Archive for June, 2008

We’re into an exciting part now!

June 22, 2008

The story for this week has been big ships, the river current, and the bilge pump.

There has been a few really big ships get very close to us, in some areas of the river there is no place to get away from them, so we get as far over as possible, and although their wake does not look that big, it is HUGE. It certainly sent Otto (that would be our incredible auto pilot) into a tailspin the first time, and we realized it would be a manual helm after that when close to big ships. I tried to count the containers on one, and it looks like about 200 -250 containers above deck they carry. They must all be connected together for when they run into a storm so they don’t fall off, I should think.

We are in Trois Riviere now, and out of the tides, but the river current will be affecting us the rest of the way. It runs from 1.5 – 2.5 knots against us everywhere now without any tide to help, so traveling will be a little slower, and sailing will be over, we think. All motor from here on until Midland, Ont, where we will re-step the mast. The current (together with the right tide) certainly helped us through Quebec City, we got up to 11.1 knots speed over ground. That’s moving for a boat with a hull speed of 6 knots.

“Pot ‘O’ Gold” usually runs with a very dry bilge, so you can imagine my surprise after going under the Pierre LaPorte bridge in Quebec City when I went below, and noticed the bilge pump on for an extended period, so I checked the bilge, and it was half full and rising (full would mean we sink)! I had to shut the motor down, and the water stopped rising but wouldn’t go down, so I turned control over to MB, and went below with my trusty toolbox. I replaced the bilge pump to no avail, the new one did no better, so I was sure it was pumping, and I connected a line from the new bilge pump to the cockpit so I could watch the water pump out. It did, and we limped to the first marina we could find where I took all the lines out and fixed the problem. We now run with a dry bilge again.

We expect to be in Montreal on Tuesday to meet up with Lee and take the mast down, so this should be an interesting week as well.

Love to all
Joe & MaryBeth
S/V “Pot ‘O’ Gold”

A learning week

June 16, 2008

It has been an interesting week, with lots learned (I once heard that an experience is taking the test without advance studying). I am getting lots of experience.

Highlights for this week include the weather (wet, and COLD), Matane, a visit with Genevieve from the Santa Maria 1, and learning the St. Lawrence River (and the big ships).

After sitting out high winds in Matane for a couple days, we decided to venture out the third day into high winds (25 knot) on our nose, but we were starting to think the wind always blows here, thus the windmills. After beating into the wind for several hours, our engine overheated, so I went below to fix it, and very quickly broke a stud off the thermostat housing, quickly removing our motor from service. Back to Matane and a trip to the welders, all fixed and ready to try again, the next day.

HA, we left Matane and had a nice trip to Rimouski, we did not need the motor, but I left it run anyway, making sure it really was fixed!

A couple of years ago, we met a really nice French couple from Quebec in Ballantyne’s cove NS, and we met them again in Rimouski, Genevieve and Marcel from the Santa Maria 1. We had dinner aboard their boat, unfortunately Marcel couldn’t make it, but it was a fascinating evening. Genevieve is an author, with three books to her credit, and a forth just being finished. It sounds like an interesting read, but her books are only published in French. It is a biography on the family that started and operates , GP supermarket, Germain and Rolande Pelletier, they have 15 supermarkets and own several shopping malls. Genevieve had a lot of fun explaining all this as she speaks mostly French, although her English was great. My limited French (bonjour) didn’t help matters much.

She cooked shrimp (my first time eating real shrimp, I thought they were all raised in little frozen rings), and the dinner was good, the wine was good, and the conversation was incredible, thank you Genevieve and Santa Maria 1 (which Marcel keeps in Bristol fashion with a lot of work).

The weather is still cold (we are anchoring a fair amount, but tonight came into Port Joli to plug our heater in, we’re frozen, but not wet, thanks to MB making sure we had real waterproof clothing, even if it doesn’t look cool). Surely the weather will warm after Quebec City, one day away.

The St. Lawrence River has so far been a great learning experience, and there is far more to come. When we started the River, I found it similar to sailing on the Northumberland Strait, weather can change suddenly, 1 – 2 knot currents that need to be tended to, but won’t make or break a trip. As we get further upstream, the tide is less important, but the currents allow the trip to happen, and they change hourly. Thank goodness for our current atlas (that’s a book with the currents listed every hour, in every place on the river), which we need to be able to move. We move when the current allows us, not when we want to go. For the most part so far, they have been the same, we just have to move into different sections of the river at different times of the day. This will change in the next day or two as the river narrows. Travelling under Pierre LaPorte bridge in Quebec City has a 2 hour window that will allow us to travel, otherwise the current is so strong against us we would be moving backwards. And there will be a lot of boats, all shooting for that 2 hour window. And these are BIG boats.

More experiences.

Joe & MaryBeth Amelia

S/V “Pot ‘O’ Gold”

We have rounded the Gaspe

June 10, 2008

After years of planning, we are underway!

