A Wayfarer on the Saint John River
Naomi  W8328
June 2003
Part 4: Sunday to Thursday  - Belleisle Bay to Long Reach and back to Fredericton

Sunday morning began as another calm morning.  I washed up, had breakfast, and listened to CBC radio.  I then rowed up Belleisle Bay to have a look at Jenkins Cove and Tenants Cove as potential anchorages for future cruises.  Gradually a southerly wind arose and like yesterday, I sailed down river with a steady force 3-4 headwind.

I tucked Naomi around Oak Point and sailed to the church camp dock on the mainland by Canton Island.  I left Naomi and walked a couple of miles to a convenience store at Browns Flat.  I phoned Gail and bought supplies before returning to the dock. 
From here I sailed to nearby Whelpys Point where I anchored Naomi and set up my chair and stove on the beach. 

I found a large iron rudder gudgeon half-buried in the gravel beach.  It was so similar to the stainless steel gudgeon on Naomi’s rudder that I brought the rudder ashore and set it alongside the old one to compare them.  They were identical in construction. 

As I relaxed in my chair on the gravel point, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.  I could see down Long Reach for miles and upriver to Oak Point.  I daydreamed about the era when the two-masted bluff bowed Saint John River wood boats traveled the river along with bateaux and durham boats which often had oars in addition to sails.  By 1815 the first steam vessels appeared on the river.  From then till 1947, the stern wheelers and side wheelers traveled the Saint John River and the tributaries keeping to schedules the sailing vessels couldn’t meet. 

At this point I needed to make a decision.  If I sailed down Long Reach to Kennebecasis Bay, I would be committing myself to leaving Naomi in Saint John and taking the bus back to Fredericton.  If I turned around now I would be sailing (rowing?) back to Fredericton.  I decided to be undecided and wait till Monday morning to make a plan.

On Monday morning I began to sail down Long Reach.  The tide was against me and a southerly wind freshening.  Tacking down river was tedious and I wasn’t making much distance over ground.  I turned Naomi upriver and decided to sail back to Fredericton. 

I stopped at Oak Point where I spread my charts out on a picnic table.  With a thermos of coffee at hand, I sat at my glorified chart table and made tentative plans to arrive back in Fredericton by Thursday.

During the day, the sky became over-cast with rain clouds in the west.  I had dallied around on Oak Point then explored Mistake Cove. By the time I sailed through the narrows at Evandale the wind began to swing into the west. Once again by Spoon Island, I had strong winds gusting over the hills from various directions followed by lulls.  Rain squalls rolled downriver and now I had about 2 knots of river current/ebb tide to contend with also.  I needed to use the genny to point up river well but it was a handful to use by myself.  I was glad to have roller furling gear on the genny as I could quickly get rid of the sail when I became over-canvassed yet unfurl it easily when the wind strength eased.

Just beyond Hampstead, I tucked into Little River and anchored Naomi.  I put the boom-tent up during a steady rain and sheltered under it.  Soon my Coleman lantern spread a cheerful glow and its heat began to dry out the interior of my Wayfarer.   I made a pot of coffee and cooked rice on my Coleman one-burner stoves. 

Later the wind and rain departed.  I walked along the rail-bed of an abandoned railway for a few miles in the dank evening before settling down to read in my cozy Wayfarer.

Early Tuesday morning I rowed into the channel between the shore and Long Island.  It was hot already.  I tacked back and forth across the channel but made no progress against the current and then the breeze died.  I’d lost any headway I made during the time it took to lower the sails, remove the rudder, and unship the oars.  I resigned myself to rowing against the current in the steadily increasing heat.  The temperature reached 30 + again. 

I went ashore by the wharf at Queenstown and sat in the shade. 

Then I walked through fields of purple, pink, and blue lupins to an abandoned railway bridge. 

When I returned to Naomi the air was hot and calm.  I spent the next few hours rowing Naomi in the heat until I arrived in Gagetown.  After buying supplies and calling Gail, I rowed across to Mont Creek and later anchored there for the night.  I was thankful when the sun set and the temperature cooled.

I’d intended to go over to Gagetown for some snacks in the morning but a light wind blew upriver.  I didn’t want to waste it so I set sail for Grimross Canal. 

This channel was dug in 1864 so vessels could avoid sailing around Gagetown Island to reach the village. 

The only other boats on the river were a few fishermen checking their eel pots.  Soon Naomi sailed under the newly constructed road bridge at Upper Gagetown and I had visions of a steady run to Oromocto. 

Just after my premature visions of a steady run upriver, the wind disappeared and I was back on the oars.  Then a blustery headwind arrived and I was playing with main sheets and jib sheets as I tacked upriver with the wind bending and bouncing off the obstructions of the river banks. By the time I sailed into Oromocto, I was baked from the heat.  My arms felt like they were so stretched from pulling on sheets that they might drag on the ground when I stood on shore.  I headed directly for a nearby grocery store for a cold drink and then welcomed the air-conditioned atmosphere of a shopping mall. I can’t remember ever being so happy about being in a mall before

I bought some snacks and retired to a pleasant municipal park beside the Oromocto River.  When the temperature began to cool, I rowed over to Oromocto Island and anchored Naomi with a stern line ashore to a tree. 

I went for a swim, had junk food for supper, and watched another beautiful sunset.

On Thursday I rowed most of the way to Fredericton.  Naomi was under the overhead power cables at Lower St. Marys before a gentle wind appeared.  This breeze swooped Naomi right to the wharf at the Fredericton Yacht Club.  It was a fine end to an interesting cruise.  Not long after I returned home I convinced Gail that a 2 hp Honda was an essential bit of gear for river cruising.  A fall cruise didn’t come off as planned but a British Wayfarer sailor, Allan Parry, took my Wayfarer down the Saint John River from Fredericton to Saint John and got to break in my new Honda motor on the river.

A Wayfarer on the Saint John River