July 8th, 2018: 70 nautical miles covered in 9 hours: Longueuil to Trois-Rivières. We experienced some considerable chop and rolls on Lac St Pierre for a while, and then were thrust back into creative docking practices as we arrived in Trois-Rivières marina. Docking in 20+ knots of wind is not fun. When we called ahead, we were told to dock immediately in the first spot at the long dock at the end of the channel coming into the marina. It was a perfect spot for us: port-side docking is our preference because of the way the boat’s stern swings. When I got to the office to register however, they wanted to move us further in, in between other boats, in sort of a parallel parking manoeuvre, in the high winds. So much for easy access. She agreed to let us stay where we were until the winds died down a bit and we hoped that in the meantime we could find some way to not have to move.
Boaters thankfully stick together. It’s a very interesting community and I’ve seen both sides; the annoyed, dirty, unempathetic looks when the winds claimed control of our boat in Lachine for coming too close to their own boat, and the boater three boats down from him that understood our predicament and attempted to help us get out of the situation. In the two weeks that we had been on our journey, we’ve been surprised at the helpfulness, willingness, and camaraderie. We’ve had people sending us off in traditional marine fashion (with Portuguese tarts no less), offering up their vehicles for our errands, offering advice, stories, and well wishes. We’ve also seen the other side of the spectrum, (mostly, unfortunately, living up to the power boater/jet skier stereotype of being self-centred and entitled, or simply blissfully unaware of how their their powerful wake effects others) But at the end of the day, the good has far outweighed the ignorant attitudes in the fellow boaters we encountered. And when the lovely sailboat that pulled in front of us at the dock in Trois-Rivières found out that the office was attempting to move us, they told them no – we were fine, it was safer for us to stay where we were. They did help us move closer to them instead of being near the end of the dock, as the dock was basically inside the end of the channel and they didn’t want us to get inadvertently hit by someone entering at night.
Monday morning, the winds were still high and gusting up to 31 knots per hour so we decided to book ourselves at the marina for another day. We spent the time hiking into Cap-de-la-Madeleine – a 4km round trip to the grocery store – and I managed to find some decent wifi to take advantage of. John began sorting out the bow locker so we could eventually begin anchoring. It’s one of the *few* things he didn’t have a chance to get to before we left but even though our budget was taking an enormous hit, I didn’t mind. It allowed us to get used to living on the boat in stages… namely with far more convenience at the start of our journey while we were becoming acclimated. But the time would come when our long-term plan would have to come into play, and a stricter budget followed.
We also picked up tide tables and set about to learn how to read them. It didn’t help that the tables books were all printed in French. Tides were now starting to be a factor we needed to look at and timing for departure times and destinations had to be carefully considered. Several google searches later John seemed to have a grasp on them and we began making plans as to what time we had to leave the following morning for Portneuf.
After a spitting of rain, the winds started to die down and we were treated to a spectacular sunset and a double rainbow in an unbelievably gold and pink sky. Red sky at night…
July 10th: An early morning departure to start our journey to Portneuf and to experiment with our boat speed and relationship to the tides (as well as transit the Richelieu rapids). Definitely tides were going to be a new skill set to master. We were incredibly thankful for a calm morning as we headed out. It was so much less stressful leaving Trois-Rivières marina than it was entering.
We made it through the Richelieu Rapids to Portneuf by lunchtime. We had been warned about the rapids by guide books and forums but it seemed as underwhelming as our first lock transit. Perhaps we just picked the right time and were going in the right direction. Or possibly it’s one of those things that seem to be blown out of proportion in the books… it wouldn’t be the first time. It was interesting to see the water eddy in places and the current was strong enough to triple our regular cruising speed. But as we approached Portneuf, once again Mother Nature decided we needed more practice: the weather flipped as soon as the marina was in sight, spitting rain at us and gusting winds up to 24 knots per hour. The moment we were docked however, the rain subsided and the winds died down. We napped, and pretty much spent the day on the boat, getting things done and checking weather and time tables for our next leg to Quebec City.