Monday, July 27, 2009

Voyage of the Vikings Day 03 - Land Ho!

We awoke this morning to look out the window and see land approaching. This was significant of two things. First we were approaching our destination for the day, Isles de Madelaine in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence river. Second, the fog had lifted.

Having visited much of Atlantic Canada more than once in our motorcoach, we were not all that anxious to debark and tour the island. Particularly not when the fog rolled back in shortly after we arrived.

This is one of the destinations where the port town, Cap au Mules, does not have adequate dockage for a vessel the size of the Massdam, so we anchored and tendered. This means that the ship is stopped in the middle of the bay, held in place (hopefully) by an anchor. We are fortunate to be here in calm weather. The bay is completely open on the east side, vulnerable to a good old fashioned nor-easter such as we experience in the Northeast from time to time.

Approaching Isles de Madelaine, Just Ahead of the Fog

Cap au Mules Map, Showing the Harbor and the Anchorage

Because we are floating in the middle of the bay, not attached to land, it is difficult to step off the boat and land on dry land, so to speak. To address this issue the ship carries several (relatively) small boats on deck. These small boats are about fifty feet long and will carry as many as one hundred fifty passengers back and forth to the dock. The small boat is called a tender; hence the process is called tendering.

Maasdam Tender


Tender Dock on the Side of the Maasdam Hull

It's fortunate we weren’t strongly interested in this particular port because shortly after we arrived the fog rolled back in, which would have seriously inhibited sightseeing. After a very long, leisurely breakfast, so long that we shut the place down, we moved our operations out by the pool. It was warm enough to open the sliding roof, making poolside an extraordinarily pleasant place to relax. Kathy read, while Keith wrote, and took some photos.


Kathy Reading Beside the Pool

All good things must end, and our morning idyll ended when the movie theater opened at 11, and Kathy disappeared. Keith visited our cabin to grab some toys, then sat on the aft deck to read and listen to the radio. What's playing, you're supposed to ask. Keith's Radio Shack scanner tunes the marine VHF band, so he listened to the bridge talking the tenders through the fog. Some of the tenders have radar, but most do not. The position and course of the tenders that don't have radar is tracked using the radar on the mother ship. Based on this information, the mother ship provides steering guidance to the tenders on the VHF radio. Meanwhile, the cruise director is coordinating the activities of her onboard staff on channel 72.

Following late lunch in the Lido, we power napped a couple of hours, then ascended to the Crows Nest to imbibe while watching a gaggle of local pleasure and workboats ogle the monster invading their waters. Fortunately, by this time, the fog had lifted and the sun was playing peek-a-boo.


The Sun Attempting to Shine Upon Us


Local Sightseers


Happy Hour in the Crow’s Nest

We again dined in the main dining room. Our dining companions are two couples. One a retired sales rep and school audiologist from Minneapolis, who now reside in Naples, Fl and a retired engineer/stock broker and his music teacher wife from Idaho, who are transplanted to Arizona.

Kathy and Dinner Partners Mike, JennyJoe, Audry, and Dennis


Formal Dining Accoutrements

All four seem to be interesting and intelligent people, so our dinner conversations have been informative as well as stimulating.

After dinner we spent a few minutes in the Explorations Lounge, finishing off this missive, then to bed. Keith wants to be up early tomorrow to view our approach into Gross Morne.

Don't touch that dial!

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