30 July 2010
So what does one do to fill the time? The short answer is quite a bit. For starters there’s always an opportunity to waste hours at the computer (photo upper left). What did we do prior to becoming online slaves? And then there’s a sailor’s favorite: shopping.
Wednesday morning looked like just another maintenance day when Josiane announced that Sid and wife Dorene in a motor home would be driving to Sydney, the largest city on Cape Breton, for shopping and had offered the three of us a ride. Naturally we jumped at the opportunity (photo middle left). Jean and Josiane hadn’t done major provisioning since leaving the Caribbean over 2 months ago, and I was eager to avoid boat chores. The 5 of us fit comfortably in Sid’s large pickup and were shortly standing before the Wal-Mart in Sydney River (photo right). It was “just like home,” including the distasteful feeling some get from the Wal-Mart “experience.” Yet there’s no question we shopped and enjoyed doing so (photo left).
Thursday evening Kerry Deare hosted Jean and Josiane for wine and cheese (photo right), a dangerous undertaking considering that I had on board only the basics for entertaining, and my guests would be Parisian world travelers. We conducted a tasting of 2 California chardonnays and the verdict was: “Acceptable or Better.” The visit seemed to work to the satisfaction of all including my crew teddy bear Polo, who finally got the attention he deserves (photo left).
29 July 2010
Cruising in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland means visiting harbors where fishing is the primary activity. Facilities for fishing vessels are designed for rough usage and extreme conditions so yachts must use care to avoid damage. The most important gear needed is fendering that can do the job. At the very least one needs the largest fenders that can be carried and stowed, and preferably more than two. In the photo at right we've set two 10x30 fenders behind an 8 foot fender board to lay alongside the rough wharf. Note that the wharf here in Lousibourg is not "rough" as these things go. We carry another 2 large fenders and often another board to meet worse conditions. The the photo also shows rubber protectors on the ends of the board to further protect the topsides.
In Louisbourg the tidal range is about 6 feet so some compensation is necessary. This means keeping an eye on things through at least one tidal cycle, and adjusting lines and fenders to meet the extremes of the tidal rise and fall. The two primary rules we like to employ in a case like this are (1) use lines as long as practical to minimize tidal effects (photo above left), and (2) make all lines adjustable from the boat (top and bottom photos at right).
Finally never assume that your gear will be "just fine for now" when it comes to chafe. The insidious effects of chafe can be disastrous, and the forces against you are at work every minute of every day. There is no substitute for taking measures ahead of time (photo at left).
27 July 2010
Monday afternoon the French ketch “Kurika” (at left in the left photo) entered Louisbourg harbor with Jean and Josiane on board (photo below at right). Hank and I helped them secure alongside a fishing boat and Jean immediately broke out the wine glasses. He and Josiane had just sailed coastwise from Shelburne NS en route to Saint-Pierre. Since we are also headed there, perhaps having French speaking friends nearby could keep us out of trouble. In addition Jean and Josiane are delights in their own right. They have sailed “Kurika” over from Brittany and completed passages along the US East Coast via Bermuda, so we traded tales on places along the way, especially Bermuda. As we spoke I remembered spying “Kurika” in Shelburne at the yacht club floats but we didn’t meet there, so a warm welcome to Jean and Josiane.
While walking up to the “Command Center” this morning I met a lovely 80 year old Dutch woman exercising her German shepherd on the boardwalk She has been living in Louisbourg almost 60 years and could not praise it enough. She was so enjoying the morning that some of her energy must have transferred to me. It will come in handy when we depart this afternoon.
25 July 2010
The quintessential Louisbourg tourist experience is a visit to Fortress of Louisbourg, a national historic site of Canada. The purpose of the fortress and its surrounding grounds is to provide the visitor the experience of living for a single day in the year 1744.
The fortress was originally a fortified French town that was twice captured by the British, the French having first arrived in 1713. Various French kings including Louis XV built the fortress to protect France's commercial interests against the British. The current replica fortress represents a massive investment by the government of Canada over decades. It is one of the premier tourist destinations in the country.
Each summer costumed interpreters paint a picture of life as lived in 1744. The sights and sounds of the 18th century come alive in period homes, busy street scenes, and theme centers.
TOURISM AT NIGHT
A short walk from the wharf leads to the Louisbourg Playhouse, a replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theater (http://www.louisbourgplayhouse.com/), where on Sunday evening I treated myself to a performance by one of Cape Breton's premier musicians and entertainers, J. P. Cormier (http://www.jp-cormier.com/).
To say he knocked me over is to understate his impact, his instrumental technique, and his stage presence. A great performance in a stellar location.
24 July 2010
23 July 2010
Grassy Island (left photo) is the site of the original settlement at Canso. The island itself can be visited with the local Parks Canada boat. My tour presented by Tom and Clarice of Parks Canada was both historically and visually interesting, and the weather cooperated in fine fashion. The displays on the island are the result of archaeological "digs" that have uncovered much historical detail (right photo).
