On the 19th July 2015, we left Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and headed east and south toward Nova Scotia. In the map below, at the northeastern end of Nova Scotia you can see that there is an area of the province called Cape Breton Island.
We had to proceed through the Canso Strait that divides Cape Breton Island from the rest of Nova Scotia to the southwest. At the entrance to the Canso Strait there is a lock. The Lockmaster said we should “hover” in the lock since the winds were light. Sounded great! However, it was a bit unnerving being caged in by two concrete walls and treading water… maybe tying up in these locks wasn’t so bad after all!
After negotiating the Canso Lock and the Lennox Passage there were two nights of anchoring before we reached St Peter’s (and yet another lock!) at the southern end of the Bras D’Or Lake region, the large lake area between Port Hood and Sydney on the map. We were ready for some quality marina time… and plug into electricity for a while! While we are at anchor or on a mooring ball we run our 15Kw generator twice a day to maintain electrical power to the boat for our needs. Here we are at the end of the dock in St Peter’s.
St Peter’s is a nice small town. There is a out-of-the-home German bakery there where we stocked up on authentic apple strudel and cream cakes! Another authentic store, not unusual for this region, is a Kilt Maker.
After leaving St Peter’s we moved up into the lake region and arrived in Baddeck where we took a mooring ball. For our non-boating friends and family, mooring balls are attached by a chain (usually) cemented in to a heavy concrete block on the sea floor.
Here I am with my pole about to snatch the pennant (smaller float) which I lift out of the water. Attached to the pennant is a loop on the end of a tether line leading to the large mooring ball. I am also holding a 50ft line from Cavara in my other hand that is attached up by our bow. I place the line through the loop, then drop everything (!) and pull the line through the loop, about 40ft of it, until the mooring ball is roughly under our anchor. We put a second line through the loop, so that there is one line from each side of the bow for even tension. These lines both come back to the bow and are tied to a cleat. When all is done it looks like a necklace around her bow.
Here we are at the mooring, all safe and sound. This picture was taken from the Alexander Graham Bell museum. He lived in Baddeck for the second half of his life and the family estate is where his final resting place is. The 50 acre estate is on a point, directly across from the town he hated to be away from. He was an avid entertainer of all kinds of entrepreneurs and scientists in the quest for greater technology and flight. Baddeck became the birthplace of Canadian aviation through his efforts.
There is a road in the map above that circles the whole northern end of the island called the Cabot Trail. Whilst in Beddeck we tried to rent a car to drive this route, but to no avail. But a captain on a local schooner charter gave us his own car for the day to do the trip… about 300 kilometers! He absolutely refused to take any money for this good deed, but we did leave him a gift in his trunk when we returned it! People here are so friendly and generous. Here are a few pictures along the trail.
At the lookout point where the photo above was taken, there was very interesting information posted there. Here’s an explanation of how “rogue waves” form, which is something we look out for. Seeing this explanation helped us better understand what conditions they form in.
If one faces NE from the tip of the Cabot Trail, the shores of Newfoundland lie just 60 miles away. It is hard to believe we have come this far!
After leaving Baddeck, it was time to start heading south and east toward the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia. We passed through St Peter’s lock again, which would be our last lock until the Great Bridges lock near Norfolk, VA. THAT we liked! Here is a shot of a moody foggy day in Cape Breton Island.
After many days traveling the Atlantic coastline of Nova Scotia, we reached Halifax, capital city of the province. Sunshine greeted us, and stayed with us for the whole time we were there. We actually stayed west of Downtown in a quieter harbor on another mooring ball. It was a beautiful marina with a charming quaint cottage, their clubhouse and restaurant.
We spent 3 days exploring the city, the Citadel being the most impressive. The fort was the first of its kind, built in the shape of a star. The architect certainly designed this fort with a defensive strategy, although the fort never actually came under attack. It was populated by a Scottish Highlanders regiment, and today the young kilted tour guides and volunteer soldiers reenact their duties.
We had stayed just outside Halifax because we knew we were going to take a couple of full day excursions. One of them was a spectacular river rafting trip over a Tidal Bore. The famed Bay of Fundy is on the western shore of Nova Scotia, about 50 miles from Halifax, and is in the Guinness Book of Records for having the highest tidal range in the world, a whopping 53ft! Yes, that 53ft down in 6 hours and 53ft up the next 6 hours…. unbelievable! Of course it isn’t that much every day, the day we went it was only 43ft!
