Sunday, October 24, 2010

Minesweepers: The ultimate solution to the Lobster Pot Problem?

Jon rants:

Over the intervening days after our lobster pot snag, I have been thinking of ways to mitigate the hazard to navigation that the Lobster Pot Problem represents. On the Nova Scotia coast I had been reading "The Caine Mutiny", picked up in Baddeck from the box of exchange books at the marina. Those familiar with the story will remember that the 'USS Caine' is a minesweeper, and in the book is a good description of the minesweeping process:

Paravanes (towed buoys designed to sheer well to the side of the towing vessel) are launched port and starboard, and carry with them abrasive coated lines which run laterally under the surface. When these abrasive lines contact the anchor line of the mine - or lobster buoy - it saws through the line and the hazard floats to the surface, where they are destroyed by 20mm anti-aircraft fire. You can see where I am going with this.....

In the Chesapeake, crab pots are a similar hazard. It is my understanding that there are now "pot free zones" established in some places in order to allow at least some recreational boating to take place unhindered by these fishing pirates. My suggestion is to sweep designated anchorages and channels in Maine using minesweeping techniques, removing these hazards as a public service.

I hope the Maine authorities will act promptly on my suggestion.

Friday, October 22, 2010

October 4,5,and 6- The Final Leg will not be forgotten

Wednesday- At 10:45, October 6th

Ann writes:

Thank goodness we have arrived at our final destination!
I was never entirely fearful, but when we were communicating with the US Coast Guard, I had fleeting visions of them taking us off Anomaly and leaving her to be bashed to bits, trapped in high seas on a lobster pot. And it all can be attributed to the fact that she's a very fast boat. But I digress....

We left Lunenburg on Jon's theory that we would sail through Monday night, Tuesday and night and arrive in North East Harbor (NEH), Mount Desert Island (MDI), Maine by the light of Wednesday morning, but it didn't work out that way. I remember thinking I would rather wait 12 hours and have 2 day legs and one night leg, but the weather report for late Weds. wasn't good. If I'd known it was also a new moon, I definitely would have made that request.
Things started ok with a chilly but lovely parting sunset over Lunenburg, but as total darkness fell, with no horizon and rough, bounding conditions, I began to feel really ill. It also got extremely cold. I had to take more drugs which made me drowsy. I was able to spell Jon on watch for awhile, but he didn't get much rest due to the boisterous conditions and the odd behavior of the frequent fishing vessels. Some of the nautical lighting schemes didn't seem to make sense and it was sometimes difficult to tell what was coming at you. Monday was a rough night that didn't set us up well for the rest of the voyage.

By the time I came up on deck Tuesday morning, things had calmed down a bit in the gulf of Maine. I saw some porpoises, a seal, and 2 different little birds landed on the rigging for a short while The rest of the sailing was actually pretty good, and it became apparent that our good progress had us arriving in the darkness of early morning. There was a definite possibility of tangling with Maine's famous seafood.

The trouble started around 3AM Weds. Jon was finally sleeping and I noted we were drifting slightly from the heading he specified. I knew it probably wasn't significant, but I was absorbed by studying the instruments. It was a dark but starry night, and I became aware of faint shapes zipping by. I finally decided to rouse Jon, and then some of the buoys started hitting the boat, so we definitely were in amongst the lobster pots, more than 9 miles offshore in over 250 feet of water!

Jon decided to turn around, but almost immediately we were stuck. It was 5 am, total darkness, a storm coming, and the sea bashing the transom as Anomaly strained on the lobster pot. It was just about 5AM. I'll let Jon tell the rest of the story, but just short of ordering an expensive rescue 4 hours later, we popped off and were free again. After another 2 hours of dodging pots all the way into the harbor, we arrived.

