Before Quebec we’d never heard of Saint Anne, but now we’ve been past at least two towns named for her. Anne supposedly was The Blessed Virgin Mary’s mother. Now this is a revelation that opens a world of possibilities. If we can reach sainthood based on what our kids accomplish, it’s time for Mallory and Shannon to step up their game. “Saint Doug of Tennessee” has quite a natural ring to it. Anyway, we awoke yesterday morning to a cloudless sky, almost no wind, and almost flat water. The notion of a good cruising day outweighed the need to go back through Sainte-Anne-des-Monts to take photos. So we left.
This part of the Gaspésie Peninsula is the northern terminus of the continental Appalachian Mountains, which means towering cliffs and such. Around every bend we found one small fishing village after another tucked into folds in the mountains.
Maybe the fishing villagers realize they share a mountain range with toothless moonshiners and Daisy Duke, but probably not. Or if they do, they probably don’t care. What they don’t have in common with southern Appalachia is lighthouses.
The highlight of the day was hitting our farthest point north, right there between L’Anse-Pleureuse and Manche-d’Épée, two of those tiny fishing villages.
This is dang far north, especially for people who grew up thinking Pennsylvania was dang far north. How far north? We were way closer to the Arctic Circle than to Marathon, where we left on February 15. If we set a northeast course and traveled all day every day for just one week—something Misty Pearl easily could do just with the fuel we have onboard now—we’d be in Reykjavík eating whale blubber or whatever else they eat in Iceland. Hey there’s an idea! Except we left our fleece sheets in storage. And we forgot to pick up eggs—which we now call oeufs—in Matane. And we don’t eat blubber. And Iceland isn’t really part of the Down East Circle anyway. And we’re cowards who were scared of Lake Ontario so no way we’re crossing the Sea of Labrador on a tiny boat with one engine.
So instead, we figured we’d stick with the plan and duck into Marina Ste-Madeleine-de-la-Rivière-Madeleine—the Madeleine River Marina—although the marina is smaller than the name in French. All was well as we passed the landmark lighthouse.
Our resources indicated that a private buoy at the marina entrance marked a rock to avoid. There also were references to katabatic winds that periodically sweep through the marina. Meh. We can handle that. Just as we reached the marina entrance we saw a line of markers. Yup, there’re the rocks we read about.
And then Bam! The wind—katabatic or otherwise—hit us broadside. We managed to crab-angle into the slip that the helpful French-speaking folks pointed us towards, then spent twenty minutes fighting nature’s forces while trying to wrangle a 28-ton boat close enough to the dock to tie off while Oscar complained.
But we had it easy. By a huge margin.
Since we left Quebec City we’ve been on the same schedule as Laughter, a Looper boat out of Indiana. So we’ve been with Tom and Jan for more than several days. Nice folks, and experienced boaters. They were coming in behind us. Bam! When the wind hit Laughter, it was all over. Into the rocks on the other side of the narrow channel, with water pouring in from somewhere, and down they went.
The locals were amazing in support, but this is a very small hamlet with limited resources. Plus very few people spoke English. Doug stayed on the radio with Tom, who remained remarkably calm even as water filled the main cabin. Jan packed what she could. It took several hours for the fire department RIB—which was brand new and unused to that point—to arrive and get them and Peanut the Cockapoo off the boat and back to shore.
Later the Fisheries and Oceans folks arrived and put containment floats out because of leaking diesel. They also were kind enough to retrieve all the bags Jan had packed but wouldn’t fit in the RIB. We welcomed them aboard Misty Pearl for the night. Oscar shared his supper with Peanut.
Despite all of the excitement, we still found this little corner of Ste-Madeleine-de-la-Rivière-Madeleine to be charming.
The only real restaurant around was small and booked, but made room and welcomed us anyway.
Tom and Jan decided to travel to the closest airport by car rather than stay with us to Gaspé and there wasn’t anything more for us to do before they left, so this morning we headed onward. Destination, Fox River.
Mostly today was more rugged terrain dotted with fishing villages. Every single one of them is dominated visually by a church. As we’ve noted before, if the relative size and frequency of churches is a sign of piety, these folks have it in spades. If the number of lighthouses is a sign of not wanting to be dashed to pieces, this bunch not only is pious to a fault, but damn safety-conscious as well.
Since the major industry up here is fishing, not surprisingly we see a lot of fishing boats. Rivière-au-Renard is yet another tiny fishing village with a photo-worthy church. Supposedly the first settlers were Irish survivors who washed up on shore after a shipwreck or something.
Also since Quebec City, a sailboat named Interlude—crewed by a nice couple from Ontario—has been pulling in behind us at most of our various stops. They’re the ones who snaked our plum face dock in Tadoussac, but we like them anyway.
Today they were ahead of us entering the approach to Club Nautique Forillon, and then unwittingly participated in a nonsensical docking that first had us stern into a slip with finger piers that seemed shorter than the absurdly short ones that we suffered in Key Largo and dodged in Matane. But it all worked out.
Yup, this is another fishing village.
We’re now tired but tied up.
We’ve cruised fairly hard every day since leaving Quebec City, because we hate the thought of wasting decent to great weather what with the icebergs just a few weeks away from closing in on us. At least tonight we have shore power. People don’t realize what a hardship it is when one must choose between running the generator or inverter on one hand, or doing without microwave popcorn on the other. But it’s the life we chose so although we can’t really gripe at least one of us does anyway.
Tomorrow we’ve reserved literally the last spot in Gaspé. It’s the Construction Holiday here in Quebec and places are jamming up. But we’re in, and plan to stay there a few days to restore our energy. We’ll just have to gamble that we still can beat the winter freeze.