July 28, 2014
We are now in Nain, the last town on our journey through North Labrador and thus our last internet access for awhile. From here, we will continue north to the Torngat National Park where we hope to spend a few days hiking with local guides. Then we will make the crossing to Greenland. You can keep track of us here.
Here are a few more photos from North Labrador!
July 26, 2014
Northern Labrador is very sparsely populated with only a few small coastal villages made up largely of people of Inuit heritage. There is no overland road system and delivery of supplies and transportation between villages is dependent on supply ships which double as ferries. The good news about that is that these small villages have large, well-maintained public docks which are available for visitors to tie up to.
At this point in our journey, we are traveling only by day so that we can maintain a constant visual watch. The large icebergs show up nicely on radar – the photo included here shows nearly 20 icebergs within 12 miles on our radar display (there are also some islands which show up on the lower left side). When a target shows up in close proximity on radar, we confirm its location visually. And when we see something visually, we confirm its location on radar. There are, however, many small pieces of ice, called “growlers” or “bergy bits” that do not register on the radar because they do not rise much above the water level. These are the more dangerous threat as they may be large enough to cause damage to stabilizers or to leave some nice dings in the bottom paint. We have diverted course a few times in order to view some of the more photogenic icebergs up close. I have posted a video slide show of our favorites bergs here.
As we continued to work our way north, our next anchorage was at Curlew Harbor where we again enjoyed a Labrador-style hike, finding our own way up to a summit with spectacular views. We then continued on for a short hop to the town of Cartwright, where we were able to tie up to public wharfs. We explored the town, which is the last coastal town connected by roads so there are some cars and trucks mixed in with many all-terrain vehicles. Bradley headed off for a bike ride while George, Marci, and I went for a walk. We visited the local pub, which had internet access so we were able to retrieve our emails. None of these coastal towns has cell service, so our onboard communications are limited to satellite phone and our ability to get emails depends on finding a shore-based internet connection. The people here are curious and friendly but our stay was short – just an overnight. Then it was time to move on with a 6am departure , this time an 87 nautical mile run to an anchorage at Holton Harbour, enjoying many beautiful icebergs along the way. We anchored for the night and headed over to Migration for a wonderful dinner where we watched a heavy fog settle in, making Shear Madness look like a ghost ship.
We were up early again for another 82 NM trip in to Makkovik in very pleasant conditions. Along the way we had a chat on the radio with Astron, one of the two intra-provincial ferries that delivers supplies and passengers from Newfoundland to North Labrador towns. The captain was quite friendly, explaining their routes, what they carry, and answering many of our questions. The ferries generally run from June through December, depending on the ice and each town is visited once a week by either Astron or Northern Ranger. Our pleasant weather lasted right up until it was time to tie up at the very nice commercial dock. A front decided to pass through, bring with it driving rain and 30 knot winds. It made the docking a bit more exciting than we would have liked but we were soon safely docked. We stayed on board for the night, hanging our sodden clothes in the engine room to dry and warming ourselves with some hot turkey soup.
In the morning we set off to explore Makkovik and had a great time. We visited the local store which was well stocked and picked up some fresh milk and more eggs. We met a few locals who were very friendly and helpful and visited the local radio station where we met Velma, the DJ and her son Preston. Marci and I went for a hike along the “Poet’s Path”, a nice trail where short poems, some written by residents and others by well-known authors, are mounted on trees. We stopped to read each one, greatly enjoying it and hampered only by the pesky mosquitoes! Reaching the end of the Poet’s Path, we continued on, traveling a beautiful, long boardwalk that led to the seashore. Here we encounter a local couple fishing for Artic Char, but they had not had a catch yet. From there, we continued up a rocky hill for some spectacular views, then headed down the hill to the local museum. Here we found a note saying that if Myrtle was not at the museum, we should go find her at the church next door. We found her with no problem and she came back to give us a tour of the museum – a small house filled with many old photos showing the history of the town.
Then it was back to the docks where the Northern Ranger was due to arrive at 6pm and there she was, right on schedule! She tied up on the other side of the same dock we were on and at more than 150 feet in length and very tall, we looked quit small indeed. During her three hour stop, she unloaded many supplies – a washing machine, a snowmobile, lots of logs to be used for firewood, supplies for the local stores, packages for residents, and much more. Passengers also disembarked while others got on to head to the next stop. Bradley chatted with the Captain and Engineer while the unloading was going on.
Bradley had also become friendly with a local fishing boat who had just come in from six days with a catch of 43,000 pounds of snow crab. The Captain offered him “a few crabs” which he said he would deliver later after the catch was unloaded at the local processing plant. Later that evening, after Northern Ranger had left to continue north, we saw a forklift with a large crate coming down the dock. It was our snow crabs! It was enough to fill an entire cooler and we kept them on ice with plans for a feast the next day.
From Makkovik, it was a 50 mile trip to our next stop, Hopedale. We got underway at 4am and arrived at 1:30pm. Although this is a ferry stop, the dock here is designed for the ferry to tie stern-to (ie, backed up) to a small dock. The public wharf in town looked very unappealing, so we decided to anchor out. George launched his tender and we explored the town, where George and Marci delivered a package to a local resident from a cruising friend they had met in Maine. That friend had spent many years running charter boat tours in Labrador and Greenland and had made many friends along the way. She had given George and Marci several packages to drop off along the way and has been a great source of information for us in planning this trip.
As we passed the local fire station, a crowd was gathering. They were getting ready for the “Fireman’s Challenge”, a series of events where residents of various ages compete. We stayed long enough to watch the first event, then headed off to hike up to the old US Air Force station atop a large hill. Again, we were treated to spectacular views. From there, it was back to Shear Madness for a Surf and Turf Feast, with George and Marci bringing some steaks to go with the snow crabs. We had two pots going to cook the crabs and we had plenty for all five of us to eat our fill, plus a whole lot more left in the fridge!
