28 February 2017 | Jolly Harbour Marina, Antigua
21 February 2017 | Port Louis Marina, St Georges, Grenada
13 February 2017 | Port Louis Marina, St Georges, Grenada
07 February 2017 | Port Louis Marina, St Georges, Grenada
31 January 2017 | Martin's Bay, Grenada
11 January 2017 | Puerto Tazacorte, La Palma
06 January 2017 | Puerto Tazacorte, La Palma
24 December 2016 | Marina Santa Cruz, Tenerife
17 December 2016 | Marina Lanzarote, Arrecife
31 October 2016 | Marina Lanzarote, Arrecife
31 October 2016 | Marina Lanzarote, Arrecife
Dorian and the aftermath
13 September 2019 | Shining Waters Marine, Tantallon, Nova Scotia
We rode out Hurricane Dorian at anchor in Schooner Cove together with four other foreign boats that came in for the same purpose. All the boats rode safely to their best bower anchors, I suspect on long chain scopes of 10:1 or more. We certainly did. It seems that the latest consensus among the cruising community that things should be kept simple is building. The thinking is that the best bower should be storm-sized as a matter of course, chain should be of high quality without being over-size (the weight is better in the anchor) and modern anchors such as the Spade, Manson, Vulcan and Rocna are the best way to go. The days of plough anchors are passing. Among those skippers with whom I have talked the favourite for a second bower is a good Danforth type such as the American Fortress, and a number are not over-enthused about those modern anchors with roll bars. This is down to increasing numbers of reports of the roll bar types rolling out with significant wind shifts and/or tidal stream reversals.
The eye of Dorian passed just east of us as it moved up the coast and a little inland. We therefore experienced winds beginning in the east in the late morning of Saturday, backing through north to west as the day progressed. Schooner Cove was ideal for this scenario and we recorded wind speeds no more than in the upper forties. Even so the water surface was certainly whipped up at times and spray flew to join the torrents of horizontal rain. And I think Kiviuq tested her nylon snubber almost to destruction. A new one is on the shopping list and the bow shackle between anchor and chain won't be asked to serve again in such conditions. For what it's worth, our strong preference is for a properly sized and rated bow shackle seized with monel wire rather than a fancy swivel (KISS).
By 2200hrs local the worst was clearly over, the tension eased and I felt able to turn in. Marilou lasted another couple of hours. We both slept well.
It was notable that most, if not all, of the local boats trusted to their moorings. We know of one that broke one and then lifted a second before moving to anchor in Schooner Cove while the storm was still building. They had a torrid time in the lashing rain and high winds, and the crew scooted ashore as soon as they could, leaving the boat to its fate. It survived, but it was the crew here at Shining Waters that brought it into the marina on Monday. They had a tough time recovering the anchor as the windlass had thrown in the towel.
Much of Nova Scotia did not fare as well as we did. Halifax, just 20 miles from us here, suffered especially badly. Half the province lost power that took days to reinstate and schools province-wide were closed for two days for repairs. The storm surge also caused quite a lot of problems. The latter would have been worse but for the fact we were close to neaps. And we know of two boats from here that were cruising on the Eastern Shore the other side of Halifax that dragged anchors and went aground, one onto the rocks suffering a holing. I believe they are still trying to recover it.
Dorian is history now, and as always we regard such experiences as character-building and useful. That might be needed sooner rather than later as we see there is another bit of tropical storm naughtiness building in the Bahamas area. We will be watching it carefully and giving thanks for the excellent forecasting of the US National Hurricane Center.
For now though we are comfortable on a dock at Shining Waters and getting into laying-up for the winter. Local folk are the friendliest we have met anywhere, and daily a number stop as they pass along the dock to ask about us and our boat, especially the boat. We have hired a car to get about and Marilou has found a couple of good gyms not far away. Indeed she is attending classes just now while I justify my non-attendance with making our bread.
And I see the loaf is just about ready for the oven, so I will close for now. As Confucius said "Life is too short laddie for anything but the very best home-baked bread".
Waiting for Dorian
05 September 2019 | St Margaret's Bay, Nova Scotia
It was going to happen sooner or later. A hurricane is heading our way. After devastating the Abacos and Bahamas and brushing Florida, Dorian is now close E of the coast of the Carolinas, and the current forecast is that it will go right over Nova Scotia on Saturday/Sunday moving quickly in a NNE'ly direction.
We have been watching it for some time since it formed east of the southern Windward Islands a week or more ago, so we are not unprepared. We have in fact found as good a spot as any in Nova Scotia to ride the storm out at anchor. We are in Schooner Cove at the head of St Margaret's Bay, a headland or two SW of Halifax, which provides good all round protection and good holding on a mud bottom. I have posted our position on the map page of the blog.
We came in here this morning; a beautiful sunny morning that gave no hint of what is to come. We motored around the small cove and selected our spot, and laid our anchor on 70m of chain in about 7m depth. More preparatory work will follow tomorrow when we do all we reasonably can to reduce windage, stowing as much deck gear as possible, raise and deflate the dinghy, lash the wind turbine and prepare our second bower (an alloy Danforth type by Fortress) for deployment should our best bower (a 37kg Spade) look as if it needs backup.
