La Coquille











Information Bulletin for Safari Condo Owners Vol. 5 Number. 3, December. 2003



By Fernande Longpré & Jean-Claude Fredette


After a couple of days off following the Annual Condist Happening in Omerville, we completed our planning for Newfoundland. This trip has been under preparation for a year: various readings, consulting road maps and making ferry reservations. We left Sherbrooke on July 4th during the heat wave to join our fellow travellers, Claudette and Léopold Morin. Both Safari and Savana fully loaded, we left for Cabano, our first stopover.  


Our objectives for this 30-day trip were:


·          Travel 300 à 350 km per day, except to reach North Sidney;

·          Enjoy our RV’s autonomy;

·          Every evening, plan tomorrow’s route;

·          Rotate the Group Leader every day;

·          Visit planned attractions, adjust as required, and enjoy nature.  


We don’t intend to give a detailed account of our trip, but give you our impressions and our feelings during 32 days of travelling and living aboard a Safari Junior.


We’d stop for the night when we found a safe place: either in a Shopping Centre, Big Stop, Tourist Information, Historic Site, Ferry Parking and campsites every second or third day. Somewhat worried on our first night off-campground, we felt more and more secure because in most cases we ended up with other RV’s. We did save on camping fees, but spending a night in a Wal-Mart Shopping Centre ended up more expensive than any campground…We felt we had to buy something. We have lived through the Wal-Mart adventure with no regrets; it was fun. At 08:45 on July 8th, we boarded the ferry for a 16-hour crossing.  Without sea legs, in a storm with high winds, and strong waves that rock the boat, 16 hours is a long, long time. We had brought things to read and  a deck of cards: all we did was sit down, trying to get some sleep, and take in some food. We arrived in Argentia at 21:30 in a heavy fog. The Terminal authorities allowed us to spend the night in the wharf parking area. Next time we



attempt a long crossing, you can be sure we’ll rent a cabin.


Next morning, we left in dense fog for Cape St-Mary, to visit a bird sanctuary. It would have been even nicer, were it not for the fog cover. The following days varied between 15 and 22 °C during the day and between 5 and 12 °C at night, great weather for travelling and sightseeing. 


Newfoundland is beautiful with its many historic sites, scenic roads, mountain after mountain, and large stretches of water with icebergs and whales. But what impressed us the most are the people; Newfoundlanders are friendly, always ready and eager to help, to the point of taking time to show us the way to reach our destination.


There are many campgrounds, clean and well equipped; many offer all necessary services except for a few National Park Campgrounds. For example, in Fortune, you can spend a night with all services for 10 $.


We were a bit disappointed with Île St-Pierre: most businesses are closed on Mondays. The City Bus Tour however more than made up. The town structure reminded us of those we have seen in France. New housing is similar to our Canadian houses. Just like in France, every nook and cranny has its purpose. We are glad we went.


We have travelled over 5 000 km criss-crossing Newfoundland and part of Labrador. We now know more about this beautiful province, its tourist attractions, its important cities, its mountains, especially Gros-Morne National Park, its large bodies of iceberg hosting waters: simply superb. All objectives have been met; on July 28th in the afternoon, everybody is satisfied and happy to board the Port-Aux-Basques ferry for North Sidney,. 


We were delighted with this small travelling home called Safari Condo. We had no problem getting accustomed to its facilities and available space. To travel 6 695 km, we spent about 0,08$ per kilometre. Very affordable, the Safari is also very comfortable and safe. We are very satisfied with both our purchase and the after-sales service. For a 32 day trip, we spent a total of 3 200 $ for all expenses: that’s 100 $ per day. Fantastic! 



2003 Picture Contest


Like the annual Get-together, our Picture Contest is also becoming a must. The sheer number of pictures received from enthusiastic participants proves it. As in the past, a jury of 5 volunteer and non-partisan judges had to select 3 winners. Many more pictures are featured on our web site, and in our 2004 calendar. We thank one and all for sharing such great moments with us, allowing all us back seat Condists to partake in your travels.


We thank all for their participation and congratulate the winners of the 2003 Picture Contest!


1st Prize, 100$ Gift Certificate from Safari Condo:  Liette Picard and Charles Crépeau, “Coming Back”.