So far we have seen many dogs – golden retrievers, huskies and malamutes, border collies, lots of mixed breeds, even a terrier – but we have yet to see a single Lab! Our stay in Hopedale was short as we are now focused on getting further north so that we can plan our crossing to Greenland. We are now en route to Nain, the last town we will encounter as we proceed north to the Tongrat National Park and beyond.
July 20, 2014
We are now cruising in some very remote areas where the scenery is majestic and there are very few people. We are seeing dozens of icebergs and have tuned our radars to be sure we can spot them. The cruising here is definitely more challenging, requiring a lot more attention. We are very glad that we are traveling in the company of Migration as having someone to talk to, compare observations, and discuss plans helps us all to feel more comfortable and make better decisions.
Labrador used to be home to large fishing fleets, but in 1992 a moratorium on cod fishing was imposed due to over fishing. Many of the coastal villages are now abandoned and although fishing for cod has resumed, it is nowhere close to the levels of old. Labrador has a huge landmass but a population of only 40,000 people, so the inhabited villages are few and far between.
We have done some great hikes, but are taking care to ensure that we all make it back safely. We have seen one brown bear so we take along our bear spray, as well as copious amounts of bug spray, a personal EPIRB (rescue transmitter), first aid kit, tools, water, and snacks. There are no actual trails in the places we’ve been, so hiking involves a fair amount of bushwhacking – finding a way through forests and undergrowth and ensuring you can find your way back. The terrain is nothing short of spectacular with soft moss and lichens making it feel as if you are walking on carpet. But we are bundled up even though it is mid-summer and it is clear that the environment here is harsh and unforgiving.
After just a few days, we have become accustomed to seeing icebergs. They come in all shapes and sizes and we’ve altered course a couple of times to go closer for some special photos. It’s hard to describe the awe one feels when dwarfed by these massive ice structures!
At or first stop in Labrador, Pitt’s Harbour, Migration launched their small tender and we went set out to harvest some ice from a nearby growler – a small iceberg easily reachable. George came equipped with a machete and we brought small coolers to fill with ice – we truly enjoyed our drinks that evening and have plenty of “iceberg ice” in our freezers! Nearby was a mostly abandoned village, though a few of the cottages still look as if they are used occasionally. There are no roads leading here, so if people come, they would do so by boat in the summer or snowmobile in winter when the water is frozen over. We enjoyed a long hike up a nearby hill, mostly climbing over gently sloping boulders and moss-lined bogs but occasionally requiring some ingenuity to find a way through the thick underbrush. We were rewarded with great views in all directions.
Our next stop was Battle Harbour, named not for a battle, but for a corruption of the Portuguese word for boat. This small settlement used to be a hub for the cod fishing industry and is now a historic trust, being restored and promoted as a tourist destination, though on a very small scale. Our cruising guidebook noted that there is a 110’ dock available and we were able to reach the town by VHF radio. They confirmed that there was room on the dock for one boat and plenty of space for us to “raft up” – tie the second boat to the side of the first. Migration tied up to the dock in order to make it easier for Gulliver to get ashore and soon we were secured to Migration.
We enjoyed a guided tour of the historic town, then explored hiking trails that led to a cemetery, a plane crash site, and the “Marconi Towers”, early telegraph stations. Battle Harbour is famous as the site where Admiral Peary held his press conference after being the first person to reach the North Pole. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the Loft, along with eight other folks who had arrived for a visit by ferry. Incredibly, Battle Harbour even had internet!
Next we continued north to Eagle Cove, with another stop for a photo op with an iceberg. Eagle Cove was a beautiful anchorage – very peaceful, scenic, and remote. George and Gulliver picked us up for another wonderful hike – again with no trails and a combination of beauty, harshness, and grandeur. George and Marci joined us for a turkey dinner aboard Shear Madness and we all slept very soundly!
Needing a day of rest for our aching joints after the previous days hike, we decided to pull anchor and keep moving. We encountered a small whale visiting our anchorage – he swam around for quite some time, though he was quite camera shy and we never got a photo. Our exit took us through the “Squasho Run”, a narrow but very deep channel through spectacular cliffs and soon we were once again dodging icebergs. This time we stopped so that George could launch his drone – a remote controlled helicopter that carries a camera to record aerial video!
So far Labrador has been everything we had hoped for – exciting, scary, breathtaking, remote, exhilarating – and every day seems to just get better! Click photos to enlarge – they are low resolution due to limited bandwidth!
(Post written by Bradley – being posted from Battle Harbour, Labrador with just a few very small photos and very limited internet connection. More details and photos will follow later).
Two little known facts about Newfoundland and Labrador. One, they are a single province within Canada, like our states, but one gets the impression they would like to be separate. They each have their own flag. Two: Newfoundland is one of the few places in the world that moves their clocks ahead by only a half-hour, rather than the standard 1hour increments.
When I last left you, we had just arrived in Norris Pt, Bonne Bay and dropped the hook. Kathy and I lowered the tender and went ashore to explore and hike. We were met at the dock by a very talkative and helpful young man, who suggested we hike up the little hill that bordered the anchorage. There is also a national park within a few kilometers that we will explore the next time we visit this area. Our plan was to rendezvous with Capt. Gulliver on Migration and then proceed north as soon as the weather encouraged such behavior.
Kathy and I went proceeded to hike up the hill and as we were walking a narrow path cut into the very heavy forest, we almost walked into the rump of a moose, who was lazily munching on the fresh growth along the side of the trail. He slowly turned his head looked us over carefully and decided we were unarmed, no danger to him and returned to munching. What struck me about the moose, was just how big he was. He stood as tall as many a horse I have ridden.
