Sunday, August 7, 2022

Crossing the 49th

We are underway eastbound in the St. Lawrence River/Gulf. We have three footers on the port quarter in winds of 15-20 knots, which is still more comfortable than the 20-25 knots to which we awoke in this morning's anchorage. We decided we'd be better off under way with the stabilizers working, even though it's a long day under way with a projected 5:30pm arrival.

Church of Sainte Anne des Monts, right on the waterfront.

We seem to be playing leap-frog (or "saute-moutons") with several Quebecois boats along this route; stops are few and far between and we all end up in the same harbors. At one point a trawler with a very similar speed to ours overtook us slowly about a quarter mile distant. He called on the radio because, apparently the constant "hunting" our autopilot was doing in the following current kept setting off his AIS collision alarm. Between my broken French and his broken English I was able to assure him were were going mostly straight, and we were bound for the same harbor.

In the middle of the afternoon we passed Cap Chat and its lighthouse. This is where the Canadians consider the Gulf to begin (along with Pointe-des-Monts on the north shore). I was surprised to see the light shining through a working Fresnel lens. In the hills above is a very large windfarm comprising mostly conventional turbines, but also sporting the world's tallest vertical wind turbine, looking something like a giant eggbeater. It was not turning when we passed as it is now decommissioned.

Cap Chat (Cat Cape) lighthouse, below the hilltop, and the tallest vertical wind turbine in the world.

Around 4pm we arrived to Sainte-Anne-des-Monts. Rather than turn into the small craft harbor, we proceeded east of the commercial wharf to try our hand at anchoring; there was much less swell here than at Matane, so we set the hook as close to the wharf as we could come (map). I needed to leave space for any fishing vessels that might arrive, but more importantly, the wharf was lined from one end to the other with people fishing, and they were casting their lines a good hundred feet or more. We had to drive around the end of the L-shaped wharf in a wide arc to avoid tangling them.

Once we were settled and convinced we'd be comfortable at anchor, we splashed the tender and headed to the harbor to get ashore. Again I had to swing wide and well clear of the wharf, now shoulder-to-shoulder with fishers. It appears the wharf is disused commercially; the surface was a giant parking lot for folks fishing or, later, viewing the sunset.

Vector at anchor off the commercial wharf in Sainte Anne des Monts.

We tied up in an out-of-the-way spot on the docks, which are secured by locked gates, and made our way to the office to pay for dinghy landing. No fee for that was listed on the web site -- literally no one anchors here -- so we were prepared to pay the $2/ft dockage for our 10' tender. I did my best to explain in French that we had too much draft and displacement for the docks (which appeared to be full anyway) and we were at anchor; once they understood we just wanted to tie up the dinghy they basically waved us through. They told us they locked the gate at 8pm, so that was our deadline.

We walked west along the waterfront to Pub Chez Bass for dinner on the patio. It was in full sun, but low in the sky and actually pleasant with temps in the high 60s. I mustered enough French to order for both of us and we enjoyed a nice meal with some local draft beers. Afterward we walked to the very nice Metro grocery store just behind the church for some provisions, and I stopped at the Irving gas station with my 2-gallon can for tender fuel. The dispenser wanted to sell me either $10 or $20 worth, so I came away with just five liters, which should tide us over for a while.

Sunset over hundreds of people fishing or sunset-gazing, and their cars.

We made it back to the dock with ten minutes to spare, where the dockmaster let us in and then promptly left for the day. We enjoyed a nice sunset on deck, over the heads of everyone fishing and the Gaspesie tourists out for the sunset. In the morning we weighed anchor with the tide.

Yesterday the lowlands and gently rising hills we had been seeing earlier gave way to a steep escarpment punctuated by peaks and the occasional creek valley. The main highway clings to the foot of the cliff on artificial footings, and no longer are the towns regularly spaced, but instead only found where the valleys descend to coves along the shore and create a small fan of lowlands.

Very different coastline along this stretch.

One such cove holds the village of Mont-Saint-Pierre, adjacent to the eponymous mountain which towers some 1,350' above the river. As we passed we spotted three paragliders leave from the mountaintop one after another, circling the valley and landing on the broad beach at the middle of the cove. Too far for a photo, really, but we enjoyed watching the process through our binoculars. We gather that is a tourist activity here along the very popular tourist route around the Gaspé peninsula.

Harbors being few and far between here, yesterday had to be a short day, whereas today will be a long one. It was just 1pm when we arrived to the harbor of Mont-Louis, which is protected at both ends by breakwalls. We found a calm spot behind the east breakwall and dropped the hook (map), providing the campers in the adjacent RV park something to watch.