Conveniently Schooner Cove is just a couple of miles or so from Shining Waters Marine near Tantallon where we plan to leave Kiviuq for the winter. Once the storm is through we will make our way over there and begin preparing Kiviuq for winter storage. We will leave her at the beginning of October to begin making our way home, where Marilou and I will winter.
For now though, we wait in these rather lovely surroundings and make ready.
Downward and upward
22 August 2019 | Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia
I realise there is quite a lot of catching up to do since my last post, which left us in Grand Manan, so apologies if this becomes something of a travelogue.
We spent a full day on Grand Manan during which we were driven on a tour of the island by a very kind American summer resident who was the first person we met on stepping ashore. In our experience such generosity of spirit is not uncommon in both Americans and islanders everywhere.
The following day gave us quite a long sail down and across the Bay of Fundy to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. For whale sightings this was the best day of our summer cruise. Fundy is well-known for its cetaceans, which are attracted by the large fish populations which in turn are there for the rich feeding ground that Fundy constitutes. The cold water and the large tidal flows that stir it up are doubtless responsible. In addition to numerous porpoises, we saw several of the great whales, both finbacks and humpbacks.
Having arrived in Yarmouth and picked up a town mooring we dallied there for around a week. The anchorage and mooring field there are very protected, and are home to large populations of seabirds. Indeed I have never seen such a concentration of cormorants anywhere else. The town itself is a working town that is home to a number of tuna boats as well as fishing vessels of other kinds. There is nothing touristy about it, but having said this it has the best tourist information building we have seen in North America, presumably for the benefit of those coming to Nova Scotia on the fast catamaran service that connects Yarmouth with Bar Harbour in Maine. This was suspended while we there pending an upgrade to the customs and immigration facilities in Bar Harbour.
Yarmouth was our departure point for the rounding of Cape Sable at the extreme southwestern end of the province. This is quite a notorious headland, low-lying and thus hard to see, especially in the frequently poor visibility in the area. The number of offlying small islands and isolated rocks add to the intimidation factor, which is amplified by orders of magnitude when the fog comes down. This it did for our rounding, to the extent that we never saw the Cape. We have rounded it previously though on passages to and from Maine so what we experienced wasn't unexpected.
Having turned the corner to sail up the southwestern shore of Nova Scotia our anchorage for the night was a real discovery. Cape Negro Harbour (another of those non-harbours) was a delight; peaceful, protected and attractive. On previous roundings of Cape Sable we were not able to stop here because we were coming from Maine, and so had to proceed directly to a Canadian clearing-in location. The required facilities do not exist in Cape Negro.
After overnighting in the anchorage we moved up to the next anchorage, Carter's Beach near Port Mouton. Here we had been previously, having cleared-in in Shelburne. And from there we moved further up the coast to another new anchorage in the LaHave Islands and then made the short hop round to Lunenburg where we took care of a few chores and some provisioning.
And now we are in Mahone Bay, which is round a long headland from Lunenburg, where the first stop was to anchor off the Lunenburg Yacht Club in Prince Inlet. The inlet is very pleasant and the LYC is welcoming, has good, although expensive, Canadian beer and does not a bad fish and chips.
Next to where we are now, Young Island, where our good friends Terry and Peter, who are the OCC port officers for the area, have a summer house with two moorings. After a couple of nights on one of the moorings, last evening we moved around to the north side of the island to anchor for better protection from the predicted squally S and SW winds. And of course, because we took the trouble to move, even after a terrific curry dinner with Terry and Peter, the predicted stronger winds did not materialise today.
Now we plan to be in Mahone Bay for a week or so to explore its anchorages and just enjoy the sailing that can be had in this delightful part of the world. It is arguably Nova Scotia's premier cruising ground, although with only a small fraction of the number of boats that would be found in an equivalent area in Europe or the USA.
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.
Things that go bump in the night.
04 August 2019 | Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
From Campobello we sailed southabout Deer Island, an area renowned for its cetacean populations (and thus also populated with whale-watching boats), into Passamaquody Bay and up to St Andrews. Here we picked up a mooring just 150m or so off Market Wharf, the large and well-appointed town wharf.
St Andrews is an unusual small town, being exceptionally neat and orderly and popular with tourists. The town owes its origin to the American War of Independence which forced many inhabitants of Castine in Penobscot Bay, Maine, who were fiercely loyal to the British Crown, to flee downeast to what was to become Canada, after the slight disagreement with the French there was settled. And the folk of Castine didn't just move themselves. Many of them also moved their homes by towing them behind their schooners and anything alse that would sail. Having sailed those waters ourselves, we can only marvel at their skill and fortitude. Thus St Andrews is a loyalist town boasting some of the very oldest buildings in Canada. It is also laid-out on a rigid grid structure, which was the British way of the time, with well-defined blocks and streets all intersecting at perfect right angles. I must admit though, that is not something I remember about the places in which I grew up in Britain.
