So Long, Halifax

So Long Halifax….

We departed from Halifax (2.0) this morning at 0600 and it was with mixed emotions that we said goodbye to this wonderful city. Some of you will recall that we only re-visited Halifax due to the necessity of acquiring legal paperwork necessary for the sale of a piece of property. This second visit; however, proved to be even nicer than the first and the reasons for this are many. First, our friends whom we met in Baddeck live in Halifax and in addition to sharing with us “local info” on places to go/eat etc, they visited and played with us. Truth be told, there is nothing that brings a city to life faster than spending “real” time with the people who live and work and thrive there. The Langleys truly thrive in this lovely city and they shared with us the many reasons why.

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This second “go round” included amazing trips to several fantastic “world class” dining establishments. On the first trip we sort of meandered around near the waterfront and found places to eat – never really disappointed but certainly not raving days later about the experience. Funny how I forgot one of my rules of travel which is to, whenever possible, get as far from the hotel (or tourist attractions) as possible to find the best food. Following Amanda’s advice on restaurants took us (except for one notable exception – AMano Italian on the waterfront in Bishops landing) much further away than the waterfront but not further than a walk or bike ride. We also found our way into several shops, the library, Canada’s oldest children’s bookstore, another bookstore and the most amazing charcuterie shop there ever was. The Langley’s came over for dinner one night and they spent the day with Jack yesterday afternoon so that Alec and I could enjoy an afternoon together finishing our sentences and focusing on each other while we were still awake enough to do so:-)

All in all, there is little that could have made this week any more enjoyable – whats more- we spent more time waiting for the weather to depart than we did waiting for the paperwork to arrive. This has also been Jack’s first week of school and while we are definitely working through some growing pains with all of us learning new skills, it looks promising.

So whats next…

We departed 8 hours ago and we are following the beautiful Nova Scotia coastline dotted with the most fantastic rock formations and picture post card lighthouses one has ever seen.

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Jack and I have taken our medicine to combat our recent onset of mal de mar – which even despite the larger swells from fairly consistent and organized seas on the bow, we are doing very well. It is my hope that we can continue until we arrive in Southwest Harbor, Maine tomorrow afternoon around 1400. We left it as a possibility that we could “duck in” if the seas were too uncomfortable but with a forecast of improving conditions through Sunday am – we will likely just continue on our present path. I took a photo of the route this morning before departure. It is pictured below.

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We aren’t certain for how long we will stay in SW Harbor but the next reservation we have set is in Martha’s Vineyard for September 10th. We have 2 friends scheduled to come visit us and Alec’s brother and SIL may be able to join as well. This together with a possible stop to visit them should ensure lots of fun family and friend time.

Thats all for now – Thanks for reading

Little Harbor, Liscombe and the Bras d’Or Lake

Little Harbor and the Bras d’Or lake

If you read the last post, you were probably expecting to see Prince Edward Island at the title of today’s post. One of the best things about this type of travel is that, on a whim and at the last minute, plans can be altered. In fact, holding too tightly to a plan when traveling in general but traveling by boat in particular, can have devastating consequences at the worst and at the least, will probably result in frustrated or exhausted crew mates. Going with the flow is essential. So when we got the call from the Bahamas that we would need one additional document notarized and certified, there is no way we could leave the province without having this taken care of. A certification is a document from the capital of the state or province in which you had a document notarized verifying that the person notarizing a document is authorized to do so. In our country this would likely have taken several weeks but in Halifax it only took 5 days the last time we were here. The sale of our property was to have closed on August 1 and dragging it out any longer could have very costly repercussions. So the decision was made that after PEI we would head back to Halifax for another week. Unfortunately, after discussing this with our buddy boat and sleeping on what this would mean for the overall timetable, it was decided that leaving PEI for another time would be more prudent. All decisions in life have an upside and a downside and this was just such a decision. While we missed seeing PEI, we did get a chance to enjoy the Bras d’Or lake and its many cuts and inlets. We were able explore by Kayak and dinghy and saw lots of eagles, a mink, seals (or otters), and we were able to do so in pristine conditions. Nova Scotia is well known for it’s fog outside of the lake but we had no such conditions during our entire stay in the Bras d’Or lakes region. It could not have been lovelier with near perfect temperatures and weather. We also had a chance to re-connect with other buddy boats Bluewater and Happy for another evening of cocktails and laughs.

