18/08/2008/10:10 am, Halifax, NS
As we sat in the cockpit enjoying our fruit, yogurt and coffee the sun shone brightly and we watched the birds whirling overhead and the occasional car heading along the road toward Lunenburg. An hour later, the fog had rolled in so we hauled up the anchor and headed out once more with the radar as our guide. By searching out the buoys and noting when we were just able to pick the shape out of the grey, we determined that our visibility was less than a quarter of a nautical mile. Once out on the ocean, that changed and we were able to discern the difference between land fog and ocean fog.
The fog lifted and we spotted a red buoy at 1.5 nm. We started looking ahead for Big Duck Island that we knew was close by to starboard but we just couldn't pick out the shape of land from the hazy horizon. It wasn't until we were 0.200 nm away from it that the outline of land started to appear. It was an interesting example of the types of fog we've read about in books and courses.
Once again, the conditions didn't match the forecast that called for 15 - 20 knot SW winds. What we had were 5 knot E winds. They eventually shifted but never reached the velocity we had expected so we motor sailed until we turned the corner and headed through the Sambro Channel. Then we were delighted to proceed under sail alone past Ketch Harbour (where we had taken shelter from high seas and fog last year) past Chebucto Head, and Herring and Purcells Coves, past the great red cranes of the cargo terminal and the large ship at the Cruise ship terminal, to our dock on the waterfront.
For some reason, our GPS coverage disappeared again and stayed off through most of the last hour. Once again, the hand held worked when the main system didn't, but it really didn't matter since the channel was well buoyed and the visibility by that time was excellent. I guess Halifax and New York City have something in common - it was on our approaches to both cities that the main system was down.
We pulled into Sackville Landing and tied up, with the HMCS Sackville - a restored Corvette - as our slip mate. Jim went in search of champagne and I stowed the sailing gear and made the cockpit ready for a celebratory occasion.
We have come full circle on this particular aquatic journey. Although we started out in Ontario and traveled the length of the mighty St. Lawrence River, we departed from Halifax on August 17, 2007. Now, a year and a day later, this is as far as we are going. We will stay in Halifax for a week or so and then travel slowly back down along Nova Scotia's south shore to Chester Basin where we'll have Madcap hauled out and stored for the winter at South Shore Marina.
Our reason for hurrying to Halifax rather than lingering among the gorgeous coves and islands of the south shore is that we are on a mission. We discovered that salt water is indeed in our veins and we just could not bear the idea of going inland again, so Halifax will be our home for the next year and we need to find a place to live. Jim has made arrangements to work from the Halifax office of the Department of Justice; I will continue to write and look for some financially rewarding opportunities as well.
This business of having our home traveling along with us has been magnificently freeing, but now that colder weather looms closer, we'll feel better once we find an apartment to rent. That is the first order of business, and then we'll go merrily off to explore and experience some more. One thing we have learned this year is that the world is full of fascinating people and places. We want to meet them and visit them. Our journey continues and you'll hear about it right here!
17/08/2008/10:00 am, Spindler Cove (Lunenburg Bay, NS)
What a change from yesterday! We motor sailed for the first couple of hours, then shut that engine off and sailed all the rest of the way - not without incident, however...
The wind was light and behind us to start with. We put up the main and the yankee, and then thought, "Why don't we try out the DRS (drifter reaching spinnaker) that has been stored in our aft cabin for this whole trip?" Well - it was another "learning experience."
When we had used it before, I sat down with the book and figured out what should be attached to what, and we had reasonable success. We had purchased a new chute for it, in order to make putting it up and down more manageable and instead of thinking the attachment points all through again, we just blithely hoisted it up, attached a sheet (line - not something you put on a bed) to each bottom corner (clue and tack) and hauled up the chute. It billowed out beautifully with all its green and yellow and orange and white colours brilliant in the sun, and we roared ahead. But then when we decided to make some adjustments to the way we were using it, we ran into trouble. The short story is that we got it all tangled up in the rigging, tearing it in several places and made a total hash of the whole procedure. Drat!
We eventually got it hauled down, stuffed in the bag and put back in the aft cabin. Add one more job to the to do list. Sail repair tape will fix the rips - maybe I can make pretty shapes and the repairs will look like they are supposed to be there? We'll figure out a plan for handling it and try again.
The good thing is that the wind increased and the angle changed so we were able to put the yankee back out and fly along for the rest of the day. Once again, because we were headed for Halifax like horses back to the barn, we opted to anchor just inside Lunenburg Bay rather than go all the way in to Lunenburg town. The chart showed a little indentation just around the corner from the Ovens - wonderful cave formations - that would give us good shelter from the SW wind and so we drifted in there and stopped for the night. It is wonderfully freeing to realize that we don't have to always stop where a book or a chart says we can. (Or maybe there is a book that mentions this one - we discovered that our NS guidebooks and charts are in Ottawa! Thank goodness we could borrow charts from Cousin Russ!) Spindler Cove made a perfect anchorage for the night, and a good spot to start out again on Monday for the last leg of this trip.
16/08/2008/9:55 am, Port Mouton, NS
Honest to goodness, we have motored far more than we have sailed lately, and I am sick of listening to the sound of that engine.
We paid attention to the current (in the right place) and timed our departure from Cape Negro Island for 2 hours before high tide in Saint John, when there would be no current against us. It worked, but there was also no wind so with our mainsail up just for looks we motored along. The weather forecast called for SW 20 with gusts to 25, and seas between 1 and 2 metres, dropping to less than 1. We planned alternate places to pull in if it was just too rough out there. Well, I don't know where the forecasters live, but it wasn't around here!
We motored in very light wind for 7 hours under overcast skies and occasional showers. I knit, Jim edited his waypoints list and customized a page or two on the chartplotter; we read books and watched the horizon for signs of other travelers. A seal popped up here and there to have a look at us, but those were pretty empty waters.
Last year we came upon Carters Beach at Port Mouton in the fog and rain. This time it was minus the fog. It is a beautiful spot with beaches for walking, hills for climbing and rocks for scrambling over. We anchored really close to the shore and still had 25 feet of water below us. We saw a couple of trawlers anchored nearby, but by the time one of them cruised by and I realized it was Brown Eyed Girl, it was too late to say hello to Ken and Sherrie whom we'd met in Shelburne last year.
The thunder cracked, lightning flashed and rain beat down for several hours during the night, but the sea was calm. This was a quick stopover and we'll have to return to roam the shores. (How many times have I said those words on this trip?) We shall return!