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.

Soon we came to the Liscomb River and made a right turn to make the 10 mile cruise up the river to the “Liscombe Lodge Resort and Conference Centre” – yes, Liscombe with an “e” – even though the town name is “Liscomb”.  This is a big resort in the middle of nowhere that offers a small floating dock that can house 2 boats (more if you are willing to raft up). When we arrived there was already a sailboat at the dock (“Phoenix”) and it didn’t look like there was room for us. But there was and since we had reservations, dockmaster Chester was there to meet us and assist with tying the boat up.

Once the boat was tied up and connected to shore power, Chester gave us a walking tour of the place, pointing out that in addition to the hotel rooms, there are cottages and chalets on the property along the river. He took us to the main desk/gift shop where we registered and learned what the dining options were for the restaurant or the bar.  He then took us across the parking lot to the indoor pool and fitness center, then walked us back to the marina.  Here they have bikes and catamarans for their guests to use at no charge.

Also on the property there are games (shuffleboard, life-size chess), a pool and fitness center, a recreation center with pool and ping pong), and an ice cream stand.  But that is all that is here in this location. There is no town or anything else to attract one to come to this spot. For us, it was a place to pull into that was safe from weather (mostly winds) and offered us a chance to get to church on Sunday (more of that later).  There was also no cell phone service, but they did have Wi-Fi. Once we enabled our phones for Wi-Fi calling, it was fine and we were able to use our hotspot to get emails and do some work before the week came to a close.

We had a few leftovers in the galley, so we opted for dinner on board and a quiet evening.

Liscomb Mills, Nova Scotia – Canada (Saturday, 8/3):
Today was a very relaxing day. We spent the whole day hanging around the marina and resort. We talked with family, worked on cataloging pictures, and watched Chester take resort guests a river tour in the pontoon boat docked next to us.

During the day a sailboat came in and raft to “Phoenix”, the sailboat behind us.  Almost immediately Jaime & Lori (“Sea Quester”) were eager to meet us. Their sailboat was one of the last made by Sabre before they converted to building only power boats. Sabre is the parent company of our boat: Back Cove. We chatted for a while, shared boat cards, and learned they are headed to Newfoundland and Labrador before heading back to the Boston area where they are from.  As experienced offshore sailors they had lots of information to share about the Nova Scotia and Downeast Maine coasts, and agreed to share “must see” places with us later.

Lori & Jamie "Sea Quester"

Lori & Jamie “Sea Quester”

During the day the WIFI went out and Mark notified Chester, who notified the Lodge management. It took several hours before it came back on. Most people would be relieved to have no phone or internet access for a day, but for us it is our lifeline to our business and the only thing that allows us to stay connected when we are cruising. But, it was a Saturday and not an urgent business need, but did limit our communications with family.

For dinner we went to the lodge restaurant and found the food to be very good, but the service was really slow.  It took forever to get our meal and the place was not crowded at all.

View from dinner table

View from dinner table

Afterwards we went back to the boat and settled in for the evening. The music from the wedding reception held at the Lodge had kicked in high gear and there were some rowdy attendees, but not to the point of being offensive.  However, after we had gone to bed one of those attendees decided to come on our boat. Mark woke up and found him on the bow, but told him to get off and he did.  So much for their so-called security guard looking out for us.

Liscomb Mills, Nova Scotia – Canada (Sunday, 8/4):
One of the reasons we came here was to be able to go to one of the few catholic churches in this very remote part of Nova Scotia.  Chester loaned us his car to drive to the nearest town of Sherbrooke Village where the church was located, about 20 minutes away. We left in time to get breakfast at the Sherbrooke Village Inn, but it took less time than expected and we had some time before the 11:30 mass.  So we went to do a reconnaissance on the historic “Sherbrooke Village”; a recreated village that depicts the history of the area – mostly British loyalists who left the USA after the American Revolution.  We had considered going here after church, but once we saw what it really was, we changed our minds. It looked a bit cheesy and very touristy and we later learned none of the buildings were original, but rather reconstructed.  We are not up for inauthentic touristy stuff, and instead we drove around to see some of the town and then went to the church early, sitting in the parking lot until it was time for mass.