In summary,
2568 nautical miles (just under 3000 statute miles)
6 provinces
2 states
2 countries

Jon writes:

As we turned southwest from Lunenburg along the southern Nova Scotia shore, the wind increased from the east and soon we had 2 reefs in main and mizzen. We dodged one large dragger that completely ignored (or perhaps was ignorant of) our presence. It was quite a rough sea, with 20-25 knots from the east following up on the strong wind from the south over the last couple of days, and neither of us were feeling our best. As we neared the southern tip of Nova Scotia, there was more traffic: cruise ships heading north towards Halifax, fishing trawlers moving randomly, and one peculiar assemblage that must have been a tug and tow. They had been paralleling our course offshore, but closing the distance and then turned to go west. I wanted to be a bit further south to avoid the places on the chart marked "tidal rips", many of which had names like "The Rip", "Tail of The Rip", "Horse Race", etc.  These are caused by the strong currents turning the point out of the Bay of Fundy. When less than a mile distant a powerful searchlight came on from the tug and picked us out. He must have seen our radar transponder and wondered what we were. They finally altered course to pass astern, much to my relief.

As we turned west around Brazil Rock, it became apparent that we were well ahead of the speed needed to arrive in Maine in the morning: we had covered the 93 miles from Lunenburg in less than 12 hours. The next 20 miles to Seal Rock took less than 2 hours, running through the water with speeds often in the high 9s, and carrying sometimes 2.5 knots favorable current. Into the next morning the wind lightened, and nearing noon it was down to 4 knots. Had it stayed strong, we might have made Maine by nightfall. I kept two reefs in both main and mizzen to slow down even more, so that we would not be too early reaching the coast.

At midday I started the engine to charge the batteries, and shifting into gear revealed that we had picked something up on the prop the night before, bad vibration at any speed above idle. This meant that the engine could only be used with care for manueuvering to dock once we arrived in Northeast Harbor. Eventually the wind picked up to 8 knots or so, and it became quite a pleasant, leisurely sail at 4 or 5 knots, calm sea, double reefed though the afternoon and night. Then about 4 AM Ann woke me with the news that she had seen lobster buoys.

This seemed unlikely since we were still 10 miles offshore and in 250 feet of water. We had not seen lobster pots set this deep or this far offshore anywhere in Canada. But sure enough there they were, lots of them. And very difficult to see with a slight chop and no moon. I had planned to hove-to if we arrived early, but as we were already among the pots it seemed inadvisable: hoving-to drifts the boat sideways, making it more likely you will snag one. So I decided to turn around to retrace our path further offshore (and presumable towards fewer buoys) until daylight. Within a very few minutes, it became apparent that we had caught one as our speed dropped to less than a knot and it became difficult to steer. I got the sails down and we were essentially anchored, stern to the seas.

Our route, Lunenburg to Maine (click on chart to expand)

The wind was up to 12 or 14 knots, and the waves were getting getting noticeably bigger and pounding the transom every so often with a resounding thump. The common advice when caught on a lobster pot buoy is to hook the line with a boathook, try to untangle it and if unsuccessful cut the line. As dawn broke I found I could extend the one good boathook (the other had gotten bent by an errant sheet crossing the Cabot Strait and would no longer extend) and by leaning over the transom with the end in one hand, hook the line tethering us to the pot. But there was far too much tension in the line to have any hope of hauling it on board, or close enough to cut. Even holding on to it at all was difficult: the stern was heaving about 4 feet vertically in the waves. I tried taping a saw to the other boathook, but it was impossible to hold the line high enough to reach with the saw reliably, impossible to keep the saw in anything close to the same point on the rope. And then the boathook disappeared. I had been able to hold onto only the end grip when the stern rose to its height on a wave, finally the grip came loose from the pole and all I held in my hand was the grip. That eliminated the possibility of cutting the rope from onboard.

I had considered diving in to cut the line, the recommended method #2 if you cannot untangle it with a boathook from the deck. A fine idea on a calm and sunny day near shore, this presented a number of serious challenges on that morning: First, the water was 60 degrees and we had no wetsuit on board. Your ability to work in those conditions declines rapidly after only 5 minutes or so. Second, as soon as the line was cut, the boat would head downwind at 2 or 3 knots, faster than I would be able to swim after it. The line seemed to be tangled on the prop or saildrive so the motor might not be available; in any case we knew from the previous day that something was already wrapped on the prop and it was marginally functioning in the best case. That meant that Ann would have to do a man-overboard recovery under sail by herself. I put my own chances of successfully recovering a man overboard in those conditions with a crew and functioning engine at less than 50%, Ann had never sailed the boat by herself before so with no engine or other crew the chances of success seemed very small indeed. Third, the only way to re-board 'Anomaly' was to put the transom door down (a midships boarding ladder is designed, but not yet built); in the sea state present the pitching of the stern would make this a dangerous exercise even if the boat could be positioned for recovery. In summary diving in to cut the line seemed foolhardy. Nor did I think we would be able to launch the dinghy, from which the line might have been snagged and cut. That would require putting the transom door down and launching into the waves which were already breaking against the transom, occasionally with considerable force.

