18/07/2007/6:14 pm, Cape Tormentine, NB
Coming Home! Bouctouche to Murray Corner and Cape Tormentine,
We left Bouctouche about 8am on Wednesday, and had a very pleasant motor-sailing trip through the Northumberland Strait. We successfully evaded all the fishing buoys we spotted, and began to scan the horizon for familiar landmarks as we drew closer to Murray Corner.
Jim's family has had a summer place there for almost 40 years, and it was a real thrill to be arriving by water. The tide was high enough for us to get in fairly close, so we anchored Madcap and Jim took the dinghy in to pick up four very excited passengers waiting on the shore.
What a delight to have Mary Jean (Jim's sister), Margaret (his niece), and Catherine and Oliver (Margaret's children) join us for the trip from Murray Corner to Cape Tormentine where we planned to anchor for the next couple of nights. We were able to sail much of that distance with very capable - albeit small - helmspersons taking their turns at the wheel. Passing under the Confederation Bridge was great fun. It is a huge bridge and a pretty impressive piece of engineering. It spans 13 miles from Cape Tormentine to Borden, and replaces the ferry route from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island.
Cape Tormentine itself is a bit of a disappointment. The chart and sailing guides say, quite rightly, that there is space and good protection for pleasure boats to anchor in the outer basin of the harbour once used by the ferries to PEI. They do not say that the place looks like a bombed out zone from some earlier conflict. The walls are a mix of rusted metal and crumbling rock. The scenery in the outer basin consists of these walls, wire fences and the abandoned old ferry terminal. When we motored in the dinghy around the corner through the fishing boat harbour, it was less desolate, but still not welcoming. Fishing boats line the walls so we headed for the small wharf next to the land to tie up the dinghy where it would be out of the way. We all scrambled over the edge and up the gangplank to the waiting car and the land-journey back to the farmhouse.
We were told the next day by a fisherman that even pulling the dinghy to the end of the wharf was not good enough - we could not tie up there at all. There was a rusty and tipsy diesel pump there which we honestly thought was no longer in use, and even though we were not tied up in front of it, it seemed that he found our presence a problem. When the only suggestion offered was to tie up along the wall with the fishing boats - where we really would be in the way - and would have to scale a high, tar covered wall to get our feet on land - we pulled it around the corner and tucked it in as best we could.
It is a pity that the once thriving, and still attractive community of Cape Tormentine cannot muster the funds to fix up the little wharf a bit, and put out a welcome sign to visiting boats. There are few enough safe harbours on this part of the coast for boats that draw more than 5 feet. This one has easy water access and good protection for anchoring, but no facilities at all and difficult access to land. It might bring some pleasure boat traffic back to this area and to nearby Cape Jourimain if some attention was given to this harbour.
It's a good thing we had an enthusiastic family and picture perfect Park Beg property to enjoy or we'd have been left with a gloomy picture of this part of New Brunswick.
17/07/2007/10:54 pm, Bouctouche, NB
We left Escuminac on schedule and had one of our best sailing days. The sky was clear and the winds were fair - and it was WARM. We were able to sail for much of the day, and then had to motor sail in order to get to Bouctouche at a reasonable time.
We are finding ourselves caught up a bit in this "schedule thing" even though we try to avoid it. If we could just alter our destination when the wind isn't taking us fast enough, it would be fine. But we have to keep moving along at some sort of reasonable pace in order to be getting down the east coast before it gets too cold. We are also getting into the neighbourhood of family and friends and we want to spend time with them.
So here we were motor-sailing along (that's the "good")and we made the turn for the 5 or 6 nautical mile channel threading trek behind the dune and into Bouctouche. (Here comes the "horrible"). I didn't go as close to one green bouy as I should have and we went aground. We have gone aground before on other cruises, and we've been told we'll do it for sure in the ICW, but I wasn't expecting it here. I could make a few excuses about the marking of the VERY narrow channel at this particular point, but the long and the short of it is that I goofed.
We tried everything we knew to get ourselves out of there - reving up the engine for a little extra push, putting up the sails to see if we could tip ourselves off, dinghying out to drop an anchor with the rode attached to the main halyard - again with the intention to tip enough to slid off the shoal. A motor boat came by and they tied on a tow rope and tried to pull us but no luck.