The church at St. Paul’s is really small, and is one of several churches that make up the parish; all served by the same priest as is typical in these parts.  There were no more than 50 people in mass, and with the exception of one family the average age was probably 150, but they were all warm and welcoming.

After mass we drove back to the Liscombe Resort and just in the nick of time. When we got down to the docks the high winds had put a strain on the floating dock where the two sailboats were rafted together, and the floating dock broke from the main dock.  The two boats were coming perilously close to the rocks on the other side of the fixed structure.  Several of the maintenance workers and Chester were just arriving and we hurried to offer assistance. Eventually “Sea Quester” untied from “Phoenix” and we moved “Phoenix” to raft up with us until the maintenance team was able to repair the dock. With new reinforcing hardware the dock was reassembled and put back into place. “Phoenix” was moved back into her slip and “Sea Quester” (who had been motoring up and down the river waiting to see how this would play out) came up and rafted to our boat.  They were going to leave in the evening for an all-night passage up the Nova Scotia coast anyway, so it made no difference to us.

Later in the afternoon Lori & Jaime (“Sea Quester”) came over to share some information about places to anchor or to see along the Nova Scotia coast, as well as in Maine. About this time another sailboat came up the river, but we all agreed it would not be great for them to raft to “Phoenix”.  Without advanced reservations, there was no place for them so they anchored in the middle of the river.  It was still better protection than being near the ocean. However, the winds eventually died down and it became quite calm. We did get a few sprinkles of rain, but not the all-day rain expected.

Soon it was time to leave as we had dinner reservations at Liscombe Resort for their all-you-can eat salmon and prime rib buffet. We asked Lori & Jaime (“Sea Quester”) to join us and we had a delicious meal and got to know them a little bit better.  Once again the service was sub-par, but we didn’t care as we were enjoying each other’s company. We walked back to our boat and said good-bye to them. As soon as they had readied their boat, they unhitched from us and headed out to sail for parts further north.

"Sea Quester" leaves - Sailboat at anchor

“Sea Quester” leaves – Sailboat at anchor

Carters Cove, Nova Scotia – Canada (Monday, 8/5):

Liscomb Mills to Carters Cove
We were up early and left Liscomb Resort by 8:00 am with a cool morning temperature of 53° – back to long sleeve shirts and jackets.  We had a small weather window in the forecast before the offshore seas would kick up and we wanted to get as close to Halifax as possible. We had 4 “bailout” positions identified in case we decided to cut the 80 mile voyage short.  Going out the Liscomb River was peaceful, but once we turned our boat in the direction of Halifax, we felt the swells of the ocean.  It was a little bumpy but the sun was out and there was no fog so it was tolerable.

We set a course for Halifax that routed us through the inner passages along the rocks and shoals, but it was still better than going a few miles offshore and having to deal with the open ocean.  We continued along passing very remote areas and lots of small islands, but few structures even on the mainland.  It got a little bumpier and after a few hours Denise reminded Mark it was supposed to be fun, and it no longer was. Plus, the reservations for the marina in Halifax did not start until Tuesday when the weather is supposed to be even better and we really did want to do some other exploring.

So we took one of our bailout locations and headed up Shoal Bay, passing Borgles Point and cruising into Carter’s Cove.

Borgles Point in Shoal Bay

Borgles Point in Shoal Bay

With the intention of anchoring, we found the wharf was lined with lobster boats on hiatus since the close of the season in July.  As we approached we asked a guy on the wharf if we could raft up and he said yes (a common practice in these fishing towns all throughout Canada).  “Norman” assisted us with rafting to the lobster boat at the end of the wharf, and with making a 15 amp connection for some power. He also collected $10 for our “dock fees” for the night, and provided us with other pertinent information.  There are no services here, but as the wind had picked up we were glad we were still tied to the dock and not swinging around on an anchorage. Plus it was a really beautiful place.

One of the reasons we chose this location was that it is the home of Rosborough Boats and we were intrigued with them. We knew of their fiberglass small boats that we have seen on the water in the USA, and when we were in Shippagan, NB we learned of their RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) class that sells to law enforcement, Coast Guard and Marine Research groups.  You can learn more about them here.

