29 June, 2015

Whoa! 0530 (that’d be 0430 EDT) came pretty early, and it was cold outside.  Didn’t have to scrape the frost off the windshield, but it felt pretty close to that temperature.  The Girl was off the dock before the sun peeked over the horizon.  The hour and a half ride to Pearl (a.k.a. Green) Island gave Suz the opportunity to catch a few more ZZZ’s.  When we arrived, the 3’ swells were crashing into this piece of rock jutting out of the ocean.  Pretty dramatic, but it made the rocky shore look pretty menacing.  I edged Alizann in as close as my weak knees would allow, while the Admiral scanned the shore with her image-stabilized binoculars.  There were hundreds of birds on the jumble of rocks lining the shore, and groups floating on the water.  No sooner than I heard “I think I see one—No, I lost him”, I said “Take a look in the water, 50’ off the starboard bow”.  PUFFINS, Baby!  A half dozen of the little guys which we managed to scare off before snapping a single pic.  Okay, now we knew they were here and what to look for.  For the next 30 minutes, we circled the island (big rock) looking for birds in the water.  We saw lots, but they were pretty skittish, and it’s very tough to sneak up in a 62,000 pound boat.  Well, we got to see Puffins, and out of 100 or so pics, we got a couple worth sharing, even though they were pretty “grainy”.  I guess Harold and Rex had never seen Puffins, because they really don’t come to shore.  For the majority of the year, they live in the Arctic climate zone.  During the couple months of summer, they migrate south, to mate and lay their single egg, usually nesting on offshore islands where there are no land-based predators.  The first few years of the hatchlings’ life are lived completely at sea, as Puffins don’t return to land at all until they are mature.

The seas continued to rise, and the wind velocity increased throughout the remainder of our trip to Halifax, affirming our decision to move on.  I think that I must have lived by the North Atlantic in a former life, because there’s something about these grey seas, rocky shores, and overcast skies that get me-right into my bones.  Tropical isles and crystal waters are cool, but for me, this is where it’s at.

We backed into the pier at the Atlantic Maritime Museum, and Lauren & Bill(SeaStar) were waiting to catch our lines.  It was so great to see them, and after hugs all ‘round, we cracked a bottle of champagne and laid out some smoked fish to celebrate our reunion and kick off our summer campaign.  After an early night and a late morning, Suz and I trundled off to get some chores done.  First, Bank of Montreal to get some currency exchanged-pleasant surprise $1.2 Can/$1U.S.  Next, the Bell/Aliant store to get a SIM card for the Ipad.  We didn’t do this last year because some friends had done so, and told us of the 87 ½ hoops that they had to jump through to get cards.  We missed not having data for weather forecasting, so decided to go for it this summer.  What a breeze!  The young lady had us hooked up and good to go in 15 minutes.  After grabbing L&B, we all headed to “Bearly’s”, where Suz and I had dined on some awesome burgers last year.  Hmmmm.  Closed on Mondays.  Down the road, Henry House Pub (housed in an 18th century building) was pretty good, and the pint of ale erased my “pouty face” after a few sips.  The rest of the day saw us take the city bus up to the Fairview Lawn Cemetery (where many “Titanic” victims are buried), and the Point Pleasant city park, where we hiked some paths and enjoyed  views of the mouth of the harbor (where the weather buoy was reporting 9’ seas).  Walking the cemetery, I couldn’t help but think “If Grandma was here, I wouldn’t be” (My Grandmother, Winifred Vera Quick, was a “Titanic” survivor).

I had kinda forgotten what a great tour guide/researcher Lauren is.  During the long, cold winter at her home on Georgian Bay, she’d been working hard.  Recounting the fruits of her labors, and comparing notes, it was clear that she and Suzanne had an action-packed summer in store for the crew of our intrepid little ships.  We’ll start with the Canada Day celebration here in Halifax, complete with free concerts, fireworks over the harbor, and tickets for the International Tattoo (VIP, thanks to Bill’s nephew).  Right now, I gotta go out and buy a red shirt (for Canada Day).  Full report…..


B.T.W.  Miles traveled since Michigan-7,197; This Year-2,942

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