Nova Scotia

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.

Cape Breton Island is at the north end of Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Island is at the northeast end of Nova Scotia

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!

Lock at Canso Strait

Lock at Canso Strait

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.

Beautiful country around the marina at St Peter's

Beautiful country around the marina at 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.

Kilt Maker in St Peter's

Kilt Maker in St Peter’s

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.

Picking up a mooring ball

Picking up a mooring ball

Cavara on the mooring ball in Baddeck

Cavara on the mooring ball in Baddeck

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.

Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck

Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck

The Bell Mansion

The Bell Mansion

Cape Breton Island Wall Map in the Museum

Cape Breton Island Wall Map in the Museum

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.

Colorful fishing boats in a small harbor

Colorful fishing boats in a small harbor

Beautiful road along the cliffs

Beautiful road along the cliffs

The two of us at a lookout point

The two of us at a lookout point

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.

Great visual explanation of how rogue waves form

Great visual explanation of how rogue waves form

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.

Moody, foggy day in Cape Breton Island

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.

The Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron Clubhouse and Restaurant

The Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron 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.

The Star Shaped Citadel in Halifax

The Star Shaped Citadel in Halifax

Our young kilted tour guides

Our young kilted tour guides

Canadian file photo of a platoon

Canadian file photo of a platoon

I'm assuming the pose

I’m assuming the pose

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…

A Tidal Bore racing down the Shubenacadie River

A Tidal Bore racing down the Shubenacadie River

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.

Tidal Bore Rafts. Note how calm the river is...

Tidal Bore Rafts. Note how calm the river is…

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!

Tidal Bore Mud Sliding

Tidal Bore Mud Sliding

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.

Riding the Tidal Bore

Riding the Tidal Bore

Within 20 minutes the empty river looked like this...

Within 20 minutes the empty river looked like this…

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.

Young woman at the bottom of the docks

Young woman at the bottom of the docks

This is how the boats in the harbor looked before we went to lunch.

Before Lunch

Before Lunch

Outside The Lobster Pound before lunch

Outside The Lobster Pound before lunch

Just two hours later, this is what we saw…

After Lunch 2 hours later

After Lunch 2 hours later

After lunch at the Lobster Pound

After lunch at the Lobster Pound

...and where the young woman had stood just 2 hours before

…and where the young woman had stood just 2 hours before

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…

Don contemplating the fishing gear

Don contemplating the fishing gear

Peggy's Cove Inlet looking out to the Atlantic

Peggy’s Cove Inlet looking out to the Atlantic

Popular lighthouse at Peggy's Cove

Popular lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove

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.

Lunenburg.  We were anchored on the right side in this picture

Lunenburg. We were anchored on the right side in this picture

There was a Folk Festival in full swing when we got there in the park next to City Hall.

Folk Festival in Lunenburg

Folk Festival in Lunenburg

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!

Pretty Street

Pretty Street

Old Inn

Old Inn

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Just gorgeous in Lunenburg

Just gorgeous in Lunenburg

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…

Shelburne Loyalists

Shelburne Loyalists

The whole town was English to the core.  Here are a few sights around town.

English garden and cottage in Shelburne

English garden and cottage in Shelburne

Shelburne Farmers Market

Shelburne Farmers Market

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!

Shelburne Adirondack

Shelburne Adirondack

Our love and best wishes to you all!

Barb and Don.


Metane to Prince Edward Island

 

Our Current Position Prince Edward Island

Current Position Prince Edward Island

On the morning of 4th July 2015, we left Metane, QC and traveled about 50 miles northeasterly through the Gulf of St Lawrence to a town called St Anne-du-Monts.  Instead of hot dogs and fireworks, we sampled the local fare of lobster, but alas, no fireworks.  The lobster here is generally served “au naturel” boiled of course.  The menus here rarely offer toil-free crustaceans such as Lobster Thermidor, but even after all the work, I love lobster!

Largest building in St Anne-du-Monts of course

Largest building in St Anne-du-Monts of course

What was surprising about St Anne-du-Monts was the multigenerational gathering at the town wharf.  It was a Saturday night and the locals of all ages were tailgating and fishing off the wharf.  Music was aplenty, and everyone celebrated when seeing a fish being reeled in.  It was heartwarming to see this small town Saturday night come alive, from Grandpa to toddlers.

Wharf at Riviere-au-Renard

Wharf at Riviere-au-Renard

Our next port-of-call was Riviere-au-Renard, which translated is Fox River.  A diesel fuel truck was meeting us at the wharf for both Cavara and Tide Hiker.  After tying up at the regular dock for the overnight, we had to move to the wharf the next morning so that the fuel truck hose could reach us.  It involved squeezing into a very tight spot in front of the Canadian Coast Guard boat at the end of the dock, which turned 90 degrees for the next set of boat docks.  But the CCG was very helpful, as you can see!

Into a tight spot, with the help of the CCG

Into a tight spot, with the help of the CCG

After a great stay in Fox River, we were now turning in a southeasterly direction to go around the Cape of the Gaspésie Peninsula.  We were now in the D’Honguedo Strait.  As the warm air met the cold seas, a nasty dense fog enshrouded us.  Now Cavara and Tide Hiker could only see each other, or any other boats, as little purple blips on our radar screens.

We rounded the Cape and headed northwest into the Bay of Gaspe, and as we emerged from the fog… we were greeted by a pod of Humpback Whales (40-50ft), at least a dozen of them.  From pensive to ecstatic in 2 seconds!

Humpback Whales have the largest pectoral fins (like arms) of all whales and are about 1/3rd of their body length.  After breathing enough air on the surface, they arch there backs a few times then use their fins to dive, swishing their tails in the air as they force themselves down into the depths.  This is truly a magnificent sight to behold, and they were only about 50 yards away from us.  It was breathtaking.

We have a 00:45 video of this amazing event that I can email to you upon request, it seems that video is not compatible with this blogsite.  Just let me know and I’ll do it!

We found the town of Gaspe to be more up-scale than anything we had seen since Quebec City.  In particular, it had a nice 12km biking path that paralleled the shore along the bay.  The marina we stayed at was also home to the Gaspe Junior Sailing Club, who kept us entertained.

Gaspe Junior Sailing Club

Gaspe Junior Sailing Club

Our next journey took us back out of the Bay of Gaspe, then south to Anse-a-Beaufils, which means Beautiful Boy Cove.  The trip there was extremely scenic and included a “drive-by” of a very interesting eroded rock that juts out into the sea, called Perce Rock.

