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Small Boat Storage in Tadoussac

Larry Roberts

Traversay III
Waterline 43', Cutter-rigged steel hull
March 28th, 2023

In the summer of 2011, we travelled up the St. Lawrence in our sailboat, Traversay III. On our way to Quebec City, we were welcomed into the marina at Tadoussac in the Saguenay Fjord. It was early in the season and the docks had just been secured.

We spent a few days there, seeing the sights and going to the Whale Museum to hear about the efforts to conserve Saguenay’s whale population. The beautiful hotel offers delightful meals in which you’re surrounded by colourful wall murals showing the life of the early settlers and their native companions.

Tadoussac Hotel and dinning room mural.

The first trading centre (later consolidated with the Hudson’s Bay Company) is still intact. Visitors can view the pelts and trading articles on exhibit. Interesting bilingual videos describe the life of pioneer Samuel De Champlain, early Quebec politics, the fur traders and early commerce.

Trading center building.

In September 2022 we returned by vehicle and I spent an interesting half hour talking to the marina employees. We were able to confirm the story we had heard about winter boat storage. What follows is a fascinating tale.

Everyone familiar with small boats knows the process in their area for removing those boats from the water for inspection and maintenance. Those acquainted with cold eastern Canadian winters know that this procedure, along with serious winterizing, must be done every autumn in those parts of the country; the steps must then be undone in the spring.

Tadoussac, Quebec however has a new twist on this process.

Every boat in this picturesque marina must either leave or come out of the water at precisely 1622h on October 11. At low tide, boaters must be careful to mind that shoal at the left! But no problem – 1622h is high tide.

Here’s what happens:

  • A few days before October 11, the parking lot (in the photo below) beside the whale museum is closed to cars and that electronic parking meter is removed. Those boat cradles massed behind the cars are arranged about the parking lot with room for boats to maneuver between them (if there were water).

Museum parking lot in Summer.

  • The secret to this parking lot is that it is below the high tide mark and is only dry because of the gates in one corner that keep it so.

Gate at the edge of the parking lot holding back the high water.

  • At low tide (1000h) on October 11, the day with the highest tides, the gates are opened and, as the day progresses, the basin slowly fills with water.
  • An hour or so before high tide at 1622h, the boats all make their way in a defined order around the corner from the marina and through the gates. Each finds its way to its cradle and ties off to await the falling tide during which it is carefully tended to settle into its cradle just so. The gates are then closed at the next low tide and stay closed until springtime when everyone floats back out for the next summer.

Comments


  1. Isabel says:

    That’s very cool, thanks for sharing! I sailed past Tadoussac decades ago, in January 1981, on the icebreaker CCGS/ NGCC Norman McLeod Rogers, all the way up the Saguenay to Baie de Ha! Ha! The stars on those icy cold winter nights were astounding. I still remember how the intense twinkling made my eyes water.

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