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Madcap Sailing
Big Winds and a Hurricane Hole
Beth 17 C
08/09/2008/1:50 pm, Deep Cove, Mahone Bay, NS

Because we wanted to be safely tucked away when Hannah came by, we left Halifax on Friday and motor sailed out of the harbour, past Nova Scotia's famous Peggy's Cove, around the corner of the Aspotogan Peninsula and into the long narrow finger of water leading to Deep Cove.

We've visited Peggy's Cove many times from the land, roaming on the rocks in all sorts of weather - staying alert for rogue waves or slippery slopes - visiting the lighthouse, and almost always adding in a bowl of delicious fish chowder in the restaurant. It was a nice change to come in close from the ocean this time. The sun shone and dozens of tourists roamed over the smooth rocks. Colourful houses and fish sheds line the little cove tucked around the corner, the lighthouse stands tall out on the point, but we still wonder just how this little place got to be so famous. There are points of rocky land that jut out farther; there are other gorgeous little coves. No one is even sure about how it got its name - a diminutive of Margaret? (it is part of the larger St. Margaret's Bay) - after a one-time resident named Peggy? Nonetheless, this is a scene found on postcards, books, shirts, coffeemugs and totebags. I wouldn't try to go in there on a sailboat, but it would be a fine daytrip by car. 10 years ago, it was a somber place - when local residents and families from afar reeled from the crash of a Swiss Air flight just off the shore.

Once around the tip of the Aspotogan Peninsula, and into Deep Cove, we found a spot between the mooring balls and dropped the anchor. As usual, if we don't have information about the condition or maintenance of the mooring, we prefer to trust our own anchor. The wind was supposed to come from SE, moving over to SW, so we chose to tuck in on the western edge of the basin. Unfortunately we dragged 40 or 50 feet before the anchor caught again on Sunday morning when the wind was blowing hard. We would probably have been OK - we still had 14 feet of water but we deemed it prudent to relocate a bit further off the rocks. Once we reset, we held fine for the remainder of the storm.

Down at the end - in the SW corner, a big ugly development of houses has sprung up. The trees are gone, the rocky land has been bulldozed into terraces fortified with large rock walls. The houses are cedar shingled, with many small windows, and each house looks pretty much like the one next door. It seems such a pity to raze the natural landscape and plunk down a collection of houses like these. Along the eastern shore of the cove we could see a series of attractive homes up on the hilltops, tucked in among the trees - much more pleasing to the eye.

There wasn't much wind to speak of on Saturday or overnight, but it picked up mid morning on Sunday. We saw gusts up to 32 knots, and sustained winds between 20 and 25 knots - in the hurricane hole - I'd hate to think what it was like without hills all around us. It all died down around 1 pm. It seemed strange that cruisers worry about bad weather as they travel farther from home, and yet this was one of the strongest winds we've experienced on the whole trip. There was plenty of notice and opportunity to get secured in a safe place. Just two others had the same idea and we stopped by to talk with Graham and Paulette (s/v Mary David). Graham said that during Noel last year, he watched his boat get hammered at his mooring in Indian Point and decided to relocate for Hannah.

We had a familiar 2 degrees of separation experience as we chatted with them. When we mentioned that we'd been in the Bahamas last winter, Graham told us friends of his had been there too. Those friends were none other than Joel and Kalin (Achates II) whom we'd first met in Green Turtle Cay and again in Staniel Cay. As we came down along the shore, Dick and Diane (Tangerara - I hope I spelled that right!) hailed us to say they'd met us in La Have last summer and had followed us on the blog all winter. We just love calls like that, and we exchanged phone numbers with plans to meet this winter.

I made biscuits on Sunday morning so we slathered them with fresh Tatamagouche butter and my dad's homemade strawberry jam. The coffee was hot and strong and we felt very content.

Once the wind died down and the sun peeked out, we dinghied over to the beautiful schooner, Mary David, and spent an enjoyable few hours swapping yarns with Graham and Paulette. The friendliness of these folks totally made up for the curmudgeonly response from a fellow at the little wharf down at the end of the cove. When we asked on Friday evening if we could please tie our dinghy there while we went for a walk, he responded that it was private but he supposed we could tie up for a few minutes. Not our idea of Maritime hospitality. (We went over to the dirt ramp and floated the dinghy off to the side while we went walking.)

The air was absolutely still on Sunday evening; I would never have believed that just 10 hours earlier, our wind generator was howling and gusts of wind up to 32 knots were roaring over our heads.

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Still on the Dock
Beth - just drying out after a wet, cool week
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.

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Right Some Nice
Beth - cool and damp
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.

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14/09/2008/9:02 am | Doug McCann
Welcome to Halifax! Bishop's Landing is typically on my daily and weekend walks (camera in hand). Next weekend it's the Duck Derby.

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