115 Liscombe Lodge to Rouges Roost, Nova Scotia

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A wilderness trail works its way 3 miles up one side of the river to a fish ladder then crosses a suspension bridge to return on the river’s opposite side. For the most part the trail is easy to follow, but rugged and beautiful. In a number of places there are no alternatives except getting muddy feet. Even with all the walking we do, we were beat when we returned because of all the scrambling up and down the mossy rocks and jumping from rock to rock attempting to stay out of creeks.

Nearing the lodge entrance a curl of smoke and the faint scent of wood smoke from the outdoor fireplace caught our eyes and noses. Curious we went over to check out the fire and found hardwood planks holding salmon filets grilling in the heat and smoke from the fireplace. Our planked salmon dinners in the cozy lodge restaurant were our reward for completing the rugged trail. Lingering over dinner was easy. A piano player provided pleasant music. Outside birds fluttered in for their evening meal adding flashes of blues, yellows and reds to the sun dappled trees, rocks and the river below.

Rock just under water

The isolated wilderness we’d been expecting along the St Lawrence, but never found, showed up, as we started southwest running the Inside Passage. It was unnerving to be running along in gentle rollers and suddenly see white water breaking over isolated rocks just below the surface. We had the classic moment of inattention and bumped the bottom. Diving later confirmed all we’d done was remove some bottom paint from the skeg.

The VHF remained silent and we didn’t see another boat as we ran along the Eastern Shore. Shortly after anchoring in Beaver Harbour small boat came in and headed directly for Odyssey. Through binoculars the telltale blue light could be seen; the marine patrol was coming to visit. They were Mounties. The RCMP was out looking for the sailing catamaran that we’d read about the day before. It had dropped 10 illegal immigrants on Liscomb Island and the Coast Guard and RCMP were looking for the boat. Seeing Odyssey, a power catamaran, they took no chances and checked us out. We had a pleasant chat, gave them a boat tour and exchanged cards. Days later one of the Mounties e-mailed us to say hello and find out how we were doing.

Heavy fog provided a good excuse to stay a second day in Shelter Cove. Spectacular scenery and the fun of watching and listening to a young Ospreys practice flying contributed to our decision. A dinghy ride and short hike brought us to the ocean side beach coexisting with rocky outcroppings. Walking and climbing we worked our way along the shore while enjoying the ocean’s soft hiss and splash as it played with sand and rocks. The fog turned everything shades of gray muted colors complementing the soft ocean sounds. Returning to the dinghy we found the rapidly receding tide had almost trapped us. The rocks we’d passed between while heading for shore were now more exposed, and we were in a small pond in the bay. It took some squeezing and shoving to get the dinghy out of the pond.

McNabs Island provided one more wilderness delay before Halifax. Its strategic location in the entrance to Halifax Harbour resulted in it being heavily fortified with shore guns in the days before guided missiles and bombers made such installations obsolete. Now it’s a wilderness island visited by day camp kids and hikers. We’d learned about it from our conversation with Paul and Tracey while in Shelter Cove and decided to anchor off and explore the old fortifications. A chance hello to a Walter and Mattie biking the island resulted in a fun chat and their contributing a print out of the island history they’d downloaded from the Internet while at home in CT. Someday Halifax will have a unique island park, but we were glad to have a chance to visit it before it becomes “official”.

Reluctant to visit the Halifax first thing in the morning, we explored up the Northwest Arm and dropped the anchor. A small fleet of sailing prams, each carrying two kids trying to figure out how sails worked slowly drifted past as we had breakfast. Their instructors flitted around in a dinghy patiently telling kids how to adjust sails to make them work better, or in many cases, just work.

Bluenose II

Ruth and her carved stacked Bluenose dories

The Bluenose, symbol of Canada’s maritime history, sails majestically on the Canadian dime. Bluenose II was just raising sails as we entered Halifax Harbour. We stopped to watch as she slowly sailed on out of the harbor. Hours later Ruth stood at Bluenose II’s bow holding the stacked dories she’d carved many years ago as a first step toward making a scale model of the Bluenose. The model was never finished, but the dories have traveled with us everywhere.

