The Québec maritime Blog

Fair Winds...
  • The ever-present wind in the Îles de la Madeleine delights kitesurfers!
    Marie-Julie Gagnon

Fair Winds...

For some, travel memories are like photographs: two-dimensional images filed in their memory banks. My memories, on the other hand, are fleeting recollections of smells, sounds or impressions—a kind of patchwork of sensations in which I wrap myself when I’m feeling nostalgic.

When I think of the Blue Mosque, for example, the first thing that comes to mind is not the magnificence of this iconic landmark of Istanbul, but the smell of bare feet that wafted through the air during my entire visit. (You have to take your shoes off before you enter the mosque.) And what pops in my head when I recall my ascension of Mount Pelée in Martinique? The herring sandwich that was in my backpack and that tempted my senses for the entire climb (and yes, it was delicious!).

When someone mentions Lac-Saint-Jean, where I grew up, it’s the sound of footsteps in the snow that I first recall. And then, in no particular order, the taste of wild strawberries, the roar of the falls on the Ashuapmushuan River, the cool waters of the lake, boots sliding in the mud in spring, and my itchy skin after I’ve served as a mosquito buffet. No, my memories are never two-dimensional!

As for the Îles de la Madeleine, the wind is present in all of my memories. Strong winds and gentle breezes... Winds that gust and winds that caress the skin... Winds that lift skirts and snatch at hair pieces... Winds that change the landscape, even. One puff and bam! The gently undulating grass is suddenly bowing down to the ground, without offering the least resistance.

Wind is also the soundtrack to any stay on the Islands (see the video below)—as well as playing the role of hairdresser (specializing in messy hairstyles!), director of photography and uncompromising producer. “Was kayaking on the agenda today? Sorry, not happening!” How many planes have been grounded because of capricious winds? How many boats have stayed in port as the wind howled?

“Constant winds greatly influence the climate of [the Islands]” says the Tourisme Îles de la Madeleine website. “Stronger in winter than in summer, wind speeds vary between 17 and 40 km/hr (9 to 22 knots). In summer, the prevailing winds blow from the southwest, and in winter, from the northwest.”

Yes, the wind on the Islands will sometimes derail your plans and frustrate you to no end. However, without it, there’d be no kites dotting the sky with colour in the summer. Thanks to the wind, sports enthusiasts can ride the waves while kitesurfing, windsurfing or sailing on a trimaran, a small multihull sailboat. Wind is vital!

The red sandstone cliffs, white-sand beaches and colourful houses of the Islands will always make for stunning postcard images. But only the wind can make flowers dance and the sea roar.

5 places to go kiting, according to Gino Richard from the Au Gré du Vent boutique:

  • Martinique beach
  • Hospital beach (Dune du Nord)
  • Grande Échouerie (Old Harry) beach
  • Site de la Côte
  • Dune du Sud beach

5 places to go kitesurfing, according to Éric Marchand from Aérosport:

  • Havre aux Basques Bay
  • Cap Vert Bay
  • Sandy Hook beach
  • Dune de l’Ouest
  • Shoal at Hospital beach (Dune du Nord)

(Source: Ulysse guide)

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