As we were finishing the boat set up with Norman, Bob Rosborough (owner and son of the company’s founder) came to the wharf. After a brief introduction he praised our boat and we talked about the Rosborough boats. He invited us to go see the plant which was located in the few buildings at the very end of the wharf.

After they left, we ate our lunch and began charging all the devices we could. With only 15 amps (not 30 or 50) we had to manage our power needs carefully. We then went to the Rosborough office, met up with “Garnet” who then walked us over to the plant and gave us a tour.  They run a clean environment and are very well organized.  We saw how they lay up the fiberglass hulls, insulate, reinforce and attach decking, and use some of the best product in the industry for their boats.  We learned of the various options on their boats and for a small shop (only 9 people work here) it is really amazing. As consultants to manufacturers and with a handful of boat manufacturers in our client base, this was very cool for us.

"Garnet" at Rosborough

“Garnet” at Rosborough

IO at wharf in Carters Cove

IO at wharf in Carters Cove

In the afternoon several local people came to the wharf to fish.  They were catching mackerel on multi-hook rigs by the handful and offered us some. But Captain Mark overruled the Admiral as he didn’t want blood and guts on Island Office. That didn’t stop Denise from socializing with the locals and watching the seals and dolphins who had come into the cove with the tide and fish.

Seal in Carters Cove

Seal in Carters Cove

Speaking of tides: the further south (really west) we move, we are seeing the range of tides growing. Here is it is as much as 8’ and by the time we get to Yarmouth it will be in the 18’-20’ range.  On the Bay of Fundy it will grow even more.

Low tide at wharf - climb the ladder to get off

Low tide at wharf – climb the ladder to get off

Later in the afternoon, “Danny” the owner of the lobster boat which we were tied to came by his boat “Four My Gals”. Denise immediately struck up a conversation with him. We learned how he named the boat (his 4 daughters) and how he has been to the Orlando-area several times in the winter as his wife loves it there. We discussed lobster fishing and all that is required to become a lobsterman today versus when he first started. Let’s just say it is expensive to get in it and the season is short. We thanked him for allowing the tie to his boat and for sharing his story with us. Nova Scotia truly has the nicest people!

Lobsterman "Danny"

Lobsterman “Danny”

As there are no services, restaurant or town to go explore, we grilled a few hamburgers on the bar-b and enjoyed the peaceful waters that surrounded us.  We saw more seals, a few eagles and even a great heron on the shore. And of course the sunset and moonrise were spectacular.

Tomorrow we will head to Halifax where we will spend a few days there before moving “up west”.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

From Shippagan to PEI to Cape Breton!

Shippagan, New Brunswick – Canada (Sunday, 7/21):
As expected, it was raining when we woke up and we took our time getting on with our day.  We went to mass at St. Jerome and the priest was a phenomenal speaker, but unfortunately we did not understand his homily as it was all in French. This was the third week in a row we have attended mass in a French-only speaking area and we are anxious to get to PEI and Nova Scotia where we will be able to understand homilies again!

After mass we walked to the grocery store and picked up a few things and took them back to the boat.  We at lunch and then went off on an adventure to the New Brunswick Aquarium and Marine Centre, located right next to the marina.   We were quite impressed with the amount of information on all the sea life in this area. We learned about whales, lobsters, mussels, scallops and all the types of fish found in nearby waters.  There are 31 indoor exhibit tanks, 21 some freshwater and others saltwater. They also have a touch tank and a special area for young kids to learn about the sea life in this area.

During the duration of our visit we saw two short movies: one was a 30 minute film from Discovery Channel about those who make a living on the water all around North America. The second film was a 20 minute video about the history of fishing in the area and the differences in boats and equipment from the early settlement days until today. It was all very interesting, informative and well done. We also got to watch a seal feeding exhibition which was entertaining, but not nearly as good as SeaWorld. Still we would highly recommend this place to any on a visit and you can learn more about it here.

