13 August 2019 | LaHave Islands, Nova Scotia
After St Andrews it was time to begin making our way across the Bay of Fundy towards Nova Scotia. This we decided to do in two stages. The first involved retracing our wake across Passamaquoddy Bay and around the southern end of Deer Island, then up Head Harbour Passage to the northern tip of Campobello Island, and from there making the two hour or so crossing out to Grand Manan Island. We dropped the mooring in St Andrews harbour in the early morning fog and felt our way carefully out of the harbour. As we crossed Passamaquoddy Bay the visibility improved, and in Head Harbour Passage fog patches were on the breakfast menu.
And there we were making our peaceful way up the western side of Campobello when the blaring of sirens somewhere astern became increasingly apparent. Glancing in the direction of what was now unmistakably an 'official business, not to be ignored noise', I saw a very fast black and grey RIB complete with flashing blue lights, and fitted with two outboard engines that seemed to be big and throaty enough to put it into orbit. It was gaining on us remarkably quickly. My initial response was to make little of it while looking fixedly ahead. However, a cheery hail from the RIB soon made this impossible to sustain. The RIB approached the port quarter, blue lights still flashing and sirens doing their thing, when the person doing the hailing was revealed to be a black-uniformed official with a 'hail fellow, well-met' demeanour who identified himself as an officer of the Canadian Police. He was accompanied by two other black-uniformed personnel, in addition to the RIB driver. He indicated a wish to board us in order to perform a check of our safety equipment with the purpose of ensuring it met Canadian standards. Naturally I made clear he would be welcome to come aboard. At this point we had slowed Kiviuq down a little, but we were still making good way under autopilot and coming up towards the large lighthouse on the northern tip of Campobello.
The RIB driver put them expertly alongside to port and kept pace as the hailing officer and two of his colleagues stepped over onto our sidedeck. The leader of the boarding party, having been invited to come into the cockpit, did so, and in true Canadian fashion immediately thrust out his hand with a cheery 'Good morning, I'm John, Canadian Police'. Introductions followed to his colleagues Donna (Canadian Police) and Jordan (US Coastguard). This then was a combined government force we were dealing with, and John explained at some length that they were proud of the close cooperation between Canadian and US authorities in patrolling these waters which separate the two countries by just a mile or two in places in the vicinity of Deer Island. Jordan, a very pleasant and clean-cut American lad, beamed agreement.
The secondary, or possibly primary purpose of all of this of course, was not just to check safety gear, but to look for evidence of more serious transgressions than carrying out-of-date flares; smuggling and drug-running being top of the list, and everybody knew that everybody knew this. Nonetheless John explained that Canadian vessels are required to meet national gear safety standards and as we were a Canadian vessel he would, without spoiling our day, like to check our gear. 'Er, we are a British vessel' said I with a brief nod at the Red Ensign fluttering on our port quarter. Then, and this nearly did spoil my day, a shadow settled on our cheery officer and an 'Ahhh, yeees' was faintly heard. This, you see, meant that we were outside Canadian jurisdiction in this particular matter, at least for a little while yet.
This was now clearly spoiling John's day, but this was a glass half-full man and the moment soon passed and his face lit up anew. 'Wow' he said, 'this is the first time I have boarded a British vessel. It's quite exciting'. I was genuinely happy for him, and responded with 'you are welcome to look around the boat anyway'. And this he and Jordan did while Marilou showed Donna our passports and Ship's Papers. And having explained to John that I was sure he would understand that I needed to attend to managing Kiviuq in these confined and foggy waters with whale-watching boats whizzing about all around us, I remained attentive to our course and instruments.
Then all too soon, after an exchange of good wishes and pleasantries, the nicest boarding party you could wish for were back in their RIB and roaring away into the fog.
After a short passage in very poor visibility we arrived off North Harbour, Grand Manan where the fog cleared and sun shone. Here it soon became apparent that the harbour was no place for us. It was packed with fishing and aquaculture vessels, so once again we picked up a very substantial mooring just outside the harbour entrance and not far off the bay's beach, and settled down to reflect on quite an eventful day.