30/07/2007/10:57 am, Baddeck, Cape Breton, NS
We arrived in Baddeck on Saturday evening after a perfectly wonderful stay in the gorgeous little Maskell's Harbour. It reminded me a bit of some of our favourite bays in Ontario - Stella, Kerr Bay on Amherst Island - picturesque and popular.
Baddeck is full of visiting yachts- mostly at mooring balls with some vessels anchored and a few that found room at the crowded wharf. There are several American boats, many Nova Scotian ones...and a couple from Ontario! The weather has been a little unsettled, so we have been happy to spend a couple of nights here. We dodge rain showers as we dinghy ashore to enjoy the hospitality of the Water's Edge Café for food, drink and wifi, and to roam the pretty streets.
As at the Hidden Jewel in Pugwash, the folks here at the Water's Edge Café are welcoming, enthusiastic and purveyors of excellent food. Their fish soup was chockfull of all sorts of seafood and I kept finding new little layers of flavour as I took each spoonful - a sure sign of a chef who knows what he is doing.
I'll take a longer wander through the adjoining art gallery today. It appears to be a source of some high quality pieces. On my first scoot through, it was fun to see some of the paper works created by Beth Levin (a friend from the Ottawa area), and pottery made her sister Ghita (a friend of Jim's sister Mary Jean). I also found sea-themed pottery by Christie Chaplin (an artist we had purchased quite a few pieces from in the 80's when we lived in Halifax). It was like finding old friends in a classy gathering of artists!
We enjoyed a fine Saturday evening at the local Ceilidh organized by the Baddeck Gathering. Carl and Doug played fiddle and piano, and Anna demonstrated Scottish dancing - and led 8 of us in our own square set. Jim proved to be a reluctant but excellent sport as I dragged him to his feet to participate - no standing on the sidelines for this pair of adventurers!
Jim and I have just finished reading A Reluctant Genius: the Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bell, written by Charlotte Grey, so it was a treat to see original artifacts at the Bell Museum here in Baddeck, and sail by Beinn Bhreagh, situated prominently on the point across from the town. What heady days those must have been - when so much discovery and invention was taking place right here- when kites flew over these slopes and hydrodomes raced over these waters! I love to ponder the connection between the place, the person and the discoveries, and I wonder about the men and women who are discovering and inventing in these days and what special places they have found to nurture their creative spirits.
We enjoyed a full social calendar last evening with a visit to Hillary, a beautiful Oyster 41 sailed by new friends Steve and Sandy, followed by a delicious chicken dinner on Atlantic Star, a C&C 32, with old friends Pam and Gary. Mary and Blair, Jim and I asked lots of questions about traveling in the Bahamas since Steve and Sandy are experienced visitors there, and I took copious notes in my little green book!
We'll depart this lovely place later in the day after Blair gets his outboard checked by the good folks at Baddeck Marine. They did a speedy repair to Gary's outboard when we first arrived. So far - ours is working fine!!
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!