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Madcap Sailing
Meeting Friends
31/07/2007/12:17 pm, Baddeck, Cape Breton, NS

Meeting Friends, Baddeck, July 31,posting #20

These last couple of days in Baddeck have contained lovely meetings with old friends. Along with the joys of discovering new areas, comes the feeling of wanting to share it with people we know. Part of that happens with our sailing companions; part through this blog; but it is especially fun to meet up with people in person so we can not only share our experiences, but also hear about theirs.

We had a couple of those opportunities here. We knew that Leigh and Phil Gertler from our home yacht club were doing a car trip to the Maritimes, and sure enough, as I looked up from my favourite seat at the Waters Edge Café on Monday morning, there was Mary, with Leigh at her side! Soon Phil and Blair and Jim joined us and we had a wonderful time of catching up on all the news from Trident Yacht Club as well as hearing about their favourite spots as they traveled up the South Shore of Nova Scotia to Halifax. We'll be sure to check out their "must see" places.

Later in the day, we moved to an anchorage a bit further into Baddeck Bay - in the same protected little harbour that Alexander Graham Bell used as a testing tank for many of his experiments. There, we were delighted to see Moon River looking just magnificent with Nova Scotia and Cape Breton flags fluttering smartly atop the mizzen mast (the second one on a two masted boat).

It just POURED rain that evening so our visit had to wait till the next day. We sent many grateful thoughts in the direction of Keebles canvas shop in Belleville that evening. Steve (their extremely talented canvas man) had custom fitted our cockpit enclosure last season and although it has proven its worth many times already, it sure paid for itself that night, as we sat comfortably in the cockpit sharing food and drink with Pam and Gary (of Atlantic Star) while the rain beat down overhead.

Next morning, we dinghied over to Moon River and caught up on the trip that Jennifer, Gratton, and John - their current crew member - are having. The last time we saw Gratton up close was as he serenaded us out of Iroquois Marine with a jaunty little tune on his harmonica! We caught glimpses of him here and there with various crew members aboard, but this was the first time for a real conversation. They send their best wishes to all the Iroquois gang!

Getting to know these two lovely people was a significant silver lining in the shed shuffle and scrape/sand/paint dance we were doing in the spring. We had several delays in our schedule due to a number of events, but through conversation and generous loaning of their tools, we were able to work out a plan with Jennifer and Gratton. It was a treat to see the beautiful new galley that they were having installed back when we were trying to find a time to roll on our foul smelling bottom paint, and (although they didn't specifically say it) I'm sure they were pleased to know that our bottom is very nicely watertight and barnacle protected!

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Bountiful Baddeck
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!!

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30/07/2007/5:02 pm | Mireille Masse
Hi there, glad to see you are having such a good time, despite the weather. Its sunny & warm out here in Gatineau. Catherine is going back to see the doctor thursday. We will keep you posted.
31/07/2007/9:56 pm | Rob Wells
Great to hear your progress. it seems that you are enjoying the lakes as i assumed you would.

Beth, Your Mom and Dad dropped in for a brief stop on the way home from the cottage. They said they had missed your call from the lakes.
To Cape Breton
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.

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