Playpen is cruising again. After accompanying Skooch from the Chesapeake Bay to New Bern for the Rensezvous 2004 in May, Playpen spent a few weeks home and then cast her lines for Nova Scotia.

Installment 3

Quebec to New Brunswick

7/26/04 Matane to St. Anne des Monts 46.6nm 6 hrs
The seas and winds kicked up as we entered the tricky-appearing harbour
at St. Anne des Monts. Peter, on Aphrodite, a 63' Viking motor yacht,
directed us in by VHF, and he and Francis helped us secure. St. Anne
des Monts is another little town with all the trappings of the previous
coastal towns. We went to dinner with Peter & Francis at a wonderful
seafood restaurant at the dock. Each town we’ve visited is on the main
coastal highway; therefore noisy with motorcycles & tractor trailers.
Each town has had friendly marina personnel who preferred speaking
French. We expected to see remote anchorages and quaint towns on the
Gaspe Peninsula–guess we didn’t research enough.

7/27/04 St Anne des Monts to Riviere Renard 89.65nm 9 3/4hrs
Capt. Bligh awoke at 0430 and decided since the sun was up, we should be
too. A beautiful flat see all the way! We anchored in a man-made basin
at the Renard River and listened, again, to the traffic. Peter &
Francis told us to look for the Aurora Borealis, but we didn’t see it.

7/28/04 Renard River to Gaspe 34nm 4 3/4hr
We passed a few shy whales as we rounded Cap Gaspe and cruised by the
tallest lighthouse in Canada. The Forillon Peninsula is a National Parc
at the Eastern tip of the Gaspe Peninsula. The rock cliffs are topped
by forest, and it appears remote until you notice the whale watching
tourist stations where the cliffs meet the beach. A road map shows few
roads penetrating the inland mountains and forest; there really IS
wilderness up here! The town of Gaspe has all the usual except tee
shirt shops. We couldn’t buy a shirt or cap with the name “Gaspe” on it.
The Adams Motel kindly let us receive a fax (yes, we’re still working).
We put on a few groceries and bought 2 lobsters for dinner aboard.
Log-laden trucks and motorcycles provided the noise for the night.

7/29/94 Gaspe to Anse-a-Beaufils 32.2 nm 5 3/4 hrs
Sharon forgot to erase the route on Nobeltec before she shut it down
last night; so the whole system crashed this morning. She had to
uninstall and reinstall the program and charts–yuk! We cruised the 10
miles out of Gaspe Bay and rounded the point for Anse-a-Beaufils.
Viewing the rock cliffs topped by forest it’s amazing to see how little
soil is needed to support the forest. There appears to be just a thin
layer of soil where the rock meets the trees. As we passed by (& took
lots of photos of) Perce rock we spotted a large fin ahead. It was a
25' basking shark. We knew he was filter feeding for plankton, but he
looked mighty formidable as he approached Playpen with mouth wide open.
We photoed him for 15 min. until he went under our bow. Then we saw an
inflatable tracking him. The driver told us “Next years (he meant past
years) I have seen zero of these. They are very rare here.” We slowly
cruised on a few miles to Anse-a-Beaufils (Cove of the Good Son). The
harbour consists of 1 dock with a coffee house/working art gallery at
one end and a wonderful agate/jasper beach at the other. Tourists as
well as tour boats tie and raft, and the café entertainment is
apparently pretty good. It’s all in French, but the customers laugh and
applaud frequently. A very nice retired Montreal University professor
greeted us at the dock and offered to drive us “downtown.” Perce is a
typical tourist-trap type town with an arched rock and a
gannet-inhabited island as its draws. We walked out to the rock at low
tide, spotting a few fossils in the gazillion pebbles, stones, rocks,
and boulders that have fallen in the past millennia. Low tide is
pilgrimage time to get to the offshore behemoth, and there were lots of
pilgrims. After dinner our taxi driver, an off duty school bus driver,
told us this area is de-populating like most rural areas. There are few
school-aged children, and young adults move to Toronto or Montreal.

