04/09/2008/12:08 pm, Halifax, NS
We have been attached to this dock for over 2 weeks now - unheard of for Madcap - and yet we find it hard to cast off the lines. I feel like I have one foot ashore and one on board the boat.
It seems very cool to be here in what will be "our" neighbourhood, walking the streets and the Harbourwalk, taking in some of the multitude of activities Halifax has to offer. While we have not made any real attempts to link up with shoreside friends - time for that once we move in - we did have a great dinner with old friends and former neighbours, Glenn and Peggy. We took in a couple of plays at the Fringe Theatre Festival - one terrible and one reasonably good. Signal Hill was playing on the outside stage at the Lower Deck last weekend and we spent a foot tapping evening there. We got to know that band when we stopped here on our way south last year.
Our sailing pals, Sandi and Steve (Hillary) arrived on Saturday from Newfoundland where they've spent the summer sailing the south and east coasts. Their tales of great people, pictures of gorgeous rocky inlets, and "Why not?" attitude have us enthused about the possibility of sailing over there sometime. It's that line, "It's only a daysail away..." that pulls us into all sorts of broader thinking.
We visited the Farmers Market across the street at Alexander Keith's Brewery on Saturday morning where I picked up rainbow-stemmed swiss chard, crunchy pale green and purple peppers, small red potatoes, picked-today corn on the cob and wild blueberries. We also picked up a frozen Acadian Chicken and Pork Pie which proved to be so tasty that (once on land) I may stock my freezer with a few of them for quick meals.
The popularity of the excellent academic institutions in and around Halifax became evident again this week as we met more friends delivering their daughters to university here. While we were at the Farmers Market, I heard Jim's voice saying, "Well hi! How are you?" and I turned to see Ottawa friends, Martha and Don, who were in town to deliver Madeleine and Bridget to university. Then on Tuesday evening, a knock came on our hull and we looked out to see Doug and Kathy (Pleiades) from Trident Yacht Club and their daughter, Kirsten, also returning for graduate studies here.
Along with Sandi and Steve, we traveled to Murray Corner, summer home of Jim's sister and her family for a lobster feed. While we built the bonfire on the beach and enjoyed sitting around it as the tangy salt air blew over the sand flats, we never did get the seawater to a boil so we abandoned that effort and toted pot, water and wiggly lobsters up to the farmhouse to cook on the kitchen stove. This picture shows Jim doing his trademark soothing of the lobster before he pops it headfirst into the pot - seems to work - it stops wiggling. We had a small crowd around the table this time, but the lobster was sweet and the company fine. Sandi and Steve instructed me on how to make lobster risotto - how have we lived without that? Thanks you two!!
Next morning the wind howled, the rain pelted down and Jim and I opted to stay put while one carload headed off to return to the US and the other headed into Sackville. We did manage a walk in the evening, but the rest of the day was spent with our noses in books or our incredulous eyes glued to coverage of the Republican VP pick on the internet and TV.
We continued to have rain off and on all week, which has left us disinclined to head off to one of those pretty little anchorages along the coast. At least here in Halifax, we can go ashore to some dry and warm spots. We've had the fireplace on most days to take the chill off and I light our beeswax candles every evening to add atmosphere and remove some of the dampness from the air. The current plan is to head out on Friday morning, keeping an eye on the progress of Hannah and making plans to be somewhere safe if the high winds predicted for Sunday and Monday show up.
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!