What "Time Enough" Did This Summer|
I know this report is overdue, but better late than never. As the leaves fall and cold weather comes on Carol and I are having serious boat withdrawal, so it's nice to reflect on cruises past, and provide our boating friends with some winter reading.
Summer starts for us with the MOANE Lake Champlain rendezvous around July 4th every year. We were there again for the I-don't-know-how-manyeth time (I think we've been to all of them for at least a couple of days). Champlain always provides great sailing and great camaraderie with other Mac owners (and former Mac owners). We launched at the fine NYS ramp at Willsboro Bay and found Sam and Arlene on PUFF STUFF and Bill and Siobhan on MENTAL FLOSS just launched and waiting for better weather. We all had a fast downwind romp to meet the rest of the group at Valcour Island. Trying to keep up with PUFF STUFF was to provide a real challenge for the next week. There were 10 MOANE boats at Valcour and probably over 50 others. The rest of the week took us north to Burton Island and Peliot Bay, then south to Shelburne Bay and back to Willsboro, the wind cooperating in an unprecedented way. Of course it helped that we chose our course according to which way the wind was blowing (good planning, Pam). Boats with spinnakers got a chance to play with them and Pam had the satisfaction of passing almost every boat in the fleet on the long run from Peliot Bay to Shelburne. If the trip lasted a couple more hours she would have got us all. We ended with our traditional dinner at Willsboro Bay Marina after a week of great sailing, raft ups and partying.
Instead of heading south back to Albany as usual we turned our truck and trailer north and headed up to Quebec and the maritimes. In three days we were on Prince Edward Island, with overnight stops at Kamouraska, Quebec (on the south shore of the St. Lawrence), and Miramichi in northern New Brunswick. Our destination was Linkletter Provincial Park on the shore of Northumberland Strait just west of Summerside, PEI. There is no launch ramp here, but it gave us a land base at $17. a night so we could explore and get our bearings. That's $17. Canadian, which at an exchange of $1. CAN = $.65 US is only $11. US. That 35% discount on everything was one of the many nice things about our Canadian vacation.
The next day we left TIME ENOUGH at Linkletter (our odd looking camper) and drove to Charlottetown, PEI's capital and largest "city", actually more the size of a large town. The countryside of PEI is beautiful - gently rolling hills, well tended farms(mostly potatoes and dairy), small towns of tidy houses, and everywhere lovely views of the sea. PEI is mostly undiscovered and undeveloped; the farms roll right down to the edge of the sea. The small harbors are living, working fishing ports, not a lot in the way of recreational marinas and tourist traps. There is a marina at Summerside, Charlottetown, a couple on the east end of the island, and that's about it. They do encourage tourism and folks are very friendly and welcoming. You can get guides that will describe every possible sight to see and concert to hear. One of the main attractions to us was the traditional fiddle music that is very prevalent in the maritimes and we went to our first of many Irish/Scottish concerts that first night.
Our next step was to find a place to put TIME ENOUGH in the water. We explored Summerside, a very pleasant town on PEI's south shore, and found Summerside Yacht Club. They welcome the public, have a good launch ramp, great facilities, a good restaurant, walking distance from downtown, and only $17CAN a night slip fee. We had found a home! Dick Wedge, a founding member, virtually adopted us, allowing us to leave the trailer in his barn and inviting us to crew on his J-36 on an overnight race the following week. All this the first day we met! We launched TIME ENOUGH and the next day jumped ship on to Cajun Spirit and set out with Dick and his grandson David for a very rough, wet ride across Northumberland Strait to Shediac, New Brunswick. We pounded under motor power into thirty knot winds, until reaching a bit of a lee on the New Brunswick side we were able to raise some sail. Carol took the helm of a real racing boat - 8 knots with double reefed main alone and heeling 35 degrees - quite a thrill! The next day we met more crew members and started the race at 6 PM. The weather had moderated and we had a lovely evening and night sail down the Northumbrian Strait to Charlottetown Yacht Club, finishing about 6 AM. It was my first experience racing and I loved it, especially with someone else making the decisions.
We spent the next two weeks in Summerside, exploring the island by truck, reuniting with our friends Richard and Mary Manning, who had sailed their Dana 24 from South Carolina up through Lake Champlain in May, down the St. Lawrence around Gaspe and caught up with us in Summerside July 19. We attended several more musical events, including Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival and playing ourselves at the local coffeehouse and a ceilidh. Summerside Yacht Club was so comfortable and friendly it was hard to move on, but finally we untied our dock lines and sailed to the east end of PEI. The west and north shores are rather exposed with few sheltered harbors. The east end is best provided with sheltered rivers and coves. Our first night we went into Picette River, on the south shore just east of Charlottetown. The entrance was well marked, but definitely shallow draft boat territory, with shoals inches deep either side of the narrow, twisting channel. The next hop brought us to Murray Harbor, one of several well sheltered coves off the Murray River on the east end of PEI. Once again lots of very shoal water - you have to keep an eye on the chart all the time. All of PEI is surrounded by shallow water; no problem for us but off limits for most cruisers. We only saw a handful, 6 or 7, cruisers outside of marinas. Most local sailors did not carry a dingy and mostly sailed from marina to marina. More common were working boats. Lobster, oysters and muscles are the main catch. PEI is famous for their cultured muscles and large areas of protected water are filled with buoyed lines growing muscles. We spent about a week gunkholing around the east end of PEI. Nova Scotia was visible to the east, but the truck and trailer and other cruising friends were waiting back in Summerside so we headed back there, 60 miles under power in 12 hours.