Mont Saint Pierre, left and its eponymous village. If you zoom all the way in you might see the paragliders near center frame.

The only dock is a mile across the harbor at the west end, and it, in turn, is a mile walk from even the closest restaurant. Between the distance, the language struggle, and it being Saturday night in tourist season, we opted to remain aboard for the evening. It was a beautiful afternoon, with the anchorage becoming glass calm, and live music (of our era, in English) wafting in from some unseen venue ashore. That changed by bed time, as winds out of the south were starting to pick up, as forecast.

In the middle of the night it was blowing so hard that Louise went on deck to turn the anchor day shape over (it imparts less load on the jack staff when it's inverted), and when she came in she reported the outside temperature was 80°. It had been in the 60s in the evening and again this morning; I think the south wind brought with it a slug of warm air that had been sitting over the valley.

Mont-Louis from our anchorage, in calmer seas. Restaurants at left, dock off-frame to the right, church, as usual, center.

The wind built steadily all night, shifting from southerly to westerly mid-blow, and this morning the east end of the harbor was a mess. We briefly contemplated moving to the west end of the harbor and waiting it out, but we'd have to hunt around for holding, it would still be pretty rough, and we'd not likely be able to get ashore. The docks were full -- one of those boats we've been leapfrogging got the last spot and was settled in. Instead we decided to press on and let the stabilizers do their job, although they are struggling.

As I wrap up typing we are now actually heading a bit south of east. We've already passed the northernmost part of our journey and the farthest north that Vector has ever been, at 49° 15.82'N, surpassing our previous record north of Palmers Point, Sugar Island in the Sault Ste. Marie area (46° 32.22'N) back in 2019. We're also farther east than we have ever been, with our previous record at South Caicos Island in the Turks & Caicos, but we have quite a bit more easting yet to do.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Gaspé Peninsula

We are under way downbound in the St. Lawrence River. Or maybe it's the Gulf of St. Lawrence; I'm not really sure what is considered the dividing line or the mouth of the river, which has been widening like a funnel since we left the Saguenay. The IHO says it is still ahead of us, while Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it is behind us.

After last I posted here, on a relatively calm Saguenay, the winds picked up throughout the afternoon, with the river getting progressively choppier. By the time we reached our chosen anchorage at l'Anse de Roche, it was blowing 25 knots, gusting higher, and there were two foot seas and whitecaps, owing to a dozen miles of fetch to the west. Nevertheless, we wrestled Vector into position and set the hook, in the hopes things would improve by dinner time.

Minke whale surfacing in Tadoussac Bay. We saw his face and underbelly, too, but I was not fast enough on the draw

We did not stay long. Both the wind and the current were trying to drive us to a rocky lee shore, and even though it was less than a quarter mile to the harbor, we could see that there was no way we were going to get the dinghy down and into the harbor safely in these conditions. When the wind continued to build, rather than abate per the forecast, we weighed anchor and continued on.

We could simply have driven a mile across the river to the more protected l'Anse de Saint-Étienne, but we were looking forward to dinner ashore, and so instead we just continued another hour and a half downriver to Tadoussac, dropping the hook in 30 knot winds just a hundred feet or so from where we started our Saguenay cruise (map). By this time it was almost dinner time, and we splashed the tender and bashed our way ashore to the Pick Up Grillé for dinner. A soft-serve from Pause Bonbons and a stroll through the grounds of the Marine Mammal Center rounded out the evening.

Louise poses with one of the beluga sculptures in front of the marine mammal center.

We had plans to weigh anchor on the turn of the tide in the morning, and we awoke to a calm harbor. But as we were enjoying our coffee, we found ourselves between at least two minke whales who were feeding in the harbor. What a treat! We sat on the aft deck enjoying their company for perhaps a half hour or so; at one point one surfaced just 20' or so from where we stood.

Once both whales had moved well beyond the 200 meters of mandatory distance, we started the engine and weighed anchor. We were well into the ebb by now and went whizzing out of the river at over ten knots, making turns for just six. We passed buoys making enormous wakes on our way to the main channel. Where the confluence of currents causes an upwelling, we encountered a large group of seals feeding. I could not tell if there were whales among them, so I took it out of gear until we were well past the area.

Here he is just 20' or so away. The paddleboarder had a great morning.

Immediately thereafter we joined the main channel, and our speed dropped in short order to just over six knots. It would again build slowly throughout the rest of the day. The hydrology of this region is incredibly complex. We settled in for a relaxed cruise in glass calm conditions, angling across the river to the town of Rimouski, where we thought we might get ashore. Along the way we were overtaken by the tug Ocean Aqua, whom we had passed upriver on the Saguenay, pulling the same two barges, now empty.

