29/08/2008/11:32 am, Halifax, NS
Oh. My. Goodness. We are so lucky.
We signed the contract for a yearly rental on a most wonderful apartment today. It has a view of Halifax Harbour, we can walk absolutely everywhere and dogs are welcomed. There is a friendly and affordable wine store, a coffee shop, several restaurants, and even a dentist on the street level, and all the residents have access to a fitness room, pool, concierge service. Every morning when we wake up, we can look out at the harbour - almost like being on board Madcap. It is right some nice indeed - or will be when we move in on October 1st. Until then, we are still, happily, cruisers.
The weather last week was sunny, warm and perfect outdoor weather. It took a change this week, and we've been snuggled into fleecies and jackets most of the time. Jim has bailed out the dinghy on more than one occasion, and I'm almost ready to trade in my sandals for something with more foot coverage.
We contemplated cruising around the greater Halifax area over the last few days, but we had so many errands to run, and with the cool rainy weather, it was nice to be able to walk up a ramp rather than dinghy ashore, so we stayed on the dock. We've continued to meet interesting folks - some who will be our neighbours and some who are visiting. The increase in numbers of folks strolling the waterfront when a cruise boat arrives is just amazing. Those giants disgorge thousands of visitors, and there have been 5 or 6 in since we got here. Madcap looks a bit dwarfed in this photo, don't you think?
One night when we had just come back aboard from a fine dinner at the Henry House with Jim's sister and her family, we heard a familiar voice calling "Madcap! Madcap!" I pulled back the cockpit enclosure to have a look, and sure enough, there stood Jeannie (Estelle), last seen somewhere tropical! She and Jim were visiting their daughter here in Halifax and we had a lovely coffee-chat with them the next morning. During our conversation, and in e-mails we've been receiving, the topic of the Annapolis Sailboat Show keeps cropping up, and I really do think we might have to make our way there in October. It is Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, but we have an offer of a bed, we can drive there in a day and still be back here for a family dinner so we're dreaming now of seeing as many of our cruising friends as possible in October.
The Fringe Festival is on now so we'll take in some theatrical events, continue to explore the local musical scene, start to line up doctors and bankers and insurers, and create lengthy to-do lists. Maybe we'll even get some items crossed off those lists: the Haul-out list and the Sorting out "Ottawa stuff" list and the Moving In list ..... aaagh.....
We will likely get off the dock within the next few days and spend a leisurely couple of weeks gunkholing between here and Chester. Haulout is planned for mid September.
24/08/2008/9:18 am, Halifax, NS
We've been having a heady time here on the Halifax waterfront, both in our first berth at Sackville Landing, and our second at Bishop's Landing. It feels so exciting to be here in this vibrant city, starting the process of making it our home again.
The Sackville Landing location was extremely convenient - to the NS Info Centre with a computer available to check email, and staff able to provide every sort of information useful to cruisers and land tourists. Power and water were available, but there were no showers or laundry provided for the $1.50 per foot fee. A request to move part way through the week came as a surprise to us. We thought that having made it clear we were here for a week, and paying in advance, we would stay in the same place. The original request from the dockmaster was for a move to Cable Wharf (busy with tour boats and directly beside a restaurant) and we refused that. Our position was that we should have been given the information about probable boat shuffles when we arrived, and since we were here for several days and all paid up, we'd have some "seniority". It turned out that several huge yachts were due in and humble sailboats get short shrift in such situations. We reached a compromise that was acceptable to all of us - we relocated to Bishop's Landing and a 150 ft boat moved into our space.
Initially we felt small compared to the large "Sea Legend" docked behind us, but after we moved today, the 150-foot "Argyll" came in, dwarfing the Sea Legend. Just down the way were the Michaela Rose and Ron Joyce's "Destination Fox Harb'r Too". He is owner of Tim Horton's - the popular coffee and donut shops found in most every little town in Canada. This brand new motor yacht is 161 feet long and can travel 20 knots per hour. (Incidentally, I found out that one of those mega yachts moving at 20 knots per hour, burns about 56 gallons of fuel per hour!)
Being on the same wharf as the restored corvette, HMCS Sackville, proved most interesting. We struck up a conversation with Don Wilcox on the dock and it wasn't long before he invited us to be his guests at lunch on Friday. We were delighted with the opportunity to tour the boat with him and meet many of his fellow Trustees who gather aboard every Friday for lunch and conversation. We learned that this is the last surviving example of the corvettes that accompanied convoys of military ships across the North Atlantic during WWII. These boats were originally designed to be coastal vessels carrying a crew of 48 but exigencies of war changed things and the ships were modified to carry nearly 100 crewmembers and to handle frigid North Atlantic crossings. The white and blue colouring of the ship was camouflage for its travels around the coast of Norway. We stood on the bridge, with its speaking tubes connected to all areas of the ship, in the wheelhouse and the radio room, down in the messes and sleeping quarters and imagined what it must have been like to be out there on watch for enemy submarines.
We toured a few apartments and are close to having a Halifax address. As we walked the streets - and drove to some addresses further out from the downtown core, we recognized that we are determined to be within walking distance of Jim's work, grocery stores and entertainment. We have lost our patience with traffic congestion and long commutes. A preference has solidified into a priority.
On Sunday, we trekked up the hill to Garrison Grounds at the foot of Citadel Hill to take part in the Incredible Picnic - an event sponsored by Select Nova Scotia - the buy-local program of the NS Department of Agriculture. It was a fine time with long tables set out on the lawns for communal eating, music, and booths from a whole variety of NS producers and vendors - fruits, vegetables, meats, ice cream, lobster and smoked halibut, along with cider, beer and wine producers. After enjoying that locale for a couple of hours, we walked back to Bishop's Landing and perched on a wall to hear the bluesy-folk music of Mike Trask and Norma MacDonald at one of the regular Sunday afternoon concerts on the waterfront.
We enjoyed a free concert on the deck of the HMCS Sackville on Saturday night, and the lively Maritime music of 1749 at what may well become our local watering hole - the Old Triangle - a welcoming Irish Pub just a 5 minute walk away. A fellow we met today told us that there are 20 establishments offering live music within easy walking distance of the waterfront.
As usual, one of our favourite things to do is talk with passers by. Megan and Kristopher and their parents from Ottawa stopped to chat; we met folks from all across the country and from Australia. Some recognize Madcap as a Bayfield, many ask what kind of sailboat she is, and Jim overheard someone say to his companion, "Now that's a real sailboat." That kind of comment always makes us smile because of course we share the opinion!
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!