 

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Having gained the windfall of additional time, we decided to leave ourselves enough time to explore some of the anchorages and cities that we skipped heading East and what a windfall that was. Working our way to Halifax we stopped in Liscomb for what we thought would be just a night. After a 10 hour run in what we anticipated would benign conditions, we had a rather confused sea state with 2-4’ waves off the bow – ideal conditional for mal de mar (seasickness). Jack and I felt lousy the entire day. A perfect opportunity to re-valuate the timetable and make some adjustments. Upon arriving in Liscomb we anchored and called the “lodge” to make reservations for dinner. What a treat this place was! Not only did we enjoy one of the nicest and most delicious meals we have had in Nova Scotia, but we also discovered that there is a 10km (6 mile) trail along the river. This together with the wonderful kayak opportunities, we decided that there was no rush to press on. We ended up staying here for 3 days enjoying 2 delicious meals at the lodge, hiking the 6 mile trail – which was moderate intensity in places but stunning and well worth the effort. As we were walking up to dinner, the dock-master asked us if we had been to the town of Sherbrooke Village which is nearby. Of course we hadn’t and in such a remote area, we had no ability to rent a car. April (April K) not to be too subtle asked “how might one get there with no car?” to which Chester, the dock-master replied, why you would drive my car!. So we did in fact, borrow Chesters car and head to that 150 year old town.

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I remember vaguely going to Williamsburg, PA when I was a young child and I believe this was probably the same. What we loved about it was that we have been teaching Jack (and re-learning ourselves) so much history lately, and this helped to solidify those lessons. Since we just learned about Alexander Graham Bell, this little town represented the time of history in which he lived. Mostly this town aimed to replicate, as closely as possible, what life was like living in 1867 and they did so with authentic period dress and speaking to us in first person on many occasions inviting us to “play along” – which we did. Jack’s favorite stop was the blacksmith shop where we watched craftsmen make pot hangers, hooks etc. Jack inquired about the Blacksmith making swords (an idea borrowed I think from Pirates of the Caribbean) and the man said that he made them on the off season when he had time for longer bigger projects. My favorite stop was the printing shop where we saw a printing press from 1867 still in use making menus for the restaurant and she printed up recipes from her own family 8 generations prior. It was here that I got my pie crust recipe and the recipe for butterscotch pie. Believing as I do that things come to you at exactly the right moment, I took it as a sign that today would be the day to tackle my pie challenge. Not only did I find the recipe for a pie and crust, but later in our tour we came to the wood maker shop where I was able to purchase a pie dough roller. So, in one fell swoop, I was ready to tackle my summer challenge.

At the start of this trip, I asked Jack for 2 goals for the summer. He said he wanted to learn cursive and he wanted to master division. I am so proud to say that Jack mastered both of these goals that he set for himself. Unfortunately, the goal that I set for myself, to make a pie crust – something that I have tried and tried for years to accomplish, still had alluded me. I finally discovered why… about a month ago when doing to light research for my pie project, I discovered that if my equipment or kitchen ever got above 73 degrees F, I would have to cool everything down again. This information was extremely timely because that was clearly my problem with making a pie in Florida in the summer. There is rarely a time that our kitchen is ever below 80 degrees. So, on this day -so cool in Nova Scotia that we wore sweaters and foul weather gear, I decided today was the day. Jack and I, having returned from the Sherbrooke Village decided to get busy and make my goal a reality. Success! We both did it!

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Another highlight of the week was Jack Face Timing his friends on the first day of school. Getting a signal was a challenge but we managed, however briefly, to connect, and Jack got to say hello to everyone for a few moments on Wednesday. So began Jack’s first day of school. Bridges Montessori provided us with some books and suggestions for study material and we have gotten busy putting it to use. We have done some work this summer to ease the transition into school time but we are trying to commit to doing this in earnest from this point forward. It really is harder than it looks finding the time to commit to school. One may think we have nothing but lazy days and time on our hands but our days are surprisingly full . I think that we are going to have to commit to less time underway and longer periods in each stop.