7/30/04 Lay Day Anse-a-Beaufils
We hitched a ride to Perce on a whale watching boat docked behind us.
Then we cruised over to Bonaventure Island for a hike. This National
Parc is well maintained with groomed trails leading across the island to
the ocean side where approximately 100,000 gannets reside. What a sight
! (& smell & sound). The gannets were very active displaying all the
behaviors the French signs told us to look for. Gannets mate for life
(about 30yrs) and lay 1 egg a year. We saw several mamas and babies on
their nests. Back at Playpen, Sharon walked the beach and collected
several pretty rocks. She could have easily taken ½ the beach but
restrained herself. She cut some fragrant roses then watched the full
moon over the beach while listening to the lapping waves making the
beach pebbles “sing.” Our prof. friend saw the Aurora Borealis, but our
spot was too lit up–light pollution–Ugh!

7/31/04 Anse-a-Beaufils to Portage Island 92.5nm 12 hrs
We crashed and thrashed our way across Chauleur Bay with 25 kt winds
and 4-5' close head seas. It was overcast and rained a little, and the only
wildlife we saw were diving gannets. Our  guidebook suggested an
anchorage at Portage Island just on the north side of Northumberland
Strait. We followed the author’s advice and took the long way around to
a rolly anchorage open to the wind. This wouldn’t do as we hadn’t eaten
all day and had no patience for rolling all night. We cruised around
the northern end of the island and anchored in the lee of a tiny strip
of submerged beach. We were in a narrow piece of 12' water, and the
captain was nervous. Sharon worked on computer pictures and kept anchor
watch until 0200. The wind stayed at 20kts, and Playpen tugged on her
120 lb Bruce anchor but stayed put. Fred watched ‘til 0500 when it was
light enough to leave.

8/1/04 Portage Island to Bouctouche
The scenery reminded us of Albemarle Sound on a bad day. It was
overcast with 20+kt head winds and close head seas again. Didn’t we
just do 12 hrs of this yesterday? We wiggled our way through a well
marked potentially shallow channel to the Sawmill Point Boat Basin in
Bouctouche, New Brunswick and set our clocks ahead 1 hr. The marina is
wonderful. The manager, John, couldn’t be more friendly or helpful, and
likewise, the people on the docks. There was only one place for Playpen
to go, and we were lucky it was empty. The 20kt wind blew us right were
we needed to go, and after the previous restless night, we were very
grateful to be secured. Bouctouche owes its prosperity and beauty to
the Irving Family. They had a sawmill in the 1800's, and the town grew
up around it. Now eastern Canada is full of Irving Service Stations;
and Kent Homes, owned by Irving, manufactures homes in Bouctouche. The
building at the marina was donated by Irving. It’s a wonderful wood
structure with a corner office, huge great room with fireplace and
pretty comfy furniture, a complete kitchen, showers, TV, and wonderful
decks. The kitchen is available to everyone, and the Shediac YC cruise
used it to cook breakfast and dinner.

8/2/04 Lay Day Bouctouche
We caught up on sleep, boat work, and office work before playtime.
John drove us to the Bouctouche Dune where we explored the eco-dune
(sponsored and paid for by Irving, of course). There is a mile long
boardwalk through the dune with interpretative signs in French and
English and Northumberland Straits beach access. The 1st Monday in
August is a holiday for much of Canada just because nobody should have
to work on the 1st Monday in August. There were many people enjoying
the sunny day at the beach. After an ice cream cone (yet again!) John
dropped us off at the Irving Gardens. The Irving Memorial Chapel was
dedicated on 6/27/04, but from the outside looks centuries old.
Scottish masons built it in the “olde” way, and the stonework and slate
work are amazing. Inside, the chapel is white with exquisite cherry
wood trim, brass chandeliers, and a bright stained glass window at the
alter. A player grand piano added to the ambiance. Outside are acres
of wonderful gardens with all sorts of trees, lilac and rose hedges, and
wildflower gardens leading down to a tranquil river. The whole estate
is enclosed by a stone wall. We strolled back to the marina in a very
relaxed mood. This part of the New Brunswick coast reminds us of the ICW
in North Carolina.

Next - Installment 4


back to Installment 1

back to Installment 2