A mid-day check of the forecast suggested that the anchorage off Rimouski might not be a good choice, with forecast heavy SW wind and possibly choppy seas, and so instead we opted to make it a short day and set our sights on a very protected anchorage in another provincial park, the Parc national du Bic. The park brochure indicated that a part of the cove we were eyeing was environmentally sensitive and off-limits to navigation, so we drew a line on our chart to keep to the rules.

The wake being made by this stationary buoy speaks to the nearly five knots of current.

We had the hook down by 2:45 in l'Anse Orignal (map), dropping just outside the restricted zone. When we arrived there were already four sailboats in the cove, and by nightfall that number had climbed to 11, every one of which was inside the purported restricted area. I suppose the Quebecois knew there was no enforcement. It was a lovely and picturesque cove (which, nevertheless, my phone could not capture), and we had a nice dinner aboard.

Either the forecast heavy winds never materialized, or else the hilly terrain of the cove shielded us entirely, but we had a very calm night with only some light winds. We awoke to light fog and drizzle, and so we weighed anchor after our first cup of coffee and got under way.

Another speedy buoy. In the distance is the Prince Shoal light, nicknamed "the Top," with an interesting history.

As we passed Rimouski we saw a search and rescue boat making its way out of the harbor to tow in a sailboat that, we assume, had engine trouble. Shortly afterward we came upon a sailing race, and I had to steer around the back of the pack. Cold, rainy, foggy, and very light wind seems to me like an unenjoyable day for a sail, but there were at least a dozen boats out with crews bundled up in their foulies. On shore I could see the submarine Onondaga at the maritime history museum.

Starting from the park rather than Rimouski made for a long day to the next stop, the commercial harbor at Matane. Matane also has a pleasure craft marina, which is in a basin a short ways up a river, but neither the basin nor the river has enough depth for us at low tide. We were hoping for a spot at the fishboat dock in the harbor, where one can tie up overnight for $35, but there was only perhaps 25' of dock left when we arrived.

These seals surfaced right in front of us.

We heard it was also possible to anchor in the harbor, and so I called the harbormaster's office for permission. I was prepared with enough French to ask for what we wanted, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not understand the answers. My request for him to speak more slowly and simply did not improve things, and after a few minutes of trying, we gave up.

At this point I was sorry I had called. There is an old saw about it sometimes being easier to ask forgiveness than permission; had we just anchored, we likely would have been undisturbed for the night. Having asked, I had to admit the possibility that what he tried to tell me was "no you can not" (even though "no" was not ever one of the words he used).

About half of the ships at anchor on our way to Parc du Bic. River is flat calm.

Instead we fell back on Plan B, which was to pull outside the harbor and drop the hook east of the east breakwall (map), where we would have protection from southwesterly wind and waves. Admittedly the view was also better here, where we could see the beach and some of the town and not just port infrastructure and fish plants. I'm sorry that, while we were inside the port, I did not snap a photo of the enormous railroad ferry that takes train cars across the river, a piece of infrastructure we no longer have in the US.

It was a comfortable and pleasant spot for a few hours, and after I grilled a steak we had dinner on the aft deck for the first time in quite a while. After dinner our entertainment was watching the behemoth passenger and vehicle ferry F. A. Gauthier pull into the harbor, spin around, and back into her berth after crossing from Baie Comeau.

By the time the ferry was finished tying up, we had swung around to parallel the shore, and a swell was curling around the end of the breakwaters that rolled us the rest of the evening and all night long. We were still rolling this morning when we got up, and so we weighed anchor after our first coffee and got back under way. Today should be a somewhat shorter day, ending at Saint-Anne-des-Monts, where there is a small craft harbor. It's unclear whether we'll fit in the harbor or if we will again have to anchor east of the breakwall; I am hoping the hydrology of this part of the river does not impart the sort of swell we had last night.

The Matane ferry terminal as seen from outside the harbor. I'm sorry I missed capturing the ferry, too.

Since departing Parc du Bic, we've been running about a mile or so off the south shore of the river. Every few miles there is a town in the lowlands along the shoreline, always with a large church and steeple. Most of the towns have no dock or harbor of their own. Rising into the hills behind the towns have been large swaths of agriculture -- cultivated fields accompanied by barns and silos. Periodically a wind farm comprising a dozen or so turbines appears, harvesting the incessant SW wind.

