We’re in Canada! Our goal was to arrive here by July 15th, but thick fog kept us sitting at anchor in Flanders Bay across from Bar Harbor for two days. That was pleasant and relaxing, but with the dinghy already lashed to the foredeck for the offshore trip, we couldn’t go ashore. With cabin fever setting in, on Thursday morning, July 17th, after listening to forecasts of more fog, we looked at each other and said, “Let’s go for it!” Other than the fog, the conditions sounded really good for the 164 mile trip: winds about 10 knots and seas “only” 3-4 feet. For once the weather service got it right, and the motion was actually quite comfortable most of the time.
The whole 28 hour passage was in complete contrast to our Cape May to Block Island passage. The biggest difference was that THE AUTOPILOT WORKED!!! Anyone who has ever had to hand-steer a boat for hours on end will appreciate how wonderful it was to sit back and merely watch the instruments! We were able to stand longer watches, allowing the off-watch person to get some rest. This was the first time in five weeks that we’ve had a functioning autopilot, and we are two happy campers... er, sailors.
As for watching the instruments, we watched them most closely, as visibility was only about 50 to 60 FEET the whole way! Suzanne said she now knows what it must be like to drive a submarine, plowing through the water, unable to see what’s around you, and relying totally on the read-out from your instruments! There were little blips on the radar screen all night long -- fishing boats and their nets, most likely. Several times we took evasive action and maneuvered around these little blips, but we never saw the objects of our attention!
What we DID see however, was a big, black fin slicing through the water off our beam shortly after leaving the coast of Maine. SHARK! But no, it was almost too lazy...languidly popping up, then rolling onto its side. We disengaged the autopilot and steered in for a closer look. A giant ocean sunfish! Talk about a prehistoric-looking creature! The thing was about eight feet long, huge and round like a big barrel. It looked like a truncated whale with a shark’s fin! Amazing! It was one of two we saw, but the delay on Suzanne’s digital camera’s zoom lens left us with ten pictures of... ocean. Sigh. You’ll have to take our word for it!
Shortly into the trip we put up our cockpit enclosure. Good thing, too, as the farther out we sailed, the colder it got! By the middle of the night, it was 50 degrees in the cockpit and we were wearing gloves, hat, and rubber boots to fight the damp cold. Without that enclosure, it would have been bad news! At one point Ty needed to go out on deck to take down the mainsail which was banging due to lack of wind. Suzanne asked him to put on his safety harness. He made a face (pick one), until Suzanne told him the water temperature was 43 degrees! If he were to slip and lurch over the side, it would be hard enough finding him in the fog. With temperatures like that, well, suffice it to say, he wore the harness!
Rather than making landfall at Yarmouth, the closest Nova Scotia destination from Bar Harbor, we decided to continue on around the southern tip of the province to Shelburne, on the east coast. We arrived off the mouth of the harbor at 1130 on Friday and sailed out of the fog as if stepping through a door! The five mile trip up the harbor was exhilarating, looking around at the beautiful shoreline under bright sunshine and a crystal-clear blue sky! It was like the scenery we’d seen in Maine, but there were very few houses along the shore. In Maine, every few hundred yards there had been large homes or mansions. We expect it to only get more remote, the farther north we go.
We called customs to check in to Canada, and they insisted on coming to the boat in person... from Halifax. We were not allowed off the boat until they got there -- a three hour drive for them! That didn’t mean others couldn’t come to US, so we shouted over to a nearby cruising boat and invited its owners to join us for a celebratory drink. By the time the customs agents arrived, we had winnowed our liquor supply down to the exact amount allowed! It was a tough job, but we bravely took it on. :-)
So, stay tuned for Canada stories and photos as we explore the coast of Nova Scotia enroute Cape Breton and Bras d’Or Lakes, eh?