After wandering down the trail, to the very local ferry dock; there was a very nice little bar with single guitarist playing 70’s ballads and local songs. It was a very nice place to sit and have a beer while we waited for Migration to arrive. On our way out in the tender to great Migration, we decided to stop in and say G’day to a lovely sailboat flying the Australian flag named Volo. It turns out that they have cruised with our friends Mike and Sue on Yarrandoo in Alaska. Mike and Sue are two very good friends of mine, that I lived with in Bath England for 3 months in the early 80’s and then spent 3 months cruising with them Australia in 1996, just as they purchased Yarrandoo. What a small world!
After greeting Capt. Gulliver on Migration, it was decided to head out for a local dinner. The Firstmate on Migration did some research and found what turned out to be an outstanding local restaurant. After a little adventure of flagging down a local pickup truck for a ride to the restaurant a wonderful evening was had by all.
Most interestingly on our return to the anchorage, what do we find, but a third Nordhavn. Adventure had decided to take advantage of the weather window and their desire to see some Icebergs to join us. We had a quick planning meeting at their stern in the dark with us aboard the tender and decided to pull anchor at 0500 for the approximately 90 mile trip to Port Au Choix.
We all pulled anchor as planned and had a very comfortable trip north. Some patches of fog and light ran, but this is where the advantages of a trawler come in handy. We were warm and dry.
We arrived at the docks in Port Au Choix, just minutes before it began to rain in 25 knots of wind. We were each assigned a dock by the harbor master, spaced among the commercial fishing fleet. There was plenty of help, as many of the local seafaring men came out to see the 3 fleet boat arriving.
Shortly after we arrived, Adventure offered to have a happy hour party on board. We all had a wonderful time. While there, we looked up and who should be arriving but Volo. They had elected to anchor out for the night. Migration offered to sponsor a pot luck dinner onboard for Tuesday evening, so we radioed Volo and they were in.
Wed. morning was spent with some boat chores and the afternoon Kathy and Marci did a hike to a remote section of the peninsula. Of course, within minutes of their departure, a very heavy fog rolled in. George and I spent a good part of the afternoon on trip and weather planning, as we are organizing to depart at 0400 on Wednesday morning. All three ND were going to depart heading up the coast. Adventure was going to turn right at the top onto the east coast of NF, and we were going to cross the channel and have our first anchorage in Labrador.
First however Tuesday evening we were going to have our pot luck dinner. Migration prepared some wonderful baked tilapia, Adventure brought home made bread, including a wonderful loaf for each of us to take home. Volo contributed some wonderful vegetables and Shear Madness brought a classic English dessert – Sticky Date Pudding. This is a desert Bradley was first introduced to by his good friend Neil in Auckland many years ago. All of the food was enjoyed by all and the pudding passed the test of the Aussie – Max & Sandy.
Even thought we did not drink at the party as we have a 24 rule before cruising and we were back at the boat by 21:00 – it is amazing how early 03:30 rolls around. We woke to a very heavy fog and a steady 15 knot breeze. The three boats departed at planned with visibility less then 200 m.
We had a great cruise of the Straights of Belle Isle – the fog lifted like a curtain again and it turned into a wonderful day. 15 to 20 on stern 1 to 2 meter seas – and most importantly, we found our first Icebergs.
Unfortunately, this time Shear Madness and Migration had to say goodbye to Adventure for a long time. While Shear Madness may see them in the fall on our way south, Migration is heading to Europe after Greenland, so it will be a while.
We had planned 3 different anchorages at very distances from our start, with the furthest being 140 NM and the shortest being 70 miles, with our stop selection being a function of wind, current and boat speed. We ended up facing a 1 to 1.5 knot current, cutting are average speed into the low 7 knot range, and we decided returning fog and pending rain it would be prudent to anchor at our first choice.
We pulled into Pitts Harbour and set the pick in a beautiful location, surrounded by hills – great protection and some abandon little villages – where a couple of the cabins were clearly being used in the winter as hutting cabins.
After a wonderful stir fried dinner of vegetables and fresh Newfoundland shrimp given to us by Adventure (who had purchased a case) we went to crashed for the evening to the sound of heavy rain – a boat wash.
Labrador here we come
Two little known facts about Newfoundland and Labrador. One, they are a single province within Canada, like our states, but one gets the impression they would like to be separate. They each have their own flag. Two: Newfoundland is one of the few places in the world that moves their clocks ahead by only a half-hour, rather than the standard 1hour increments.
e) we went to crashed for the evening to the sound of heavy rain – a boat wash.
July 15, 2014
(Post by Bradley)
Well, Poseidon/Neptune and Zeus and the ice gods have finally aligned, and are looking favorably on us. It is Friday morning and we are anchored at Baddeck on the Bras d’Or lakes. Migration (a Nordhavn 68) has arrived to join us and Adventure (Nordhavn 55). We had a very fresh Chinese meal out last night together and we are ready to depart. However, after returning to Migration, they found a problem with one of their circulating pumps, so the decision was made for Adventure and Shear Madness to depart as scheduled at 07:30 Friday 11 July, while Captain Gulliver sorts out the issues on Migration. We will sail to the West Coast of Newfoundland (NF), aiming for either the Bay of Islands or Bonne Bay – where we plan to meet Migration when they arrive. Since Migration has already cruised NF, this gives us a day or two to see & experience some of the grand beauty of this province.
One bit of exciting personal news – I am a grandfather again! Austin Ryan was born on July 8 and Margy, Bryant and big-brother Tyler are all doing fine!
We have a perfect weather window for the crossing, light winds blowing from the SW and our course will be mostly NE. 07:30 has arrived, our anchors are up and we are underway. As we exit the lake, we have a helpful discussion with a local tour boat operator, because even though we planned our departure to catch a ride on the ebbing tide, it seemed we are early. In a couple of spots our speed dropped to 5 knots SOG (speed over ground), clearly indicating an adverse current. He informed us that it is not uncommon for the current to run 1 to 2 hours late.
