Monthly Archives: August 2019

Marvelous MDI!

Northeast Harbor (NEH), ME – Wednesday, 8/21

Eastport to NEH

Our morning departure from Eastport was dependent on a lobster boat leaving so we could tap into a water source located near his boat, and that he was using.  Taking advantage of the later departure time, Denise went for a run, still struggling with the back/right leg issue and now trying to tackle the hills of Maine.

Once back on the boat and after a check of the weather, we decided to change our itinerary for the next few days. We did not want to spend two nights at an anchor at Rogue Island (required to wait out windy weather) and another night on a mooring in Winter Harbor. That would have made 5 straight nights without shore power and because of our work we need to have available power longer than a few hours each day. So, we decided to go all the way into Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island since we already reservations at the marina for Saturday and Sunday. We knew we could always anchor in this protective cove if they could not put us on a mooring or float, and take advantage of their cruisers lounge. But we also knew we would need fuel and planned on going first into Southwest Harbor where they had the cheapest prices.  In either place we could put water on the boat that would sustain us until we had full marina services, so we would not need to take on water before leaving Eastport.

While deciding all this, Mark noticed a lobster boat had come to the floating dock nearest the wharf and was getting fuel from a delivery truck. Mind you this was a sight to see as it was low tide and the fuel truck on the wharf was some 20+’ above the floating dock where the boat was.   Mark talked to the driver and determined that his price was competitive with SW Harbor, and that he could fill us our tanks. This meant we could go directly to NE Harbor without any stops, so as soon as the lobster boat was done, we pulled in and filled up.

Lobsterboat waiting on fuel truck

Lobster boat waiting on fuel truck

As soon as the lobster boat left, we pulled up to the float for our turn. In no time at all we filled up, paid the driver for the fuel, and we were on our way.  We pulled out of Eastport in clear sunny skies and great cruising weather. A short 5 miles later we came upon the Narrows and the town of Lubec. Here the waterway narrows and runs under the International Bridge connecting Campobello Island to the USA.  We made our way under the bridge and through the channel, then turned right around Quoddy Head and into the Gulf of Maine.

This part of Maine is very remote and isolated, so there are not a lot of services.  But the sky was clear and we saw several cruising boats on the water, both sail and power but miles from us.  We cruised along the coast for miles with nothing to see but hills, rocks and coves.  Eventually, we passed the Little River inlet and the working harbor of Cutler, the first real settlement of any kind. Almost all the land around here is park preserves or is part of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and will never be developed.  There are hundreds of miles of parks and trails and the area is really beautiful (pictures don’t do it justice).

You can tell you are nearing this area from far off as you can spot the radio towers from one of the world’s largest low-frequency transmitters at US Navy VLF site.  The (2 million watt) radio transmitter was established here in 1961 to broadcast low-frequency, coded radio communication to submerged USN submarines, now carrying ballistic missiles in the North Atlantic, Arctic and Mediterranean waters.  It is one of the most powerful radio stations in the world and for this reason it is one of 5 critical sites in the USA that is of critical protection from the enemy. You can learn more about this fascinating place here.

We continued on past Cutler and enjoyed the beauty of the land to our right, wanting to believe we were heading south, but the compass said west.  And soon our coastal cruising meant we encountered lobster pots, something we have not had to worry about the whole time we were in Nova Scotia as it was not lobster season. In Maine, it is always the season, and therefore there are always pots.

Cruising along the coastline, we frequently passed small islands, including one called Mark Island.

And then came the fog…… Not far from Roque Island and our originally-planned anchorage for the night.  First it was light and then it got heavier as we reached Jonesport. We headed through the “inside passage” of Moosabec Reach to cut mileage, but this route was loaded with lobster pots, and the boats picking up the pots.  To our right was the small town of Jonesport and to our left was the town of Beals (on Beals Island), which are joined by the Bridge Street Bridge. Here they are building a new bridge as the old one frequently is awash with seawater when storms come through. It is hard to imagine that this thoroughfare is where they have the annual lobster boat races; it was a white-knuckle event for Denise, but Captain Mark got us through without incident.

Finally we passed through the rest of the channel without issue, dodging several lobster boats and many more pots. We continued on the inside route in the heaviest of fog, but as we approached Frenchman’s Bay the fog lifted. This is the entrance to Bar Harbor and here we got to see the spectacular mountains of Mount Desert Island, including Cadillac Mountain.

In addition to the seals and porpoise which we have grown accustomed to seeing on a daily basis now, today we saw a sunfish.  It was so cool to see this fish which can grow up to 11 feet and weigh as much as 5000 lbs.  It is the largest bony fish and live almost exclusively on jellyfish.  We later learned that like whales they sometimes become stranded in beaches or shallow tidal areas, and since 2008 over 350 of them have washed up on the New England coast (81 in 2017 and 60 in 2018). Although Mark has seen these before while offshore sailing, this was a first for Denise, and what a thrill. Unfortunately, we did not get a picture, but you can learn more about these amazing creatures here.

In no time we were in the shadow of Mount Desert Island (MDI) and approaching the now familiar waters of NE Harbor where we cruised in 2017.  MDI is home to Acadia National Park and it is one of the most beautiful places in the USA.  It has hundreds of miles of hiking trails, bike paths and lakes to explore, and should be on everyone’s “bucket list”.

We arrived into Northeast Harbor (NEH) and were put on a float right near the dinghy dock and just off from the marina slips. This was convenient, but we found it to be very rocky with all the lobster boats, dinghies and launch boats constantly passing us by.  However, we didn’t care because we were happy to be in such a beautiful spot.  Of course like on a mooring, we had no power and (on our float) no water. We later learned there was water on some of the floats in the harbor but we had sufficient on board for our 2-day stay on the existing float so there was no need to request a different float.

After settling our boat, we launched our dinghy to go to shore. Since we were going to be on the float for 2 days we did not want to have to be at the mercy of the marina launch.  But also because we would want to come and go at any time and they have limited hours. We left our Island Office on the float and made our way to the dinghy dock. Once there we had a hard time finding space to tie up. The dock was so crowded and full, but we negotiated with another boater also trying to dock and managed to get us both into a very tight spot.

NE Harbor

NE Harbor

We checked into the office and walked around the grounds a bit before heading back to the boat for showers and an adult beverage. We had traveled 76 miles and as the fog rolled in we were happy we were not going anywhere for the rest of the day. We ate a dinner on board and relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Northeast Harbor, ME – Thursday, 8/22
We woke up to a very foggy morning in the harbor.  We were glad that we were not moving our boat today as it was quite thick.  After doing a little bit of work in the morning, we took the dinghy ashore to visit the Farmer’s Market, held every Thursday morning. We were there just before 9:00 am when they opened, and about that time the fog lifted in the harbor and it was a beautiful day.  After doing a quick walk-around (i.e. reconnaissance) we went back to a couple of vendors and made our purchases, including some steaks from Brown Family Farm.

We took the dinghy back to our boat and spent most of the morning working, doing boat chores, and trying to get the blog updated and pictures cataloged.

In the afternoon Mark took Denise to shore so she could get information about an upcoming road race in town on Saturday that she just learned about yesterday when we arrived.  The website would no longer offer online registration and she wanted to know if she could register on Saturday morning.  She stopped by the Great Harbor Maritime Museum where the race registration would officially kick off, but the women didn’t know anything. However, she was very helpful at using her contacts to figure out who to call and ended up confirming that same-day registration was allowed.  After that, Denise went for a walk through all the shops in town while Mark had a conference call. Eventually he they coordinated for the dinghy ride back to the boat.

Yesterday when we arrived we saw “Still Waters II” in the marina, but Claudia and Dave were not on it. Come to find out they spent the last two days enjoying Acadia National Park and all that Mount Desert Island has to offer.  We knew they would be leaving in the morning, as we had confirmed with the marina office that the slip we were assigned to into tomorrow, they would vacate.  Unfortunately, the day ended before we had a chance to see each other, but we stayed in contact via text and we are sure we will see them again on the east coast, if not in FL in the winter.

Later in the evening we spent time planning our stops after NE Harbor, including Somes Sound and other areas.  Then we barbecued steaks on the grill that we got at the farmer’s market for a delicious meal on board.

 Northeast Harbor, ME – Friday, 8/23
We woke up with anticipation of moving into a slip in the marina and getting some shore power. We have had to run the generator a little bit more than desired as the cool nights have required us to turn on the heat. After 3 nights on floats (2 in NEH and one in Eastport) and one night on a mooring (St. Andrews), we were ready for a marina slip.

Finally, we saw friends Dave & Claudia (“SWII”) leave their slip and we pulled into it as soon as possible.

"SW" II Leaving NE Harbor

As soon as we could get the boat settled with power and water hooked up, we went off to do laundry in the Yachtsman’s Building at the marina.  It literally took all morning even with 2 washers and dryers available. Fortunately, we did not get bumped out of line by anyone and could process it as fast as the cycles would allow.

While doing the laundry, Denise met several other cruiser who provided some great information on places to go to that we had not heard about, and which we have now included in our itinerary.  One of the couples she met were Gold Loopers Ron & Faye (“Perelanda”) who knew our Gold Looper friends Betsy & Dave (“Frydaze”) and Julie & Tom (“Sum Escape”).

Ron & Faye ("Perelanda")

Ron & Faye (“Perelanda”)

We finished up this chore just before lunch, and afterwards we did some work for clients and did some more work on trying to get the pictures downloaded to our computer and cataloged. There was lots to do here because of the many days with limited power, but we still did not get caught up.

Not wanting to take a lot of time for our dinner, we put in a “to-go” order at the Docksider Restaurant, located ¼ mile up the hill from the marina.  Together we walked there to pick it up and then took it back to the boat. Mark got a lobster roll (average) and Denise got a salad with fish on it and were disappointed in its size and flavor. Two years ago we ate here and enjoyed it, but this time we found it mediocre.

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In the evening we watched a little tv; something we have not really missed during much of the Canada portion of our trip.  Then, shortly before we went to bed, the Hinkley boat in the slip next to us was returning and hit our boat.  It was dark outside and it was more of a bump, but it startled us.  Mark checked it out and it appeared that all was ok, but in the dark it was hard to see. The guy said he would be back the next day and would pay for any repair, if required. What a way to end the week.

Northeast Harbor, ME – Saturday, 8/24
Denise left the boat at 7:15 am and walked up the hill to register for the race. The race tent had been set up and she was able to do so and unexpectedly got a shirt (originally thought only the first 75 people would get one).  The race was not going to start until 9:30 for the runners (9:00 for the walkers) and the start was in a different location than the finish. There were buses to take participants to it, but they were not leaving until 8:45.  So, Denise went back to the boat, returned the shirt, and then went back into town to catch the bus at the appropriate time.

While waiting for the bus she talked with a few runners, and then got on the bus as soon as it showed up as it was a bit chilly. Once at the start all the runners were mulling about and Denise started talking to a local women named Tamera.  Come to find out she has a sister in Ft. Lauderdale and she too is a runner.  They talked for a while and shared stories until the start of the race.  Once the race started, she and her friends took off and Denise didn’t see them again until the end, but they all did cheer Denise on at the finish.  This was a small race but the 5-mile course ran along the eastern shore of Somes Sound before cutting back into the neighborhood around NE Harbor.  Denise was not really in great running shape for this distance and the hills, but the scenery was spectacular and she was glad that she jumped into the run anyway.  Here are some pictures from the race:

In the meantime, Mark determined the boat bump from last night did no damage to our boat, but scratched the Hinkley boat where he collided with our deck cleat. Fortunate for us, but not great for the boat owner.

