To Cape Breton
27 July 2007 | Little Harbour, NS
Yeah! We made it to the Bras d'Or Lakes!
We made our way mostly under sail to Cariboo Island after a happy stay in Pugwash. Because we were in a hurry to get to Cape Breton and meet up with Strathspey and Atlantic Star, we opted to skip Pictou, thereby saving the extra few hours of going in and out of that harbour. Our anchorage off the Cariboo/Wood Islands Ferry dock proved to be a secure and interesting one as we watched the ferries come and go and oohed and aahed at a fabulous sunset.
Next morning we made a very early start, hoping to make it through the Canso lock into the Lennox Passage - and maybe even to St Peters. The Canso lock has just a bit of a water level change, although we had a few moments of exhilaration as we seemed to be heading far too rapidly toward the closed doors at the far end of the lock, despite being in neutral, moving quickly into reverse, and flinging the lines up at the waiting lockmaster.
We motored on through the Strait of Canso, past freighters loading coal, meeting the Candian warship, Moncton, and being amused to see a man on the rear deck working over what appeared to be a standard gas barbeque like we used to have in our backyard. I guess the chef was busy preparing dinner!
We had heard that the Burnt Island bridge in Lennox Passage doesn't operate in the heat of the day, so we called ahead before we started up there. The bridgemaster assured us that if we were there by 8:30 pm we could get through so on we went. We were there by 6:30, only to be told that he wouldn't try opening the bridge a moment before 8:30, so we dropped the hook just off the channel, enjoyed a leisurely dinner and waited. At 9:30 he decided to try it and asked about the height of our mast. We like to have 51 feet of clearance so when he radioed back to ask if we thought the bridge was far enough open, I just replied - "Please open it all the way." I didn't really want to be engaged in guessing if we would clear it as we went through the narrow passage at dusk. Jim stood on the bow pointing to port (left) or starboard (right) and taking a regular glance upward, as I steered us through in the dying light. We cleared comfortably; the bridge went back down easily enough behind us and soon cars were passing over it again, as we dropped the hook once more just on the other side of the bridge.
Next morning we wound our way through the picturesque and curvy channel to St Peter's Lock. Such nice people there are here!! The very helpful and chatty gentlemen caught our lines (and complimented us on our LONG ones), gave us information and ushered us through this little lock. Jim can remember being here as a boy, looking at the yachts as they passed through and wondering about the exotic world they represented. Now here we were!!
We made a stop at the most wonderful St Peter's Lions Marina where Marvin filled our water and diesel tanks, pumped out our holding tanks, loaned me a vehicle to run up the hill for groceries, and showed us the way to the showers (he didn't wrinkle up his nose first!). We will definitely stop here again on the way back out. Such generosity of spirit is typical of what we have experienced all the way along this journey. We are constantly delighted to be recipients of it, and eager to share it with others.
Arriving in Little Harbour to see Strathspey and Atlantic Star anchored was a highlight. We have been traveling with our Ottawa friends on Strathspey and planned to meet up with our Halifax friends, Pam and Gary Upham on Atlantic Star here in the Bras d'Or Lakes. Amid much excitement and hugs and exclamations of glee, we gathered in the Atlantic Star cockpit to enjoy connecting and re-connecting.
Little Harbour is an amazing hurricane hole- a tiny narrow little entrance opening up to a big bay. The German restaurant and smokehouse was a good source for yummy smoked salmon. Some good!
We'll do some anchoring for the next few days as we search out the beautiful bays and harbours, spend some time in Baddeck, and generally relax in this most beautiful area.