What is a Tidal Bore you may ask? Here are some quotes from Wikipedia:
“A Tidal Bore occurs in relatively few locations worldwide, usually in areas with a large tidal range (typically more than 20ft between high and low water) and where incoming tides are funneled into a shallow, narrowing river or lake via a broad bay”
This is the exact description of the Bay of Fundy and the Shubenacadie River. The normal river flow is toward the Bay. But when the tide comes raging in, it literally jumps over the top of the river.
“A Tidal Bore creates a powerful roar that combines the sound caused by the turbulence in the bore front and whelps, entrained air bubbles in the bore roller, sediment erosion beneath the bore front and of the banks, scouring of shoals and bars, and impacts on obstacles”
And here is what it looks like…
Don and I were ready for the wild ride! I should say right here that all of the pictures in this Tidal Bore segment are file photos from the Internet. It was not possible to take a camera with us as one needs both hands, and the toughest grip you can muster to stay in the raft!
The raft operators use 15ft Zodiac rafts with 60hp motors. The day we went out there were a total of about 30 Zodiacs between the different operators.
First they took us to meet the Tidal Bore. The river was very shallow and at the estuary just pure mud. There, many of the participants played in the mud, which was so fun to watch… it would all get washed off pretty soon!
Not only could we see the Tidal Bore bearing down on us, we could hear its roar. As it approached, all the 30 rafts formed a line across the river, ready to meet the leading roller. It was awesome! As we surged into it we took flight and splashed down again… everyone soaked to the skin, laughing uncontrollably.
The rafts then all turned and chased after the bore, and within about 20 minutes the whole river was a turbulent pot all around us. Our raft operator later told us we were riding 10ft waves every second, It was a really fun experience, one that could only be had in a few places in the world, and the Shubenacadie River is probably the most intense.
The other day trip we wanted to do was to drive across Nova Scotia to the western shore and see for ourselves the evidence of the gigantic tide at the Bay of Fundy. There is a place called Hall Harbor that is the perfect spot to view this gift of nature. We arrived there just before lunch when the tide was completely out… dead low tide. Below is a picture of a young woman at the bottom of the dock piling, walking around them. I thought it was a great perspective, seeing her 5ft or so against the height of the docks.
This is how the boats in the harbor looked before we went to lunch.
Just two hours later, this is what we saw…
This was only 1/3rd of the tide! As I said earlier, that day the tide was 43ft… amazing! I’ve been wanting to witness this for probably 25 years, since I first heard about the Bay of Fundy.
From Halls Harbor we drove across the province to Peggy’s Cove., another small fishing village on the Atlantic coast. There is also a popular lighthouse there that attracts many tourists. Here is Don checking out some of the fishing gear on the dock, probably thinking about how we don’t want it in our propellers…
There was one sad event that I knew about, but didn’t know was associated with Peggy’s Cove. There is a remembrance site there for those that perished on the Swissair Flight 111 that had a fire in the cockpit after leaving JFK. It went down just offshore 8 kilometers from Peggy’s Cove. Members of the community became part of the rescue effort, although to no avail, but were a comfort to the families that came to visit the site. Later we motored over the site on our way to Lunenburg and marked a spot on our charts in their honor.
Lunenburg is about 55 miles southwest of Halifax, but a different world. It is one of the most picturesque towns in Nova Scotia and the Canadian tourist industry show this picture on magazine covers and TV ads. It is a much better picture than I could take with my camera, so I will share it with you.
There was a Folk Festival in full swing when we got there in the park next to City Hall.
The whole town was a delight. Here are just a few pictures of the buildings around town, but not at all unusual. The whole town was clean and pretty and is a World Heritage Site. The food there was great too!
After 5 days it was time to say goodbye to Lunenburg and press on. So off we scurried to Shelburne, the last town on the Atlantic coast. Shelburne is a small town, completely immersed in its Loyalists roots, and a parade was underway when we arrived. I didn’t actually take the picture below, but some of these guys were at the yacht club…
The whole town was English to the core. Here are a few sights around town.
We spent quite a few days there waiting for the seas to calm down. It was finally time the return to the USA. I took this picture of Don on the last afternoon we were there. Initially I took it for fun… but later I decided it also had some significance on our last day in Nova Scotia, and Canada. Nova Scotia is pretty and charming, large and majestic, colorful and classic…and we humans are such a tiny part of Earth’s amazing natural landscapes. But Don still looks funny in this oversized chair!
Our love and best wishes to you all!
Barb and Don.