It was agreed between Adventure and us, that we would take the lead, and match our speed to their cruising speed – which is a few tenths of a know slower than our natural speed. We set up a communication schedule between the two boats for a radio call on the half hour on channel 13, a short range VHF channel. We were having perfect conditions. We did not even have to put the stabilizers on for several hours.
Around 14:00 a wall of fog rolled in cutting visibility to less than 200 meters, so we increased separation between the two boats to between 1 to 2 nautical miles (NM). This was a grand passage, other than the fog. Every hour, on the half, we chatted with Adventure, sometimes the conversations lasting until it was time to do the engine rooms checks at the top of each hour. Then just as it showed up, around 19:30, the fog lifted like a sheet. Poof, it was gone and we were going to experience a beautiful sunset. This picture shows the last several minutes of the set. It takes much longer to actually drop below the horizon up here. I thought it was going to stay like that – it may further north. There was no green flash.
What was really amazing was how much of the passage we had internet, TV and phone communications. As we approached NF, we were 25 miles off shore and having great internet. Yes, we can live without connection for at least 24 hours – LOL.
The majesty of the NF coast is impossible to describe. All I can say is that to me this is one of the motivations for cruising. Approaching a new coast creates such a great appreciation for all that our time on this planet has to offer. Space travelers must experience these emotions exponentially. Here are a couple of pictures of the coast, which due to this photographer’s limitation, only hints at the grandeur of NF. Sunrise came early around 04:00 ATL, 04:30 local. NF is one of the few places that has a change in time of only 30 min. It was perfect and somewhat blinding as we were heading right for her.
For several hours now, a local fishing trawler, Newfoundland Storm, (NS) has been closing on our Starboard quarter. He was within a ½ NM of projected crossing, but we were about to alter course 30 degrees to Stbd, which would have him close within couple hundred meters. As a courtesy, I gave him a call on the VHF. He was very appreciative of our professional approach and we (Brad on Adventure) and I ended up in an hour long conversation with Dan. While I must admit that at times we struggled to completely understand Dan, we had a grand time. This culminated in the most amazing fish catch of all our cruising experiences. At the end of our conversation Dan asked us if we enjoyed fish? With both Brad and Bradley answering in the affirmative, he proudly announced “Great I’ll make you a delivery”. Now, Brad starts to worry a little, as to how we would get close enough to pass off some fish, as NS has his outriggers extended. (See picture below). Of course the wily old salt was well ahead of us. He announced he was going to pass us, cross our bow and drop a bag of fish on a float and we were to pick it up. Good thing we had just recently practiced our man overboard drills! He dropped the package, Kathy spotted the float, and Bradley moved SM into position so Kathy could reach our dinner with the boat hook. What a catch! Dan had so very kindly prepared many beautiful fillets, and a cleaned whole fish. (To see some of our other great fish catch experiences click here and scroll down and here)
With dinner planned onboard Shear Madness, it was decided we would tuck into Bay of Islands at either Lark Harbour – which is known as the creator of the fastest SW winds in North America – or York Harbour. As we came past Lark, it was clear that there was too much wind for that anchorage. So we proceeded to York Harbour where we were able to tuck up close to shore at Broom Bottom Cove. With winds blowing in the mid-30’s, Brad was a little concerned with Bradley’s choice. However, shortly after we arrived, the winds begin dropping slowing and by dinner time were 18 to 22 and still dropping. When we woke on Sunday morning, it was dead calm.
One very famous definition of cruising is traveling to remote places so you can fix what went wrong. As fate would have it, Adventure ended up with some water maker problems, so Bradley went over to help. While I was not successful at fixing the problem, I did remember that the Famous Steve Theus of Parker Hannifan, the Corporate owners of Village Marine water makers, included his cell number in his emails. (He is a regular blogger on the Nordhavn owners site helping to solve water maker challenges.) Sure enough Steve was available on a Saturday and was able to help Brad bypass the problem until a part can be secured. Thanks Steve for all you do.
At 18:30, Brad and Lorraine arrived at SM, smiling as their water maker was operating again. They brought some wonderful baked sweet potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts prepared to perfection, and an outstanding bottle of wine. To that we added our fresh catch breaded and baked served with our famous Wasabi Mayo spread and a stupendous salad. A wonderful evening was had by all. Given we had just completed a 36 hour passage, we did not make it to the planned movie part of our evening program. Everyone was sound asleep before 22:00.
As mentioned above, we woke to perfectly calm conditions and decided to pull the anchor early and head for our rendezvous with Migration at Norris Point in Bonne Bay. Just before departing, a local boat came by for a visit and we met Austin, Caroline, and their dog Chopper who live in Corner Brook but have a little cabin here. They provided some good local information and we have their contact infor for next time we pass this way. Brad & Lorraine very kindly offered to use their tender to do a professional photo shoot of SM. Below is our best shot of Adventure and their best shot of SM. They provided us with over 400 incredible pictures of SM, many of which are keepers.
Adventure had decided to stay in the Bay of Islands for a few days of exploring, so we said our goodbyes and parted ways, expecting to catch up with them back in the states in Oct. or Nov. Creating new friendships based on shared experiences is another reason we love cruising.
Soon we will be heading to even more remote areas. You can track our progress here with data provided by our Spot satellite tracking device.
