Up the River to Richibucto

Leaving Prince Edward Island, Photo by M. Mair

Leaving Prince Edward Island, Photo by M. Mair

After consulting with our friend Paul in Charlottetown, Richard mapped out a new strategy for the next part of our trip, a combination of day hops and longer pauses. We were hoping this would be a good way to travel both quickly and comfortably, something we needed to do to avoid travelling the St. Lawrence River too late in the season.

Cape Tormentine breakwater at sunset, Photo by M. Mair

Cape Tormentine breakwater at sunset, Photo by M. Mair

We began by going from Charlottetown to Cape Tormentine on the New Brunswick coast, where we anchored overnight. It was a good day’s sail from Charlottetown. The ferries between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island used to run from there, and the breakwaters and piers (the piers are part of a marina now) we saw are part of their legacy. We left Charlottetown a little later than we’d meant to (that happens sometimes), and anchored in shallow water in Cape Tormentine just as the sun was heading toward the horizon. The evening and night were calm, and the anchorage mostly peaceful – except for the sound of fireworks after night fell, reminding us that it was a holiday weekend.

Early next morning we left for Shediac Bay, watched by a couple of early morning bicycle riders on the pier. Cape Tormentine is close to the Confederation Bridge linking New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island by road. The bridge is where the tide and current change direction and passage underneath can be rough or smooth depending on the direction and strength of the wind. We were lucky – for us, it was a smooth passage and we had some hours of good sailing.

Then those thunderstorms made another appearance, first swallowing our wind and then providing us with too much – we put two reefs in the mainsail and furled in part of the jib (the sail in front, for non-sailors) for a while, then went to full sails again as the wind went down. Really a case of ‘it never rains but it pours’. But we did manage to miss (or be missed by) all but one thunderstorm and sailed most of the way, and for that we were grateful.

Sunset in Shediac Bay, Photo by M. Mair

Sunset in Shediac Bay, Photo by M. Mair

Finally we sailed past a long, red beach then motored into Shediac Bay at our usual dignified pace, otherwise known as slowly. There were mud flats and rocks to be avoided, so we kept a close eye on the chart plotter, found our way past a high pier being used as a diving platform by a few hardy souls and a place to walk and watch by others, and anchored for the night between two marinas.

The next morning we made another early start. We set out with lots of wind, and put up the mainsail with two reefs in it. We had a good sail to Richibucto, and didn’t need the motor until it was time to enter the long channel that would take us in to the town. Then we needed it for more than two hours.

Richibucto is up a river, and to get there we started off travelling through a bay with lots of shallow areas. There was a marked channel going past a dune-backed beach, but after watching a powerboat maneuver through one part we decided to stick with the route Richard had plotted. We did wonder whether we should have, though, at the point when we saw only about a foot of water under our keel, where the chart said there should be at least five – but we made it past there to the deeper part of the marked channel, followed it in until we were close to the public dock and found a place to anchor outside the channel. Then it was time to settle in and fire up the generator to replace the battery power we had used.

Fishing boats at the public dock in Richibucto,  Photo by R. Mair

Fishing boats at the public dock in Richibucto, Photo by R. Mair

Richibucto is, among other things, a fishing town. The public dock is used by the fishermen in their cape boats – the kind of high-bowed working boat, low in the back, that allows them to put out and bring in nets and traps in many different kinds of weather. Not without risk, particularly if they are caught in storms, but practical for the work they do. They load and unload their boats at another dock close by, and while we were there that dock was piled with traps ready for the start of their lobster season.

Getting ready for lobster season, Photo by R. Mair

Getting ready for lobster season, Photo by R. Mair

It is also a place for summer visiting, and there are campgrounds close by for those who travel and stay that way. We saw their RVs along the other side of the harbour. There are parks and trees for shade and greenery, and along the waterfront we saw large homes with long docks and lots of boats – mostly pontoon boats and shallow hulled runabouts and work boats and small sail boats, good for using in shallow water. A group of power boats seemed to find pleasure in running past from up the river and then back again, leaving boats tossing in their wake.

Houses and boats, Photo by R. Mair

Houses and boats, Photo by R. Mair

Since the town is relatively small everything is within good walking distance. Turn one way and you’ll find a shopping plaza with a well-stocked Co-op grocer store and a Shoppers Drug Mart. Turn the other and you’ll find another pharmacy, a medical clinic, the library, the post office, a hardware store and an assortment of restaurants and smaller stores. We were able to get the things we needed and get gas for the generator. There was only one hitch – we had hoped to get more water for our tank. But the people we talked to told us that the water there wasn’t good for drinking. So we contented ourselves with two jugs of drinking water to take with us.

Which meant that water was going to be tight. And we were not going to be stopping anywhere we could get more until we got to Gaspé.

Written by Margaret Mair

About Margaret Mair

In love with the sensuousness of paint, intoxicated by the rhythm of words, entranced by the world of water, ever an observer and explorer.
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