Perce Rock from a distance

Perce Rock from a distance

There used to be an arch where the obelisk is at the end, but it crashed into the sea after wind and rain erosion.

Close up of the arch, about 200ft away

Close up of the arch, about 200ft away

Perce Rock from the south side

Perce Rock from the south side

Perce Village through the arch on the south side

Perce Village through the arch on the south side

Perce Village

Perce Village

Just a few miles east of Perce Rock is an island called Bonaventure which is a National Park and protected area for a Gannet Breeding Colony.  We were so fortunate that we had arrived in the middle of this season, and as we circumnavigated the island we could see thousands and thousands of birds.

Gannets nesting in the ridges of the cliffs

Gannets nesting in the ridges of the cliffs

One of the viewing platform at the top of the cliffs

One of the viewing platforms at the top of the cliffs

Grey Seal hanging out on a rock

Grey Seal hanging out on a rock

After docking at Anse-a-Beaufils for the night, we got a ride into Perce Village and took a tour boat to Bonaventure Island as the Park Ranger Station does not allow private boats to dock there.  The tour boats run every hour so that you can spend all day there if you want… and we did!

From the Ranger Station on the west side to the Gannet Colony at the east cliffs was a very nice 4-5km hike each way.  The Park has done a wonderful job of erecting three viewing platforms spaced out along the colony to view the 100,000 or so gannets.  The first one we reached was very low to the nests, so low one could almost stroke the gannets in their nests.  These beautiful seabirds grow to a wingspan of 5-6ft.

Gannet Nests

Gannet nests

It was like walking through the pages of a National Geographic magazine!  Gannets appear to be very loving mates, although not necessarily monogamous beyond the mating and rearing season.  However, the Park Ranger told us that the female returns to exactly the same nest every year, which they have been able to document.  When they are about to mate, they begin “kissing” by pecking each other on the neck and knocking beaks.

Gannets in their nests

Gannets about to mate

Gannets

Gannets “kissing”

Gannet couples are committed for this period and both share the responsibility of protecting the chick and hunting for food.

Mom, Dad & Chick

Mom, Dad & Chick

From Beautiful Boy Cove we traveled south to a fisherman’s wharf in Escuminac, New Brunswick for a quick overnight.  The wharf is a co-operative owned by the fisherman and the total dock fee there, for any size boat, was just $10 a night!

Next day involved crossing the Northumberland Strait for about 80 miles to reach Prince Edward Island to the southeast.  Only about a dozen boats a year cruise the entire Down East Circle Loop and we had been noticing that we would travel for days and not see a single boat, as was the case this day.  Fishing season was over having lasted only 68 days, and the commercial ships take a route between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia called the Cabot Strait on the far north side of PEI.

We arrived in a very nice town called Summerside.  Prince Edward Island is a mainly Scottish settlement, and for the first time in many weeks we found ourselves among English speaking natives again.  Although the island had some British and French settlers, the Scottish Highlanders arrived in 1772 and later dominated the population.

Summerside Wharf

Summerside Wharf

There is a College of Piping on the island and considered world class.  We attended a concert there, a fabulous display of bagpiping, snare drumming and highland dancers, although photographs cannot give justice to the moving and joyful music they played.

Performers of the Highland Storm

Performers of the Highland Storm

We shared a rental car with Bob and Deidre one day and explored the west side of the island.  PEI has a population of around 170,000 with potato farming and lobster fishing being their main industries and exports.

Coastal farming on PEI

Coastal farming on PEI

Pristine Potato Farms

Pristine Potato Farms

There are huge wind generators along the coastlines and the beaches are red sand!

PEI Red Beaches

PEI Red Beaches

We stopped at a town called Tignish that has been the island’s largest fishing town since the 1700s.  We met a couple of fishermen there and chatted with them about their lobster traps.  You could sense that they were doing exactly what their six times great grandfathers had done and were pleased with the best season they had had in ten years.  When asked what we had seen that we liked so much, we gushed about the gannet colony.  They looked at us askew, as if we were from another planet.  Gannets are the bane of the fisherman’s existence as they try to steal their catch… it’s all in the eye of the beholder!

Lobster Traps at Tignish

Lobster traps at Tignish

Fishing season is over

Fishing season is over

We spent five days in Summerside and had a glorious time while the weather was wonderful.  We then moved about 60 miles southeast along the island to Charlottetown, capital of PEI.  We would have stayed there a bit longer had the docks not been, well, let’s say, they had room for improvement!  However, we did have a beautiful encounter while we were there.

It was Race Weekend and the docks were bustling with friendly local sailors.  One of them brought us a pail filled with lilacs from his yard.  The locals spoke of the “dock mink” that was anxiously running up and down our dock.  She had placed her babies in a fishing boat for what she thought was safekeeping.  While she was arranging their next meal… the fishing boat had left!  She would run up and down the docks looking in every nook and cranny, then stop and stare out into the bay to try to see the absent fishing boat.

Dock Mink looking for the fishing boat

Dock Mink looking for the fishing boat

She even came right up to my feet, seemingly pleading… “Where ARE my babies?”

PEI Mink

Please! Have you seen my babies?

But there was a happy ending.  The fishing boat returned and she quickly took them off the boat, one by one, by the scruffs of their necks.  Sad to say, she took them off so rapidly I was unable to catch a shot of it.  But here was her last baby waiting for his Mom.

Baby mink waiting for Mom

Baby mink waiting for Mom

Until the next installment…

Hugs and best wishes,

Barb & Don


Quebec City to the Gulf of St Lawrence

The green flash is our Current Position

The green flash is our Current Position

After six wonderful days in Quebec City and loving it so much, we headed out of the marina lock on June 24th 2015 and rejoined our course on the St Lawrence River.  We were bound that day for a little town north on the river called Cap-a-L’Aigle, or Cape of the Eagles in English.  Here is Cavara tucked into the marina, and a picture of us enjoying an early breakfast the next morning at the marina café.  That was followed by a 3 hour brisk walk around town!

Cavara tucked into the marina at Cap-a-L'Aigle

Cavara tucked into the marina at Cap-a-L’Aigle

Breakfast at the marina cafe

Breakfast at the marina cafe

We left at noon that day riding the ebbing tide, destination Tadoussac, at the corner of the St Lawrence River and the Sagaunay Fjord.  This is a big whale watching spot and almost the entire industry at Tadoussac.  After passing the Prince Edward Shoal Light, it is a good idea to catch up with those whale watching boats and take advantage of their sonar observations!

