In my last post, I referenced another story to tell from L’Anse A Beaufils. This is an embarrassing one, but here goes. I mentioned previously that I check both engines daily after each day’s run, or early the next morning before our next run. In Beaufils, I decided to top off the oil and the coolant since they were both down a small amount on the port engine. Stupidly, I set the gallon of oil and the gallon of coolant next to each other on the floor as I prepared to top the fluids off (I know better than to do that…). Both gallons are the same size and shape. You can see this coming – I mistakenly picked up the coolant gallon instead of the oil gallon, and started to put it into the oil fill. Of course, I realized it immediately as soon as the fluid started to flow, but not before a few ounces of coolant went into the oil fill. YIKES!! What now? I called Adam, my ace mechanic in Boston, hoping he would tell me it’s OK, since it was a small amount – then I could keep the secret to myself. He said I have to change the oil before starting the engine. I explained to him that I was in a tiny harbor with no services around, no town other than a small tourist village for 50 miles, not to mention no store that sells diesel oil. He wouldn’t listen – change the oil, he said. I explained that no one here speaks English, so I couldn’t possibly arrange for an oil change. He wouldn’t listen – change the oil, he said. After some inquiries, I told him that any local mechanic around was totally booked for weeks if not months. He wouldn’t listen – change the oil, he said.

What now?

You may remember Nicholas from a previous post – he’s the harbormaster in Beaufils who speaks both English and French and who was kind enough to drive us to Perce so we could tour Isle Bonaventure, and who we coerced into driving us 50 miles to Gaspe Airport. I explained the situation to Nicholas, who said he would try to find someone to change the oil. Changing the oil on an inboard diesel engine on a boat isn’t the same as changing the oil in a car. The oil in a boat inboard engine can’t be drained from the bottom of the engine, but instead has to be pumped out through the dipstick tube with a special pump. We don’t have a special pump. In addition, you need to be a contortionist and have some experience to reach in toward the back of the engine, unscrew the filter almost by feel, empty it of oil, then screw the new one in place – snug but not too tight or you’ll strip the threads. I told Nicholas that we would, of course, pay a mechanic overtime if he could find one to do it moonlighting.

After several false starts, including a mechanic who agreed to do it on Sunday but then didn’t show up, Nicholas finally found a retired mechanic who agreed to change the oil. However, Nicholas would need to help since the mechanic couldn’t move around very well, and he couldn’t see very well, either. YIKES!!

This story does have a happy ending. Nicholas got it done! Thank you again, Nicholas!

I was going to keep the whole incident a deep, dark secret, but I decided to confess to the world – because sometimes bad mistakes make good stories!

Moving on – we have a day in port (more on that later), so I thought I’d use the opportunity to answer a few questions that people have sent to me in recent weeks:


The Joint Adventure is called a PDQ, built by the company of the same name in 2002. PDQ built 110 thirty four foot power catamarans, and the Joint Adventure is hull #10. She has twin 75 HP Yanmar diesel engines.

The design of every boat is a series of tradeoffs (like everything in life), and the PDQ is no different. I originally chose the PDQ because of the following advantages: (a) the platform is wide and stable with much more space inside than a typical 34′ boat, both for living and for sleeping; (b) she is very fuel efficient, getting 6-7 statute miles per gallon of fuel when cruising at displacement speeds of 7-8 knots; (c) on a plane, she cruises at 13 – 14 knots, enabling us to get somewhere quickly if we want or need to; (d) she has a shallow draft of only 2 1/2 feet, enabling us to go into shallow water where other boats can’t go, or to forgive us if we accidentally wander into waters where we shouldn’t go; and (e) she is not set up primarily for one cruising couple as many cruising boats this size are, but instead is set up with two separate private cabins each with a queen size bed, plus the dining table in the main salon which converts to a king size bed – thus, three couples can cruise comfortably provided they don’t mind being a bit cozy! The trade-offs for these benefits are (a) PDQ’s have a shallow tunnel between the pontoons, so they are not built for moderate or heavy seas, especially waves on the bow; and (b) waves on the beam cause a sharp, quite uncomfortable motion, especially on the bridge. We overcome these trade-offs by picking the days we run – we’re not at all averse to staying an extra day in port when called for – and by adjusting our course as needed to avoid taking waves directly on our beam. We’ve now driven the boat well over 10,000 miles over the last 9 years, so she certainly has proven to be a seaworthy vessel.

Here are some pictures of the inside of the boat that were requested:

This is the main salon. The table folds down and converts the dining area into a king size bed
Included in the main salon is the lower helm station, as well as extra seating. We never drive from the lower station, as the visibility is much better on the bridge, especially for spotting and avoiding floats on lobster or crab traps and floating debris.
This extra seating area is also part of the main salon. There is also a small folding table hinged on the right, as you can see, which provides a good working space for a laptop. On the left in the shelf area is a printer and scanner.
The galley is located in the port (left) pontoon. It has a half-sized fridge, a two burner stove, a microwave, and storage. There is no oven; we actually brought a separate toaster-type oven on the Great Loop, but never used it, so we jettisoned it for this trip. The storage area is tight, especially when we have six people on board. There is additional storage for dry goods and canned goods under the floor boards, and we carry three coolers outside to store less perishable items like soft drinks, beer, wine, some produce, etc.
This is the entranceway to one of the two identical private cabins. Each has a full size queen bed.
This is the queen bed in one of the two private cabins.