22 July 2010
20 July 2010
Once at sea we motorsailed east in a light SW breeze. Visibility was excellent as we “enjoyed” the perpetual swells that define this coast. Even in calm conditions, the long swells of the Atlantic that roll in from thousands of miles away produce long rolling hills of water along the SW coast. There is no escape and the swells do not add to one’s comfort. By 1040 we were sailing and shortly thereafter the wind filled in so that I reefed the mainsail and didn’t bother to set a headsail. The wind was almost directly from behind and we were making over 5 knots so for comfort’s sake I chose the simplest solution and sailed “bare headed.” We had about 250 NM to Canso at the extreme eastern end of Nova Scotia, and we were making miles in the right direction.
Conditions remained the same until 1600 when the wind came up to 15 to 20 knots SW. I tucked a second reef and continued with only the main. There was little to do but rest as my system once again got accustomed to rolling seas and life offshore, this time for only a few days. By 2100 I'd made no changes in our setup and nature continued with steady conditions and a good sailing breeze. We sailed on in darkness and by 0500 the next morning, Monday, it was still dark as we began passing the “Traffic Control Lanes” that govern maritime shipping into Halifax Harbor. The Halifax TCL is an elaborate array of one-way traffic lanes into and out of this major harbor and all commercial traffic must comply. The operation is managed by “Halifax Traffic” who do a rather spectacular job. I contacted Halifax Traffic on VHF to identify myself and to check on traffic. There were only 2 commercial vessels inbound at the time and neither was close by.
By 0830 the wind was off and we were motorsailing with the mainsail and the Volvo diesel doing their respective jobs. A little after noon I reckoned that we had under 100 NM to Canso and a rest from the endless swells. Two hours later the wind filled in and we were sailing with a single reef and the windvane steerer. I remember thinking that the motion was a bit less and that probably this was the smoothest set of conditions I would encounter until Canso Harbor. That wasn’t quite the case as I relate below, but I was thankful for the comfort. By 2200 Monday evening the logbook shows us motorsailing again with under 55 NM to go. It was dark and on this last night at sea we'd had good luck and made progress, so I was hoping our streak would continue.
An hour and a half later I became aware of a commercial ship one and a half NM dead ahead on a direct approach to our position. I identified him by AIS (Automatic Identification System) as the Maersk Pembroke, bound for Halifax. When I hailed on VHF he came up immediately and informed me he’d already begun a slow turn to starboard (i.e., he was turning right) to avoid us. I informed him we would also go right 25 degrees to widen the passing distance and we soon passed safely, coming within 1000 yards at closest approach. That may seem like a reasonable distance, but at sea it’s closer than one might like. The whole event, played out on my computer screen, resembled a nautical ballet in slow motion. With the situation now in hand, I sat back and enjoyed the view.
On into the night and Tuesday morning, the wind never did reappear enough to go sailing, but as first light came up at 0530 something else did: dense fog. Ordinarily fog is just another aspect of sailing in this area, but this time it had more importance. To enter Canso we had to negotiate Andrew Passage, a complicated route between islands, rocks, and shoals that protect the entrance to Canso Harbor. I'd never visited Canso before and all my guide books warned that the passage was to be avoided in poor visibility. I kept studying the guides and making offerings to Neptune, but the thick fog persisted and now seemed a permanent feature. Visibility was under 50 yards so I began to make arrangements for either an alternate route into harbor, or a brief stop somewhere to wait on the weather. I prepared the anchor to let go quickly and continued on to Andrew Passage. Fortunately the wind remained light and I encountered no traffic on radar or AIS. As the buoys ghosted by in the fog, I could hear the gongs and bells but saw nothing.
At 0900 after passing the first buoy marking the entrance to Andrew Passage, I came on deck to a find that visibility had become unlimited. A light west wind had combined with the landmass of the surrounding islands to completely lift the fog. We could see, and what we saw was magnificent (photo at left). The bleak scraggy landscape looked like paradise to me. We were in the easternmost part of Nova Scotia, sailing along in a remote and peaceful setting with completely flat seas. I decided to slow things down and enjoy the scene in slow motion. The engine was shut down, the sails shortened further, and we glided through Andrew Passage between the shoals and rocks as if we’d been doing this sort of thing since birth.
By 1015 Tuesday we’d passed the Canso Harbor (right photo) breakwater and secured the ship. I was trying to determine the arrangements at the Canso Harbor Marina when the VHF came alive: “Kerry Deare, Kerry Deare, this is Evergreen. Welcome to Canso.” It was friends Philip and Sharon (left photo) whom I’d last seen a few days earlier in Shelburne. They’d left Shelburne a day before me and arrived about a half day earlier in Canso. I could not have had a warmer welcome.
18 July 2010
In 1783 more than 10,000 settlers loyal to the British crown arrived in shelburne after fleeing the consequences of the American Revolutionary War. These "Loyalists" including Black Loyalists, Black Pioneers, and some slaves helped lay out and build the town and made the settlement one of the largest communities in North America.
Music in many traditions is found and enjoyed during the festivities. Most of the performers are amateurs who just really enjoy "doing it" and have been "doing it" for decades.