July 13, 2014
With Arthur safely past it was time to resume cruising. But first we needed to visit one of our favorite restaurants, the Cape Breton Smokehouse. Situated in a beautiful log home in the middle of nowhere and run by a German couple who also live in the house, this is one of the more interesting restaurant experiences we have had. Braving serious mosquitoes, Brad and Lorraine from Adventure (the Nordhavn 55 who also hid from Arthur in Little Harbour) picked us up in their tender and we headed ashore. There are the remains of a dock, but it is so badly damaged by wood worms that is has collapsed. So the owner/chef/dockmaster met us at the shore to help us secure the tender and get us to dry land. Then it’s a short hike up to the house where the second level is a stunning restaurant with beautiful views. We asked to visit Bonnie, the resident Russian wolfhound who we had met last year and she was brought out for a visit. Then we enjoyed a wonderful meal of smoked salmon and fresh local seafood. The salmon is smoked on site and is wonderful so we asked for some “to go”. They had an entire half salmon, which we bought and split with Brad and Lorraine. The mosquitoes were even more savage on the return trip and had us dancing and swatting as the chef again helped us board and launch the tender.
Then it was time to move on to Baddeck. Brad (short for Bradford, not Bradley) and Lorraine decided to follow us so we got underway in beautiful conditions. We were about half a mile ahead of Adventure as we approached a bridge which needed to open for us so we decided to conduct a man-overboard drill in order to kill some time and allow Adventure to catch up so that we could both pass through the bridge in one opening. We threw a life ring overboard and then Bradley maneuvered the boat back around while I retrieved it with a boat hook from the swim platform. While not exactly the same as retrieving a person from the water, we do this drill from time to time, alternating our roles, just to ensure we know what to do in the event of an emergency. As you will see in the next post, it turned out to be good to practice this maneuver!
Soon we were safely through the bridge and we decided to stop for a visit to Iona, where there is a re-creation of a Highlands village. Here we learned a lot about the history of Nova Scotia – it is a walking tour with people dressed in period costumes recreating life from different eras, beginning with Scotland and progressing through the early Century in Nova Scotia. It includes several authentic buildings that have been re-located from various sites in Nova Scotia. The most impressive is the church, which was brought to Iona via the water on a large barge. From there, it was driven several kilometers to its current location atop a large hill overlooking the water, requiring the temporary moving of power lines along the way. The story of its journey was very interesting and it is a beautiful landmark for all who pass by on the water! After a great walk and enjoyable visit we were soon back on our boats, enjoying a pleasant and scenic cruise to Baddeck, just a couple hours away.
After dropping our anchor and preparing to attach the snubber line, Bradley noticed that the large bolt holding the anchor roller in place was loose and nearly off. If this bolt comes out, the entire anchor roller would have fallen into the water. So now we had a bit of a problem – the anchor was out resulting in lots of weight on the anchor roller. In order to tighten the bolt, we would have to figure out how to remove the weight of the anchor and then tighten the bolt. Since we have two anchors and two windlasses (the winch that is used to lower and raise the anchor), we engaged the second windlass and used it to lower the second anchor just far enough to allow the snubber line to be brought up through the port roller to take the tension off the anchor chain. The starboard side anchor chain was then raise up and over a crowbar, allowing access to the bolt. Brad and Lorraine from Adventure came over in their tender and with Bradley working from above and Brad working from below, we soon had the bolt tightened and back in working order.
Once safely anchored in Baddeck, we enjoyed some shore time, swiming and kayaking. We met some interesting folks too. First was the crew of Novara, a 60-foot sailboat tied to the town dock. The 4-man crew included the owner, Steve, who is a serious mountain climber, an Englishman, a Scot, and a New Zealander. We had a delightful visit with them and discussed their imminent departure to transit the Northwest Passage and our plans to visit Greenland. We started talking to the Kiwi chap (Ding) about New Zealand and how we had cruised there in our sailboat, an Oyster 56. Turns out that Steve’s previous boat had also been an Oyster 56 named Curious and that Ding knew the people who had bought our old sailboat – he even had photos of it on his laptop!
And continuing the “it’s a small world” theme, there was an Australian boat in the anchorage, Odern, and we met Bill and Karen who have spent the past seven years cruising across the Pacific. Again we got to talking about our time in Australia and soon realized we had some good friends in common – Geoff and Geraldine on Blue Dawn, who we had met in Cairns and cruised with off and on and who we keep in touch with.
Our friends aboard Migration were due to meet us in Baddeck and while Bradley was out kayaking, I happened to look up and there they were – arriving a day earlier than expected. They were soon tied up at the public dock where it is easier for Captain Gulliver to go ashore. We got together to review the latest iceberg reports and to firm up plans for our crossing to Greenland. We agreed to head first to Bonne Bay in Newfoundland, then to work our way north as the weather allows, up to the east coast of Labrador and crossing to Greenland as soon as conditions allow. Migration will likely continue on to Europe after visiting Greenland, while we will return to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and then back to the US.
After a visit to the local farmer’s market where we procured some of Bradley’s favorite dark German bread, and a dinner out with Adventure, Migration, and Odern at the local Chinese restaurant, it was time to depart for Newfoundland (new-fund-LAND, rhymes with “understand”). Migration is delaying their departure by a day to wait for some mail to be delivered so we will cruise with Adventure up to the Bay of Islands on the west coast of Newfoundland before heading to Bonne Bay.
A couple new videos have been posted
Click any photo to enlarge and please send us your comments. We love to hear from you!
July 6, 2014 (By Bradley)
As you can tell from Kathy’s post we had a wonderful time at Prince’s Inlet. One of the true pleasures of cruising for us is making friends as we travel and seeing them periodically. We had a wonderful time, especially celebrating Canada’s Birthday on 1 July.
We have arrived and are anchored in Little Harbour in the Bras D’or Lakes. It was a great trip from Prince’s Inlet. This update is being drafted while we sit on anchor watch as the remnants of Arthur pass by. Little Harbour is as protected as we can get and still remain in the water. The opening to the harbour is less than 30 feet wide. Good height all around with trees to reduce wind.
