Blowing into Batiscan
24 June 2007 | Batiscan, Quebec
Blowing into Batiscan
We motored onward from Montreal through the well-marked channel, watching a continual series of huge tankers and container ships heading upriver. We have a book called Know Your Ship and we look up each ship as we spot it. This year we have had to add many, many new checkmarks. Interestingly, far more ships were headed upriver than down. We've spotted ones from Panama, Shanghai, Morovia, Majuro, Helsinki, Rotterdam, London among others. We have found it fascinating to see these ships from far away slipping by, unnoticed by most of us on land. We have certainly become more aware of the international shipping traffic.
In good time, we arrived at our destination, Contrecoeurs, and wound our way through a narrow and shallow channel. Strathspey, with a shallower draft, kindly went ahead and called back the depths. Pas de problem! We cruised past the public wharfs and what to our wondering eyes did appear?? A Bayfield. A Bayfield 36 to be exact. I trained the binoculars on it and was amazed to see it was Little Gidding - the boat owned by our friends Eileen Quinn and David Allester. It was David and Eileen who encouraged our interest in traveling south and whose company we enjoyed in Belleville last summer when we were getting our cockpit enclosure made and they were first arriving back in Ontario after many years south. You can bet it wasn't long before we were in the dinghy and heading over to see what was up. We had a very pleasant conversation with Rene - the new owner - and confirmed that Eileen and David are entertaining lucky passengers on cruises on Lake Killarney this summer.
We paid a visit to the local supermarket and were delighted to find a very well stocked store in this little town. There were good produce, exotic herbs and spices, interesting meats - including bison and cheval. We didn't try the latter. Every store in Quebec has a selection of beer and wine, which is handy for cruisers who dine on their boats. This is a fine little town, and a beautiful anchorage. We were entertained by birdsongs and a fabulous sunset.
We made another early start on Friday, again in light wind so the motor was roaring away as we inched through Chenal Sud and rejoined the shipping channel. We passed Sorel, crossed Lac St Pierre, cruised by Trois Rivieres and were pleased that the wind picked up. Our sails went up, the motor was doused and we had a magnificent ride the rest of the way to Batiscan. Mary took some great shots of us as we blew along (the one on our profile is hers). I was marveling at how far over Madcap can heel without actually having the rail in the water. The waves just rise up and fly by, kissing the gunwales as they go. It was hard work handling lines though, letting them out a touch as we leaned too far and winching them in as we straightened up so we were happy to confer with Strathspey and head into Batiscan.
Jim and I had stopped here for a satisfying lunch on our drive back from Nova Scotia last summer and so it was with warm memories that we dropped our anchor just opposite the marina and near the bridge that spans the river. All that sailing had whetted our appetites so Blair and Mary, Jim and I hustled ourselves up to the restaurant. There we met Patrick, the smiling young owner, who informed us that we were parked "a little far from my wharf", but who welcomed us for an excellent seafood dinner cooked by his talented wife.
After having a look at the charts and the schedule of tides, we decided that in order to do our sailing in daylight, it made sense to linger another day, and then spend three nights in Quebec before heading toward the Saguenay. We have had experience sailing at night, but when all this is new territory, we'd like to see it! This is also St Jean Baptiste weekend and Patrick promised entertainment and fireworks on Saturday night, so we happily settled ourselves in for a two-day stay.
We walked past beautiful gardens down to the village on Saturday looking for a hardware store, only to find that it closed at noon on Saturdays (and this was 12:30). Even though we didn't find our screws and bolts, we found life decisions that make sense and that was good. The entertainment was loud and enthusiastic in the evening and the fireworks were set off in the river near our boat so we had a perfect view.
On our way out, we learned just exactly how precisely our depth sounder is aligned with our true depth (in boating terms, what we "draw") The tide was low as we headed out and we learned that 0.3 means we are afloat, and 0.1 means we are touching bottom. No problem because the bottom was mud and we just plowed our way through the short stretch to deeper water. Another time, we'd probably leave when the tide was a little higher!