6 September, 2014
As nice as it’s been, time to bid Lunenburg adieu. 0530 on the 30th, and we’re pulling out past “Just a Splash” into the dark harbor. Planning to make Yarmouth, NS in two runs and the seas should be moderating today before building again the next day. On the way out to the ocean, we pass lotsa’ boats hand lining for mackerel. A couple of boats look like Mom, Dad, and the kids are all in the act. A pod of dolphins crosses our track 20 yards in front of us, and there are seals all around. The Admiral pronounces that it’s the beginning of a good day. Off our stern, JAS is quickly overtaking us. They’re heading our way, so we’ll travel together until our plans take us our separate ways. The sun rising in a cloudless sky, and the ocean oscillating in gentle, 3’ swells make for a gorgeous ride. Eight hours later, we’re nearing the waypoint for our destination, but decide to push on a little farther. The winds have come up to 15-20 knots, and we have wind wave on top of the swell, but The Girl is still making 6.7 knots. Port LaTour is just a little fishing harbor with a small processing plant, and a couple of breakwalls enclosing a fleet of 20 or so fishing boats. We shoot down the anchor about 100 yards from JAS, who we had talked to earlier about coming to this bay. Cocktails and some gettintaknowyabetter on The Girl, and it is decided to poke our noses out in the morning to check the conditions before committing. That night, it blew and rained, and there was chop in the bay. When we got up at 0530, the Admiral expressed some doubt, so we called Paul and Cheryl on the VHF. More than a little doubt on their part as well, since the Coast Guard had a high wind warning in effect for the next day or so. Back to the rack. When we get back up,we move The Girl to avoid a bit of the swell coming around the corner. Now we’re questioning the decision to come here, as there is nothin’, and I mean NUTHIN’ here. A little on the boat time to catch up on some chores, and do some reading, then we gotta’ get off. Over to JAS. Yep, they want off too, so time for a dinghy ride to shore. Inside the breakwall and up the slimy ladder, it’s really eerie. Since it’s not lobster season here, there’s noooobody around, just a bunch of empty, hard-used boats, locked up buildings, and piles of pots and rigging. Up the track (hesitate to call it a road), there are a couple of houses that remind me of Rural Anywhere, with cars sans engines and tires up on blocks, and defunct household appliances in the yard. Three snarling dogs encourage us to get headed back to the boats. Drop P & C off with plans for a “five to seven” later on. Same plan for tomorrow morning. At 0530, it’s still raining, but maybe the wind has moderated (or it’s wishful thinking). Out we go. Around the headland a couple of miles out, the seas are 2-4’, winds 15kn and a little foggy. We’ll push on, even though we’re “weather weenies”, and it looks like JAS will too. Fog closes in, and there is less than 1/8 mile visibility. Today, JAS will follow us. Paul is maintaining visual contact, as he has no radar at his lower steering station (only up top, and he ain’t drivin’ from up there in this). Rather unnerving for Yours Truly as they’re less than 50 yards off our quarter, and below our radar. Four and a half hours later, we’re out of the wide open, and entering Schooner Passage, which traverses between several islands, and will afford us some protection from the seas. Only thing is, we still have no visibility, and our speed is up over 9kn, as we squirt through this three mile long, 100 yard wide, twisty, turney passage on a flood tide. Radar’s working well, and the chart plotter is right on. I can smell and hear the rocky shore next to us but haven’t seen it yet. HOLY CRAP! There’s a hole in the fog, and it looks like I could reach out and touch the rocky shoreline, which is about 100’ away. The fog closes in again, and a couple of exciting miles later, we’re back into open water. Approaching their outer marker, we contact Fundy Traffic (like aircraft controllers, only for boats), to let them know we’re here. They’ve got our AIS, and have us on radar, let us know about the traffic in our area, and ask us to give them a call when we are safely berthed. The seas have moderated, and it’s super bright, although visibility is still only ¼ mile. As we approach the headland of Yarmouth Harbor, the fog changes to a slight mist, it’s sunny and beautiful. JAS is now 1.5 miles behind us, and still in the fog bank. The Admiral helps them tie up a few minutes later, as the fog follows them in. So much for the sunny day. Yarmouth, NS is definitely a fishing town that’s trying hard to develop a tourist economy as well, but it looks like they’re struggling. The car/passenger ferry from Portland, Maine docks here, but it seems that most of the passengers are just passing through on their way to someplace else in Nova Scotia. Rappin’ with the Harbormaster, he tells me that his part-time job here ends in a month, when he’ll return to his real job as a lobster boat captain. Season is from October to May here-brutal. He asked where we came from today, and was incredulous that we transited Schooner Passage in the fog and current. I guess God does look out for fools. (Message received-will try not to make that mistake again). The seas look good for tomorrow, and the forecast calls for patchy fog, even though you can’t see the other side of the harbor right now, so we plan to cross the Bay of Fundy tomorrow. It’ll be an early wake up call, as the trip will take around 13 hours or so, and we don’t like to land in an unfamiliar place after dark if we can help it. Paul and Cheryl will head to Grand Manan Island, so we will be parting company after dinner tonight. At 0325, it was dark as the inside of a pocket, and the fog was so thick that we couldn’t see the lights on shore, about 100 feet away. Guess it’ll burn off when the sun comes up. Meantime, we tiptoe out the channel-Did I mention that it was narrow, and 2’ deep just outside? Poking along at 3 knots, and not seeing buoys until they are 15’ from us is a little nervewracking at this time of day. Oh, we also pass 2 fishing boats coming home from fishing. They both have AIS, so we see them coming on radar, and are able to arrange a pass over the radio. Both captains are nice enough to come to a dead stop, and turn on all deck lights as we approach their boats. Even so, they’re not visible until about 30’ from our rail. Once out of the channel, we let our friends at Fundy Traffic know, and set our course West, next stop Bar Harbor, Maine, U.S.A. The seas were kind, but the “patch” of fog hung directly over us for 13 hours. Twelve hours in, the lobster pot floats started to appear out of the fog. There are so many that running on autopilot is a joke, as you literally have to slalom around them. Seems like every time we turned, there was another one about to be run over. All of a sudden, you’re 300 yards off course. We were warned about the pots, but didn’t think that they would be so thick. After 13 hours or so, we’re getting close to the harbor entrance to Northeast Harbor, ME. (We had called Customs & Border Patrol a couple of hours earlier, and our NEXUS cards had gotten us a free ride, so didn’t have to check in at Bar Harbor). There are steep headlands on both sides of the channel in, so I figure when we’re lined up, it’ll show up like a highway on the radar. I know we’re close, ‘cause I can hear and smell the shore just can’t see it, and the radar’s cluttered (not helping much). Suz is on the bow, and it’s getting darker outside, and she yells that we’re in a mooring field-sure enough, boats are looming up on all sides. Okay….time to stop and regroup. A guy standing on the moored boat 10 feet away from us tells us that we’re doing okay, and to just keep going North. We hear an engine fast overtaking us from astern, and a launch appears out of the fog. It’s the mail boat, so as he passes us, I pull in tight behind him and into the harbor. In the bay, the fog turns to mist, and we can see ¼ mile or so. With some visibility, it’s clear why the radar was so cluttered. There are literally a hundred or so boats on moorings lining the channel and filling the bay. I’ll tell ya’, that empty mooring looked pretty good. Tied to terra firma, its way, way past time for a sip. We’ll spend tomorrow and maybe the next day exploring Acadia National Park. –Whew!
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