19/08/2007/10:07 am, Rogues Roost, near Prospect, NS
We've been developing our navigational skills over the last couple of days - and having a decidedly good time at it too!
By the time we detached ourselves from Halifax, it was midafternoon on Friday. Time enough to get to a couple of possible anchorages on our way to Mahone Bay. The weather was so-so, and the forecast was the same: chance of fog, no shortage of wind. We cruised out along the coves on the outskirts of Halifax, past Chebucto Head, and the fog gradually descended. It was decision time. We had been planning to make a much celebrated little anchorage called Rogues Roost, near Prospect on the NS road map, but opted to enter the easier and closer Ketch Harbour. It was a chance to use the radar skills we had last used leaving Liscomb Mills, only this time it was to enter an unfamiliar harbour.
We made the turn at Whistle Buoy, HE19, and crept slowly toward the shoreline. The radar showed there was land on each side and nothing in front of us - a nice picture. Next came one of those moments coastal sailors talk about but heretofore unexperienced by us; there was nothing but fog - and in the next instant, we could see surf breaking on rocks a couple of boat lengths away! It was breathtaking enough with radar and chart plotter in front of me. I can't imagine what it feels like to sailors without these sophisticated instruments.
With a visual image to confirm the instrument information, we moved further into this long harbour, ringed by pretty houses. Jim dropped the anchor in 15 feet of water; we put up our cockpit enclosure and spent a pleasant night gently rocking on the long, slow swells.
We thought we might be kept here for another day, but the morning forecast offered a chance to try to make it further along the coast so we waved good bye to fog-free but still grey Ketch Harbour and headed out.
Once again, our goal was Rogues Roost. All the Nova Scotia sailors with whom we have ever talked, and all the books and guides mention this as a must see spot, so even though we've been anxious to catch up with Strathspey, we kept this on our A-list.
Oh what a spectacular place it is!
Here is the picture. It's drizzling and cold. We are both dressed head to toe in our foul weather gear. There is a canvas roof over my head, but the sides and the windscreen are open so I can see. There is no dry spot anywhere. Jim is moving back and forth between the bow and the side decks, binoculars slung around his neck; I'm at the wheel with the compass and chart plotter in front of me and a guidebook, to confirm Jim's waypoints, clutched in one hand. My eyes move from chartplotter to depth sounder, to the shoals and islands around me, to book, to compass and back around again. My ears hear Jim call out the buoys (and occasionally say with concern "Do you see those rocks in front of us?"). My hands turn the wheel to adjust our course, and we keep moving forward.
(Just an aside here about the chartplotter - it's a little screen with a detailed map, including water depths, and a boat-shaped icon. We can enter a route with waypoints for each day's journey. The icon moves across the map, so as long as the system is working, we always know exactly where we are. It is one tool, however, and not infallible, so we always use paper charts and our eyes to double-check the information.)
Now - back to my story: There are waves breaking on rocks EVERYWHERE! It looks like a solid wall ahead of us - but the book already told me it would look this way so I'm OK with that. There is not much more than a boatlength between Madcap (not only our means of transportation but our home!) and the rocks, and yet there is never less than 10 feet of water under our keel. We twist and turn around shoals that are visible, and those underwater, and come at last into a remarkable little cove with just one boat anchored there. There is nothing around us but rock, scrubby trees and bushes, and pure wilderness. Single rocks seem dropped on other rocks just where they were left by the last glacier that went through.
Oh what a grand hideout this must have been for many rogues in many eras. What a grand stop it is for sailing ships and kayakers and anyone who appreciates such powerful scenery. We feel incredibly blessed to be here, and share this space for a brief time with the birds and seals, and the memories, stored among these rocks, of other boats and other sailors.
16/08/2007/12:40 pm, Halifax, NS
Oh it's good to be back in Halifax! We left here in 1991 to move to Vancouver, and although we have returned for brief visits since then, this one is different. We came by water on our own boat using our own skills, and we have stayed for a whole, wonderful week - a few days in Purcell's Cove, and now on the waterfront at Bishop's Landing.
It is so much fun to chat with the people who walk by. We've met Les - a local man who is restoring a sailboat and has been south to the Bahamas twice, David and his son Adam - visiting here from New York on a cruise boat, Matthew - the attentive and helpful marina man, Jac and friends from Ottawa - who wouldn't mind a ride back home with us!
We remember all the times we have strolled waterfronts, admiring sailboats and talking with their owners, and we thoroughly enjoy these interactions with passersby. They tell us stories, and recommend anchorages and share our dreams with us. It is quality time.
The first few days were filled with boat jobs and the generous hospitality of Pam and Gary (Atlantic Star). With their help we reprovisioned, repaired the teak rail on our stern, and located a competent diesel man to check out our engine and install a new solenoid on the starter. We traded in our 9.9hp 2-stroke outboard motor for a 5hp 4-stroke one, and can recommend Steve Dawson at White Water Marine in Lower Sackville for his helpfulness. The new motor is lighter, more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly. It won't take us along as fast, but it is a better weight for our dinghy davits, will still take us ashore for explorations, and assists us in our attempt to be more earth-friendly.
The band, Signal Hill, was performing at the Lower Deck, and we spent a very fine evening enjoying their music with Blair and Mary. The Buskerfest is also on, but we liked it a lot better back in the days when it was more informal with fewer carnival-type booths and in-your-face commercialism. The oohs and aahs came easier then, and we were more enthusiastic about tossing coins and bills in the hat.
We rented a car and drove to Amherst for another visit with my Mum and Dad. The timing was just perfect, as Sunday was their 59th wedding anniversary. We picked up my Aunt Ursula in Truro, Mary Beth came down from Moncton, and we all met up at the Bell Inn in Dorchester for a superb lunch - another day of quality time.
Pam and Gary invited their friends Vince and Diane Purcell over for an evening and my pen flew across the page as they shared so much information on their travels down the US east coast, the ICW and through the Bahamas. We look forward to meeting up with them again.
We had lunch with our old friend and former neighbour, Glenn - a prelude to another visit when Peggy can come too! Among the laughs and reminiscences, were some valuable contemplations about work and identity and belonging, good fodder for another posting.
Susan and David and Jason came by for drinks, which turned into dinner and a whole delightful evening of conversation. We haven't seen Jason for 18 years so it was a real treat to meet the grown man whom we can remember discovering perched with Mary Beth on the roof of our house on Wedgewood Ave - quite oblivious to any danger as they (aged 6 or 7 at the time) dangled their legs off the edge! I think they have both retained their desire for adventure.
We just couldn't tear ourselves away today (Thursday the 16th) so we'll visit this evening with Gilles and Marielle (Lady M) and depart in the morning to journey on toward Chester and the Mahone Bay. That is where we'll reconnect with Strathspey and enjoy a few days in some of the prime sailing area of Canada's Ocean Playground.
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.