Prince Edward Shoal Light

Prince Edward Shoal Light

The waters in this area are between 300-1000ft deep and extremely cold, around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  This is a perfect environment for krill and plankton, a feast for all kinds of whales!  About a dozen kinds of whales frequent this area to feed, although this day we only saw two kinds, Minke Whales (25-30ft) and Baluga Whales (12-16ft white whales) and a few sea lions.  Two Minke Whales came within about 40-50ft of Cavara, but they were just coming up for air… and my camera was behind the curve as they surfaced… again!  But here are a pair of Baluga Whales.

Baluga Whales

A pair of Baluga Whales

After an hour or so of drifting with our engines turned off, it was time to try to get into the marina at Tadoussac.  Not enough room at the Inn!  Here we are, Tide Hiker tied to the dock, and Cavara “rafted” to Tide Hiker.  Rafting is when one (or more) boat is simply tied to another boat that is at anchor or tied to a dock.  Still had to pay the usual price for dockage though!  Behind us is one of the larger whale watching boats, which carries about 300 passengers.

Tadoussac Twins

No room at the Inn

Tadoussac is a very pretty town, and we had a wonderful French Cuisine dinner there that night.

Waterfront at Tadoussac

Waterfront at Tadoussac

Main Street Tadoussac

Main Street Tadoussac

Don and I usually anchor out a lot when we are traveling, but on this trip it has rarely been possible.  The steep cliffs along the St Lawrence keep going down sharply at the shores.  For anchoring, we need shallow water, between 8-20ft, and ideally it should be mud or sand.  Even in the small bays on the St Lawrence it is rocky, which does not bode well for anchoring, and is usually fairly exposed to the elements of the St Lawrence weather environment.

Now this may be a little extreme, but here is a picture after we left Tadoussac and entered the Sagaunay Fjord.  In the picture you can see that we are only about 100 yards from some steep cliffs, but in the bottom left corner of a small Garmin navigation screen we have on our flybridge you can see a number… it says over 650ft deep!  The reason there are black lines across the screen in this photograph is that the navigation screen is constantly moving with feeds from a satellite, which are faster than the camera speed.

100 yards away from cliffs, but in 650ft water!

100 yards away from cliffs, but in 650ft water!

The Sagaunay Fjord is a National Park, and its jewel is the Bay of Eternity.  There is a Park HQ there and plenty of awe inspiring scenery, hiking trails and campsites.  There are also a few mooring balls chained down to large concrete slabs at around 100ft in the bay for boater enjoyment!  A steal at just US$14 a night!

Cavara on a mooring ball in the Bay of Eternity

Cavara on a mooring ball in the Bay of Eternity

Other side of the Bay

Other side of the Bay

It was a glorious weekend!  The sun was shining and the winds were light.  Don and Bob decided to do the hike to the statue of the Virgin Mary which sits atop Cape Trinity overlooking the fjord.  Since the hike was a very rugged 5 mile round trip, ascending from sea level to 1525ft, I decided I would enjoy soaking in the sun and scenery and reading a good book on one of our sunbeds up on the flybridge!

In 1881 the statue was carved in wood, then coated and sculpted in lead.  It was hoisted in interconnecting pieces to the top of the overlook.  Nowadays she is lit up at night to guide ships through the fjord.

Don's view of the mooring field on his hike

Don’s view of the mooring field on his hike

Hiking up the 1525ft trail

Hiking up the 1525ft trail

View down the Sagaunay Fjord from the statue

View down the Sagaunay Fjord from the statue

The Virgin Mary Statue that guides ships through the fjord

The Virgin Mary Statue that guides ships through the fjord

We then returned 30 miles to the St Lawrence as it was time to cross the great river to the south shore.  We will be staying on the south shore all the way to Prince Edward Island as the north shore eventually becomes Newfoundland.  The first town that we stopped at on the south shore was Rimouski.  Sounds Polish I know, but it is actually an Indian name.  It is not a tourist town, but a large commercial and industrial town, filled with hard working people.  But there was one historical event about Rimouski, albeit somewhat dark.

There is a museum in Rimouski for the Empress of Ireland, an Ocean Liner owned by the Canadian Pacific Railroad Company.

Empress of Ireland Museum

Empress of Ireland Museum

The Empress of Ireland Ocean Liner

The Empress of Ireland Ocean Liner

In 1906 the Empress of Ireland began serving the route between Liverpool, England to Quebec City.  She could do the passage in just 4 days by cruising through the St Lawrence Seaway.  CPRC marketed itself as “The World’s Greatest Transportation System” as they could transport passengers from Europe to Quebec by ship, then across Canada to Vancouver by rail, then by ship to Asia.

In the early hours of May 29th 1914 she sank in the St Lawrence River just outside Rimouski taking 1015 souls with her.  Still today, it is the worst maritime accident in Canadian peacetime history, and comes in third behind the Titanic and the Lusitania.

She had left Quebec City for her return voyage to Liverpool in the afternoon May 28th 1914, and was scheduled to stop in Rimouski to drop off the local Pilot which was required for all ships transiting the St Lawrence at that time.  She departed Rimouski just after midnight in clear conditions, but after just 8 miles or so, she encountered thick fog, notorious in these waters.  In the opposite direction was a cargo ship carrying coal called the Storstad who was inbound to Rimouski to pick up their Pilot.

Through a series of bad communication, and in just 135ft of water, the Storstad T-Boned the Empress of Ireland opening up a huge crater in the Ocean Liner’s starboard side 14ft by 46ft.  The Empress of Ireland immediately listed, taking on even more water.  This was further exacerbated by many of the portholes being open, but mostly affected by the watertight bulkhead doors throughout the ship not being closed.  The cold water at only 2 degrees Centigrade caused the steam engines to crack and explode.  In just 14 minutes, the stern rose and she fell to her watery grave.  Some that didn’t drown, died of hypothermia by the time help reached the doomed vessel.

Location of disaster

Location of disaster

Cargo ship T-Boned the Ocean Liner

Cargo ship T-Boned the Ocean Liner

Fate of the Empress of Ireland

Fate of the Empress of Ireland

Today, radar, radios and other aids to navigation such as AIS (Automated Identifier System) that show ship’s name, size, speed, direction and destination on all AIS equipped ship’s (or boat’s) navigation screens within an area radius… would have prevented this catastrophe.  Although it was the 96th voyage for the Empress of Ireland, it was the first voyage for the newly promoted Captain Kendall, who survived.

