Liscomb Harbor and Liscombe Lodge

Thursday, July 21st

Today we made even less progress than yesterday, but this was actually our plan. Much as we’d hoped to wake up to a flat calm day that allowed us to run the remaining distance to Halifax, the forecast didn’t support that dream.

A more realistic destination would be Liscomb Harbor, around 15 miles along our intended track (but 25 miles underway, counting travel in and out of the harbors.) There are several good options in Liscomb Harbor which would afford good protection should the weather continue to deteriorate over the next few days, as forecast.

We left early, with the winds still calm and the waters of the harbor flat. But out in the open Atlantic, the seas from yesterday’s blow had not yet abated. These conditions often lead to large, but long and gentle swells, which can be very comfortable to travel over.

Not today. The seas were short and choppy. Although most were probably in the 3 foot range, there were enough 4, 5 and even 6 footers that it quickly became apparent we wouldn’t be going any farther than Liscomb.

We made a wide turn into Liscomb Harbor, keeping the Southwesterly seas off our port bow for as long as possible before running the last couple of miles with the seas right on our beam, which makes for a very rolly ride.

Once in the lee of the land, things settled down nicely for a very picturesque ride up the river.
Entering Liscomb Harbor

What a treat after the open ocean! Osprey flying overhead, the quiet, tree-lined water, the church steeple of the little town of Liscomb on our right, small coves and islands along the way. Did I mention CALM water?
Liscomb Harbor

We threaded our way up the increasingly narrow channel to the dock at Liscombe Lodge. (Yes, the lodge spells the name with an “e” but the town and harbor don’t. No clue why.)
Docked at Liscombe Lodge

This place is a gem! For about the same price as tying up to the mackerel unloading wall at some fishing outport with no services, we’re at a full-service resort. Water and (reliable) electric at the dock. Free (reliable!) Wi-Fi. Pool, spa, gym, hot tub, nice restaurant, walking and hiking trails, free use of kayaks, bikes and even the dockmaster’s car if we need to go to town. And, even though we can feel the wind picking up already, it’s calm and protected way up here where the water is more fresh than salt.
River at Liscombe Lodge

If the forecast remains unpleasant starting tomorrow and through Saturday and Sunday, we have no intention of leaving here. We’ve set up a tab at the resort office, and Chester, the dockmaster, has assured us we can stay as long as we want. We just have to be out by October when they pull in the docks.

PS: There’s no cell service here. Text messages to my Canada number will be replied to when we return to civilization. Or text to the InReach.

  • Miles traveled: 1615
  • Engine Hours: 230.6

Fisherman’s Harbor

Wednesday, July 20th

Strong Southwest winds were again forecast for Wednesday, so we slipped out of Cape Canso Marina early, in heavy fog, hoping to get some travel time in before the seas built.

We had moderate success. The developing Southwesterlies cleared the fog after an hour or so, but also started kicking up some heavy seas. We took the inside route, Andrews Passage, out of Canso but soon had to face open water. We got past the first couple of possible anchorages but finally threw in the towel and took the inside passage to Country Harbor. One anchorage, Harbor Island Cove, seemed too exposed as the wind continued veering a little more Westerly. So we crossed Country Harbor to hole up in Fisherman’s Harbor just to the West.
Fisherman's Harbor

There is a very small municipal wharf at Fisherman’s Harbor, but it looked full, and we were really interested in the highly-rated anchorage just outside the wharf. We needed a place with protection from the West and Southwest, as well as good holding for our anchor.

This was it! The wind howled all afternoon, and even this little harbor kicked up some whitecaps. We were very glad for the protection of the shore and the black, sticky mud bottom that held our anchor like glue as the boat swung with every gust. We had put 40 miles under our keel today, not bad for such awful conditions.

Later in the evening, the winds let up considerably and we enjoyed another beautiful sunset and a calm night.
Sunset at Fisherman's Harbor

We were also optimistic that Thursday’s forecast strong winds would again hold off until mid-day, allowing us to make more progress if we started early enough.

  • Miles traveled: 1590
  • Engine Hours: 227.0

Cape Canso

Tuesday, July 19th

Today’s mission was to cross Chedabucto Bay and reach the town of Canso, on the Northeast tip of the Nova Scotia mainland, for a total of 25 miles.

With stiff winds forecast from the Southwest, this had to potential to be uncomfortable on a Southeast heading since Cygnus rolls a bit in a beam sea.

After an initial scare as some thunderstorms crossed South of us, we found the the winds had a more Southerly component than anticipated, and we were able to take the waves at a better angle.
Crossing Chedabucto Bay

We arrived at the Cape Canso Marina in just three and half hours, and were welcomed warmly on the floating docks. It’s a tiny marina and campground, and Parks Canada runs a tour boat out of here to a nearby park on an island. Anchoring near the park would have been our 2nd choice destination.
Cape Canso Marina
Cape Canso Marina

After Canso, we will next hit the open North Atlantic.

