2013-07 Bras D’Or Lake

August 6, 2013

Tyler on the bow as we navigate the St. Peter Canal and enter the Bras D'Or Lake

Tyler on the bow as we navigate the St. Peter Canal and enter the Bras D’Or Lake

The Bras D’or Lake is the Nova Scotia equivalent of the Great Lakes – an inland sea in the middle of Cape Breton Island with beautiful harbors and sheltered anchorages. One key difference is the Great Lakes are fresh water, while this is 75% salted. This is perhaps cruising at its best! After passing through the St. Peter Canal, we stopped in the town of St. Peter and reunited with our friends Kristina and Atle on Summer Star. We explored the town and hiked back to the canal and along the shore. We had a nice dinner out with some live music. Then it was on to Little Harbor, a short trip north where we met up with Milt and Judy on Bluewater. Summer Star soon joined us and we also met some new friends, Tish and Rob aboard Kittiwake, a 75-foot custom steel boat. Rob is 86 years old and a lifelong merchant mariner. He joined the Navy in 1943 at age 17 and was aboard a Navy ship at the battle of Iwo Jima. Since then he has captained every imaginable kind of vessel, including super tankers, research vessels, passenger ships, and even sailboats. He is a walking encyclopedia of maritime knowledge and a delight to spend time with. His wife Tish is an accomplished mariner in her own right and she and I have had some great adventures together. We exchanged boat tours and enjoyed seeing the design of Kittiwake, which Rob and Tish designed and had built. Rob also gave some sextant lessons to Tyler, who is interested in learning celestial navigation.

Tish and Rob with Kittiwake

Tish and Rob with Kittiwake

Little Harbor is a beautiful anchorage and it was just our four boats anchored there. We explored the area by kayaking, biking, and hiking and enjoyed the feeling of quiet and solitude. There is a restaurant ashore, run by a German couple who have made part of their beautiful log-cabin home a restaurant, where we enjoyed a very nice meal. Aside from that, there is not a commercial establishment anywhere to be seen. The main road has very little traffic and there are many nice places to hike.

From Little Harbor, we traveled north to Baddeck, again meeting up with Bluewater and later also joined by Summer Star. We anchored in Herring Cove, a nice spot just north of the town where we stayed for a couple days. Baddeck is a great small town where Alexander Graham Bell had a summer house and spent a lot of time. We enjoyed visiting the Bell Museum and learning about Bell’s many interests and accomplishments aside from the invention of the telephone. Among other things, he was very involved in early flight and also developed hydrofoil boats. 

Washabuck River

Washabuck River

Bradley returned to the US for his father’s 80th birthday party in Florida, so we moved the boat to a more sheltered anchorage at Indian Point in the Washabuck River where we would be safe during his absence. Only a few miles from Baddeck, which we can get to easily in our tender, the anchorage is peaceful and isolated – we see more bald eagles than people here. It also offers some great adventure kayaking and hiking. We were soon joined in the anchorage by Kittiwake and I was joined by Atle and Kristina and later by Tish on long kayak trips up the river. Atle and Kristina were anchored near the town dock, so we had to transport their kayaks to our anchorage; luckily they fit nicely into our tender. On every kayak outing, we saw at least one and often more bald eagles as the undeveloped shoreline of the lake makes it a natural attraction for them. Birds of many kinds are plentiful and we saw two families of ducks with large broods and many species of land and sea birds. Our kayaking took us through some areas that had not seen humans for awhile as we had to find ways around many fallen trees and other obstructions along the way. I also explored many of the small coves on my own, marveling at the feeling of peace and solitude and the sheer beauty of the landscape.

Kathy marks the trail on the wilderness hike

Kathy marks the trail on the wilderness hike

Though there are no real hiking trails that we could find, Tish and I did some wilderness hiking. We saw some trees that had been marked with orange tape, making us wonder if there was a trail. It turned out to be a property line that had been surveyed which allowed us to follow the markers for awhile but they soon ran out. Not to be deterred, when those markings ran out, we contined on, marking our own trail as we went. Just to be safe, we carried a hand-held GPS and VHF radio, as it is easy to become disoriented in the wilderness! After “bushwhacking” for nearly an hour, we ran out of trail-marking material and headed back, taking time to enjoy the forest with its beautiful pines as well as deciduous trees, many kinds of moss and ferns, and even some wild blueberries which were small but good! Bug spray kept the deer flies at bay and long pants protected our legs, so we emerged relatively unscathed and feeling like true explorers.

