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Gaspé

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

12th October, 2015

Our next port of call, Gaspé, turned out to be rather delightful. It was an anchor port as expected, but because the anchorage is sheltered by the Gaspé Peninsula it is much protected, at least during the summer months. Apparently though, the area is known for large snow falls during the winter and the guide on our bus showed photos of his house and the main street with drifts up to fifteen feet.

Mrs R and I joined the afternoon ‘Hiking in Forillon National Park’ excursion, with me squeezed into the back seat of the inevitable school bus. There were two groups, one with an easier coastal walk and then ours, whose intention was to reach a lookout 926 feet above sea level in 90 minutes. We lost a small number after the first 10 when they decided things might get a little serious, but the remainder strode on, stopping only at the odd lookout and also when we were shown some black bear droppings, right in the middle of the path. We hurried on and the trek up was completed in less than an hour.

The park covers an area of 94 square miles, narrowing right down to the end of the peninsula so the views from the lookout of Mont Saint-Alban were spectacular, particularly on this beautiful day. Way back in the distance the ship could just be seen, a spec on the horizon. The group was told that we had just completed a very small part of the Appalachian Trail. Both Mrs R and I high tailed it back down the path so that we could have a little extra time around the small harbour and the Grande–Grave heritage site. Here there is, amongst the other preserved wooden buildings, the Hyman and Sons general store. Inside it was quite remarkable, the shelves were stocked with all the commodities and tools that would have been available almost one hundred years ago. By the time the rest joined us two rangers were there to explain how life would have been back in those days, then they pulled out a guitar and a fiddle and started to play. It was really quite special, old folk songs sung with gusto in French. They were possibly all the more enthusiastic because we were their very last tour group for the year.

We stopped briefly at the town’s museum, fairly high up above the water’s edge and with a great view of the ship quietly lying there in the fading light of dusk. On board the lights were coming on, almost beckoning us back to our maritime home from home.

Captain Philip Rentell

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