Out of The Gulf

Posted Sept. 5, 2008 at 15:08

Sep 1, Caribou Island: We just had a bit of a wake-up call overnight with 35kn of wind (not quite forecast) in a marginal (shallow and large bay) anchorage. The winds were forecast 15-20kn from the NW - well they got over 30 steady for a couple of hours after midnight. A combination of not enough scope and weedy bottom led to our anchor dragging us toward the deeper channel (and ultimately shoals on the other side of the channel). So 3:30am in the dark, 35kn of wind and rain, we practiced proper anchoring (the foredeck light on the mast and GPS-detailed chart came in really handy in the dark). I don't want to get into the details too much, but there was a point when we were over the channel into the lee shoal area with our half-raised anchor still dragging before we managed to untangle our choker lines from the chain and finally raise anchor to go back and reanchor. The experience was sobering. Going farther into the windward shallows, letting out all 150ft of chain plus a 10ft of rode did the trick (should have done that in the first place. We got lulled into the all-chain and less scope habit on all those less than 20kn wind nights).

As a reward for getting through the night, Dora found a small star-fish on deck in the morning as we went to shift to a new location for a new wind direction. It must have come up during the night with the anchor rode - the sea rewarded us for standing up to the challenge. Dora says we'll post a picture of it next time when we get to reliable wifi.

We spent the next two days in the anchorage on the East side of the Caribou Ferry terminal waiting for the easterlies to subside. That side (South of Munroes Island) is much nicer and cozier, like a real anchorage. I finally installed the large wifi antenna and ran its 25ft cable belowdecks to the nav station - thatook most of a rare calm sunny day.

We sailed to Pictou, the "birthplace of Nova Scotia" and the replica mid-1700s ship Hector that brought the first 189 settlers from the Scottish Highlands over to Pictou, Nova Scotia. Their trip across the Atlantic took most summer (July 8 to Sept 15) and they were cooped up in very tiny, tightly packed bunks - they have a reproduction of the quarters belowdecks on Hector. It is amazing how much information about the trip and the lives of those people has been preserved. The captain's log/diary talking about the state of the old ship, the sick, dying children, the burials at sea, the gale that blew (set) them back for two weeks is riveting. The deal was that every family got a 100 acres of land per family member for 5 pounds sterling that they could pay back in two years. But the story is that they didn't get the provisions they were promised so many of them had to move elsewhere.

Today (Sep 4) we finally made it out of the Gulf through the Canso Strait lock and docked at Port Hawkesbury. We had a much better than anticipated downwind sail from Pictou that we made together with "Beaujolais" sailed by a couple moving from Ottawa to Halifax and their sailor friend. We also met their friends Dan and Moira sailing a "Down East Circle" on their boat starting from and returning to Chesapeake Bay, Virginia.

We decided to go into Cape Breton's Bras d'Or lakes for a week or so, starting tomorrow (Friday, Sep 5). We'd like to got Baddeck, rent a car for a day and do the Cabot trail ride around Cape Breton. There are gale force winds forecast for Sunday, so we'll have to find a snug anchorage/dockage to hide. That's the plan, we'll see the rest. We'll post pictures once we get to a working wifi - we've had several in the last couple of days that connected, but couldn't transfer any data. -- Z --