And so it was that we had to call again for help. This was our second stop in NB and our second request for assistance. You can picture our slumping hearts and long faces. Marcel - the local coast guard auxiliary officer was on his way back from PEI and heard our call to the marina. He radioed that he'd be with us in 49 minutes - and in exactly that many minutes he came roaring up in his big tall power boat. After a few tries (including one which cracked the teak under the fairlead on the port side) he managed to pull us free. It was no easy task because the tide had dropped since we grounded, and we were well and truly dug in.
We followed him very slowly in through the rest of the channel - much of it just barely deep enough at this time of the tide - and arrived at one of the most beautiful little marinas we have seen on this trip. Making it even better was the fact that along with the ever-loyal Mary and Blair, our daughter, Mary Beth, and our little white dog, Princess, were also on the dock waiting for us.
It was a bit of an emotional landing, but at least we were back to "good" again. It was so comforting to be able to sit with Mary Beth and talk about the day, to hear her description of her knee surgery and recovery process, and to just BE together.
Today, we stayed put in Bouctouche. Jim and I both needed some down time to recoup our energy after the past few days of difficulties. We walked the trails and enjoyed the beautiful marina building. John Nowlan, the manager has been extraordinarily helpful and kind, driving us out to the Irving Ecocentre so we could walk the boardwalk that winds its way along the dunes, helping us figure out the best departure time tomorrow, and assisting in every way he can. He is a true gem.
We really hope we manage to get back out to the Northumberland Strait without incident, and to make our way east to Cape Tormentine. It would be a treat to have a day with no challenges. There was a little rain shower tonight followed by a gorgeous rainbow. I figure that has to be a good omen. Keep your fingers crossed and stay tuned for the next installment!
15/07/2007/11:29 pm, Escuminac
We sure landed in a fabulous place. The Breakwater Bash was a great party. The harbour is owned by the local people, and this event raises funds to help take care of it. They created a large party area in the parking lot by piling fish boxes (filled with water to keep them from flying off) to make walls. A live band played good dancing music and there were carloads and boatloads of people all in the mood to party. We bought scrumptious wings, and sausages on buns, and the beer flowed generously! We talked with our friendly rescuers, and got introduced to more people. These Acadians are so welcoming and friendly we feel absolutely blessed to be here. The wind picked up as forecasted, and this is a perfect refuge from the high seas.
This morning, Andre came by and the three guys (Jim, Blair and Andre) tore our engine compartment apart again and fixed the leak in the coolant reservoir. Then he drove us down the road a few miles to pick up some groceries and visit an ATM, and gave us a little tour of the neighbourhood, as well as a lot of information on the area. According to "The Downeast Circle Route", this is the home of the largest inshore fishing fleet in the Gulf Region, and it was most interesting to hear about it and see it first hand. Andre grew up in the area, works for the Coast Guard and fishes so he has a vast knowledge of local lore.
We had an excellent fish and chip lunch at the diner nearby, picked up some scallops at the poissonerie for dinner tonight, did boat jobs in the afternoon, and filled up with diesel - again, arranged and assisted by Andre. Thanks to Jim MacIntyre, who owns the campground here, we have internet access on our boats so it's a treat to check e-mail and post log entries. I waded a bit in the water of the Northumberland Strait, and felt the familiar feel of sand between my toes for the first time this trip.
Over munchies and liquid refreshment in Madcap's cockpit, we thoroughly enjoyed the company of a solo sailor who arrived on the dock behind us. Marsha, on a Pearson 26 - has been sailing single handed from Cape Breton and is headed up the St Lawrence River. We were enthralled with her stories as well as with her courage and fortitude in making this journey on her own.
When Ed came by to collect the dockage fee for the night - the huge sum of $14.00 - we engaged in some more conversation and increased our knowledge of fishing and boats. We know what scallop draggers look like, and when lobster season is open (not now along this coast). We visited the memorial to the 39 fishermen who were lost in a terrible storm in 1959. Such a loss in a small community must have been devastating. It reminded us, just as sailing by the memorial to the Empress of Ireland had, that the sea is not ever to be taken for granted.
Now it is after one o'clock in the morning and I'll get this posted before I fall into my berth for a few hours sleep before our early departure tomorrow for Buctouche. We'll keep our fingers crossed that Jim can take a break from developing his intimate relationship with our diesel engine!