After our Aquarium visit we walked up to “Dixie Lee” – a regional fast-food joint known for its fried chicken. They also serve fish n chips, however we were there for their specialty and it was delicious!  Our cholesterol probably went off the charts from this single visit.

We walked back to the boat and paid the marina bill for the night as we had only paid thus far for Friday and Saturday nights. We were pleased that “Rheal”, the dockmaster informed us that the 3rd night is $10 off. While we had been happy with the $45 per night flat rate (which includes electricity), we were now ecstatic for the 3rd night stay.  We know we will not see these rates when we get back to the USA, especially in Maine.

In the evening Denise made a salad for lunches this week, while Mark was trying to figure out how to upload a plotted route for tomorrow from Navionics (Garmin app on iPad) to our chart plotter (old-technology Garmin equipment). He was only partially successful and we miss the old Garmin Blue Chart app that would do this easily. Of course the foundation has now been laid by the captain for a newer chart plotter that will do this easily.  Not a cheap boat-dollar purchase.

We went to bed very late as it stays light here until 9:45 and our body clocks are still on Eastern Time.  Unfortunately, Denise could not sleep and was up until the wee hours of the morning with a bit of anxiety about the short trip tomorrow; if only the wind would die down and give us a good day.

Shippagan, New Brunswick – Canada (Monday, 7/22):
Expecting to leave the dock by 6:30, Mark was actually up before Denise and was preparing the boat to leave.  But the winds did not die down and there were already ripples in the harbor outside the marina.  It was not going to be a fun day… we decided NOT to go. As much as we would like to move on and not lose a day we will wish we have in Nova Scotia or Maine, we just knew it was not going to be fun out on the water.

So instead we made it a productive day to catch up on reading, emails, talking to clients and business associates, and relaxing a bit.  Mark had been in touch with our mechanic back home and came up with a game-plan for the “fuel in water” issue. What he could do now, he did but without resolution on the alarm. He has another action plan, but we have to wait for him to be in a location with a few more resources.

We walked back up to the hardware store for a different type of hose clamp suggested by the mechanic, and also to the NAPA store to see if they had a few things Mark was looking for, then walked back to the boat.  Here are some pictures from things around town that caught our eye:

Later in the afternoon, we checked the weather and laid out a plan for the next few days in PEI. We then went to pay for another night’s stay ($35/night again) and talked with the dockmaster Rheal and the assistant Sidonia.  Rheal teased Denise about her poor French not being as good as his English, but it was all in fun and we enjoyed their friendliness and hospitality. The people here are genuine and they really do love meeting visitors.

We went back to the boat and cooked hamburgers on the grill, for dinner – usually not allowed in most marinas, but here it is not an issue. We then spent the evening watching a couple of episodes of the Jerry Seinfeld show “Comedians driving in cars with coffee”. The premise of the show is that Jerry picks up another comedian in some type of unique car and then they go to coffee and he interviews them. However, every episode is a new car and the dialog between the comedians is hilarious.  It’s a quirky concept but is pure entertainment and fun to watch.

Summerside, PEI – Canada (Tuesday, 7/23):

Shippagan, NB to Summerside, PEI

Shippagan, NB to Summerside, PEI

Finally today we were able to leave Shippagan. We were happy to be on our way, but will miss this interesting town the wonderful locals we met while here.  Under overcast skies and made our way under the lift bridge and through the Shippagan Gully, which is nothing but a channel through some low-lying areas that can produce tough conditions if the wind was blowing.  We were barely out of the Gully and back on the St. Lawrence Seaway when Mark spotted a whale. Of course it was so quick and it did not resurface so we missed getting a picture of it.

For the first 45 minutes or so, there was barely any land visible. On the starboard side of our boat was the New Brunswick coast, which at this point is mostly flat with sandy beaches. If we were still in Quebec we would have spotted the mountains for miles, but even though we were only 12 miles offshore, it was not visible. Eventually we saw the coastline of Prince Edward Island off of our port side, first recognizing the windmills that dot the western end of this elliptically-shaped piece of land.

