12/09/2008/9:15 am, South Shore Marine, Chester, NS
This posting is long overdue. I'm not sure whether I really was so busy, I couldn't find time to write it, or whether I just didn't want to write an end of journey posting.
At any rate, I'll give a brief update so you'll know we aren't floating around any more.
We did get our one last anchorage - around the corner from Martin's Point, wonderfully protected from the North wind that blew through on Wednesday. We motored leisurely over to Stevens Cove on Thursday morning under clear skies and wonderfully fresh, crisp air. These are fabulous days to sail if you are able to go out for a few hours each day. The crispness of the air, the wide open bays and empty coves beckon enticingly, and all it takes is good warm clothes to be comfortable.
Alas - we had endings to think about. By 9 o'clock, we had attached ourselves to a mooring ball at South Shore Marine and prepared to spend Thursday getting ready for dismasting and haulout on Friday. It was not to happen quite that way. Cam came roaring out in the Marina launch and said, "Come on into the dock. We'll take your mast off this afternoon!"
We pulled up against the dock by the masting crane, took down sails, unhooked electrical wires at the base of the mast, grabbed a quick sandwich and at 12:30 were boarded by a hoard of men who went about detaching our radar, wind generator, bimini, dodger. Once those were safely out of the way, they detached the stays and shrouds, tied a loop around the mast, attached it to the crane and started lifting. Madcap has a keel-stepped mast (meaning it goes right through the deck to the bottom of the boat) and like any sailboat, a mass of stays (fore and aft) and shrouds (port and starboard) that hold the mast steady as it towers above the deck. While Jim and I watched, the crew of 5 held everything in place and had that mast off the boat, on the dock and all trussed up in no time at all.
Then it was our turn to winterize the water systems, stow things away to be ready for haul-out on Friday. Then came showers and clean up, and a very fine dinner at Sea Fire, the restaurant on the Marina property.
Saturday dawned bright, cool and calm, and by 8am the crew had us positioned for haul out. I was just getting my camera out of the locker when I felt us moving, popped my head up and saw that we were indeed being moved into position by four men with lines! Jim and I stood waiting on the dock while the straps were fastened into place under the keel and the lift began.
The last time we had the bottom cleaned was in Marsh Harbour in February. We had scrubbed the waterline on several occasions to rid it of the garden of algae that tended to grow there, but we hadn't had a look at the prop or the bottom since we got into cold and murky water. I was particularly anxious to see how our bottom paint had held up since I had spent many hours applying it a year and a half ago.
We each breathed a sigh of relief to see that although, as we expected, there were barnacles on bottom of the keel, the thru hulls and the base of the prop, and the zinc anode was gone, it all looked pretty darn good. The last (black) coat of Micron anti-fouling paint had rubbed off some along the water line, allowing the red coat and traces of the white barrier paint to show through, but the rest of it was just as solid as the day I applied it. Yahoo!!
I'll do a technical posting later on with details on prep for the trip and how it all worked out. Suffice it to say that despite normal weathering and wear and tear of bottom paint, gelcoat, brightwork (teak) and stainless, Madcap came through in excellent shape.
We cannot say enough about the professionalism of Steve Moody and his crew at South Shore Marine. They lifted the boat, thoroughly pressure washed the bottom, scraped off the worst of the barnacles and trucked Madcap up the hill to her winter resting place. Because our steel cradle is still in Ontario, she is on jack stands this year - nice sturdy ones, chained together. We'll have her winter cover moved down and that will go on to protect her from the snow this winter.
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.