White Bear Bay

On Saturday we motored the 10+ miles up the fjord which is White Bear Bay – with steep sided hills plunging into the water with depths to around 1,000ft. Pretty neat and very Shepton-esque. At the top end, the water shallows and the geography flattens out into an open “moorland” as the guide describes – the only problem being that the moorland is once again thigh high scrub – difficult to walk on/through.

Head of White Bear Bay

Head of White Bear Bay

Still, we came into the open bay and anchored in just 12ft and spent a lovely evening watching out for eagles, bears, moose, etc. We also audited the fish stocks and can reliably report there are no fish here either!

Sunday dawned rather cloudy so we decided that rather than head for our next destination Francois about 40 miles east, we’d stay another day and chill out. Very lazy!

Monday we set off for Francois, but with the wind coming straight out of the east, we decided to head back to Ramea to take advantage of tomorrow’s westerly wind (which will unfortunately be accompanied by rain). At least we get laundry done and are able to catch the wifi!

We set an alarm for 5:00am so that we could take advantage of good wind – and get into Francois before the heavier stuff arrived – but at 5:00am it was raining cats and dogs so we waited till 6:00. At 6:00 it was still miserable so we cancelled and stayed the day! Mostly we did boat chores but in the afternoon, Roland stopped by – he’s the relief lighthouse keeper – and I thoroughly recommend any OCC boats visiting Ramea to look Roland up (he’ll come and visit you on the dock for sure!) – he’s a mine of information – and if he’s inclined and you have a guitar aboard, he’ll regale you with some Newfy  music!

Roland

Roland

 

Ramea

Ramea turned out to be a very convenient stop. Tied to a dock, with electricity that cost just

Ramea

Ramea

$10CDN per night, with grocery store, restaurant, laundry facilities and post office all within about 100 yards! Another community that is Outport-ish, reliant on the ferry and with an aging population, everyone basically talking about when ‘they’ll’ close it and how can I get off this island… Even so, they have a new school – with 30 students and 4 teachers. It seems all of Newfoundland that we’ve encountered so far has been devastated by the moratorium on fishing – which back in 1994 essentially closed down the industry.

Ramea is quite pretty and the town has established a 5 mile boardwalk around the entire island so it’s possible to actually get out and see the place without getting your feet wet in the bogs. Numerous planks are engraved with people’s names and for $20 you too can have a plank – it’s their way of supporting the upkeep of the boardwalk. We bought 2 planks – one for us and one for the boat! The boardwalk winds around to the lighthouse at the southern point and we’d been invited to visit by Roland, the relief lightkeeper, who kindly gave us a cuppa tea and a tour of the light itself.

Click on photos to enlarge…

Diverse Newfoundland Flora

Diverse Newfoundland Flora

View from the Lighthouse

View from the Lighthouse

Pretty little fishing community

Pretty little fishing community

Ferry

Ferry

Ramean Humour

Ramean Humour

At the dock we were frequently visited by various townfolk – all very nice with their tuneful accents.

We spent four nights in Ramea getting batteries fully charged and making repairs to our Monitor Windvane (self-steering gear) in the hopes of avoiding a costly replacement somewhere down the line.

We set off across the bay just 4 miles to White Bear Cove – a 12 mile long fjord which ends in a wide open expanse with numerous cabins dotted along the shoreline. It was Saturday – so we were allowed to fish – but I don’t think there are any fish in this part of the world!

Newfoundland

We left Ingonish at 3:45pm on August 8th heading for La Poile, Newfoundland some 105 miles to the north east. We were able to sail as soon as we cleared the narrow harbor entrance and maintained the rhumb line pretty much the whole way there. Overnight we reefed down to two reefs in the main and flying the small jib – not because we really needed to, more to make sure we didn’t arrive too early! As dawn broke, Newfoundland was clearly visible – and there was no fog! The engine was called for as the wind dropped and we motor sailed the last 3 hours. La Poile is not visible from the coast, but as you travel up the bay, it suddenly appears on the port side – a small Outport of maybe 100 houses, accessible only by boat. We anchored right in front of the town in 60ft of water at 8:30am on the 10th.

La Poile is one of just a few remaining Outports – the others having been resettled to more populated towns, with the government buying out households – apparently the going rate is $250,000 but the whole community needs to agree to move with a 90% majority vote.

