June 28, 2014, Halifax, NS, by Ken
We left Shelburne on June 19 and had terrific, favorable wind carry us to Port Mouton (pronounced locally as Muh Tune). Anchoring here gives easy access to one of the nicest beaches in southwestern Nova Scotia. We took advantage of the beach the next morning but the wind had increased significantly making our walk a bit chilly. The strong wind did give us a chance to re-acquaint ourselves with our storm jib. Not that it was stormy–just a good excuse to air it out.
Our next destination was LaHave or, more precisely, False LaHave. Not sure of the derivation of that name but I guess it’s because one body of water was confused with another. Anyway, False LaHave is a beautiful cove with striking scenery.
The wind continued to drive us from abaft abeam (I always wanted to say that and to really mean it) and carried us to Lunenburg, one of the most scenic waterfront towns you can find anywhere. It’s very hard to stop taking photos. It’s just as hard to stop restaurant sampling. Our first foray was to our favourite (we’re in Canada so, I’m using the Canadian spelling) place, the Knot Pub. This was probably our fourth or fifth visit and we’re always pleased with the quality of the food and service as well as the very reasonable prices. I had fish and chips and Amy enjoyed the fishcakes.
On our after dinner walk we looked for the exceptional used book store we had visited in years past but were disappointed to find the location empty. Hopefully it’s operating somewhere else.
That evening, we heard much merriment, a little music and a few fireworks coming from what looked like a woodshed on a barge. Some locals were having a kitchen party in the harbour.
After another day in Lunenburg, we headed eastward to our next destination: Prospect Bay. We passed by Pearl Island, a small, uninhabited rocky nesting ground for a variety of sea birds. We were most interested in finding Puffins. I was driving the boat while Amy handled the binoculars and camera. We had no luck on one side of the island but hit the jackpot on the other. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the camera on the best setting for sharply capturing these quick little critters.
Prospect Bay is a small bay just west of Halifax. Although it’s close to a large city, the coves are very secluded–at least in the middle of the week. We found a very well protected cove early enough in the day so that Amy could inflate the kayak and go exploring.
From Prospect Bay it was a quick sail up to Halifax, pushed again by 15 knots of favourable wind. We managed to get to and from our anchorage near Armdale Yacht Club to downtown Halifax via the bus system and we’re quite pleased with ourselves for figuring it out. Halifax isn’t the most beautiful city but it does have a waterfront, nice public gardens and plenty of restaurants to sample. The maritime museum is also quite good, but we skipped it this time. It’s a bit of a downer as much of it is devoted to the sinking of the Titanic and the great explosion which occurred in their harbor in 1917 when a Norwegian vessel collided with a French munitions ship in the fog.
It rained cats and dogs on Amy’s birthday, so we stayed aboard Mary T all day playing games (Amy got 2 scrabbles!), enjoying various adult beverages, and started shooting our new video “101 Cruising Tips.”
We stayed in Halifax one more day than expected, because Amy discovered that her only pair of blue jeans had bitten the dust. Since we were not sure of where the next opportunity would be buy clothing, we hopped on the bus and headed to a nearby shopping emporium. Thankfully, the first store we went into had what was needed so our surgical strike was a big success. It was a beautiful day and the beginning of a long weekend (Canada Day was July 1) so a lot of folks were heading out on their boats to enjoy the summer-like weather. We seemed to be anchored right in everybody’s path so we got a good look at all the yacht club members. It’s been rather chilly this whole trip so we rejoiced in the warmth. Amy went off for another spin in the kayak, while I did some web work.
The day we left Halifax was our first passage in Nova Scotia where we spent most of the day motoring. Otherwise we’ve had plenty of wind off our quarter or abaft abeam, as I like to say. We found a lovely anchorage all to ourselves behind Passage Island. The seas have been pretty empty apart from all the boats we saw in Halifax. Sometimes it feels like we’re the only people in the world. We have met a few other cruisers heading for Newfoundland. One was a young family we met in Shelburne. They had three kids aged 3, 5 and 3 months. They were on a huge steel sailboat. We haven’t seen them since Shelburne.
And then there is a young couple on a beautiful old wooden schooner called Hearts Desire. It was originally built in 1925 and they refit it to perfection. We’d been seeing the boat from a distance on the water every couple of days and yesterday we finally met the crew here at Liscomb Lodge. They’re a young American couple from Martha’s Vineyard and they intend to go up the West Coast of Newfoundland, so I don’t know if we’ll see much more of them. They left Liscomb this morning and we’re still here enjoying all the amenities.
That’s right, we’re currently at a dock at a vacation destination. There’s only space for one boat, so Hearts Desire anchored out. For the low price of $40 you stay at the dock with water and electricity and have access to all the lodge has to offer. Yesterday we hiked, played ping-pong, Foosball, shuffle board, and enjoyed the indoor pool and hot tub. This morning we played tennis and plan to go for another hike through the woods. Chester is the dock master and is very friendly and chatty. He let us know the dining room was a bit pricey cause he could tell by the looks of us that we were probably operating on a budget. Taking his advice to heart, we’ve steered clear of the dining room, though we did enjoy a couple of beverages in the lounge area.
So far this trip has been amazingly easy. The weather has been more or less cooperative and nothing on the boat has broken down. We dodged a bullet a couple of days ago though, when we were anchoring behind an island not far from Liscomb. After dropping the anchor I signaled Amy to put the boat in reverse to dig it in. The anchor didn’t dig in and the boat kept moving backwards. Suddenly the motor made a big thunking sound and quit. It didn’t take us long to figure out that our dinghy lines had drifted under the boat and wrapped around the propeller. They were supposed to float! Uh oh.
We feared the worst — that the motor wouldn’t start again and we’d need to replace the transmission. Without further ado, I donned my wetsuit and went underneath the boat to cut the lines off the propeller. The water was freezing, but luckily the job didn’t take long and I didn’t see any of the huge red jelly fish we’d been seeing since our arrival in Nova Scotia. Then I went and had a look at the engine and transmission. All appeared normal. I topped off the transmission fluid and we crossed our fingers and prayed to all the gods for the motor to start and the transmission to work. And it DID WORK. Hurray for Mary T.
So here we are living it up at the lodge. Looking forward to our next hike and game of ping-pong. Amy won the last game by two points and I need to get even.
July 5 — We had to move along quickly to get to the Bras d’Or Lakes on Cape Breton Island. The Lakes provide much better protection from tropical storms. We are currently tied to a dock in St. Peter’s at the very bottom of the Lakes and are bouncing around a little thanks to Arthur but it’s not too bad. The worst is a few hours away. So far, so good.