We had more people join the ranks as virtual crew members this week by following the blog. Welcome aboard to Map195. And a special welcome aboard to Alex and Marilyn, thanks for the tour of your one of a kind boat, it is beautiful.
The crew managed to make 5 runs during the week and actually arrived in Summerside (5) on Saturday. This was truly amazing based on the amount of open water the crew crossed this past week. Thank you Lord for calm winds and still waters. Along the way to Prince Edward Island, they also made the following stops: anchored in the fishing village of Renard (1) on Monday, made a long run to Shippagan (2) on Tuesday, after taking a weather delay day on Wednesday, they anchored off Portage Island (3) Thursday, then on Friday they made Bouctouche (4), and completed the week by pulling into Summerside (5).
Click on the Still Waters II Travel Map to see detailed Voyage Logs.
This week’s video shows Still Waters II watching Gannets on their morning feeding frenzy. 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.
In the early morning hours of May 29, 1914, the RMS Empress of Ireland dropped the pilot off at Pointe-au-Pere lighthouse and continued towards the open waters of the Gulf of St Lawrence. Unbeknownst to them, the Storstad, which carried 11,000 tons of coal, was on a collision course with them. The heavy fog that night prevented any attempt by the navigators to alter course and avoid a collision.
The Storstad collided into the side of the Empress of Ireland. The bow rammed 20 feet into the ocean liner opening a huge hole in her side. The skipper of the Empress directed the captain of Storstad to maintain a full bell to keep the hole plugged.
The strategy failed, the ships separated, and in less than 14 minutes from the collision the Empress of Ireland lay on the bottom of the St Lawrence River. The loss of life was large due to the fact that most passengers and crew were asleep at the time of the crash. The Empress holds the record for the most number of passengers lost on a liner in peace time. The 840 deaths beats the more famous Titanic by a mere 11. The sinking is also Canada’s worst peacetime marine disaster.
However, there has been an interesting story circulating for years about a man named Frank Tower who is linked to both the Empress and the Titanic. As the story goes, he was a crew member aboard the Titanic. He was one of the 215 crew members who survived the sinking.
He then took a job on the Empress of Ireland, and somehow managed to be one of the 201 crew members who survived that collision.
But wait, there was one more famous ship sinking, the Lusitania which was sunk by a German U- boat (U20) off the Irish Coast and drug the US into WWI. And yes, Frank happened to survive that sinking also.
The skipper ran a probability assessment that one person could have survived all three disasters. The probability that Tower could have survived the three wrecks, 0.125. That got the skipper digging for more information.
Turns out Frank Tower was not listed as a crew member on any of the three ships. He was not listed as a passenger either. The skipper began to wonder if this story could be true, or not. In his search for the truth, the skipper tracked the Urban Legend down to a Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Encyclopedia of the Bizarre: Amazing, Strange, Inexplicable, Weird and All True! publication.
Now this brings us to an interesting quagmire, in today’s Information Age, which one is true? The internet or Ripley’s? Inquiring minds want to know?
Yes, this is exactly what the skipper does with his time when waiting out weather delays. Trying to unravel the mysteries of life.
The crew woke to fog, rain, and wind this morning. Strange combination. After studying the weather apps for an hour, the skipper determined it would probably be a decent enough day to travel. Now to convince the Admiral of the same.
He started the discussion with, “if we go out there and it is worse than expected, we can always come back to the dock.” He followed that up with, “I also have a plan B stop 20 miles down river where we can pull into if conditions deteriorate.” Then concluded with, “but I believe conditions will improve as the day goes on.” The Admiral mulled it all over and agreed to give it a shot.
From shore, looking out to sea, across the marina
The crew headed up to the marina restaurant for breakfast, and to allow for some time to pass with hopes the fog would lift just a little. After hearty cheese omelets the crew rigged the boat for heavy seas and shoved off.
After they got out of the marina, conditions were tolerable so they nixed returning to the dock, hugged the shore to try to minimize the effect of the 15-20 mph southwest winds, and made way towards the Plan B spot downriver.
Watching waves crash into the rocks
Passed interesting lighthouse up on shore
Crew surprised by number of houses along the shore
As well as many small villages strung out along the shore
After two hours of cruising, they arrived at Plan B. As hoped, the conditions had improved enough to convince the crew to push on toward Rivière Renard. As they continued, the fog began to lift and the sun finally decided to make a showing and shine through the clouds. By the time they reached the basin at Renard, the winds had died off enough that the Admiral suggested they anchor rather than take a marina. So anchor they did.
View from anchorage
By night fall, the winds had completely dissipated. A last weather check showed favorable conditions for an early morning departure. Hope it holds.
Ever experienced a time that was so good that you did not want it to end? Well, that was the reality for today’s run. The wind and waves combined for a pleasant cruise on the water, while the scenery along the shore line was spectacular.
The Gaspé Peninsula lived up to its reputation of rugged scenery. The high rock cliffs were truly amazing to see and watch as the crew cruised around the Peninsula.
Scattered along these cliffs were what seemed to be a never ending supply of lighthouses. The crew was thankful that it was a clear blue sky day so they could see them all.
A local back in Madeleine told the crew that he had sailed all the way to the Bahamas and back home. He went on to say his worst experience on the water was rounding the Gaspé Peninsula and crossing the Bay of Chaleur. He warned the skipper to pick his weather window carefully. So far the wind and waves have provided a wonderful calm relaxing run.
After the crew rounded the Cap Gaspé, they set their sights on Perce Rock and the Isle of Bonaventure. Both are Bird Sanctuaries protected by Parks Canada.