Windmills on PEI

Windmills on PEI

Periodically throughout the trip, Mark would go into the engine room and check on the “water in fuel” issue and we were pleased that there was no water in the pan. The warning alarm went away and we are hopeful that this issue is now behind us.

Engine Check by Mark

Engine Check by Mark

We cruised past the West Point and Egmont Lighthouses and eventually the town of Mount Carmel with its high church spires visible for miles; reminiscent of the Quebec coastline sans the high mountain cliffs.

Eventually we spotted the Indian Head Lighthouse, which is visible for many miles out and marks the entrance to the Summerside Harbor.

Indian Head Lighthouse

Indian Head Lighthouse

We entered the harbor and pulled into the Summerside Silver Fox Yacht and Curling Club, first for some fuel and then into our slip. “Parker” assisted us with the fuel and tie-up and then gave us information about things to see in the area. It took us 5.5 hours to go 105 miles; our best average speed so far this trip. Although it remained overcast the whole time, we did not have much wind or chop and we were now entering our 3rd Canadian province on this Down East Loop adventure.

We had lunch aboard the boat and then went to register (at the bar in the restaurant) before exploring the area. Although initially we had reserved for 2 nights, we only paid for one night now in order to keep our options open. It is easier to pay for another night later than to get a refund for a night not using.

The marina is part of an entire “entertainment” complex and is home to a restaurant, the yacht club and a curling center.  Curling is huge in Canada and the rink (usually full of ice in winter) is larger than a skating rink or bowling alley. The complex is all connected via hallways and is actually busier in the winter than in the summer.

We walked the perimeter around the marina from the restaurant, where there is the Marine Training Center with a beautiful mural on the side of the building.

Directly north and overlooking the marina is the cultural arts and Wyatt Centre, a performing arts theater.

Wyatt Center - Theater & Art Center

Wyatt Center – Theater & Art Center

And then just beyond that (on the western side) is old lighthouse and the start of Spinnaker Landing; a recreated village full of tacky tourist shops and a few restaurants and bars.

We were unimpressed and didn’t see anything more that interested us.

We walked back around the front of the Wyatt Center and to the liquor store that fronted a defunct mall, now housing Holland College (a PEI Provincial Community College).  We purchased some Nova Scotia Blue Lobster vodka; to try it out and because all other vodka was ridiculously overpriced.

 We walked back to the boat and decided we would only stay one night.  There was no real downtown to speak of and all the other places we wanted to go to (Walmart) would require a car as there is no bus service here.  We had tried to rent a car in Summerside, but were unsuccessful in doing so.  Having been in touch with DE Looper friends on Confetti we knew of a place in Charlottetown to rent a car. Even though we did not plan on going there initially, we decided that we would go there to rent a car so we could tour parts of PEI and do some provisioning.  We then made reservations at the Charlottetown Yacht Club and set out an itinerary for the next few days.

 Wanting to patronize the local business, we went to dinner at the Silver Fox Restaurant and lounge. Our dinner was good, but nothing special and since the restaurant was slow the waitress ended up giving us a tour of the curling center. In the off-season they use the space for banquets and other community events so it was a mess and not photography worthy. She did explain that the restaurant stays open year-round and that the winter is actually their busiest season due to the curling center.

After dinner Denise went for a walk on the boardwalk along the water and took a few pictures while Mark did some work. Here are some of the sights around Summerside:

Charlottetown, PEI – Canada (Wednesday, 7/24):

Summerside to Charlottetown

Summerside to Charlottetown

We left Summerside around 8:30 a.m. and cruised southeast down the coast of PEI to the capital city of Charlottetown. This is the “big” city and the places all the cruise ships stops.  It was an uneventful passage along the PEI shoreline where we passed a few small towns and many farms both large and small.

The PEI coastline has some cliffs that are red in color. This is a result of the high iron content in the soil which when mixed with the salt in the air it oxidizes and turns to rust (thus the red color). The contrast to the rich green farmland (in the summer) is stunning and makes for some beautiful scenery. If only it was a sunny day we would have National Geographic-quality pictures to share.

