Waves, Wind and More Wind
12 July 2007 | Riviere-au-Renard
Waves, Wind and More Wind (Sainte Annes des Monts - Mont Louis - Riviere-au-Renard)
Riviere au Renard, July 10, 2007
We set out from Sainte Anne des Monts about 0830 the other day - now what day was that?? - headed for Riviere Madeleine. We did a few circles in the harbour to try once again to calibrate the compass on our new chart plotter and autopilot - with no success. Both of them work but the chartplotter shows us moving either stern first or sideways - a bit disconcerting but we're getting used to it- and the auto pilot is "mostly" OK but I wouldn't leave it on its own for too long! Every now and then it takes a little swing one way or another. We'll have to work that one out later.
The forecast was for an increase in wind later in the day and we thought we might make it to our chosen destination but no such luck. It was interesting to see the waves change and feel the motion of the boat change along with them. If only the wind was off our beam, Madcap would be a very happy boat. She doesn't mind the waves at all, although she can pound with pretty impressive force into them. Unfortunately the wind always seems to be coming at us or following us, and put that together with some sideways waves and things get a little uncomfortable.
All this is to say that we decided on a change in destination and pulled in at Mont Louis - about 3 hours before we would have made Riviere Madeleine. Fortunately, Mary and I seemed to have a little telepathic thing going and we reached for our VHF radios at almost the same time! We were wearing all our woolies and full foul weather gear, and the boat was doing well, but this kind of travelling gets tiring after a while and if we don't HAVE to do it, well...why would we?! Jim and I were both reminded that when we plan our schedule and decide to venture out when there is a small craft wind warning, it is really important to have established some choices in available safe harbours.
We cruised nicely through the breakwater at Mont Louis, lowered the main and dropped anchor in about 15 feet of water - low tide. The relief was delightful. The teapot went on the stove, the books came out, the cribbage board got its first use of the season, and we just relaxed...until early evening! That is because Mont Louis has the distinction of being one of those places where the katabatic winds come up in the evening...every summer evening! That means that each evening, the wind funnels down the mountainside and off the land quite abruptly and with considerable vigour. We clocked a little over 22 knots, and it may have gusted to more through the night. It really is amazing to have such a significant change. Our anchor held well in the gravel bottom even though we swung completely around and we rocked all night. One little technical note - our anchor of choice is our dependable CQR - a version of a plough anchor that has never yet let us down.
We were ready to leave in the morning (one night for this experience was enough, thank you very much) so after consulting with Strathspey and litening to the 0330 weather forecast, we hauled anchor and departed shortly after 0630, enroute to Riviere au Renard more than 50 nautical miles away.
By 1100 we had passed both our alternate destinations and were on target for Riviere-au-Renard in late afternoon. With the wind on our nose, we were motoring all the way, but we had the company of whales and flocks of terns and gannets soaring against the backdrop of the mountains, and then skimming the surface of the water. The shoreline was just spectacular, and it was really evocative to see miles of mountains and trees, and then come across a point with a lighthouse perched there. One that really appealed to me was the light at Pointe a la Renomee. It must have been a most wonderful sight in the old days before GPS and radar. Somehow the strength and security still linger around the old building.
One thing I've discovered is that I'm not comfortable with being completely out of cell phone range and wireless coverage. July 10 is my dad's birthday - Happy Birthday Papa!! - and I couldn't make contact with him till midafternoon. At least Jim can post our newest whereabouts on Winlink through the Single Sideband Radio most evenings so somebody knows where we are!
We arrived at Riviere-au-Renard about 1630 (4:30 pm) after a 10 hour trip. It felt very good indeed to drop our anchor in the big basin of this large and busy fishing harbour. We settled in, discovered that somewhere in the waves, we had lost a piece of our dinghy davit - drat! - and dinghied over to where Strathspey was moored in the marina. We hiked up the road to a recommended restaurant where we planned to celebrate our arrival with a fine fish dinner. The company was terrific and the scenery was lovely, but both Mary and I could have produced a far nicer dinner - and proceeded to do so the very next day!