The reason we hurried back was that we heard via pocketmail that our friends Doc and Nancy Murphy had arrived in Summerside on their 38 foot ferro cement cutter the Mrs. Murphy. Doc alone could easily be the subject of a letter, or a book. A retired high school band teacher and musician, he spent 8 years in his backyard in Altamont, NY (near Albany) bringing the Mrs. Murphy from a bare ferrocement hull to a beautiful custom finished yacht. Finally launching late fall of 1992, Doc and Nancy were caught in a December gale at Atlantic Highlands near Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and the Mrs. Murphy was thrown onto the dock pilings and sunk. No insurance. Undaunted, Doc raised her from the muck(a story in itself - the harbor muck was defined as toxic waste and had to be hauled to a special facility. It couldn't be hosed back into the harbor.) and spent another 5 years cleaning, repairing and restoring her. In 1997 he triumphantly sailed her back up the Hudson River for a second christening. This year they sailed from their new home in South Carolina, up the Hudson, through the Champlain and Richleau canals (barely squeaking through with their 6 foot draft), down the St. Lawrence and on to PEI and Nova Scotia, then on to Maine, Cape Cod and back home. Doc sails from one mishap or catastrophe to another, always cheerful, smiling and upbeat. They ran aground so hard in the St. Lawrence that the engine was broken off its mounts, and they motored all the way around Gaspe with the engine slung on a hoist chain to keep it aligned with the shaft. Amazing!
We had a joyful reunion with Doc and Nan in Summerside. Doc is a fiddler also and we played some tunes together and performed at Fogarty's Cove, the local coffee house. We showed them around PEI, Carol and I almost feeling like Islanders by now. Doc got his motor mounts fixed and we both set off on our next leg to Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, us by land and the Mrs. Murphy by sea.
August 8 we drove across the Confederation Bridge to New Bruswick and stopped overnight at Pictou. Doc was to stop here a few days later; literally stop, as he ran aground again - no damage this time. The next day brought us to Whycocomaugh (Micmac for head of the waters) on Bras d'Or Lakes, Cape Breton Island. Carol and I had land-cruised here the previous summer and scouted out a launch ramp and place to leave the truck and trailer in the provincial park. We got Time Enough into the water without a problem and spent the night tied to the government dock.
Bras d'Or is an ideal cruising ground. Not really lakes, they are connected to the sea via narrow straits in the northeast and a canal in the southwest, and are salt water, but very protected and with very little tide. The shores have a scattering of houses and camps, but are largely undeveloped. There are islands and bays and protected anchorages all over the place. You can pick up oysters for dinner on the shoreline. There are two good towns for provisioning, Baddeck in the north and St. Peter's in the south. This would be a great place for a MOANE rendezvous or Magnum Opus, the main drawback being that they are so far away. It would mean two days driving at least just to get there. We spent the next morning watching eagles nest, then had a good sail to Baddeck. This is one of the main centers on Bras d'Or, with a couple of small marinas within walking distance of town and all the shops you might need. The Alexander Graham Bell Museum is a must see. Bell's summer home is visible over looking the lake. We continued on to the south, accidentally finding an isolated, protected cove behind some islands that weren't where we thought we were? In other words, we were lost. Nice spot, though.
Another days sail brought us to St. Peter's and a very nice marina run by the local Lions club, just in time to meet the Mrs. Murphy coming from the south via the St' Peter's canal. We had another pleasant reunion and sailed up to Marble Mountain the next day. This is an abandoned quarry that now has a small (20X20) museum. After a couple of days gunkholing we returned to Baddeck, then parted company with Doc to return to Whycocomaugh and use the truck to attend a music festival at St. Ann's. Doc rented a car and drove the Cabot Trail around Cape Breton Highlands National Park. If you do travel up here, I strongly recommend taking this trip - the scenery is spectacular! On Monday we encountered Doc sailing our way near what we called Eagle Island for the dozens of bald eagles that soared there. We borrowed his video camera and videoed the Mrs. Murphy under sail. With a good breeze up she sailed past us like we were standing still. We sailed together for several more days, often being the only boats anchored in beautiful, pond-like coves. While the US sweltered, we enjoyed pleasant temperatures in the 70's. The water is clean and warm enough for swimming, although we didn't swim very often; it just wasn't all that hot. August 22 we parted company with the Murphys and sailed back toward Whycocomaugh. The last day we had our only mishap of the summer. The wind came up very strong and the dock by the launch ramp was exposed, with a 2 foot chop. We landed OK on the outside of the dock, but were trying to line TIME ENOUGH around the end of the dock to windward and couldn't keep her off, and rough boards on the dock broke a window and marked the topsides. We gave up retrieving that day and waited for things to calm down. The following day we retrieved with no problems and headed home.