27/07/2007/11:08 am, 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.
23/07/2007/6:53 pm, Pugwash, Nova Scotia
The sense of coming home continues. This time, we've been enjoying the company of my side of the family!
We left Cape Tormentine on Saturday morning and enjoyed a delightful sail to Pugwash, Nova Scotia. It is a charming little town - where the streets are named in both English and Gaelic. It is the home of Windsor Salt, Seagull Pewter, and also of the Thinkers Lodge - once the home of Cyrus Eaton, and venue of many gatherings of illustrious thinkers. (Isn't that just a wonderful idea? People gathering to "think") The Peace conferences there, with the theme "Remember Your Humanity" have been taking place since the 1950's and continue to this day. Reading the signs along the waterfront trail makes me want to read up some more on this famous son of Pugwash.
The folks at the Hidden Jewel Café are kind enough to invite visitors to use their internet connection, and we have spent several happy hours sipping coffee, munching sandwiches and gathering emails. This ranks right up there at the top of the list of best places to write and connect with people.
We had a warm welcome at the Pugwash Yacht Club. Several local members were on hand to catch our lines and give us information on the town. Since Jim and I grew up in Amherst, just a 40-minute drive from here, we found several familiar faces and indulged in some "is ...your sister/what street did you live on/when did you graduate from ARHS" kind of conversation. It never takes very long to discover friends in common.
The channel into the wharf was described in one book as torturous but I'd change that to "Serpentine". It is deep and very well marked, and winds back and forth and all around so that anyone wishing to view the comings and goings has ample opportunity. I was delighted to see my parents car parked at the edge of the water as we came along on Saturday evening. I waved and waved as we wound our way in.
There is no water or power on the docks here, but the friendliness compensates well for it. Another plus for stopping here is that the grocery store, liquor store, post office, garage with diesel, and of course, the Hidden Jewel, are all within easy walking distance. We also had offers of rides from several people.
A number of my cousins and friends arrived for visits and tours, and we have had so much fun introducing them to Madcap. One highlight of this stop is that Mum and Dad were able to come on board Madcap and get to know our little "home on the water". I never would have dreamed that Mum would be able to sit in our cockpit, and will treasure the memory of her here.
We took advantage of a visit today from Mary Beth and Michael to send me up the mast. We had a burned out light and some lines that needed repair, so up I went. The view from the top is glorious - on a calm day!
We're off in the morning for the Pictou area and then onward to Cape Breton where we will meet up with Strathspey, as well as with friends from Halifax. More on that adventure in the next few days!
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!!