We are presently offshore traveling on a Southwesterly course approximately 65 miles East of Halifax. We are still undecided if we will anchor in one of the sheltered coves for the night or press on to Halifax for an arrival today – we are letting Mother Nature decide for us. If is is rough, we will tuck in for the night, and smooth sailing… we will press on.

Amanda and Adam, our new friends from Baddeck, live full time in Halifax and have graciously provided us with a ton of new discoveries to explore in Halifax so even though we are going to take care of this document, we will certainly avail ourselves of the “local view” of things on (as Amanda put it) Halifax 2.0. On our list is the art museum, the children’s book store (we have run out of books), and hopefully time spent with the Langley family.

We are still planning on a September 1 arrival (possibly a day or two on either side of that) for Maine.

Thats all for now!

Love,
Alec, Laurie and Jack

“Connection” and Baddeck

“Connection” and Baddeck

“Connection.” That was the word that Amanda, our new Canadian friend used twice when describing, on two separate occasions, what she sought when traveling in new communities.
This got me thinking about my own traveling experiences and what we all seek on our “great explores”. Absolutely who could argue that when traveling it is those connections with other cultures that leave us with the most profound and lasting impressions of a place and truly the single greatest predictor of the litmus test “shall we return”.

Since arriving in Canada, we have had experience after experience with the people here who have left us feeling absolutely “connected.” Day after day we shake our heads in amazement at the kindness and generous nature of these beautiful people. From the vendors in the farmers market who, even with a line forming behind me wanted to find our where we were from and for how long were we staying and the lovely bartender who wanted to help us make change for the ferry and while doing so, explained the history and difference in Canadian currency. With ferry’s arriving and departing every 15 minutes, she most certainly missed her ferry but that didn’t seem to phase her as she, with total genuine kindness chatted with us for several minutes. And Im not referring to that sort of polite kindness that we expect when interacting with service providers but that genuine kindness that comes from “being” in a comfortable and peaceful internal space. Canadians have that peaceful kindness in spades and they so generously share it with the visitors to their country.

Back to Amanda and Adam and their 2 children Elle (10) and Gray (8). We met Adam in Halifax as he is the Director of Operations for Develop Nova Scotia (formerly Waterfront Development; and he manages the wharf in Halifax and in Lunenberg. Adam was, of course, kind and friendly in his work capacity but also engaging with Jack, not only because he could immediately relate to him due to his own son, but it just seemed that that was the kind of guy he was. Adam mentioned that his family had a home in Baddeck, which just happened to be the next stop on our planned trip. We made a very loose plan to get together when we arrived and I knew that Jack would be over the moon to have a friend to play with. Connection… we all need it, even 8 year olds. Funny thing, all challenges bring reward right? At home Jack is a little shy with other children when he first meets them. Not so when traveling. He has no trouble at all since we have been aboard jumping right in to meet another child. Must be that he sees that he has no time to waste – we could all learn that lesson couldn’t we?

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Since arriving here in Baddeck we have had one more fantastic experience after another. Connection. Pictured below is a drone shot taken by Milt Baker (Bluewater) after a day of jumping from our boat deck – kids and adults alike. (Yes that water is cold but not as much as you may imagine.) Jack has had the opportunity to play with Gray, being pulled in the tube, jumping from their wharf, and Gray spent some time aboard Gratitude playing with legos. Amanda came shopping with April and I for an afternoon and, together with Milt and Judy (Bluewater), Paul and April (April K) , and Sally and Whitey (Happy), we had a drink at the local yacht club.