Sometime during these operations I called the Coast Guard to enquire about commercial towing services in the area. They contacted the BoatUS affiliate who said he was 35 miles and at least 4-5 hours away, assuming he could find a diver (which he somewhat doubted). He thought the cost would be at least $1000, possibly much more and no cap (my BoatUS membership would pay for the first $50...). I asked the Coast Guard for other services that might be closer, only one dive service was offered (and turned out to be a wrong number) along with the phone numbers to the harbormasters in the area who might be able to help. Calls to these numbers got only answering machines, it being early in the morning and after the season was essentially over. The wind continued to increase, and the forecast still called for gale force winds (35 knots or 40 mph) by noon.

Finally I called the boat yard that was to haul 'Anomaly', figuring that they might know someone in the area. To my surprise, they answered at 6:30 AM, were sympathetic to our plight, and started to organize a boat and diver to come out and help. This was a great relief, as other efforts seemed to be going nowhere. So we waited a while, and in thinking about what might be holding us I shifted the transmission to neutral. Normally it is kept in reverse while sailing to keep the propeller feathered and stopped. It occurred to me that if the buoy was stuck on the propeller or between the propeller and drive leg, perhaps letting it freewheel would allow it to unwind or unjam. When I did so, there was no perceptible change. However a few minutes later I noticed a change in the boat's motion, and going topsides saw that we were free and drifting ahull! It was now after 9 AM, we had been stuck on it for over 4 hours.

We were still in a sea of lobster pots and now drifting down on them, so I quickly set the mizzen to get some control over the boat, then started the engine. I tried a very momentary shift to forward and the prop seemed to be free to turn. Shifting into forward, we began to motor normally - in fact whatever had been tangled in the prop the day before now seemed to be gone. And so we motored towards Northeast harbor, altering course every 30 seconds or so with both of us spotting lobster buoys, often difficult to see in the rising seaway of whitecaps and breaking waves. The buoys continued for 10 miles, all the way into the harbor.

We finally tied up to the dock at Northeast Harbor Marina, and I went ashore to begin the customs clearing procedure, as we had come from Canada. The harbormaster said he was one of the ones called to come out and dive on the line but had declined, feeling it was too rough to be safe. It took a couple of hours for the customs man to drive from Bangor, but then we were cleared and back in the USA! Having arrived after the season rate change, the berth which would have cost $113/night only a week before was now just $24/night.

When the boat was hauled, it was very difficult to tell what had happened. There were some rope abrasion marks on the starboard side of the rudder but no obvious marks at all on the prop or saildrive, or on the leading edge of the keel. It is still a mystery how we were tangled, and why we came loose. There was a small bit of gill net wrapped on the hub, all that remained of whatever was picked up off of Nova Scotia. I have since learned of this device, and will be sure to have one in Maine. While this would result in the loss of the expensive trap, I no longer have any sympathy for lobstermen, they show a complete lack of restraint: we saw pots set all over harbor anchorages, within a boat length of docks, in the middle of buoyed channels, and often in large fields less than a boat length apart. Navigation at night or in bad weather is done at your peril, navigation even in good conditions requires constant weaving and vigilance. While they are entitled to make a living, they are not entitled to co-opt the ocean for their own exclusive use, which in effect is what has happened. I am told the density of pots has increased markedly in the last 5 years (there are now over 3 million of them in Maine according the the fisheries department). It is surprising that there is a lobster left on the bottom. In addition, I saw several lobster boats operating without courtesy or regard for anyone or anything. Leaving Northeast Harbor, I watched as two boats came by the No Wake buoy with sufficient speed nearly to swamp it. We experienced the wakes of their coming and going for several days in both Northeast Harbor and Somes Sound.

These rope abrasions in the paint are the only evidence of our "catch and release"
The Volvo saildrive leg and Autostream feathering prop. They appeared untouched by the lobster line.

