Work like a Captain, Play like a Pirate!

Now that we’re in the Maritime provinces, everyone’s flying a flag we’ve not seen before.  More of these around than the Maple Leaf.  Seems like every boat except ours sports at least one.  It’s in the local art as well.

Essentially it’s the French flag with a yellow star symbolizing Mary, patron of Acadians.  The Acadians around here are rather proud to be French and not English.  Embarrassingly, what little we knew about Acadian history came from The Band, in the Canadian equivalent of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”  We can sing “Acadian Driftwood,” but never really considered the significance.

For example, until we stood on the Plains of Abraham and learned about the English routing the French so that Canadians could put Queen Elizabeth on their money and build her a house in La Citadelle, it was a just a meaningless reference in the song.  Now we know that the English destroyed the Acadian French colonies and a bunch of the people moved in a roundabout way down to Louisiana—among other places—because it was French and then they became Cajuns and started sounding like Ed Orgeron and developed recipes for delicious crawfish etouffee.   (On a barely related note, Cajun tow boat operators plying the lower U.S. rivers are completely unintelligible on the VHF radio.)

img_8700The flag also is on at least one local leg.

Two things:  Yes, Doug asked for permission to photograph the dude’s tattoos, and No, Dana can’t have one.  But if anyone asks, Pinokkio has great food.

Shippagan is another of these fishing villages without much tourist traffic.  So there isn’t much going on.  Because of the rain, however, we took what AT through-hikers call a “zero day.”  We did laundry and worked on productive stuff (Dana), walked  into town for back-up oil and filters and piddled around (Doug), and unapologetically long-napped (Oscar).  That was okay though, because the trip to Bouctouche promised to be grueling.

Thanks to the Atlantic time zone and the need for an early departure, we snagged our first sunrise in a while, which hardly compensated for the latter but at least it was something.

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New Brunswick is the only province with both French and English as official languages.  Couldn’t tell that from our experience so far because it seems pretty dang French, although we’ve learned to handle the language differences quite passably.  The bridge guy knew just enough to say “few minutes” when we asked for the necessary bridge opening, which was just enough for us because we needed the bridge to open.

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B4BEE392-48B5-467B-87A9-13458256B39FThen out the Shippagan Gully, with “gully” being what they call channels around here.  As anticipated, the trip to Bouctouche was long.  And by “long” we mean damn long.  Long like Atlantic City to Great Kills.  Like Little River Diversion to Paducah.  Like Demopolis to Bobby’s Fish Camp.  Stinking long.  Unlike those days, however, this was almost all on huge water with no land in sight and nobody around to help in the unlikely event one of us sank the boat.  So like half of The Crossing done alone kind of long.

Starting out we hit some pretty rough patches.  And it was cold.  Halfway to Bouctouche we started hearing the Coast Guard announce “navigational warnings” involving the Northumberland Strait.  “For details go to channel 83 Bravo.”  Crap, the U.S. Coast Guard doesn’t use the B channels so we never figured out how to find them on either of our radios.  And we don’t have internet out here to help us figure it out.  And we’re heading into the teeth of the Northumberland Strait despite the ominous notion of an unknown warning about our destination.

img_8705But then the low clouds lifted.  The sun popped out.  The water smoothed down.  We went up to the flybridge.  Cranked some Possum tunes.  Hey now, we might just make it.  We even got enough smattering of cell service to figure out the radio and tune in to the Coast Guard warnings.  Turns out it wasn’t an early hurricane or 10-meter boat-sinking waves.  A red channel marker at Cape Breton was out of place, which didn’t affect us because we weren’t going to Cape Breton today and they got it back in place anyway.  The damn long day turned out to be about as easy as we could’ve hoped.

Actually the only harrowing stretch was about a thousand yards from the Sawmill Point Marina, mostly because we hit it at low tide.  We had about five inches under the keel in a gully barely wider than Misty Pearl and certain grounding on either side.  But we made it.

Because we got here late and plan to hit Prince Edward Island tomorrow, Bouctouche basically is just a rest stop for the night.  Which really sucks, because it turns out there’s a lot to see and do here.  In fact, we might drive back over in a day or two.  We did get to admire the awesome marina lounge, however.  And on our walk into town for dinner we happened upon what basically was a French bluegrass band playing Acadian music, which was extra cool.

Tomorrow morning we’re out of here shortly after high tide, so no worries there.  We’re bummed to be leaving right away but we literally found the last rental car on PEI and can’t afford to give it up.

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