Red cliffs of PEI

Red cliffs of PEI

We passed under the Confederation Bridge, the only structure that links PEI with the Canada Mainland in New Brunswick.  It is visible for many miles and is reminiscent of a Roman Aqueduct.  Since it is 8 miles long we were able to pass under an arch that was closest to the island and not have to travel the extra distance to take the main shipping (center) channel.

Not long thereafter we turned north up the Hillsborough River passing Governors Island and several lighthouses along the way.

Ten miles later we arrived into the Charlottetown Harbor where two cruise ships were in port; one at anchor and another at the main pier. We also noticed a few tourist boats, and we had to dodge two groups of sailing classes hosted by the yacht club. It is always fun to see these young kids learning the basics of sailing, crashing their boats into each other, sometimes topping over and then righting themselves up.

We pulled into the Charlottetown Yacht Club (CYC) about an hour earlier than we had told them we would be arriving and had difficulty raising anyone on the radio or by cell phone. As we entered into the marina, we were able to get the attention of the dockmaster and get our slip assignment; a starboard side-tie on the outer dock facing the harbor with no breakwater or dock to protect us. Normally we like side ties, but this one had us rocking with all the passing traffic that does not know the meaning of the term “no wake”.  We had requested an inner slip, but none were available. If the wind had been blowing a lot, we would have left, but since it was calm it would settle down after dark and we knew we would be ok.

After settling the boat and checking into the yacht club and then went back to the boat for our showers. We were about to venture out to see the town when we saw that our Down East Looper friends who were on their way to Charlottetown from a different location were now coming into CYC.  We had been in communication with Vicki & Mack (“Confetti”) for a few weeks now, having met via the Facebook Down East Looper group.  We also knew this boat from our time in Maine in 2017, as we had followed in their wake but had never personally met.  We helped them tie up and secure their boat right behind ours.  Earlier in the day we had been in touch and made plans for drinks and dinner together with them and another DE Looper boat (David & Claudia on “Still Waters II”) who were also in town, but staying at another marina.  So we left them to settle in and took off on our adventure.

We set out on an adventure to get the lay of the land and to go do touristy things. We walked the downtown area and through some of the shops which were very crowded with the cruise ships in port.  We walked through Victoria Row – a pedestrian-only that had live musical entertainment ongoing, crowded al-fresco dining bars and restaurants, and found a souvenir shop for the requisite magnet purchase.

We then headed towards the waterfront, but first stopped at St. Dunstan’s Basilica Cathedral with its inviting presence you can see from the waterfront. It is a beautiful church and we were only sorry that we would not be here for mass on Sunday as it truly is inspiring.

After visiting the church we crossed the street to see some of the historic buildings and then walked to Peakes Quay (the really touristy area) to check out the marina there. Of the 3 available marinas on the waterfront this would have been our last choice. It is right near the touristy shops and a bar, and they had live entertainment all afternoon. It was crowded, noisy, and had no facilities for the cruiser so we were glad we did not chose this place.  We did stop long enough to grab a few t-shirts and an ice cream cone before continuing along the waterfront.

Next we walked to the 3rd marina (the Charlottetown Marina) that is right next to the cruise ship terminal building. It is a smaller marina with plastic floating docks and used by locals for seasonal boat storage. However, Still Waters II (one of the Down East Looper boats) was staying here and we were going to say hello, but they were not on their boat.  Feeling like we had seen enough, we walked back to CYC and were very happy that we had chosen the quietest of the three marinas. We then watched the Holland America ship exit the harbor, leaving only one other cruise ship in port.

In the evening we went over to “Confetti” for drinks aboard and to finally meet Dave & Claudia (“Still Waters II”) in person.  Later we walked downtown to the Brickhouse Kitchen for dinner. We laughed and talked for several hours telling stories of our cruising experiences and what a small world it really is in the cruising community. We had discovered many common friends like Julie & Tom Van Hall (“Sum Escape”) and Betsy & Dave (“Frye Daze”).  It was a very fun night, and after many miles of cruising solo, it was nice to have someone to socialize with.