After the race and showers, we were preparing to leave on an adventure when a boat pulled into the slip next to us.  As soon as we saw it was “Ancient Mariners” we knew had to wait until the boat was settled to say hello.  We had met Herb & Ruth in 2017 in Belfast, Maine when they were in the slip next to us then. They are friends of our long-time sailing friends Irv & Marcia (“Hangout”) who live in Belfast in the summer and introduced us.  This couple is an inspiration to all: they are in their late 90’s (he will be 100 this year) and continue to cruise in the summer months in their 37’ American Tug. We spoke to them briefly and they told us Irv & Marcia were coming to NEH over the weekend. We had been in touch with them to coordinate a meet-up during our upcoming stay in Belfast, but they never mentioned they were coming to NEH. How fun that we are all here together again.

"Ancient Mariners"

“Ancient Mariners”

After our meeting, we took off to meet the Island Explorer (free bus) into Bar Harbor for groceries at Hannaford’s.  This is the largest supermarket anywhere on MDI and was worth the 20 minute trip on the bus, plus the 10 minute walk once in Bar Harbor.  We picked up all that we needed (and could carry), then went back to the Village Green to catch the bus back to NEH.  We got back in time to put away the groceries and walk to Saint Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church for mass.  However, once we got there we realized we had gotten the mass time wrong (not 4 pm), so we walked back to boat. The time difference gave Denise an opportunity to bake some chicken for a few pre-cooked meals. This will be especially appreciated in the coming days when we are on a mooring or anchorage and only want to microwave a quick dinner.

We then returned to the church for the correct mass time (6 pm) and from there we went to dinner at The Colonel’s Restaurant; a place we ate at last time we were here and liked it.

Afterwards we headed back to the boat for a quiet evening, only to find the Hinkley next to us, who had left sometime during the day, had returned after dark again and failed to turn off the navigation lights on the boat.

 Northeast Harbor, ME – Sunday, 8/25
Today we went on an all-day adventure to explore parts of MDI that we had not yet been to, specifically the south western side of the island.  While we had stayed in South West Harbor (SWH) in the past, we never explored much beyond the downtown area.  Today, we wanted to see some of the inland area, and with the free Island Explorer bus we could.  But to catch the correct bus we first had to take the NEH bus to Bar Harbor, then make the transfer to the SW Harbor bus.  We had about a 30 minute layover and did some window shopping in the tourist shops in Bar Harbor, before jumping on the SWH bus.

It was about a 35 minute ride to SWH, but first we went through Somesville at the head of Somes Sound. It was fun to see this small (barely) village from the road. When we were here in 2017, we grabbed a mooring ball in Somes Harbor, but did not go ashore. This time we got to see the homes, a few commercial businesses and a post office that makes up this area.  The bus continued on to SWH where we got off to have lunch at Beal’s Lobster Pound for some great lobster rolls.  It helped that the restaurant is right by the bus stop (how convenient) on the north shore of town.

After lunch we had a little time before picking up the next bus (they run every hour), so we walked around Beals to see how they process all the lobsters, but none of the operations were running.  After that we stopped at the USCG Station and then near the water at low tide to take a few pictures.

Finally, the bus showed up and we jumped on for the ride all the way down to Bass Harbor and Tremont at the southwestern tip of MDI.  Along the way we passed by some deer that were hanging out near the side of the road.

From Bus ride to Bass Harbor

We rode by the Seawall National Park (part of Acadia) and the campground there with lots of trails and green space. The route also runs along the coast where there were some beautiful rocky shores, and a lighthouse (Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse), but we chose not to get off the bus to walk to it as we would have had to wait an hour for the next bus to pick us up and continue on.  Our goal was to see Bass Harbor as we have considered going there, but with mixed reviews we wanted to see it for ourselves before deciding.

Just before Bass Harbor, a local women got on the bus and struck up a conversation with Denise. Along the route she ended up providing us some information about all the places we were passing, including restaurant suggestions.  She was a most interesting woman and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with her, all the way back to Bar Harbor.  In the meantime, we also saw Bass Harbor and put it down as a place for a future car-trip, but not one to bring our boat to; it was a very small harbor with not a lot to offer besides a lobster pound/restaurant.

We returned back to Bar Harbor with some time to kill before catching the bus back to NEH, so we went walking through some of the shops again. Finally, our bus came and we took it back to NEH one last time.  It was a fun adventure and a great (cheap) way to see parts of MDI, but it took up almost the whole day.

Here are some other pictures from NEH:

Somes Sound, ME – Monday, 8/26
Still sore from Saturday’s run, Denise wanted to stretch her legs a bit so she went for a walk in NEH.  The roads and homes here are so lovely, and such a nice area, but it was cold outside and she was anxious to get back to the boat and get some coffee.

We were going to stay in NE harbor as long as possible as our next destination (Somes Sound) was a short distance away and we would be on mooring. Staying at NEH enabled us to have power (without generator) and Denise was working feverishly to get out a blog update.  In the meantime Mark filled the water tanks on the boat.

We also had a chance to talk with Ruth (“Ancient Mariner”) and learned Irv & Marcia (“Hang Out”) made it into NEH, and we saw their black hulled sailboat on a mooring in the harbor.  Finally it was time to leave and as we were pulling out of slip, they we pulling in to one behind us.  We literally were two ships passing in the day.

"Hang Out" on a mooring in NEH

We left NEH and slowly made our way through the harbor, passing Clifton marina on our right and all the beautiful houses that are in the hills along both shorelines.  We exited the harbor, rounded Sargent Head, passed Gilpatrick Cove and headed up Somes Sound.  This beautiful body of water is a glacial river valley lined by the mountains of MDI, making it the only fjord on the eastern Atlantic Seaboard.  It is nothing compared to the fjord of the Saguenay River in Quebec, but beautiful nonetheless.

It took us an hour to cruise the 6.3 miles to Abel & Company Moorings at the head of Somes Sound because of the numerous lobster pots that had to be dodged along the way.  But it was such a nice day and the place was so beautiful we did not mind it at all.NEH to Somes Sound

 

Once we secured our mooring, we ate some lunch and then had some work to do; Denise prepping for a conference call for tomorrow, and Mark had discussions with clients and associates doing work for us.  We also got to watch the coming and going of lobster boats, as well as all kinds of other boaters, dinghies and even seals in the water. We continued to work until evening when we launched the dinghy and went to shore.

We had dinner reservations for the Abel Lobster Pound Restaurant and we were expecting a lobster pound like we had experienced in other places. However, we quickly saw that this restaurant was more upscale. With the cooler-than-expected temperatures, we asked to move the reservation to inside seating and they were able to accommodate us, thankfully.  We enjoyed a very nice meal, but it was a bit pricey and their portions were small, albeit all of it was delicious.

Near the end of our dinner we could see a fire burning at the boatyard on the western shore across the sound.  There was much police activity and we could hear the sirens from the ambulance and fire trucks, but we were too far away to see any details.  We watched as the fire got put out, and decided we would cruise by there when we were leaving tomorrow morning.

Fire at John M. Williams Co boatyard

Before leaving the restaurant, we walked around the property and got to see the lobsters in their water pens. The restaurant uses lobsters only from Somes Sound and require approximately 200 per day to meet the needs for all their dishes.  Unlike a true lobster pound, they do not sell retail to the public so we will have to buy a fresh lobster somewhere else along the way.

We took the dinghy back to the boat and immediately turned on the generator. We needed to charge up all our devices and put on the heat. It had gotten cold and we needed to warm up the boat before going to bed.  During all of this we were treated to a beautiful sunset in a spectacular place.  We are truly blessed!

Sunset over Somes Sound

Little Cranberry Island, ME – Tuesday, 8/27
During the night Mark it got really cold on the boat, so at 2:00 am Mark got up and put on the generator so we could have heat. We know this is mind-blowing to our FL friends and family who are dying of the temperatures in the 90’s, but we were cold.  Once the inside of the boat was comfortable again, he turned it off and we were able to get back to sleep. Then when Denise got up at sunrise, she turned it back on again to heat up the place until the warm sunshine made it bearable.

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We stayed in Somes Sound all mooring as Denise had several conference calls and the cell service here was excellent. Between the hotspot and our cell phones, we have found much-improved service since our 2017 trip and this has allowed us to stay in touch with family, friends, business associates and clients.

Finally at 10:30 we left the mooring at Somes Sound and headed toward the western shore to see if we could tell what burned at the John M. Williams Co boatyard. Unfortunately, we were still unable to notice anything except police tape in an area, but that didn’t correspond with where we saw the flames last night. I guess we will never know what really happened or if any boats were impacted; hopefully not.

Again today we didn’t have far to go; a whopping 8 miles to the moorings at Little Cranberry Island and the town of Islesford.  We cruised down Somes Sound, past Greening Island and Sutton Island, and entered the Little Cranberry Island harbor.  All within the beautiful backdrop of Cadillac Mountain and all of Mount Desert Island.

SS to LCI

We had dinner reservations at the Islesford Dock Restaurant in the evening, and they allow you to stay on their floating docks when you dine with them, but it is on a first-come-first-serve (FCFS) basis. Once in the harbor we could see that the docks were full and there was no room for us, but it still was early in the day, and we were hopeful it would open up. The town is supposed to have several blue mooring balls for free (FCFS also), but we could only find one and it was occupied with a lobsterman’s float.  We contacted the restaurant and they advised of their mooring ball that was at the edge of the harbor that we could use. It would be $35 for the night, and we could pay when we came into the restaurant to eat.

We found the mooring ball and tied up to it, but were not happy with all the bouncing from the boat traffic in the harbor.  As soon as we saw the float was available, we unhooked from the ball and pulled up to the float. Denise was a little nervous that they may not let us stay as it was way too early for dinner, so our first stop was inside the Islesford Dock Restaurant to confirm our reservation and that it was ok to leave the boat there.

Islesford Dock Restaurant at low tide

Islesford Dock Restaurant at low tide

Before we could leave the restaurant, we ran into Lynn and Robert who were on one of our bus rides when we were the only 4 people on the bus.  They were eating at the bar and got our attention, so we went over to talk with them.  They were on their boat in the mooring field (took our ball when we left) so they could come in to eat.  We chatted for a while and found out that although they are based out of Portland, she has a place in Cocoa and spends winters there.  He is a CFO for a few companies and so naturally we had a chance to talk shop.  We exchanged contact information and agreed to keep in touch, especially when Lynn is in Cocoa this winter.

We left the restaurant and walked through a few of the shops on the dock and then over to the Islesford Historical Museum. As this small museum is part of the Acadia National Park, it is manned by a National Park Ranger and we entered it right as her last presentation of the day was beginning.  It was quite informative and she did a terrific job of engaging the audience by asking questions.

The museum itself is excellent with terrific displays on the history of the Cranberry Islands.  In addition to the history of boat building, there is a terrific display of what it is like to live on the island in the winter time.  There is also a video of lobsterman discussing the challenges they face, and the lifestyle they lead. It was fantastic and we were impressed.  More spectacularly, the displays were created and are maintained by the “Friends of the Islesford Historical Museum”, most of whom are the 80 or so year-round residents, or those who come to spend their summers in the area.  You can learn more about this wonderful museum here.

