbed an empty Sodastream CO2 bottle off the boat, and Target exchanges for new ones (so I thought). Nope they sell new ones, but no exchange. NOOOBODY speaks Anglais here, but after much gesticulating, and begging for the manager to s-p-e-a-k s-l-o-w-l-y, we find out that there’s a kitchen store in the mall that recycles. Cool-done. If you don’t have one of these, you might need one, especially if you’re interested in diminishing your contribution of plastic to landfills, or if you’re CHEAP. Their product is good, and more and more retailers are carrying their stuff. We’ve had ours about 5 years. Next stops, check out both grocery stores for fruit and veggies. We always get weird looks when we do these recon missions and have backpacks, then walk out without buying anything. The recommended bistro is still a ways down the line, so we’ll get the foodstuffs on the way back. Dang! 1600 and we’re just getting lunch. We guess we’ll just make it a two fer, and skip dinner tonight. Early morning tomorrow for the long haul to St. Anne Des Monts. Up at O’Dark-thirty, off the dock at 0525. It’s 10 degrees C., and cloudy, but the wind is down, so we’re cookin’ along at 8 knots. WHAT IS THAT NOISE? BAMBAMBAMBAM nonstop. Throttle down, frequency drops, but still loud. Sounds like it’s under the guest stateroom sole (floor). Pull up the hatches, sure enough, there it is, outside the hull, knock knock knockin’. Okay, throw over into reverse and rev ‘er up. Off the starboard bow, a half a tree floats up. Back on our way, the sound is much diminished, but it’s clear we still have a hanger-on. Repeat-no joy. An hour or two later, the twigs(?) are gone. A few whales (ho hum) and seals along the way, but nothing up close. The Gannets are becoming more numerous. They’re white, fishing seabirds with beige heads, and black-tipped wings (span around 2-3’). They fly either in formation when going somewhere, or in ones or twos when fishing. At altitude (around 20-30’), they fold their wings against their bodies, and do a “suicide dive” into the drink, usually coming up with a fish. I’m absolutely fascinated by them, and could watch for hours. They remind me of the Boobies that we see in the Carribean. Although not on the Endangered Species list, they’re one step away, mostly due to environmental pollution. 1524 puts us on the dock at St. Anne Des Monts. Ain’t nobody here Parlez’s Anglais, but luckily the folks from Atlanta that we met in Baie Eternite are docked, and guide us in. It’s raining pretty hard, so we don’t feel like setting up the grill. We need a walk, anyway, so we head out, foraging for food. We spot a little Resto-Bar with a bunch of pickups parked outside, and figure this is the joint-it was! Good seafood creations and cold beer-all good. I’m a happy guy and doin’ the “food dance” (you know what I’m talkin’ about). Back at The Girl, where we have interweb amazingly enough, we check the GRIBS and the satellite, and it looks like after tomorrow afternoon, we have a couple of days of dogmeat (crappy weather). Don’t want to be stuck here for a couple days at this industrial floating dock which is rockin and rollin’ and creaking with each swell (and there are plenty), with no power or water, and nothing to do on shore…….so it’s early out tomorrow. Depart at 0425 (it’s light by then), wind is S.E @ 8kn, and the seas are 1-2’, just as we thought. We figure the fun to begin around 1200. After breakfast, we get everything locked down. Chairs, cabinets, computer monitor, kitchen appliances put in the sink. Lunch is made ahead of time, just in case. At 1000, we are at the highest latitude that Alizann’s been-49.2 degrees North. We had hoped to go up to Newfoundland, but our late start this Spring, and all the good stuff along the way has changed our plans-that’s boating. 1200 comes and goes, still 1-2’ waves (sometimes it’s nice to be wrong). Oh hello, by 1313 the wind has picked up, and we’re getting steep 2-4 footers with an odd 5 mixed in. By 1400 it’s a steady diet of close, steep 6 footers with an 8 once in awhile. The tops are now blowing off. Our little ship is getting a chance to stretch her legs with a white one coming over the bow pulpit (8’ above the water) every 5 minutes or so. Oh, forgot something. Our anchor snubber is attached to the pulpit with a small piece of line, and is working its way loose. Damn. I don’t want to be trailing a line off the bow eye if it lets go from the stanchion. Decision time. PFD on, I shoot for a lull in the waves. When I try to open the door, it resists mightily due to the wind on our bow. Out front, I get the snubber fixed properly when one