The skipper had planned to drop anchor by Isle of Bonaventure and hike over the island to the birds nesting along the shore. But all these birds reminded the skipper of some words of wisdom, ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.’
With the favorable conditions out on the water and the warning from the local, the crew decided to skip both Bonaventure and the Beaufils Marina and go ahead and cross the Bay of Chaleur while the window was open. A final check of the weather showed the crossing window would close overnight with no good window in the foreseeable future.
The skipper altered course to cross the Bay and got comfortable for the additional 45 miles tacked onto today’s run, making it 98 miles long. The crossing went well with a few seal sightings, one whale sighting, and meeting a couple of dolphins swimming north. The end of the long day found the crew safely docked in Shippagan, New Brunswick.
Turns out the crew made an excellent decision. Confetti posted on a Down East Loop page about the Beaufils Marina and suggested people bypass the stop because the docks are not in the water this season. In addition to this info, the crew of Confetti also posted some pictures of their time spent on Bonaventure. Thanks to Vicki and Mack for sharing their adventure on Bonaventure, the following pics are from their hike around the island.
The weather was tolerable for a run to Miramichi Bay, but the conditions were forecast to be even better tomorrow. Based on that info, the crew decided to stay put today and explore Shippagan.
The first thing the skipper noticed was a French Flag flying, but with a yellow star in the blue field. That was odd looking.
There must be some significance to the flag because it shows up everywhere one looks.
The flag honors the heritage of the Acadian’s who first settled here in the 1700’s from France. The yellow color represents the Papacy while the star symbolizes the patron saint for mariners, Mary. The star is placed on the blue field because blue represents Mary.
The skipper also went to the Aquarium to learn about the sea life that lives in the water surrounding this area. He found an explanation of why lobsters are different colors but turn red when boiled. Short answer was they have red pigment in their shells, but red is made up of shades of yellow and blue. So lobsters display different colors depending on the makeup of the blended shades. However, when put in hot water the pigments all merge to give the characteristic red lobster.
The skipper also got to see about six different species of cod, but the most interesting fish were the sturgeon that they had in several tanks depending on their size.
They also had three seals in a pool so the skipper was able to get a few Harbor Seal pics.
The skipper was interviewed for an AGLCA POD Cast in the morning. After the interview, he made a dash over to Tim Horton’s for another round of donut holes. And yes, he remembered to order only 20 this time. The delay in departure allowed the crew to see Alex and Marilyn one last time. Our crew got a tour of the one of a kind boat owned by Alex and Marilyn. Thanks for asking the crew aboard. Oh, and you have a really neat boat!
Once the crew got underway they passed under a lift bridge and worked their way out of the winding channel to open water. They passed a light marking the channel entrance. This light was the last thing the crew saw for about 50 miles besides the open water.
After those long boring miles, the skipper sighted a buoy that marked the entrance to the Miramichi River. Kinda sad when a floating navigational aide brightens up your day.
The skipper tried for 30 minutes to find enough water on the north side of Portage Island to enter the anchorage. After plowing mud a few times he decided to try the south side of the Island. Once anchored, they began to see seals with their heads up admiring Still Waters II. At one point, there were nine seal heads above water looking around. Can you spot the one below?
The sun decided to go hide behind the shore and close the curtain on the seal show.
The crew weighed anchor and headed out of the Miramichi River. They found themselves surrounded by several hundred Gannets flying about in a wild feeding frenzy. Once a bird spots a victim swimming in the waters below, the bird banks and plunges toward the water below. Just before hitting the water, they tuck their wings and assume the looks of a javelin to spear the prey.
After watching the sorties fly their morning breakfast missions, the crew rounded Point Escuminac, and entered Northumberland Strait.
This light marks the reef as boats make their way around the Point.
The run in the Northumberland Strait would be another 40 mile long boring run in open water. A couple of lobster boats were about the only thing the crew saw for most of the day.
Hauling in the catch.
Eventually the lighthouse marking the entrance channel came into view. The crew rounded their way into the narrow winding channel. After an hour they arrived at the marina. The best thing about this marina was a working pumpout. It had been 19 days since the crew last pumped out their holding tanks because none of the small fishing villages along the Gaspé Peninsula had a working pump out system.
The marina office and captains lounge was housed in this building.
The building was once office space for a saw mill that once occupied this space. Hence the name, Saw Mill Marina. The crew walked around town and learned that a Farmers Market is scheduled for the morning. Sounds like an event to explore.
The crew walked to the Farmers Market and were exceptionally surprised with the quality of the market. Cars were parked both sides of the road as far as the eye could see.
The skipper had a good visit with a local bee keeper selling his honey. The bee keeper had a show hive on a table and you could watch the busy bees going about their business taking care of the Queen.
The crew enjoyed the Market until around 10. They then headed back to the boat and shoved off the dock to make way to Prince Edward Island. The crew had another wonderful calm cruising day across the Northumberland Strait. After the 30 mile crossing, they arrived at Summerside where they will stay for the weekend and launch their exploration of PEI.
Lighthouse announcing arrival at Summerside
The crew went walking around town and found a street concert underway. Actually, it was the first annual Mike’s Family Reunion. Mike being a Restaurant sponsoring the concert. They had bands playing from 1300 to 2300. Each band played a 45 minute set. The crew listened to three of the bands, but Looper midnight showed up so they called it a night and headed back to the he boat.
The crew will spend the first part of the week exploring Prince Edward Island. They will then start towards Bras d’Or Lakes.