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.