Fireboats spraying high fans of water from their nozzles escorted Theodore TOO (Nova Scotia’s second famous boat) to the wharf to help celebrate Natal Day. Poor Theodore has fallen on hard times. The corporation owning the full-scale recreation of the boat in children’s stories and TV show has filed for bankruptcy. It took special efforts to get Theodore II released for Natal Day. We’ve seen him a number of places along the ICW and got a special kick out of seeing him in his homeport.

Halifax’s farmers market is by far the best we’ve seen. We wandered along slowly accumulating bags of goodies while sorting out the rabbit warren of buildings holding the market. It was fun to moving with the crowds while discovering the odd diversions in each new area. The variety of choice was incredible. Vegetable and homemade sausage booths stood next to fine carvings and paintings. Of course, baked goods tempted us as always. Home baked bread went into a bag. Fresh baked sweet rolls tasted great as we worked our way along enjoying the smells, colors and excitement of a crowded market.

Tracey Ruth and Paul setting up picnic on lobster traps

Bright sun compromised with fog producing brightly veiled scenes along the Fundy coast. Paul and Tracey found their way to a fishing wharf at the end of a road and proceeded to treat us to a picnic lunch. A tablecloth spread over a low stack of lobster traps was soon covered with all kinds of luncheon goodies. We’d met days earlier while anchored out together in Shelter Cove and had immediately enjoyed one another’s company. Now our hosts were treating us to a day of exploring Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley and the Fundy Coast. On our way to Fundy, we stopped at Grand Pre’ where we learned about the Deportation imposed on the Acadians in the 1700’s.

We were at low tide on the Bay of Fundy; fulfilling one of those personal ‘must do’ items we’d talked and dreamed about. Walking out the rough wharf we towered over boats settled on the tide-revealed bottom below. We scrambled down the rocks and walked beside the floating dock now also aground and then walked next to the boats on the smooth rock bottom looking up at stark wharf softened somewhat by the lingering fog. Just off the wharf gentle waves played with the rocky shore, their fog-muffled sounds mingling with calls of gulls. We left the coast reluctantly, the beautiful country scenes during the ride back just added to our perfect day.

We were tied up immediately behind Mar II on Murphy’s Wharf in Halifax. Mar II, is a classic wood boat which provides sailing tours of Halifax Harbour. Each morning we’d duck under and step over her lines to head out to enjoy Halifax and its exciting waterfront. Late afternoon we’d head back to relax in Odyssey’s cockpit.

Pier 21, the cruise ship terminal and emigrant-landing museum anchors the start to Halifax Harbour Walk. A couple miles beyond, a casino anchors the other end of the pedestrian friendly waterfront. In between there’s a wonderful mix of tour boats of every description, museums, art galleries, shops, street vendors, buskers, delis, and restaurants. The average tourist might spend a half-day or day walking the wharfs enjoying the sights, sounds and tastes of the area. We stayed days and always managed to tease out something new and enjoyable each day.

The Nova Scotia Art Museum housed Maud Lewis’s entire house, all 10 x 12 feet of it. A self-taught artist who suffered most of her life with rheumatoid arthritis painted bright cheery scenes. She also painted most of the surfaces of her tiny house turning it into a work of art now famous in Nova Scotia.

A chip wagon tucked in along the wharf provided outstanding fish and chips. We munched our goodies sitting on a bench people watching. Just down the wharf a piper played Scotland the Brave. Each day seemed to add another unique experience or two our Halifax impressions.

We kept the VHF tuned to Halifax Traffic while relaxing aboard. Commercial vessels transiting the harbor clear by radio. Alerted by the radio traffic, we’d watch container ships, car carriers or cruise ships enter and leave the harbor. Tour boats also cleared with Halifax Traffic so we knew when Peggy’s Cove Express was returning or when Hopper an amphibious tour duck would be making its regular passages off Odyssey’s stern.

With mixed emotions we reluctantly left Halifax. Another weekend festival would have been fun to experience, but we were also eager to see what was around the corner and had enough of city life for a bit. An early morning run brought us to Rouges Roost, a wilderness anchorage hidden by surrounding rocky hills. As we crept in we found boats anchored in both the north and south anchorage. We worked our way down into a tiny cove and found just enough depth and room to swing. Mumbling about having to get used to having more than one or two boats in an anchorage, we set to work to inflate our kayak to explore the surrounding area.

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