We had our first bout with the true Nova Scotia Fog as Jess described upon leaving the Liscomb river, thick as heavy rain clouds and just as wet. After 6 hours of it we ran for Fisherman’s Harbor, 90 odd miles along the Eastern shore from Halifax. It had been an exhausting day; glued to the radar we ran deep down wind under fore sail and jib alone in a steep 6’ sea and a steady 20-25 knots. Fisherman’s Harbor is wide and clear of hazards and very easy to enter from seaward. Once inside the main bay, the harbor proper is made up of a government wharf that is well protected by a small island and offers excellent holding in sticky mud. The pilot guide recommended anchoring on a line between the government wharf and the green light on the western shore of the island. What it should say is anchor “anywhere in the bay avoiding the power line that runs directly between the wharf and the light on the island!“ The following morning I had a hell of a time pulling up our anchor as I was also dragging a heavy inch and half diameter power cable out of the mud. Thank god the insulation wasn’t breached or I would have been smoked mackerel!
We left the harbor around 9am and struck out again into the thick fog. It didn’t seem worth waiting for a clear day as we could have been waiting a long time and Hurricane Arthur was hurtling it’s way North. We followed the pattern we had over the last few days of reaching off shore for 5-10 miles into deep water. Once clear of hazards we eased the sheets and ran deep before the steady southwest breeze. We weren’t planning on a long day but when the fog cleared off to a mile or so and the wind backed into the east we had a glorious day of sailing and made the 40 miles to Canso handedly. In Canso we slowly motored around the harbor, as the fog had returned with a vengeance, until we tied alongside one of the largest docks I have ever seen. I could quite literally stand on it’s deck and do an inspection of our spreaders and upper rigging!
Canso was once a thriving fishing port full of the great Salt Bank schooners that fished cod off the Easter Sea board, The Bluenose, based out of Lunenburg being the most famous of them all. We took an early evening stroll along the water front where they have historical black and white photographs posted of how the harbor used to look chalked full of schooners! What a sight it must have been with small schooner yachts, sisters to our Heart’s Desire, knocking about their big sisters. The 150 foot plus fishing schooners would come in from the great banks off Newfoundland taking on bait before heading back out.
Now the town of Canso has a sad feel about it: with the fishing stocks gone, so too are the jobs, and few tourists venture down the peninsula to town. Then to impound the problems, this year Canso’s annual Stan Rogers festival had just been cancelled on account of Hurricane Arthur, another source of venue lost.
We didn’t dally long in Canso but cast our lines off early on the morning of the Fourth of July. The fog was thick and the breeze was directly on the stern, so we just motored across the Chedabucto Bay and into the St. Peters Locks. It was my first time taking a boat through a lock. As the ocean tide was almost exactly at the same height as the Bras D’or Lakes it was a bit anti-climatic. Not quite as dramatic as the Ottawa locks. The Lock is operated by Parks Canada as a free service to mariners and is staffed by a couple of your typical friendly and out going Canadians. Once through the lock we tied up along the St Peters Marina where we ran out a kedge anchor and doubled up on mooring lines to ride out fourth coming storm.
The Marina at St Peters is operated by Lions club and I can not recommend it enough. The Facilities are first rate with showers, laundry, a nice lounge and a kitchen. Gerry who runs the place is very helpful and when we asked for directions to a pub where we could hear some music he herded us into his car and drove us there. Also tied up at the marina for the storm was the Mary T the boat we had been hopscotching up the coats with for the past week. All in all we had a nice three day stay in St Peters dodging hurricane Arthur which swung to the West of us and slammed into Prince Edward Island. We didn’t see any winds over 40 knots.