There are rules. Of course there are rules. And like all rules, they came about because of actual events that happened that we don’t want to repeat. There are times, of course, that rules may need to be bent, or even broken, but those times are under either dire circumstances of something worse happening or just dumb luck.. until our luck runs out… and then the rule is etched in our minds as a commandment. Thou shalt not. Because, really, rules are made for very good, sanity and monetary-saving reasons. They are what allows us to continue doing what we’re doing with the least amount of drama possible. And who the heck wants drama when you’re already combating temperamental engines, broken fridges, and wind that always seems to be on the nose?
Thou Shalt NOT short-list:
- Thou shalt not attempt to make an itinerary or leave dock without the complete approval of Mother Nature. In fact, just let her make it, and then let her throw you a curve ball or two just so she knows that you’ve given her complete autonomy. She’s a bit fickle with a mood disorder so you don’t want to step on her toes.
- Thou shalt not enter any unfamiliar harbour at night. Because no one needs that kind of stress and it’s hard enough to figure stuff out in broad daylight.
- Thou shalt not hit another boat. Or jet ski. Or wharf wall. In fact, it’s best not to hit anything at all with a 13.5 ton battering ram that doesn’t like to turn and really refuses to back up in any helpful fashion.
— (Imagine seeing a rattlesnake in the middle of your path and nervously walking a wide circle into the weeds, thorns, and underbrush – which is probably chock-full of more rattlesnakes – to give it the widest berth possible while praying it doesn’t lunge at you. That’s basically us trying to back up in the boat. Now make the rattlesnake a black mamba if there’s wind involved.)
- Thou shalt not be lazy to avoid a minor inconvenience when it will most definitely turn into a exhausting and stress-inducing, major inconvenience down the road.
- Thou shalt not antagonize the person that you are in extremely close proximity to, most times with no escape, under all kinds of joyful and stressful conditions, ever. Seriously. Don’t do it. And if you do it unintentionally, make it right as fast as you can. (This is of course the golden rule, but it hits number 5 simply because we haven’t had too much need for it… but an important rule to keep on the top 5 nonetheless.)
July 18th, 2018: The trip from Quebec City to Cap-a-l’Aigle turned out to be a very long day. We left Quebec City in the morning and battled through the last couple hours of incoming tide at an incredibly slow rate just to catch the current out which we rode until the tide switched again. Twelve hours on the water, experiencing several firsts: tide rips, a few beluga whales swimming a short distance away from us, and docking in the dark. Tide rips are just annoying as they steal all our speed (which we have very little of), the whales were something we first thought were floating white fenders, then we realized that they were actually swimming (so obviously, not fenders) and then became something that we kept an eye out for for the rest of the day… but docking in the dark is definitely not something I wanted to repeat. It was a rule that had been in place long before we departed on our trip. And it was common sense… so may things could go wrong. But this was the first time we put the rule to the test… and we thankfully (and somewhat miraculously) we got away with it.
The issue was partially the wind, partially the tide rips, and partially the fact that we are as slow as a turnip. In fact, if you threw a turnip into the water, it would likely go faster than us. We could see the bay that our marina was on as the sun set. But seeing the bay didn’t mean we were close. At 4 knots per hour, it still took us a good amount of time to get there. And since the marina office had closed (and there was no one to direct us to a slip), the visitors dock was full (which we had reserved a spot at), and we couldn’t really see the open slips until we were right on top of them, I had to stand on the bow with a flashlight and try to scout out a spot. We found one, at the back of the marina, in the tightest slip we’d ever attempted to dock in, on our starboard side… which, trying to dock on, is once again, like encountering that damn rattlesnake. The boat just doesn’t want to dock to starboard.
So I’m having a doubts upon doubts and feeling *slightly* panicked, but at this point we are in a spot where we couldn’t even turn around if we had wanted to. So there was no choice. And as we pulled in, we saw two faces behind the cockpit enclosure of the Beneteau that we were pulling up beside look at us intently, and I’m sure somewhat uncertainly (they probably saw the expression on my face). It was almost as if they were willing us not to hit them. And by some incredible reason (likely John’s ever improving docking skills), we docked against all odds without any incident. In fact, it went perfectly.
Our boat neighbour Jean came out to say hello and we were very grateful for his English language skills. Cap-a-l’Aigle is one of the few places in Quebec that we found that was 100% French-speaking. We had had the marina in Quebec make the reservations for us so we wouldn’t have any issues with the language barrier. I guess that didn’t exactly work out as we had hoped. I also was embarrassed once again at how incapable I was in speaking the language. But Jean saved us, volunteering to be our translator and guide the next morning when it came time for the office to open so we could register.
The marina itself is beautiful and very small. Jean explained to us that we came a little too late (no kidding) to experience the marina at it’s best. Apparently, since the marina is so small and everyone knows each other so well, it functions much like a loving family: every night, they all get together and have a pot-luck dinner (with drinks of course). It would have been an amazing thing to experience, especially since everyone there was so incredibly friendly and helpful, but we would be leaving again in the morning to push on to Tadassac.
When it came time to leave, there was absolutely no wind, and John expertly manoeuvred out of our slip in the most inspiring six point turn I’d ever witnessed. We refuelled, waved goodbye, and set out.
So UPS is the biggest lot of (enter the longest string of curse words here). They not only never updated me as to what happened with the parcel, but they also never re-directed it. While we were still in Quebec City, we received a call from Liz telling us that the parcel had arrived on her doorstep, one full week after the day it was supposed to (and paid to) be there, which was also five full days after they had agreed to redirect it. Liz didn’t trust UPS to make it right (she was not alone in this) and so she took the parcel to Canada Post and sent it directly t0 our friends Steve and Kris in Prince Edward Island – which was our next official mail drop address. We unfortunately wouldn’t see the part for quite some time but at least we knew that it would arrive there safely. I then emailed UPS for an update to see if they knew of their mistake but as of leaving Cap-a-l’Aigle, we still hadn’t heard back.