Kathy and the ferry driver

Kathy and the ferry driver

I enjoyed a round of golf at the beautiful Bell Bay golf course with views overlooking Baddeck Harbor, found a few geocaches, and discovered a couple nice hiking trails in Baddeck. I also took the free ferry over to Kidston Island, a 5-minute trip across from Baddeck where there are two lighthouses, a beach, and a nature trail. The “ferry” is a small platform with a little outboard motor used to make the 200 yard trek from the town dock to Kidston Island. However, it requires a “Safety Assistant” selected from the passengers to be in charge in case anything should happen to the Captain. On my trip, I was selected and listened as the captain explained that I was responsible for ensuring all passengers remained seated with their life vests fastened. He also explained how to turn off the motor and radio for help in case of an emergency. I even got to wear a “Safety Officer” badge. Oh, did I mention,there was ONE other passenger onboard. I’m please to report that we arrived safely in both directions! 

Milt and Judy on Bluewater set off for Newfoundland while Randy and Rebecca on Argo arrived in Baddeck. One of the best parts of this season has been the opportunity to cruise with other people and we have really enjoyed the chance to spend time with our old and new friends.

There is a short (5 min) video titled Why We Cruise, which shows some of the highlights of our last month, including the unique experience of being mooned by a bald eagle! Check out the Shenandoah page for some new photos. I am way behind on book reviews, but will include some in my next update! See brief technical update below photos. I’ve included below a few more photos from our time in Lunenburg. Click any photo to enlarge and send us a reply or comment – we love to hear from you!

Technical issues

The last time I reported on technical issues we were awaiting receipt of a replacement inverter from Mastervolt. I’m happy to report that the inverter arrived shortly after that post and has been installed and working without problem ever since. In that same post I had reported on some modifications made to our tender to replace the large center seat with a lean-bar to create more space. Photos of the before and after are below.

  1. #1 by Markus on July 5, 2015 - 12:08 am

    To make your home physical appearance a good deal better from all the
    way, install a block surface and also cover.


  2. #2 by Christeen Tolle on August 8, 2013 - 6:58 am

    Hi Kathy and Bradley,

    I enjoyed reading your new post. Can I just say Rob doesn’t look anything close to 86? I hope I age as well as he has and stay as active, also.



  3. #3 by John Maurer on August 7, 2013 - 8:47 am

    Love reading your blog! Excellently written with some great pictures that make me feel like I am there with you. Is anyone a member of Active Captain? I would hope that someone was so they could leave markers about the places you visit and anchor. I hope to one day explore that area on my own and would love to have some great information to base my travels on. Wishing you calm seas and glorious sunsets!


  4. #4 by h3steinhauer on August 6, 2013 - 8:21 pm

    Kathy and Bradley, I love your posts. Your writing style continues to be just as if I was there talking with you and letting you ramble on about all of the adventures that you are having with out having to say – – uh and uhm inbetween. These are great to read and listen to (in my head I hear your voice reading them to me – well maybe as a presentation and I’m just in the crowd enjoying the pictures).

    So many bald eagles – that must be amazing to see.

    One of your techie friends from the past. – – – These are so great to see posted and to see the great things you are doing.



  5. #5 by Bob Edey on August 6, 2013 - 7:14 pm

    Kittiwake is another of those delightful sites we’ve enjoyed for the past four or so years as she has been stopping over on her voyages north in early summer and her return in late fall. I do prefer Shear Madness’s colour scheme though.


  6. #6 by McDonald.Joanne on August 6, 2013 - 7:10 pm

    Loved you last post. Thirty -one years ago Jonas and I spent our honeymoon in Baddeck. Great to see your pictures! I enjoy reading you posts…you are living a grand life. I
    Continue to have fun
    Best wishes

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Tablet


  7. #7 by Harris Miller on August 6, 2013 - 5:55 pm

    I saw the word “bras” in the title and got very excited. You shouldn’t tempt people like that.

    Anyhow, thanks for the report. Sounds like things are going very well and I am glad you were able to get some golf into your schedule.

    We are busy with our new grandson, Hiram, who was born June 12. We are flying to Boston tomorrow to help my son, daughter in law and grandson move into their new digs in Cambridge. Haven’t played much golf and haven’t played well, but I am keeping at it to the extent I can.

    Best to Bradley.


    From: Shear Madness Reply-To: Shear Madness Date: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 5:18 PM To: Harris Miller Subject: [New post] 2013-07 Bras DOr Lake

    WordPress.com Kathy Clark posted: “August 6, 2013 The Bras D’or Lake is the Nova Scotia equivalent of the Great Lakes an inland sea in the middle of Cape Breton Island with beautiful harbors and sheltered anchorages. One key difference is the Great Lakes are fresh water, while this is 75”


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