2nd Prize, 75$ Gift Certificate from Safari Condo:    Guy Duquette, Magog


3rd Prize, 50$ Gift Certificate from Safari Condo: Monique and Richard Péloquin, Hermit Island, Maine.




By James Carten

In June 2002, after the Annual Condist Happening in Magog, we undertook a 5-week trip to Prince-Edward-Island and Îles-de-la-Madeleine.


No reservations: Souris - Cap aux Meules in order to visit PEI at our own pace. We spent a whole week exploring small fishing ports. Great postcard scenes, red sandstone cliffs, fine sand beaches, many different lighthouses, fields of multicoloured lupines and houses in good repair like Ann’s. We rapidly got to appreciate the seaside Provincial Parks, where we could shower after a swim. Access is free except for the campground (15-20 $). And even cheaper for seniors over 60! We also indulged in wilderness camping in North Cape (great sunset), at Wall Mart’s in Charlottetown on July 1st (amongst dozens!), on the wharf in Summerside (we met other Quebecois travelling in a Westfalia) and in Souris before the crossing (with reservations).


PEI is a paradise for cyclists. The Confederation Trail takes you from one side of the island to the other. One must stay overnight in Charlottetown, a cunning little city, where a tour of the House of Parliament is available in English and in French. Not to forget the Governor’s Residence, the port which has been restored and the old section full of historic housing. Take a walk in old Summerside and enjoy a Celtic evening.


Other points of interest: Confederation Bridge and PEI National Park.


After a sunny crossing “sans reservations” to Îles-de-la-Madeleine on a sea as calm as a millpond, we landed in a severe storm. Some passengers on bicycles with all their camping equipment will never forget this crossing!


We slept at Le Barachois campground (a bit expensive) in Fatima. The Gros Cap campground, even if quite windy, was our favourite by a long shot. What a view! We travelled to Bassin (Camping Belle Plage) and Grande-Entrée (Club Vacances les Îles). Random camping is prohibited on Îles-de-la-Madeleine. Nonetheless, we spent 2 free nights in Grande-Entrée on the Place de l’Église with thirty others during the Festival du Homard, another night on the wharf at Pointe-Basse on Havre-aux-Maisons island (with 2 Westfalias), at La Grave in Havre Aubert and in Cap-aux-Meules.


Our stay lasted 3 weeks with no dull moments. On sunny days, hiking on foot or bicycle, farniente on the beach, walks among the rocks and red cliffs, sea kayaking, zodiac crossing to l’Île d’Entrée, "floating" at Grande-Entrée in a diving suit. These islands are heaven for sail-boarders and kite enthusiasts. Here, the wind is king! In foul weather (it does happen), museums, boutiques, craftsman, “boîtes à chansons”, cafés and restaurants are opportunities for a good time with the Madelinots. Evenings were spent taking in sunsets, claptrap with the neighbours, and festival activities.


Throughout the trip, we feasted on seafood: lobster, crabs, mussels (very tasty) and fish. As expensive as in Montreal, but so much fresher!


We learned on the spot that we could change our reservations for Matane on the cruise ship Montreal-Les Îles. We left at 20:00 and arrived in Matane at 16:00 the following day. We had no cabin but the seats were comfortable; anyway, we had to rise at 05:00 to watch the sun rise between Île Bonaventure and Percé. Simply unforgettable! Our last images of a trip to a dream of an island… right here in Canada, hey!




The Safari, a workhorse?

This summer, we saw many more overloaded Safaris (S series) than in the past: real work horses. Let’s get one thing straight: we can’t put in an SX everything that fits in a LSX! Or we should not attempt it, as the vehicle was not built to support the same load.


Be careful also to distribute the load both inside and outside the vehicle. Storage rear of the back bumper should be reserved for lighter items, and located as close as possible to the rear of the vehicle. Heavier items, like a toolbox, should be stored inside, under a seat. A heavy load back of the rear axle can quickly overload the rear wheels and reduce the charge on the front axle. This will destabilise the vehicle and damage the rear tires. On the driver’s side, you will find a sticker inside the door with capacity for each axle. If unsure about the weight of your vehicle, check on a government roadside weighing station, off-season. Read-outs are normally oriented so we can see the results.


Use our optional fibreglass hitch-mounted storage-box to store light equipment, not for your toolbox.


