VESSEL REVIEW | L’Estuaire – Quebec operator adds newbuild to whale-watching fleet

VESSEL REVIEW | L’Estuaire – Quebec operator adds newbuild to whale-watching fleet

Best Unique Passenger Vessel – L'Estuaire (Photo: Tadoussac Autrement)

Tadoussac Autrement, a Canadian company that provides whale-watching excursions out of the village of Tadoussac on Quebec’s southern coast, recently welcomed a new aluminium sightseeing vessel to its fleet.

Built by local metal fabrication company Coupesag to a design by naval architecture company Navanex, L’Estuaire (“The Estuary”) will sail on two- to three-hour tours of the Saguenay–St Lawrence Marine Park, a popular site for watching humpback whales, minke whales, and other large species. The vessel’s regular sailings will take place during the whales’ summer feeding period, which lasts from from May to the end of October.

L’Estuaire shares a similar general appearance to Frank Slim, an older and slightly smaller vessel in the same owner’s fleet. The newer vessel has an LOA of 15.5 metres, a beam of 4.4 metres, a draught of only 0.5 metres, and seating for up to 36 passengers.

Each trip will also have a guide on board to advise passengers about the different whale species that they are likely to encounter.

Photo: Tadoussac Autrement

The wheelhouse is situated on the aft deck so that passengers have an unobstructed view over the bow, which is ideal when the vessel is slowly and carefully approaching whales in the waters further off the coast. The wheelhouse is also slightly elevated to provide the coxswain with improved all-round visibility from the helm station even with the presence of the enclosed passenger cabin ahead.

The passenger cabin is fitted with overhead windows along its entire length to allow as much natural light as possible into the interior, since trips will take place only during days of ideal visibility. Aft of the wheelhouse is an open-air deck that may also be accessed by passengers during excursions.

Like Frank Slim, L’Estuaire is capable of “beaching” itself for embarkation and disembarkation via a gangway at the bow. This allows the vessel to pick up and drop off passengers even on shores that do not have suitable jetties.

The boat is powered by two Suzuki outboard engines that deliver a speed of 25 knots and fed by two 600-litre tanks. Another onboard tank can store 180 litres of fresh water.

L’Estuaire was built in compliance to Transport Canada’s Near Coastal Voyage Class 2 guidelines.

Click here to read other news stories, features, opinion articles, and vessel reviews as part of this month’s Passenger Vessel Week.

Type of vessel: Sightseeing vessel
Classification: Transport Canada
Flag: Canada
Owner: Tadoussac Autrement, Canada
Designer: Navanex, Canada
Builder: Coupesag, Canada
Hull construction material: Aluminium
Superstructure construction material: Aluminium
Deck construction material: Aluminium
Length overall: 15.5 metres
Beam: 4.4 metres
Draught: 0.5 metres
Main engines: 2 x Suzuki outboards
Maximum speed: 25 knots
Other equipment installed: Gangway
Fuel capacity: 1,200 litres
Freshwater capacity: 180 litres
Passengers: 36
Operational area: St Lawrence River, Quebec, Canada

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