After the museum we took a walk down the main road.  We passed the Post Office and the school where all 15 kids who live on the island attend, regardless of their grade.  We also passed by the small Catholic Church (“Our Lady Star of the Sea”), the town offices, and many old homes and a few new ones. We also saw many old cars, at least 30 years old, and none had license plate tags.  Because it is an island, bringing a car over requires a barge and it is very expensive to transport a car. Therefore few people have them and when they do they keep them here forever.  We did see a couple of cars that had unique license plates (look very closely):

Stop Forrest Stop - Run Forrest Run

Stop Forest Stop – Run Forest Run

We walked back to the area near the restaurant and checked out the Islesford Lobster Coop. We were thirsty and bought a bottle of water and learned that we could buy fresh lobster there. They even sell and ship to the consumer, so we grabbed a brochure for future information.

Behind the retail storefront (and on the wharf next to the restaurant) is their processing facility. This is where all the local lobsterman bring their catch for the day for collection and distribution.  The facility takes the lobsters off the boats, sorts into tubs, and then stores them for distribution and order processing. Most everything leaves Little Cranberry Island every day and goes to NEH where they are transported in refrigerated trucks to restaurants and retail outlets all around the US.  It is a fascinating thing to watch as the boats come in and the tubs are hauled out by crane, then the boats leave. Eventually one will leave full of crates of lobsters to NEH.  But there was no quitting at 5 pm; once the processing is done, the facilities are cleaned and made ready for the next day and this went on until almost 9 pm.

Finally it was time for our dinner and we walked to the restaurant.  We were seated immediately and had a great dinner that was delicious.  Our server had no personality, but we still enjoyed our meal and the entire atmosphere of the place.

After dinner we stayed on the outside deck and watched the sunset over the harbor.

We did not want to go back to the boat as we wanted to stretch out our stay as long as possible. If we could manage to stay past the last boat full of diners, we might get lucky and get to stay on the float overnight and not get kicked off. Eventually with nowhere else to go and the cool night air setting in, we went to the boat and hung out in the main stateroom, keeping as quiet and dark as possible.  Finally the last ferry and other pleasure boaters left and we were able to relax; no one would kick us off the dock and even if they did, we could go anchor in the now settled harbor.  We went to bed and tried to stay warm as this dock came with no services (i.e. electricity), but the price was perfect: $0.

All day the small private ferry boat and mail boats take people from NEH to Little (and Great) Cranberry Islands, and in 2017 we had considered doing this to see this island. But our initial research then determined that it was an expensive place to go to just for dinner, and that we could not bring our boat into this harbor.  We have since learned that while it can be expensive (cheapest route would add $32 to our dinner bill) by mail boat, we can take our own boat into this harbor.  This is a fascinating place and we are so glad we came here. Here are some more pictures from the island:

Southwest Harbor, ME – Wednesday, 8/28
We woke up to another cold morning in Maine and couldn’t believe it was the last week in August. Denise immediately put on the generator to get the coffee brewing and put the heat on. It was a beautiful morning and although clear on Little Cranberry Island we could see the fog covering the top of MDI, but it too was so pretty.

 

Fog over MDI

As soon as we had breakfast done, Mark called Dysart’s Great Harbor Marina in Southwest Harbor to see if we could come in early; we had a 2-night reservation and they were happy to have us. So, we untied from the Islesford dock and headed towards SWH.  We had all of 4 miles to go so it didn’t take us very long.

LCI to SWH

When we entered SWH we first passed the Hinkley Boatyard where our friends on Blue Haven left their boat for winter storage and went home to Wisconsin.  We then passed the town Manset and then came up to the breakwater that really protects the boats in the marina.  Our first destination was the fuel dock where we got a pump-out before moving into our assigned slip.

We were happy to be in a marina as we had much work to get done and the upcoming weather forecast looked terrible. Rain was predicted to begin in the evening and was forecasted for all day on Thursday.  We also noticed that this marina was the place to be, at least for our Sabre-Back Cove family of boats; there were no less than 5 Sabres and one other Back Cove. It was also home to several large yachts; one of which is a charter named “Wonderland”, and a special trimaran named “Sea Shepherd” from the marine activist group for which it is named after.  They patrol the world’s oceans mission to protect and conserve all marine wildlife and we had a chance to speak with a photojournalist with them who was doing a photoshoot while here. You can learn more about this organization here.

"Wonderland"

Once the boat was settled, our first chore was to go to Hamilton’s (regional marine store) to pick up a few parts Mark had ordered and put on hold for us. The store is on the north side of Southwest Harbor right near Beal’s Lobster Pound. We would have obtained them last Sunday when we were here (from the bus ride), but they were closed.  It is a one mile walk to the store from the marina, and we were offered the marina loaner truck. However, we wanted the exercise and it gave us an opportunity to see the houses, B&B’s, Inns and the downtown which we liked so well when we were here in 2017.  It didn’t take long to get there, and they had the parts ready for our pickup. Another 20 minutes later and we were on our way back to the marina, passing the houses and a local entrepreneur selling things from their garden, fresh bread and homemade jams and jellies.

We walked back to the boat and spent the rest of the day working on getting some office work caught up, as well as working on cataloging more pictures.  We also starting keeping tabs on the tropical storm, soon to be hurricane Dorian.

In the evening we walked to the downtown area to “Little Notch Bakery Café” and had a pizza and salad, based on the recommendation from Chase, the dockhand at the marina.  We were disappointed to find out that no one in town does pizza delivery, but the food here was good and we had some leftovers to take back to the boat.

In the evening we picked back up watching The Game of Thrones.  We had not been able nor had time to watch this since leaving the US in July. It took us a while to remember where we were in the storyline, but we were able to get right back into it.

And then the rain started about the time we went to bed.  It rained all night and sometimes quite hard.  We were glad we were in the marina and not swinging out on a mooring ball somewhere.

Southwest Harbor, ME – Thursday, 8/29
When we woke up in the morning it was still raining, and would continue to do so for most of the day.  We stayed close to the boat, never venturing far and staying in the marina.

We managed to get a few chores done on the boat that we had been putting off, including defrosting the refrigerator. It took a big part of the morning and we were happy to have it done.  Denise also managed to get the pictures taken to date all cataloged and a part of the blog post written, but not published.

We had made early dinner reservations at Red Sky, a restaurant in town that we had eaten at before and really liked.  Fortunately, the rain had stopped and we were able to walk, although Chase offered us the use of the marina truck. It really wasn’t necessary and the restaurant was only half a mile away.  The food was good but the service was a little slow and the staff very disorganized.  We did meet a very nice family from Long Island who sat at the table next to us. They have 3 very bright children and took this picture of us.

On the way back to the boat we stopped and grabbed a small ice cream at the Quiet Side Café & Ice Cream Shop to top off a very bland, but productive day.

Ice Cream Place

Southwest Harbor, ME – Frida, 8/30
Before the sun was up, Denise was awake and ready to go for a run. The days are getting shorter and now the sun does not come up until nearly 6:00 am.  Finally around 6:30 she was able to get out get the legs moving. The road was very hilly and not a good surface for running, but there were several other runners out and this was the first time she has seen other runners since arriving in Maine (other than the road race). She finished a short run and ended up back at the boat fully discouraged by the lack of stamina and the constant right leg and back pain that continues to plague her.

It was a beautiful but very windy day so decided to stay at SWH one more day. This should give us a chance to get the blog finalized, and to do some more boat chores. Mark got the outside of the boat washed and did some checking on the engine systems to make sure they were all in working order.

We also talked with family and neighbors back home as the threat of hurricane Dorian is very real for our home in Winter Park.  We had done some preparation while we were home in June, but the storm is big and a direct hit could mean many days without power.  We pray that the storm will change course, blow out to sea and not affect anyone.

In the afternoon we borrowed the marina loaner truck and went to the IGA in Somesville to get a few items before heading to overnights on mooring balls and no real grocery stores for a few days.

Loaner truck

Marina Loaner truck

Today we also watched some of the boats leave the marina to go somewhere to celebrate the Labor Day weekend, including some of the Sabre yachts and the Back Cove.  The three Fleming yachts, “Wonderland” and “Sea Shepherd” like us are still here at least for one more day.  Tomorrow we are leaving the Mount Desert Island area and heading towards Penobscot Bay, stopping in a few places along the way. We will really miss this place and all that it has to offer.  We will be back in Bar Harbor for the Half Marathon on 9/21, along with Denise’s sister Claire, who will be joining us. However, will be leaving the boat and staying in a hotel for that event.

Here are some more pictures from the area around the marina and downtown SWH:

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office!

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Back in the USA!

Eastport, ME – USA – Tuesday, 8/20
We were so excited when we woke up and found that the fog was lifting and it was going to be a beautiful day. It was low tide in St. Andrews and we could see so much of the rocky shoreline that was completely under water. We were so happy that it was clear as we were able to see all the things we missed yesterday.

We left St. Andrews and made the short passage to Eastport, leaving so we could time our passage through an area called the Old Sow where several bodies of water, combined with the high tides and rushing current can make for what is known as the world’s largest whirlpool.  We were also trying to time our arrival in Eastport in time for Denise to make a conference call with a client; this is the logistics of our life aboard our Island Office.

We cruised past fisheries in Passamaquoddy Bay, houses on Deer Island, NB, and the town of Pleasant Point, Maine.  Along the way we saw some of the most spectacular scenery and a handful of other small islands.  We also entered US territorial waters and were back in the USA!

Eastport is on Moose Island, and we arrived to the small and very crowded town float. But, Captain Mark was able to negotiate dockage around two lobster boats, a few pleasure boats, and the town ferry.  We tied up successfully and even had some time to spare before the conference call, but still had to clear US Customs & Border Patrol.

Thanks to technology we were able to utilize the new ROAM (Reporting Offsite Arrival-Mobile) system.  This is where you pre register your information (name, passport ID, Global Entry #, Vessel info, etc.) into their system before leaving the USA, so when you return they already have the information on file. Once inside USA territory, you report your arrival using a phone, and then when they call you back you utilize the video on your smartphone to verify passport and identities. You also confirm that you have nothing to report.  It was so easy and we were cleared in no time at all.  It actually took us longer to get a cell signal as Eastport is in a very isolated part of “Downeast Maine”.  More on this later.

Eastport is a lobsterman’s town and all the city dockage is for their boats, a charter boat, or the ferry boat. Inside the breakwater formed by the wharf is strictly commercial fisherman (and the USCG and CBP boats). This wharf is fairly new and was built a few years ago when the old one collapsed.  Outside the breakwater and on the western shore of the wharf are the public floats. It has very limited space for pleasure craft and the floats available are without any services (water, electricity, fuel, etc.). However, they still charge a rate equal to that of many other places in Maine that offer so much more.  Needless to say, we were glad we were only staying one night.

 

After securing the boat, Denise’s conference call, and cleared through US customs, we checked into the marina office.

Eastport Port Authority & Marina office

Eastport Port Authority & Marina office

We then went for a short walk to explore the town and grab lunch at a place that came highly recommended: Quoddy Bay Lobster.  It is at the east end of downtown (not a long walk) and we arrived just before the lunch rush so we didn’t have to wait long to place our order.  Because it was such a nice day and we had an awesome view of Campobello Island to the north, we sat outside on the picnic tables and devoured the most delicious lobster rolls.  This place has apparently been “discovered” and the place filled up fast; we could have sold our seats.