Earlier this week, as we watched Arthur begin to develop we started to create alternative plans. While we were in a good place, we felt given the potential of a direct hit, we needed to move to a great place. The Bras D’or Lakes presents the absolute best weather protection anywhere in Nova Scotia and it was on our way north – the perfect place to wait for our buddy boat Migration and Captain Gulliver to join us. They left Belfast Maine Thursday at 0 dark thirty and arrived safely on Friday afternoon at an anchorage in the Le Havre river, just south of Lunenburg.
As we organized to depart early Thursday morning Arthur was projected to be a Category 1 hurricane for Lurcher & Brown Bank the South West of Nova Scotia. The rest of the Maritimes were projected to be hit by Tropical Storm Arthur, with winds at the high end 60 knots.
After careful studying of the models we were expecting winds in the 50 to 70 knots range worst case, so it would not be as bad as Sandy two years ago and our destination, Little Harbour, offered much better protection – 360 degrees, less than 30 foot wide entrance.
As we departed we were expecting the winds to be in the 15 to 25 knot range with 1 to 2 meter seas. The good news was the winds were projected to be close to on our stern, thereby helping move us along. Our actual conditions were much nicer. Winds were15 knots or less, spending much of the trip in single digits. Waves were less than 1 meter, predominately 2 feet or less swells. The only challenge we faced was tremendous fog. At times it was so thick we could not see the stern from the bow. We had continuous fog for the entire 30 hour trip.
At one point while I was on watch, we had 3 fishing boats coming south towards us, with the radar projecting a close passing, a fishing boat catching us from our stern and a NS Coast Guard Cutter, Corporal, in the vicinity but running dark. Running dark means they elected not have their AIS on, and we could not see them on our radar anywhere. However, we knew based on their radio discussion with the other boats, they were close by. The 3 southbound boats did not have AIS, but were carefully monitoring their radars and reached out to us to insure a safe passing. We all turned a little to Starboard, thereby passing port to port safely.
We arrived at the entrance to St. Peter’s canal and the lock to the Bras D’or lakes, just about an hour before the lock opened. Of course while we waited for the lock to open the fog thickened. Clearly we would not normally be concerned with fog, but this was extremely heavy and the next 5 miles is an extremely challenging course winding around small islands, shallow water and narrow channels. Luckily we had our prior tracks from last year’s passage, so it was made a little easier.
Once through the long entrance channel the fog lifted and we had a great run to Little Harbour. We are anchored and for the first time elected to use our heavy duty snubber combined with 72 meters of Anchor chain. It was a beautiful afternoon, very much representing the old adage – The Calm Before the Storm. We took some steps to reduce windage on upper decks and generally prepare Shear Madness for high winds.
Late in the day, a fellow Nordhavn elected to follow our lead and join us in the Anchorage – Adventure, Nordhavn 55-33. We have a Sunday evening dinner planned at the local German Restaurant, The Smokehouse. Not sure who their normal clientele are, given how remote they are, but we know from last year they have excellent German food and freshly made smoked salmon.
We had a wonderful lobster dinner and crashed, sleeping very late until 7:30 this morning. During the night we had some heavy rains and woke to winds in the 20’s with gust into 30’s. However this anchorage is so protected we were not even stretching out our chain. Given how dirty the boat had become, we took advantage of the morning rain to wash her, including a special teak cleaning that was long overdue. We are spending the afternoon reading, watching a pay for view movie – Non Stop, which we recommend, and writing this blog. We are still getting our US based DirecTV (satellite based) even though technically we are at least 75 miles out of range of their signal.
We have been monitoring Arthur’s track and it looks like it will pass well to the Northwest of us and has been downgraded to a Post Tropical Storm. We know from emails from our friends south of us, that they had some high winds and damage, but very little rain. We will remain alert through the night, but expect to be able to launch the tender Sunday morning and return to normal cruising.
Update: It is now Sunday afternoon and Arthur has pretty much passed by. We are still experiencing winds of 20+ knots at times, but things are settling quickly. Our maximum wind gust was just 47 knots. We are on for German dinner and planning to head north to Baddeck tomorrow.
July 5, 2014
We were ready for some R&R by the time we reached Lunenburg so we settled in to a nice anchorage and did a bit of exploring. We met our friend Captain George, who I had met last year at the Fisheries Museum. His wife Wendy was under the weather so we have yet to meet her, but George provided us with a nice bag of Nova Scotia scallops – they were fantastic! We also had an excellent meal at Magnolia’s Grill but a truly bad one at Dockside, which has a great view but awful food. We visited the weekly farmer’s market where we got some great German bread, some local wine, and a few other goodies. It was nice to see the Bluenose II back in the water – she is the replica of the famous Lunenburg fishing schooner back after a two-year re-fit in Lunenburg.
With Canada Day on July 1, we decided to move around the corner to Prince’s Inlet where we were invited to participate in the celebration at the Lunenburg Yacht Club. The move was only two miles as the crow flies, but 15 miles by water as we had to exit Lunenburg Harbor, go around the corner, and then back in to Prince’s Inlet. It was a beautiful day and soon we were tucked in to a nice anchorage just outside the yacht club where we were able to re-connect with several of our friends from last year. Bob and Edey came to the boat for dinner, then invited us to their house where we met Cheryl, who lives in Malaysia most of the year but spends summers in her home country. I also took a walk to see Susan and Paul, who run a B&B which was quite busy, making it impossible for them to come for a visit onboard. We also saw Ron and Nora who were gracious as always. Ron is the two-time former commodore of the Yacht Club and was heavily involved in the Canada Day celebration, which included a wonderful BBQ and a great fireworks display. Of course, this far north you have to stay up a lot later to see fireworks since it’s daylight for more than 16 hours!Our friends Jane and Jamie, who I had met last year at a Nonsuch sailboat rally at the yacht club, drove down from Halifax for a dinner onboard. Jamie, who is a professional photographer, took a beautiful photo of Shear Madness. We wish he could join us on the next legs of our trip as I’m sure the scenery will be spectacular and he’d be the perfect person to capture it.
