Although I've only sailed three days since my last update, we've been doing a lot. Since Mia, my wife, had a car, we decided to just do our Prince Edward Island (PEI) touring by car and left Kelly IV tied up with the very friendly folks in Richibucto. After three days on PEI, I set sail down the length of the Northumberland Strait (the body of water that separates PEI from New Brunswick (NB) & Nova Scotia (NS) with plans to meet Mia three days later in Port Hawkesbury, NS.
With Kelly safely berthed in Richibucto, Mia and I drove across the Confederation Bridge to PEI. We drove to Summerside, PEI and stopped in at the Silver Fox Curling and Yacht Club. I was looking for a bullseye fairlead to properly lead the starboard side davit tackle line without chafing. For the non-sailors, it is a small plastic block with a stainless steel eye that a small rope runs through. Since the stainless eye is very smooth, the rope slides without wearing away. Once I added the solar panels, I needed to add the fairlead to eliminate the chafe point created by the solar panel installation.
I figured someone at the Silver Fox Yacht Club may know where I could buy the bullseye fairlead. When I asked Mandy, the bartender, about it, she immediately thought of Jerry, a member of the club whose business is a chandlery selling marine parts and equipment. While he sells mostly to the local fishermen, he personally owns and cruises a sailboat, so Mandy was sure he'd know what I needed and maybe would have the part. Mandy called Jerry, he knew exactly what I was looking for and he had one in stock. Even better, he told Mandy that he'd bring it to the club, since he'd be stopping by after work.
When Jerry stopped by the club, he gave me the fairlead and said “no charge”! Of course, I wanted to buy him a drink so I could at least return the favor and pick up a little local knowledge. It turns out that Jerry has cruised the Bras d'Or Lake many times on his own sailboat and had a very detailed cruising guide for Bras d'Or Lake he was willing to loan to me. We also learned about a great lobster meal that we enjoyed at the fundraiser for the local chapter of the Royal Canadian Legion (RCL). The people were great, the food delicious and we enjoyed the company of a young couple from Toronto who shared the table with us. Talk about “local knowledge”! We'd never had known about the RCL lobster dinner without asking the locals at the Silver Fox Curling and Yacht Club.
Mia and I drove to Cavendish, at the north central part of PEI, so we could get an early start in the morning touring the area called home by Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of “Anne of Green Gables”. Mia is a big fan and has read all the books in the series, so this was a “must see” for our vacation together. We saw the post office where Lucy Montgomery lived, worked, and mailed her manuscripts from. It was a cold blustery day which we spent driving and walking along the rugged, red rock shore of northern PEI gradually working our way back into Summerside. In Summerside we picked up the Bras d'Or Lake Cruising Guide then had a nice dinner and enjoyed a show at the College of Piping before finding a hotel for the night.
The next day we traveled the eastern end of PEI, driving along the shore, visiting lighthouses, watching the fishing boats and enjoying another lobster dinner along the shoreside. That evening we returned to Kelly IV in Richibucto, NB and spent the night on board. Our new friends on Ariel from Syracuse, that Kelly and I met in L'Anse a'Beaufils, Quebec (QC), were tied up across the pier from Kelly, so I introduced Mia and we all got acquainted and caught up on our travels to NB from QC.
The next morning, Dick, from Ariel, helped Mia push Kelly off the dock and I headed out of Richibucto. Since Mia and I had already played tourist on PEI, we were next focused on seeing as much of Cape Breton Island and the Bras d'Or Lake as possible. Since the weather had kept Kelly in Richibucto, we now only had a few days to enjoy Cape Breton, so we felt our best bet was to move Kelly to Cape Breton Island when the weather allowed, then visit Cape Breton by car, so we could see a lot more of the island, than we might if only visiting by boat.
Kelly and I headed east across the Northumberland Strait toward the anchorage at Borden, PEI. Finding the way out of Richibucto was much easier than the way in and I did follow the correct channel all the way, avoiding the chancy trip across the shallow bar at the river mouth. With the wind blowing from the west, behind us, we were able to ride the waves downwind, but the breeze was too light to raise the sail. As Kelly made her way east of Cape Egmont, the waves became less bouncy, the ride smoother and soon we could begin to see the highest arches of the 13km long Confederation Bridge.
