"We found your dinghy floating out to sea!" cried the man on the bow. Well, so much for our thinking that the tide was going out. We hadn't pulled our dinghy very far up on shore for that reason, but that's the last time we leave our dinghy untied, regardless of what we think the tide is doing.
We were extremely happy to be rescued from the island since the water temperature here was the lowest we had seen yet in Nova Scotia—a frigid 45 degrees F. There was no need to pack a bathing suit for this trip. After securing the dinghy, we invited our two new friends aboard Serengeti and declared an early happy hour. Their faces broke into toothy grins as we served them some of good dark Bermuda rum as their reward. The afternoon went quickly by as we traded fishing secrets.
The next day, we rounded Chebucto Head and laid a course for Halifax, Nova Scotia's largest city and one of the biggest commercial shipping ports on the eastern coast of North America. Here we had a choice of tying up at the bustling waterfront docks in the downtown area, or sailing up the backside of the city to the appropriately named Northwest Arm. You guessed it; that's the compass heading needed to get into the place. Being anchorers at heart, we chose the second option. This beautiful but relatively narrow stretch of water is home to one of the busiest sailing communities you'll see anywhere in the world. We had to dodge kids in boats from Junior Sailing programs and then try to find an anchor spot that wasn't in the way of any of any moorings and didn't encroach upon the channel where evening and weekend club races are regularly held this time of year.
Finally, after anchoring in 35 feet of water, Sue and I went ashore to check out the Armdale Yacht Club. Here we were greeted with open arms and given a guided tour of the historic property. We were encouraged to join in on the bar activities, invited to other organized suppers, and even asked to partake in some of the racing events. You'll not find a friendlier club than this one anywhere.
Back on the boat, we surveyed our proximity to a nearby empty mooring ball. We were anchored just off a very nice house where a racing boat that had just finished the Marblehead to Halifax race was tethered to the dock. Thinking that this empty mooring ball might be for that boat, we half expected the homeowner to ask us to move.
Sure enough, that evening a man walked out to the end of his dock and called out to us. Sue and I jumped up, ready to tell him we'd move right away, when he surprised us by asking if there was anything we needed. Water? Transportation? A shower? Relieved, we thanked him, but assured him we were just fine.
The next morning, a young boy named Graham dinghied out to Serengeti and told us that the man we spoke to yesterday and his wife were expecting us at their house at 10:00 a.m. We were welcome to do laundry, take showers there, and later they'd take us to the grocery store and on a tour of Halifax. Thank you Elaine and Bobby; your kindness to total strangers is well remembered.
We soon realized that we'd dawdled too much and it was time to head south again. With much of Nova Scotia still left unseen we felt compelled to return again some day. Maybe we'll plan our next trip to coincide with the annual Stan Rogers Folk Music Festival that is held in the town of Canso, near the Bras D'Or Lakes in northeastern Nova Scotia. Many cruising boats spend the entire season in these pictographic waters alone.
We departed Nova Scotia with heavy hearts and a strong gale system located south of the Grand Banks, which was moving northeast. Our plan was to traverse the Gulf of Maine and sail directly into Provincetown, MA, at the tip of Cape Cod. Although the gale was far away and heading out to sea, we did experience its far-reaching impact. As expected, we soon found ourselves in a sea pattern of ever increasing proportion. Swells of 15 feet soon became 20, then 25, and then 30. Fortunately the very long period between waves meant they weren't cresting and breaking, making the whole ride a most unique experience. Even though the winds were moderate to strong, at the bottom of each wave our sails fell limp since the wind was completely blocked by the huge walls of water.
Once safely through the big fleet, we waved goodbye to our guide boat and to Nova Scotia. Sue, at the top of her lungs, broke out singing a rousing rendition of "Farewell to Nova Scotia, your sea bound coast..." She claimed that it's a popular seafaring song she remembers from growing up in Canada, but I'm not so sure she wasn't just making it up. We both say, farewell to Nova Scotia for now, but we'll definitely be back!
Friendly Cruising in Nova Scotia by Sue & Larry
Entering Foreign Waters by Liza Copeland
Weather Forecast for Sailors by Michael Carr
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