After lunch we walked through some of the downtown shops that were open. Several buildings were undergoing renovation and many businesses looked like they had either closed or were preparing to open anew.

Our mission however, was to go to the retail store for Raye’s Mustard. We had heard of this mustard from some cruisers in St. Peter, NS who live in Eastport.  The claim to fame of this now national brand is that it does not require refrigeration after opening.  The manufacturing plant (Raye’s Mustard Mill & Museum) is located about ½ mile from the downtown and we wanted to go there (imagine that), but we learned they were in a maintenance shut-down and renovation: they are expanding operations and want to keep it all in Eastport.  The retail store at the plant has been relocated to the downtown area during the renovation, which afforded it more room to offer “tastings” of their many flavors. Naturally, we had to sample these and we got to spend some time talking with the women in the shop.  We also got to meet “Karen” who is a “Raye” fourth-generation family member and is one of the owners of the business. It was lots of fun and we made a few purchases to add to our pantry. You can learn more about this place here.

After our downtown adventure, we walked to the IGA (grocery store). We wanted to buy more gin (without import implications and cheaper), and to get a few provisions of brands and items we could not get in Canada.  The walk took us up a hill along the main road out of town, but it is mostly residential. We passed a few churches, the arts center, and discovered the Raye’s Mustard Mill & Museum were directly across the street from the IGA.

After finding what we wanted, we walked back to the boat and stowed our purchases. Once back on the boat, we worked as much as possible on emails, cataloging pictures, communicating with business associates, etc. until the computer batteries required recharging, which meant running the generator. Not wanting to run to turn the generator on for a few more hours, we took a break and did other things. Mark spent some time talking with the ferry boat captain and at one point he even offered the use of his car should we need anything.

We have a business associate who actually has a house in Eastport, and is usually here in the summer. However, despite our best efforts to connect, he had to go back to Ohio (company offices are there) and we missed each other by just one day.  He had recommended we go to the Chowder House for dinner. It was a short walk to the western part of town, and we had a pretty good meal of fish and chowder (naturally).

Outside Chowder House restaurant

Outside Chowder House restaurant

Afterwards, we continued our walk up Water Street and found our associates house; it was fairly easy as he was flying an OSU flag on the flag staff.  It is a beautiful place and has an awesome water view.

Business Associates House

Business Associates House

One of the places we had considered visiting while still in Canada was Campobello Island. It sits less than 20 miles east of St. Andrews, NB, and 1.5 miles north of Eastport but still in Canadian waters. It is famous because President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a summer home here, and is a unique place as it houses an International Park; maintained partly by the USA and partly by the Canadian National Park Services.  In doing research we determined it would be difficult for us to go in our boat as there is no real place to anchor and dinghy to shore, nor are there any marinas for pleasure boats.  Additionally, getting around the island is difficult without a vehicle, and that is why most people who visit do so via a car ferry.  Once we were able to see just how big this island really was, we knew we made the right decision. This place will have to be added to our ever increasing list to visit by car someday.

Campobello Island

Campobello Island

About the cell coverage in Eastport:  Because the Canadian border is so close, and because the area is very rural and remote, the cell coverage is screwy.  Our phones showed that we were on Atlantic Time, even though Eastport is in the Eastern Time zone, and the coverage still showed International roaming. Fortunately, the AT&T plan we have for our phones includes Canada, so international roaming charges do not apply. However we were told by some locals that people arrive here and end up with huge roaming charges on their bill because of this phenomena that the cell phone companies can’t seem to get corrected. Strangely, we had plenty of coverage, unless we were sitting on our boat during low tide and the wharf 25’ above us interfered with the signal.

It was a short, but fun day in Eastport and we are glad we came here. Tomorrow we will cruise in what truly is “Downeast Maine” territory.  In the direction we are headed we call it going “Up West”.

Here are some other pictures from our stay in Eastport:

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

Au Revoir Canada!

St. Andrews, NB – Monday, 8/19
Denise was up at the crack of dawn and wanting to get a run in before we left Yarmouth for St. Andrews. She had an opportunity to take some pictures of the town, including very old tombstones in the park, a memorial to those lost at sea, and some old Victorian homes in the historic district.

All indications were that it would be the best day possible to leave Yarmouth and cross the Bay of Fundy.  And it was, except for the very heavy fog that blanketed the area. It was the thickest day yet, coming all the way into the harbor and covering the town. We waited until the last possible moment to leave, hopeful it would burn off but it only did slightly before we had to leave.

Finally we untied the dock lines and headed out of the harbor, thankful for radar and for at least some visibility to navigate around the buoys and into the Gulf of Maine.

Yarmouth to St. Andrews, NB

Yarmouth to St. Andrews, NB

We encountered very little boating traffic and continued heading north. Our plan was to skirt Brier Island near St. Mary’s Bay on the Nova Scotia coast as a possible bailout, and then go over the tip of Grand Manan, also a bailout opportunity if needed.  But the seas were incredibly flat and as we entered the Bay of Fundy at the southern tip of Grand Manan, and we wondered why everyone is so paranoid about this body of water. Yes, we got lucky and were running with the wind, the tide and the current behind us as so all the factors were in our favor as we headed north. Yes, we had to go north to get south (go figure). Besides the fog and about 30 minutes of some light rain, it was a pretty uneventful passing.

Foggy and rain all at once

Foggy and rain all at once

As we approached the northern end of Grand Manan Island, we encountered our first boat (a ferry) and the fog lifted just enough for us to see the high cliffs on its westernmost point.  We also could see the Wolf Islands off to our right, and in no time at all we were back in the fog.

Wolf islands on Bay of Fundy

Wolf islands on Bay of Fundy

We approached the western shore of the Bay of Fundy we entered the passage just north of Campobello Island. Here there is a treacherous winding channel called the Letete Passage that is strewn with rocks, but is well-buoyed and both show up well on radar.  So did the ferry that appeared as soon as we came around McMaster Island, but Capt. Mark negotiated around all of it without any issues. The cross currents and whirlpools that form in this area are challenging even for our boat, which Mark was able to power through it all. But it was just a bit nerve wracking when there was such fog.

Once through the passage we entered the Passamaquoddy Bay and headed towards St. Andrews, NB, our intended destination for the evening. Yes, we are now back in New Brunswick and getting a flavor for the southern end of this Canadian province.  We entered the St. Andrews harbor and were greeted by an outgoing whale-watching boat, with the passengers wearing bright orange foul-weather gear sitting in an open-air boat, not unlike the ones we saw in Tadoussac, Quebec.  Hopefully they got to see some whales on the Bay; it was too foggy for us to see any.

We had reservations on a mooring in the harbor, and with Denise at the helm and Mark picking up the pendent, we were able to collect it and settle the boat before the harbormaster (called the “wharfinger”) was able to meet us in the launch and direct us to the appropriate ball; he was impressed.  We launched the dinghy and headed to town to explore as it was nearly 3:00 pm and we didn’t have a lot of time to explore.

The first thing that you notice is the floating docks for the dinghy and how they are attached to the permanent wharf. The attachment system is designed to facilitate the large tides here; they run 25 feet.  But when we arrived near high tide we didn’t really notice a huge difference.

We walked through the downtown area going in and out of the shops, many are tourist-oriented like we have seen in other Canadian coastal towns.  But there were a few that were unique and the architecture of the buildings was really interesting.

This town is famous for the “Loyalists” who fled Castine, Maine during the American Revolution, moving their homes on barges to settle here.  Many of the original buildings are still in the town, albeit renovated and updated where possible.

We walked up a few of the streets and checked out the Catholic Church (St. Andrews) from which this town is so-named.

Church of St. Andrews Catholic Church

Church of St. Andrew Catholic Church

Unfortunately, we missed seeing the Algonquin Resort and a few of the other “must see” places as we were more intrigued with the old buildings and the water side of things, especially the shore as the tide went out. We walked down one street near the St. Andrews Yacht Club where we had a good view of the harbor, and where we could see rocks on the shore as the tide had started to go out.  It was really fascinating.

It was getting late in the afternoon and some of the shops had started to close. We were tired and hungry and found a nice pub (The Red Herring Pub and Eatery) to grab an early dinner and a few beers.  It helped that we arr­­­­­­­­­­­­­ived in time for the “early bird specials” which was even better for us.

Red Herring Pub & Eatery

We came back to the wharf to get our dinghy and what a difference a few hours make.  The tide had gone out and we found the dinghy float to be 20’ below where it was earlier.  We noticed the charter sailboat was sitting in the mud, and the gangplank to the floats was at a very steep angle.

We took the dinghy back to the boat as the fog was rolling in for the evening. Mooring fields can sometimes be bouncy, but with little wind it was not too bad. We got rocked by a few lobster boats on their way to their moorings, and after the last whale-watching boats and charters came in, the harbor settled down and we had a calm night.

Today was our last day in Canada and tomorrow we will be back in the USA for the first time since 7/3.  We will also once again be on Eastern Daylight Time instead of Atlantic Time, thereby gaining an extra hour. Normally we would have stayed up later to begin to adjust, but it had been a long tedious day and we were tired. By 9:30 pm we were both out for the night.

Here are some more pictures from our short time in this wonderful town of St. Andrews:

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

Southern Shore!

We have been moving the boat quite a bit and have gotten behind on postings.  Here is an update from last week:

Halifax to Yarmouth

Lunenburg, NS – Wednesday, 8/14
After many fun days of sightseeing and socializing with cruisers and locals alike, we said good-bye to Halifax and set a course for the town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

The town is located in an area known as the South Shore and sits right on the edge of Mahone Bay, a large bay open to the Atlantic Ocean with lots of islands and small towns scattered around its shores.  There were two other towns we wanted to explore on this bay: Mahone and Chester.  Our plan was to visit the town of Chester first, but there were no accommodations available due to the big sailing regatta that takes place this week every year.  We had been in communication with Barbara and Richard (“Porpoise”) whom we met in Baddeck, hoping they could help us secure a mooring or dock. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful and took Chester off our itinerary.

We also decided to pass on the town of Mahone, but mainly because we were looking at the future weather and what would be the best travel days to make progress along the Nova Scotia coast.  This was going to limit our time to one stop on Mahone Bay and we decided Lunenburg was going to be it.

We left Halifax with sunny skies, but hit fog almost immediately and had it most of the way.  Luckily fellow cruisers on Confetti and Still Waters II, as well as a few sailors we met at RNSYS were on the water making the same path as us and we were in communication with them throughout the morning.  It was 47 miles and took us under 3 hours to get there. However, with all the fog we felt cheated as we missed seeing much of the beautiful Nova Scotia coastline.

We arrived in Lunenburg as the fog was lifting and picked up the mooring we had been assigned, which ended up being a good location in the harbor and we were happy with it.

We ate a quick lunch on the boat before Capt. Mark launched the dinghy, and we went into town to explore. When we arrived at the public wharf, we found it under construction and only a few slips available for the cruiser, all of which were taken.  We stopped into the wharf marina office and discovered the phone number we had been using to try and call for reservations for a spot on the wharf was incorrect. Luckily we were fortunate to be able to get a mooring (run by the Boat Locker; a retail establishment in town) as the wharf was full.

Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its history, as well as its beauty; you can learn more about it here. UNESCO considers the site the best example of planned British colonial settlement in North America, having retained its original layout and appearance, including wooden architecture in the local vernacular. Because of this there are always tourists and today was “par usual”. There were many tour buses from Halifax and other Nova Scotia areas and when we arrived on the main street along the waterfront we immediately saw 5 of them.  Needless to say, many of the shops here are tourist-oriented and have similar trinkets and gadgets we had seen in Halifax.  A big attraction here is the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic and we had considered going. However, it is not large, appeared crowded, and to be honest, we were saturated with museums and needed a break.  Instead we went for a walk through town, exploring other areas that peaked our interest.

First up was to locate the “piece of the Berlin Wall site” that we found in an understated memorial on the outskirts of the downtown area. Denise had read about this, and having witnessed it being torn down (and the collapse of communism) during our lifetime we felt compelled to seek it out. We had to walk through a nice park and around the LIFE Manufacturing plant (a boat-building and repair center) to get to it. Once there we were disappointed to find it on the edge of a parking lot, and sad that it did not get more attention or prominence in town, given its significance to the free world.

Afterwards we walked through several of the other streets in town that had art, nautical items and jewelry. We found a barbershop that was named after a US President, several restaurants, and ice cream shops.

Once back along the waterfront we stopped in at Adams & Knickle, a place known to have the best scallops and owner of the “Maude Adams” fishing boat, and a very prominent building along the waterfront. We purchased a package of scallops that went right into our freezer once we got back on the boat. This place is written up in the cruising guides as a great value and the guy who waited on us was formerly a fisherman for the company; today he is retired and works part-time at the retail store.  The store itself is an institution and is chock full of memorabilia and other fun stuff.

Late in the afternoon we saw that Dave & Claudia (“SW II”) had anchored just outside the mooring field and communicated with them about their intentions for dinner. They opted for staying onboard, which led us to do the same and take in the surrounding beauty of the area.  This included watching golfers attempt to keep the ball from running down the hill at the Blue Nose Golf Course across the harbor.

Lunenburg golf course

In the evening we enjoyed watching the sailboat races in the harbor, and then having them cruise right through the mooring field.  We met “Doug” from the Boat Locker (with whom we made reservations), who passed by our boat and then retrieved some beer from friends on the boat next to us.  It was a hoot to watch.

After the races, the harbor quieted down and we had a beautiful sunset and huge moonrise over the fish processing facility near the harbor entrance.  We were glad we stopped here, and we would be glad to move on tomorrow to another part of Nova Scotia.

Here are some other pictures of Lunenburg, including a few interesting street signs:

Shelburne, NS – Thursday, 8/15
It had been a very peaceful and quiet night in the harbor, but we woke up to fog so thick we could not see the boat on the mooring next to us.  We had intended to leave early as we had a 70 mile day planned and wanted to make sure we could arrive in time to see some of the sights in Shelburne. When Capt. Mark woke up Denise told him to go back to bed for at least 30 minutes because we were not going anywhere.  Finally, we left when the fog had lifted sufficient that we could see our way out of the harbor and into the ocean, still hugging the shoreline where possible.

IO in fog - taken by SWII

IO in fog – taken by SWII

We had received a text message from “SWII” who had left in the thick of fog to let us know that visibility had improved for them and that since the seas were so calm they were pressing past their intended anchorage and would be going to Cape Negro, not far from Shelburne (where we were heading).

We plowed through about 2 hours of solid fog before it lifted and we were able to finally see the beautiful coastline. We felt cheated that we missed so much, but the wind and seas always rule our decisions about where to go and when to stop.  Flat seas and calm winds mean go, even if it is in fog (thanks to radar). We passed by Gull Rock Lighthouse, and soon thereafter Cape Roseway Lighthouse, both in spectacularly beautiful settings.

We arrived at the Shelburne Yacht Club and were assigned a side-tie on the outside dock. Since no one else was there we were able to pull forward and tuck in behind the breakwater, allowing for just a little more protection should the wind pick up and bounce us during the night. Once we settled the boat, we ate lunch before checking in with the yacht club office.

Marina at SHYC

Marina at SHYC

In May, the Yacht Club had a fire and so their clubhouse was totally inaccessible as it was being rebuilt. However, the club really put forth an effort to mitigate the inconvenience. They had rented a trailer to house the office and club operations, as well as a mini snack area with chips, sodas, etc. for sale.  Outside they set up tables and chairs under a covered tent next to the trailer, and on the back side facing the water a bunch of tables with umbrellas to watch the passing boats.  They had a set of portlets available near the trailer, and made the “washrooms” (Nova Scotian lingo for public bathrooms) in the Sailing School next door available during business hours.

Temporary Yacht Club facilities

Temporary Yacht Club

Temporary Yacht Club

Temporary Yacht Club facilities

After we checked in, we went for a walk around the town to see the sights and shake out our legs. This town was used in the filming of the 1995 movie “The Scarlet Letter” with Demi Moore.  Some of the buildings were built new for the movie, but many more are original and scattered across the waterfront.  We walked along the waterfront to the tourist information building and then to the main street downtown, and then back to the yacht club. It was a good opportunity to see the town and stretch our legs. Here are some pictures from our walk.

One of the places we stopped in to see was a cooperage that makes barrels used by the local fisherman and many of the Nova Scotia wineries. It is a small shop, and is run by a couple who purchased it from the family of the original founders a few years ago. It was interesting to hear their story and see their beautiful products. Although they sell small buckets and items to the consumer, we purchased nothing as we have no room on the boat for their products.

We had been trying to make reservations for a restaurant (“Charlotte Lane Cafe“) we wanted to eat, but we were unsuccessful as they were totally full and confirmed all reservations for the day.  People had told us to make reservations early, they just didn’t tell us it needed to be 2 weeks ahead. That is not something we can usually do on the boat, so we will have to come back again someday to visit. There were a few other choices in town for dinner, but we opted for supporting the yacht club which had the best deal yet: A hamburger, sausage (hotdog-style), shared chips and beer was $15 (including tip) – Canadian.  We sat out on the umbrella picnic tables and socialized with some of the locals, including the club Commodore, Susan.

Cooking up our dinner

Cooking up our dinner

It was Thursday night, and in these parts that means sailboat racing (we used to call them “beer can” race).  We watched the 15 or so sailboats start the race and cruise down the harbor and back.  It was great fun and brought back many memories of our days when we too used to race our sailboat.

Club sailboat race begins

Club sailboat race begins

While we were watching the races, our friends Lila and Allen (“Blue Haven”) cruised into the SHYC.  They had left Halifax in the morning and came all the way in order to take advantage of tomorrow’s weather to cross the Gulf of Maine and go to Southwest Harbor. Here they will put their boat up for the winter, head back to Wisconsin for a few months, and then down to a condo in FL for the winter.  We hope to catch up to them again in FL.

It was a clear night and because Shelburne is not large and away from any big cities, we could see a million stars in the skies. Although 10 miles up the channel, we were glad we made the trip to this cute little town and wonderful people.

Yarmouth, NS – Friday, 8/16
We were anxious to get under way and head to Yarmouth where we had reservations for the entire weekend.  We needed to wait out high winds and then position ourselves for a good-weather day to cross the Bay of Fundy on Monday. We left at 7:00 am, but again faced fog for the first 90 minutes.  It would break for a while, then come back, then it finally lifted completely in time to spot a few whales. We took Schooner Passage through a group of islands including one named “Murder Island”, passing lighthouses, and small fishing homes and spotting seals and porpoises along the way.

Eventually, we rounded Chebogue Point and turned up past Sandy Point and headed into Yarmouth Sound.  To our left was Cape Forchu Lighthouse, and to our right was initially a big farm, and then houses sitting up on the hills.  The sound eventually narrowed around Bunker Lighthouse and we entered Yarmouth Harbor.  This is a commercial fishing town with lots of wharf areas and a ferry terminal. Here we saw a boat named “Lady Denise II”, and “The CAT” – the ferry from Bar Harbor, ME to Yarmouth (more on this later).

"The CAT" - Yarmouth-Bar Harbour Ferry

“The CAT” – Yarmouth-Bar Harbour Ferry

"Lady Denise II"

“Lady Denise II”

We had been in touch with Dave & Claudia (“Still Waters II” aka “SWII”) who were on the same track and like us, headed to Yarmouth to wait for the Bay of Fundy crossing.  We had been discussing the route to take as we both have differing landing spots on the Maine coast, but both agreed Yarmouth would be our jump-off from Nova Scotia.

We arrived at Killam Brothers Marina where we had a reservation for the weekend, but first went to the fuel dock for a bit of fuel as insurance for the crossing into the USA. Even with the exchange rate in our favor, the diesel prices in Canada are still high and we didn’t want to pay more if in 100 miles we can get it cheaper.

Once we had finished fueling we got our dock assignment: a side tie on the long dock in front of “Dash”, an Ocean Alexander yacht from St. Croix, USVI. As we were settling our boat we were told the OA would be leaving to go to the fuel dock and we wondered how they would ever move that big yacht into the small place on the fuel dock.  Well, the young (hired) captain was able to make that yacht dance around the corner and around all the other boats without hitting anything and we were impressed.  Of course they were there for a while (like 2.5 hours) to take on all the fuel they needed, and in the meantime “SWII” came into the marina and put in right behind us; the OA would return and go behind him.

After checking in with the dockmaster and eating lunch, we spent the afternoon doing work for our business; Denise has re-engaged with a client for a follow-up project, and Mark had several calls with clients, and work to complete for another client.  All of this is welcomed as we are not retired and have a fuel bill to pay for, not to mention marina fees and our usual household expenses.

One thing we learned upon arrival is that this is shark tournament week here, and on Saturday the official weigh-in will take place right at the marina.  The tournament, called the “Shark Scramble”, is held from Wednesday to Friday evening (boats must be back in by midnight) and only lobster boats need apply.  All afternoon and evening we watched the boats come into the harbor and raft up at the wharf immediately behind the long dock we were on. Some were a little unhappy that we pesky cruising boats were taking up precious dock space, but the local boater across the dock from us on the inside was very happy we were there. They told us that it was going to be a loud weekend and to expect it to go on late on Saturday night.

In the evening we had been invited to Claudia & Dave’s (“SWII”) for drinks and appetizers, but our conversation continued on for over 2 hours and we found ourselves full from the appetizers.  We have found kindred spirits with this terrific couple from Texas, and we never seem to have sufficient time to cover all that we want to discuss. Finally, we went back to our boat for the night and looked forward to spending tomorrow in Yarmouth.

Yarmouth, NS – Saturday, 8/17
Denise got up and went for a run, only after being woken up early by the cacophony of seagulls perched on the rocks across and around the marina. Add to this the lobster boats that had come in during the night with tanks full of shark that were anxiously awaiting the weigh-in, scheduled to start at noon. Her run took her downtown, past Frost Park, around the Victorian (heritage) homes of former sea captains, two schools, by the ferry terminal and (currently closed) Visitor’s Center, and then back to the marina. Here are some pictures from this outing:

At 8:00 am “Dash” left the dock, and immediately a lobster boat took their spot. Not long thereafter two others rafted to it and before long there were two rows of boats, with up to 4 rafted together.  As these boats can be 20+ feet wide, it was an interesting sight to see and an in indication that it was going to be an eventful day around the harbor.