'Anomaly' is currently on the hard in Somes Sound, Mt. Desert Island, Maine

Thursday, October 21, 2010

10-4-10 Lunenburg

Monday- crisp and sunny

Ann writes:

Needed an extra blanket to sleep well last night. Got into town around 9 am for a yummy blueberry tea biscuit at Sweet Indulgence. It was more like a fritter really. The have wireless internet and terrible, milky mocha's- the waitress tried really hard to make one and asked how it was, so I'm not sure what happened there.

We got to the Atlantic Fisheries Museum in time for the 10:30 Lobster Lore talk. I really enjoyed the young docent's presentation and even got to pet a very unhappy lobster. Amongst other things, I learned:
  • Lobsters can be any one of the 3 primary colors- yellow, blue, or the dominant red
  • Lobsters hate each other and fight constantly. The ones in the tank with the longest feelers are freshest because the feelers get bitten off
  • Boys have bigger claws, but girls have bigger tails (to carry the eggs), so choose according to which meat you prefer
  • Anything bigger than 2 lbs will be tough and more likely to be caught in fishnets than a lobster trap.
  • Rubbing a lobster on the head will calm him down.
We checked out all the outdoor boats on display and had a great conversation with the captain/docent on the Theresa E. Connor. He was from Jersey, which was one of the abandoned outports we saw across from Harbor Breton, Newfoundland. They had much less than Grand Bruit - no outhouses, pails for water, and a warm brick in bed for heat; much later a generator for the town that was started each evening and run until morning. His sailing career of 31 years was cut short by corporate buyout. He tried the Icehouse and Walmart before landing the job at the museum.

After Jon "launched" a schooner, we found the recommended Magnolia Grill with a line waiting for lunch. We finally both had the scaw-lup chowder and fishcakes. I decided they were ok, and more like fish than those at Fisherman's Friend, but I'd rather have straight fish. I imagine that wasn't a choice when they were devised by combining what fish they had with potatoes.

Jon from Napa and John from San Diego launch a schooner in Lunenburg

I zipped through the gift shops while Jon had his latte, but got hung up talking to artist Gail Patriarche. I couldn't believe she was working on a full sheet watercolor paper (300lb) with just a little grumbacher travel kit. She gets impressively rich color for a watercolorist- I wonder if it's because working from pans can lead to using more pigment and less water. She gave me some tips - strongly believes self learning from books is better than classes so that you can synthesize your own style from many artists, not just one teacher. I bought one of her prints to be mailed home. I noticed her bio says she uses Henemuhle w/c paper and Ultrachrome Inks - that means an Epson inkjet!

Later, Jon looked up giclee and it's just the French word for inkjet, spraying through nozzles, and was coined to distinguish from off-set lithography. AND, more importantly, the original giclees were printed on very expensive Iris printers with dye-based inks, whereas todays pigmented inks are far superior in quality. Bottom line: My prints are giclees!
(n.b. apparently have to use the term with some caution in France where the actual term, having to do with nozzles, has taken on an obscene meaning in some regions.)
We returned to the museum a lot later than intended, which meant, fortunately, I didn't have a lot of time to linger over the displays covering death at sea. The Bluenose history was much more inspiring and encouraging, and with that we finally sailed out of Lunenberg around 6:15 pm.

Jon writes:

We walked around town looking at the peculiar bay hip dormer that is called the "Lunenburg bump" by the real estate people here. There were a few in Mahone Bay but quite a lot in Lunenburg.

The distinctive Lunenburg Bump

The next two days were forecast to be winds from the northeast and then east at 20 - 25 knots, thereafter clocking around from the southwest and west  at 35. The course is southwest down the coast of Nova Scotia, then turning the corner at Cape Sable west northwest to Mt. Desert Island. So it would be downwind to Maine for the next two days, but upwind for several days thereafter: a guarantee of a slow and uncomfortable sail. Based on that, we decided to leave Lunenburg just before sunset, sail through the next day and night which would have us arriving the 2nd morning if we could maintain about 6.5 knots average. This seemed preferable to sitting out another several days on the Nova Scotia coast waiting for better weather which might never come in October. So we slipped the mooring and left Lunenburg, hoisting sail just outside of the harbor and tacking into the southeast wind out to sea and towards the USA.

Leaving Lunenburg harbor, Maine lies 230 miles ahead
'Anomaly' is currently on the hard in Somes Sound, Mt. Desert Island, Maine

10-3-10 Mahone Bay to Lunenburg

Sunday- Bright, cold sun

Ann writes:

     A 3rd night in a row of not sleeping well- this time I was too cold. I had asked Jon to put the summer side of the travesac on the bed and of course, the weather changed, AGAIN.
The sun looks like blinding glitter on the water. We saw a seal and 2 harbor porpoises that were so close you could hear them almost snort as the exhaled upon surfacing. Around 11:30, an unnamed Nonsuch sailed by.

     We arrived in Lunenburg around 1 pm. There is surprisingly little accommodation for recreational yachts in this town famous for it's shipbuilding history. We motored the length of the waterfront, and none of the floating docks that were advertised in the Waterfront Development brochure were there. We finally settled on the small Yacht Shop floating dock only to be told that it was scheduled to be removed at 8 am the next day (it was not). The Bluenose II reconstruction foundation now owns the property and wants everyone out due to liability concerns.

     We walked up into town trying to find more info, but the Yacht Shop was closed on Sundays and the Excursion ticket office didn't know, but thought there might be a harbor masters office in the Atlantic Fisheries museum. The clerk at the museum was at least able to give us the harbor masters phone number, but even better, she paged one of the captains on staff at the museum. He came out presently and assured us that the moorings were the best way to go, so that's what we ended up doing.
He also recommended the Ice House or Dockside for food, so we tried the Ice house which is in the museum building. My scallops (pronounced scaw-lups in NS) and Jon's fish N chips were very good. They also had bottomless, unsweetened ice tea which is almost unheard of in Canada. Unfortunately, no expresso, so Jon had to wander about to find that elsewhere. I got really overheated with all my boat layers, and had to go back to the boat and change.

     By the time we got the boat moved to a mooring, it was after 5 and although there were several streets to explore, only a few places were open. One place that is closed for the season is Laurie Swim's absolutely mind-blowing quilts. There were several shops carrying prints of her work showing Nova Scotia scenes. Unbelievable how she captures landscapes, sea and skies with fabric. Jenny's Jib is a shop also worth a visit with items not normally seen in the familiar tourist trade, like custom painted lamp shades. 

Lunenburg Street Art - The Lunenburg Fish Project by Huck Fisher metalworks

     We spent the rest of evening wandering around and viewing the old homes and their distinctive "Lunenburg bumps". Lunenberg is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site due to it being a classic example of a historic British colony in North America and the care with which it has been preserved.
We tried to eat dinner at Dockside, but it appeared to have been taken over by a very large and noisy family, so we tried Banker's Grill instead which was very expensive for chowder and salad.

Jon writes:

We motored from Mahone Bay to Lunenburg in light wind, watching the tour excursion sailboats drift out of the bay.

Approaching Lunenburg
Here is the Bluenose II, undergoing restoration (remove old hull, install new hull...) though they will not let you near it.

The 'Bluenose II' undergoing deconstruction
We picked up a mooring after exploring the waterfront. The brochure handed to us in Halifax by the Waterfront Redevelopment manager showed a choice of floating docks, none of which are there anymore. 

Panorama of the Lunenburg waterfront (click to expand)

'Anomaly' moored among the schooners, Lunenburg harbor
'Anomaly' is currently on the hard in Somes Sound, Mt. Desert Island, Maine

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

10-2-10 Exploring Mahone Bay

Saturday- Pouring rain, sun, another squall

Ann writes:

Waited out the rain and then headed for the laundromat which was a real rip-off. The washers were $3 /load, and the attendant was very condescending, telling me how "commercial washers and dryers worked". The bottom line was he wanted us to load them less (and he'd get more $$) I felt like telling him I've been using commercial machines for the last 6 years, and they worked better for less money than his ratty old hardware. We had to sit there the whole time because he said he'd charge us even more money if he had to unload a machine to make room for someone else.

We treated ourselves to an excellent lunch at Mateus Bistro where I had the chicken caesar. The wind picked up making transit in the dinghy wet and unpleasant, but we unloaded the laundry and went back to get Jon a cinnamon biscuit and latte at Jo-Anns. That was the last biscuit, so I had to settle for the pumpkin muffin instead. I also sampled the oatcake which was not nearly as good as the other items.