I understand the scenery is much more striking along the north shore. A boat about a week ahead of us made some stops there and it is quite beautiful, so we considered going that route, and possibly making a stop at Anticosti Island on our way back to this shore. But it adds a full day or more to the transit, and another $150 or so in fuel. More importantly, it puts us two full open-water crossings away from Gaspé, opening the possibility that we will have to hunker down for weather for an unknown number of days.

That can happen here, too, but with prevailing southwesterlies and the protection of the shoreline it is less likely to waylay us. In the end, we decided that the additional scenery (and bragging rights) did not justify the extra miles, time, or risk, and we are instead following the south shore the entire length of the Gaspé Peninsula. We will hit our northernmost point within the next couple of days.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Pining for the fjords

We are under way downbound on the Saguenay River, or, more appropriately, fjord. Today is our third day on the fjord, and it is stunningly beautiful here. Today it's raining gently and there is a mist in the hills, for a different sort of beauty than we had our first two days.

Downbound on the Saguenay fjord, with the mist creeping in from the hills.

After my last post Saturday we enjoyed a fair tide most of the way to the Saguenay, where the extensive maze of shoals and the mixing currents of the two rivers make for a difficult-to-predict current. As we navigated the bar our speed dropped rapidly, from over seven knots all the way down to less than half that. As planned we arrived at the turn of the tide, and after completing our wide sweeping turn to port the tide was again with us the rest of the way to the harbor.

We had the anchor down in Tadoussac Bay (map) by 3pm, dropping in 85' of water with 210' of chain. Our windlass is certainly getting a workout here in the fjord. We had good holding, and after a bit of relaxation aboard, we dropped the tender and headed ashore for dinner.

Vector at anchor in Tadoussac Bay. The other boats you see are on moorings, and are actually much closer to shore than we are

The seawater temperature had dropped to 43°F as we made our turn into the river, from 70°F when we left Isle-aux-Coudres in the morning. That gave us some concerns about whether we'd be able to run the reverse-cycle heat, as the air temperature had also dropped into the 50s. Fortunately, by the time we made Tadoussac the water had warmed up to 50° and the air was in the 70s. Still, that water is deadly cold, and we wore our life jackets for deck operations and in the tender.

The cafe served drafts from the local microbrewery, which we passed on our way up the hill.

We tied up at the local marina for a $10cdn landing fee and strolled through town. This is a tourist destination, centered around the whale-watching business, with a resort hotel in the middle of town, a marine mammal center, and several shops and eateries. We ended up at a nice outside table at Café Bohème. Afterward we walked a few doors down to the épicerie to pick up some fresh veggies and a few other provisions.

We had a very calm and quiet night, the only boat on anchor. In the morning as we sipped our coffee we were treated to a pod of belugas feeding across the river. Too far for a photo, but we watched them quite a while through our glasses. Afterward we spent some time taking the online course and getting our boating certificates from the park, wherein we learned quite a bit about the several species of whales that frequent here, and the extensive regulations in place to protect them.

Starting our upbound journey into the fjord.

The tidal current here is difficult to forecast, but with the best information we had, we weighed anchor at 11:30 for the trip upriver to Baie-Éternité, which we had heard is perhaps the most beautiful spot in the entire park. And by park, I mean at the same time the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park, which comprises the water and is administered by Parks Canada, and the Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay, which is a provincial park that comprises the land. The Quebecois call their provincial parks "parcs national" because, well, Quebec.

It is a remote and inaccessible landscape, and the aids to navigation are maintained by helicopter. You can see the helipad to the left of the light tower.

We learned in our online course that the Baie-Sainte-Marguerite was a breeding/calfing/nursing ground for the belugas, the only species that spends the entire year here. The bay is off-limits to boats, and in the river it is required to keep moving past the entrance a a speed of five to ten knots. We did see dozens of belugas there, including some calves, and at one point a pod surfaced less than 400 meters from us, necessitating a course correction to proceed directly away from them and open the gap.

As we passed Anse St-Jean, whose marina is the upriver turnaround for many cruising boats, we were approached by a park ranger patrol boat. We had heard about this ahead of time; they visit every arriving pleasure boat to educate them about the rules. They seemed quite pleased that we had already taken the online class, so they just took some information and handed us a map of the Marine Park showing the various restrictions.

Reminiscent of Yosemite Valley, our view up the Éternité Valley from the bay. The campground is a mile in and 300' up.

