15/07/2007/11:29 pm, Escuminac
We sure landed in a fabulous place. The Breakwater Bash was a great party. The harbour is owned by the local people, and this event raises funds to help take care of it. They created a large party area in the parking lot by piling fish boxes (filled with water to keep them from flying off) to make walls. A live band played good dancing music and there were carloads and boatloads of people all in the mood to party. We bought scrumptious wings, and sausages on buns, and the beer flowed generously! We talked with our friendly rescuers, and got introduced to more people. These Acadians are so welcoming and friendly we feel absolutely blessed to be here. The wind picked up as forecasted, and this is a perfect refuge from the high seas.
This morning, Andre came by and the three guys (Jim, Blair and Andre) tore our engine compartment apart again and fixed the leak in the coolant reservoir. Then he drove us down the road a few miles to pick up some groceries and visit an ATM, and gave us a little tour of the neighbourhood, as well as a lot of information on the area. According to "The Downeast Circle Route", this is the home of the largest inshore fishing fleet in the Gulf Region, and it was most interesting to hear about it and see it first hand. Andre grew up in the area, works for the Coast Guard and fishes so he has a vast knowledge of local lore.
We had an excellent fish and chip lunch at the diner nearby, picked up some scallops at the poissonerie for dinner tonight, did boat jobs in the afternoon, and filled up with diesel - again, arranged and assisted by Andre. Thanks to Jim MacIntyre, who owns the campground here, we have internet access on our boats so it's a treat to check e-mail and post log entries. I waded a bit in the water of the Northumberland Strait, and felt the familiar feel of sand between my toes for the first time this trip.
Over munchies and liquid refreshment in Madcap's cockpit, we thoroughly enjoyed the company of a solo sailor who arrived on the dock behind us. Marsha, on a Pearson 26 - has been sailing single handed from Cape Breton and is headed up the St Lawrence River. We were enthralled with her stories as well as with her courage and fortitude in making this journey on her own.
When Ed came by to collect the dockage fee for the night - the huge sum of $14.00 - we engaged in some more conversation and increased our knowledge of fishing and boats. We know what scallop draggers look like, and when lobster season is open (not now along this coast). We visited the memorial to the 39 fishermen who were lost in a terrible storm in 1959. Such a loss in a small community must have been devastating. It reminded us, just as sailing by the memorial to the Empress of Ireland had, that the sea is not ever to be taken for granted.
Now it is after one o'clock in the morning and I'll get this posted before I fall into my berth for a few hours sleep before our early departure tomorrow for Buctouche. We'll keep our fingers crossed that Jim can take a break from developing his intimate relationship with our diesel engine!
15/07/2007/9:52 pm, Riviere-au-Renard to Escuminac
Friday the 13th?? Escuminac, NB, July 15, 2007 Posting #12
After a very good few days enjoying the hospitality of Riviere-au-Renard, we were up bright and early and all ready to push off at 6:30 am. Jim turned the key and ...nothing happened. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing gently, it was our day to have a grand sail and the engine wouldn't start.
Blair and Mary, with astoundingly good humour, postponed their plans to move on as well and Blair and Jim set to work problem solving. On first inspection, since it appeared that our batteries were undercharged, we thought that was the problem. We hauled everything out of the locker and - under the direction of the gentlemen on board - I climbed in and checked the charger. Eureka - a blown fuse! I changed that and then we needed to recharge the batteries.
Fortunately there is a coast guard station right beside the marina office and a couple of officers brought down a fancy charger to take care of that. Unfortunately, the engine still didn't start.
Next step was a walk over to the marine repair building on the corner to arrange for some expert help. Yvan showed up as soon as he could, and as he, Jim and Blair engaged in an animated blend of French-English-Mechanical/Speak, he determined that the solenoid on the starter had quit. Solenoids are particular little items for particular engines apparently, and things were not looking good for a quick fix. Yvan took it off to his shop to see what he could do, and arrived back about 5pm with a smile on his face. The cleaned solinoid went in, Jim sat down behind the wheel, took a deep breath and turned the key. A cheer went up all round as the engine turned over very nicely.
Another interesting discovery during all the poking around was a loose wire that had been the problem with our propane system. Blair taught me how to crimp a wire to make a better connection and we fixed that little problem too!
A quick conversation with Strathspey after we listened to the weather forecast resulted in a decision to leave on Friday evening for a long run of about 120 nautical miles to Escuminac. It would take about 24 hours, help us make up for lost time, and get us into New Brunswick before the expected strong winds on Sunday. As we packed up and did all our checks, a thunderstorm blew over, rinsing off the salt and clearing the air, and was nicely finished just as we were ready to leave the harbour. (The picture at the top of this posting shows Strathspey leaving Riviere-au-Renard)
It wasn't till we were well on our way and Jim and I were discussing the bad luck/good luck feel to the day, that we realized it was Friday the 13th. By then, the bad luck of the engine problems had been completely overshadowed by the good luck of being - once again - in a place where excellent help was readily available, and in the company of such supportive friends
We took turns doing watches through the night as we motor-sailed along under the starry, starry sky. I saw a meteor light up the whole sky as it fell, and was enthralled by the phosphorescence in the waves rushing by. Jim was on duty at sunrise and saw the darkness fade gradually away to be replaced by soft growing light.
We sailed a bit and motored a bit on Saturday, enjoying the warm sunshine and the wind - and wishing it wasn't quite as much sur le nez ...again! The 14th is our daughter Mary Beth's birthday so we enjoyed a birthday phone call with her and look forward to seeing her soon. Happy Birthday Mary Beth!
Then around about 2 o'clock, out of the blue came that horrid engine overheating alarm! We thought we were finished with that after clearing out the seaweed in the water intake valve in Rimouski. We're getting to be fairly experienced in sorting through symptoms to make a guess at the problem so while I got the sails all up and adjusted our course so we could proceed under sail alone, Jim checked the filter and the hose and they were clear. Then he checked the coolant level and it was low. He's been adding a lot more coolant this year than before so was wondering about why. Well, this time, he added and added and added, and then got really curious about the sound of trickling liquid he was hearing. He discovered a missing plug in the reservoir. Even when he fished the plug out from under the engine it didn't thread back in properly. By this time, he had run through all our coolant so he had to just add plain old water. As we all know from our cars in winter, water freezes faster than antifreeze; it also boils sooner than antifreeze so we had to creep along, keeping the engine running at less than 1500 rpms, and turing it off to do the cool down, add water routine every time the alarm sounded. The wind wasn't giving us much help in following our course. I could get a really nice speed up if I wanted to head off at a 90 degree angle from our course, and even with tacking back and forth, out ETA was staying the same or getting later.
Strathspey was safely in the harbour at Escuminac so when it began to look like we would be out there for another 6 or 7 hours, we accepted Blair's offer to see if he could find someone to tow us in. We were still about 8 nautical miles out and hated to ask someone to do that, but we were also getting a little weary of this slow pace.
We soon heard the crackle of the radio and Blair's voice saying a fishing boat was on the way, and sure enough, out of the dusk came the Christine with Andre Turbide at the helm and Gabe and Blair along to help. They circled around, tied a line from our bow to their stern and away we went.
Madcap fairly flew through the water doing over 9 knots- in fact she has never gone so fast! We made it into Escuminac just after dark - as the whole harbour was enjoying the annual Breakwater Bash. Music was blaring, lights were flashing, fishing boats were everywhere. I was on our deck with lines and fenders ready. Jim was at the helm watching the knot meter and depth sounder with incredulity. He says we were still going 7 knots as we came flying through the opening in the breakwater and the depth sounder was showing a foot of water below our keel! Fortunately it is a large harbour and our speed dropped dramatically as our rescuers dropped the towline. I gathered it on board; Jim put the boat in gear and circled around to get his bearings. By the time we came alongside the dock where Mary was waiting to catch the lines, Blair, Gabe and Andre had also landed and were there to assist again.
Many thank you's later, we cleaned ourselves up and went up the dock to join these wonderful Acadian people in their party.
12/07/2007/9:30 pm, Riviere-au-Renard
Waiting out the Wind, Riviere-au-Renard, July 12,2007
July 11th - Wednesday - turned out to be what Blair says his daughter would call an "It Day".
We had a series of, "That's it for the water", "That's it for the propane" statements happening. It was coldish. We knew already that we had run through all the water in our tank (neither Jim nor I had been keeping track of the days since we last topped it up - another lesson learned) and had brought back a big jug the night before. We had had the wonderful little propane fireplace on for a while to take off the morning chill, made a hot breakfast, and were doing some of the endless boat jobs when I decided to heat another pot of water for tea. Oops - no fire. I tried the fireplace again. Oops -no fire.
The upshot of all this was that we dinghied over to the marina and, with only a little coaxing, altered our "anchor whenever we have the opportunity" strategy. We docked along the long wharf since all the slips were occupied. A kind woman from the marina drove Jim in her cute yellow Mustang to get propane, and then another kind woman drove Blair and Jim to get jugs of diesel to replace what we had burned getting here. The propane system seems to have healed itself (there was still propane left in the tank) and Blair and Jim went to work on the job list while I went to practice my French as I procured a length of steel tubing "la meme que ca) to fix the davit. Showers and laundry and a visit to the poissonerie and the market filled the rest of the afternoon.
This is a very busy working harbour with ships arriving in laden with fish, and a coast guard station just beside the marina office. It is quite an education to see the fishing industry up close. Have a look at www.strathspey.ca for Mary's excellent description and pictures.
Both boat crews dined today on delectable bouillabaisse with freshly caught fletan and mussels and crevettes, and then in the evening Jim and I hiked up the road to the auberge where we linked ourselves with the rest of the world via wifi.
The wind howled all night and we were supremely grateful to be snug in this harbour.
The forecast for today - the 12th was for strong wind again so we opted to stay put for another night, and do our exploring by car. In conversation with the boat next door, Mary gleaned the name of a local man who has a car he rents out. Jim made the call; by 0930 and for the reasonable cost of $30.00, we had a Hyundai Elantra at our disposal for the day. We drove over to Perce, with the intent of admiring the rock and visiting Ile Bonaventure - home of huge colonies of gannets, basking seals and a guide to explain the history to us. Unfortunately, it never occurred to us that high winds and reduced visibility might affect not only our travel on the water, but also that of the tour boats! The island was closed; the boats weren't running.
Never ones to just cry in our beer, we betook ourselves to a local diner for a fish lunch - much better this time - and wandered around the beach and the interpretive centre. As we lounged on a bench, gazing at the waves washing over the beautiful pebbly beach, the sky started to clear, the rock emerged from the mist, and along with it, a sailboat! We hustled down on the wharf for some picture taking and discovered that the boat was Zero Gravity - which we had seen in various places along our route, ever since we came through the Iroquois lock together. Small world!
It was a fine day of sightseeing, and as we drove home along the coast that we will - hopefully - see from the water tomorrow, we all commented that although we have been here longer than intended, it has been a very good place to do this stopover.
Tomorrow if the forecast remains good, we'll depart at 0630 for L'Anse-a-Beaufils.