20/07/2007/6:27 pm, Murray Corner, NB
The Great Lobster Feast - July 19,2007
One of the wonderful family traditions at Murray Corner is the lobster boil on the beach. It doesn't happen every year but over the past 30 years, Jim and I have been present for a good many of them. We have pictures of many varied collections of people gathered around the bonfire on the beach, and around the table at the farmhouse, and we were anxious to introduce our friends to this tradition.
The day began with overcast skies, and threats of showers. Mary and Blair were expected to arrive in Cape Tormentine in the afternoon; Mary Beth and Michael (with our dogs, Georgia and Princess, were coming from Moncton and we were keeping our fingers crossed that the bonfire would happen. The alternative would be pots on the stove in the kitchen - quite acceptable but not as much fun!
Michael and Mary Beth (assisted by Catherine and Oliver) arranged the fire pit, got the fire going, and the pot of seawater on to boil while Jim went to fetch the Strathspey crew. Margaret and Mary Jean picked flowers, dug out the extra leaves for the big old kitchen table, and set it to look "Martha Stewart perfect". Biscuits were baked and strawberries sliced for the shortcake (I helped out with this bit!); Mary Jean and I drove down the road to Simpson's Lobster Pound to pick up the main course and we were ready for the boil!
The kids - big and little - gave the lobsters a chance to race over the big rocks, and a couple of them got an opportunity for one last swim courtesy of Catherine's warm heart. Blair played a "Lament for the Lobster" on the bagpipes and we had a marvelous time on the beach around the fire. Jim presided over the cooking, and once all the lobsters were bright red and cooked to perfection, we headed up to the house where Blair piped the feast into the Kitchen - with a more celebratory air!
Mary's broccoli salad, Mary Beth's potato salad and Mary Jean's cabbage salad rounded out the meal, and we luxuriated in eating all the lobster we could possibly manage. Mary pronounced it to be the best lobster she had ever eaten! As glasses were raised in toasts to friends and family, we truly celebrated the opportunity to be together, sent loving wishes to those who are in other parts of the country right now and could not be with us, and remembered with warmth and affection, those who had been present at feasts in the past.
Yeah for the lobster! Yeah for family gatherings! Yeah for sailing to the Maritimes!
PS - we stayed put in Cape T. on Friday. Weather permitting, we'll set off for Pugwash on Saturday and stay for a couple of days. If you're in the neighbourhood, come on by!!
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!