Your batteries…the heart of your electrical system.


Marine batteries are one of the most important components of your Safari Condo electrical system: unlike other components that require little or no maintenance, your batteries, just like plants or cats, have a life of their own and don’t last forever. Their life span depends, for the most part, on how you take care of them.


When camping and connected to a power supply, the converter will keep your batteries fully charged. All 12V accessories will operate through the batteries. The fridge, the lights, the water pump, additional 12 V outlets installed by Safari Condo, the roof vent, the heater (gas or propane) fan and control unit, and the AC inverter, all are powered by your batteries. The last item on the list is by far the most energy-consuming device!


The charge: Your batteries are energy-thirsty; they’re happy when fully charged.


The life of your batteries can be expressed in years, or in battery cycles. The deeper the discharge, the greater the reduction in available cycles. For example, if fully discharged every time, the life span is around 300 cycles. When 50% discharged, 800 cycles can be expected and when 25% discharged, life expectancy may reach 2000 cycles. Briefly, marine batteries, unlike cell-phone or video camera batteries, dislike a complete discharge. They’re happy when fully charged! A partially or deeply discharged battery will age much faster than a fully charged one. A battery that remains fully discharged for one week will lose some 15 battery cycles. It is very important to quickly recharge batteries after use.


What is the difference between a 100%-discharged battery and a dead battery. The first one will indicate 10.8 V on a voltmeter, while the second one will show 0.0 V. Battery manufacturers don’t even provide expected cycles for a battery that has been allowed to go dead.


Charging resources:

·          Vehicle alternator (when driving)

·          Inverter (when connected to power supply)

·          Solar panel (optional)


Alternator: A 3.5 to 4 hour drive on the highway will recharge a 100%-discharged battery. After 4 hours, battery charge reaches 90% of maximum charge, the final 10% taking much longer to complete.


Inverter: When connected to a power supply takes 24 to 36 hours, and performs as above


Solar Panel: Using a solar panel, this will take more than a week, if no power at all is consumed. The purpose of a solar panel is not to recharge your batteries, but to maintain or reduce discharge while using battery power. If batteries are deeply discharged, even if solar panel-equipped, you must rapidly connect to a power supply for a quick battery recharge. The 700W panel installed by Safari Condo has the capacity to power your fridge all summer if thermostat is set relatively low (2 to 2.5 on the Novacool). The solar panel works slowly but surely; the less energy you use, the more you will appreciate it.


Charge-level indicator: Green, Yellow, and Red.


S Series: A needle monitor on a range from green to yellow to red. Using this indicator, try not to reach the red zone. In the centre of the yellow zone, batteries are discharged 85% (11V). At this level, start your engine or find a power source.


M & L Series: A 4-light digital monitor. The first green LED indicates batteries are or were just recharged, and should go out quickly. The second green LED indicates normal operating status and is the longest lasting. When it changes to the yellow LED, you have used up 70% of the battery charge. When the yellow LED goes out, you have used 100% of the available power and the fridge will stop very shortly. Recharge when yellow!


Freezing: Deadly for batteries. When your batteries provide power, the acid inside converts slowly to water. Freezing point will, vary with battery charge. A fully charged battery will freeze at –54 °C, at 50% charge -22°C, and at -3°C if discharged 100%.  Battery is destroyed if it freezes. Winter camping enthusiasts must never use more than 75% of battery power and always recharge the same day, before nightfall.


Battery maintenance: We recommend checking batteries twice a year, once a year being the minimum. Once a year is a must. Improper care of batteries result in purchase of new batteries. Warranty is void in cases of shortage of water, acid or frozen battery. Owners who use their vehicle all year round have generally fewer battery problems since batteries are recharged almost every day. If you put your RV away for the winter, make sure you can connect to a power supply for a 24 to 48 hours period once a month: also make sure that any accessory using battery power is shut off or unplugged.


Inverter: useful, but use sparsely. Inverter is the major battery power consumer in your vehicle. For example, using it to power the microwave oven is like using 85 light bulbs simultaneously. The electric water heater, 75 light bulbs. If you plan not to drive for 2 or 3 days, forget about the inverter. If you plan to drive away tomorrow, then, who cares! Tip: when using inverter, turn on the engine: the inverter will then supply only 30% of the required power. If you don’t want to turn on the engine, maybe because of the noise, put the vehicle key to the accessories position, like when you listen to the car radio, while using inverter. This precautionary measure will connect your camper batteries to that of the vehicle and give a helping hand to your deep-cycle batteries. Deep-cycle batteries can provide a little power for a long time, while your GM battery can provide a lot of power for a short time. This will help you out when you require a lot of power over a short period.