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We had April and Paul over for dinner to watch the boat parade and there have been sailing regattas nearly every day including today – rain and all. The town had their annual festival to celebrate Natal Day. Nova Scotia has been a member of the Canadian Confederation since its inception on July 1, 1867. The term “natal” is derived from the Latin word for birth and, hence, Natal Day is the official “birthday” of the province. And today is a perfectly wonderful rainy day. Just in time too since laundry is piling up and Jacks school work is a little behind. We did spend most of 1 day at the Alexander Graham Bell museum. We all know that Dr. Bell invented the telephone (even he knew that it wasn’t always appropriate to have it around even banning it from his own study). But he also spent a great deal of time and energy experimenting with flight. Baddeck was his summer home and we are anchored in the same spot where, in 1909 the Silver Dart made it’s first flight on the ice covered harbor. The Wright Brothers’ first flight was in 1903 of course but ailerons, the control surface on the aircraft which allows for directional control was invented here and also simultaneously in France. These were monumental advances in aviation. Who knew? 🙂 So we have been able to get in at least a little school work.

So, what is next? We enjoyed a tremendous meal last night and talked over the loose plan for our next stop. We will probably leave Baddeck when the weather clears on Sunday and head back down toward St. Peters, the canal where we entered the Bras d’Or lake, and then to the Canso Canal which will take us Northerly to the top of Nova Scotia and then to Prince Edward Island. We have reservations secured there from Monday-Friday (thanks to April our fleet cruise director). Still working on rental car arrangements and tourist plans but we will have time to figure that out. We will probably take 2 days to get there as the trip involves locks, and unfamiliar lake territory. Better to cruise in day light.

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Thanks for reading! We miss you all
xo

The Bras d’Or Lake

The Bras d’Or Lake

We are currently in St. Peters having just cleared through the lock on Wednesday.  We ran overnight from Halifax and arrived right at the bridge and lock opening at 0800.    St. Peters is a very small community yet locals turn up every morning to greet arriving motor and sailing vessels.  We got the distinct impression that this was a daily ritual for some sweet retired people who like to be the welcoming committee and what a welcome it was.  Alec and I usually do quite a lot of homework before arriving in a new area – especially one involving bridges and/or locks yet when we arrived we both seemed to be walking in a fog and unfamiliar with the procedures.  We were also tired from running overnight with each of us only getting 4 hours of sleep at the most so that was probably part of the issue but the help from the locals was both a pleasant surprise and helpful boost bringing me right up to speed where I needed to be getting through this skinny canal.  

 

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A little bit of history about this lock and canal, it was blasted through a solid granite hill and opened in 1869.  If you refer to the earlier map you can see that we entered from the South into the lake (on the map it looks more like many lakes due to the winding and weaving canals and peninsula’s that connect it all but it really is just one large connected brackish estuary.)    If not for this entry it would have been necessary to go halfway around Cape Breton and enter via the Great Bras d’Or and much of the exploring of the lake would have been lost.  

 

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The Bras d’Or Lake is yet one more UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on our beautiful tour of this very unspoiled province.  The lake is an estuary where brackish water and fresh waters pours into a large drainage basin from rain water runoff, snow and rivers.  The lakes is surrounded by aboriginal populations of the Mi’kmaq people indigenous to the area before the early settlers from France and Germany.   We are leaving St. Peters today for a 2 hour trip to an anchorage for the night and then tomorrow we will arriving in Baedeck for a week or so.  There is a yacht club there where I inquired about sailing camp for Jack for a week but unfortunately they have no openings.  The good news is that we will be arriving before the regatta and festival which is their busiest week of the year.  

Sharing the dock with us for the past 2 nights was a sweet couple named Peter and Ginger who left this morning for a 2-3 week passage to Ireland.  Godspeed!  

  

Maps, Flags and Practical Matters

Flags, Maps and Practical Matters

While talking to my sister I was reminded today of a sentiment that I have shared on numerous occasions while reading the blogs of other cruisers. Sometimes when we are exploring and becoming; out of necessity as much as interest, intimately familiar with an area, we forget that people reading will rarely share that level of familiarity with it’s location geographically. For that reason, on this post I have shared some screen shots of Nova Scotia including it’s relative position to our country as well as proximity to past and future destinations.

In the photo I have drawn lines connecting cities that we have previously cruised to/from and the associated milage of those trips. If you are interested in calculating the time enroute, we are cruising at between 7 and 8 knots. All milage is in knots. Yesterday morning at 10:00am we departed Halifax and will continue to the Bras D’or (pronounced bra door) lakes which is to the far East of Nova Scotia. Previously we had planned and hoped to make it to Newfoundland, which is further East still, but while discussing our rough plan and itinerary for the trip back South again, it was clear that any attempts to make it there and also to Prince Edward Island would result in us rushing through as though we were participants in the “Amazing Race” rather than the retired and relaxed pleasure cruisers that we are so we are regrettably postponing that destination until hopefully our trip HOME from Europe in several years from now.