Captain Kendall

Captain Kendall

Sad Facts

Sad Facts

Later, when we left Rimouski, we passed about one mile south of the wreckage, which is marked by the Buoy Eire.  It is sad to note that more than 600 of the victims were never recovered.

Empress of Ireland Protected Wreck BuoyPort-au-Pere, Quebec

The wreckage is now protected from treasure hunters by Buoy Eire

Matane was our next stop.  The town is the gateway to the Gulf of St Lawrence, no longer a river.  It is a nice town, very colorful, thus lots of pictures!  It is the last large town on the south shore for a couple of hundred miles.  Large town in this case means a population of a little over 14,000.

It’s amazing how no matter how large or small, every town’s most picturesque buildings are the churches!  Which is true pretty much everywhere you go in the world…

Church in Metane

Church in Metane

Right in the center of the town is a dam to control the flow of the Metane River and its large mating salmon population.  They have created a beautiful town park and we were surprised to see this beautiful small pedestrian suspension bridge.

Don at the dam in the town center at Metane

Don at the dam in the town center at Metane

Pedestrian Suspension Bridge

Pedestrian Suspension Bridge

We stayed in Metane for several days, waiting out some rainy, windy weather and upset seas.  Bob and Deidre suggested we rent a car and explore the interior.  We drove out to a National Park where there were supposed to be around 4000 moose.  Well, they must have been hiding from us… again!  I suppose I have to take into account that the best time to see them is at dawn or dusk… or at night time in the middle of the road of course!

I also have to admit that I didn’t know that the Appalachian Mountains and its trail stretches all the way from Alabama to the upper reaches of the Province of New Brunswick, north of Maine.  Here is a picture of the sign for the trail on the bridge that crosses from Quebec Province to New Brunswick.  You learn something new every day!

Road sign for the Appalachian Trail

Road sign for the Appalachian Trail

Here are a couple of pictures that I think capture the essence and the spirit of this part of Quebec Province’s south shore of the St Lawrence.  Quiet, pretty and love of family here.

Beautiful Covered Bridge

Beautiful Covered Bridge

A father and his son fly fishing in the Metane River

A father and his son fly fishing in the Metane River

Well, Happy Birthday America!  Hope you all had a wonderful 4th July!

Barb & Don


Oswego NY to Quebec City

Locking through 30 locks in the Erie and Oswego Canals was very tiring and somewhat stressful.  We were ready to be out in open water!  Don and Bob had studied the upcoming weather for our 45 mile crossing of the eastern edge of Lake Ontario and had determined that we should leave immediately, ahead of a storm brewing from the west that would last several days.

I was completely oblivious to this plan as I had gone to the Laundromat early, blissfully folding the clean clothes, looking forward to a few lazy days.  When I returned to the dock it was time to go!  Surprise!  But it was a good decision and we completed our crossing in flat seas and calm winds.

When we reached the Canadian side it was late and the storm was nearing.  We anchored that night in a well protected cove as the wind howled outside all night at up to 35 mph.  The next morning we pulled into a very nice small marina in Bath, Ontario to clear Customs & Immigration and stay the night.  It was a very simple process, just called on the telephone, answered a few questions, then received our Report # to be displayed on the boat throughout the trip.

Kingston, Ontario was our next destination where we spent a few days.  Here is a picture of the City Hall and a nice display of an old Canadian Pacific Railroad steam train, beautifully restored.

City Hall in Kingston, Ontario

City Hall in Kingston, Ontario

Canadian Pacific Railroad steam train

Canadian Pacific Railroad steam train

The trip from Oswego to Montreal is 215 miles, about 4 days of traveling for us.  Between Kingston and Montreal the St Lawrence Seaway wanders in and out of the USA/Canada borders and traverses the Thousand Islands in Upstate NY, dotted with little islands that have small houses, mansions and castles on them.

Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands

Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands

Small houses too

Small houses too

The morning of Day 2 we locked though the Canadian Iroquois Lock, the first of 7 locks between Kingston and Montreal.  Also that day we locked through two US Locks, the Eisenhower and Snell Locks.  The Eisenhower was in the news this week when a cruise ship crashed into the lock walls, injuring 17 people and damaging the boat.  The Eisenhower Lock was closed for three days while they drained the lock and repaired the cruise ship.

These 7 locks are very large to accommodate large ships that have crossed the Atlantic Ocean and are bound for the Great Lakes, all the way to Lake Superior, or vice versa.  To navigate them past Niagara Falls (not on our route! Just thought this might be of interest!) there is an additional 8 Locks in a canal called the Welland Canal described in the picture below.

Ships going westbound to Lake Superior

Ships going westbound to Lake Superior

After the first 3 Locks we anchored in a pretty little town called Salaberry de Valleyfield.  Next morning we dinghied in for our first French breakfast.  Along the way we saw this cute gaggle of Canadian Geese and their ducklings and some kayakers in the small rapids there.

Salaberry de Valleyfield

Salaberry de Valleyfields

Not quite as big as the kayak course in Reno!

Not quite as big as the kayak course in Reno!

Two days later and a few more locks, we reached Montreal.  When we arrived on the Friday afternoon things were really hopping there…  a concert was in full swing and the Port of Montreal Marina was in the center of it all!  Montreal is a trendy city, but steeped in history.

Typical old street in Montreal filled with trendy shops and cafes

Typical old street in Montreal filled with trendy shops and cafes

The bus tour we took around Montreal

The bus tour we took around Montreal

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

St Joseph atop Mount Royal

St Joseph atop Mount Royal

View from St Joseph's

View from St Joseph’s

Us at an overlook of the city

Us at an overlook of the city

We spent 4 days in Montreal.  The population there is 3.5 million, and is a highly multi-cultural city.  The language is mostly French, but English is well understood.  There is a large population of Algerians and Moroccans as they speak French in their homelands, so find it easy to settle in this part of North America.

It was very busy and bustling and seemed like music was everywhere.  We watched the end of the NBA Finals in a large sports bar here.  There was also a street music and arts festival in progress, and the Women’s World Soccer Cup was also underway.  Phew!