Between here and Halifax, there are few towns and fewer marinas. Unlike the Gaspé, however, there are more options for anchoring.

We’re not liking the long-range forecast. The next two days look iffy, and no improvement after that. But forecasts and conditions change. We’ve had good luck so far, travelling when the weather looks good and enjoying “in port” days when it doesn’t.

  • Miles traveled: 1550
  • Engine Hours: 221.1

Strait of Canso

Monday, July 18th

Finally, a shorter travel day; 28 miles, underway for less than five hours.

We crossed St. George’s Bay and completed the Northern part of the Strait of Canso and the Canso Lock, at the base of Cape Breton Island.
Canso Lock

Port Hawkesbury is a somewhat industrial area, with gypsum mining a big business. The rocks are a little less red here. In places it looks like they’re pushing mountains of gypsum down to the shore.
Gypsum Mining

The Strait of Canso Yacht Club manages the small Port Hawkesbury Marina here, and made room for Bear Keeper and us (barely).
Port Hawkesbury Marina

  • Miles traveled: 1525
  • Engine Hours: 217.6

Cape George, NS

Sunday, July 17th

The winds were calm so we decided to leave early and make a 57-mile run for George’s Bay. This avoided a lot of ports with less than stellar reviews, and put us in a good position to have some easier days ahead.
Amet Sound Sunrise

It was an uneventful day. Not much too see except the red cliffs as we passed land.
Red Cliffs, Cape George, NS

We’re at Ballantyne’s Cove, a man-made harbor just around the tip of Cape George. For the first time this trip, there was no space on the floating docks so we’re tied up to the wall like a fishing boat.
Ballantyne's Cove

Although lobster season is over for now, we noticed that some fishermen here use the bowed wooden traps that were common decades ago in New England
Wooden Bow Traps

We’re hoping tomorrow will be a shorter trip. And a longer post.

  • Miles traveled: 1497
  • Engine Hours: 213.0

Nova Scotia

Saturday, July 16th

The winds were starting to abate a little during our last day in Summerside, and the forecast for Saturday was much more favorable. We were treated to a nice sunset and spent some time with all our new friends on the dock. We also ran into the crew of S/V Napoleon, with whom we’d had the campfire on the beach back at Escuminac.
Summerside Sunset

Provisioned and ready for a smooth day of cruising, we set out to cross Northumberland Strait again, under the Confederation Bridge and back 50 miles toward the mainland.
Confederation Bridge

Several cruising boats had holed up in Summerside, waiting out the blow, including our friends on Bear Keeper. The weather was as calm as predicted most of the day.
Bear Keeper Underway

Although they didn’t get much sailing in, Bear Keeper made it to our mutual next destination, Amet Sound, Nova Scotia, shortly after us, and before a moderately strong squall line went through to our South. The rock-hard sand bottom challenged our anchor in the sudden winds, but in the end it held with only a brief scare when it reset after a wind shift.

Once the winds let up, we were treated to yet another full rainbow, followed by another nice sunset perfectly framing Bear Keeper at anchor.
Sunset with Bear Keeper in Amet Sound

Bear Keeper, like Cygnus, is named after a celestial object. The star Boötis (pronounced Boh-oh-tease) follows Ursa Major around the Pole Star, Polaris. The constellation Ursa Major, which contains the Big Dipper, is the Great Bear. Boötis is the “Bear Keeper.”

  • Miles traveled: 1440
  • Engine Hours: 204.7

Day 2 on PEI

Thursday, July 14th

The wind is stiff out of the Southwest, and it looks like it was the right call to sit out today and tomorrow in Summerside.

The club here is great, everyone’s very friendly and interested in our trip. Last night we met a local sailing couple who passed along some great advice about the PEI, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia coasts ahead of us, before leaving today with another couple on a sail to Bras d’Or Lakes. Obviously they’re more comfortable in these conditions than we are.

We decided to try a light supper at the restaurant here at the marina, just ordering from the appetizer menu. I ordered “pachos”, described as like nachos, except using waffle-cut potato chips instead of tortilla chips. This may not have exactly achieved the desired result of a “light” supper:

This will be a good stop to top off provisions and pick up some other items we may need. Within a short walk, we’ve already found a supermarket, auto parts store, home improvement store, office supply store and laundromat. There are also quite a few options for dining.

Across Northumberland Strait

Wednesday, July 13th

Doesn’t the name “Northumberland Strait” sound salty?
Across Northumberland Strait

Much as we wanted to stay another day and rest in Shediac, we noticed that the weather forecast for today was perfect, while strong winds are predicted for Thursday and Friday. We’d heard good things about our next port, Summerside on Prince Edward Island, only 34 miles away. We figured we’d take advantage of the good weather to hop across the strait. After walking the tourist strip in Shediac, there really wasn’t much else for us to do there.