JoAnn's Bake Shop, a fixture in Mahone Bay

I cooked rotelle arrabiata on board, and then we went back at 7pm for the pumpkin display. We could hear the celtic singer way out on our mooring in the bay. There were 150 pumpkins carved by only Jo-Ann and Linda with exquisite detail and grouped by themes- nautical, Picasso, churches, candles, flowers, cats, hearts. It was THE event of the week and packed like sardines with people of all ages and nationalities.

Nautical jack'o lanterns

A scary Starry Night

A homage to Pablo in squash
'Anomaly' is currently on the hard in Somes Sound, Mt. Desert Island, Maine

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

10-1-10 Chester to Mahone Bay

Friday- Grey and foggy, humid fog, sun, then rain

Ann writes:

We had a rough night bobbing up and down like a cork on the mooring ball. Very few signs of life in Chester. We followed Captain Cheryl Barr's route in the Nova Scotia Cruising Guide past Indian Point. I tried to guess which house was hers. It was windy, but we didn't sail because there were a lot of rocks to avoid.

A modest cottage on a private island in Mahone Bay

The village of Mahone Bay looked more promising than Chester except for the zombies that appeared to be all over town. Once ashore, we discovered we had arrived during the annual Great Scarecrow Festival. 

Three churches at the head of the harbor are Mahone Bay's postcard

We had a nice late breakfast at Eli's where I had a delicious smoked salmon omelette, but don't order the mochacino. It was so sugary I had to throw it out. Once fortified, we were able to cruise through all the shops, even the shoe store sale. 

There were tourists all over town for the Scarecrow Festival

 We hurried back to the boat around 3 because the weather looked really threatening, and we didn't want to get drenched in the dinghy, but it didn't start until 11 that night. I cooked dinner on board and spent the evening painting.

Jon writes:

We motored to the town of Mahone Bay and picked up a city mooring off the wharf. The town was having a festival going into the weekend and crowded with tourists - us among them. There turned out to be many famous residents of the town:

The Harem of Mahone Bay

The Witches of Mahone Bay

Alice's friends from Wonderland and the Looking Glass

Political Dignitaries

Many rock stars live there

Very nice local couple with colorful hairdoos
'Anomaly' is currently on the hard in Somes Sound, Mt. Desert Island, Maine

9-30-10 Halifax to Chester

Thursday- Very foggy

Ann writes:

Today we saw 2 tunas jumping out of the water and 3 seals. It was extremely foggy when we left Halifax, and the Sambro Light disappeared into the fog. It was a white-out, so I went below to nap and still couldn't see anything when I came back on deck 2 hours later.

Finally around 3 pm, the fog was lifting from Mahone Bay and we could begin to see Little and big Tancock Island. There was a huge, unattractive motor yacht anchored near a large estate, and as we were watching, a helicopter landed on the deck. We snared a Chester Yacht Club mooring, but the yacht club was deserted when we went ashore. We walked around town, but almost by Jon's design, it was after 5 pm, so all the little shops were closed.
We had an excellent dinner at the Rope Loft- a delicious lobster bisque, and good medium-rare hamburger (it's difficult to get Canadians to cook hamburgers anything less than medium). We had the added bonus of watching the the last sailing race of the year finish right at the restaurant.

Jon writes:

We navigated out of Halifax by Braille, turned down the Sambro channel running buoy to buoy in the fog. I would not have attempted it without GPS and radar, unfamiliar as I was with the area and its currents & many rocks. The wind rose to 6 knots by 1115, so we put up the sails. 15 minutes later I handed them again, as the wind died to 3 knots and the slatting in the left over Atlantic swell was too annoying. Up again at 1300 with about 7 knots, and we sailed the rest of the way to Chester.

View from the helm leaving Halifax

What happens if you don't pay attention

Fog finally clearing over Sandy Cove Pt., Mahone Bay
We picked up a mooring at the yacht club, but the club and in fact the entire town of Chester seemed shut for the season. Good dinner at the Rope Loft watching "The Last Damn Race of the Season" (as it was billed). A bit of wind that night in the mooring field coming from the south made the dinghy ride to and from the dock a bit wet. It would have been much quieter in the back harbor which is better protected from all directions and just as close to town.

Moored off the deserted Chester Yacht Club
'Anomaly' is currently on the hard in Somes Sound, Mt. Desert Island, Maine

9-29-10 Making New Friends in Halifax

Wednesday- Humid fog.