Your batteries like:

·          Fully charged as often as possible

·          Regular maintenance every 6 months, at least once a year

·          A little help when inverter is used


Your batteries dislike:

·          Complete discharge (shortens life)

·          Staying discharged over long period (days)

·          FREEZING (A good charge prevents freezing)

·          Dead battery (life reduced considerably)



More information available from:



Disk brakes


It is an open secret that one GM component that needed review is the brakes. Since 2003, Safari comes with all-around disk brakes: a great improvement not only in braking but also longer lasting.


For pre-2003 Safari owners, we found a Porsche-type high performance disk manufacturer. This disk is vented, for better heat dispersion. It must be used with original GM brake pads, but last 2 to 3 times longer. These disks are a bit more expensive (249.95 $ each) than other available replacements, but are still less costly than genuine GM parts. They are also available for M & L Series. For information, call 877-806-3666.   



The Dempster Highway, Yukon

By Jean-Paul Nadeau & Madeleine Bourque


Although trees and populated areas are nowhere to be seen along the Dempster Highway crossing the Yukon from West to East on the way to Inuvik,on the other side of the Arctic Circle, this road is full of colours, mountains and thrills. But it’s worth it for Safari Condo buffs who feel like buccaneers. A Safari Condo is a must since motels, hotels and campgrounds are few and far between. Eight hundred kilometres of gravel road one way: and one must take the same road coming back. No problems if some precautionary measures are taken: vehicle in good condition, tires in good shape, and reduced speed. Do not drive fast: stones and sand penetrate everywhere and will shatter a headlight, windshield, radiator or oil filter…. Then…


Good protection is essential: good tires, a radiator protective screen, and plastic headlight covers. Some will even wear an impressive screen to protect the windshield. In Dawson City, almost all pick-ups show spider’s web windshield cracks. But, one can avoid them when encountering other vehicles - a rare occasion - by slowing down or bearing off to the right, an easy manoeuvre because the highway is very wide. Although these relicts of the old highway are slowly disappearing, avoid driving over the black rocks when you see them, as they are very sharp. Gas stations: one in Dempster, one in the centre and one at the other end; use each and every one of them, you have no choice. (Forget any automobile club). Figure 4 to 6 days for the round trip.


All precautions taken, enjoy a nature so vast as to make you dizzy. Travel to the end… cross the Arctic Circle… travel on the great divide… observe ice and dry land simultaneously… enjoy a few polar winter night (the sun never sets in early summer)… look at endless landscapes… discover houses built on wooden piles over permafrost in Fort-Macpherson… visit the igloo-shaped Church in Inuvik… feel so small in such openness… feel at home in this loneliness, while away from home… bring back and retain feelings, images, long-lasting souvenirs, and a unique dream: to return someday.


Let me add that the Safari Condo is really self-sufficient in empty remote areas, where services are not always available. This is where one can fully appreciate its self-containedness: this is why we bought one in the first place. Whether you need a rest, a snack, or shelter when required, you’re never caught off guard with a Safari Condo. Obviously, handwashing replaces showering, and to keep it simple, a watertight plastic bag over the toilet bowl… just tie a knot and throw away later. And your holidays are just heavenly!


One last bit of advice, never leave food outside the fridge or cooler, for example, apples or raisin bread heating in the sun. They’ll attract squirrels, even bears, if a window or the sliding door is left open!


Should you have problems out there, don’t panic, the first one to come by will stop to help. Not like our highways around here! If unable to help you out, he’ll drive you where needed to find help: service station, hospital, etc… If you’re afraid of highwaymen, who can be anywhere, just remember: the lesser the population, the least interest for such individuals.





Heading for Texas early April? Like me. Here’s my e-mail: [email protected]a "Follow the leader, much better"!


Feel free to visit the Safari Condo web site: memorable moments are added regularly; find out where to go to have a good time!



And finally…



Best Holiday wishes from everyone at Safari Condo!