Not so perfect is the St Andrews harbour mooring field. When we arrived in the late afternoon, the closest mooring to the one we chose was unoccupied. Late in the evening it was picked-up by the largest whale-watching boat we saw in the region - a large, steel catamaran with big inboard diesels capable of taking it down to the Deer Island archipelago in short order. The second night we were on our mooring was windless and perfectly still, and it was for this reason that we experienced the dreaded 'bumps in the night'. In the early hours I was awakened by a soft thump and a small lurch in the boat's motion. This is the sort of thing that propels sailors up the companionway and into the cockpit as if they are doing a moon-launch. Once I touched down I saw the the whale-watcher looming over us an arm length away and moving very gently in the opposite direction to Kiviuq. At this point the distance separating the hulls was increasing, but then, horror, the boats reversed the slowdancing moves and began coming together again! As mentioned, it was a very still night and Marilou was able to manually fend-off Kiviuq's ghostly and enormous dance partner before they could enjoy a second kiss.
Thankfully, after the too-close encounter, the boats settled down again as they both finally reconciled themselves to the turning tide. And of course it was the facts that the tide was turning and the night was windless that was the cause of the excitement. The underwater profiles of the big catmaran and Kiviuq, with her deep fin keel, were very different and so the boats accommodated to the changing direction of water flow in different ways and at different rates, until, that is, the tidal flow was again stong enough to brook no argument from either vessel. It was only then that Kiviuq's crew returned to Earth, and their bed.
28 July 2019 | Head Harbour, Campobello, New Brunswick
We left Belfast just over a week ago on Saturday 20th July to sail down Penobscot Bay with the intention of spending a night at anchor in Seal Bay, Vinalhaven. Seal Bay is beautiful, well protected and not that far from the popular yachting centres of Camden and Rockland. Perhaps for this reason it was rapidly filling up as we approached in mid-afternoon. Several boats' presence in the bay was revealed by their AIS transmissions, and others were getting close. A change of plan was called for. We turned sharply to port and made for Merchant Harbour just north of Isle au Haut and at the western entrance to what is known as Merhants Row, a passage littered with small and very attractive islands. We had Merchant Harbour to ourselves and set the anchor in good sand before settling down to enjoy a lovely sunset and a quiet dinner.
The following day it was on eastwards to Lunt Harbour, Frenchoro, Long Island where we picked up a mooring and spent two nights. Frenchboro is reputed to have especially good lobster by virtue of the rather colder water in its offshore location, and so we treated ourselves to a lobster lunch. It was good, but we have had better.
After two nights on a mooring in a busy lobstering harbour (lobster boats tend to start work early, some being on the move at 4.00AM and so even before sunrise) we were ready to leave, and made the relatively short hop back inshore to Winter Harbour on the west side of the Schoodic Peninsula where we spent a very pleasant night at anchor.
A longer day followed, spent mostly under engine because of the light winds, that took us to the Roque Island archipelago. Most boats cruising Maine don't venture this far 'downeast' and for those US boats that do, this is where they turn back towards the fleshpots to the west whence they came. But Roque Island is a worthy reward for those more adventurous boats that make it. Here we shared the lovely and very large anchorage known as Roque Island Harbour with two other boats, both American. A harbour, in the sense that most people understand it, there is not. But there is a lovely beach more than a mile long to which Marilou paddled the dinghy in order to walk its length and back.
The next coast hop was as far as Cutler, the last small harbour in Maine as one sails downeast. And what a neat and tidy little place it is, and again, a small lobstering and fishing port. It is also very close to what I assume must be the most northeasterly US Naval Base. Quite what this comprises I am not sure, because we saw no evidence of a naval port. But what there is on a headland close south of Cutler is a very large collection of very large long wave radio antennas. We have read that these arrays provide worldwide, low frequency communications with the US submarine fleet. We have also read that as a consequence Cutler was on the Russian first nuclear strike list during the Cold War. Hopefully those days are gone forever and little Cutler will be able to continue in its peaceful ways long into the future.
From Cutler it was time to sail to Canada, which we entered towards the north end of the Grand Manan Channel en route to Head Harbour, Campobello Island in the Canadian Maritimes province of New Brunsick. After a satphone call to report our arrival to Canadian Customs and Immigration we were visited by two very pleasant Customs Officers who didn't mind at all tackling the obstacle course across the decks of the four fishing vessels that separate us from the wharf; we being rafted up to the outside one. We were cleared-in in short order and welcomed to Canada, and the Officers very kindly agreed to stamp both our passports. We like those stamps because then there is clear evidence to prove one has not been 'an overstay' in the country one has just left. The US is especially sensitive to this, as I well know from previous experience. It's a long and complicated story, but my record was cleared, thanks to the stamps in my passport proving innocence. Even so, it is not an experience I would wish to repeat.
So here we are on Campobello Island, a Canadian island connected by a bridge to Lubec in the USA, and because it was here that Franklin Roosevelt had a favourite summer home it is an island to which many Americans, perfectly understandably, feel a close attachment. Today we hope to move into the delightfully named Passamaquody Bay to visit the neat town of St Andrews, and in so doing we will sail within a biscuit toss of Deer Island, another Canadian island to which Marilou and I feel a close attachment. For now, we await the turn of the tide which on the flood will help us on our way. Tidal streams are strong here, and must be respected.