 

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An interesting a fun fact about flags (If you have no interest in flags stop reading:)

Back before the invention of the VHF radio, yachtsmen communicated with the outside world via flags. Every position on a boat has a meaning and nautical flags exist to cover nearly all manner of needs a traveling yacht may require. For example, the D flag means “I am maneuvering with difficulty” and the Q flag means “I am in quarantine arriving from a foreign port”. There are flags to request a pilot boat and to even request ice. While most of this communication has been relegated to the VHF, there is still a great tradition to flags and even today, the Q flag (solid yellow) is used when entering a foreign port and prior to clearing customs. This flag informs everyone on the dock that no persons may board the vessel until it has been cleared by customs and all occupants of the vessel (except 1 Captain if required to meet with authorities) must remain aboard until it has been cleared.

While cruising in the US, we have a private signal, a flag which is our family flag similar to a family crest. Anyone familiar with Alec’s family would immediately recognize it as being a member of this family. On the bow of the yacht there is a place for a club affiliation flag and of course, on the stern the ensign or country flag of the vessel’s documentation would be flown. When entering a foreign country the Q flag is raised and once customs has been cleared, the Q flag is lowered and the country whose waters you will be enjoying will be hoisted as a sign of respect. This is done on the Starboard side at mid-ships and is considered a place of honor on the boat. We are currently flying the Canadian cruising flag as well as the Nova Scotia province flag. At each port in our travels, the US flag has been hoisted out of courtesy for our presence at the dock. Pictured below is the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron where we have been docked for the past several days, and all of the flags of the visiting yachts in residence. I love the tradition of flag etiquette and thought you may be interested too. There is something so special about seeing ones own country flag in a foreign port being flown out of courtesy to a traveling yachtsman.

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Practical Matters

While cruising offshore for the 3 day passage between Cape Lookout and Onset, MA, we were saddened to see an inordinate number of mylar balloons floating in the water. As Jack’s birthday was rapidly approaching and we would be celebrating in Onset, we had a family meeting and discussed the effect of these balloons on the environment vs. their contribution to the world. It was decided at that meeting that this is something that we could live without and Jack agreed and felt strongly that we should no longer purchase balloons. We had a chance to try this out at Jack’s birthday party and their absence had no effect on our joy or celebration and then again at a carnival type celebration in Halifax there was a clown making balloon animals and Jack said “no thank you.” At the time, Jack had asked me to post this on FaceBook, and Im sorry to admit that I never did. Social media is something that I struggle with. If anyone would like to repost this, that would be perfectly fine with me. Which brings me to an article that I read yesterday in Ocean Navigator magazine. During the Volvo around the world sailing regatta, one of the boats agreed to collect water samples (the approximate circumference of a soda can) and submit them for testing. These samples indicated that in every body of water including Antarctica there are micro plastics (smaller than 5mm). The significance of this can’t be overstated. Of basic importance to all of us, these plastics are being ingested by zooplankton which are in turn being ingested up the food chain and are landing on our plates. These plastics are permeating our oceans and being ingested by mammals and fish alike. The additional plastics entering our world will cause these numbers to more than double. This should shock everyone who is reading this. India is taking the bold move to eliminate single use plastics by 2022. Several years ago when reading a completely unrelated study about the effect of BPA on humans (their origin in plastic), we tried to eliminate plastic from all of our food containers. For years we have stored our food in glass containers, purified our water and stored it is glass bottles in the fridge, etc. But this is not nearly enough. Many of the restaurants in Maine have begun only offering straws to customers who request them. Plastic grocery bags are a huge source of ocean plastics. Water bottles are poisoning our streams and rivers and ending up in the ocean. What can each of us do to minimize what ends up in the ocean? We are going to have another family meeting about this and Ill post what we agree – what can you and your family do?

Thanks for reading.