Friday, August 12, 2022


We are under way southbound in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, proceeding along the east coast of New Brunswick. There is an enormous amount of fetch to the east, but today winds are light and out of the south, and we seized the window to move along.

Wednesday evening we splashed the tender and headed ashore to the pleasure craft marina. At one point in the entrance channel our sounder read just 4.7', confirming for us that we could not have docked here even had we wanted to. The marina attendants were pleasant and agreed to let us tie up our dinghy after I asked in my meager French. We asked about the nearby Italian restaurant, and they offered that they thought we'd need a reservation.

Vector, just a tiny dot all by herself, as seen from the grounds of the aquarium. Lobster traps painted blue, white, and red are arranged to form the Acadian flag. No one anchors in Shippagan.

With a backup option of a pizza joint across the street, we nevertheless walked over to Pinokkio Pizzeria Resto Bar to take our chances. Between my French and their English we managed to communicate that we'd take whatever was available, and we scored a nice table on the covered patio. Dinner was excellent, and we could see why the place was packed, as the only decent sit-down restaurant for miles.

On the walk back to the dinghy along the waterfront trail we passed the boatyard where all the fishing boats get hauled out for the season. We remarked that the yard was nearly full, and the boats looked to have been out for quite a while. When we got home Louise dug into the fishing industry on the web and learned that the season is already closed and has been since March, due to a combination of right whale protection measures and overfishing. This explains why the fishing ports we've passed have had plenty of free bulkhead, when normally the boats are breasted two deep, and we've seen none out plying the waters.

Fishing fleet on the hard. This is a tiny section of the enormous yard, all full. Vector's cousins -- like these fish boats, she was built in Acadia and has very similar lines.

It's really quite sad, actually -- so many here depend on the industry. Unlike the Gaspe, there's not much tourism here, but we're glad we can contribute to what little there is. The closed season might be a boon for us, as it means we can probably find a spot on the wall in some of the ports and there won't be much smell. As if to underscore this, last night the motor yacht Horus, whom we had seen en route to Anne-des-Monts, passed us in the anchorage and tied up inside the fish boat basin, which did have enough depth for us. Had we only known.

Yesterday morning's weather check suggested poor conditions out here, and beside that, we missed the tide window to get through the channel. So we hunkered down for another day, and after lunch I tendered ashore to explore a bit. I walked past the aquarium and along the lovely boardwalk that fronts the tidal flats, where I learned some of the region's past as a peat and lumber town. I exited at 1st street and came back through town along the main drag, Blvd. J. D. Gauthier.

Fishermen's memorial. Hundreds of names, with the same surnames appearing over and over. Mural in the back is eerily familiar after passing the yard.

On the way I stopped into the local chandler, Gauthier Marine (Rachelle Gauthier, proprietor -- you may detect a theme here). It was extremely well-stocked, and the sort of place where you do all your shopping at the counter. They did not have the fuse I needed, but they did find it in the catalog. The fishboat skippers are doing off-season maintenance, and the gentleman next to me at the counter had a pair of sprockets and a chain laid out on the counter, conversing with an employee about it. Perhaps they have a machine shop as well.

A few blocks later I came to the strip mall containing the local grocery and the local Rossy. This is a chain of stores that carry clothing, housewares, home furnishings, and packaged food. I can't really think of a US equivalent, but its a perfect fit for the dispersed rural communities throughout Canada; we've seen one now in almost every small town. Here was my chance to browse one, so I stopped in before heading next door for provisions at the grocery.

Empty parking lot and empty basin attest to the closure of the fishery.

Next door I filled my backpack with the short list of provisions, then hit the hardware store a few blocks away for another empty-handed go at a fuse before heading home. In the evening we returned ashore for dinner, at Pizza Delight, which is a local chain of restaurants that might be an upscale version of Pizza Hut. Some of their outlets, including this one, offer beer and wine. Louise tried the local Acadian specialty, Donair, and I had a panzerotti, which is sort of a fried version of a calzone. We both had beers from New Brunswick brewery Brasseux d'la Côte, and we liked them so much that we stopped in the package store on the way home and picked up a few.

We decked the tender when we got home for an early start this morning. There is a bar at the inlet that's 5-6' at low tide, and my charts also showed 5' soundings through some of the channel in Shippagan Gully. We weighed anchor this morning at a tide of +3' and falling, which still gave us +2.5' when we crossed the bar. After weighing anchor I called the lift bridge across the channel to ask for an opening; the tender did not answer me until the third try, when I hailed in French. We later heard another vessel hail and get a response in English, apparently the tender who knows English starts later in the morning.

A branch of the University of Moncton is in town. The observatory dome at right is sitting in the parking lot, either awaiting installation or removal.

The shallow stretch through the gully has clearly been dredged, as we had good depth the whole way by following the buoys. We saw 8.9' on the sounder at one point crossing the bar, so we definitely needed the tidal help. We bounced over the bar in three footers, made steep by the bar itself, but it's been getting progressively flatter out here all morning. Today's route ends at an anchorage behind Portage Island, but if we arrive early enough we may press on up the Miramichi River a ways.


  1. Just a minor correction, the lobster traps form the Acadian flag, the New Brunswick flag is yellow with a sailing ship on it.
    The lobster season just opened on Wednesday in the southern part of Prince Edward Island, and the area around Shediac. There used to be a very prosperous shrimp and crab business around Shippagan as well as the peat moss. I'm not up to date on their commerce as I haven't been in that area for a number of years now, having lived on PEI for 13 years before moving to an area you were in recently, St. Stephen.
    I enjoy reading about your travels, even though I have not spent much time on a boat.

    1. Thanks for the correction. Fixed now. And, yes, I dodged lobster floats, and lobstermen, all day today. Thanks for the heads-up.


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