It is a very long bridge, reminiscent of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in the way that it winds its way across the open waters connecting two major land masses that are often out of sight of each other. While Mia and I had crossed the bridge twice in her rental car, it is a very different experience to watch the bridge very gradually appear out of the horizon. First, just the highest three arches where the shipping traffic has to cross under, then bit-by-bit, the main length of the bridge, and finally the entire bridge in all its glory running across the entire width of the Northumberland Strait from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island.
When the bridge became operational, the ferry service at the same point was shut down, but the harbor for the old ferry is still actively used by local fisherman and provided the safe anchorage for Kelly IV for the first night of our three-day delivery to Cape Breton Island.
The next morning was bright and sunny, so we were off towards Caribou, Nova Scotia. As the wind was on Kelly's beam, I tried to set sail, but each time the wind would peter out and our speed would drop to 3 knots or less. At that speed, we wouldn't make the next anchorage before nightfall, so I'd have to fire up the engine. This process was then repeated 4 times. Finally, about 1:30pm I acknowledged that I'd have to motor sail and completed the beautiful day under mainsail and iron genny.
The anchorage at Caribou Harbour is beside the Wood Islands Ferry terminal on the Nova Scotia side, near Pictou, NS. Mia had stayed near here while Kelly and I were in Borden, PEI. By this time Mia had moved on to visit Cape Breton Island. The weather forecast for Monday, July 18 was for rain and a “risk of thunderstorms”, but the wind was to be from the west. Since the wind was favorable, I decided to set out and take advantage of it. While I raised the anchor, the breeze was blowing about 15-18 knots which made the task of getting the anchor up a bit arduous. I began about 5:45am and had about 45 minutes of hauling the anchor from the bow, then returning to the cockpit to adjust the motor and wheel, then back to the bow. This cycle was necessary to push the bow forward since the wind was too strong for me to pull Kelly against it. But the wind would then blow the bow off to the left or right until I couldn't pull up any more anchor rode. At that point I'd have to go back to the cockpit, steer the bow back into the wind and usually had to adjust the throttle to better match the gusty winds. Finally, by 6:30am we departed Caribou Harbour.
Once out of the harbor, I had the winds on my beam and the sun low on the horizon and peeking below the clouds. It was good that I left early as the first few hours of sun were the last I'd see until Kelly and I tied up at Port Hawkesbury that night. By 9:15am the first rain showers caught up with us and they didn't stop until about 4pm. I thought about raising some sail, but the now southwest wind was a bit fluky and variable, never really blowing much over 10 knots. Not enough from the stern to push Kelly IV on a run. Also with the wet decks and a forecast that included thunderstorms, I was reluctant to raise sails that I'd have to reef or furl in a hurry if the winds picked up. I seem to be pretty conservative in my decisions, especially when I'm single-handing.
Since we were following the coastline, it was pretty easy to pick a point of land and steer to that. I was in full foul weather gear including bib pants, new fisherman's boots (I bought them in Richibucto), two fleece sweaters, my bright yellow jacket, and my broad brimmed hat. I prefer the hat to the hood with my jacket, because the hood blocks both my peripheral vision as well as most of the sounds. My big floppy hat directs the rain off my back, keeps it away from my glasses and gives me clear vision and hearing in all directions.
My course took me northeast to Cape George, then southeast across St. Georges Bay into the Strait of Canso. Canso Strait is the body of water that makes Cape Breton an island by cutting it off from mainland Nova Scotia. As I turned the corner into St. Georges Bay, I could see a distinct line in the water where the wind changed direction and was coming from due south, even southeast, which meant it was now on the nose. Fortunately, the breeze remained pretty light and the waves were less than 2 feet, so the motoring was straightforward.
Of course, things couldn't remain this simple, if wet. The crossing of the Bay is a 20 mile or four hour trip. I enjoyed a terrific welcome into St. Georges Bay when a couple of dolphins (porpoises?) appeared off Kelly's starboard side and bounded away showing themselves a couple more times as they disappeared into the rainy mist.