Coffee Klatch

Coffee Klatch

Fishing Boat

Fishing Boat

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel

Newfy Walking Paths

Newfy Walking Paths

La Poile

La Poile

The little village was quite active, with small fishing boats coming and going – mostly it appeared headed off for socials rather than fishing as the fishing season was due to open in a couple of days. We wandered the paths – along which people walked or rode ATV’s – from one end of town to the other was less than half a mile… So we ventured into the wilderness – but walking is rather challenging – with soft sphagnum moss under foot – very soft going. Fortunately for us, it has been very dry recently so we were able to walk without getting wet. I’m sure at other times the “paths” would be completely untenable. As it was, with the thick ankle to kneed deep vegetation at every step, it really wasn’t great walking.

People watching from the boat was great fun. It seems that all the men gather at the Fire Station each evening for a coffee klatch and witter away hours together. We later guessed that the women did similar – probably at the shop. The shop was an interesting collection of basic necessities and it seems everyone has an account there – as we saw notebooks for each lady in town – Elsie, Laura, etc – presumably with a continuing tally of what was purchased.

Only about 90 people live in La Poile these days and only three kids go to the school, so we’re guessing it’s days are somewhat numbered.

We had a very relaxing stay, attending to various boat projects, the laundry in our home made washing machine and Laurie baked some out of this world granary bread! The anchorage was very calm – until the third day when it started to blow about 25knots and for quite a while I was concerned we had dragged anchor so made good use of our new golfing distance measurer – very handy – and which confirmed that if we had dragged, we were no longer dragging.

On our final evening in La Poile I couldn’t resist heading over to the coffee Klatch – up until then we’d had very little interaction with anyone so I was determined to fix that. Had a very pleasant chat with various inhabitants – half of whom thought we’d dragged anchor and half didn’t – so it seems they’d been watching us as much as we’d been watching them! I also met with the ferry captain and mate – who park the ferry every night in La Poile, but actually live elsewhere – but live aboard during the week. I was able to quiz them a little about our upcoming sailing itinerary – and it sounded like Grand Bruit was a worthwhile stop to make – especially since the ferry no longer goes there, and the wharf is apparently in good condition…

Billy gets the Scoop!

Billy gets the Scoop!

So we raised anchor – I was relieved to see that in fact we had not dragged at all (it’s all rather deceptive when lying to 250ft of anchor rode) and left LaPoile on the August 13th – opening day of the fishing season (everyone is allowed to catch upto 5 Cod each day of the weekend only) – and headed the short distance around to Grand Bruit – pronounced Grand Brit so it therefore had to be a good place to visit! Grand Bruit means great noise in French (an even more appropriate place to visit therefore!) – on account that there’s a cascading waterfall at the head of the harbor – sounds great! This Outport was closed in 2012 but our guide said that one family returns for the summer…

The village is tucked away behind outlying rocky islands and we picked our way carefully through the rocks on either side until Grand Bruit appeared in a narrow entrance. As we approached it was immediately apparent that more than one family was in residence as the fisherman’s wharf on the west side of the harbor had 4 or 5 small boats tied alongside and there was lots of activity on the dock. The ferry dock on the east side looked indeed to be in excellent shape so we made for it, tying alongside using the humongous ferry cleats.

The Great Noise

The Great Noise

Walkabout

Walkabout

Selfie at the Pimple

Selfie at the Pimple

Panamara

Panamara

We’d arrived on a spectacular day – beautifully sunny – so we didn’t waste any time walking through the town, over the bridge with the cascading waterfall beneath, to the fisherman’s dock where we met and chatted with various of the locals. The Newfy accent is quite difficult to follow – but very tuneful – and they are certainly a happy lot.

The walking trails have become seriously overgrown, but we took a walk back into the ponds – lots of small freshwater lakes – and hiked up to the two pimples at the top of the hill overlooking the village. Again, we were walking on sphagnum mosses and were getting quite accomplished at it now! The scenes from the pimples were super – we’d picked a great day!

The following day we picked our way at low tide across to an adjacent island that houses the town’s cemetery – with headstones dating back to the early 1800’s – and as late as just last year! As we came back a fellow (Winse) chatted with us and mentioned that he’d seen some Caribou on a neighboring island – would we like to go with him in his boat to take a look? Absolutely!

