Northeast Harbor, Maine
One week ago today we returned to Estelle, driving down from PEI to Mt Desert Island and finding Estelle waiting for us and ready to go... almost. Our new genset, is off to the suppliers shop for yet more repairs. This makes three major issues with less than 100 hours on it. Not sure about this, but not a good feeling. Time to go to a wind/solar combo, I think. But rather than wait while yet another part is flown in from Italy, we were off. After provisioning, we just motored around to Northeast Harbor where we topped up the fuel at Clifton Docks, the best fuel dock we have found on the entire US east coast.
Estelle at anchor in Northeast Harbor
We picked up a mooring for the night, had a walk and next morning we were off. Heading deeper down east and into the Bay of Fundy, it was time to take the tides and currents seriously, so we were off early Friday morning, catching the beginning of the flood. In light winds, it was a motor-sailing day, and by mid-afternoon, we were anchoring behind Cross Island. Across the gut stood the impressive array of radio towers of the US Navy's Cutler Station. Not sure, but I think they use the station for ultra-low frequency communication with submarines.
After a couple of failed attempts at anchoring, we were finally set. The kelp here is very impressive and calls for careful work when anchoring.
In the dinghy we motored across to a small beach where we headed ashore. Cross Island was once a Coast Guard lifesaving station and the old house still stands, open to all, and used by an Outward Bound group. We walked some trails then headed back to the boat for the evening. In the fading light the lights on the antenna array presented an eerie and impressive picture.
Next morning we were off, again early and catching the flood tide. In the Grand Manan Channel the currents reach over 2.5 knots, so we shot up, with a fresh southerly breeze assisting us towards our destination, Saint John, NB. By mid afternoon we had lost the current and a fog and rain had set in, so we altered course for nearby Dipper Harbour. When arriving in Saint John, the best plan is to time it to pass through the Reversing Falls (at slack water) and not try to spend a night in the outer harbour with its ever-present swell. So when we lost our boost from the tidal currents, we lost our chance to get through the falls that night.
Entering Dipper Harbour, we passed the massive breakwater and circled the moored fishing boats deciding on where to anchor. But with a 23' tide it was apparent that the harbour would be pretty well dry at low tide, so we tied up against The Twelve Apostles, a fishing boat tied to the wharf. That meant we didn't need to worry about the rise and fall. Ashore we spoke to a retired fisherman who welcomed us.
Dipper Harbour, NB
A low tide
A short while later his wife presented us with a box of delicious freshly picked strawberries! We walked the quiet roads and lanes, and can confirm that Dipper Harbour is a quiet place. The one restaurant closed a number of years ago, so there is now nothing commercial except the lobster processing plane and that too was quiet on a weekend with the lobster season closed.
Next morning we took another walk, scaling the 25' ladder to the top of the wharf. We were in no rush to leave as slack water at the Reversing Falls was forecast for 1720 hrs. So we took another walk in the cold fog and drizzle. At noon, after a lunch of seafood chowder and scones for warmth, we were off. With more current than we expected, we watched on the AIS the busy coming and going of shipping in the harbour, and idled in to the inner harbour to await the slack. At 1655 hrs we started up towards the falls, 1.5 miles away, accompanied by one other boat. That gave us some comfort, as we assumed he was a local and knew what he was doing. Turns out we were a bit early and in the still-incoming current, we shot through the falls and squirted into the river.
Through the Reversing Falls
A bit more exciting that we would have asked for, but safely in. It turns out the river is a couple of feet low, meaning that "slack after high" is delayed by about 15 minutes. Slack after low is early, so we'll have o watch it when we leave.
But inside the river, the fog cleared, the air warmed and we motored in the quiet waters to an empty nearby anchorage. So now cruising the Saint John River.
Monday morning's first project was to call Customs to clear in, and that was all taken care of over the phone. Quick and easy. Project number two was to re-provision, with some food supplies, but mainly wine, as we are allowed only 4 bottles when entering the country. We picked up a mooring at RKYC, and two hours later were off again, motoring up past the Westfield Ferries with their cable crossing to anchor in Wheply Cover. Here we were surprised to meet four other cruising boats, as we had seen not one since Northeast Harbor in Maine. With dinner of BBQ Chicken Teriaki and the last of our US wine, we enjoyed a quiet warm evening in the cockpit.
After a quiet night in Wheply cove, we said good-by to Bruce Russell and his Hallberg-Rassy Monsun31 as he headed downriver and we headed up. We met Bruce the previous evening when he rowed over from his mooring behind us. Bruce is a retired fisherman from Whitehead Island, part of the group of islands around Grand Manan. We chatted about cruising the area and he gave us lots to think about when we head out... Digby, Annapolis Royal, Whitehead Island, all sounding like interesting stops.
On the river we enjoyed a quiet day sailing slowly upstream against the slight downstream current. At Evanstown we crossed another cable ferry, and passed the Evanstown Inn, the last remaining river inn from the steamer days. Today it seems to be maintained more by road than river traffic, although their small marina was busy.
At noon, we drew into a small offshoot to the main river where we anchored for lunch. After lunch we continued our drift, passing the site of the former village of Queenstown, with nothing remaining but a slowly decaying wharf. Then we crossed the main branch of the river and headed up Colwell Creek where we anchored for the night. In the dinghy we headed ashore, landing at another old steamer dock, this one still in good condition. The Saint John River Preservation Association is maintaining a few of the docks for boaters, an excellent project. Given the number of docks we passed, the river must have been a busy place in the steamer age. But today it is mainly used by pleasure craft.
Ashore at Colwell Creek we walked a quiet country road, seeing just two cars in an hour. Back in the dinghy we explored a couple of side creeks, disturbing only the herons and a large bald eagle.
Colwell Creek Wharf
Storm clouds reflecting on Colwell Creek
Back aboard, we tucked in against the rain that was forecast during the night,