On the Whale Tail Trail

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Caught this tail off the coast of New Jersey

Welcome aboard to usfman and NASIRUDDIN Foundation who started following the blog and became our latest virtual crew members! Glad to have you aboard? Special shout out to all virtual crew members who take the time to read and comment on the blog. It encourages Eric to keep chronicling the adventure.

Summary of week

The crew made four voyages this past week. They left Quebec on Tuesday and took a marina at Cape Eagle (1) in the evening. Then it was a foggy morning on Wednesday as they made their way into the Saguenay Fjord and stayed at the St Jean marina (2). Thursday, the crew went further up to the Bay of Eternity, then turned around and anchored a couple nights off the Isle of St Louis (3). They ended the week with a voyage to Tadoussac (4) on Saturday morning. The crew has lost count of the number of Beluga Whales they have seen in the past week, but the number is easily over a dozen and probably approaching 20.

Click on the Still Waters II Travel Map to see detailed Voyage Logs.The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. What is the National Day of Canada, and what does it pay homage to?
  2. Which water fall is taller, Niagara or Montmorency?
  3. What is a ‘sugar ‘loaf’?
  4. What is a Fjord?
  5. What is a nickname for a Beluga Whale?

At the Box Office

This week is a video of the first whale the crew ever saw on the Great Loop. The humpback whale spray from the blow hole startled the skipper when it came up just 10 yards off the port side of the boat. The skipper managed the wherewithal to grab his phone and capture the unforgettable moment on video. Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Sunday, June 30th

Today the crew decided to go eat at Ciel for Sunday Brunch. It is one of those restaurants in a tower with a rotating platform.

Took about an hour to circle and get a 360 degree view of Quebec City.

Monday, July 1st

Happy Canada Day! This is the National Day of Canada which celebrates the founding of Canada back on July 1, 1867 by uniting the colonies of Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.

The crew spent the day preparing for departure into the Charlevoix region of Quebec. After going to the local grocery for provisions, the crew moved the boat thru the lock guarding the marina basin, and took a spot on the floating dock.

Waiting to enter lock

Because of the tides and current, the cruising guides tell prudent skippers to leave two hours before high tide at Quebec City. High tide is at 0620 in the morning, necessitating an early departure at 0420. Sunrise is at 0454, so as soon as the skipper can safely see, the crew will shove off.

Tuesday, July 2nd

Well, it was finally time to say good bye to this magical place called Quebec. The skipper was surprised how light it was at 0400. He did the morning fluid engine checks and started the engines. The Admiral was up and moving and the crew cast off and were out of the marina by 0430.

Quebec at 0430 as the crew pulls away from marina

There was not much time before the first attraction of the day, Montmorency Falls. The Falls are 272 feet above the base below, 98 feet higher than Niagara Falls.

In winter, the spray at the bottom of the falls creates a large ‘sugar loaf’. Since the skipper doubts he would ever be in the frozen tundra to see this feature, he found this pic to view from the warm comfort of the boat.

One last look over the shoulder at Old Quebec City.

The region that the crew will be cruising in over the next week is called the Charlevoix, named after Pierre Francois-Xavier de Charlevoix, a French Jesuit explorer. The region is characterized by the Laurentian Mountains that come right down to the river.

An interesting fun fact about the region is that 90% of the area residents live in the Charlevoix Crater. The crater, formed from an asteroid hit, smoothed and flattened a 34 mile diameter section of the mountains and allowed farming and settlement.

The crew continues to meet large craft from around the world plowing the waters of the St Lawrence River.

The day’s cruise came to a surprising end when the skipper spotted something in the water, could it be, a Beluga Whale, here? The crew did not expect to see any whales until tomorrow as they approach the Saguenay Fjord. But just one mile from the marina breakwater wall they spotted not one but two Beluga Whales. What a deal, they could even hear the two whales communicating with each other with their high pitched canary sounds. Hence their nickname, sea canary.

Wednesday, July 3rd

The cruising guides all suggest to leave Cape Eagle four hours after high tide at Point-au-Pere. For the crew, that meant leaving at 0702. When the skipper first looked outside he was a bit surprised to see the heavy fog. There was not much choice but to leave as suggested and hope the fog burns off quickly.

So much for hope. The fog hung in there until about noon before it started to lift. That makes for a stressful day when you cannot see much past the bow.

The skipper tracked this sailboat on the radar for what seemed like forever. The sailboat overtook the skipper at less than a quarter mile.

I know what you are thinking, and yes the skipper let a sailboat overtake him. Normally this would be an embarrassment, but today, well today, the skipper was trying to time his arrival at the Prince Shoal Lighthouse. Because of the flooding, the current is stronger than normal and the skipper was running an hour ahead of schedule. He had pulled the throttles back to idle speed and was still making over 10 mph speed over ground.

Prince Shoal Lighthouse in the fog

The crew arrived at the Lighthouse 45 minutes ahead of schedule. Rather than find slack current as planned, they ran head on into a 2 knot current. Once the crew entered the Saguenay River, the crew began to hear fog horns blowing. The radar showed no targets within a mile and a half but the horns sure sounded close. Amazing how sound carries over water.

Ferry Crossing at Tadoussac

In just a few minutes two large vessels appeared on the radar, and then a few minutes later the crew could finally see the source of the horn blasts.

Between the Lighthouse and the Ferry Crossing, the crew saw seven more Beluga Whales. Unfortunately, with the fog, ferries and other boats in the area, there was only time to watch the whales. Hence no pics were taken.