We had a very enjoyable cruise through the fjord, in depths that, at times, exceeded 850', according to the chart (our sounder only works to about 350'). The fjord itself is much deeper, thousands of feet, but millions of years of erosion have filled in the vee with rock and sediment. At Cap Éternité, which is across the river from Cap Liberté, Cap Egalité, and Cap Fraternité (I'm sure there's a motto of a fraternal order in there), we turned to port and entered  Baie-Éternité.


The cliffs dominate the view from our aft deck If you zoom in you can see the cable bridge of the Via Ferrata to the right of our flag.

It is just as beautiful as we had heard, and after hunting around a bit, we found a spot in 110' of water to drop the anchor (map) on 250' of chain. There used to be a few mooring balls here for boat-in visitors, but they fell into disrepair and the park removed them. We had the entire bay almost to ourselves, with one sailboat a half mile from us anchored on a 20' ledge that seemed, to our eye, perilously close to the rocks.

We had a lovely dinner on the aft deck just completely immersed in the experience. In the evening we could faintly smell the campfires from the campground a mile distant, but all we could hear was the sound of an unseen brook emptying into the bay. It was so dark that the sky was filled with stars. I could see satellites whizzing by overhead, four Jovian moons, Mars, and one of the best views of the milky way I have ever experienced.

Passing the statue of Mary as we head upriver.

There is a small dock to get ashore here, with access to a small "discovery center" and numerous trails. Most climb hundreds of meters to lookout points, and one leads to the Statue of Notre-Dame-du-Saguenay, perched some 590' above the river on Cap Trinité since 1881. Had we time to spend a second night I might have gone ashore, but with no time for any hikes we opted to forego the $9.25 park entrance fee and just enjoyed the scenery from on board. Our night in Baie-Éternité ranks as one of the most beautiful in our decade of cruising.

This diminutive tug pulling two wood chip barges upriver passed Baie Éternité just as we left, and we passed him here, further upriver.

While many of the small handful of cruising boats that come this far turn around at this point, we opted to see the entire length of the park by continuing upriver, and so yesterday morning we weighed anchor with the tide and continued upriver to the enormous fork in the fjord at Cap a l'Ouest, where we stayed to the left to enter Baie des Ha! Ha! (Ha! Ha! Bay -- really). At the head of the bay is the La Baie district of Saguenay and the industrial Port Alfred.

This monument to the nearby air base is made from locally produces aluminum; the Alcan plant is a major industry in Saguenay.

After passing an enormous freighter anchored in the bay, perhaps just twenty minutes from our destination, the autopilot pump slowed to a crawl and, a few seconds later, several instruments went dead. Our 12 volt battery system was reading low voltage, even though our main 24 volt batteries were full. Normally we would drop the anchor to deal with such a situation, but that was not an option in nearly 400'. I handed the conn over to Louise and scrambled down to the engine room.

Vector at anchor in the distance, with the end of the cruise pier and city dock at right, gives a sense of scale to the enormous bay.

As I had guessed, one of the fuses on the voltage converter had blown, leaving the 12 volt battery to run everything with  no charging source. I bridged the engine starting batteries over to get us to the anchorage. There we hunted around until we found an undersea promontory that was only 70' deep and dropped the hook (map), a short tender ride from the La Baie city docks, attached to the cruise ship pier. We could not get any information about these docks before our arrival, and so after replacing the blown fuse and getting settled, we splashed the tender and I headed there stag to scope things out.

The modern cruise terminal building. Lots of small ships and a couple of large ones call here.

No one ashore seemed to know anything about the docks, either, although the locals seem to use them at will for day docks. Someone in the visitor information center attached to the cruise port finally reached the dockmaster and I got permission to tie up. The docks are very nice and very modern, and we presume they really exist not for transients, but for the endless parade of tour boats that inevitably will arrive to service the cruise ships when they are in town.

I walked the entire port area, which is not very large, scoping out the half dozen restaurants and enjoying the nice waterfront park. I also stopped in the "general store" to pick up some beer using my rusty French -- I was OK until they tried to sell me lottery tickets and I had to ask them to speak more slowly. Having been misled by the cold temperatures at the mouth of the river, I was overdressed for walking in what turned out to be the high 80s in town, so I made it a short visit.

Vector looking like a toy boat set on the cruise pier between two bollards.

We returned together at dinner time for a casual meal on the patio at Au Pavillon Noir, with a very modern interior but an oddly pirate-themed menu. We had the "cochonne" pizza, which in Quebec is what is sometimes called a "garbage" pizza in the US. The English-language menu they handed us called it the "Loaded Gun" (keeping with the pirate theme), but when we had Google translate the French version ahead of time, the only one on the web site, it helpfully translated it as "slut pizza" and so, of course, that's the one we had to have.

