Warm Welcomes, Bonfires and Fletan
11 July 2007 | Riviere-au-Renard
Warm Welcomes, Bonfires and More Fletan
July 8, 2007 10:00pm, Posting#8
We left Rimouski and headed for Matane on Saturday, after staying an extra day because of heavy fog. The fog is one of those things we can cope with if we run into it, but choose not to deliberately go out in it. That might change I suppose if we were blocked in somewhere for days and days, but so far this plan is working for us.
When we left, we were able to see the huge windmills along the coastline - we counted 71 in one grouping and almost that again in another group- and also to sail a fair bit of the day. Usually when there is fog, there isn't much wind.
After a long day (we didn't ever do much better than 5.5 knots) we circled around through the Matane commercial basin because the book said it is possible to anchor behind the ferry there. It really didn't look very hospitable to pleasure boats and we couldn't see where that anchorage might be, so we went back out and continued another mile to the yacht harbour. Are we ever glad we did! There on the dock along with our good cruising buddies, Blair and Mary, were our friends Gilles and Marielle of Lady M! Lady M is a sister ship to Madcap (a Bayfield 36). They left Iroquois last June to head south and made it all the way to Grenada where they have hauled out for the summer. We connected with them en route in Charlottetown last summer, and Annapolis in October and now here they were in Matane!
Mary and Jim had both been talking with Gilles when we were in Rimouski so he knew our planned route and they had come by on their way back from Montreal to Halifax. We had a fine gathering in our cockpit, with the six of us sharing stories and peppering Gilles and Marielle with questions about their travels - good anchorages, nice marinas, protocol for entering countries and more.
After we had a quick bite to eat, Jim and I walked down to the beach where a huge bonfire was blazing, and some drummers were keeping a good beat. It was interesting to see the gathering of local townsfolk and be part of this party.
We made an 8:30 start on Sunday bound for Sainte Anne des Monts. Again, we were able to sail for most of the day. The wind was pretty much behind us and we experimented with our sails for the first hour - first the main went up, then the stay and then the yankee. There just didn't seem to be a good configuration that worked and yet kept us any where close to the course we wanted to follow, so we hauled everything in except the main, let it out wide and cruised along nicely in a following sea. Sometimes our speed went up to 8 knots as we surfed a particularly good wave.
Today, July 8th, is Alex's birthday so, thanks to the glorious invention of the cell phone, we made a call as we traveled to wish him a happy day. Happy birthday again, Alex! It seems decidedly odd to have flown the nest ourselves, and to keep in touch by phone and e-mail with all the children in their own nests.
Sainte Anne des Monts is a very pretty little Gaspe town with a friendly "guardian" on the dock to assist us in tying up. There are fascinating driftwood sculptures all around the exploramer centre next to the marina, and pretty little parks all along the waterfront. We took a walk to the poissonerie and bought more fletan (halibut) because Jim was begging for another feast! After dinner we walked out on the pier - amid a steady stream of cars that cruised out, circled around and came back in to the main street again. We watched some make two and three trips out. There were the usual fishermen and women casting their lines over the breakwater, and a collection of oldies and young folks parked in their cars watching the people go by. We've seen pretty much the same sight in every village or town with a driveable wharf - Brockville, Coburg, Portneuf and many more. It's quite fun to see, and I can almost picture myself perched out on the wharf in my old age eying the boaters as they come to look at the locals!!
We have now reached the Gulf of St Lawrence - out of the river and into the Atlantic Ocean. Tomorrow, we'll reach our northernmost latitude and start heading south. We feel like we have come a very long way in the last three weeks!