13 August, 2014

Summerside, Prince Edward Island by 1230.  Robbie, the harbor manager greets us at the dock.  Tells us he’s not a boater, so it’s our call on the docking arrangements.  In we go.  He may not know boats, but he sure knows where we can get fresh(est) oysters.  Also said he’d come back to the boat and shuck them for us.  I asked him if we could get some for him, and he told me we couldn’t carry enough-OKAY….  A short while later, the 4 of us are checkin’ out the Malpeque’s brought in this morning from the other side of the island (Malpeque Bay).  Do we want the big ones or the regular ones?  Excuse me…4 dozen big ones (for $1 Canadian franc apiece) and some fish later, we’re backpackin’ back to the boat for snacks.  Robbie spies us and is down to the Girl, lickety split.  I thought his eyes were gonna pop out when he saw all them oysters.  After the first 10 or so, we let him off the hook and shucked the rest.  Worked up quite a thirst, so we washed those badboys down with a few cold ones.  Dinner at the marina bar that night tended by none other than Robbie, who is not just the harbormaster.  He manages the whole marina/tourist area, and tends bar 1 night of the week to stay in touch with his employees.  Sitting at the bar, we find out from a local that McCains (huge frozen food company) announced this morning that they were closing their French fry plant in town, laying off 154 families.  Ouch….total population of P.E.I. is about 140,000, so that 154 will add significantly to the 9% unemployment rate here.  Off to Charlottetowne, the capital of P.E.I. in the morning.  When we arrive, we have to hover in the channel in a 15 knot breeze, waiting for the 200 foot yacht “Majestic” to get off the dock.  Twenty minutes later, they’re out, we’re in.  The docks here were trashed by Hurricane Arthur a few weeks before, so they had to put us on the outside of the wall.  Some of the bollards (tyin’ up places) are damaged, and the electricity was compromised, so Lisa the Harbormistress gives us a break on the rent-Yay.  There’s a party going on.  Surprise, it’s Canada, eh?  This month, P.E.I. is celebrating the talks that laid the groundwork for the confederation of Canada, 150 years ago in this town.  (We’ll just forget about the fact that the meeting was held here because P.E.I. wasn’t interested in uniting, and wouldn’t have sent delegates elsewhere, AND dragged their feet for some time after the other original provinces got together).  Charlottetowne is Canada’s Philadelphia, and there are lots of places to visit that hold historical interest.  We saw ‘em all.  Our visit was enhanced by all of the outdoor venues featuring free music and dancing.  Our plan was to stay for a few days, then cruise to the northeast end of the island for a departure to the Madeline Islands, about 80 miles to the north.  It’s been blowing like stink out of the North for 3 days or so, with 6-8’ seas, and is predicted to be the same for the next few days, with a lot of rain mixed in.  Well, this is boating, so a change of plan is to be expected.  We stay, rent a car, and tour the East end of the island.  Up on the North coast, the waves are creamin’ the shore- good call, let’s go to Nova Scotia tomorrow. Next day, the winds have subsided to 5-10 knots, but still out of the North, so we’ll head south, in the lee of the island with a following sea (3-4 footers at the end of the route, so life is good).  Hello….Arthur trashed this place too, but he only sunk 2 boats here, as opposed to Ch’towne, where the toll was higher.  No electricity, no water, and back on the wall.  Rent reduction takes some horse trading this time, as the Harbormaster is no pushover.  Bill wins the day when he tells the guy that he was born in Nova Scotia.  All’s well that ends well.  Pictou’s claim to fame these days is the Grohmann knife factory, where these hand-made beauties are crafted.  We miss the last tour at 1530 by a minute and thirty-one seconds (but who’s counting?), and the kid won’t budge, even if we drove all the way from Michigan.  We punish him by buying a boy pocket knife for the Admiral, and a girl paring knife for Yours Truly.  It’s rainin’ buckets when we exit the lobster hatchery after our tour, but the good news is that there is a cantina with a covered porch right across the street.  Three of us get to stay dry, but Bill loses out in that regard when our waitress spills a whole pint of liquefied barley and hop extract in his lap.  She was mortified for a nanosecond, then, I thought I’d have to find an Oral Surgeon to repair the tongue she was biting (real hard!), to suppress her laughter.  Some guys will do anything to get a free beer.  And so it goes.  Back at the ranch, MDO whips up some burgers on the grill.  Tomorrow, we’ll head back upwind (yeah it’s still blowing) to Ballantyne’s Cove, NS.  The 5 and-a-half hour run with a beam sea doesn’t set well with all of us, so one of our buddy boaters is happy, happy, happy to be here.  Here ain’t much.  It’s a commercial harbor, sitting at the base of a 100’ headland.  Only thing is, there’s nothing up above-just a few houses, invisible from the bottom of the redrock cliff.  Right now, the harbor’s dead, as it’s not fishing season here.  Sarah Jayne McDonald, the highschooler that tends the docks tells us that they don’t get many visitors here, and certainly none our size.  The fish ‘n chips shack behind the refrigeration building is awesome, she says, so we’re on it in a heartbeat.  It IS a shack, and it IS good.  I’m saving myself for dinner, as Lauren has discovered that the way to my heart is paved with spaghetti, and she’s cookin’ tonight.  After our snack, we tour the Bluefin Tuna Interpretive Center, a gigantic 140 square foot room where you can learn all about the Bluefin, complete with a DVD player, and informative disc.  Seriously, this place is supposedly the Bluefin capital of the East coast.  The fish travel here every summer, and at $18-$20 per pound, the local guys don’t have to catch many 700 pounders to make their season.  They’re caught one day, and the next they’re flying first-class, straight to Japan.  Eight days, and they’re making their encore in sushi.  In another couple weeks, Sarah Jayne tells us, the harbor will be filled with fishing boats for the annual international tuna tournament.  I guess that you can literally walk across the harbor from deck to deck on the boats rafted here.  Spaghetti good, me bad.  Lauren has to cook up more pasta, as she only made enough for me, and the rest of the crew looks pretty pathetic with empty plates.  The next morning, Wednesday (yes, I had to look at my watch to find out what day it is) will take us to Cape Breton and Lennox Passage, the gateway to Bras D’or Lakes.  After 3 or 4 days of intermittent rain and clouds, this foggy morning gave a promise of a sunny day.  After the fog burned off, the day was clear and warm (for here), and the wind had changed to East for our trip East.  Only 10 knots, so little ripples.  All in all, a good trip to Little Basin Harbor, where we are now laying at anchor.  Gotta go.  Supposed to pick B & L up in the tender for a cocktail cruise before dinner.  Suz’s turn tonight.  Fresh salmon on the grill, cucumbers and yoghurt, and a fresh mango salad, started with a fresh shrimp with maple demiglase appetizer.  –Just sayin’

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