In case there is any question about my ability to schedule extra “craziness” into our schedule, I suggested to Dan that we go to the Pleasure-Way RV Rally by the Sea event in mid-July, when we expected to be in Quebec City. The Rally, a gathering of Pleasure-Way RV owners, was being held across the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City. Dan should really learn to push-back on some of my hare-brained ideas but I thought it would be a great way to see Quebec City by land and sea! I signed us up for the Rally, which had a start date of July 10th.
Arrival by Sea
We arrived in Quebec City by sea aboard Gaviidae on July 8th, late in the afternoon. The Port du Quebec consists of two harbors or basins: The larger inner basin has the main marina, and is used exclusively for pleasure craft.
A small lock must be used to enter the marina. The lock keeps the water levels in the basins relatively stable from the 14-foot tide swing caused by the St. Lawrence Seaway. This set up also gets boats out of the fast-moving river current just outside the port entrance.
The two basins are divided by a high, wide wall. Entering boats wait in the outer basin, which also features docks along the perimeter for commercial, Coast Guard and pleasure boats. Arriving and departing pleasure boats tie up in the outer harbor when the lock is closed.
The lock is to one side (to port, i.e. left, as you enter) and a two-lane road and walkways sit atop the wall. A lift bridge sits astride the lock at the inner gate of the lock. When we entered the outer harbor, seven or eight boats were already inside awaiting the lock. As the lock gates opened, the lockmaster broadcast via VHF the sequence and placement of boats in the lock.
Usually, the largest boats line up along the walls (or in this case, floating dock). For whatever reason, the lock keeper decided that we should be the last to enter. Between the lockmaster’s Quebecois French and the muddied radio transmission, we had to get the instructions from someone on a nearby power boat. The instructions put us in the middle of nine boats and rafted up to a power boat that was 15 feet shorter than Gaviidae. Dan managed to maneuver Gaviidae into the middle and at the same time avoid spearing the backends of other boats with our six-foot bowsprit! Think of this as being packed into a crowded elevator holding a large parcel.
After topping off our main fuel tank and emptying our black-water holding tank, we tied up to our assigned slip and heated leftovers for dinner aboard. The next morning, we left Gaviidae behind, picked up a rental car at the Quebec City airport and drove to retrieve the RV. We had stored the RV at a marina boat barn west of Montreal, 250 miles away. We dropped the rental car at the Montreal airport on the way back, and parked the RV in a large-vehicle parking lot at the marina in Quebec City for the night.
Grabbing everything we thought we might need for five days in the RV, we left Gaviidae again and headed to the Pleasure-Way RV Rally. We crossed the high bridge we went under two days before to get there, which is always an interesting perspective for us. As we drove into the large KOA campground, we went through a sea of Pleasure-Way (PW) Class B RVs (or VRs–vehicles de recreation–as they are called in Quebec). We had never seen more than one other PW in any campground. Now we were surrounded by 90 or more PW RVs of all ages and styles!
Land Tour One
We signed up for the land-based tours and the first one was the next morning. Everyone piled onto large two-level buses and off we went for a tour of Quebec City. Along the way, we learned from the tour guide that the word Quebec is an Algonquin word meaning “where the river narrows.” We stopped at numerous historical sites and then ended up in the old city in time for lunch. They gave us plenty of time to have a leisurely lunch and wander around the old city before continuing our land tour. The tour included a stop on the wall at the marina where we got to see Gaviidae sitting peacefully in her slip!
Land Tour Two
The second land tour the following day was a tour of the areas outside of Quebec City. Our first stop was to the Montmorency Falls, which are higher than Niagara Falls. The schedule did not provide for enough time to do the zipline – darn! From the Falls we went to the church at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, which is beautiful, but we opted to go across the street and get ice cream. Priorities. We then onto Ile d’Orleans, the island just to the northeast of Quebec City dividing the St. Lawrence. After so much of our journey was by sea, it was nice to see the views from land!
Fun and Games at the Rally
Rainy weather forced cancellation of some events at the Rally, like the nightly bonfire. But other events continued as planned. One was an afternoon when PW owners welcomed visitors to see modifications that they had done to their RVs. It was a great way to get some organizing ideas as well as meeting some other travelers. There were also nightly prize giveaways for the winners of Bingo or music trivia. We didn’t win anything but helped a teammate at our table celebrate her win of a custom PW toolkit.
The overall event was fun and we met some new people whose paths we may cross in the future.
Back to Sea, and Land
At the end of the Rally, Dan took me back to the boat, then he headed out to return the RV back to storage near Montreal. Our friends from Minnesota, Mark and Jeanne, had just arrived in Montreal and Mark agreed to be the shuttle service. He picked up Dan at the boat barn, collected Jeanne from their motel in Montreal and drove to Quebec City for a long weekend exploring the city.
Mark and Jeanne have been spending time with us on our boat every summer except for 2020, when Covid kept them from crossing the border. This would be the first time the boat was a stationary hotel. Our land excursions included an informative walking tour of the Old City, a required stop at Chateau Frontenac for an afternoon cocktail, and some amazing dining experiences. Fortunately for our bank account, they were only on board for a few days. Even with the great exchange rate, dining out every night drains the fun-money cache quickly!
Back to Sea, Really
On July 18th, Mark and Jeanne departed for Montreal and we moved Gaviidae to the outer harbor. Tides required a 0600 departure to head further east and the lock opened at 0700. There were two routes to consider – one on each side of Ile d’Orleans. We opted for the northern route as it would give us a view of the Montmorency Falls from the water.
July 19, 2023 376.4 Nautical Miles 46°49.160’N 071°12.141’W