Lobster boats stacking up in the marina

Lobster boats stacking up in the marina

After breakfast we went to the small but good farmer’s market. We really didn’t need anything but found ourselves sharing a blueberry lemon scone and Denise got a cup of coffee. We also purchased a cucumber and saw the largest zucchini we have ever seen.  There was a small band present, as well as a group representing some of the parks in Nova Scotia and they were having a photo contest; winner gets camping gear and a free experience at one of the star-gazing parks that has an observatory.

Once back on the boat, Denise did some food prep for the next few days and Mark washed the outside of the boat; it was filthy and it had not had a good cleaning since St. Peters.  We watched the marina and all of the surrounding grounds fill up with activity and lots of people.  We ate a quick lunch and then went to check out the weigh-in which had already started. There was an entire area set up with games and activities for the kids, including a ‘touch’ tank where they could handle little lobsters, starfish and crabs.  There was face painting (shark-themed of course) and a place where you could buy shark balloons.

Denise spent all afternoon watching the weigh-in and learning all about the blue sharks. It was a real site to see, with the use of a bucket truck to raise the sharks off the boats, in part due to the tide here.  Each boat weighed in based on the order in which they returned to the dock, so there was constant jockeying of the lobster boats as they were called up.  There was a taxidermist who was overseeing the cut-up of the fish and disbursements to various tubs for processing; some to a seafood processor locally to become pet food, etc. The head of the shark was processed by the taxidermist who salvaged the jaws and scull for donation to research and teaching institutions.  And there was also a research group who would take samples from the shark’s organs and skins for their studies. They would also empty the stomachs to see what the sharks have been eating; today they found a whole monkfish, a rag, and a ball of aluminum foil. All of this was very educational and fascinating to watch, albeit a bit disgusting.

Here are some more interesting things about the “Shark Scramble”:  there were 15 boats this year, with each team member paying $125 and up to 8 people fishing per boat.  They are only allowed to catch blue sharks, and they must be at least 8 feet long. Undersized sharks are tagged, released, and tracked by a local research group that have found them in later years all around the world.  This year there were 100 that were tagged and released. Each boat can weigh-in only 3 fish, so they try for the biggest ones possible. There were various awards with the grand prize a 4-wheel ATV and first place a $10,000 cash prize.   There were other prizes as well, including one for the shark caught by the youngest person; a 13-year old girl who got $50.  The largest shark was a whopping 321 lbs.  You can learn more about this wonderful community event here.

After all the excitement of the shark scramble, we went to dinner with Dave & Claudia at the Rudders Seafood, located right near the marina. The food was really good, with reasonable prices and terrific company.

Rudders Restaurant - street view

Rudders Restaurant – street view

Also taking place this weekend in Yarmouth was a music festival. It started on Friday afternoon and went on all day Saturday, with soloists and bands alike. The tent was located right near the marina office, just up the ramp from the docks and a small park.  We could hear the music down at the boat and it didn’t bother us. But tonight on the way back from dinner we stopped by to check out the act that was playing.  We timed it perfectly because at 8:00 pm the band that came on played all music from the 80’s and Denise was loving it. Mark went back to the boat, but Denise hung out with Rachelle and Peter (“Juno V”), the couple in the boat across the dock from us.  This band ended at 9:00pm and that is when Denise came back to the boat, even though another band started to play.

In the meantime, the Shark Scramble had a tent set up on the wharf next to the marina near Rudders Seafood where they had their banquet dinner, awards presentation and a loud band as well. At one point this band was competing with the music festival band (who actually quit at 11:00). However, the band at the Shark Scramble continued well past midnight and was quite good, but very loud. During that time the lobster boats got into a horn-blasting competition, which periodically went on for most of the evening and well into the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully, we slept through most of it, and it appears it was tame this year compared to previous years.

 Yarmouth, NS – Sunday, 8/18
In the morning we went to mass at St. Ambrose the co-cathedral with St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilicas in Halifax. Denise had scoped it out on her run the previous day and had identified the fastest walking route from the marina, and it took about 15 minutes.  The mass was interesting as the choir was instrument-less, despite a beautiful pipe organ. We didn’t find out why they were not using it as we got distracted with the priest who was home visiting his family from……yup, Florida (Palm Beach to be more specific).  Nonetheless, his sermon was great and the church was beautiful.

After church we walked back to the marina and pretty much hung out at the marina all day.  We watched the lobster boats leave, one by one and eventually the marina got very quiet.  We spent some time talking with family and working on this blog, as well as downloading and cataloging pictures.

We also spent some time talking with Rachelle and Peter (“Juno V”) as they are intending to do the Great Loop in a few years. Peter will retire in January next year, and Rachelle will join him for parts of the trip during the winter months (more on this later).  However, they plan on spending this coming winter in the Bahamas as a friend has a cottage they have offered them.  Rachelle works for the company that provide ferry service to Yarmouth, and she shared with us about how they are trying to get the ferry re-established from Bar Harbor, Maine to Yarmouth.  The company has invested millions in a new ferry terminal in Bar Harbor, and is now awaiting final approval from US CPB to begin service. They were supposed to start early this summer season, but are now hoping for September. In the meantime, passengers who had already purchased tickets are being routed through the St. John to Digby ferry, nearly 1.5 hours away on both ends of the trip.

"Juno V"

“Juno V”

As a result of the delayed ferry service, businesses in the downtown Yarmouth area are really struggling and some have even gone under. This is primarily a fishing town, but the ferry would bring some much needed tourism as this is a gateway for travelers looking for a faster way to get a car to Nova Scotia.  There is evidence of investments put on hold and the town’s survival is dependent on it taking off.

In the afternoon we invited Dave and Claudia (“SWII”) aboard for a final evening to get together before we each make our ways to different ports on the western shore of the Bay of Fundy.  We had a nice time chatting and agreed to keep in touch once back on the eastern coast of the USA.

Here are some other pictures of Yarmouth:

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

Hanging around Halifax!

Halifax, NS – Tuesday, 8/6 – Tuesday, 8/13
After leaving the wharf in Carter’s Cove we cruised south (well really west) to Halifax and took as slip at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron (RNSYS).  We then spent the last week enjoying all the sites, people and food this city of 600,000 had to offer. Below are some of the highlights of our activities.

Carters Cove to Halifax

Carters Cove to Halifax

Halifax Harbor

Halifax Harbor

We started out the first few days with adventures that included walking along the wharf area downtown. There is lots to see here, including the use of old containers as “storefronts”, street musicians, and art sculptures throughout.  Here are some pictures from this area:

Our outings throughout the week included visiting the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, the Citadel, the Farmer’s Market and Seaport Village, and the Public Gardens.

At the maritime museum we saw the Titanic Exhibit, the history of the great Explosion, an exhibit called “A Sea in Her Blood” – about women on the water in Nova Scotia, different boat hull designs and an entire room full of different sailboats. This is a great museum and well worth a visit if you find yourself in Halifax.  You can learn more about it here.

The visit to The Citadel required a hike up the large hill since we walked there from the bus stop. However, it offered the best views of the city and the Halifax Harbor, and we were there during the changing of the guard. Unlike the Citadel in Quebec City, this one is not still a military institution so the changing of the guard was less impressive. Nonetheless, it had a pretty good museum which included an exhibit of Canada’s role in all the wars and as a UN peacekeeping force. There was also an exhibit showing the 4 different builds of this fort-now turned event venue.  The green hillside provides perfect viewing for concerts, city celebrations, picnics or just hanging out.  You can see more about it here.

We also took a hop-on-hop off bus where we got to see all the historical sites as well as a few of the neighborhoods in Halifax. This ended up being a great thing to do because it was a great way to get to know the layout of the city and identify where things are.  Most everything is within walking distances, but almost all involve going up or around a hill.

The first visit to the Farmer’s Market was unimpressive as it was a weekday and no cruise ship was in town.  There were few vendors and most of them were places to eat. However, we did grab some lunch at one that was quite good.  The second visit was on Saturday and there were many more vendors where you could buy everything from homemade soaps, honey, maple syrup, produce (lots), and even wine.  Yes, Nova Scotia has wine and some are pretty good, and yes, we sampled and bought a bottle.  The place was packed with lots of locals as well as tourists and we enjoyed eating lunch here again.

Farmers Market

We spent some time during the week doing the usual boat chores (cleaning, checking out systems, etc.), working, and planning our future stops; all dependent on weather forecasts which seem to change every 15 minutes here. And even then they are not to be completely believed.   We were able to do laundry, which always takes forever when there is only 1 washer and 1 driver and you have to get in a queue as there are others wanting to do the same.

We got really good with getting to know the streets of Halifax thanks to the bus transit system.  Since the RNSYS was located on the Northwestern Arm of the Halifax Harbor, we were not within walking distance to the downtown. Therefore we would take the #15 bus to the Mumford terminal and then took the #1, or #2 bus to downtown Halifax. The entire trip took about 30 minutes and we were dropped right in the heart of the activity center. Along the way we got to see some “real” neighborhoods and interact with the local people, all of whom were very nice.  Even the bus drivers were helpful and only one came with an attitude.

At the Mumford bus terminal there is a large shopping center with a Wal-Mart, Sobeys (large grocery store), State-run liquor store, and various other retail outlets. It is also directly across the street from a large shopping mall which we never went to the entire time. Mark was able to get his hair cut here, but unfortunately there were no nail salons. However, Denise was able to find one in downtown Halifax and got a much needed pedicure.

During our afternoon and evenings, we were able to spend time with some new and now-familiar cruising friends Jeff & Ellen (“Sea Dweller”), Lila & Allen (“Blue Haven”), Claudia & Dave (“Still Waters II”), and Vicki & Mac (“Confetti”).  We enjoyed a few nights out with these great people; one as a whole group at an Irish pub (“Durty Nelly’s), one at a fine dining establishment (“Lot Six”), and one night at RNSYS.

We had several more serendipitous encounters with people whom we have a shared common bond. When we took the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus, we met a couple who happened to also be here from Clearwater, Florida, but vacationing via car.  Come to find out Arlene & Ray (“Darrf V”) were Gold Loopers, having completed the Great Loop in 2014.  They have since sold their boat and now travel by car.

Arlene & Ray (“Darrf V”)

Our second “coincidence” was when we were in the Farmer’s Market and saw a guy wearing a Pensacola, FL t-shirt.  We started talking to him (“Robert”) when his wife (“Cecelia”) walked up wearing a FL Gators sweatshirt. Being Seminole fans we had to joke about our school rivalry, but our conversation migrated to where we lived.  Once we told them Winter Park, Cecelia mentioned she was originally from Maitland and we soon learned that she went to Bishop Moore High School and graduated in the same class as Denise’s older brother. Her maiden name was “Wicklin” and she too had siblings scattered throughout years interspersed with Denise’s siblings.  But the story does not end there. Come to find out they are very good friends with a young guy we met in Marathon, FL during our Great Loop adventure. They know “Forrest” on “Pura Vida”, who was from Pensacola and doing the Loop in a 40’ Hatteras all by himself (unless he picked up crew to help him along the way). Robert and Cecelia are not boaters and were here camping in Halifax, which makes such chance meetings even more amazing.

Cecelia (Wicklin) & Robert

On Saturday afternoon we attended the 4 pm mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica. We had walked past the church earlier in the week while they were working on the restoration of the murals behind the altar (thus the scaffolding) and the stained glass on the east side.  Had we arrived earlier in the day we could have taken a free tour, but alas we were 30 minutes too late.  It is a beautiful place that was built in 1899 and visited in 1950 by Pope Pius XII (thus making it a Basilica).  You can learn more about it here.