Charlottetown, PEI – Canada (Thursday, 7/25):
Over the last few days Mark had developed a raised spot on his neck that looked like a bug bite. It also was sitting on top of an area that he has what appears to be a cyst (and has had for some time). But now it looked awful and needed attention for fear of infection. Having already done reconnaissance on the closest clinic, we started the day off with a mile jaunt to the east end of town to be there when they opened at 8:00 am.  He was seen in 20 minutes, confirmed it was not a serious situation and given a prescription for and antibiotic. Since the clinic is in the same building as the drug store, we were able to get it filled and head back to downtown, however that took longer than the actual time to wait and then be seen at the clinic. During the walk back and forth we realized the second cruise ship was no longer in the harbor, and must have left during the night while we were sleeping. Along our walking path we also noticed the big construction project in the harbor. It appears they are building a new pier to be able to handle multiple cruise ships at once. God help them; Charlottetown will never be the same!

Finally, we picked up a rental car at the Delta (Marriott chain) Hotel and started our adventure for the day. We wanted to explore the inland parts of PEI, but were not sure where to go exactly.  We also wanted to see what some of the north and eastern shorelines looked like.  We knew we did not want to get caught up in the touristy area of Cavendish; the setting of the classic “Anne of Green Gables” novel. Based on recommendations from some locals we headed northeast to Greenwich and the Canadian National Park.  Along the way we passed numerous farms that were big and small, and some with farm stands out front.

PEI Farmland

PEI Farmland

As we arrived close to the coast, we first stopped at St Peter’s Harbor, hoping to get to the lighthouse. But the road was not conducive to driving to the point, so we opted for an overlook near some rental cottages. This is where the bay meets the St. Lawrence Seaway on the Northshore.

St. Peters Bay PEI

St. Peters Bay PEI

We continued on the road that follows the bay, stopping at an overlook the enabled us to capture the beauty of this area:

Overlook at St. Peters Bay

Overlook at St. Peters Bay

Finally we arrived at the National Park Interpretation Center and got our passes to enter the park.  From there we did a 2 mile trail walk to the natural sand dunes on the north shore. But first you must go through a forested area, then on a floating boardwalk across a pond, and then up a steep ramp over the dunes to get to the beach on the St. Lawrence Seaway.  It was cool to see the change in geography along the way and we were amazed with the size of the dunes on this beach.  It makes Kill Devil Hills, NC look like anthills.

After the trek back to our car we went back to the town of St. Peters Bay where we went to lunch at Rick’s Fish & Chips Seafood House. This place is known for its fish and chips and has been in business since the early 90’s, it is now famous in these parts and we were not disappointed.

St. Peters Bay is known for their mussels as most all PEI mussels start here in a nursery, then are transferred to other parts of PEI where they are housed for approximately 2 years until harvested. PEI grows 80% of the mussels that are consumed in all of North America.  Besides this industry, the town caters to those who want to get away, with lots of rental cottages and few B&B’s.  You can learn more about it here.

Mussel Farm on St. Peters Bay, PEI

Mussel Farm on St. Peters Bay, PEI

After St. Peter’s Bay we drove back down the eastern coast stopping at Bay Fortune (a small fishing village) and then on to Georgetown; a much bigger fishing village before driving back to Charlottetown. But before going back to the boat we stopped at Walmart and a grocery store (Atlantic Supercenter) to provision the boat for the coming days on Cape Breton.  Mark tried to get his haircut at the Supercuts here, but it was a 3 hour wait and so we nixed the idea.  We headed back to the boat to stow our purchases.

Fortune Bay fishing fleet

Fortune Bay fishing fleet

But we had to return the rental car to the hotel and Denise wanted to mail a birthday card for a friend. This took us into downtown and up Queens St (the touristy area) once again, but the evening was nice, musicians were out playing in several spots and all the restaurants were full of al fresco diners.  We enjoyed our time just walking around the area, no longer congested with cruise ship passengers. Since we had such a big lunch we were not hungry for dinner and passed on even the ice cream stop.

Tomorrow we will leave PEI and head southeast. The month of July is coming to an end and we want to spend all of August in Nova Scotia, starting in Cape Breton and the Bras D’or Lakes.

Here are some other pictures from Charlottetown: