17/07/2007/10:54 pm, Bouctouche, NB
We left Escuminac on schedule and had one of our best sailing days. The sky was clear and the winds were fair - and it was WARM. We were able to sail for much of the day, and then had to motor sail in order to get to Bouctouche at a reasonable time.
We are finding ourselves caught up a bit in this "schedule thing" even though we try to avoid it. If we could just alter our destination when the wind isn't taking us fast enough, it would be fine. But we have to keep moving along at some sort of reasonable pace in order to be getting down the east coast before it gets too cold. We are also getting into the neighbourhood of family and friends and we want to spend time with them.
So here we were motor-sailing along (that's the "good")and we made the turn for the 5 or 6 nautical mile channel threading trek behind the dune and into Bouctouche. (Here comes the "horrible"). I didn't go as close to one green bouy as I should have and we went aground. We have gone aground before on other cruises, and we've been told we'll do it for sure in the ICW, but I wasn't expecting it here. I could make a few excuses about the marking of the VERY narrow channel at this particular point, but the long and the short of it is that I goofed.
We tried everything we knew to get ourselves out of there - reving up the engine for a little extra push, putting up the sails to see if we could tip ourselves off, dinghying out to drop an anchor with the rode attached to the main halyard - again with the intention to tip enough to slid off the shoal. A motor boat came by and they tied on a tow rope and tried to pull us but no luck.
And so it was that we had to call again for help. This was our second stop in NB and our second request for assistance. You can picture our slumping hearts and long faces. Marcel - the local coast guard auxiliary officer was on his way back from PEI and heard our call to the marina. He radioed that he'd be with us in 49 minutes - and in exactly that many minutes he came roaring up in his big tall power boat. After a few tries (including one which cracked the teak under the fairlead on the port side) he managed to pull us free. It was no easy task because the tide had dropped since we grounded, and we were well and truly dug in.
We followed him very slowly in through the rest of the channel - much of it just barely deep enough at this time of the tide - and arrived at one of the most beautiful little marinas we have seen on this trip. Making it even better was the fact that along with the ever-loyal Mary and Blair, our daughter, Mary Beth, and our little white dog, Princess, were also on the dock waiting for us.
It was a bit of an emotional landing, but at least we were back to "good" again. It was so comforting to be able to sit with Mary Beth and talk about the day, to hear her description of her knee surgery and recovery process, and to just BE together.
Today, we stayed put in Bouctouche. Jim and I both needed some down time to recoup our energy after the past few days of difficulties. We walked the trails and enjoyed the beautiful marina building. John Nowlan, the manager has been extraordinarily helpful and kind, driving us out to the Irving Ecocentre so we could walk the boardwalk that winds its way along the dunes, helping us figure out the best departure time tomorrow, and assisting in every way he can. He is a true gem.
We really hope we manage to get back out to the Northumberland Strait without incident, and to make our way east to Cape Tormentine. It would be a treat to have a day with no challenges. There was a little rain shower tonight followed by a gorgeous rainbow. I figure that has to be a good omen. Keep your fingers crossed and stay tuned for the next installment!
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.