In Shediac, the high point of the week is “wings night” at Captain Bill’s, the restaurant/bar right across the street from the marina. I’m not really sure that the wings have anything to do with it. The real draw seems to be live music and excessive drinking, with an occasional fistfight, or so we’re told. We didn’t participate, but I can confirm the part about the live music. It sounded like a good time was had by all.

The facility we’re at now on PEI is called the Summerside Curling and Yacht Club. Yes, curling. The olympic “sport” with the slow-moving stone puck and team members with little brooms. I guess this way, they’ve got something to do both summer and winter.
Summerside Yacht Club

Here we met up with our friends from S/V Bear Keeper, who have been travelling the same route since Quebec City.
Bear Keeper at Summerside

On another note, we’ve left the Acadian Peninsula and are now firmly in Celtic (read English-speaking) territory!

  • Miles traveled: 1390
  • Engine Hours: 197.5

On the Road Again…

Tuesday, July 12th

With the engines back on-line by Monday afternoon, there was nothing to do but wait out our last night in Escuminac Harbor.
Sammy on Deck

Again we were treated to a picture-postcard sunset, right from our aft deck.
Sunset from our Deck

We were also invited to an impromptu driftwood campfire on the beach by our neighbors in Napoleon, the sailboat next to us:
Campfire on the Beach

As predicted, Tuesday was clear and calm. Our destination, 40 miles away, was Sawmill Point Boat Basin, a boat club that’s highly rated and relatively inexpensive. After the friendly but spartan Escuminac Harbor, this seemed like it would be a treat.

The weather was just too good to stop after only 40 miles. We continued on to Shediac Harbor and Pointe du Chene Yacht Club, another highly-rated facility another 20 miles down the coast, for a total of 60 miles underway.
Pointe du Chene Yacht Club

This club, with about 140 slips, is a great facility run by a great manager, Walter. It’s also just steps away from a popular strip with swimming beaches, gift shops, marinas, restaurants and charter cruise boats. The entire harbor was turned over to the town by the federal government, and they’re building it up as a tourist destination. There’s even a gate where they ask for a $2 per car entry fee, which has helped defray the costs of maintaining the breakwaters and facilities. Luckily we’re already on the other side of the gate, so we got to walk the strip and buy overpriced food at the tourist restaurant.

This harbor claims to be the “lobster capital” of the Americas. We’ve had to explain to the locals that we’re not buying it; we’re from Maine. But the lobster roll at the restaurant was good.

Ever since leaving the Gaspé peninsula, we’ve seen fewer towering cliffs and less deep water just off shore. In fact, when leaving Escuminac we had to motor a mile or two offshore before we could turn South. Even so, we were in 20-30 feet of water much of the morning.

Arriving at Shediac, we found even skinnier water. There are sand bars miles out. The narrow channel twists and turns, and at the entrance to the man-made inner harbor there’s a narrow channel right along the rocks of the breakwater, with a 180-degree blind turn at the end. Everybody has to sound one prolonged blast on the horn entering or leaving, and listen for anyone coming the other way.

  • Miles traveled: 1356
  • Engine Hours: 192.7

Both Engines Back on Line

Monday, July 11th

We tracked down our friend Paul, who came over and looked at the pump. He took it apart right on the dock, and re-assembled the section with the shutoff switch. I’m getting pretty good at re-installing this pump, so this time it only took about an hour. I also shortened up the lever that pulls the shutoff. We’re still not sure which was the fix, but the engine runs, and more importantly, stops, flawlessly now.

Another boater from Quebec, also here waiting for a part, received word today that it will be in tomorrow.

When we arrived Saturday, we found the lobster totes all arranged in a big square in the parking lot.
Party Location

It turns out there was a big end-of-season party scheduled for that night, but it had been postponed util this coming Saturday due to the forecast of rain. Everyone says it’s going to be a great time, and the band is very good. I can’t honestly say we’re sorry we’re going to miss the party, but it would have been nice to see.

Lobster season here is short. There’s a two-month window in May and June, and another starting in the fall. In between, many boats are up on shore, while others stay idle at the dock. Lobster boats here are a little different from the ones in Maine, but they’re all very similar to each other. They’re about 35-40 feet long, with a small, fully-enclosed house far forward and the rest all open deck.
Lobster Boats

Most have two hydraulic haulers mounted one at each quarter. The boats are wide, with a lot of flair forward but a nearly plumb stem, at least below the flare. All but a few have a rectangular “arch” over the house for lights, antennae and electronics. Single diesel engines forward (mostly Cummins) with wet exhaust, either through the transom or right through the side of the hull near the engine.

They’re sturdy-looking boats, and from what I’ve seen they handle very well.

One other thing that we like about this harbor is, as I’ve mentioned, everyone speaks English. A few native speakers, but most as a second language. Even the signs are in English and French, unlike Quebec where almost all were only in French. Sometimes English is even on top!
Stop Sign