The head (bathroom) with a shower is located in the starboard (right) pontoon.

Housekeeping is constant effort, especially when there are six people on board and especially in cold weather like we had on the St. Lawrence and the Saguenay rivers when everyone has extra layers to take on and off. We all try to do our part, but sometimes it does get a bit cluttered! Jim does almost all of the provisioning and cooking, and Paul helps out with grilling when called upon. I’m not allowed in the galley. We all share doing dishes on an informal basis.

Here is a picture of the bridge, from where we pilot the boat. The GPS/chart plotter is on the dashboard – a technological advance which makes cruising today much easier and safer than just 20 years ago. We roll up and open the four clear plastic windows unless its cold and/or windy, or it’s raining – they’re closed in this picture due to the rain. When closed, we’re completely dry when it’s raining and generally protected from the wind.

Jim built this table to replace a previous one of the same design that my Dad had designed and built. In pleasant weather, we eat here on the bridge – this table seats four, and we have an extension and folding chairs on board so that six of us can all eat together outside up outside on the bridge.

There are two fuel tanks, one forward and one aft. The forward tank holds 70 gallons, and the aft tank holds 115. We never let either tank go below 1/4 full, so we effectively have about 140 gallons of fuel available. At 5 nm/gallon, our range is up to around 700 miles. When the aft tank gets low, there is a pump to transfer fuel from the forward tank. We’re quite careful about where we take on fuel – we avoid smaller operations that may not pump much fuel, instead utilizing places with alot of boat traffic and alot of fuel being pumped to be sure we’re getting fresh fuel that is less likely to be contaminated with water or bacterial growth from sitting in tanks for extended periods.


The honest response to the question about what a typical day entails is that there is no typical day. Every day we run, we’re going into waters, into a harbor, and into an area where we’ve never been, so it’s a new and often challenging adventure every day. That being said, there is a pattern on days that we run. We try to leave relatively early, by 8:00 or earlier, partly because there is generally less wind early in the morning, and partly because we like to be in port by noonish or early afternoon. We share the driving, and have at least two of us on the bridge in areas or conditions that require extra vigilance. Otherwise, when we’re underway, one or two of us may be in the cabin below reading, doing planning or boat chores, or the like. Half of the fun of the trip is the boating adventure, but the other half is the unique places we see and the people we meet – so we like to get tucked in by early afternoon, then go exploring on foot or more often on our bikes – we have six bikes on board. Sometimes we go together and sometimes we go our separate ways. We generally reconvene on the boat in the late afternoon or early evening when Jim usually cooks a great meal if we don’t go out. After dinner, there’s usually not a great deal left of the evening, so we generally hang out on the bridge or in the cabin, sometimes with a beer or cocktail.

We stay in port on some days either because it’s a special place that we want to explore further, or we’re waiting for a new crew member(s) to join us, or we’re waiting out the weather. If there are new things to explore and see, our off-day is taken up by doing so. If not, we generally hang out around the boat, do boat or other chores, go out for walks and/or bike rides, and do a fair amount of reading. Yes, on such days there sometimes is some downtime that can seem a bit long, depending on where we are. It’s a great opportunity to catch up with the 30 or so books on board! We also have a TV, DVD player, and about 50 DVD movies on aboard, but TV reception is generally poor or non-existent, and we have yet to pull the TV out and watch a movie (I love movies – not really sure why!)


We’re now on Day 62, having traveled 1,334 nautical miles (1,535 statute miles). We’re currently a little over halfway through the trip based on miles, a bit less based on time as we expect the second half to take longer due to more challenging conditions, open water, fog, and more weather days. Surprisingly, we’ve seen almost no fog so far, having run in fog only once for an hour or two before it lifted. However, in Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy we expect the most fog. We’re actually exactly on the target schedule that we laid out last winter. We’ll see if that holds going forward! We expect to arrive back in Boston in early to mid October.

Feel free to comment on the blog, or send me any questions you might have – I’ll try to respond as best I can!

Moving on – we’re now in the Northumberland Straight, the large body of water between the mainland of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The weather is supposed to be predictable with steady 10 – 15 knot southwesterlies and sunny days; we’ll see – Monday brought 25 knot winds with higher gusts and rain Tuesday. The water is known to be the warmest saltwater in Eastern Canada, and some claim it’s the warmest saltwater north of Virginia. French is the dominant language here, but nearly everyone speaks fluent English as well. The population in this part of New Brunswick is referred to as Acadian, having originated from a different part of France than those who settled in Quebec. I’ve talked at length with a number of people to try to understand what “Acadian” means. I’ve asked people to define for me the land area to which Acadia refers. The best answer I’ve heard is that it isn’t a land mass, although the area is often referred to as “Acadia”; rather it’s a culture, an ambiance, a heritage, a pride of history and ancestry that those who refer to themselves as Acadian feel.