We sped over to the island, dodging reefs and hidden rocks and there they were – two does… Winse had said that there was also a buck – with a full rack – and we suddenly spotted this dead tree that moved!

 

 

 

 

Moving Tree or Caribou?

Moving Tree or Caribou?

Caribou

Caribou

We couldn’t get a good look at them from the boat, so Winse took us in to the rocks and I jumped off and stalked my first Caribou! Not a bad effort for a first time! What an impressive animal! We left the Caribou in peace and came back to the boat and whiled away the afternoon playing cards!

August 15th we made our way on a windless day to the next bay – an uninhabited bay with apparently great walking trails, Cinq Cerf Bay… The entrance to the bay is quite narrow and for the first time I found myself dealing with a GPS that plotted us as being on land – while gingerly navigating a narrow passage up to our anchorage. We dropped anchor in 20ft – surrounded by a cliff on one side and a rocky shoreline on the other in Coullet Cove  – and we were the only boat around.

We quickly got the dinghy out to go exploring – anxious to find the four freshwater ponds that the guidebook mentioned were swimmable (the sea up here is at 55F – no thanks!). Laurie rowed us to the small beach where we dragged the dinghy to safety and set off for our walk along the excellent trails… Except there weren’t any. The vegetation was even more thick than we’d seen before – and wetter. We hugged the rocky coastline for a little while, but that soon became untenable, but we managed to find a moose path up – and found the first pond… It was so dark with peat that you couldn’t see more than about 6” below the surface – not to our liking – and the two other ponds we found were also black as black – our skinny dipping plans had to be shelved!

After lunch we explored the rest of the bay by dinghy, hoping to find an area where we could land and take a reasonably straightforward walk – but everywhere we stopped, the vegetation was thick. Sure we could have had a go at it – but it didn’t seem like there was going to be much reward, so we headed back to the boat for a well deserved cuppa!

The water was black...

The water was black…

Challenging Newfy Trial!

Challenging Newfy Trial!

Private Anchorage

Private Anchorage

Checking around the boat later I looked over to the beach and saw a black bear! Got a great view of him, but of course, needed better so got in the dinghy… as soon as I started the engine, even though we were downwind and a couple hundred yards away, he was immediately alerted to me. I motored around to his left and he started to saunter off, but I did manage to click the shot below. I motored back to the boat and as soon as I spoke to Laurie, he took off like a shot!

Black Bear

Black Bear

The following morning dawned bright and sunny and I was up early scoping out the beach and surrounding hills for more bear – and guess what – there was another one lumbering down the hillside towards us. Unfortunately before it got close enough it took a turn presumably towards the fresh water ponds so we lost sight of it.

We left the cove a little later and headed towards the metropolis of Burgeo (and therefore a laundromat!), sailing with full main and Spinnaker arriving eahead of schedule in Burgeo, only to find a buslting metropolis that smelled of fish! Everywhere we went stank and we were unable to find a suitable anchorage out of the smell, so we opted to just leave and head for our next planned destination – the island of Ramea some 12 miles off shore. Another metropolis, it also boasted a laundromat, grocery store and WiFi!!!

We arrived to find just one small spot available on the town dock – so grabbed it and went exploring…

Last Day in Ingonish

On our last day in Ingonish and Cape Breton, we took advantage of wonderful weather and went for a walk up Franey – a local hill/mountain. The track up was very well maintained, but it was still a fairly challenging walk with the steepness. On the way up we bumped into a couple of the local beasties – the first were Grousey looking birds that turned out to be Spruce Partridge – a really stupid bird that you could basically walk up to and clobber if you needed to – actually referred to as a ‘survival bird’ – so if you ever get lost up here and are in need of sustenance – look for one of these beggars (though I understand they’re not very tasty).

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The second beastie was not someone to mess with – bloody great big moose – right in the way. Unfortunately, before I could switch to a sensible lens, he’d ambled off into the thicket.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The views at the top were great – we could see for miles – though it would have been cool to look down on Toodle-oo! from here… (blocked by another hill).

