In my line of work there’s a fair amount of travel. Sure I get to work close to home quite a bit but very often the situation requires travel; either it’s an existing client that I have a good relationship with, a certain type of cargo that I’ve become pretty knowledgeable of, or sometimes I’m simply available when others aren’t. Whatever the reason, travel can be one of the best parts of being a shoreside maritime professional. We get to visit different places, explore the area, work with the locals, eat at the restaurants etc. After enough years of travelling to the different pots, we tend develop an affinity for one (or several), sort of what Jimmy Buffet refers to as “One Particular Harbour.” For me, that port is Gaspé in Quebec. I think I first became aware of Gaspé while in high school (or university, maybe) when I saw advertisements promoting tourism in in the Gaspé region in magazines. Impressed as I was, I told myself I’d visit on day. Then, like calculus and most other things from high school, I filed the thought away in a forgetful place.
Fast forward a couple years (ok, decades) and now I’m working as a cargo surveyor and enjoying everything about it and I get a call: “Hey, you willing to attend a couple ships in Gaspé?” I accepted the assignment without so much as a pause. At the time I was just finishing up the attendance of a ship in Bécancour (another favourite spot) and had about a day and a half to get to Gaspé. I elected to drive rather than figure out flight schedules etc. The drive from Quebec City to Gaspé along Quebec Route 132 has become one of my favourite drives of all time; for reference I’ve also driven the Sea to Sky Highway in British Columbia and the Transfagarasan in Romania and this drive ranks right up there! I did, however, make the drive back home to southern Ontario in one push, stopping only for fuel – a trip about equal to driving from London to Budapest – that was less awesome!
Upon arrival in Gaspé I learned my expected ship had been delayed a few days (as is almost expected in this business) and I now had a couple days to explore. Luckily I usually keep hiking and camping gear in my old 4Runner for times like this and I got to spend my idle time hiking though Forillon National Park. When I wasn’t hiking I passed thee time enjoying the local restaurants and more than a couple of the region’s exceptional microbrews.
When the ship did arrive and we got to work everything went smoothly – the cooperation among stevedores, ship’s personnel and local officials was perfect. The cargo was loaded and secured efficiently and the vessel was on her way in no time.
In the time since that first visit to Gaspé I’ve been back a handful of times and each visit is a good as thee first! If anyone needs a surveyor / cargo superintendent in Gaspé, my bags are packed and I’m ready to go!