I was able to go out for a nice bike ride and decided to head out Second Peninsula Road, where last year I had met Wilifred, the 91 year old, who was out tending his garden. At that time his wife was recovering from an accident in a rehab hospital so I was curious as to how they were doing. As I approached the house after a nice uphill ride, I saw two people out painting the porch. Not sure who they were, I decided to stop and inquire. As I approached I noticed a woman sitting on the porch who I correctly surmised was Wilifred’s wife. The painters were their son and granddaughter and I stayed for a nice visit. Wilifred and his wife are doing fine and his garden is as beautiful as ever!
With Tropical Storm Arthur threatening to become a hurricane and visit us in Nova Scotia, we decided it was time to head a bit further north to the Bras D’or Lakes where we would find good protection. Ron was nice enough to chauffeur us to Costco for a final provisioning trip followed by a visit to The Chickenburger, a classic and iconic Halifax eatery, founded in 1940, which we greatly enjoyed. With Arthur now a Category 1 hurricane, we decided to get moving as we had a nice weather window.
Bradley will be providing further details of our passage and storm preparations in a separate post, but our trip was good, marred only by thick fog the entire 30+ hours! This necessitated keeping a very close eye on radar and regular use of our fog horn, but we arrived without incident at the St. Peter’s Canal. In order to enter the Lakes, we need to pass through one lock, so we had a short wait. At the entrance to the canal, a lobster boat had passed us and was docked on the other side of the canal. We shouted over, asking if they had lobsters to sell. The answer was Yes, for $5 a pound! I didn’t waste any time taking two big buckets across to gather six nice lobsters totaling 11 pounds. At least we would have a great pre-hurricane dinner!
Soon we were through the canal and glad we had a track to follow to our anchorage at Little Harbor. We had been there last year and our navigation software keeps a record of our previouse “tracks”. As the fog was still heavy, visibility very poor, and the channel a bit tight with some narrow passages, we were navigating mostly by following our previous track with everyone keeping a keen visual watch to identify every marker and every blip spotted on the radar. We arrived safely at our anchorage and soon were securely anchored in a good spot. All that remained was to cook the lobsters! Although it was a nice evening, the flies were out in full force and they bite as if they are starving, so eating outdoors was not an option. Thus, we had to prepare the salon for lobster eating, which was accomplished by spreading out a large work blanket below our table and a sheet as a tablecloth to catch any flying bits of shell or meat. It worked great and Chef Bradley cooked the lobsters to perfection. Half were eaten with the rest safely secured in the fridge for another day.
Now we are just waiting for Arthur to arrive (he has already left the US and made it to the south end of Nova Scotia). It looks like he will be a tropical storm and will bring some moderate winds with some nice gusts, but we are well protected and feel very secure. We will report more very soon as Bradley has promised to deliver a post by tomorrow! Click any photo to enlarge.
June 24, 2014
This post was written by Bradley contemporaneously during the trip in three separate segments as we cruised from Portsmouth RI, to Shelburne and Lunenburg Nova Scotia. It was edited by the accomplished and charming blogger Kathy Clark.
The last 12 to 15 months have been very personally challenging. My father passed away in Sept. from a multi-year battle with cancer and his brother passed away the day after his internment in Arlington Cemetery in Dec. following a 10+ year battle with dementia. Then two weeks ago, my oldest cousin, who was also born on April 27th, my birthday, passed away. The silver lining has been seeing a lot of family I have not seen in years – 30+ in some cases and even meeting some family I was not aware of. (Classical story, family feud at the grandfather level that began to thaw in the 90’s and now our generation just laugh at the history.)
As you know from our earlier post this year, we had a nice time in the Bahamas, but experienced a few setbacks upon our return to the States, putting us three weeks behind our original plan to arrive in Nova Scotia in early June. Given the current temperature, our delay may have been a blessing in disguise. We have overcome the challenges – we are now on our way to Shelburne, Nova Scotia. We are both extremely excited and a bit apprehensive for our summer season. We are meeting a sister ship in Halifax – a Nordhavn 68 named Migration and Captained by Gulliver, a golden doodle and his two crew. We plan to work our way north to Labrador and if the weather/wind god Zeus, the sea god Poseidon/Neptune and the ice gods are in agreement we will cross over to Greenland. We plan/hope on cruising the west coast of Greenland and then return via Newfoundland in Sept. This winter Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Greenland set 30 year records for ice formation & cold temperatures, so we were hoping for a long warm (by local standards) summer and fall season. We do not plan to return to the US until Oct.
We departed the Nordhavn docks in Portsmouth, RI on Saturday morning at 8:00 AM with three people aboard – me, Kathy, and Taylor, who is onboard for the summer. As we cruised south on the Sakonnet River we were able to wave to our good friends the General and Ms. Burney. We then turned northeast in Buzzard Bay for the Cape Cod Canal. The trick there is to make sure you enter the western side just as the flood tide begins; otherwise you can face a 3 to 5 knot current against you. Our timing was perfect, as going up the bay the ebb was in its last hour and then we started to get a little push on the flood. Going through the canal, we reached speeds of 12.2 and averaged well over 10 knots in a speed zone of 8.5. We were going so fast, we were concerned about a getting a speeding ticket – can you image a Nordhavn getting a speeding ticket? On top of great timing, we were having perfect weather – mid 60’s and sunny.
