Thursday, June 30, 2016


It is a two day, 110 nautical mile trip from Quebec City to Tadoussac and tide planning is crucial for pleasure craft. Our cruising guide recommending departing two hours prior to high tide at Quebec City to make the 70 mile run to Cap-a-l’Aigle, and that it is mandatory that we arrive at our destination before dark. There are no places to stop in between. Our problem was that high tides for today were going to be 0303 and 1539.

Fortunately, through Bob and Jan on Wings, we met Guy and Lise off of a lovely 50’ Fantail trawler named Enchanter and another boater named Ramon. They joined us for Happy Hour and shared their extensive knowledge of these waters. After lots of discussion, their final recommendation was to depart at 0300 (right at the early high tide) to make the most of the ebb tide and minimize sections of the run where we’d be fighting the next flood tide. We toured each others boats and enjoyed some local wine together, thoroughly enjoying each other’s company. 

With our plan nailed down, after dinner, we exited the inside basin via the lock and tied up at the dock in the outside basin dock at around 2100 hours. Shortly after, we were in bed trying to get a few hours sleep before our very early departure. 

Quebec City is about to host The Transat Quebec Saint-Malo trans-Atlantic, crewed sailing race. It is the oldest west-to-east, non-stop trans-Atlantic race and it runs every four years. Its challenges include the Saint Lawrence River currents & tides, crossing the North Atlantic, avoiding icebergs and finally entering the English Channel and its dense maritime traffic and strong currents. Over the past few days and through the night, more and more monohull and tri-marins sailboats were arriving in Quebec City. 

0230 came around very quickly. It was cloudy with a drizzle and very, very dark. Shortly after heading out into the channel, we immediately faced lots of boat action. We had one unbound ship, one down bound pilot boat to drop off a pilot for the ship and two up bound, poorly lit Transat sailboats. Thank goodness for our radar and for the AIS (        ) Wings has on their boat. By 0500, all the boat excitement was over and the sky was starting to brighten, providing a much more relaxing ride. Shortly afterwards we had breakfast and then Fran has a short nap, followed by me. 

As the morning progressed, patches of blue sky began to appear, dramatically contrasting the dark clouds clinging to the hills along the north and south shores of the St. Lawrence. The ebb tide provided us up to 4 1/2 knots of “lift” to our speed for significant sections of the first 45 miles of our trip. Then, in a fairly short time span, the next flood tide started and our speed dropped form about 12 knots to 4 1/2 knots. The further we east we go from Quebec City, the wider the St. Lawrence River is getting. We are following the north shore and it won’t be long before the south shore is no longer visible. 

WHALES! Wow, were we surprised. At about 55 miles along this section, we spotted four whales. Three were the lovely white Beluga whales all following one another in a line and the fourth was an unidentified dark coloured whale. We stopped the boat and watched them swim by at a proper ~ 500 yards away. What a thrill. We had no idea we’d see whales so far upstream from the Saguenay River.

A tri-marin in the outer harbour

Sun poking through cloud cover

A mono hull delivery - tacking up the St Lawrence River
to Quebec City for the race

Lighthouse on St. Lawrence well protected
against the winter ice flows

Cruise ship heading upstream to Quebec City

Train along shore of St. Lawrence


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