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10th October, 2018


After leaving Montreal we sailed back down the St Lawrence River and had a day at sea before arriving in Gaspe. En route we passed the confluence of the Saguenay and St Lawrence rivers where approx 80 Beluga Whales, along with a couple of Orcas and numerous seals were sighted. We of course slowed down and many guests enjoyed a very special experience. During our cruising in the St Lawrence the Canadians have introduced some specific whale speed restrictions primarily due to the presence of the North American Right Whales. This meant the 6 hours prior to arriving in Gaspe was to be made at a speed less than 10 knots so we had to make full speed in those areas not under a speed restriction.

Last year we anchored at Gaspe and during that call I went to inspect a “secret” berth that I had located on the chart but the tourist authority did not seem to promote as they had poured lots of money into the tender facilities! So, this year after a lot of dialogue we managed to finally get clearance to use the berth which made it so much easier for guests to go ashore and board the tour and shuttle buses. I was personally thrilled about securing the berth as I’d gone out on a “limb” with this, being the only one on board who had previously seen it.

The pilot boarded at 0645 and it soon became apparent he was a “colorful” character and had probably been pulled out of retirement. Although not familiar with electronic charts he was certainly very knowledgeable about the area and in particular this “secret” berth. He was initially a bit upset when I told him I was keeping the con but eventually calmed down and we managed to get him “back on our side”. We were alongside just after 0800 and all was ready by 0820 with our gangway on the dock and the buses close at hand.

Gaspe is a town at the tip of the Gaspe Peninsular in the Gaspésie Iles de la Madeleine region of eastern Quebec. Located along the Upper St Lawrence, the Gaspe Peninsular provides some of the oldest and most intriguing attractions in the world. At 8,500 square miles Gaspe is roughly the size of New Jersey. The region’s unique geography – lush arboreal forests, 350 million year old glacier burnished mountains and hundreds of crystal-clear rivers that team with popular sport fish such as salmon and trout – gives rise to a subtle tribute: many simple call it “The Gaspe”. Vikings may have been the first visitors, but officially Jacques Cartier discovered it for France on 24th July 1534, taking possession by planting a wooden cross with the Kings coat of arms and the sentence Vive le Roi de France (meaning long live the King of France).

There were 6 tours on offer today focused around trips from Gaspe to Perce, and tours to the Forillon National Park. Both Gaspe and Perce are very attractive towns and the one hour transfer between the two is a beautiful journey. A visit to Forillon National Park is a unique adventure and includes geological features that are up to 450 million years old, and its majestic landscapes cover an area of 94 square miles where the land joins the sea. With everyone on board by 1545 we slipped our moorings and in rather strong winds manouvered clear of the berth. There were no tugs here so I had been watching the weather forecasts for quite a few days!! On clearing the bay of Gaspe we headed towards our final port of call in Canada, St Johns, Newfoundland.

Captain Julian Burgess

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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