Ann writes:

Can't miss a morning at Starbucks if there's one nearby. The bona fide one on Sackville has free wireless, too. After catching up on email, I went to the Nova Scotia Art Museum. I especially liked the Folk Art Bird sculptures by Ralph Boutilier- they were built as whirligigs, but the bird images are strikingly real.

After tracking down the dahlia beds in the Public Gardens that I had missed the first time, I spent the afternoon gift shopping. Then we had a very nice visit from Jane & Jamie Morrison and Glen Brunt. They seemed to enjoy touring the boat, and they took us to dinner at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron where we met up with Glen's wife Deb. I thought the food was quite good, and we found out that Jamie and Jane were Apple fans too, having been in the desktop publishing business from the very beginning.
There was a terrible Bob Dylan wanna-bee wailing on the dock when we got back. Fortunately he stopped singing at 11 pm.

Jon writes:

Great dinner at the RNSYS, and great to meet face-to-face long time fellow Nonsuch owners. Glen and Deb keep their boat in Mahone Bay are were able to give us some up to date information for the area.

A cormorant dries and stretches in preparation for another day of boat sullying

'Anomaly' berthed with the HMCS Corvette 'Sackville'
'Anomaly' is currently on the hard in Somes Sound, Mount Desert Island, Maine

Saturday, October 16, 2010

9-28-10 More Halifax

Tuesday- Foggy

Ann writes:

We had a good breakfast at Perk's especially if you like strongly maple-flavored bacon. Jon led onwards to the Starbucks in the nearby Marriott, but as with the habit of Starbucks in hotels, there the wireless internet was not free.
Halifax has all kinds of things to do and explore. I overheard that there are 5 universities and 7 colleges here, so there is a youthful quality to the venues.
The maritime museum was packed with tourists just off the bus, so we decided to come back later for FREE admission on Tuesdays after 5:30. Instead I dragged Jon into the Dancing Beaver where I found amazing watercolors by Inae Kim and Julie Wilson. Kim's 'Snow on the Lake' is pretty amazing for a watercolor.
We did some provisioning at Pete's on Dresden where we found big chunks of Cows Cheddar as the clerk in the Cows ice cream shop had advised. I grabbed an avocado sushi and continued on my own to find Atlantic News which did have Kerry Brown's notecard "Elsie" I let her know by email, however, that they didn't have the "full selection" of her cards as she had believed. The Nova Scotia Liquor Store had Bailey Irish cream for about 50% more than the U.S.
I had a sugar and cinnamon Beaver Tail, really a cross between a donut and a waffle. There had been a booth in Tobermory last year, but it was closed for the season, so I wanted to try one. Later I cooked an early pasta dinner before we visited the Maritime Museum. I could have spent more time there, but we went on to the Shakespeare performance. The pair playing Juliet and Romeo were very good, and the overall performance was just a bit rushed and uneven, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.
It makes me appreciate the quality of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, even tho' I'm not very happy with them at the moment. Every year at about this time, they start calling non-stop- I'm sure to ask me to renew or some such stupid thing, and I find this incredibly annoying. First of all, I'm out of the country, so it costs me $$ to pick up that call. I don't like unsolicited phone calls in any case, and I even emailed subscriber services where they promised to mark my file as such. However, the phone calls have continued, and I'm considering dropping my subscription altogether.

This is the only moose we saw in all of Canada
'Anomaly' is currently on the hard in Somes Sound, Mt. Desert Island, Maine

9-27-10 Halifax does not disappoint.

Monday- brisk and sunny

Ann writes:

     We found a Starbucks before we even expected one on Sackville, but first we got tickets to the production of Rome & Juliet at the Neptune Theater.

Halifax waterfront in the backgound

     After grabbing a real mocha buried in Canadian whipped cream (yum!), we explored Arglye, the Paperchase news store, and the shops on Spring Garden Road. I took Jon's picture at the 1 Starbucks Jon didn't visit the entire time we were in Halifax


The entrance to the Public Gardens is at the end of Spring Garden road. The garden is a lovely tranquil place with many beautiful trees, flower beds, a lake and the biggest, fattest geese I have ever seen. The two Toulouse Dewlapped Geese, Finnegan (male) and Flora (female)", are so fat they have huge double chins and their bellies drag on the ground.