When the fog began to lift it made for some spectacular views. The mountains came straight down to the waters edge (by definition, a Fjord), and then continue down under water for several more hundred feet. The crew cruised over some waters 750 feet deep today.

The crew continued up the Saguenay Fjord taking in the beauty of the mountains while keeping an eye out for more whales. However, no more whales were spotted, but it is worth the trip up river just to marvel at the scenery.

The crew took a slip at the St Jean Marina and plan to go to the Baie d’Eternity tomorrow.

Thursday, July 4th, Happy Independence Day!

I will start the day with an old Patriotic story that beckons back to the days of our wonderful country to commemorate Independence Day. Since the crew cruised Champlain Lake, I will use characters that hail from that region for the story. Ethan Allen, an American Revolutionary War Hero from Vermont, George Washington who needs no introduction, and the antagonist should be obvious.

As I remember, Ethan Allen ventured over to the British Isles after the war to make a visit to old friends. While there, his friends continued to make fun of his new country, the United States of America, and its new leaders. Of course, this means President Washington was the butt of the shenanigans. One stunt the British pranksters played was to put a picture of George in a most conspicuous spot in the privy, or outhouse. Ethan Allen saw his Commander in Chief in the privy, but made no mention of the picture upon return to the gathering of his friends.

This certainly caught the British by surprise, so one of them finally asked, “Ethan, did you notice George Washington in the privy?” For which Ethan Allen replied, “well it seemed like an obvious place for an Englishman to keep a picture of George so I didn’t think much about it.”

This was certainly not the response the Londoners were expecting, so they asked the obvious follow up question, “Why is that?” To which Ethan wittingly answered, “there is nothing that will make an Englishman shit so quick as the site of General Washington.”

Hope you had a wonderful Independence Day, brought to you by George Washington and his band of Patriots.

The crew made way to the Bay of Eternity up the Saguenay Fjord. The main goal was to see the statue that sits atop a hill at the entrance to the Bay. The crew could make out the white statue several miles before they arrived. As they approached the entrance, the statue grew is stature and came to dominate the point.

After the photo shot, the skipper had to dodge some kayakers who had paddled out to the statue. Once safely past the paddlers, he entered the Bay to see if he could find a spot to anchor.

The crew arrived at low tide so they could sound for water depth to locate a spot they could safely anchor. The problem is finding a spot because the water level drops so fast close to shore. Since the tide change is around 15 feet, the skipper was looking for a sliver of water 5 foot deep at low tide. At what looked to be the best spot, he stuck the bow into some soft sand/mud. Then took a sounding at the back of the boat, 55 feet deep. After considering the risk rewards proposition of this task the crew decided it would be best not to anchor and skip the hike to the statue.

The end of the Bay of Eternity

The crew turned around and headed to the Isle of Ste Louis where they dropped the anchor in 10 feet of water, played out 150 foot of chain, and still had 20 feet under the keel. That should hold them just fine for the next few days.

Still Waters II at anchor

Within the hour of anchoring, the Admiral noticed a Harbor Seal sunbathing on a rock protruding out of the water.

After watching the seal for a while, the skipper decided to use his stalking skills to sneak up on the unsuspecting seal. These skills would have made a French fur trader proud. The skipper dropped the dinghy, and rowed ashore out of view of the seal.

After securing the dinghy, the crew snuck around the backside of the island and had a great view of the seal. After repositioning a bit, the skipper was able to get some good pics of the sunning Harbor Seal.

After a bit, the seal got a little nervous and slipped back into the water. Or did he know the tide was rushing in and his rock would soon be under water? By the time the crew got back to the boat, the rock was barely visible.

Friday, July 5th

The crew took a wonderful relaxing day just watching the water and scenery around them. There was not a whole lot else to do because they had no cell service out in this neck of the woods. The crew did get caught up on a few boat chores and got plenty of quality reading time. All in all, a great day!

Saturday, July 6th

The crew woke to rain and light fog. After the rain stopped, the crew weighed anchor and started towards the town of Tadoussac. The skipper kept the throttles set at idle speed and was making 10-11 mph as the current ebbed out with the tide. Once a cell signal was achieved, the skipper called the marina to make a reservation. Luckily the marina had a spot for them.

After arrival, the crew took lunch aboard and then set out to go explore the Whale Interpretive Center. All the displays were in French; however, the museum had books that were in English that explained the displays. A very good curated museum.

After dinner, the crew hiked a loop trail to see if they could spot some whales from shore. Their walk was rewarded with several pods of Belugas swimming out in the entrance channel to Tadoussac.

Boat Name of the Week

Who knows what all these boat names mean since they are written in French.

Next Week –

The crew will continue to search for whales along the north shore of the St Lawrence for a few more days. They will then cross to the south shore to the Gaspé Peninsula and visit Saint Anne des Monts. If the weather is good they may even begin to round the peninsula and head south towards New Brunswick.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

7 Comments on “On the Whale Tail Trail

  1. So sorry we missed you in Quebec. That area was beautiful. I was so excited to see Beluga.


    • Quebec was a gem. Tadoussac is living up to its hype also. Seen Belugas everyday so far. It never gets old.


  2. So cool to see the whales!! And the scenery is amazing, but thinking the pictures may not to it justice!!
    Hope you find more whales and enjoy there magic of sound and activity – especially the humpbacks when they start jumping.

    Looks like more beautiful sights to see!


  3. Its great keeping up with you guys, lots of spectacular scenery. Just reading about cruising in the fog made me nervous though, as you recall we got lucky one day !
    Hope you get to see many more whales , safe travels. Bill


    • Yea, that was a change your britches moment for sure when that guy came speeding around the bend.


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