Up the Saguenay River
03 July 2007 | Baie Eternite, PQ
The Saguenay - at last!
We left Tadoussac on the morning tide and motored (again) up river toward Baie Eternite. No whale sightings today; I'm sure they were there but with the white caps on the water, the Belugas are hard to spot.
This place where the St Lawrence and the Saguenay meet is a magnificent place for sure. The water in the Saguenay is hundreds of feet deep. One writer put it this way - if the St Lawrence went dry the Saguenay would still have 600 feet of water in it! This mingling of cold fresh water and warmer salt water creates a gourmet feeding ground for the marine mammals. The resident and separate population of Belugas feeds here year round, while other species - up to 13 of them- come and go. We've spotted minke and fin whales in our time here, along with little seal heads popping up for a quick look-see.
For the first part of the river, it is a fjord, and that is the portion we traveled. Baie Eternite has to be one of the most beautiful anchorages anywhere. There are a dozen or so mooring balls scattered around a huge bay, a wharf where dinghies and the small cruise boats tie up, a long kayak ramp and that's it. Well - that's it except for the gigantic rock walls! A nature centre is just 400 feet down the trail from the wharf with park guides, natural history display, a little café and a pay phone. There is no cell phone coverage here and no wifi. This would not normally be much of a concern for us, but since Mary Beth was having surgery on her knee on Tuesday morning, we wanted to have lots of contact with her.
We arrived here on Canada Day. What a fitting place to raise a toast to the 140th birthday of this remarkable country. It was a little too cool to wear the Canada eh? T-shirt I had onboard, but we snuggled into Strathspey's cockpit to celebrate with champagne and chocolate and sweet Quebec strawberries.
We had always intended to hike to the top of Cap Trinite, but the rains came just after lunch so we hunkered down inside our cosy nest to read and nap and take pictures of rainbows. Our full cockpit enclosure is handy here. It keeps out rain and cool air, and makes a little screened-in patio for us. Later in the day Jim and I traveled the boardwalk that skirts the edge of the bay and the streams that feed into it. There is a remarkable range of plant species here too and clear evidence of the changing geography. Streams are silting in and becoming first marsh and then land again. Around a few turns in the path, we found massive boulders that have loosened over centuries of freeze/thaw cycles and have crashed to the earth. One of those boulders juts out of the wall like the top of an amphitheatre. It looks precarious but there is more of it inside the earth than out.
Cap Trinite is high and rocky and bare. Cap Eternite on the other side is sloping and rounded and well treed. As the glacier that created them slid away, each side was affected differently.
We planned to stay 3 nights here, but -as usual on a boat- we revised our plan because the forecast was for a favourable wind to take us back down river the next day, and to Rimouski the day after that.
It turned out to be not quite as brisk as we had hoped but we still managed to sail a good part of the way, drifting lightly along as we passed Baie St. Etienne, playground for more Belugas.
I could very happily spend a couple of weeks in this river. It would be nice to stay many more days in the beautiful bays, and to go further up river to see how the walls flatten out and the landscape changes.
I could also happily spend a week in Tadoussac where we landed again on Tuesday night. The people are friendly; the history (this was once a Hudson's Bay trading post) and natural beauty, along with good facilities and always the whales, is a most attractive combination.
An update on Mary Beth - her surgery went well. The miniscus has been flipped back again and a new ACL has been constructed to hold her knee together. Our courageous and determined athlete will be wearing a brace for the next 6 months and recovery is expected to be very good.