Passing a bit further away on our return trip puts the statue of Mary in more context.

This morning we weighed anchor with the tide for the return trip. equally as beautiful as the upbound journey. The small amount of rain we had overnight and this morning has energized quite a number of small waterfalls down the cliff faces, too distant and obscure to photograph. We have our sights set on a small cove for the night at L'Anse de Roche, where Google says there is a small cafe. Tomorrow we will exit the fjord and continue downriver on the St. Lawrence.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Québec et la visite du Pape

We are under way downbound on the St. Lawrence, whizzing along at over ten knots as I begin typing. we're past halfway through today's cruise; I've spent the morning editing, organizing, and uploading the myriad photos I snapped in Quebec City. I expect that means I will not finish and will, instead, wrap up the post underway tomorrow. It is a two-day trip from Quebec City to the mouth of the Saguenay River, our next stop.

Quebec City at night from our slip. Just the top of Chateau Frontenac is visible above the Seminary.

Shortly after my last post we rounded the tip of Pointe-Platon and pulled over to the sand deposit on the inside of the bend downriver of the point to drop the hook (map). By this time the wind had picked up above 20 knots and the river was a frothy mess. We were concerned we might have a rough night, with no backup options available, but after we bounced around all through dinner, the wind started to lay down, and by the time we hit the hay it was flat calm.

Sunset from our anchorage off Pointe-Platon.

We've passed a lot of bulkers, but this was the first carrying yachts. This looks like a trio of new Carvers being delivered.

In the morning we weighed anchor with the tide and went through two sets of "rapids" in succession, where the channel narrows down and the current increases. In the Rapides Richelieu, the stronger of the pair, we had close to six knots behind us. Otto can't handle that much following current and I steered by hand, but with the river wide and deep and with no other traffic, it was a no-drama event. By 1pm we were pulling into the lock that separates the Port Of Quebec Marina basin from the deepwater tugboat basin.

Approaching the two bridges, nearly superimposed, just upriver of Quebec City.

In a first for us, the interior of the lock chamber comprises two floating docks to which boats are tied for the ride up or down. We tied off and shut the engine, per the rules for the minuscule lock. By 1:30 we were tied up in our slip at the Marina Viex-Port de Quebec (map), which is in, I kid you not, Bassin Louise. There was a brief moment of confusion, as the actual dock arrangement did not match the marina map that was on the web site, and also posted prominently in the lock.

In the lock, tied to a floating dock that will rise with us. We walked across the gate ahead of us to get to town.

I marched over to the office to sign in and get gate keys. The facilities are very nice, with a lounge, Internet center, snack room with vending, laundry, showers, and even a heated outdoor pool, none of which we used. The downside is that the docks and office are all on the opposite side of the basin from the actual city, and you basically walk around and then over the top of the lock gates to get to town.

In addition to enormous bollards, our basin is surrounded by these enormous rings from a previous life; I could barely lift the end. Louise's feet for scale.

In a theme that would repeat itself yet again, one of the restaurants in easy walking distance in the Vieux-Port is Taverne Louise, and of course we just had to eat there. We crossed the lock a bit early and strolled around the old port district a little before dinner; we found a half dozen or so nice eateries with outside tables in the span of just a few blocks. These are all in the flats, about the same elevation as the wharves, whereas most of the city is something of a climb from here.

Louise checking her menu.

Oddly, all the servers were Louise too.

After dinner, with the lay of the land somewhat in hand, I set out to plan our two-day stay. With all the hills making the city mostly unwalkable for us, I figured a motor coach tour similar to the one we took in Montreal would be a good choice, or even Le Hop-on Hop-off tour. The booking sites, however, showed no availability until after our visit, which seemed odd. I soon learned that the city suspended all the tour operators for the duration of the Pope's visit.

Approaching the city, with the iconic Chateau Frontenac looking down on us.

The transit web site showed that the city buses would still be running and mostly on their normal schedules and routes, so in the morning we walked over to the Gare du Palais just a half mile from the dock and bought day passes for $9cdn apiece. We jumped on the #800 MetroBus and headed to the end of the line at Montmorency Falls, where another $17 got us into the park. These are the second-largest falls in Canada, taller than Niagara, and were quite impressive from the little suspension foot bridge perched over the top.

Looking down on Montmorency Falls from the suspension bridge. The yellow tint is from iron in the water.

