Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia!

Cruising Nova Scotia has been fantastic. I mean, who wouldn’t have fun exploring places like Mushaboom Harbour (that’s near Ecum Secum, mind ya), and Port Moutton (pronounced MuttTOON by the locals)?

But the place that wins the prize for best (worst?) names is LOUSE Harbour – ironically the most beautiful place we’ve anchored. The entrance was a little tricky, weaving between some rocky ledges in unspecified depths. Farther into the inlet, we made a turn into a nearly land-locked cove. Our cruising guide said there was an uncharted rock in the narrow channel, so Ty sent Suzanne to the bow to look for it. While up there she commented, “Look at that great blue heron over there!” to which Ty responded, “Can we save the wildlife commentary until we’re past the rocks?” :-)

Suzanne catches her first fish of the cruise -- a 3 lb. cod in Bras d’or Lake

We spent the night there without a soul or building around for miles… just us and the osprey, rocky shores, crystal clear water, spruce trees, and silence. Ty remarked how great it was to be in a place that must have looked the same 100 years ago. When the sun went down, it was completely black…dark like we rarely see it these days… so wonderful to be away from civilization and the loom of lights.

Nova Scotia has the beauty of Maine’s coastline, without the houses or tourist crowds. There are very few other boats up here. Once we got east of Halifax, we only saw about two other boats each day until we reached Cape Breton Island.

…Of course, it was nice to actually SEE boats east of Halifax, because west of Halifax we never even saw the coast for all the fog – over seven solid days of it.

Our coastal piloting and radar navigation skills were put to the test while sailing “blindly” through fog that never cleared until we were well inside each harbor.

The manual blow-in-the-hole fog horn we’d used in Maine proved totally ineffective in the ocean waters off Nova Scotia. We knew any boats out there would never hear that silly little horn over their own engine noise. Approaching the busy Halifax Harbour with visibility under 50 feet and big ships passing us unseen, we pulled out a little air horn like the fans blast at football games. That was MUCH louder, but they don’t last long when you’re blowing them every two minutes for four long seconds at a shot. Ty solved that problem in a most clever way…

Not wanting to spend $200 on a fancy mounted horn like stinkpots (oops, I mean power boats) use, but desiring a 12-volt powered horn that would be heard, we went to a Canada Tire store and bought a car horn. Ty mounted this on a piece of wood to which he also attached a toggle switch. He wired it all to a cigarette lighter plug which allows us to plug it into the 12V adapter in the cockpit (and HIDE it when not in use!).

We tested the thing as soon as we were away from shore, and it works great! A little later we did hear someone on the VHF radio commenting they thought they heard a 57 Chevy blowing its horn out in the middle of the harbor, but we just slinked away in the fog. Ty says the thing looks like a 12 year old’s science experiment. Suzanne said it was so funny looking it needed a name. Now, to fully appreciate the name with which we christened our auto-boat fog horn, you must understand that we have had a long-standing joke about Ty wanting to sneak off to Hooters every place we visit. Well, Suzanne decided we should call the horn the “Hooter,” because it’s cheap, tacky, and loud, just like the… well, enough said!

Anyway, the Hooter did the trick, because we’ve had very little fog since Ty made it. (See Hooter Tooter Ty in the photo section).   

 

We arrived at Cape Breton Island on July 30th and took our fleece jackets off while underway for the first time since we left Maine! With the sea water temperature hovering around 45 degrees, the ocean air had been COLD!!! Once we got moving, we needed gloves, hat, fleece pants and several layers up top, not to mention rubber boots, just to stay warm! We kept reminding ourselves it was summer!  With the water that cold, the inside of the boat was

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it...

downright chilly at times. We had to dig out the electric blanket cord and use just enough 110 juice to take the chill off the sheets before climbing into bed at night!

After locking through St. Peter’s Canal into Cape Breton’s Bras d’Or Lake, however, the water temperature jumped up into the 60’s! What a difference! It finally feels and looks like summer. In spite of what may sound like complaints, we both agree we’d take a little morning and evening chill over heat and humidity any day!

Living and traveling on a boat is an unbeatable way to appreciate nature. We’ve seen quite a few more whales, but none as big as the one off Casco Bay so far, and lots of seals poking their heads up to stare as we sail by. We’ve had two incredible National Geographic Moments, however. The first occurred while walking along the shoreline one evening. Ty looked down into the clear water and said, “Look at that crab! It’s moving a rock.” We looked closely and discovered it wasn’t a rock, but a large mussel shell the crab held in its claws. Then we watched as that crab pried open the mussel shell, deftly reached inside, pulled out the mussel and popped it into its mouth! Amazing! Never knew those little guys were so dexterous! (Not only that, they use their claws real handy-like!) ;-)

The second nature-event-to-remember was in Malagawatch Harbour in the Bras d’Or Lake. We’d gone there because the guide book said, “This is a charming harbor… if you like bald eagles.” !!! We anchored in the center of a cove with no other boats or people around, still basking in the glow of catching dinner at the mouth of the inlet minutes before. We did a 360 degree sweep of the tree line, and sure enough, there perched at the very top of the tallest tree was a large eagle, his white head standing out against the blue sky. He was a good 300 yards away, so we watched him through binoculars. Suddenly, he took off, soaring towards us with his seven foot wingspan, then he swooped down a few feet in front of us and plucked a fish out of the water! The expression “to have an eagle eye” is really accurate! He flew off (probably to deliver his catch to the family), then returned to his perch. Within minutes he took off again, but all of a sudden there were three eagles all converging on the same spot of water! We watched our original eagle until the sun went down, marveling at how majestic they really are.

Speaking of fishing and food, we sure are eating well out here (are you listening, Mom?) Just finished frying up some fresh scallops and serving them on a baguette for lunch. Last night was some Halibut grilled on deck. Other nights it’s homemade pizza, tomato-basil sausage, t-bones smothered in fresh mushrooms, shrimp, lots of fresh veggies… this sailing life is rough!

Yes, we’re still running. Have to to work off all that good food! The only problem is, every run since Massachusetts has been extremely hilly. Suzanne keeps complaining, saying she thought if we were living at sea level, we should be running at sea level, too! Unfortunately, the shoreline is full of killer hills, but that’s what makes it so beautiful up here. We’ve managed to get ashore at least three or four times a week since we left for a five miler or more. What a great way to see more than we normally would just by walking around.

When we DO walk around, however, we meet the nicest people! The Nova Scotia accent is great – very sing-songy – and it gets thicker the farther north we go. Folks are more than willing to give us a lift to or from the grocery store when it’s a hike, or to share a big smile, which seem to be far more common here between strangers than they are back home.

We enjoyed the remoteness of Nova Scotia so much, we decided to go for even more. On August 10th we made the crossing from Cape Breton Island to Newfoundland. Stay tuned for Newfie stories in the next update!