On Sunday we hung around the marina as we had chores to do and were tired of traveling on the bus into town.  We took the dinghy up the Northwestern Arm (waterway where the RNSYS is located) to Dingle Park where we had seen a dinghy dock. We wanted to explore the park and potentially go up the Fleming Memorial Tower we could see from our dock.  As we approached, the dock was full of local kids trying to fish from it and we had to negotiate around them to tie up.  But we did not feel comfortable leaving the dinghy there as the chop was banging it too close to the rocks and the dock. The kids also told us the tower is not open to go to the top, so we got back into the dinghy and headed in a different direction. We worked our way out towards Halifax Harbor, but the chop was a bit too much for the little dinghy. Also, we could not find a comfortable spot to land near Pleasant Park where we wanted to check out the Naval Memorial at the point.  Lastly, we motored over to Purcell’s Cove to check out the houses on the water and the boats that called this cove home.

Dingle Park and Fleming Memorial Tower

Dingle Park and Fleming Memorial Tower

The weekend also brought an air show to Halifax with aircraft from both the (British) Royal Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force.  The special act was the Red Arrows, whose flying prowess was impressive and we got to see them from our boat, even though they were performing over Halifax Harbor.  We enjoyed the show, but it was short and our hearts still are (and always will be) with the US Navy Blue Angels.

On one of our last days in town when the weather was nice, we walked through the Public Gardens.  Built in the tradition of an old English garden, we were enchanted with the flowers, trees, sculptures, ponds and gazebo in this small but beautiful place. They even have a tropical plant area; we are sure they must take them out to a greenhouse during winter.  The one thing this park does not have is homeless people taking up benches, etc.  In fact there are very few anywhere in this town.  We saw some panhandling near the waterfront, but very little. We guess it must be due to the social services provided by the Canadian Government.

We have really enjoyed our time at the RNSYS. The people who work here and the members are very friendly and welcoming. They go out of their way to help you out and provide you with information.  We have also enjoyed meeting many other cruisers and sailors who are just passing through, Canadians and Americans alike.  The facilities are very nice and have allowed us to stay in Halifax in comfort. We were thankful we were not downtown on the public wharf.

About RNSYS:  It is one of the oldest yacht clubs in North America and the second oldest “Yacht Squadron” in the world (the first being the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, England). It is also only one of 7 that are designated as “Royal Squadrons”. The other six include:
     Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, England
     Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron
     Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron
     Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
     Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron
     Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron
You can learn more about the history of this place here.

We really enjoyed the time in Halifax, and glad that our planned 5 days turned into 8 days; no thanks to the windy weather. Here are a few other pictures of our stay here:

Little Free Library

Little Free Library – several all around town

Mansion under construction - across from RNSYS

Guest house and mansion across water from RNSYS

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

Lakes, Loopers, Lodges & Locals!

St. Peters, Cape Breton – Nova Scotia – Canada (Saturday, 7/27):
We know our Florida friends and family are envious when we tell them it was 54 degrees this morning, and there was a bit of fog in the cove at St. Peter’s Marina.  It was wonderful and spectacular beautiful with nothing but bird chirps for noise.

IO at St. Peter's in morning

IO at St. Peter’s in morning

Denise was up early to take a few pictures and to talk to her sister Claire, and then to catalog the numerous pictures taken yesterday.  Once Mark got up we went on an adventure for breakfast.  Locals had told us of a great place called “Diddles”; known for its banana nut-bread French toast. Mark wanted to try it out, so we headed for the walk into town. It really was not far from the marina and we were the only ones in the place, throughout our entire meal. The food was really good, but we wondered why on a Saturday morning more people were not dining here.

After breakfast we walked to the St. Peter’s Catholic Church to confirm the mass time for tomorrow (10:30 am).  Along the way we had a spectacular view of the St. Peter’s Bay and all the cute homes along the shoreline. Here are some sights we saw along the way:

We headed back towards the downtown and along the way met “Colin” and his cute dog “Gilda” (named after the now deceased comedian Gilda Radner).

Colin & Gilda

Colin & Gilda

He was a 3rd generation “Cape Bretoner” and his Italian Grandfather (aka “Joe Pop”) left his mark on this community. He first delivered pop around Cape Breton (thus his nickname), then owned the Louie’s Cozy Corner, as well as several other businesses in the area. Colin was most informative about the area, its people and the lifestyle here.  We enjoyed talking to him and like so many people in the area, he was open, friendly, and genuine.

Louie's Cozy Corner

Louie’s Cozy Corner

Once back on the boat we got to our chores. Mark washed the boat when not interrupted by locals who wanted to talk to us (“you came all the way from Florida”).  Denise was busy cataloging pictures, writing blog, and communicating with other DE Loopers via the FB Group.

In the afternoon Claudia and Dave (“Still Waters II”) came into the marina and were put several docks away from us. Once we saw they were settled, we went over to see if they wanted to get together for dinner.  As we were approaching their boat we noticed an American Tug on the end-tie of their dock. We had seen the boat from our dock and knew it was a tug, but it wasn’t until we got up close that we saw it was “Blue Haven”.  We first met Alan and Leila in Peoria, IL in 2015 on our Great Loop, and then saw them again in Fort Myers in February 2018. Claudia invited them to join us on their boat, but they were headed out to a concert and were in a rush to leave.

After some conversation with Claudia and Dave, we agreed to go to dinner and headed back to the boat.  We spent some time talking with family, communicating with our other DE Looper friends and relaxing before heading out to dinner.  As this is a very small town (approximately 800 people live here) they have a limited choice in restaurants. We opted for the family-friendly “Louie’s Cozy Corner” that offered a variety of menu options, including Chinese food and some terrific fish. We had a very affordable and delicious dinner, but more importantly we got to know Dave and Claudia a little better.  Once done with dinner we walked around the downtown area before returning to the marina for the evening.

A bit about this area known as Bras D’Or Lakes.   The name of which means “arm of gold” and is a saltwater lake on Cape Breton Island.  Because it is a large estuary that is part salt and part fresh water, it is also known as the “inland sea”. While there is a large body of water known as THE “Bras D’Or Lake”, and there is one known as “Great Bras D’Or”, all the surrounding bodies of water are collectively known as the “Bras D’Or Lakes” as there are so many coves and islands (each with their own names).  The area is rich with culture from the original (called “First Nation”) settlers known as the Mi’kmaq, as well as immigrants from Scotland, Ireland, and France. In 2011 it was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, recognizing that the locals live in harmony with nature and work to promote a healthy environment, economy and culture.  Throughout the area there are festivals celebrating the life of all these cultures including Celtic music, bagpipes, and first nation traditions. Music is huge and almost every night in the summer there is a concert or ceilidhs (pronounced kay lee) and involves Scottish highland dancing.

Little Harbor Anchorage, Cape Breton – Nova Scotia – Canada (Sunday, 7/28):
The morning was lovely and cool, but not cold. We got a little laundry done before heading out to mass at St. Peter’s. This was our first English speaking mass in 4 weeks and how nice it was.  The Philippine priest spoke with an accent, but he was clearly understandable and was very welcoming when we spoke with him after mass.

We returned to the marina and stopped by the office to pay our bill. We also communicated that we would most likely be stopping back by on our way south, and we were assured there would be a spot for us. This is becoming a popular marina because of the wonderful service by dockmaster Gerry and his staff and we too are now big fans.

St Peter's Marina

St Peter’s Marina

As we were walking back to the boat we noticed a familiar boat at the fuel dock. Amazingly, we noticed it was Gold Loopers Carolyn and George (“Lydia E”) whom we first met in Oriental, NC in April 2017, and saw again in Maine in July of that year.  We stopped and chatted for a little while, learning they were headed to do the DE Loop backwards and would be heading back to FL for the winter. What a small world it really is, but more so in this cruising community.

Carolyn & David ("Lydia E")

Carolyn & David (“Lydia E”)

Finally back on our boat, we untied the dock lines and left St. Peters Marina.

St. Peters to Little Harbor

St. Peters to Little Harbor

We cruised through St. Peter’s Inlet and onto the Bras D’Or Lake. It was spectacularly beautiful. It helped that it was a beautiful day and perfect conditions, but even if it wasn’t we were thrilled.  Our anchorage at Little Harbor was not far away and while in route we passed our Looper friends Alan and Lila (Blue Haven).

Hoping to enjoy a Sunday dinner of smoked salmon at a restaurant that was on western shore of this cove, we were disappointed to find it had closed and that there was a “For Sale” sign on property. We probably should have asked about it from the locals in St. Peters, but we were not thinking. We had a freezer full of food and would not starve.

We drove around this large cove to determine where best to anchor, and settled in near a sailboat that came in just before us, and directly behind “Blue Haven” who had managed to beat us to the spot while we were checking out the closed restaurant.  Later they came by in their dinghy to ask if we knew anything about the restaurant and we shared what we knew.

Later in the evening several more sailboats came into the anchorage but because it was so large, it was not crowded at all.  The sun set, the sky went dark, and we saw so many stars in the clear sky as there was no light pollution. It was spectacular and really was so peaceful and relaxing – until the wind picked up and slapped the boat hull all night long.

Baddeck, Cape Breton – Nova Scotia – Canada (Monday, 7/29):
Denise woke up and wanted to go outside, but during the night the bugs had attacked our cockpit. Although most were dead, they were everywhere. So sitting inside with a great view of the shoreline, she spotted an osprey grab a fish and take it to the top of a tree to chow down for a sushi breakfast.

Eventually Mark woke up and the generator went on to brew a pot of coffee and charge all the devices (phone, hotspot, iPads, etc.).  It was a bit foggy so we waited a while to leave, but finally left around 8:00 am when it had mostly lifted.  The anchor came up full of mud, but Captain Mark was able to wash it all off and we were on our way.

Little Harbor to Baddeck

Little Harbor to Baddeck

Once outside the protection of the anchorage, we realized we were glad we left when we did. The wind on the lake was more intense than expected and we were in 2 foot seas almost immediately. Fortunately it was from behind so the ride was tolerable, but if heading south it would have been a miserable ride.

It was quite choppy by the time we approached the Iona Bridge and passed by the Barra Strait Marina to our right, and the town of Iona to the left.

Once through the bridge, the water calmed immediately and it turned into a pleasant cruise. However, it had us rechecking the weather and making a change in our plans. Originally we going to go to another anchorage on the lake, but after seeing the latest forecast for higher winds tomorrow, we decided to continue on to Baddeck and take our chances at the public wharf (first come first serve) or anchor out in the harbor.

As we approached the town we noticed there was a spot on the wharf on the south side. We decided to tie up here and Captain Mark parallel parked the boat between a Nordhavn 40’ boat and a charter catamaran.  He made it look easy.

IO at the Baddeck Wharf

IO at the Baddeck Wharf

Unlike many of the other wharfs in Canada, this one was not free but it is still open to the public. There are a few tour/charter boats that operate off the wharf including a big “pirate” cruise.  So there is always someone looking at your boat.  It is also a fixed dock and with a 6’ tide it makes getting on and off the boat a real challenge, especially at low tide. However, it was still better than being blown away by the wind and we had easy access to the downtown.

Just north of the wharf is the Baddeck Yacht Club, with a nice facility but no dockage for boats like ours. It is mostly a sailing center, and like all yacht clubs in the summer, they have the young kids out in the “Optimist Prams” to learn about sail trim and turning (e.g. tacking).  It is always a hoot to watch.