After buying our bus passes we downloaded the transit app, to help us sort out where to transfer for the #11 on our way back, that would take us up the hill into the old city. That's when we learned that all of the stops inside the walled city were bypassed during the papal visit. We had hoped to get off right at the Chateau Frontenac for lunch, but with the stop off-limits it made no sense to even change busses. We stayed on the 800 to Place D'Youville, as far up the hill as we could get, and had lunch in a casual joint right off the bus stop.

Louise approaching the St. John Gate to the walled city.

Thus fortified we walked through the Porte Saint-Jean (St. John Gate) into the walled city of Quebec and made the rest of the climb on foot, passing City Hall and the shops and restaurants of Rue Sainte-Anne. Police, security, and barricades were everywhere, with many streets blocked off, in preparation for the motorcade arrival of Pope Francis later in the afternoon. We walked around the Terrasse Dufferin, with sweeping views out over the river and the city below, and walked through the iconic Chateau Frontenac, now a Fairmont hotel.

Chateau Frontenac from the landward side, as seen over the fountain at the Place d'Armes.

Impressive flower sculpture on the Dufferin Terrace.

Walking downhill is much harder for Louise than uphill, and with the buses not available, we instead took the funicular back down the hill. This is now a cheesy tourist attraction costing $4 apiece (cash only), but for us it was basically an elevator and allowed us to do a little more walking at the bottom, where we took in the Petit Champlain district, another touristy area of shops and restaurants.

The royal wave from La Princesse.

One thing we found there, after a bit of circling around, was the plaque identifying what was once the home of our friend Dave's great (times some number larger than one) grandfather, Jean Demers. We sent Dave a photo. Then we made our way across Dalhousie Street to the Gare Fluvial (river terminal) where we hopped on the #11 for the short trip back to the marina. That was pretty much it for Louise's feet, so at dinner time we again stayed close to hand, going just across the lock to Pizzéria NO.900 - St-Paul for a casual dinner of pizza and draft beer.

This one's for you, Dave.

Yesterday morning the Pope was whisked out to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré to say mass at the enormous Basilica there, and I took advantage of the absence to finish exploring the Old City on foot. The buses were still not stopping there, so I parked my e-bike at the Gare Fluvial and hopped on the #11 just before my 24-hour pass expired, taking it again as far as Place D'Youville to save me at least part of the climb. From there I ascended to the ramparts of the Citadelle de Québec, which afforded an impressive view of the city.

Ornate lobby of the Chateau Frontenac.

Even the fire hose cabinet is adorned with stained glass.

I had hoped to tour the Citadelle, which is still an active-duty military installation with a Canadian regiment in full regalia, similar to what you might find at the royal palaces in England (US ceremonial uniforms are more modern, but we do the same thing at the White House and Arlington Cemetery). I was unwilling to wait a half hour and then spend a full hour on a guided tour, the only way to enter the fortress, and so I contented myself with continuing around the fort on the outside ramparts.

View from in front of the Citadelle over the city and harbor. Vector is just in front of the grain silos center frame.

As I came around to the south side I had a view out over the Plains of Abraham, which is a park roughly analogous to New York's Central Park or Boston's Common. Named for Abraham Martin, who figured prominently in the history of Quebec, and not his biblical namesake (and I can't read or hear "Abraham Martin" without my brain adding "and John" ... those my age will understand), it was the site of a decisive battle between the British and French. As a modern-day park it hosts many outdoor events, and on this occasion it was the site of Pope Francis' apology to indigenous peoples on Wednesday, and a Jumbotron simulcast of Thursday's mass in Beaupre.

Looking down at the simulcast venue, mid-service. Not the crowd that had been planned.

I had a bird's-eye view of the event venue (and could hear and see the screens, without having an entry ticket), which had been predicted to have a crowd of 140,000 -- this in addition to the 10,000 expected on the grounds at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. I passed about mid-service, and the crowd looked to me to be far smaller, down in the four digits. They sure had porta-potties for more, though. This explained why almost nothing else in town had been crowded -- restaurants, tourist venues, the Funicular, the hotel lobby, and pretty much everywhere else.

This art installation comprising myriad life jackets adorns the Royal Battery, near the river.

From there I descended along the river frontage of the Citadelle on the Governor's Walk, a boardwalk perched on stilts from the steeply sloping cliff face, which brought me back to the Terrasse Dufferin. At this elevation I walked over to try to get a look at the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec, but the Pope was slated to say vespers there at 6pm, and the entire area was fenced off. Having no need of the funicular, this time I chose to descend via staircases, one of which was the Escalier Casse-Cou (Breakneck Steps), which has a pair of businesses on each landing.