Once out of the Canal we headed across the Cape Cod Bay towards the northeast corner of Cape Cod – Provincetown & Race Point on a course of NE. At 18:00 we rounded the point and picked up our route and new course for Shelburne – a heading of 68 degrees. Until the sun set, we had an afternoon sea breeze blowing from SE at 10 to 15 knots, but once the sun set, the wind behaved exactly as the weather forecaster had predicted. Sometimes it does happen. The wind clocked to the S, and then through the night moved west, and dropped to low single digits. The ocean had been calm to start with having only 1 to 2 foot swell from the SE, but it too settled and moved around to the WNW at less than 1 foot.
I am drafting this update, as we are 8 hours outside Shelburne, just 50 nautical miles West by South West of Cape Sable. The Air Temp is 58F and the water 50. I am sitting in long sleeves, with sweater (Jumper for all my Australian/Kiwi friends) and have slippers on. I just did our standard hourly engine room check – all is fine – and took humor in the fact that the general temperature of the engine room is 80, with the fans only on half speed. It is not uncommon for the engine room to be 110 to 115 with fans on full speed.
We have had “one of those perfect days on the water”. This morning (Sunday 22 June) I was on watch from 0300 and by 0400 the glow of the rising sun lit the sky in a brilliant red and bright blue glow. The sun made its appearance at 04:43 and will not set until 20:09 this evening. The seas have been flat – in fact so flat, that we have yet to engage our stabilizers – large computer controlled fins under the boat that greatly soften any effects of waves on the boat. If we make it all the way without them, it will be a record trip for us. We have also seen many elusive sunfish. They are large fish 5 to 10 feet, which float lazily below the surface with a fin sticking up above the water. In one case, I had to pull the throttles to neutral to prevent from hitting one, who barely moved, sliding lazily down the starboard side of the boat.
While we have been trailing two fishing lines all day, we have not had a single nibble. These waters require a different fishing approach, but we thought we would give it a try. We always bring the fishing lines in at sunset.
Giday – I am back after a nice early morning sleep. Temp is 65 degrees and will drop into the high 50’s as we cruise north this morning, with perfect blue skies and a light 5 to 10 knot breeze from the South East. The pleasure of not being hot or sticky and needing a shower every couple of hours is hard to describe. One can always add some clothing to fight a chill, but there is only so much one can take off at our age, before it gets frightening and very sunburned – LOL.
Upon leaving you last night as the sun set, I caught a couple hours of sleep, as I knew I would be on watch well into the morning, becasue our arrival time in Shelburne was projected for 02:00. One of the most challenging aspects of cruising is entering a new port or anchorage; it is made even more challenging when doing it at night without the moon (it did not choose to make its appearance until we were about to drop the anchor). After catching a couple of hours of sleep, I came on watch around 22:00. The first part traveling up the coast was not too difficult, as it is a well marked and lit coast and we have great charting software. The more challenging aspect was making the port (left) turn into the Shelburne River and heading up the five miles to find an anchorage. We know from experience (see last years blog) that there are some unmarked fish farms on the way up the river. The good news was we had marked our chart from last year, had last year’s plot line on the chart and the night was fog free.
As you travel from country to country via boat, you have to check in upon arrival with Customs. Some countries use it as a opportunity to supplement customs salaries with tips and gifts, others like most French countries, just make it difficult and then there are the select few like Canada that have wonderfully effective systems. Upon arrival, there is an 800 number you call, you are asked a series of questions, some data bases are searched and if approved you are given a clearance number to post in boat windows. We dropped the anchor and turned off the engines at 0300 on Monday 23 June. Our check in process when smoothly and by 04:00 we had a quick drink and were off to bed for nap.
Kathy and I awoke around 9:00 am and realizing we had a perfect day – light winds, favorable tides – we elected to make the leap to our next port of call – Lunenburg, rather than launch the tender here. We also know the weather was supposed to change and we might be stuck in Shelburne until Friday or Saturday. While Shelburne is a lovely little town and we will definitely spend some time there on the way home, we wanted to take advantage of the perfect conditions to move north. In Lunenburg there is a wonderful museum, a great hiking & riding trail that goes on for hundreds of miles, a golf course, and some of our new friends from last year are close by. We will wait in this area until Gulliver & Migration joins us. Their expected departure from Belfast, Maine is Saturday 28 June. We need some R&R.
By 10:30 we had the anchor up and were underway. It is a perfect day. On the way out of the Shelburne river, we met sailboat Hold Fast that we had exchanged radio calls with on the passage, they were just arriving – the advantages of a trawler, especially in such light winds is that we had already had a nice night’s sleep. While we were looking forward to having drinks with them, we could not pass up this weather to keep heading north.
Below is the first of what I hope to be many pictures for my dear friend Kim in New Zealand of the local lighthouses. This one is Gall Rock.
Another day with no stabilizers and a perfect cruise. I hope we are getting a taste for how the summer season will go, and not spoiled by the perfect conditions. We arrived in Lunenburg at 19:30 local time, just as the sun was setting. We are anchored, will launch the tender tomorrow morning during the Generator run and go ashore for a long bike ride – Bradley and a run – Kathy.
We did have one funny incident today (in retrospect) – as we were cruising along, we elected to deploy the fishing lines. For the first time in my 30 plus years of boating, one of the Canadian government’s illustrious maritime regulatory organizations came roaring up directly in our stern and managed to run directly over our fishing line. Kathy was working on her computer and heard the line being taken – she started yelling Fish! Fish! not realizing we had actually hooked a boat! So much for one of our favorite lures and some very expensive line. When I asked him if it was his normal pattern to approach a boat in its blind spot his reply was he had never seen a boat like ours fishing. It goes without saying, we did not catch any fish and they did not have a clue regarding sea etiquette.
Hope you enjoyed the beginning of our adventure. Look forward to hearing from everyone. Have a great summer/winter.
The Sea is Selective, slow at Recognition of Effort and Aptitude, but fast in Sinking the Unfit. – Felix Riesenberg.