It began in 1755, when the British effectively took over New France (although not formally until the Treaty of 1763). The British feared an uprising by the French inhabitants, which were mostly farmers or fisherman or settlers engaged in the lumber or fur businesses. The British therefore undertook a mass deportation of the Acadians people from present-day New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and parts of Maine; it today is referred to as the Expulsion of the Acadians or the Great Upheaval or the Great Deportation. At first, the British deported Canadians to the thirteen colonies, then after 1758, they deported some to Great Britain and France as well. Approximately 11,500 Acadians were deported out of a population of roughly 14,000 Acadians at the time. Men, women, and children were forcibly removed from the land that many families had farmed since the 1600’s. Their homes and farms were burned, and their land given to settlers loyal to Great Britain, many from New England and Scotland. An estimated 5,000 Acadians died of disease, starvation, or shipwrecks during the deportations. The Acadians who hid and avoided deportation remained in the area, joined by some others who eventually made their way back. Others ended up in various pockets in the US and Canada. During the second wave of deportations, some were sent to Britain or France, and from there a significant number ended up in Louisiana, where “Acadians” gradually morphed into “Cajun”. Note that Cajun food is not the same as Acadian food – Cajun food with its origins along the bayous of Louisiana evolved from a combination of French Acadian and southern cuisines.

It’s interesting that the British took a very different approach regarding the French inhabitants of Quebec when France ceded Quebec to the British around the same time. Not wanting to incite an uprising by the French in Quebec, the British instead made numerous concessions to them from the beginning and over the years regarding language, customs, etc., a process which many would argue continues today. In any case, Quebec remained mostly peaceful and has resulted in the bi-cultural country of Canada that we know today.

From the special stop at Escuminac, we ran about 45 miles in great weather and calm conditions to Bouctouche – two places that couldn’t be more different! While Escumiac was a remote but wonderful off-the-beaten path fishing outpost, Bouctouche is an upscale tourist town with a number of attractions. The harbor is quite small with almost no transients, but we did meet a couple on another boat that is also doing the Down East Loop. They started around Washington DC, and are traveling in a large ocean-going vessel called the Constance Sea (named after co-owner Connie) that dwarfs the Joint Adventure:

Bouctouche is the birthplace of the Irving oil empire. George Irving first migrated from Scotland to the area in 1833. George’s great grandson opened the first Irving gas station in Buctouche in 1924. Today, the Irving fortune shows via the Irving Plantation and the Elizabethan Gardens and other establishments and memorials throughout town, all open to the public. The Plantation apparently include specimens of every tree species throughout all of Canada. Here is an image of the Elizabethan Garden:

The marina where we stayed for two nights is small but upscale, with a beautifully restored 100 year old administration/function/amenity building, also part of the Irving heritage:

While in Bouctouche, an antique and classic car show was underway. I was a car buff in high school, so it brought back great memories. Here are a couple of pictures:

Also in Bouctouche is a re-creation of a 1920’s Acadian village, with period-dressed actors, shows, live music, and story-telling sessions. The shows and other events were in French, but the period-actors all spoke English. The village is built completely on stilts on a marshy area in the middle of a salt water pond. Here are some images:

The bridges lead to the island from the Visitor Center
While the village was interesting and we learned some Acadian history talking with some of the period actors, overall we thought the village atmosphere was a bit cheesy. We wanted some authentic Acadian food here, and we had some Acadian poutine and another local dish, but I’m not sure how authentic the food was.

The following day, we ran only about 20 miles in great weather to Sediac, New Brunswick. Sediac is not quite a city by our standards, but is probably the largest town we’ve visited since Quebec City. It is popular with tourists, and the yacht club where we are is quite large, with several restaurants, bars, boutiques, and boat charters lining the adjacent harborfront. There is a long and beautiful beach in close proximity to the yacht club; it was in the 80’s, sunny, and humid yesterday, so we all took a long walk on the beach. However, Sediac’s real claim to fame, other than being a large beach community, is that it boasts the largest lobster sculpture in the entire world! A historic site of that significance deserves at least two pictures:

Just remember – you saw it here first!!

Sediac is another milestone for us – first, Trish, Pat, and Chrissie arrive back on the Joint Adventure to join us for the next three weeks or so. YYAAYYY!!! Second, our next run will be to Summerside, Prince Edward Island!

More to come!!

3 responses to “BAD MISTAKES MAKE GOOD STORIES – and other topics”

  1. Very jealous of such an adventure……. Jim you are the Rick Steves of boat travel!! Syndicate this stuff!!


  2. Bruce Gillikin Avatar
    Bruce Gillikin

    My favorite quote: “I’m not allowed in the galley”.


  3. Varies depending on the audience Avatar
    Varies depending on the audience

    Nips, no more port time, I can’t read that much.


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