After leaving Montreal the pace changed considerably.  Our next stop was a cute marina in the small village of Bastican.  It was so quiet and peaceful!  Now that we were on the St Lawrence River, the speed of our boat was increasing substantially by “playing the currents” and traveling with the ebb tide.  The picture below is of our small navigation screen in the flybridge at the top of Cavara.  In the top left corner of the instrument is our speed… 12.1 knots.  Our normal speed is only usually 6-8 knots!

Boat Speed

Practically water skiing for us!

Traveling at these speeds means shorter days and longer distances.  We were now starting to get into wider parts of the St Lawrence River.  Here are some sights we saw along the way.

Typical Tanker along the St Lawrence

Typical Tanker along the St Lawrence

Canadian Coast Guard Training

Canadian Coast Guard Training

However, where the river narrows there are rapids.  The Richelieu Rapids are notorious for being fast and furious. A quote from the Captain, author of our indispensable mariner’s guidebook states ” The maximum ebb current through this 2 mile stretch of river can attain 8 knots and the navigable channel is only 1/4 mile wide.  At low tide multiple whirlpools are created as if several sub-surface drains were emptying the river”.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, we just happened to meet a tanker at the start of these rapids!  Made it quite interesting!  I would have taken pictures, but was a bit too busy!  We actually saw our highest speed when going under the last two bridges to enter Quebec City.  Again, the narrowness of the space for water to flow through took us to 13.3 knots!  It is probably the fastest Cavara has ever gone in her whole life!

These last two bridges are the last ones until the Atlantic Ocean.  The St Lawrence Seaway becomes much too wide for any bridges, so folks and their cars cross by ferry from hereon in. We had reached Quebec… 135 miles northeast of Montreal, and just one more lock to get into the marina!

Quebec City is an absolutely enchanting place.  The city only has a population of 500,000 and when the suburbs are included 700,000.  Samuel Champlain founded Quebec City in 1608 and here is a plaque about him.

Facts about Samuel Chaplain

Facts about Samuel Chaplain

There is an old fortification city wall surrounding the city, the only one left in North America except for Mexico City.

Old fortification gate

Old fortification gate

The most impressive building, although there are many in Quebec, is the Chateaux Frontenac, set high on the top of the hilliest side of Quebec.

Chateaux Frontenac

Chateaux Frontenac

Down below, there are hilly streets filled with shops and cafes and cobblestone streets.  From below you can catch a cable car to the Chateaux Frontenac, now a Fairmont Hotel.

Cable cars to the Chateaux Frontenac

Cable cars to the Chateaux Frontenac

Hilly streets of Quebec

Hilly streets of Quebec

Streets of Old Champlain

Streets of Old Champlain

Nice town square with a statue of Louis XIV

Nice town square with a statue of Louis XIV

We rode the cable car up to Chateaux Frontenac

We rode the cable car up to Chateaux Frontenac

More of the beautiful City of Quebec

More of the beautiful
City of Quebec

Plenty of Horse and Buggy rides

Plenty of Horse and Buggy rides

And more cuteness!

And more cuteness!

Quebec City is a most amazing place.  It is so clean, really clean!  All the buildings are in magnificent condition, and so colorful and tasteful.  We never saw a bad side of town, or any graffiti.  We only saw one police car with two policemen in our whole stay here.  It is just so calm and civilized, and truly beautiful.  Even at the freeway overpasses the struts have murals on them.

Murals at the overpasses

Murals at the overpasses

Many cruise ships come here, this one is a Holland America Cruise Line ship called the Veerdam.

Cruise Ship Veerdam

Cruise Ship Veerdam

The street musicians, artists and performers of Quebec were very entertaining as well.

Street drummer and his pal

Street drummer and his pal

Fire Jugglers on stilts

Fire Jugglers on stilts

In both Montreal and Quebec City there were pianos in the streets, squares and park that anyone could just sit down at and play.  It was fun to see and good to listen to.  Not sure we have ever seen this in any other city anywhere…

Free pianos to play!

Free pianos to play!

It has been wonderful here in Quebec, we will be sad to leave it.  The next part of our journey will take us up into the fjords and less populated areas… and whales!  We will write again in a few weeks with some rare pictures we hope!  In the meantime you can see a map of our progress at:

https://share.delorme.com/CavaraDownEastCircle

Hope all is well with all of you!

Barb & Don

 

 

 

 

 

 


2015: The Down East Circle Route

Hello Again Everyone!

 

The Down East Circle Route

The Down East Circle Route

 

It’s been a long time since my last post, I think it was late last September… and in that post I explained that we would be staying in New Bern, NC for the winter getting ready for our 2015 cruise, and would not write another post until we began it.  Well, that time has arrived!

Above is a picture depicting the general route we are taking, and below is an outline in black on a map.

 

DEL Map Route

Route on a Map

 

We are traveling with another boat that you might remember from our cruise in the Bahamas, Bob & Deidre on Tide Hiker.  We left North Carolina on Sunday May 17th and motored to Norfolk Va, north through Chesapeake Bay, east through the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal.  When we left the canal, we motored for 22 hours to get to New York Harbor, arriving in the middle of the night!  Interesting to anchor in the dark of night!

We rested for about 30 hours then headed north.  The starting point for the Down East Circle Route (I’ll start referring to it as the DEL, an anagram for the Down East Loop) is at the Statue of Liberty… and here she is.

 

Lady Liberty.  Starting Point of the DEL

Lady Liberty. Starting Point of the DEL

 

Travel with us!  Here is a picture of Tide Hiker off to the right as we approach the Hudson River, west of Manhattan.

 

NYC Skyline with Tide Hiker off to our right (Starboard)

NYC Skyline with Tide Hiker off to our right (Starboard)

 

Once past the hustle and bustle of NYC, the Hudson scenery changes dramatically.  High-rise buildings are exchanged for high cliffs on each side of the great river, covered with literally millions of trees. It took us three days to get to Troy NY where we turned west to meet the Erie Canal at Waterford NY.

On the way we passed West Point Military Academy, a very imposing complex overlooking the Hudson.

 

West Point Military Academy on the Hudson River

West Point Military Academy on the Hudson River

 

Unfortunately we passed this large sailing vessel that had just run aground.  If you look closely you can see the teenage children scrambling to help their parents.  the water on that side of the river was as deep as the channel, but there was a nasty sandbar on that side.  But all went well for them, they got off fairly easily.