After settling the boat we went to register and pay our overnight dockage. Here you do so at The Freight Shed Waterside Bistro & Market; the only eating establishment on the wharf. Along with the usual information about a marina (Wifi– open and weak signal; restrooms – only when the bistro is open; we got all the information about the downtown area.

We then walked over to the Baddeck Marina, located next door. We have reservations for tomorrow night, but couldn’t get in a day early.  They also have a marine store and Mark wanted to see if they had the diesel fuel treatment he had purchased in Gaspe. He wanted more in case our “fuel in water” issue came back (which fortunately, it has not).  We were able to get some and then confirm the slip location for tomorrow night, as well as the amenities we were lacking on the city wharf (private bathrooms and protected Wi-Fi).

We then walked to the main street that runs through town and went to see “Rose” at The Outfitter Store. She was our contact for trying to secure a rental car.  We got her name from a local in St. Peters. Unfortunately, Rose was not the primary rental-car person, but she shared “Phillips” phone number and Mark made contact with him. Without going through all the details, we were unable to secure a rental car from him or any agency out of Sydney (Avis, etc.) before 8/15.  We finally gave up on this plan and decided the Cabot Trail would have to wait for another trip to Nova Scotia.

The Outdoor Store

The Outdoor Store

After the Outfitters Store we went to the Tourist Information Office and got answers to several questions we had.  After that we stopped at The Frozen Spoon for an ice cream to cool off from the heat; it was 85° and all the locals were complaining about how hot it was. Of course with no air conditioning in most buildings it was truly uncomfortable.

We headed back to the boat to do some itinerary planning and watch the people come and go. We saw our friends on “Blue Haven” come into the harbor and anchor.  We also were approached by a woman (“Barbara”) who wanted to talk with us about our boat. Come to find out she and husband just purchased a new-to-them Back Cove 37, but it is an older model.  Their boat “Porpoise” was at the dock for the Inverary Resort, located south of town, where they were spending a few days. They are from Chester (near Halifax) and are in town with their two adult children. We spoke for a while and she told us to look her up when we get to the Halifax/Chester area.

"Porpoise" at Inverary Resort

“Porpoise” at Inverary Resort

Mark decided to rinse off the boat as it was covered with salt from the morning run up from Little Harbor. When he was done and putting things away he realized he could not find the fuel treatment we purchased earlier in the day.  We attempted to contact the ice cream shop, thinking we may have left it there, but were unable to find a telephone number for them. They have no website and their Facebook page had no phone listed. Wanting some more exercise, Denise agreed to walk back there and hunt it down. Unfortunately, it was not there but she walked back down to the Outfitters store hoping it was there. Sure enough, Rose had it.  And when she walked into the store to ask, she was talking to none other than Barbara (“Porpoise”) who was with her husband Richard.  They talked briefly and then Denise headed back to the boat.

Later in the afternoon we were hit with a major thunderstorm, not unlike the ones we get at home. We had watched the clouds build all day, and heard the rumble of the thunder for about an hour before it finally hit. Fortunately, we were on the edge of the storm and it passed us by quickly. Within 1 hour the sky was cleared up and we didn’t have any more rain the rest of the night.

Stormy skies brewing

Stormy skies brewing

On recommendations from locals in St. Peters and from the Active Captain reviews, we chose to dine at the “Baddeck Lobster Suppers” restaurant.  They are known for their seafood, specifically the lobster.  They have a fixed price dinner for $50 that includes all the steamed mussels and seafood chowder you can eat, plus a 1.25 lb lobster, dessert and soda.  The restaurant is on the south end of town and to get there we first walked the boardwalk that runs along the harbor, then up a hill, then down another hill.  It was worth the walk and Denise loved the fixed price meal. Mark opted for a smoked salmon dish that was good, but unimpressive.

After dinner we walked back to the boat via the boardwalk again. This time we were able to take in the sights, including the sculpture of Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell sitting on the park bench. Mr. Bell had a home in Baddeck and there is a museum here that is a National Historic Site. It is the only museum in the world containing the actual artifacts and documents from Bell’s years of experimental work here, and we are planning to go there tomorrow.

Baddeck, Cape Breton – Nova Scotia – Canada (Tuesday, 7/30):
We started the day by moving our boat less than 800 yards to the Baddeck Marina.  Here we had a reservation for one night, and wished it was for two nights. It was more comfortable with much better Wi-Fi, and they had nice low docks. Unfortunately, they did not have water on their docks so we would have to use the water in our tanks (no big deal).

IO at Baddeck Marina

IO at Baddeck Marina

Next we walked to the north end of town and up the hill to the Alexander Graham Bell museum. It was very informative and we learned how many other numerous inventions he had, and the work he did to help those who were deaf (including his wife, Mabel). The museum is very well done and we were very glad we spent the morning here.  As we walked down the hill to head back to the marina, we saw “Still Waters II” had pulled into the anchorage near “Blue Haven”.

After lunch Denise walked to the grocery store (“CO-OP”) to get some milk and a few other things. While she was gone, Leila and Alan (“Blue Haven”) came over to the marina and talked with Mark.  They are coming into the marina tomorrow and they are the reason for us not being able to extend an extra day.  Later we saw “Porpoise” come into the marina fuel dock for a fill-up and we had a chance to talk with them about their hometown Chester and the Mahone Bay.  We are headed there after Halifax and wanted as much information as possible. They have suggested we look them up when we are there, which we will most likely do.

That evening we caught up with Dave & Claudia (“Still Waters II”) for a pizza dinner at “Tom’s”.  It was pretty good pizza and we even have some leftovers for another meal.

While sitting there, a local artist started playing his guitar and singing literally 5’ from where we were sitting.  It had been really hot outside all day and the loud music combined with the hot (non-air conditioned room) meant it was time to go.  On the walk down the street back to the marina (us) and the dinghy dock (“SWII”), we encountered an entertainer playing bagpipes as he walked down the street.  Most likely he was heading for the public wharf as we had been entertained there last night before it started to rain.

Bag piper walking through town

Bagpiper walking through town

Here are a few other pictures from the lovely town of Baddeck:

Baddeck, Cape Breton – Nova Scotia – Canada (Wednesday, 7/31):
As soon as the fog lifted we left Baddeck to head back to St. Peters and start our journey south. From today onward, we will be heading towards home.

Baddeck to St. Peters

Baddeck to St. Peters

Winds on the Bras D’Or Lake were forecasted to build and they would be on our nose from the Iona Bridge southward so we wanted to get across before it got too bad.  We left Baddeck when it was foggy but with still good visibility. By the time we got to the Iona Bridge we didn’t need our radar any longer, even though it was still foggy.  After the bridge it was a bit choppy but not nearly as bad as forecasted.  It took us less than an hour to make it across the lake, and as we entered the channel to take us to St. Peter’s Inlet, the fog lifted and it was spectacularly beautiful.

We arrived at the St. Peter’s marina and pulled into the fuel dock to fill up our tank for the long journey down the Nova Scotia coastline where fuel stops are limited and the price is higher.  We then moved into our side-tie slip at the t-dock, right next to where we were last weekend.  It’s a great location and an easy out.

Over the last few days, the cyst on Mark’s neck was getting worse and today it started oozing and not looking great. Fearing an infection, Mark identified a clinic in St. Peter’s we could go to, but closed at noon. We were trying to make it there in time but we were not able to do so. When he went to the marina office to register us for this visit, he asked Dockmaster Gerry for suggestions.  Within 30 minutes he had the keys to his car and had an appointment to see the only doctor-on-call at the clinic in Arichat, on the Isle De Madame. This meant a 45 minute car ride there, so we promptly locked up the boat and headed there.

The route by car took us over the Lennox Bridge; the one under construction that we had cruised through over a week ago. Here there road was one-way only so there was a wait for our side to go across, but it was not long; not a lot of people live in this part of Nova Scotia and a “traffic jam” is a relative term.

Finally we arrived at the clinic in Arichat, signed in and then had to wait 40 minutes to be seen by the doctor.  He looked at Mark’s cyst and determined that it had to be lanced and packed. No big deal, right? Except the clinic is not prepared for such procedures and we would have to drive one mile up the road to the “hospital”.  There, the doctor would meet us as soon as they got us registered. Yes, this doctor must travel frequently between these two facilities; one a clinic and the other the community hospital. Both are managed to the highest level of inefficiency. To make a long story short, we finally got out of there at 5 pm and still had to drive back to the marina.  On the way back we stopped at the grocery store in St. Peters and picked up a rotisserie chicken for dinner, which we had on board.

When we returned to the marina, there were chairs set up on the lawn for an evening of live entertainment which we were able to hear from the boat.  The first musician (guitarist) was good, the second one (rap) was awful, and the last one (female) played too short of time. By 8:30 it was all over and they were breaking down the stage.  That worked for us as it had been a very long day and we were beat, so we went to bed early.

St Peter’s, Cape Breton – Nova Scotia – Canada (Thursday, 8/1):
Still feeling a bit run down from yesterday, we stayed close to the boat all day and had no real adventure. We did laundry, a few boat chores, cataloged pictures, and wrote and published the last blog update.

In the afternoon two of the locals whom we had become friends with over the last week came by the boat. “Brent” and “Glenn” had been wanting a tour of the inside of our boat and since they had been most helpful to us during our stay we wanted to oblige. Brent and his wife Shauna gave us lots of good information about the Bras D’Or Lakes, about the Dr. Mark saw yesterday, and about their life here in St. Peters. It is such a warm and gracious community we would have sworn we were back in the south. We will miss this place.

Brent & Shauna

Brent & Shauna

The St. Peters Lions club is the owner of the land and the marina and they frequently have events at their club up the hill from the marina. Gerry is an unpaid volunteer who pours his heart and soul into making sure the customers are happy and have everything they need.  However, all the young kids working here during the summer are paid.  They are friendly but not too knowledgeable about boating, so many of the locals who keep their boats here seasonally pitch in and help.

Lions Club hall

Lions Club hall

Tonight the Lions Club was having a fund-raising dinner at their club and all were invited. Originally we considered it, but nixed the idea because basically it was chowder, rolls and coffee.  Instead we walked to town and ate dinner again at Louie’s Cozy Corner one last time.

Here are some other pictures from St. Peters:


Liscomb Mills, Nova Scotia – Canada (Friday, 8/2):

St Peters to Liscomb MillsWe left St. Peter’s Marina a few minutes after 8:00 a.m. and after calling the lock to let them know we were on our way.   We entered the St. Peters Canal, passed through the lock without issue, and headed out of St. Peter’s Bay.

We entered Lennox Passage briefly, then turned to a new course that would take us offshore and for our run down the east coast of Nova Scotia.  In the distance we could see the fog as we made our way around Isle de Madame.  We entered the Chedabucto Bay and although present initially, the fog lifted and we were able to turn off the radar.  And now we were in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time since entering NY harbor in June.

We crossed the Canso Strait and passed the town of Canso off our right side.

Town of Canso

Town of Canso

The seas were very calm and the fog continued to dissipate.  We came up on several sailboats and easily cruised past them; all of us grateful for the light wind on our nose.  We passed several lighthouses along the way, all of them a little different in shape and all there to protect the boater from the numerous rocks, ledges and shoals that line the Nova Scotia Coast.