Petrified Pines         Well earned Mars

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Off to Newfoundland in the afternoon…

Ingonish

We left Baddeck and went back to Maskells Harbor where new friends Frank and Shelley aboard OCC boat Bear Keeper were anchored. Had a very nice evening aboard their boat – the last we’ll see of them for a while as our paths now diverge…

In the morning we left, headed for Ingonish – which is in the Gulf of St. Lawrence – but first we had to get out of the Bras d’Or lakes – which turned out to be no mean feat as we got to the narrow end and the current was rushing against us. We had wind against waves – leading to standing waves as we went under the bridge – quite a heart stopper – so we decided we’d put in for some shelter at Kelly’s Cove just before the final narrows out to the Gulf, awaiting favorable tide. Just as we’re coming in to anchor in the cove – which was wide open to the 25knot winds we were in – and therefore to be considered a dangerous lee shore, an engine alarm sounds due to high water temperature! We immediately shut the engine down, pull out a small jib to give us steerage and go right into the cove, turning head to the wind as the depth came up to 25ft. I rushed forward to drop the anchor – which thankfully grabbed hold quickly. We were secure!

I quickly assessed that the engine was short on water – so gave it nearly half a gallon! I can hear Mike Eslinger in my ear right now – you should always check your engine levels every time you start the engine sonny!!!

Anyway, while in our anchorage, getting beaten up by the wind, we found out that the current turns favorable 3 hours after high water – so we waited the couple of hours and then left with much less drama and headed out into the Gulf sailing once again dead down wind but this time with just a jib out, making 6.5 – 7 knots right on course.

We arrived at Ingonish in the early evening and anchored at the bottom of a ski slope. The whole area reminds me of Scotland. Unfortunately we’re challenged with lack of cell service and internet and I’m still unable to get emails and weather files via the SSB. So in the morning we decided to move to a more populated anchorage in the north bay – but the diminutive anchorage was just too small for us to anchor behind the breakwater in any reasonable depth, so we came back across the bay and anchored right under the Keltic Lodge on a rock bottom (tough to get it to set) and clambered up the rip-rap shoreline and found wifi and an excellent hiking trial to get weather files – and some exercise!

We opted to head back to the harbor for safe anchorage – good job as our anchor was set tenuously at best!

We’ll probably head out to Newfoundland tonight for an overnight passage to La Peoil – I don’t expect we’ll have any wifi for the next several weeks therefore…

Pictures below from around Ingonish – click on them to enlarge…

Very Pretty Better from Anchorage From Anchorage Ingonish Beach Middle Head Dramatic Ingonish Middle Head Walk Tough Rocks

Bras d’Or Lakes

What a lovely location! After St. Peter’s we didn’t suffer any fog – that in itself was a welcome change! The lakes are quite large – and the sailing turns out to be very good – especially if you wait until the afternoon for the wind to develop. With very flat water, it’s easy to get some very nice speed in just 10 -12 knots of wind.

There are islands all over the place and where to spend the night is all about deciding what you want to look at and which direction you want protection from.

So far, our favorite destination has been the Crammond Islands where we anchored in a channel between two islands – bounded by shallow shoals at either end. The entrance was one we had to be careful with – and in view of the previous evening’s activities, we were seriously conservative.

Crammond Islands

Crammond Islands

We were in the Crammond Islands with the Squadron Fleet – so I think we had 11 boats in the anchorage – Toodle-oo! remaining firmly in the center, in the deepest part – as far aways as possible from the mosquitoes and flies – and in the deepest spot so that if we dragged, it would be an uphill drag in all directions! It was only 45ft. Others searched out the shallowest areas close to land – and some seemed to have some difficulty.

Once again we observed some interesting Squadron behavior… One boat arrived a little late and decided it was going to raft up to another anchored boat. Little did they know that the anchored boat was on it’s third attempt to anchor. Sure enough, soon after laying a veritable spider’s web of lines, the anchor began to drag. When they finally noticed what was going on, there was no time to untie all the lines, so the upped anchor and did a really good impression of being a catamaran as they drove around the anchorage seeking a spot where they could attempt another landing. When that failed too, they separated and anchored individually – good call!

We had a nice circumnavigation by dinghy of the two islands – and were rewarded when Laurie spotted a Bald Eagle. We got another sighting a little later as we enjoyed Cheese and Wine aboard Toodle-Pip!

We sailed out of the Crammond Islands once the wind had filled in and had a lazy sail (genoa only) up to Clarke Cove. We anchored in a very secluded bay and were delighted to find out that this was apparently a Bald Eagle roosting spot – we were treated to an Eagle for the evening. In the morning when I check to see if it was still about – it wasn’t – instead a Juvenile (black head) had taken up residence and was squawking for food! Soon we had two Eagles to admire.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

From Clarke Cove – whose only downside was that it appeared to be a Ski-Doo hangout – we sailed (lazily again) up through the Barra Straight Swing Bridge to Maskells Harbor, another very secluded anchorage – filled with Squadron boats.

