Log #50d Montreal to Quebec City

August 11, 2010 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 50, The Logs

Log #50d Montreal to Quebec City

Grand Vallee, PQ
Aug. 11, 2010

Shortly after we arrived in Longeueil, a south shore suburb of Montreal, we helped Fair Winds alongside the fuel dock.  After finishing refuelling we motored over to our assigned slip, after arranging for Ken to come over to look at our dysfunctional Max Sea computer charting program. After a few beers and a couple of hours of detailed working on our new Hewlet Packard, and our older Dell, laptops we had everything working as well as possible. We now have our old Dell laptop with Windows XP fully operational with Max Sea displaying all the detailed charts of the world, and talking to our Garmin 18 GPS receiver showing our location and tracking our routes and positions. The virtual Windows XP on our new HP laptop displays, now, all the detailed charts of the world, but the virtual program does not access the USB ports to talk to our Garmin 18 GPS receiver. Oh well, as long as our older Dell does not acquire another virus and keeps working, we are now fully operational to sail to anyplace in the world! Thanks Ken!

The marina was expensive at $2.00 a foot plus 15% tax for a nightly charge of over $70.00. This included power and water, but not showers. However it was close to town with a good Metro grocery store and a wide range of good restaurants. We enjoyed a great meal at Chez Parra, puréed leek and potato soup, leg of lamb, and a fantastic dessert of chocolate mousse, with a good red wine. Mmmm! We had almost forgotten how good French (Quebec) cooking was. We delight in the good foods available and stocked up on cheeses, pates, good breads, and wines.

On we went next day, July 29, getting a good boost from the river current. The tides start to influence the river below Montreal, and to maximize the effect it is best to leave a port just at high water, so any tidal ebb will enhance the downstream current. We could motor and motor sail downstream at 7 or 8 knots using minimal engine revolutions. We covered 40 miles in five hours for an average speed of 8 knots to anchor in a side channel among the Sorel Islands (46 04.93N, 073 01.73W), a pleasant group of islands dotted with modest cottages. The next day we were even faster, but must pay more attention as the tide influences the water level, as we found out when we anchored in the mouth of the Batiscan River (46 31.73, 072 14.71W).  We anchored off the marina docks in what should have been 8 feet of water, but I suspect we swung back and over into a 5 foot patch. We were watching a movie on the laptop, and when I got up to get a drink at 2000, the boat was heeled over on a 15 degree angle. We were solidly aground! I didn’t feel too stupid.

The next high would not be until 0700 next day, but we should have enough water by 0500 to float us off. So, before sunrise we were up and weighed anchor at 0520, clearing the channel at about half tide. We did see a beautiful sunrise on our way back into the river, and I took several pictures of its vermillion streaked ascent above the eastern horizon. A gorgeous start for the day!

And a fast day it was. We clocked over 12 knots for prolonged periods of time as we passed the Richelieu Rapids with our next stop the Quebec Yacht Club, with which THSC has reciprocal privileges. That meant our first night was free, but we stayed two days as we wanted to meet up with Guy Guimonde, a former THSC member who now is in Quebec and a member of the Quebec Yacht Club. It was an excellent facility with swimming pool, landscaped picnic and barbeque areas, restaurant, showers, Laundromat, and water and electricity on the floating docks. Peter Johnson on the next door boat took us to a large shopping mall where we resupplied.

Unfortunately we did not see Guy and left the second day to go to the three miles to Quebec City Marina just downstream from the Chateau Frontenac, and the heights leading up to the Plains of Abraham. This is the site of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in which Wolfe scaled the heights and defeated Montcalm, thus sealing the fate of France in Canada. Ironically, it was not this battle which caused France to cede all its North American possessions (except  the small islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon in the Gulf of St. Lawrence), as many territories of France and England had been ceded, bargained and negotiated back and forth after various conquests for many years of their ongoing warfare. It was the final settlement of the Seven Years War, in the 1763 Treaty of Paris, in which France agreed to relinquish her claims to Quebec and Acadia (Port Royal in Cape Breton Island, parts of Nova Scotia, and what is now New Brunswick) in what was to become Canada for her preferred claims, for the then lucrative sugar trade, on Guadeloupe, Martinique, and other Caribbean Islands, which are still part of France.

To enter this marina, we had to go through a lock, which is left open at high tide, but has to be carefully controlled at other times. The marina was expensive at $2.00 plus tax a foot, but it had good facilities, including free WiFi, which we found common in all the Quebec marinas. The people on a nearby francophone boat took us to a good chandlery for a couple of boat hooks and a new VHF radio. From the marina we were able to walk to a naval museum and into the intriguing European streets of old Quebec, and take the funicular up to the Lord Dufferin Boardwalk beneath the towers of the Chateau Frontenac. We immersed ourselves in Quebec history at the Musee de la Fort (very good), the Quebec Experience (marginal), a board walk and a wall walk at one of the gates near the National Assembly parliament.

On downstream next day we had a good current with us to do 72 miles in 10 hours, some of it sailing without the engine on. As we pass each town we see the spires of the local churches, picturesque in the settings of the white, neatly kept homes with the lush greenery of the Laurentian Mountains and valleys in the background. At one time these spires were used by ships to identify their progress up the river. The number, size and magnificence of these churches testify to the strong influence the Roman Catholic Church had on the early development of Quebec society, an influence which has waned dramatically over the past 50 years as Quebec evolved into a more secular society.

There are few anchorages along the St. Lawrence, as the shorelines are shallow and dry at low tides. We have to plan our stop each day to avoid being caught a long distance between anchorages or marinas before sunset. Today our destination was the marina at Cap A L’Aigle, but we were concerned that they might not have room and we would be turned away as we were at Tadoussac. When we called them up, they could accommodate us, but as we entered we realized we would have to raft off another boat as all the slips were full. No problem as the other boaters helped us, in this small, cramped marina, to go alongside Adagio, a Montreal based sloop. The price was less, being only $1.00 a foot, half that in Montreal and Quebec City. It was a good marina out in the middle of nowhere, as we were getting into the more sparsely populated areas of the St. Lawrence. It had good facilities, including showers, a laundromat and free WiFi. We awoke early in the morning to relocate as the boat astern of us had to leave. No problem, as we did a cold move (no engine used) to another dock, assisted by other boaters.

We were ready to shove off, but we were enveloped in our first thick fog of the journey, and debated whether to set off in it or not.