Just moments later the first thunderclaps announced themselves. As I could see on the radar, Kelly and I were in for a series of thunderstorms that would roll over us pretty regularly for the next few hours. Fortunately, all of the storms were pretty benign, at least where we were in St. Georges Bay. The wind would pick up a little as each storm would run by, but the breeze never hit 20 knots and usually stayed less than 12 knots. Given the rainy, misty, cloudy weather, we were out of sight of land for the entire trip across St. Georges Bay. I could see land on the radar, never more than 10 miles away, but there was no seeing anything through the drizzle and sometimes pouring rain.
Finally, I could just make out a slightly darker splotch against the distant but barely brightening sky. I checked the radar and it seemed that I was beginning to see the southeastern shore of St. Georges Bay. As we came closer, the rain stopped, but now fog was definitely filling the Canso Strait ahead of us. While the hills on both sides of the Strait were quite visible, the Strait itself was obliterated with fog.
Since there is a lock in the middle of the Strait, I called them to make my arrangements to go through. While on the radio I asked them about traffic between me and them. They told me about two other sailboats, one I should be seeing soon and the other was in the lock as they spoke and would pass me as I approached the lock. I kept peering through the fog and adjusting the radar trying to identify the first sailboat. Just as I was passing the Canso Light, I could make out the distant sailboat, about a mile ahead of me. I could also see their target on the radar. They passed easily quite some distance in front of me, probably heading for an anchorage I had plotted a course to, just in case I needed it.
About 2 miles from the lock, I saw the second sailboat veer off their course straight towards me. They had a crew on the bow waving at me, so I turned towards them. We spoke to each other as we circled about twenty yards from each other. They wanted to know the weather in St. Georges Bay, as they had been clobbered by a gale on the Atlantic side of the Strait. I let them know that while it had been very wet, the winds were light and from the south. They seemed relieved to hear it. They spoke with a French accent so I assumed they were from Quebec. Only as I pulled away from their boat did I see that their ensign appeared to be the French flag, from France! I wonder if they had crossed the Atlantic on their sailboat?
I radioed the lock to say I was ready to enter and they let me know that I only needed to just steady Kelly in the middle of the lock, that I should not tie up. So when I entered the lock, I just put the motor in neutral and with minor adjustments let her float in the middle of the lock. As soon as the gates behind me closed, the gates ahead of me opened immediately and they were radioing to tell me it was time to depart. It was the simplest, quickest lock-through we've done. Very appropriate, since I had to single hand this one!
After topping off my fuel in Port Hawkesbury, Kelly IV and I tied up in the adjacent Strait of Canso Yacht Club, a very small marina behind the government wharf. Mia picked me up the next day and we drove to the city of Sydney on the northeast coast of Cape Breton Island. We enjoyed a walk along their waterfront, sightseeing including their “Big Fiddle”, a great seafood dinner, and an open mike for music from locals and visitors.
The next day we enjoyed beautiful sunshine which was perfect for our day of driving along the Cabot Trail which encircles the entire northwest shorelines and Highlands National Park, ending up Alexander Graham Bell's town of Baddeck for a sumptuous lobster dinner. On the return drive to Kelly, we saw a bald eagle flying along Bras d'Or Lake and took a photo.
The next day we drove along the east coast and experienced the wonderful history of the Louisburg Fortress. Like Williamsburg, they have picked a point in time (1744 in Louisburg) and the entire Fortress, including actors in period dress, is in live operation as it would have been in 1744. The only thing missing was the busy harbor. Of course, the harbor is still there, but it did not have the busy coming and going of boats and ships as they plied their codfish trade and military activity.
We continued our drive to include the small fishermen's museum in the tiny town of Main a'Dieu. The little museum was very fascinating with a room full of boat models, marine gear, news clippings from the past hundred years and many assorted bits and displays. Our return trip took us to another seafood dinner where Mia enjoyed her King Crab legs and I had a seafood linguine alfredo that seemed to have more meat than pasta!
Early this morning Mia left Kelly and me for her return to Halifax, home and work. Since the weather forecast is a bit ugly for this morning, I decided to catch up on the Trip Log and get this posted. I hope to visit Bras d'Or Lake as soon as the weather permits.
Kelly IV and I have now traveled over 1470 nautical miles from Erie, PA.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 20 December 2012 12:44 )