We’re now in Baddeck where we’ve been for the last two nights – and probably will be another couple… We had an entertaining evening at a Caleigh and then a tremendous event last night – the last playing of the Bells of Baddeck – a musical play about Alexander Graham Bell – in whose museum the play was held. We hope to visit the museum tomorrow.

We’re struggling with communications – our SSB won’t talk to the computer so our shipboard email is down – as is our ability to get weather information once we’re in Newfoundland. So we’re trying to fix that issue before proceeding…

Aground!

After an extremely foggy start in the morning which saw us taking refuge in Canso for a couple of hours (allowing us to get a good shop in at the local Co-Op), we crossed over Chedabucto Bay/Straight of Canso to St Peter’s where we had a short wait for the canal to open for us. Being at mid tide, the rise in levels through the single lock was just inches.

We spent three nights on a mooring at St Peter’s Marina taking advantage of laundry, showers and wifi and managed some minor repairs to the monitor windvane, did another shop, sampled the best crab we have ever had and then pushed into the Lakes proper, through St. Peter’s inlet, a winding channel leading up to the lakes.

The wind was light so we opted for the Spinnaker, flying it for all of 30 seconds before the wind completely died with no signs of return. We bagged it and headed towards Malagawatch harbor – tucked well in behind several islands on the western side of the lake where our guide told us to expect to see Bald Eagles.

The entrance to Malagawatch was convoluted and one had to stay alert to stick within the channels or run the risk of running onto the shoals. We got to the designated anchoring spot and all of a sudden the depth sounder starts doing weird stuff… while the chart said we were in 30 ft, the depth sounder went all over the place – and right up to 3 ft! – 3’6” less than we need to float! So we backed out and anchored in a stable 30ft. Not a soul in sight. Not a Bald Eagle in sight either however! Then one by one they started visiting… two species of biting flies – a large black one and a large green one. Even though we were equipped with multiple fly-swatting weapons, we couldn’t keep them at bay, so we decided retreat was the best option and we weighed anchor and left.

We slowly re-traced our exact path (as told to me by the electronics aboard) back out of the anchorage when all of a sudden we come to a screeching halt. We’ve run aground. I try to back off – no joy – stuck fast. We launched the dinghy and loaded her up with 200’ of chain and our main anchor and I headed out to open water and dropped everything over. (Now, that would have been an interesting event in the Green Demon!!!) We brought the anchor rode back in with the windlass until the chain was bar taught – she could not bring the boat around and out. Even with engine power assist.

By now the afternoon wind had filled in to 10 to 12 knots  – so we decided to try to heel (lean) the boat with the sails – thereby reducing our effective depth and giving some more motive power to getting out. We raised both Genoa and then the main sail and she leaned, and we stayed put. OK, we need a kedge!

Kedging off is not something we’ve done before (we were attempting to do it in Scotland when Bertie came to our rescue with his big dinghy) and entails setting an anchor at 90 degrees to the boat and attached to the top of the mast so that you can lean the boat over, reduce effective draft and float free of the shoal… Fortunately, since our Scottish escapade, I’d done a lot of reading about how to set the anchor/rode up properly – so this time around we were more methodical. We assembled our ‘Fortress’ anchor (should be perfect for this silty muddy bottom) and attached our 300ft long drogue rode which we brought to one of our main winches by way of two snatch blocks – one attached to a masthead halyard, the other to a padeye on the deck. Again, I took the dinghy out and laid the rode out and finally dropped anchor probably about 200 ft away from Toodle-oo!

We set the anchor with the halyard block down low and winched in till the rope was tight – thereby setting the anchor, then we slackened a little and raised the halyard to almost mast height and then started cranking the winch…

Meanwhile, we’re still getting bitten by nasty flies!

It takes a lot to heel Toodle-oo! and we were monitoring the heel with an irritating iPhone App that kept yelling the angle every time in changed – 10.2 degrees, 10.3 degrees, 10.4 degrees, 10.5 degrees, 10.6 degrees, 10.7 degrees,… I was having to crank pretty hard to get just this level of heel – so we augmented with our electric winch, getting her over to about 15 degrees, before that winch started to complain.

