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The Trip 

 

 

 

September 6, 2004

We left Portland on August 12, 2004. Our "shakedown" cruise was loosely planned to include Nova Scotia and Maine for a month or so before we recouped in Portland and headed south in October.

Our first destination was Pemaquid, Maine, where we wanted to visit Neil's family and friends. Fred and Barbara Clifford generously offered the use of their dock and mooring (and washing machine!) so we stayed for over a week finishing up projects that we hadn't completed at Portland Yacht Services. It was wonderful, peaceful, and a great transition into the cruising life (see August 21 entry). We got lots done on the boat and Liv was able to make friends and play on the beach every day. What could be better?

The health insurance Neil and Olivia have, which is intended for people travelling internationally, has a stipulation that you must prove you left the country within a month of the policy's start. So we needed to get our passports stamped in Canada by the end of August. We decided that an overnight passage to Yarmouth Nova Scotia would do well to satisfy that requirement as well as be a good shakedown for boat and crew. We left Pemaquid and after a pleasant night in Tenant's Harbor, sailed for Nova Scotia on August 26. We had south winds of force 3 most of the way, which made for a lovely close reach all the way across. The skies were clear and the sea was fairly calm, and it was a great ride. We put a reef in at watch change 0000, and were pleased to find that our reefing system was very easy to use. Here's Neil and Olivia watching the first sunset at sea!

During my sunrise watch, we were visited by a school of Saddleback dolphins. They did acrobatic flips nearby and leaped and cavorted in the bow wake, turning on their sides to look up at me as I waved and whistled at them from the bow. It was one of those perfect moments of sailing that one doesn’t forget. As the sun rose further, I saw a few whales sound nearby. Suddenly a boat I had been watching on the horizon began to head directly for us, altering its course to keep straight at us even as I altered ours to avoid collision. I was worried: I woke Neil an hour early. As he scrambled into the cockpit the boat bore down on us without hesitating. The sun was behind it, and it wasn’t until it was several boat lengths away that we realized it wasn’t a fishing trawler as we’d thought, but a Canadian Coast Guard cutter. They swerved around us and waved: we waved back and

  A half hour later, as we approached Yarmouth and the converging point of all the ferry traffic (including the high-speed “Cat” that had run down a boat in past years!), the sun disappeared and a huge, dense wall of fog moved in. Uh-oh. We called Fundy Traffic Control on the VHF and advised them of our position. They informed us that the ocean liner Scotia Prince was nearby. We were glued to the radar, as we could not see more than 2 boat lengths into the fog. But the friendly voice of the Scotia Prince soon came over the VHF telling us that they were off our starboard bow and could we both please alter course a bit to port to provide more passing room. It was comforting to know that they could see us so clearly on their radar and that they were so willing to alter their course for us. We watched on radar as they passed a quarter mile from us: we could see nothing but could hear the eerie throbbing of the engines through the fog.

  Immediately after the Scotia Prince passed, a shape loomed out of the fog to port: a boat that we hadn’t seen on the radar. We got on the VHF to contact them and make sure they could see us, and it turned out to be the same Coast Guard Cutter we’d seen before. They offered to slow down and let us follow them into Yarmouth Harbor , and we quickly agreed. We watched the radar closely and followed each bouy on the chart, but it was great knowing the Coast Guard was making sure we didn’t make a wrong turn! We made it into Yarmouth Harbor and congratulated ourselves on our first passage. Here's Neil celebrating with a glass of champagne as he washes off the transom:

Yarmouth is a small town. Very small. There's little to do or see if you're stuck there for a week in the fog, as we were. We went to the library a lot. Neil and Liv explored in the dinghy. Here's one oddity they found. Nice to know that there are people crazier than we are out there!!!

We spent a lot of time doing "indoor activities".... Liv got a new learning game for the laptop:

One day the remnants of tropical storm Gaston blew over... 30 kts right down the harbor. We didn't leave the boat THAT day! When the fog finally cleared we decided to head back to Maine, as the locals advised us that it was a bad summer for fog, and we didn't feel like getting stuck in the next port we might manage to find in the murk. Oh, well, we'll explore Nova Scotia another time! Our views of Yarmouth (second shot is one a relatively clear day!!):

The people in Nova Scotia dedfinitely live up to their reputation for friendliness, though. At the town wharf (free showers and coin laundry for cruisers!) the attendant gave Liv some sidewalk chalk to help pass the time:

And the tides are very big! Neil and Olivia are standing underneath the ramp from the shore to the floating dock at low tide. At high tide that ramp is nearly horizontal!

Next: back to Maine...