10/09/2008/9:11 am, Oak Island, Nova Scotia
Here we are, back in the land of pirates.
In the Bahamas, we sailed and hiked in areas known to have been frequented by pirates - the south anchorage and nearby "Pirates Lair" at Warderick Wells among them. In Beaufort, NC, we viewed artifacts from what is believed to be Blackbeard's ship, "Queen Anne's Revenge", discovered just off the coast. Here in Nova Scotia, we anchored just a few hundred feet from the island long believed to be a repository of buried treasure. Legend has it that Captain Kidd visited these islands, and indeed, many efforts to unearth the treasure have been thwarted by clever booby traps and unexplained "accidents".
This seems to be one more of the loops we've experienced over this year of cruising: people who turn up in one place and then again in another, stories with both southern and northern components, the thrill of a good sail that has no boundaries at all. I've been trying to identify "feelings" lately, to discern whether our mixed and confused emotions at the end of this trip reflect similar ones at the beginning.
As I think back, it seems that Jim and I were both into full throttle ahead then - having sold our house and cars, stored our belongings, and set off with Mary and Blair (Strathspey) for a year's adventure. We had so many new experiences to concentrate on - the locks of the St Lawrence Seaway, the immersion (not full, thank goodness!) into salt water, the brand new sailing environment, that I can't remember spending much time on the "ending" of one way of life or on anxiety about the coming year. (I'll look back through my journal later because surely we were not too busy to notice the endings!)
It is only now that I realize we not only went sailing for 16 months, we became cruisers. Perhaps that is why all these mixed feelings are present. Cruising wasn't just something we did - it was who we were. Now, we must figure out who we are all over again because we can't spend the next year being land-bound cruisers. It is even more essential because we decided over the course of the year that we'd like to have a Canadian land base on which to spend a few months each year, while we sail in warm waters during the winters. We met many people in each category - long term cruisers who spend most or all their time on board, and those who cruise for 5,6,or 7 months each year, as well as those who were on their "one and only" or those who take a long trip every few years. I'll have to think about the differences in self- identification, ask questions of them, and see what emerges for us in this next year.
In the meantime, we have packing and dismantling to do - and perhaps just one more little anchorage before we motor into Stevens Cove on Thursday, tie up to a mooring ball at South Shore Marine and get Madcap ready for a haulout on Friday morning.
08/09/2008/3:44 pm, Chester, NS
We woke up to a perfectly still, sunny morning in Deep Cove. After coffee and a bowl of sweet and juicy peaches we headed out on what we thought would be a flat ride over to nearby Chester.
Those protective hills were really protective! Once we cleared the opening into the cove, we felt the brunt of a NW wind that blew at 25 knots all the way across Mahone Bay. We put the staysail out and our jackets on, and got thoroughly salt encrusted all over again. So much for the great boat wash we enjoyed with the rain on the weekend!
Once into the main harbour in Chester, we entered calm and empty waters. The season is really over here. The yacht club is all locked up; most of the moorings are empty. Many of the wealthy Americans who maintain lovely summer homes here have gone home and the streets are pretty much empty too.
We'll cruise a few more days in this area, ending up in Chester Basin on Thursday evening. Haul out at South Shore Marine is scheduled for Friday.
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.