114 West Point, PEI to Liscombe Lodge, Nova Scotia

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Our rental car slowed and began fishtailing on the greasy back road surface. For a brief moment we feared the red sands and mud of Prince Edward Island (PEI) would trap us on the muddy, rain-slick back road of the island. Seconds later we regained traction and continued with our exploration on a rainy day. Over two days we drove the length of the island from our base in Summerside. Gentle rolling hills framed a sequence of quiet country scenes within their gentle valleys. Uncrowded rural roads and towns were a treat to drive and explore. Lavender and pink Lupine splashed color along the roadside. All over the island potato fields, PEI’s big cash crop, looked lush and green.

PEI Fishing Harbor

PEI Fishing Harbor

Tiny fishing boat harbors dot the coast. We poked into a number of them and wondered what it would be like to navigate into their narrow twisting entrances in a storm. At the end of the 6-month lobster season most of the boats are hauled and transported to sit proudly in their owners’ front or side yards waiting for the next season.

Wind Power Generator on PEI

Wind Power Generator on PEI

Canada’s wind generator test facility sits at the north end of the island. Huge blades make a spooky whooshing sound as they rotate in the wind. The structures seemed more like monoliths from some strange cult rather than mundane power generators.

In sharp contrast to the rest of Canada, visitor Information centers far outnumber Tim Horton Donuts Shops on PEI. The Province promotes tourism and has done a great job coordinating efforts into a unified theme. The Province’s claim to fame is ‘Anne of Green Gables’ written over 100 year ago but still a huge tourist draw. One section of the tourist map is “Anne’s Land” the area around which the fictional book is based. The book is still extremely popular in Japan, and we were told it is almost like a pilgrimage for them to visit. Some of the island signage is in Japanese in recognition of the numbers of visitors.

New Friends in Charlottetown

New Friends in Charlottetown

It’s easy to meet people with Odyssey. Everyone is curious to see a trawlercat. We enjoy answering questions and showing the boat, but after a tour most of our guests drift back to their own activities. At Charlottetown marina it was different. Our guests quickly became friends very willing to include us into the marina boating family evident on the dock. Our circle of friends rapidly grew, and we found ourselves visiting other boats to sit, relax swap tales, and learn about PEI life and good places to visit by boat. We feasted on ploys, a unique pancake/crepe Acadian specialty, and had a bit of island brewed ‘shine’ local moonshine. Finally when we were reluctantly leaving we were presented with a box of fresh picked strawberries from our one of our new found friends.

The Bras d’Ors Lakes are a landlocked saltwater cruising ground in Cape Breton Island at the very north tip of Nova Scotia. A unique: “the only tidal lock in the world” according to the lock tenders provides the southern access to the lake. What makes the lock unique is it had four gates instead of two. One set of gates applies when the lakes are higher than the ocean and the other set covers when due to tide the ocean is higher than the lakes.

The morning weather forecast our second day in the Bras d’Ors Lakes was a bit of a shock. Overnight night the tropical depression working it’s way up the coast strengthened in the Gulf Stream and was now Tropical Storm Arthur. Arthur was due to pass over Cape Breton and the Bras d’Ors Lakes with 40-knot wind in the afternoon. The floating docks at St Peters are very nice, but strictly for fair weather. We headed to anchor in a tiny cove in Cape George Harbour. The anchorage is just barely wide enough to swing at anchor. To our relief the storm died, and we continued to enjoy our snug anchorage without worry about the storm.

A friendly wave during a dinghy ride resulted in coffee and tea aboard Wild Bird–five years out of New Zealand on a circumnavigation. Colin and Marion are home schooling Wendy and Rita. After a brief hello the teens disappeared below to continue their studies. That evening aboard Odyssey we chuckled as the girls lobbied their parents to visit Newfoundland so they could see icebergs. One of the girls cheerfully suggested: “We could sail up, see an iceberg, turn around and sail back. Wouldn’t take any time at all, Dad.” My mental calculations figured a minimum of a week and with two crossings of Cabot Straits, which always seem to have gale warnings posted. These are indeed world cruisers.

A police siren burped attracting attention and clearing the roadway in Baddeck. Around the corner came a bicycle built for thirty; the first we’d seen. A laughing party of bikers; three abreast were all pedaling the contraption. Laugher died away as they hit the end of the downhill and started back to work. The bike tours the province raising funds through donations contributed by the riders for a ride.

A visit to the Alexander Graham Bell museum in Baddeck resulted in a major revision of our knowledge of the inventor of the telephone–which is about all we could remember of him. He was born in Scotland and had lived in Canada for a number of years before moving to the US. He lived out the last portion of his life in Baddeck where he was responsible for getting Canada’s first airplane into the air. We also learned that Bell always felt his greatest accomplishment was his work teaching deaf people to speak.

We headed east of Baddeck to look for the wreck site of one Irving Johnson’s Yankees. She had sunk at her mooring in the 1950’s and was never recovered. We never did see remains reported to be visible below the surface. It was during this search that we reached our furthest easting. We’d entered the Atlantic Time Zone in New Brunswick and were now comfortable with being an hour earlier than the Eastern Time Zone. Curious, I did some checking on our electronic charts and discovered we were 270 miles east of Bermuda and 700 miles east of New York City.

On our third try we found an anchorage that suited us. The first had houses visible. The second had a boat already anchored; two or three more would have fit comfortably. The third was great–total wilderness and no one else around. The wooded shoreline in the Bras d’Ors feels like the Chesapeake. However, hills, cleaner water, miles of wilderness shoreline and fewer boats serve as a constant reminder that this isn’t the Chesapeake.

 Eagle Swimming

Eagle Swimming

Through the binoculars the strange movement we spotted in the water turned out to be an eagle swimming in a most ungraceful manner. It would attempt to throw both wings forward much like a butterfly breaststroke swimmer and then pull its body forward. It was doing a very sloppy job. We watched as the very soggy eagle finally made it to shore and hobbled out dragging a fish, which was evidently too heavy for it. One very damp eagle ruffled it’s feathers in a vane effort to regain some of its dignity and slowly started to work on eating the fish. The extreme telephotos we got are a bit sloppy like the eagle, but we love the reminder of our eagle breaststroker.

We were about to relocate to another wilderness anchorage in the Bras d’Ors when we realized we were itchy to see the rocky Nova Scotia coast. A favorable weather forecast pushed us over the edge. Hours later we fueled in St Peters, returned the cruising guide they had lent us (Maritimers are EXTREAMLY friendly and helpful) and headed for the tidal lock.

Routing previously entered into the GPS made it easy to find our way past Canso and through narrow Andrew passage to our coastal run south and west to Liscombe Lodge. A gentle swell made for easy running along the dramatic rocky shore. There are no shallows to trip swells and create surf. Instead they crash directly against rocks in an explosion of white spray even on calm days. We ran for miles with only wild rocky shores and an occasional seal for company.

A short distance into the Liscomb River brought us into tannin stained fresh water. Current increased as the river narrowed and rocky walls climbed to provide shielding from any wind. We picked up a Liscombe Lodge mooring ball and dinghied ashore to stretch our legs after a long travel day.

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