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Madcap Sailing
Eastern Shore Anchorages
10/08/2007/12:32 pm, Halifax, NS

We had a wonderful week of anchoring in delightful spots all along Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore. We left the Bras d'Or Lakes on Aug 2 and gunkholed our way west toward Halifax, spending an overnight here, a couple of days there, in good weather and bad. There was no wireless internet to be found so that (and my busyness since we got to Halifax) is why there has been such a gap between postings.

Our first night out - at Cape Ronde on Isle Madame - was a rock'n roll one, followed by a long slog into the wind the next day to Port Howe. We plowed across Chadabucto Bay and wound between Piscatiqui and Hart Islands, past Canso, through Andrew Passage, and along through Dover Passage to our anchorage in Casey's Cove. That passage was so narrow we could have chucked rocks from one side of the channel to the other! We stayed two nights in this picturesque area, enjoying mussels that Gary - our hunter/gatherer - picked from along the shoreline, and roaming along the rocky beaches. There were a few little cabins tucked away among the trees but no boats other than the three of us.

Next stop was Liscomb Mills, home of Liscomb Lodge, about a five mile run up the river from the ocean - again just beautiful scenery. The marina manager, Chester Rudolph, is another of those magnificent marina men. He knew the water depths well, came out in his dinghy to show us just where to drop our anchor, made our dinner reservations, took us to Sherbrooke for groceries and to the St Mary's Smokehouse for mouthwatering smoked salmon. Jim and I hiked the 6-mile trail along the river to the salmon ladder and swinging bridge, and we all enjoyed the restaurant and showers.

We left there in dense fog on the morning of August 8, creeping our way back down the river, being vigilant about spotting buoys and ever thankful for our radar. The fog lifted now and then as we motorsailed once more westward. Our experience here leads us to believe that it is not the "sailing" that is wonderful on Nova Scotia's eastern shore; it is the anchorages, and you just get from one to another any way you can. It is rugged, rocky, and stunningly beautiful.

Because the forecast called for high winds and waves, we opted to weave our way inland among the shoals and islands again to spend a couple of nights at anchor in deBaies Cove in the Ship Harbour area. It was a perfect spot to wait out the storm. Our anchor held well as the wind shifted 180 degrees and howled through our rigging at 25 knots and more. We played cribbage, read books... and ignored the job list!

The last day of this part of our eastern shore cruise took us along under blue skies, sunshine, and little wind - again - toward Halifax Harbour. I could feel my heart dancing and my spirit bubbling as we rounded the corner into the city we called home for 10 years. Gary and Pam (of Atlantic Star) live right on the waterfront in Purcell's Cove and they kindly allowed us to tie up to their dock. Just like on the big ships, Gary zoomed out to meet us and came aboard to offer instructions on how to make the intricate little turns among the shoals to a safe landing. It was about the tightest manoevering into a dock that Jim has steered and it felt very satisfying to do it!

We'll stay in Halifax for several days to visit friends and make a dent in the boat job list.

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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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