 

Large Sailboat Aground

Large Sailboat Aground

 

There are beautiful lighthouses along the Hudson, this one is called Esopus Lighthouse

 

Esopus Lighthouse

Esopus Lighthouse

 

We stayed at two different anchorages as we motored north though the Hudson, Croton Bay and Athens NY.  We then proceeded through the lock at Troy NY to reach Waterford, the first stop on the Erie Canal.  Waterford is really geared to boaters and has a wonderful free dock that includes electricity for just $10 for however long you stay there.  We met several other boaters there and went out for dinner in a gaggle.  After 3 days we were sufficiently rested and ready to muster the 30-odd locks on our trip to Oswego NY, on the shores of Lake Ontario.

At Waterford there are 5 locks in a distance of 1.5 miles… one after the other!  They raise a total of 172 ft.  the remaining 14 locks in the rising stages are 242 ft, a total of 414 ft of Up Locking.  After Lock 8 it was time to tie up on the wall and stay the night, with several other boats.  It had been a hard day, with 6 boats all locking together each time.

 

Typical Up Lock on the Erie Canal

Typical Up Lock on the Erie Canal

 

The next day it was a lot simpler as Cavara and Tide Hiker locked through with only one other sailboat.  We stayed at Conajaharie NY where the city also supplied a free dock with electricity.  We repaid our thanks by having dinner in town at a nice Italian restaurant!

Another day and more locks, through to Lock 20, the last of the Up Locks.

 

View of Lock 20 as we tied to the wall for the night.

View of Lock 20 as we tied to the wall for the night.

 

Now it was time to start Down Locking.  3 locks for a total of 58 ft down.  We tied up at another free town dock at Sylvan Beach NY, on the shores of Lake Oneida… so cute and pretty!

 

Over the Lock Gates you can see the lower level of the canal below

Over the Lock Gates you can see the lower level of the canal below

 

Still waters along the canal with reflections of the trees and bridge

Still waters along the canal with reflections of the trees and bridge

 

Here we are tied up at a wall right before our last lock to reach Lake Ontario, and Canada.  We spent a few days here in Oswego and even went to the movies to see San Andreas!

 

Past the lock is the breakwater that opens out to Lake Ontario.

Past the lock is the breakwater that opens out to Lake Ontario.

 

We now have a new emergency alert device by DeLorme called “In Reach”.  Amongst it’s features is a tracking device.  Don installed it when we were in Norfolk VA.  If you click on the link below it will show you our course, although it was switched off for a couple of days when we were busy locking through the Erie Canal,  Operator Error!  If you save the link below to your Favorites, you will be able to see where we are any time the thought pops into your head!  It will track us all the way back to New York and beyond!  Here it is:

https://share.delorme.com/CavaraDownEastCircle

 

Hope you are all doing well and enjoying the summer!

 

Love to you all!

 

Barb & Don

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


New London CT to New Bern NC

On September 27th we slipped away from our dock at the New London Submarine Base in CT to start making our trip to Baltimore MD, a distance of around 380 miles. That would be a snap in a car, but for us traveling at only around 6-10 mph it would take around 5-6 days.  Weather, currents and tides would all be a factor as we navigated rivers, bays and the Atlantic Ocean to get there.

On Day One we covered 80 miles or so, west on Long Island Sound to Northport NY.  It is within about 40 miles of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.  Day Two was our really long day… and night.  We departed Northport at 9am to maximize the benefits of an incoming tide, pushing us toward NYC.  After traveling past the wonderful NYC skyline sights we had seen on the way up, we entered the Ambrose Channel of NY Harbor that takes one out to the Atlantic Ocean.

By this time it was about 5pm, we would be traveling all night and motor almost the entire coast of NJ to Cape May. But as soon as we reached the offshore buoys and turned the bow south, we immediately met with a strong current and winds, both coming from the south.  Our “speed” dropped to barely 5 mph, that stayed with us all night.  Fortunately, there was a fairly full moon that shimmered across the water, giving us good visibility for an all night run.  We finally arrived in Cape May NJ at 10am the next morning after 25 hours and 190 miles.  It had been the only reasonable weather window for us to travel the Atlantic for many days, and now it was behind us… it felt great!

After two more days, we reached Baltimore MD.  We had decided to stay there for a month and enjoy all the city has to offer, and at a good marina rate!  Right by our slip was a promenade that stretched for several miles at the water’s edge all the way to Fells Point and the Inner Harbor, great for walking or bicycling.  Our friends Steve and Di were there for a few days with “the big boat” and took us around the Inner Harbor with their “mega dingy”.  It was Indian summer and the Baltimore Orioles were in the pennant race for the World Series.  Needless to say, it was a vibrant time to be there!

 

Inner Harbor

Small part of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

 

We visited four ships in the Inner Harbor… the USS Constellation, the Chesapeake Lightship, USCG Cutter Taney and the US Submarine Torsk.

Before the advent of fixed offshore channel markers, Lightships (as in the picture above) were used along the entire coasts of the US, and there were hundreds of them.  We had seen another one in Nantucket, but it was a replacement Lightship, compliments of the British.  In 1934 it had been sliced in half in thick fog by the “Olympic” cruise ship of the famed White Star Line, and sistership of the Titanic, killing four of the Lightship’s 16 crewmembers.

 

USS Constellation Main Deck

Main Deck of the USS Constellation

USS Constellation Gun Deck

Don on the Gun Deck of the USS Constellation

 

The USS Constellation was launched in 1854, the last all-sail ship built for the US Navy.  She is the only Navy vessel still afloat that saw active service during the American Civil War, and served as the primary practice ship for the US Naval Academy from 1871 to 1893, earning her the nickname “Cradle of Admirals”.

 

Shot Tower Sign

Sign at the Baltimore Shot Tower

 

We took a visit to the Baltimore Shot Tower, now also called the Phoenix Shot Tower for the efforts to restore it as a monument to the industrial heritage of Baltimore.  It was built in 1828 and at almost 216ft was America’s tallest building until 1846.  Lead was heated to the right temperature in vats located at the top of the tower, then dropped, in measured amounts depending on the size needed, to large tanks of water at the bottom of the tower.  Gravity alone created the perfectly round shots, and were quickly cooled in the water tanks below.