We weren’t getting anywhere except more concerned. I called Sydney Coast Guard to establish the current tide level – it took them about 15 agonizing minutes to come back with “there really aren’t tides in the lake, but currents affect water-level and best guess is that you’re at high water. (Not what we wanted to hear).

Meanwhile, we’re still getting bitten by nasty flies!

I carried on winching the kedge and hauling on the bower anchor and every so often trying to motor out… After some time Sydney Radio came on asking if we needed assistance from Halifax Coast Guard – we told them we were still trying and would let them know soon. I think this discussion spurred me on a bit as I cranked the boat through 25 degrees of heel…

Meanwhile, we’re still getting bitten by nasty flies!

Finally, after 2 hours, the boat suddenly began to move and all of a sudden we’re off!

Crack!

With the boat able to move, she quickly fell in line behind the main bower anchor while meanwhile our kedge anchor was now a stern anchor and the rode from masthead to anchor went right through our wind generator’s blades – severing one blade at the root! Rats!

So now, something else we’ve never done – deploy and retrieve more than one anchor!  But it proved pretty simple (even if it did take another hour!) – drop back on the main anchor until we could retrieve the stern anchor – which was absolutely buried in soft gooey and stinky mud. Once up, we brought in the main anchor and we were finally off!

By now it was approaching 7:00pm so we went across (the deepest part of) the inlet and anchored in a bay like area in about 40 ft. The flies were finally dissipating (bedtime for them?) and we were able to sit out in the cockpit and reflect.

It had certainly been an unexpected incident. We don’t think we did much wrong to cause the event and in the end I was pretty happy about how we’d managed to get out – though next time, perhaps I’ll remember to turn off the windbugger to save the $360 replacement cost of the blades!

We slept well!

Jeddore to Canso, Nova Scotia

Our morning in Jeddore started early – the commodore aboard a Nonsuch, ‘Magical’ blew his foghorn at 6:15am to rally the troops for the sail to Macleod’s Harbor – some 30 miles or so up the coast. I got up to find out what the racket was about and went back to bed.

We got up at about 7:30 and as I’m walking over to make the coffee, I glance out to see Magical and 3 other boats circling ‘Voyageur C’ who was pulling up his anchor. They’d all been circling sine 6:15 waiting on the whole group to be ready. Sure enough when at about 7:45 Voyageur C was ready, he led the procession of boats out of Jeddore towards the afternoon’s destination.

We weighed anchor about 90 minutes later and trailed the group. It’s a long ride back to the ocean, but as soon as we were there, the wind filled to a nice 10 – 15knot run so we were able to turn off the engine and enjoy a really nice sail eastward.

We caught the group (the largest of the other boats was 36ft compared to our 44 so it’s not surprising we caught them) after about 25 miles sailing with main and poled out genoa, but as we did, the wind shifted somewhat to being dead downwind slowing our progress as the genoa was now covered by the main – so we had to move the pole from port to starboard – an onerous affair – and once again got going.

We passed the line of boats – finding out as we did that the fleet was actually motor sailing! That’s cheating in this sort of wind! Anyway we jibed over at the entrance to Macleod’s and was probably an hour ahead by the time we dropped anchor. The shelter from the westerly wind was pretty limited but at least we had a good set with the anchor, so we were happy for the evening. When the group appeared, they did not feel the same way and so anchored in another spot a mile or so down the way… As we listened to the radio chatter, it became evident that after two hours of trying, one of the group had still not successfully anchored and was therefore invited to raft up (tie up) to another of the anchored boats… what a palaver!

We left early the next morning in fog, destination as far east as we could get. The forecast was not great so we had a plan B and plan C should we need to put in beforehand. In the end we opted for plan B as the waves were rolling us all over and after a period with 30+ knot winds from right behind us (awkward motion) it dropped off to less than 10 and left a massive swell, so it was altogether uncomfortable so we motored into Fisherman’s harbor where we launched the dinghy and went for a walk in search of a WiFi signal. 2 miles later, nothing gives so we went back to the boat. OCCer John Van S was just anchoring when we arrived and we invited them over for arrival beverages – which we enjoyed in Toodle-oo’s cockpit as the rest of the group arrived and provided excellent anchoring entertainment!