comes over the bow and I’m up to my calves in water. Fortunately, 2 hands on the rail, and this got nothin’ on riding the horn, rafting through the Grand Canyon. The wave did knock the anchor chain out of the gypsy though. Cool, I was right there to replace it. The breakwall was a welcome sight, and the Admiral got on the VHF to make arrangements for our stay. Our French boat neighbors in Quebec City helped her make a cheat sheet with all the necessary terms and phrases. Port or Starboard, what is the depth, my length, beam, and draft is and etc. MDO took French in high school, and then again in college, so she does pretty well on her own, but our buddies, Guy and Lise, really refined her rap. She’s been doing it so well, that she sounds like a native speaker. Only problem is, when they go off script, there’s a lot of dead air on our side. I, on the other hand, am hopeless. I can ask for a beer, the restroom, and extra anchovies-what else do I need? Tied up at Rivierre au Renard at 0530. The docks are brand new on the pleasure boat side of this heavily commercial fishing port. You wouldn’t want to fall into the water, though. Lotsa’ fish guts, with a rainbow sheen of diesel fuel to complete the soup. The harbor was super picturesque, though, with all of the brightly colored fishing trawlers stacked a couple deep in places along the wall, anticipating the gale which will blow the rest of the day today into tomorrow. The Girl is happy with all her big brothers and sisters around her. She wants to grow up to be just like them some day. What a great call to come here. A working fishing port (the largest in Gaspesie), a fish processing plant, and a great staff at the public dock. Suzanne and I do the usual recon over to the commercial dock, where a boat is unloading tons of Turbot, layering them into containers with shovels full of ice. They’re then loaded onto a semi with a forklift, bound for who-knows-where. There’s a chandlery (marine hardware store) for the commercial fleet here. Darn, sign says ferme @ 1500hr, and it’s 1530. The counterman sees me at the door and comes out to let me in. He speaks a little English (way better than my aforementioned French), so we chat it up a little bit, and before I know it, I’ve got plans to change The Girl’s oil tomorrow (a few hours ahead of time, but she’ll like it). How can I resist his offer to deliver 5 gallons of oil to the boat, and pick up my used oil afterword in the 2 buckets that he will provide? Kindness to strangers is what these folks in “the East” are all about, almost without exception. After the oil is changed the next day, we’re off to the post office, then searching for a machin d’argent (ATM), and of course, bierre. Two out of three isn’t bad, the ATM can wait. The processing plant has its’ own poissonnerie, so we have to check it out. More fish purchased, along with hors d’oeuvres (pickled whelks, and dried salt cod). The nice lady with the scary looking husband (tats, wifebeater, shaved head, and lotsa time in the gym) said the salt cod was good with beer-How could I resist her recommendation? On the way out, her hubbie held the door for me “after you, Monsieur”. You know what “they” say-Looks can be…. After cocktails, we’re hoping to have some friends over in the next few days to pawn off the salt cod (maybe it’s just an acquired taste). The whelks were pretty good. To be fair, during our travels today, we found out that one of the Captains fell asleep at the wheel, and ran his fishing trawler up on the rocks, then came back to the harbor with an arterial bleed of diesel fuel from the ruptured hull. They got the boat hauled before it sank, so all is well, except the diesel in the harbor. We’ve got a fuel truck coming in the morning. Only need a couple hundred gallons, but it’s relatively cheap with the fishing fleet here, and it’ll probably hold us until the end of the summer. The Harbormistress says she’ll have them come at 0800, but they’re always late, so come up to the office in the morning, and we’ll call them again. All this communication is through a lady sailboater who speaks a little English as the Harbormistress speaks none. That night, there’s live music on the porch of the marina. The band was rockin’, but there’s something not quite right about ZZ Top’s La Grange sung in French. 0800, and the truck is here. We are fueled up by 0900, and on our way for a 40 mile run to L’Anse-a-Beaufils, by way of Perce Rock, supposedly the most-photographed natural wonder in Canada.
Gotta go, the Admiral needs a deck hand.
P.S. Pictures take forever with the slow internet. I'll do it if we get a faster connection