Ride the Rapids to Quebec City
Leaving in the dark to make it all work!
Watch our quick little video about getting to Quebec City and tour of the place!
Sailing to Quebec City involves a lot of planning and consulting charts. There can be as much as a 20 foot tidal change from high to low tide in Quebec City. With all that water rushing in and out, there is a very strong current, a 7 knot strong current! If it's against you, you may not make it there at all.
Two sections of the route, the Richelieu Rapids and the bridges right before Quebec, are especially challenging. The river narrows considerably leaving a very skinny shipping channel which you have to actually share with big ass ships!
Timing is everything. The river current switches directions.
We had downloaded our tidal charts and our current atlas, We consulted windy.com for wind speeds and of course, the weather app. We also took the advice of those who know and followed the recommended departure time.
We are the slow boat that can only go 6 to 7 knots, so we were looking at leaving 8 hours before low tide in Quebec. That worked out to leaving Trois-Riviere at 2am. I was nervous about sailing in the dark because we had only done it a handful of times, in familiar waters, since our big overnight passages on the ocean back in 2019. But Dave kept reassuring me you can see the big ships and the shipping channel easier at night because everything lights up. He was right but I was still comforted by the morning light around 4am.
Our meticulous planning paid off, when we hit the rapids we gained a little speed but nothing crazy happened. Fortunately for us, as soon as we were out of the narrowest part, a ship decided to come by. That would have been too close for comfort if he showed up earlier.
We arrived at the Quebec City Yacht Club at 9am. We were quite thrilled to see two Corbin 39s on our dock! Marius Corbin only built 199 Corbins between 1979-1991. Our boat is hull #187. Not all made it to completion, some burned in a factory fire in 1981. Over the past 40 years, some have been wrecked, sunk, and demolished leaving much less out there.
Corbins were built outside of Montreal. We knew we'd see some on the St. Lawrence and we were thrilled to have found 3 in Iroquois Marine. They were on the hard and not in great shape .Then 3 more in Quebec City! (Spoiler Alert: we also found 2 more in Rimouski, one being the fanciest Corbin I have ever seen, but we're not there yet). We met the 2 Corbin owners from the dock. One didn't speak English that well (still better than our French) so he didn't really want to talk to us much. The other, Charles, gave Dave a boat tour. He has a beautiful Corbin, fully restored.
We've spotted these Corbins on our travels.
Bike Path to the City
Even though we had been up most of the night, the day was too beautiful and warm to not take advantage of it. It seemed at first glance, the yacht club was far from downtown and that we'd have to ride our bikes down a major highway to get there. To our delight, we found out the yacht club is on a huge bike path that traverses all over both old and new Quebec City. Dave and I spent the next three days riding all over the place exploring.
This is the route we took into the city! Cool art work on the way.
Canada is an expert at alternative travel! In Kingston, Pointe Claire, Quebec City and Rimouski, we found amazing bike paths. In Rimouski, the traffic lights at a busy intersection give time for bikes and pedestrians only. We have ridden past a lot of schools on school days and have seen that kids provide their own transportation
Outside of School in Pointe-Claire
We really enjoyed walking around checking out the sites. Visiting Quebec City is like stepping into a charming European town with a rich history and distinct French flair.
We had been here once before for Christmas in 2017. It is probably the most Christmasy place you can imagine. Lots of snow and old timey buildings, we loved it. But the energy in the summer of everyone outside was fantastic. We ate at outdoor cafes and enjoyed a beer or two in the sunshine. Quebec City is one of our favorite cities and it did not disappoint us on this trip. If you want a quick trip to "Europe" without the airfare, Quebec City is for you.