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Captain Log ID: 1048
Title: Quebec City
Boat Name(Id): BlueJacket ( 58)
Sailor Name(Id): Geoff Schultz ( 306)
Geo Region: Canada:Quebec
Date of Occurance: 2008-08-04
Latitude: N 46º   49.14'
Longitude: W 71º   12.059'
Sender (if email-in): wcz5101@NO_SPAM
Earlier log from "BlueJacket":  1047
Newer log from "BlueJacket":  1049
        Page visited 607 times since created         Edit This Log

Bonjour from the crew of the BlueJacket!

Chateau FrontenacAs you may have guessed from my salutation, we're firmly entrenched in francophone territory. I must admit that francophone is a new term to me, which means French speaking, but it's an important term or concept in Quebec province and more precisely, in Quebec City. You find that most of the merchants speak passable English, but the (older) general population will claim not to speak any. So far it hasn't been a problem, but it will be interesting as we head into smaller, more remote areas.

But I'm getting ahead of myself...We broke our 134 nautical mile trip from Montreal to Quebec into 2 segments. On our first day we traveled 87 miles in a little more than 10 hours and anchored in the Batiscan river. If you do the math, you'll see that we averaged 8.5 kts for the entire trip, which is amazing for a sailboat. The next day we covered the remaining 57 miles about 6 hours, which is an average of 9.5 kts! That doesn't really tell the story, as for more than half of that time, we had 20 kt winds on the nose, which greatly slows BlueJacket down and the wind was opposing the 3-6 kt current which caused a nasty chop to develop. As a result we had to bash our way through the waves and we were only doing 5-6 kts with the current. Once we got some shelter from the wind, our speed picked up to 10-12 kts, which is flying for a sailboat. That was fun!

Gare du PalaisThe area between Batiscan and Quebec City is beautiful, but unfortunately for us we had dreary, low clouds and extended periods of heavy rain which did a good job of obscuring the land. In many areas the riverbed has very high (clay?) banks rising steeply from the water. At one point I could see 8 waterfalls cascading down the sides. I would have loved to have seen this on a bright, sunny day, but we didn't. Instead I went through 2 raincoats.

As you've can probably tell, the weather has been less than perfect. In July, the area had 24 days of rain and almost double (10") the normal amount. I can assure you that the general populace isn't happy, especially since they had a long, wet winter. The main issue is that the jet stream is much father south than is normal for this time of year and as a result, low pressure systems just keep moving along it and bringing cool, wet weather. I can assure you that experiencing this from the cockpit of a boat isn't exactly fun.

FlowersAnyhow...on Friday afternoon we arrived at the Port of Quebec marina and pulled into the lock which separates the marina from the St. Lawrence. The lock is necessary due to the 18+ foot tides and the lock keeps the marina at a level near high tide. It's a large, English speaking marina right in the midst of Old Quebec City, so everything is right at your door step.

I haven't been to Quebec City since I was a young teenager, so my memory of the area needed refreshing. Quebec City was established in 1608 when Samuel de Champlain established the first fort here. Over the years it has been the site of many battles between the French, British and the Americans. It remains the only walled city in North America and is perched high above the St. Lawrence and its walls were ringed with canons. Inside the walls you'll find cobblestone streets, beautiful stone buildings and flower boxes in every direction that you look. For a city which has such a short growing season, it's amazing that they have so many beautiful flowers. Walking through the streets, you'd think that you had suddenly appeared in old-world Europe. It's absolutely beautiful.

Another charming aspect of both Montreal and Quebec City is the amount of art which is tucked away all over the city. Major construction projects are taxed 1% of their construction costs to fund the art, and while that might seem excessive, it creates a vibrancy that I haven't seen in other cities. To me, it makes the city so much more livable and breaks up the monotony of cement and stone. The streets are alive with musicians and performers, which provides a wonderful sense of energy.

Light ShowQuebec City is celebrating their 400th anniversary this year and as a result they are sponsoring all kinds of events. The waterfront area is lined with tents and stages for all kinds of performances. One of the more amazing ones takes place right behind the marina where the skyline is blanketed 100+ foot high grain storage silos which probably extend for 1/4 of a mile. Every night at 10 PM, these silos are turned into the project screen for a multi-media presentation documenting the history of Quebec. I don't know how they do it, but somehow they synchronize (50?) super high output projectors and light up the silos. Huge speakers throughout the area provide an incredible surround-sound listening experience. Call it Pink Floyd meets Omni-Max on steroids. The waterfront and walls of the old city are lined with people watching the show. I've seen it 2-3 times, and it's amazing.

A UNESCO SiteAll of this art and energy comes at a distinct price. We can't believe how expensive it is to eat around here. The other day we stopped at an average restaurant and had a burger, panini sandwich, *small* soda and an iced tea. How much do you think that ran? If you guessed $42, you won the award! I'm not quite sure how the average person affords to live here. We've seen the same pricing outside of the tourist area, so that wasn't an anomaly.

One of the things that surprises me is the lack of (apparent) security. I rarely see police and if you do see someone, they're probably from parking enforcement. Another observation is the lack of cell phones glued to peoples heads. You rarely see people talking on cell phones, which is quite refreshing. I will also note a distinct lack of handicap parking and facilities, which would make life very difficult for someone who has challenges.

We've been here longer than expected due to weather. Right now there's a gale warning for the area just NE of us and we need to make 70 miles on our next hop. Due to the tides, there's no place to stop between here and La Malbai, so I don't want to get out there and realize that we can't make it due to the winds and the chop. If you don't make the trip within the tidal cycle, you're in trouble as you'd end up fighting the current for hours. So, I guess that we'll go explore some more of the city.

-- Geoff & Sue

P.S. The photo album from Quebec is available at http://www.geoffschultz.org/2008_Sailing/Photos/Quebec_Quebec_City/
and the video is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbI0zmk8cA4