Having been a relatively conscientious volunteer at yacht clubs I’ve belonged to in the past, it was a little bit guilt-making to receive the annual e-mails from Tad asking for help to put in the docks when I was in Montreal. Now I can help, at last, and May 1 and 2 were the designated days. Trouble was, everything that could go wrong pretty much did.
The first thing was the docks had been stored on the wharf and needed to be lifted into the water by the green crane in the photo below. However, this research ship from the University of Quebec at Rimouski tied up the night before saying it had to have its hull inspected by a diver, for two whole days, and wasn’t going to move out of the way. Apparently the dock in Rimouski is in bad repair and they’re not allowed to dock there.
That problem became secondary when I noticed the crane operator and owner feverishly leafing through a manual, talking on cell-phones and sweating profusely. They couldn’t get the crane to work. Optimistically I suggested we all go home, they get a mechanic to fix it, and we’ll all come back tomorrow. Trouble was, there was a transport truck with ten docks on it due in from Chicoutimi any minute, and we had to have a crane to unload it.
There was a smaller crane we could get to unload the truck on to the wharf as opposed to into the water where we needed the docks, and by the time we got that one down to the wharf, of course, the first crane started working. So then we unloaded docks off the end of the wharf which meant a double-lift for many of them because of the research ship being in the way, and as in the picture above took the docks from the truck right into the marina area. This was great till the fishing boats started coming in…
They are just trying to make a living and were none too pleased about the research ship in the way either, so we moved some docks to make a little space at the end of the wharf for their boat and we moved other docks on the wharf to make room for their truck.
Then the crane broke again.
Just before we decided it was game over they got it working once again. We had a late pizza lunch and carried on getting about half the docks in by day’s end.
Saturday we started at 7.30 am and, although the ship and the fishing boats were still around, the crane worked perfectly. We got all the docks in and the main dock bolted together and anchored into position. It was a beautiful sunny day but, lest you think everything went right this time, as my mother used to say: “Into every life a little (er) rain must fall.”
You may recall that the fuel dock has two hinged struts bolted to the dock to hold it in place and accommodate the tide. These are hinged up in winter and then lowered into place. One strut supports the gas hose down to the dock and the other has the diesel fuel hose going down and sewage from boats’ holding tanks going up. (You know where this is going, don’t you?) Fortunately the gas and diesel hoses were dry. Unfortunately the 30 feet of 3 inch sewage hose had somehow retained the remains of its last pump-out. When our hero (not me, a real hero) was confidently standing on the dock saying, “Lower away!” or words to that effect, little did he know that within seconds he would be heading for his car, his home, his shower, and a complete change of clothes!
Sunday morning saw Shawn and Phil back at the docks looking after the details (like anchors, not that they are mere details). Now it’s time to start thinking about the dry-dock…
This was going on as Tadoussac seemed to awaken from hibernation. Restaurants are opening and B & Bs are having their first customers. Tourists were looking down at us from the docks with the usual curiosity and taking pictures with views in the background (never me, I noted.) The ship had divers underneath it all day. A black zodiac with three men dressed in black survival suits complete with black helmets and visors showed up looking like a set piece out of a Star Wars movie. They didn’t look like the sort of people who would take kindly to suggestions about liberating their concept of color scheme but before I had the chance I fortunately noticed that the only white on the vessel was letters spelling out the word “Police.” They hung out at the Coast Guard dock for a while, I assume comparing horse-power, while their mother ship hovered out in the river. I mention the horse-power because Shawn pointed out that there were no numbers on the two huge motors driving the zodiac. He asked last year and was tersely informed that the horse-power was “classified.”
Add to all that, the first two zodiacs were running whale-watching tours starting today. Tadoussac is finished with winter and starting to show some life on the water and off it.