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Madcap Sailing
A Perfectly Pringle Day
01/08/2007/12:27 pm, Cape George, NS

We've coined a new phrase here on the good ship Madcap! I'll tell you the story of how it came to be.

One day last winter, as I was doing my usual breathless run from the cloakroom to the hairstylist's chair at the York Street Spa, I heard a voice say, "Beth??" The voice (and good memory) belonged to Susan Pringle, from Halifax, who was in town visiting her daughter. Susan's husband, Al, and Jim were colleagues back in our Halifax days, and although the two men met from time to time during the course of their work at Department of Justice, I hadn't laid eyes on either of them in over 15 years.

Susan and I chatted back and forth as we got our respective heads shampooed, cut and styled, and by the time we parted that day with each other's phone numbers and email addresses in our pockets, we carried hopes to connect again in Cape Breton where they have a summer home.

And so it was that yesterday we met up with them in the Bras d'Or Lakes. We anchored near Marble Mountain, they drove over, and despite a mix-up in pick-up points that gave Al a little extra rowing exercise, we made a successful rendezvous. Al and Sue, along with their daughter Jennifer and her husband Arthur came aboard for a fabulous sail across West Bay. It was a glorious day with the sun shining brightly, fluffy clouds in the blue sky, a 10-15 knot wind that was NOT sur le nez. We fell all over ourselves catching up on each other's news, finding Pringle family landmarks, talking about this whole sailing adventure of ours, hearing about their life as part Halifax/part Cape Breton residents with their own exploration plans, learning what Jennifer and Arthur are up to ...and trying to navigate somewhat accurately at the same time!

We eventually anchored behind Pringle Island - a sweet little anchorage - dinghied ashore where Al's brother picked us up and delivered us to the Pringle summer home perched high on the mountain. Oh, what a view!! Oh, what a lovely home! It was the perfect combination of serenity and sparkle, of colour and texture and light. More conversation flew back and forth over a delicious lunch, and by the time we headed back to the boat we felt really connected again.

The wind was still good and the weather was fine as we cruised by the Crammond Islands and then flew along under our main and yankee sails to Cape George where we anchored for the night.

What I find so wondrous about this whole thing is that old synchronicity at work. The chance meeting in Ottawa, the hours full of laughter and sunshine and conversation, topped off by a magnificent sailing day with excellent winds. This was the kind of time that stands out in memory, and that we treasure always.

It was a pringle kind of a day!

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03/08/2007/2:41 pm | Linda
Jim -
You look like you're wearing large loop earrings in this photo. I think real pirates only wear one! But you're definitely shaking the civil servant image!
07/08/2007/8:23 pm | Rob Wells
I am not sure all would agree that Civil servants weren't Pirates. I am sure he will save the single ear ring for after he round Cape Horn.
13/08/2007/10:18 am | Marilyn Daynard
Jim and Beth: Just in long enough to do some laundry and then head back to the cottage for a few more days - holidays just about over. Had to check in on your latest adventures - it is just like being there. Safe travels. Marilyn
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.

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