 

Shot Tower

The Shot Tower was the tallest building in America for 18 years

Shot Tower Chamber

Looking up the shaft of the Shot Tower

 

Anyone visiting Baltimore should visit the National Aquarium there.  It is spectacular!  It is unlike any other aquarium we have ever been to in its appointments.  There are seven floors in the main building that each have exhibits that wind around the outer edge of the building.  In the center is open space overlooking a multi-story Atlantic reef built as a habitat for sharks, turtles, rays and almost anything else one could think of.

 

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The National Aquarium in Baltimore

Aquarium Coral Reef

Overlook of Atlantic reef

Turtle Ray and Sharks

Turtles, sharks and a ray hanging out at the reef

 

They have almost 17,000 creatures and over 750 species in the aquarium and other buildings, including an Australian exhibit, a tropical rain forest, an open ocean shark tank and a marine mammal pavilion for dolphins.

Living Coral

Living coral and tropical fish

Seahorses

Seahorses about the size of a child’s finger

 

There were also plenty of knowledgeable staff located everywhere, ready to talk and answer questions.  It is a first class aquarium!

Mary Pickersgill was the flag maker and seamstress that made the original Stars and Stripes for Fort McHenry.  We visited her house and the museum that is there now, a National Heritage site.  It was amazing to see where she lived and worked, although the original flag was so large, she obtained permission from a nearby brewery to spread it out in their malt house.  Each of the stripes was 2ft deep and each of the 15 stars were 2ft from tip to tip.

 

Flag House

Mary Pickersgill’s house on the right and the Flag Museum in the background

Flag House Plaque

Plaque at the Flag House

 

By far, the most moving experience we have had in our travels over the last year, was to Fort McHenry, a visit that will stay in our hearts and minds for years to come.  As we had entered the harbor of Baltimore and motored under the Francis Scott Key Bridge, there was a red, white and blue buoy that marks the spot where on September 7th 1814, Francis Scott Key had boarded a British Truce Ship.

He was an attorney, and with another fellow had boarded the Truce Ship to convene with a client that had been captured by the British Royal Navy and was being held as a prisoner-of-war.  Even though they had successfully arranged his release, they were required to remain on board as the British were preparing for the battle to take Baltimore.  The British had just come from the Potomac River where they had burned down the city of Washington DC, White House and all.  The battle at Baltimore was to be the last stand, to seal the fate of an American nation.  It was winner takes all.

Fort McHenry aerial

Fort McHenry at the entrance to Baltimore Harbor

Gun facing Fort McHenry Bridge

A cannon facing the Patapsco River to the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which was not there in 1814!

Multiple guns at Fort McHenry

Multiple cannons that could rotate, although these were newer models from the 1860s

Don looking down the barrel

Don checking out the barrel, hope it’s not loaded!

 

In the summer of 1813,  Major George Armistead, Commander of Fort McHenry had pleaded with his superior officers in several letters that the Fort needed a banner.  In his last plea he had written, “…to be large enough that the British will have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance”.  Who knew that those words would be the catalyst that formed today’s National Anthem.  Mary Pickersgill was given the design and instructions to make it 30ft x 42ft, and a smaller storm flag 17ft x 25ft.

After a battle that raged for 25 hours, through the night of September 13th – 14th 1814, Francis Scott Key walked out onto the deck of the Truce Ship at dawn.  He was overcome with emotion for a nation that had been born when he saw the Star Spangled Banner waving proudly over Fort McHenry.  Brimming with pride, he set to work on the ship right away, writing a poem of his deep love and pride for the freedom that had been won for his country.

Released from the Truce Ship on September 16th, he spent the night at the Indian Queen Tavern and added music to his poem, which was indeed, somewhat similar to a popular tavern song at the time.  On October 19th 1814 the song had its first public performance at the Baltimore Holliday Theater.  It wasn’t until March 3rd 1931 that President Herbert Hoover officially signed into law that the Star Spangled Banner be adopted as our National Anthem.

 

Armistead Statue

Lt Col George Armistead sadly died 4 years later in 1818 at the age of 38

Flag Ceremony

Park Rangers performing a flag ceremony at Fort McHenry

 

When Don and I first arrived at the Visitor’s Center at Fort McHenry we were ushered into a theater that showed the history of Fort McHenry and the Battle of Baltimore.  It was a very exciting, emotional movie and started making me feel bad to be a former Brit!  When the movie reached its end… the screen slowly lifted to the melody of the Star Spangled Banner… and as the sun filled the room… the flag waved before us at the top of the original flagpole… at the exact spot that had so thrilled Francis Scott Key.  Tears filled my eyes, with pride and love for our country.  Since then, Don and I feel so much more depth with our new understanding of our county’s anthem, and probably will from here on in.

Stars and Stripes

Star Spangled Banner, somewhat small than the one that Mary Pickersgill sewed

 

 

Footnote:  We are now in New Bern NC and will be here for several months.  We will be preparing Cavara for another trip north in the spring to Montreal, Quebec, the St Lawrence Seaway and Nova Scotia (near Newfoundland) with our Aussie friends, Bob and Deidre on Tidehiker that you may recall reading about in the Bahamas.  So this is our last post for a while.  We hope you have enjoyed traveling along with us over 4,000 miles since we left the boatyard almost exactly a year ago.  It has certainly been fun!

We hope to see and talk with many of you when we travel home for the holiday season.  Our love and best wishes to you all!

Barb and Don


Martha’s Vineyard MA to New London CT

On August 22nd we motored 28 miles across Nantucket Sound to Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard.  Our assigned mooring ball was located at the south end of the harbor, close to Chappaquidick, which had become infamous in the 70s when Senator Edward Kennedy had driven off its tiny little bridge.

Edgartown is the principle town on Martha’s Vineyard and is very lively.  There are also two other towns; Oak Bluffs on the northern coastline, and Menemsha at the southwestern tip of the island.  Each town had its own personality and all three were completely different from one another.  We were able to purchase daily bus passes that allowed us to jump on and off any destination.

On the main street in Edgartown we noticed a street banner advertising an Open House and free pancake breakfast at the Fire Dept which we attended the next day, which was very cool!

 

Edgartown Dinghy Dock

Dinghy Dock at Edgartown

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Edgartown Town Hall

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Edgartown FD Pancake Breakfast

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Open House at Edgartown Fire Dept

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Antique Fire Trucks at their Museum

 

In the afternoon we took the bus to Menemsha, a small and intimate fishing village where the fishing fleet base their boats.  Along with that went the fresh catch outdoor eateries.  There were small areas of makeshift tables for chowing down on fresh crab chowder, crab cakes, lobster bisque and lobster rolls… mmm… yum!