We left Charlottetown Monday around noon, and sailed to Borden where we anchored for the night. Tuesday we sailed to Richibucto, Wednesday to Shippagan where we went under the lift bridge, only cleared by a short bit, but as MB says, an inch is as good as a mile!

Thursday to Newport (across the Bay of Chaleur), and Friday we rounded the Gaspe peninsula. We stopped at a marina Friday at Riviere Renard and will probably spend Saturday here, as 30+ knot winds are being called for. I found out that my depth sounder stops working after 300 feet deep. (actually, it doesn’t we were reading over 400 today, the bottom must get soft and it has a hard time reading at times).

This marina just opened today, and they have no services yet, so our nights are still cold. They are still getting frost here, at Shippagan, the marina was not even opened yet, they were just starting to put the docks in. “Pot ‘O’ Gold” was the only boat there, and sure looked lonely.

We’ve had no real issues, other than we broke an alternator belt, luckily we had a spare. At Shippagan, we parked at the gas dock hoping to fill up, but they had no gas yet, so we drove to town for fuel, then spent the night at the gas dock. When we arose in the morning, we were deep in the mud, and had to wait for the tide to come up.

We will be staying at Riviere Renard for a day or two to wait out the winds. Our freezer is not freezing, so I took it apart and will attempt repairs when I get back to civilization. We have no cell phone here, no internet, and no heat!! We will go for a walk around town today and see if I can find an access point to post this blog. (and find a new nut for my wind generator, it fell overboard all by itself last night).

Its now Tuesday morning, we have been traveling over a week. We have rounded the Gaspe Penninsula, and are now in the St. Lawrence River. The story to date has been whales, cold, and windmills.

I am putting up a picture of a church with hills in the background, with snow still on the ground, another picture of windmills, one of our lonely boat in Riviere Renard (we parked next to the Coast Guard Inflatable, still covered for the winter), and a picture from last week, Perce Rock.

We stopped at Matane for the night after a long 70 mile run, and will spend the morning here. Last night was spent at a broken down wharf at Mont Louis, where I “Put er on the rocks”. There were no channel markings, so I followed the chart plotter closely, and when I turned to head to the wharf, the whole boat scrapped and went up in the air, we were in about 2 feet of water hitting rocks. Thank goodness there were waves to rock us off, we went about 10 feet hitting rocks before the depth was better. No damage appears to have been done, and our prop is protected by the full keel, but I imagine we scrapped a lot of paint off the bottomside. This may come back to haunt us, but I hope not. Too cold for me to go swimming and see.

I read in a book once that if you look a whale directly in the eye, you can see back to the beginning of time and your life will never be the same in the future. That did not happen to me, but we did see three whales coming up and down (I believe they are Fin Whales that we saw), one of them blowing out his blow hole on the way to Mont Louis. We saw one more today going through the cove to Matane. They are certainly huge.

Lastly, it has been cold. We brought winter clothing for this leg of the journey, and have not yet removed any of them, save for a couple hours during the day. Mary Beth still has her long underwear on, and we were both wearing touques today. Hopefully, now that we are in the River (I’m calling it the River, since I can see both sides, but barely) it will start warming up.

We hope to meet some folks in Rimouski tonight, we met them at Ballantyne’s cove a couple years ago, they speak no English, we speak no French, and yet we have managed to keep in touch for the last couple years. We have to stop and see them on our passage.

Love to All

Joe & Mary Beth

S/V “Pot ‘O’ Gold”

The day has arrived!

June 2, 2008

We are set to leave this morning, June 2, 2008. We have spent the last 3 days on the boat making final preparations and getting her loaded.

I can’t believe that 3 full rooms of equipment, food and clothing has all fit aboard, and there is still room to move (some room, anyway).

We have met with friends and family over the last couple days, and said our goodbyes, the weather appears right, and we are as ready as we are going to be.

It is now 4:30 am, I am draining our waterbed, we will be getting a ride to the marina at 8:00, and we will be off. How exciting for us!

As I reflect on the last 5 years of planning, preparing, studying and practicing, I have to wonder if it will all be worth it, or will some great calamity interfere with our plans. Even with all the preparation, fate will play the major role in whether this will be the enjoyable adventure of a lifetime, or a disaster that some will say, I told you so.

Our camera is on the boat, as is everything else we will need, so I will not post any goodbye pictures. I am unsure when we will have internet access, but when I do, I will make our next posting, with pictures. We bought this mini satellite dish that is supposed to increase our wifi access “exponentially”, I guess we will see.

We will click the “OK” button on our SPOT every day, so you will be able to follow our progress, if you wish.

Dorman, we still owe you that sail, I expect you down south this winter to collect!

Love to all,

Joe & MaryBeth

S/V “Pot ‘O’ Gold”