Log #50f the Gaspe

August 28, 2010 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 50, The Logs

Northwest Arm, Grey River Fjord, Nfld

Aug. 28, 2010

Hi Folks,
We are spending a second day in this majestic fjord, giving me another chance to get caught up on my logs. Newfoundland is fantastic, rated by us as one of the best, most scenic cruising grounds of our twelve years of sailing since 1998. The mountains are not as high as the Rockies in B.C., but 1000 and 1500 foot cliffs come right down to the water level, even more spectacular than the Saguenay River fjord. All is well.

This log gets us to the end of our Quebec odyssey on the Gaspe Peninsula and the start of our passage across the Gulf of St. Lawrence over to Newfoundland.

All the best
Aubrey

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Log #50f the Gaspe

Northwest Arm, Grey River Fjord, Nfld

Aug. 28, 2010

Cap-a-l’Orignal is the peninsula sheltering Anse-a-l’Orignal and the focus of Ile du Bic Marine Park. The bay on the opposite side has the unusual name f Bay Ha Ha. We just anchored for the night in Anse-a-l’Orignal and left next morning, Aug. 7, to go the 15 miles downstream to Rimouski Marina. It is a good marina with floating docks, water and power, a good restaurant, showers and laundromat, with a shopping mall a 20 minute walk away. We met up with Fair Wind, but Ken was on his own now, single handing (literally — he has only one arm) his 30 foot ketch. We had him and the crew from Ananda, a 36 foot Nauticat motor sailor, over for the evening. The main tourist attractions we went to were the retired Canadian Navy submarine HMCS Onandaga and the Pointe- au-Pere (Father Point) Lighthouse Museum (see attached photos). We went through both, which have excellent displays.

Part of the lighthouse museum was a moving account of the sinking of the liner Empress of Ireland. This was the pride of Canadian Pacific’s White Empress Fleet, and sank just off Pointe-au- Pere on May 29, 1914, after being rammed in the fog by the Norwegian collier Storstad. The liner went down in less than 15 minutes resulting in the deaths of 1,012 passengers and crew from a total compliment of 1,477. This was the third worst marine disaster, after the sinking of the Titanic which struck an iceberg in 1912 resulting in the deaths of 1.523, and the Lusitania which was torpedoed in May of 1915 resulting in the deaths of 1,198. Pointe-au- Pere is the tidal reference station for the St. Lawrence River, and was the pilot station for all commercial ship traffic plying the St. Lawrence River until this sinking; after that the pilot station was moved to Escoumin on the north shore, its present location.

After a pleasant breakfast on the upper patio of the restaurant overlooking the marina, we left for the 45 mile run down to Matane where we anchored in the large commercial harbour for the night. I am impressed with the size of their breakwaters and large enclosed harbours. There is a yacht harbour a mile east, but it can be entered only at half tide or higher. En route we tried flying the spinnaker for the first time this year, and got it horribly tangled around the forestay. Oh well, we need more practice.

We went on next day another 50 miles to Sainte-Anne-des-Monts marina, a good full service marina, close to a couple of supermarkets for supplies. The main attraction at this marina is the Explorama Marine Museum, an extremely informative exhibition of marine life, ecology, and geography of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The grounds displayed the winning entrees of annual driftwood sculptures, from stick musicians to gnarled ancient mariners and dolphins (see attached photos). It was a good stop, economical at $1.00 a foot, and as all marinas we have visited in Quebec, it had free WiFi.

On we went next day, another 55 miles, to anchor behind the breakwater and public wharf at Grande Vallee, an area of the Gaspe noted for covered bridges introduced by the United Empire Loyalists in the 1780’s. However, we didn’t go ashore. On our way from Sainte-Anne-des-Monts we passed our furthest north position on this Gaspe hump of the St. Lawrence at 49 07.99N, 066 29.19W. It will be ESE or SE from here to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. Along this stretch from Matane to Grande Vallee are hundreds of wind turbines, including the tallest wind turbine in the world at 360 feet (110Metres), and one of an egg beater design (see attached photo). At Cap Chat between Matane and Sainte-Anne-des-Monts is Le Nordais Windmill Park with 133 turbines and tours available. In addition, the area of Mont St. Pierre just before Grande Vallee is noted for paragliding, although we didn’t see any on our way past.

Our next anchorage was at Riviere-au-Renard, another immense breakwater-protected harbour, the largest fishing port in the gulf region. There is a marina with floating docks at the inner end of the fishing boat docks, but we stayed in the outer harbour at anchor, and dinghied in for water and diesel. As this was our last stop before crossing the gulf to Newfoundland we wanted to resupply with water, diesel, and some groceries. Rather than have a fuel truck come down, the marina has a supply of 5 gallon jerry cans filled with diesel. We transferred the contents of two into our jerry cans and took a jerry can of water back to Veleda. We wandered the fishing docks, watched a few fishermen mending their nets (see attached photo), and patronized a couple of refreshment vans on the pier. Judy had a sundae, while I had the Quebec and Canadian national dish of poutine, a cholesterol-laden artery-clogging concoction of French fries, cheese curds, gravy, and, as it was poutine Italiano, had a meat sauce as well. My last meal in Quebec!

It would be a pleasant drive along this south shore of the Gaspe which we might consider some year with our trailer. All the Quebecois we met were pleasant and helpful. Judy did well with her French, and I was even understood a few times with my minimal command of our second language. I was impressed with the number of Canadian flags flying in this Quebec nationalist province. Similarly I was impressed with the good condition of their homes, parks and economy. Quebec has done well within Canada, and I hope the Quebecois continue to be part of our fortunate confederation.

Next morning, Aug. 13, we were off 246 miles across the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland.