The Magical Land of Whales and Sunsets

Canada Travelling Video
September 3, 2018

I have found the place where my camera wants to live.

July 19th, 2018 – Our trip from Cap-a-l’Aigle seemed like it was going to be fairly quiet and calm.  We were used to the ships passing us; both commercial and passenger, the winds were fair, lighthouses dotted the shore, the sky, a beautiful blue.

But at some point, that all changed.  The wind picked up, the seas became confused and choppy and the water seemed to turn black.  It seemed a little surreal, especially once we saw the Willy Wonka-meets-Edward Gorey inspired Tadoussac Lighthouse out in the middle of the waves.

We beat against the weather, noticing another sailboat grounded in the shallows as we approached.  Not a good sign.  We were still in our allotted window of tides though, and made it in to tie up at the busy Tadoussac marina alongside many other travelling sailboats, powerboats, and whale watching tours.

John and I registered, and decided to grab a hamburger and fries at the Marina restaurant.  It seems to be our go-to comfort food – one that just can’t be made on the boat.  After dinner, we followed the road to the Pointe de l’Islet Park trail. Though admittedly, we hardly touched the trail at all, clambering instead over the huge quartz and granite boulders that makes up the point at the confluence of the St Lawrence and Saguenay rivers.

At one point, John’s incredible mountain goat-like climbing ability completely surpassed me and I found myself stuck and insecure of making any other move forward along a steep rock bank.  I stopped and got myself on safe ground again while he continued on (my mom would certainly be happy that I didn’t take the leap, but I envied John’s sure-footedness).  After a couple hundred paces, I just heard him tell me to go back to the trail (which wound around above where we were currently standing) and come out the other end where he was.  It was worth it, he said.

I did.  I hiked over the boulders back to the trail, climbed the stairs (let me say that I really dislike stairs, or at least my glutes do) and trekked the top trail over to another staircase down to where John had been.  When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I saw him, standing out on the edge of the point, in front of one of the most glorious views I’ve ever seen.  I actually caught my breath.  I also may have swore in utter amazement.  This was beyond anything I had expected.

The phrase “It’s worth it” was an enormous understatement.

There were people there with us, but I couldn’t understand how only John was standing alone with the most incredible backdrop behind him.  The other people weren’t even paying attention to the sunset.  They were all studiously looking through their phones in the other direction.  I was puzzled.  And then I saw the pod of beluga whales that were just off the point swimming along.  Still, in my opinion, the sunset was far more impressive.  I was happy to have it all to ourselves.

Once off the trail, we walked back the 300 or so paces to the marina.  What I wouldn’t have given to have my dlsr camera with me that evening.  Too bad we were leaving in the morning.

When we reached the boat, we checked the weather for our departure the next day.  It was calling for wind.  Not a ton of wind but strong enough to make me a bit uncomfortable.  Maybe we should stay another day just to avoid the winds?  Wouldn’t that be a good idea?

My camera was going to be incredibly happy.

The next morning we got up, filled the boat tanks with water, did laundry, made use of the wi-fi, and did all of the other life-and-sanity maintaining tasks we have each time we arrive in a new port.  I was surprised at the temperature difference though from the 50 feet it took to walk from the boat to the marina building.  It was a day of taking off and putting on multiple layers.  It seemed that our normal ten degree difference that we usually see between the water and land had a much larger differential. I was not thrilled. It was July and I was sitting on the boat in three to four layers and was still cold.  But once the sun started to set, the temperature was forgotten.  With my Nikon in hand, I once again hit the trail to my incredible view up the Saguenay river to find a completely different sky over the same inspiring landscape.  I could have come every day to witness this and never be disappointed.

On Sunday morning we prepared to depart. I had heard mention that there was a small farmers market that happened in the church parking lot that morning that only started at 10am. John wasn’t thrilled with me going as he knew how I love to get lost in markets for hours, but I promised to be back and ready to depart for 11am.  I left for my provisioning stroll at 8am.  I figured that I would hit the tiny little épicerie at the top of the hill first to see what I could find, and then pass through the market as they set up for the day.  My venture was a success.  I stocked up nicely at the store, and then found beautiful organic vegetables, stunning strawberries, and white chocolate coconut bread from the bakery vendor.  (which made the most delectable French toast…)

It was a gorgeous morning with six knots of wind, John had fixed the furler for the stay sail (it wasn’t wrapping quite right last time we used it) while I was out gathering our food stores.  All in all, a fairly perfect start to the day.  We departed Tadoussac (much to my camera’s objections) and as we turned toward Gaspé, I heard John simply say “whale”.   And then he said “whale” again.  And again.

I think my camera was okay with leaving the mainland after that.



Michelle Kauntz
Wild Blue Yonder

Seems you've found us. I'm one half of the charming and somewhat frustrating duo that is John & Michelle. (I'm Michelle) We once had this one-day idea that we wanted to sail around the world. We made a five year plan. After ten years of talking and two years of prepping and postponing, we are finally underway. Feel free to follow us and live vicariously though our pratfalls and adventures as we take our almost-as-old-as-John Bayfield 40 Cutter Ketch out of the safety of Lake Ontario and out into the world. On a shoestring budget. With two fiercely independent people. In basically 300-ish square feet of living space and with not a heck of a lot of sailing experience (yet) ...This is going to be fun...

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