Cones suck, but French-Canadians are awesome

Yesterday was gray and dingy and gloomy, so we’ll start with a dash of color.  One of our favorite activities is sitting on the bow watching sunsets.  Unless it’s cold.  Or hot.  Or rainy.  Or bugs are about.  The night before, however, we got a good one.

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The forecast included a “squall watch” and rain, but not until late afternoon.  At about 8:00, our weather apps predicted a zero chance of rain in the morning.  We’ll take zero chance of rain every time.  We figured to be safely docked at Trois-Rivières—Three Rivers but not the one where the Pirates played—long before the storms hit.   We set up the flybridge for the five-hour trip without a care.

Ten minutes after leaving, the downpour hit.

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We still could see the stinking marina off our stern.  We immediately checked the same apps, which unhelpfully now reported a 100% chance of rain.  Duh.  Someone somewhere is really bad at the weather thing and should be sent back to working the McDonalds’ drive-through rather than pretending to be a meteorologist.  But the marina in Saint-Ours was pretty tricky and we didn’t want to go back so we settled in—in the sealed pilothouse this time—for a day in the rain.

The Saint Lawrence is another of those confounding rivers that goes the wrong way. Everyone knows that north is up and south is down and water flows down and every river in the world joins the Mississippi and ends up flooding New Orleans. Yet somehow the Saint Lawrence defies the laws of hydrodynamics.  It starts in Lake Ontario and empties in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence somewhere near Newfoundland.  Go figure.

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We cruised up the river from the source last year, and the Down East Circle will take us out to the Atlantic this year.  We thought maybe there’d be a good photo opportunity when we dead-ended into it yesterday.  Nope.  But just past the big ships is where we turned right.

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Last year we commented on Saint Lawrence (the person) so we’ll skip that this time.  The important point here is that Jacques Cartier explored Saint Lawrence (the river) on behalf of France, which explains why we can’t read the breakfast menu.  Based on our first day on it, we reasonably might deduce that the Saint Lawrence is gray, with fast current, and has some of the more unattractive lighthouses we’ve seen so far.

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However, we also were pretty confident that yesterday was an outlier and in the sunlight things would look much better.   Anyway, we made it to Three Rivers.

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Given the whole language problem, we’ve come to like the pictograms that not even fools like us can misinterpret.  For example, even though we found one we’ve not seen at any of the 150 or so marinas so far, we immediately understood to watch out for people who might be trying to step out of water puddles.

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For two of us, the day improved tremendously when we met Gold Loopers Maurice and Renée, who live aboard Le Marie-Sophie.  They both are local to this marina since the 1960s.  For nine years, however, they wintered in Gold Canyon and explored much of the Arizona we love.

The other one of us didn’t really care about meeting Gold Loopers, yet his day was best of all.  Last week Oscar managed to get an eye infection so he’s been a bit cranky.  

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When we docked we removed the Cone of Shame.  He didn’t even mind walking in the rain.

But that all was yesterday.  Today was glorious.  The sun was out, which made everything better.  Maurice and Renée drove us around town before taking us to their favorite breakfast place, where we weren’t embarrassed at all but may have embarrassed them with our weak attempts at French.  They were great.  Lots of good tips about our upcoming route.  Many funny stories.  They confirmed that the railroad bridge that scared the crap out of us is well known as being incredibly dangerous.  Taught us some words.  Unbelievable.  Turns out they’re sort of royalty, since Maurice’s father and ancestors ran the government side of things here while Renée‘s ancestors ran the merchant side of things.  Just great people to hang around.

But Maurice and Renée weren’t done.  Maurice grabbed two of his buddies to help raise our mast.  That was huge, because we couldn’t figure out how we could do it without speaking the language.  Knock, knock.  It was Maurice again.  He knew we needed a spare water pump, so he called a marine supply store in Quebec City and arranged for us to pick it up when we arrive.  All while insisting that he was doing it for himself, not for us.  Unbelievable.

Knock, knock.  This time, a different Maurice.  This Maurice heard we were heading around Nova Scotia and worried that we didn’t have fender boards.  So he drove Doug to the local equivalent of a Home Depot to get boards, then to two other places in search of the right lines, then to his home to trim the boards.  Unbelievable.

Back at the dock, the Maurices drilled holes.  Then Renée spent two hours patiently splicing lines.  Unbelievable.  Several of their friends stopped by to sit and chat.  We couldn’t understand anything, although we laughed along when it seemed appropriate but probably wasn’t.

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Because the day was so unbelievable, we did a piss-poor job of taking pictures to show it.  But we did wave to Le Marie-Sophie when she headed back to her mooring ball.

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We’ve added Maurice and Renée to the short list of the most incredible people we’ve met while underway.  And mostly because of all the wonderful people, we’ve added Trois-Rivières to the short list of our favorite places.

Bon soir nos amis.

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