Described as Quebec's prettiest village, Ile Harrington is a "must visit" destination for anyone cruising the lower north Quebec shore. A small island community with about 300 inhabitants, it has no roads or cars, only wooden boardwalks linking the houses across the tundra. However, it is not this that distinguishes Ile Harrington from similar island communities which once relied on the sea for their living, but are now either abandoned or relegated to the status of summer holiday cottages. It is the fact that Ile Harrington is still very much a living working community with fishing at its heart.
The small cooperative fish plant on the main wharf which processes crab, lobster, halibut and cod is booming, and the local fishermen say that catches have never been better, particularly of cod where stocks are reported to be recovering from near extinction in the 80s and 90s. Lay alongside the town quay for longer than 20 minutes and you soon appreciate that this is not idle talk. The quay is a hive of activity with small fishing boats, many of which are only powered by outboard motors, coming and going, whilst the plant workers are busy offloading catches and loading frozen fish into refrigerated containers for shipment out on the weekly ferry/supply ship.
The main harbour entrance between Ile Schooner and Ile de L'Entee is very narrow but deep and free of dangers. It could be safely entered in most conditions other than a strong south easterly. The main harbour bay is generally too deep for comfortable anchoring, although the cove just to the north of the main harbour offers possibilities. However, the main wharf has plenty of water (3-4m at low water) and yachts are welcome to lay alongside provided they don't obstruct offloading. Although the harbour offers all round protection, there can be a significant surge at the wharf in winds above 15-20 knots. The local fishing fleet understandably tends to occupy the more protected inner berths, so as a visiting yacht you may find yourself at the ends of the wharf fully exposed to this surge. This is a place where it pays to lie on the leeward side of the wharf and to double up on all lines.
Ashore there are a couple of surprisingly well stocked general stores (although if you want fresh vegetables you need to time your arrival to coincide with the weekly supply ship as these seem to run out quickly!), a small bar (only open at weekends) and a hospital. Fresh fish, lobster and crab can be purchased direct from the fish plant. Diesel and fresh water may be obtainable in extremis but are not openly on sale. There is no wifi or mobile phone signal coverage- you need to go a further 250 miles into the St Lawrence before you will get either of these. Some of the local residents have satellite internet connectivity and may be prepared to offer you a hot spot on request. However they pay a handsome price for this satellite service and any request should be sensitive to this fact.