The Basilica of Notre Dame as it is seldom seen -- devoid of visitors.

Terrasse Dufferin and the Chateau Frontenac.

I had lunch stag under the awning at one of the many sidewalk cafes before returning to my waiting e-bike for a spin around the port district. Afterward I rode out along the St. Charles River to the Dorchester bridge, and across the river to the IGA supermarket in the Limoilou neighborhood. By sheer luck I showed up on opening day after the market had been closed for renovations; it was fully stocked and had everything we needed, and I even scored a much-needed reusable grocery bag (disposable ones are outlawed here) for free.

I passed this well-used splash pool and waterfall steps in front of Cafe du Monde near the cruise terminal.

While we would have liked to go out for one final dinner in town, thundershowers moved in, as forecast, mid-afternoon, and we enjoyed a nice meal aboard. I'm sure the rain put a damper on the festivities over on the Plains of Abraham as well as those along the waterfront for Les Grands Feux Loto-Québec, the weekly fireworks extravaganza over the river. The rain had stopped entirely by showtime, though, and we had a great view of the fireworks from our flybridge. The nightly aurora-themed light show on the enormous G3 grain silos along the marina basin, a sort of moving blue-green-violet curtain of light, was replaced by mostly red with a splash of white for the evening.

Fireworks from the comfort of our flybridge. It was an impressive and lengthy show. Structure at left is the drawbridge over the lock, seldom lowered.

We had an early departure from the marina to catch the start of the ebb. At high tide, the lockmaster just opens both gates, and we drove right through, turning downriver as we cleared the outer basin. The very extensive and complex current-prediction web site I am using admits to an hour of imprecision, and we ended up pushing against a flood tide for the first half hour or so of our trip.

Opposite the marina in the Bassin Louise is this public swimming area, complete with lanes, right in the basin. Vector is center-frame.

The current became favorable shortly after we entered the Chenal de l'Île d'Orléans, which took us around the more scenic north side of Île d'Orléans instead of the ship channel across the island. As we approached the suspension bridge that is the sole access to this large island, we could also see the Montmorency Falls, which are quite spectacular from ground level, even more so than our earlier up-close view from the top.

Montmorency Falls as seen from the river. We had a nice view with binoculars, though it's a bit distant for my camera.

An hour further along the channel we passed the Sanctuaire Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, where the Pope had said mass just the day before, and shortly afterward the Mont Sainte-Anne ski area. We are passing along the Laurentian Mountains, and as a youth I learned to ski here, at a similar resort near Montreal known as Mont Tremblant. I have very fond memories of those yearly ski trips with my family.

Sanctuaire Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, where the Pope said mass. The jet boat, which is bigger than it looks, is a tour boat that left from Bassin Louise, blew past us downriver, stopped here for a tour, and is now headed back.

As we approached the eastern end of the island we were doing 11.5 knots making turns for just over six, and the little tourist train that goes out to Charlevoix along the river seemed to pass us in slow motion. But as we came to the junction where we returned to the main ship channel we encountered rather rough seas, a combination of the hydraulics of the river and the wind, which had been building steadily all morning.

Mont Sainte-Anne ski resort.

I'm now on my second day preparing this post. After an increasingly agitated ride in the ever-escalating wind, we arrived at our planned anchorage in a small embayment north of L'Isle-aux-Coudres, where silt is captured by a rocky point marked by a light. We pulled as close to shore as depth and tide would allow and dropped the hook (map), setting in 40mph winds and an increasing upriver current. We had arrived, thankfully, just at the turn of the tide and only had to push the last half mile. We put out 150' of chain for the conditions and the 16' tide swing.

I snapped this photo of our weather station just after we anchored, while it still showed a max of 40mph.

Just as it had been when we anchored on our way to Quebec, the wind and current made for a very bouncy afternoon and evening, but after dinner the wind started to lay down, and once again it was nearly flat calm by bed time. We did contend with a handful of ship wakes, and a weird swell when the tide changed. It was far too rough to launch the tender to explore the island, which anyway would have involved a 200' climb over a half mile from the harbor to the town.

Sunset over the Laurentians from our anchorage.

This morning we again weighed anchor just at the turn of the tide, a little before 8am, for another long run to the mouth of the Saguenay. I'm keeping the revs up because we want to arrive before the tide turns at the other end, or we'll have no choice but to push hard against it. As we exit the more narrow riverine section and into the wider Gulf of Saint Lawrence, both the water and air temperature are dropping rapidly, and by tonight I will trade my shorts and linen shirts for long pants and knits. As I wrap up typing we are in depths of 500', a first for us on a river.