In the morning, the fleet left early once again and once again we left an hour plus behind them – destination once again, as far east as we could get. As it happens, we managed to get to the tip of Nova Scotia (before it becomes Cape Breton) and took the narrow channel (Andrew’s Passage) up towards Canso, having the fleet in sight as we did so. However, whereas they carried on to Canso, we opted to stay the night in Glasgow Harbor, just short of Canso and enjoyed weird noises of Seals yelling at each other – and had a magnificent fly-by by a Bald Eagle!

Our anchorage was very pretty – we were happy and settled in for the evening in Glasgow Harbor, just short of Canso.

Nova Scotia

In the last installment we were in foggy Dover… We never saw it but in the varying fogginess we were able to patch together a general feel for the place – seemed like a nice place. It was foggy on the way out too, but not as bad as on the way in – so the passage through the cut was easy peasy!

We sailed in fog the entire way to Halifax – fortunately only about 25 miles away – because it was cold… The guide book warns of all the ship traffic in and out of the busy port and there are shipping lanes right into the entrance to the harbor – taking up most of the space. Not knowing if they were strict about their shipping lanes like the Europeans (boats like us have to travel perpendicularly across the lanes) or if they were lax like the Americans who basically see the shipping lanes as pretty pink lines on the chart as far as I can make out. Anyway, I call up the harbor traffic control to let them know we’re approaching – we still can’t see more than a few boat lengths in front of us – and they responded in some kind of unintelligible English (I think). I was so taken aback by my lack of understanding that I froze and didn’t answer. Instead we made a plan to squeeze up the edge of the lanes in the narrow space left – so that we didn’t have to bother anyone. Turned out all this angst was for naught – just as we were approaching the harbor main entrance, the fog lifted and the temperature went from 62F to 76F over the course of 30 minutes. The new found visibility revealed not a ship in sight – we were clearly not in a Rotterdam like area! Difficult to know what all the fuss was about since during our whole time in Halifax, the Harbor Traffic Control basically told everyone that called them that there was either no traffic or perhaps a single ship entering or leaving… Seems the guide book needs a revision!

We arrived at Halifax and completely unlike us, we took a slip – right downtown next to the HMCN Sackville – a WWII U-Boat seeking Corvett. Not only did we take a slip, but when we arrived, there was a plaque placed on the dock identifying Toodle-oo! as the recipient of the reservation!

Being downtown was fun – the first vacation Laurie and I had taken together was to Nova Scotia and we had a riotous time at the Split Crow pub listening to and singling along with a great Irish band – so shortly after we docked, we found our way to the Split Crow which had hardly changed a bit in the ensuing 15 years – but we were too early for the band!

The main reason we took a slip was to attempt to equalize the batteries – for which we needed to be connected to dockside electric. We duly connected up and set about equalizing – a 6 hour process… except in our case it would be rather longer than that – since the equalizing wasn’t happening. I managed to contact Magnevolt – the manufacturer of our charger who offered all sorts of seemingly helpful suggestions – the most outlandish being to fool the whole system by dunking the thermostat safety control into a glass of ice water – which we duly did – to no avail – the thing just won’t do it. Either our battery bank is too large for the 100A charger to handle of the brand new charger is defunct… (If anyone out there has a clue that might help, I’m all ears!)

We were up in Halifax for the start of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron’s rally to the Bras d’Or lakes in Cape Breton that OCC Port Officer John Van-S had invited us to attend. The only problem was that there didn’t seem to be much of a plan for the cruise, so we didn’t know when to start. We finally got a clue that some boats were leaving in the morning, others were leaving a couple of days later due to the weather (weather? what weather??? We were clueless)… anyway we decided we had to leave in the morning as we had a cocktail reservation at John Van-S’s waterfront property in Jeddore – so we left about 2 hours after all the other boats had left The Squadron.