 

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Menemsha Fishing Fleet

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Menemsha fresh catch eatery

 

We topped this off with a trip to the County Fair and watched a vintage tractor pull contest where history was made for the locals.  A vintage 1950s 3200lb tractor  managed to pull almost 12,000lbs!  Here is a picture of a more sedate model.

 

DSCN2140

Nicely restored vintage tractor

 

Another day we took the bus to Oak Bluffs, which turned out to be the prettiest town on the island.  It is the historic whaling port of Martha’s Vineyard and the businesses, homes and entire community areas have been lovingly restored to what can only be described as magnificence.  The aura and colors of this town will never be forgotten by anyone who visits there.

 

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Huge city park at the waterfront

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Shops and offices in Oak Bluffs

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Fairy tale cottage

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Rows of these pretty houses

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They are called Gingerbread Houses

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Many appear on calendars

 

Sadly, it was time to leave these enchanted islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard and head for the mainland of Connecticut.  it was a 90 mile trip which we split into two days.  We were to spend a month at a military recreational marina inside the Naval Submarine Base New London CT.  We planned to do some routine maintenance there, then take a few road trips while Cavara was safely tied up to a dock.

The New London Sub Base is a major training base for submariners, and is also home to the first nuclear submarine, the Nautilus and its attached museum.  Of course we had to tour her!  She was built in 1953 and to us looked so antiquated to be nuclear powered!  In such a small space it is hard to take good pictures, so forgive me for no interior shots, they just don’t justify.  But outside the museum there was a sculpture that showed the advancement of submarines.  The inner ring in the picture shows the 10ft diameter of the first “modern” submarine built in 1896, the USS Holland.  The outer ring shows the 48ft diameter of the USS Ohio, which is actually a class of submarine that are in operation today.

 

Flags to Nautilus

Flags for every State that lead to the Nautilus

Nautilus Museum

My, how our submarines have grown

 

We also had a nice day in Essex, about 25 miles from New London.  It is the site of the boatyard that built the first warship in 1776 for the Revolutionary War called the Oliver Cromwell.  Naturally, the town needed a tavern for its hard working shipbuilders, so the Griswold Inn was opened in the same year, and is evidently now the oldest, continuously operated tavern and inn in the US.  Main St is lined with homes and stores from that same era, and street banners tell of this year’s bicentennial celebration of the defeat of the British raid upon Essex.

 

Oliver Cromwell Sign

First Warship built in 1776 for the Revolutionary War

Oliver Cromwell Model

A model of the Oliver Cromwell

Griswold Steps

Don & Barb at the Griswold Inn

 

Essex Steet Sign

Celebration of the defeat of the British

 

We also took a drive up to Boston and Rye in NH to visit family and friends.  It was nice to view New England from the roadside, popping in to small fishing villages like this one in Niank.

 

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Fresh catch lobster restaurant in Niank CT

 

Probably the most memorable road trip in this area was to Mystic CT.  It was fun to see Mystic Pizza, now immortalized by Hollywood, but still just a Mom and Pop little restaurant.  While walking around town we were halted by the Mystic Bridge opening, something we are usually the cause of!

 

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Immortalized by Hollywood, but still the same

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We’re usually the ones causing this!

 

But Mystic is most famous for its amazing riverside, fully operational 17 acre museum village called Mystic Seaport.  Since the 1930s prominent and wealthy families (such as the DuPonts) wanted to preserve the history of normal life in a shipbuilding town.  Land was either donated or purchased where the old wharfs were, and buildings and other structures of historical note were transported to Mystic Seaport.  It is arranged as close to a real living port that it might have been in the 1700-1800s.  It really is special.

The last remaining wood whaling ship called the Charles W. Morgan,  built in 1841 and now restored to it’s former glory has its permanent dock at Mystic Seaport. Volunteers attend Mystic Seaport University and attend classes to learn and then inform visitors of the history of their particular chosen specialty.

 

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Last remaining whaling ship Charles W. Morgan

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Volunteers sing a shanty while stowing the mainsail

 

While stowing the mainsail, the volunteers sang a shanty to keep themselves folding in unison.  Below are the “ty vats” that were used to boil the blubber down to a liquid, then stowed in barrels for the rest of the voyage.  The next picture is of the “windlass”, a cog device used by 4-6 men to raise the anchor.  On Cavara, since it is power operated, it is only about one square foot.

 

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Ty vats for boiling whale blubber

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4-6 men operated this windlass to bring up the anchor

Helm

Helm of the Charles W Morgan

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Only this compass and the stars for navigation

 

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Part of deck area that housed 34 bunks

 

What I found most intriguing was that on a whaling ship, each man had his own bunk!  I suppose I had previously thought that back in those days all sailors that were not officers slept on the deck floor, or a hammock at best,  On whaling ships, it seems, their whaling skills afforded more respect, especially since the voyages lasted for months, possibly even years.

Along the wharf was an assortment of service businesses, each occupied by skilled volunteers, very knowledgeable about their trade and operation of the antique equipment.  The sanding shop was of particular interest to Don.  Just one small generator at the rear of the building kept the menagerie of belts running to operate every single type of sander in the establishment.  At the printing press office, the operator printed up a flyer on the circa 1780s printing press for me on the spot!

 

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Businesses along the wharf

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All the different sanders in this shop

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… run by this one generator at the rear

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Printing press operator making me a flyer

 

Throughout Mystic Seaport there were general stores, hardware stores, specialty stores, a tavern, a blacksmith, carriage builders, furnished homes, small boat works and museums of all kinds.  I think our favorite was the figurehead museum.  Each of these colorful , lifelike figureheads had a story.  Some had been on more than one ship, all of them intriguing.

 

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Figureheads that adorn the bows of ships

 

We returned to Mystic Seaport more than once, there was so much to see and do.  On our last trip there, Steve and Di, who were docked there with Sanctuary, the “big boat”, invited us over for burgers and dogs.  As we sat on the back deck of Sanctuary we all marveled at what a wonderful, living museum Mystic Seaport is.

 

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Steve and Di on Sanctuary

 

Soon it would be time for us to head west, back through Long Island Sound and New York City, almost 400 miles to the Chesapeake Bay and Baltimore.

Our love to all of you, and hope each and every one of you  are happy, well and enjoying life!

Barb & Don