The day’s run from Shippagan to Mirimichi (it’s Meer-a-ma-shee) was our roughest ride since we left the states. We departed later than we originally planned, and had  wind and 4 ft seas on our nose most of the day.  It wasn’t much more than uncomfortable, and later in the day we headed into more protected water, so our ride smoothed out. The high point was a whale sighting, our largest whale yet, but pretty much all we got was a show of a fin. We came to all stop while the whale did lazy circles near the boat. We could see light colors beneath the surface that indicated a length of about 30 ft. but not much more conclusive identification. Still, it was exciting.  The long run up the Mirimichi River was in 20- 30 kt winds, a little annoying but nothing much more than that. As we made our way up the river, we were delighted to hear a radio hail, for us, in English!! As we learned later, it was Captain Azade hailing us, and asking where  we were headed, we replied Ritchie Wharf and he said good, he’d give them a call up there to tell them to expect us. As we arrived, we had some trouble determining just where we were to dock, since the floating piers all we posted with “RESERVED” signs. We just loitered a bit and finally found the Ritchie Wharf sign on shore about the time we had another hail from Captain Dan, operator of another tour boat. He told us to tie up at his reserved berth, he wouldn’t be needing to use it and we’d be more than welcome to stay there free of charge.

After assessing the current, we made our approach upriver following Capt. Dan’s advice to tie up heading upriver because of the way the current runs past the wharf.  We tied off, got settled in and shortly thereafter Capt. Azade Hache came by and introduced himself, and said he’d catch up with us in the morning as he had a wedding party charter to host. We thanked him for making us feel so welcome.  He returned in the morning, and we chatted a bit, and he invited us to join him on his 2PM cruise for a complimentary tour.  It was a very interesting tour, and we gained some knowledge of the rich history of Mirimichi’s past, the British, the French, and the Acadians. Azade is of Acadian descent, and speaks fairly fluent French, although we learned that his French is a kind of Acadian old French that is more common here and throughout the french-speaking parts of the maritimes, similar to that spoken in Quebec, but different enough that some of the Quebecois have difficulty understanding. No matter, I understood the English just fine, and it’s nice to be hearing it on the street again. We noticed that here the signs are all in English, some have French included, but the Language Police apparently don’t hold much sway here!

New Brunswick, and Beaubears Island just upriver, were big shipbuilding centers in the 1800’s and many tall ships were built here for the British Navy. The area also was a refuge for some Loyalists who fled the Colonies at the time of the Revolution, and stayed when the Crown was routed from the States.  It’s interesting to get pieces of history from all the places we visit, and then have the pieces fit together with others, thousands of miles away. Cajun country was born of Acadians fleeing the British, thus the preponderance of the French influence in New Orleans and the french dialects that date back some 300 years!

The people here are very friendly, we had dinner with a couple from Ontario who lived here for several years, and enjoyed learning about their experiences and background. We saw a bald eagle on Beaubears Island, although it was too distant to capture a decent photo. The river is one of the largest salmon spawning areas on the Atlantic, so we were told to watch for salmon jumping out of the water at slack tide. The area was home to many lumber operations, papermills, lumber mills and the like. There is a plywood mill on the opposite side of the river that is in receivership, and has been idle for some years. Their last papermill closed up around 2006, and today none are in operation. Sad to see, it has taken a harsh toll on the local economy, and they’ve lost a significant part of their population in search of steady jobs. Still, the people are very welcoming and friendly. It’s been a pleasant stop. Tomorrow, Saturday the 1st of August we head toward Prince Edward Island, where we’re told the lobster season opens, so at least one of the crew is looking forward to some fresh lobster!

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