We had a marvelous sail to Jeddore, the wind was 10 – 15 knots on the beam, the seas flat and for the most part, the fog stayed away. Jeddore is 4 or 5 miles up a river/estuary and to get to John’s you have to take a turn to a different waterway and follow tiny little markers – all rather hairy and I’d certainly prefer not to have to navigate these in fog…

We arrived at Johns just behind the fleet – 4 other boats and watched the quirky anchoring dance that it appears they enter into each and every time… While one boat gets positioned, the others mill around in circles – fast circles – until everyone is landed…

It was good to meet some new faces at John and Heather’s lovely house and we knew it would be an interesting cruise we had embarked upon…

 

Internet still too weak to add photos…

The Dinghy Saga

OK, so I’ll take the blame for this – another opportunity for Bill and Laurie to buy high and sell low…

When we bought Toodle-oo! she came with a tender – inflatable dinghy – made by Caribe (good product) and with a 15HP 2 stroke engine – relatively light and powerful and well sought after… The problem is that we have ambitions to get to Patagonia where I hear that use of an outboard is not easy due to the thick kelp. We therefore went on search for a rowable dinghy – since the Caribe was not that great at rowing – the inflatable tubes so big (which makes it a great inflatable) that rowing is troublesome.

We found a Puffin Sailing Dinghy on Craig’s List – a sweet little thing that would fit nicely on the foredeck. Assured it sailed and rowed well, we purchased it and put the Caribe on sale. We ordered a new 2.5HP engine to suit our new tender.

The Caribe sold quickly. (Tells you something I suppose!)

Our first trip with the dinghy was Memorial day – down to Newport. Unfortunately, we’d forgotten to bring oarlocks and the engine was still to arrive so it was pretty useless as a tender and we relied on rides from Jane and Mike. In some frustration, I finally got it off the foredeck and rigged the sail – with lots of difficulty in spite of help from good friend Peter Sterret… OK it sails – so long as you don’t mind having a bath at the same time. Stable? Not a bit of it! This thing is an unexpected swim waiting to happen!

When we sailed out of Newport bound for Bristol, we towed said dinghy and within half a mile had managed to submerge it! Water pouring through the centerboard slot. This thing has to go!

We arrived in Bristol and decided (sans oar locks) that we couldn’t row to the dock so called for assistance from Bristol Marine. They don’t service the Harbormaster’s moorings and the harbormaster doesn’t do ‘taxi rides’ so we’re stuck aboard. We finally convince the harbormaster that he should give us a ride and capitulates – but he’s pretty adamant that he’s not bringing us back to the boat…

We therefore need another dinghy in order to get to Toodle-oo! Enter the Green Demon. Again, found on Craig’s List – this is a rowing only dinghy – no centerboards in sight – and it comes with its own 2.5HP Yamaha! Wowee! That means that the new one we ordered is redundant! In spite of the no return policy, the seller of the new engine allows us to return the engine… good news – I’ll do just that after the weekend…

We launched the Demon in Bristol and motor her out to Toodle-oo! it’s a bit of a wet ride (warning bells)  but she’s more stable than the Puffin – we assess… We then unload and tow the Puffin sailing dinghy back to the dock. Fortunately, the Puffin is a sought after brand and we manage to unload the bloody thing quickly – again via Craig’s List.

The weekend arrives and we decide we’re going to have a nice quiet evening in Potter’s Cove. It’s a short sail there, we have no intention of leaving the boat so we leave the Demon on the mooring. We have an enjoyable evening, and return the following to find the dinghy where we left her – but no engine attached. (And yes, Laurie had indeed told me to lock the engine to the dinghy!)

We reported the engine stolen to the DEM. The harbormaster reckons the thing fell off the back and is down below mooring 4 in Bristol Harbor – anyone interested, have at it!

Our new engine arrives via UPS the following day – no need to return!

Green Demon is something of a liability – getting wet is inevitable, going swimming pretty likely. She’s a hard fiberglass dinghy so every time we bring he rot the swim platform she crashes into it – doing a number on our gel coat.

On the OCC cruise it gets special attention – as the dinghy without freeboard(!) meaning whoever sits in the low spot gets wet – inevitably me! In Boston, a prize was awarded for a trivia question on the OCC’s VHF net – the winner gets a ride in bloody thing! Strangely, nobody took up the offer.

Things were getting serious however – with getting wet on every trip to banging up Toodle-oo! tensions were running high. We needed another solution. Finally, we agreed we needed rid of the demon and we purchased a simple inflatable instead.

Relief comes in inflatable tubes! In spades!

Our new Achilles dinghy is a good deal smaller than the Caribe, a good deal slower and has the opportunity to have its inflatable bottom punctured by the rocks of Patagonia – but at least we’ll be able to sit in it comfortably and with security – and besides which, she rows better than any of them. Welcome home Toodle-Pip!