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The whole idea of a vacation is to get away from it all and with a different language and culture, a visit to Québec is always something special in my opinion. Whether you’re looking for great scenery, fabulous boating or a memorable dining experience, Québec has so much to offer.

The new Québec Nautical Stations program is unique in Canada and it can greatly enrich your vacation enjoyment – actually, it was designed to do just that.

The program was pioneered in France and in 2006, representatives of the Québec Marine Association travelled there to see how it worked and what benefits it offered to both the area businesses, and to tourists and cruisers to the area.

The benefits are significant. From the start, the Québec Marine Association has been a strong proponent and supporter of boating and its growth in Québec. Earlier, the organization created programs like its Marina Rating program and its Eco-Marina program to actively support and enhance the pleasure boating infrastructure of the province.

I’m sure you’ve looked at a map of Canada many times and seen the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes, but until you’ve gone boating in the greater Montréal region, you can’t imagine how wonderful this area really is. The city is located in what many people would call “cottage country” and not surprisingly, there are fabulous homes on the water throughout the greater Montreal area.

Last summer, we went to sample this great boating area visiting the Québec Nautical Stations of Lac des Deux-Montagnes, which is in the western part of the city of Montréal. Literally one block away from Highway 20, the major east-west thoroughfare through downtown Montréal is an amazing world apart on the water. Quaint bistros overlook the St. Lawrence. People cruise in, tie up their boat and go for lunch on a weekday. Others walk their dog, ride their bicycles and still others are there for the shopping and much more.

The Québec Nautical Stations program was created to enhance the development of boating activities by uniting all of the many stakeholders involved in boating and tourism in a particular area.

Throughout the province of Québec there are now nine different Québec Nautical Stations. Participating members are identified by a distinctive Québec Nautical Station sign and all of the infrastructures, services and activities that are provided for you under the program can be easily identified and accessed.

The list is comprehensive: marinas, sailing schools and clubs, scuba diving, water skiing, kite surfing, wake boarding, land sailing, boat charters, windsurfing, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, personal watercraft rental, guides to beaches and most importantly, all kinds of marina services including boat maintenance and repair are all united under the Québec Nautical Stations program.

For the visiting boater, (especially those who may not have a good command of French) the program quickly puts everything you could ask for right at your fingertips.

Planning your cruise is easier thanks to the Québec Nautical Stations program too. The AMQ website at www.nautismequebec.com has all kinds of information and the Québec Nautical Stations program is on the home page. You have to check around to find the English information but you get lots of locations to choose from.

The nine Québec Nautical Stations already organized and going include: Rivière Richelieu Sud – Lac Champlain; Rive-Sud; Rimouski-Mitis, Québec-Lévis; Lac-Saint-Pierre; Lac Saint-François; Lac des Deux-Montagnes; Haute-Gaspésie; and, Haute-Côte-Nord.

There are more Québec Nautical Stations being accredited now: Témiscamingue; Manicougan; Vallée du Richelieu; and, Lac Saint-Jean.

For our easy to set up trip, we selected Lac des Deux-Montagnes, which includes the Québec Nautical Stations area in Wolfville (Nova Scotia – the location of the busiest lift lock in Canada. Parks Canada operates many of the locks in Canada and they have just celebrated their 100th Anniversary. Cruisers will find Parks Canada parks all along the St. Lawrence River as well, if they travel to Québec by boat. The St. Lawrence offers miles and miles of relatively sheltered and very well serviced cruising for boaters, but your arrival at Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue will still seem special.

Among the many services and facilities organized for visitors through the Québec Nautical Stations is “SkiWakeSurf” operated by Mike Stamos.

SkiWakeSurf provides a complete (and ultimate) summer experience right by the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue locks. They sell and broker boats, operate a private marina and offer watersports lessons on the nearby Lac des Deux- Montagnes. For visiting cruisers, the SkiWakeSurf business operates right at the locks where your boat can be moored in the marina, and you, your children or grandchildren can just get aboard the SkiWakeSurf boat and in minutes, you are skiing, wakeboarding or wakesurfing!

Mike Stamos is affectionately called “Coach” and he’ll have you up and surfing in no time! One of their most clever ideas is “Happy Hour” where you can grab an H2O Cocktail of watersports after a hectic day at the office, or before you head out for your vacation dinner.

Whether you are cruising there in your boat or just need your boating watersports fix on a trip, check out what the Québec Nautical Stations program can do for you!

FAST FACTS
Québec Nautical Stations
www.nautismequebec.com

SkiWakeSurf
www.skiwakesurf.com

Parks Canada
www.pc.gc.ca/eng/index.aspx

By Andy Adams