On Friday, October 12th, 2007, I left the Royal St. Lawrence Yachtclub in Dorval aboard the sailing vessel "Flirtation", a Hylas Yacht, to sail down the St. Lawrence for 2 weeks. I eventually stayed on board until the final destination, Nassau in the Bahamas and came back to Montreal on December 5th.
You were able to follow the journal of this trip by visiting this link regularly. I updated this site whenever I got into port with an internet connection and added some pictures. The red dots on this map indicate our stops. You were and still are able to check our current weather conditions by going to the links below.
We left the dock at 7.20 and made our way through a touch of mud towards Quebec. We managed to fix a faulty generator.The sun came out a bit and the current carried us swiftly down the St.Lawrence. Once we reached the Quebec bridge we were making close to 12 knots.
We plan to get some spare parts and then shall say good bye to Ingrid and Francine, who will head back to Montreal by bus. We shall miss them and their pampering us with food and drink.
We left Quebec at 15.00. I went my first night watch between 0-4. Lots of lights including stars but little traffic. I encountered only 4 ships during my watch. Winds up to 28 kn.
Tadoussac, Tuesday, Oct.16th
Made it into Tadoussac against strong winds (32kn) and currents. We're glad we have 75 hp. Heard gale warnings on radio and tied up at the dock in beautiful sunny but cold weather at 1020. We went grocery shopping and then for lunch. I introduced Gunter and Leonard ( also known as “Dad” because of his tender age of 90 years) to “Maudite” and “Fin du Monde” strong beer. They’re napping now…On our way back we saw a boat unloading boxes of my favorite sea urchins that they had caught diving.. We keep seeing them (2 boats) coming in and out and unloading, must be a thriving business. Coming soon to a sushi restaurant near you....
0800, beautiful sunny day, we just had breakfast and are heading for the Gaspesie. I saw a whale 200 m away. The wind is from behind and around 15 kn. The sun is heating up the cockpit. We're motoring with the foresail (genoa) set. It is smooth sailing. "Dad " fries up some pork chops with baked potato and peas for dinner along with some of his home made red wine which is excellent and takes on the 2300 to 0300 watch.
I take on the 0300 to 0700 watch and see the sun come up as we make our way past the Gaspesie coastline. I spot another whale during the day and this time the others see it too. I even caught it on video. We seem to be the only boat out there. No ships or fishing boats sighted all day. By 2200 we finally tie up at the town of Gaspe.
The Club Nautique de Gaspe is pretty well shut down and offers no more internet connection "pour l'hiver". I had to cross the bridge into the big town to find an internet cafe. The Cafe des Artistes is a truly beautiful place with all kinds of maritime themed sculptures and paintings. The country people are very friendly. One really feels the difference compared to city people where everybody has more of a tunnel vision. We'll be heading for Charlottetown after I get back to the boat.
We cast off at 12.45 and motor for 2 hours out of the bay. Since we just passed the most northerly point of our trip we're looking forward to heading South. The weather forecast predicted an easterly wind (~20 knots)which should have given us a nice beam reach. We pass Perce's Rock and I take the obligatory portrait photos, then we circle Buenaventura Island and I take video of the hundreds of thousands of birds that nest in the rocks of this nature reserve.
By early afternoon the weather and sea has calmed a bit and we can finally eat a bit. We turn more east into the Northumberland Straight and start sailing without the engine. Now the fun starts. We get a nice wind (20-30 knots)from abeam and start doing a speed of 8.5 knots. "Flirtation" sails beautifully and it never feels as good as after you get hammered by bad conditions. It starts raining and when "Dad" wakes me for the 0-4 watch we can see the lights of the Confederation Bridge which we pass under at 2.45.
We continue to sail right into Charlottetown harbour where we tie up at 9.00.
I phone Kevin who will pick me up at 15.00 tomorrow to have dinner at his home near Summerside. I'm looking forward to getting some time off and seeing him, Manon and Sasha, the new addition to the family.
I managed to get Nobeltec running again and am the hero of the day.
Gunter had already decided to take us to the Delta Hotel for dinner. He always takes us to the best places. When we got there we were in high spirits and when the food arrived we were in over drive. We had all ordered the potato crusted halibut with roasted tomatos and we expected it to be good but not that exceptional. Along with the meal we had an unorthodox bottle of red Zinfandel. We found out that Prince Edward Island is home to one of the best culinary institutes in Canada and the hotel recruits all their chefs there. For desert we had a crustless cheese cake with flambéed pineapple compot.
Charlottetown, Monday, Oct.22nd
5.30 the alarm wakes us with a carbon monoxide warning. Gunter says it's a hyper sensitive alarm that is not made for boats and will even trigger in stagnant air but we stop the shore power from charging the batteries and air out the boat. It is so warm that we can keep the port holes open.
In the morning after breakfast they all drive me back to the boat. It's Manon's turn to get a tour of the boat. We all say good bye, they give us a whole, frozen arctic char with instructions on how to cook it best and we beat out of the bay against a southerly wind, but once out in the Northumberland Strait we start sailing East reaching 9 Knots under winds of up to 45 knots. The waves are not very high though and it's an enjoyable and exciting sail. We go through the Canso Canal at about 2.30 and search for a place to tie up at Port Hawkesbury, which we finally do around 4.30.
Port Hawkesbury, Wednesday, Oct.24th
I get up around 10 and am typing my report, breakfast and then head into town. I update at a high school library at this otherwise uneventful town and we cast off at 1400 to head for Halifax.
We had little wind and strong currents and the auto-pilot was not keeping the course so I was worried we'd have to steer through the night but Gunter is familiar with the problem and turned the electricity to the auto pilot off and on so it reset and steered fine. The gentle rocking gave me my best sleep so far and then I went 4-8 watch and saw the daylight finally creep up the horizon under cloud cover at 7.30. We tied up at the RNSYS at 16.30. I'm rethinking my plans to leave because I don't want to abandon them. I've become familiar with the boat and the company has been great and I think they could really use me on their way to Bermuda and the Bahamas. I'll make some calls and check my commitments and will make up my mind tomorrow.
I decided to stay on. Gunter left for Montreal early this morning. He is letting me fly to Montreal tomorrow to wrap up things and I shall return to Halifax on Wednesday and hopefully we'll have a good weather forecast to get us to Bermuda, which could take around a week. - Leonard and I went to the Alexander Keith's brewery tour and had a great time. They conduct it in period costumes and you learn about the brewery and Alexander Keith as well as early 19th century Halifax with its strong British Empire presence.