A well fed goose

On the other side of the garden is the Halifax Citidel, and we showed up just in time for the 12:30 tour in english, which I insisted we follow over Jon's protests of starvation. Our tour was led by an excellent guide who said he was one of the supervisors.

We learned:
  • Kilts differ from skirts in that you wear something under a skirt.
  • There are 4 seasons in Halifax- Almost winter, Winter, Still Winter and Road Work
  • Pigeons are really day bats.
Standing guard at the Citadel in kilts

Finally had lunch at Q, a BBQ place that was not great- strange gravy on the brisket. We went back to move the boat to a hopefully less bouncy spot on Sackville landing which turned out to still be subject to incoming wakes and waves. On the way, I stopped to talk to artist Don Manning who gave me lots of tips, including that DeSerres art store is just a few blocks away. I bought some of his bookmarks and notecards of harbor scenes.

As soon as we were settled again, I dragged Jon off to see tugboat Theodore II- it's just soooo cute! 

We explored the shops beyond the ferry bldg. then went back to The Lower Deck for a bowl of seafood chowder and the blueberry grunt, which still turned out to be too much food. I guessed it's called a grunt because you feel like a pig after eating it!
However, as borrowed liberally from King Arther Flour:
First you take a quart of blueberries (Cape Cod aside, wild blueberries grow in profusion on low, scrubby bushes scattered over rather barren land in Maine and all over the Northeast; the tiny tart ones from Maine are by far the most famous.)... preferably, tart Maine blueberries, stir in some sugar and water and put them in an iron spider (a cast iron skillet) or casserole dish that can sit on a burner. (Grunts used to be cooked in an open cast iron Dutch oven over the coals of a fire.) Then you top the berries with blobs of biscuit dough and let it cook very slowly.

As the concoction begins to heat, bubbles slowly work their way up from the bottom of the pot to break through the biscuit dough topping. The small snufflings you hear from the pot on top of the stove today probably sounded like a significant grunting of pigs in the huge cast iron pots that were used 300 years ago.
Jon writes:

After exploring the possibilities, we moved three blocks downtown to the Pilotage Wharf, a bit quieter both on land and sea, and almost no seagulls. Just the Pilot boats coming and going at all hours. We were again among civilization, for the first time in nearly a month - there were 3 Starbucks within walking distance!

Three blocks down at Pilotage Wharf - no seagulls and still downtown
'Anomaly' is currently on the hard in Somes Sound, Mt. Desert Island, Maine

9-26-10 Halifax lifts our spirits

Sunday- Another gloomy day in Liscomb. I'm sure it's very nice in better weather, but I will always remember it as a camera eater.

Ann writes:

I think we both were very happy to see Halifax. I don't normally think of myself as a city girl, but the first sign of real civilization since Charlottetown was very encouraging. There were all kinds of interesting things to look at, and even the sun came out.
It was pretty dark by the time we got settled right next to Murphy's on Cable Wharf, so we popped right up for a nice chowder and I had the lobster wrap which was fairly good, although we continue to marvel at how much Canadian restaurant food costs.

Jon writes:

Motored out of liscomb river and were able to raise sail in the bay and sail all the way to Halifax, ghosting into the harbor on a dying breeze. 

Entering Halifax harbor on a dying breeze

On the way I was able to call the waterfront harbormaster and determine that there was dockage available on the downtown waterfront. The alternative was the Northwest Arm of the bay, most of the yacht clubs are here but it is some distance from downtown. We struck sail in front of Cable Wharf downtown, tied to the float  and walked up to Murphy's restaurant built on the wharf. The good news about the waterfront berth is you are right downtown in a compact, walkable provincial capitol city (in this respect it was similar to Quebec City and Charlottetown). The bad news is that it is quite busy with cruise boat tourists, street musicians and the like; and not well protected from the surge working into the harbor from the sea as well as the many wakes from ferries and shipping that run all night. The particular case of Cable Wharf also had a plethora of seagulls, with their associated detritus. 

Murphy's Cable Wharf on the Halifax waterfront - dinner was not far away!

'Anomaly' is center frame on Cable Wharf, from the Citadel
'Anomaly' is currently on the hard in Somes Sound, Mt. Desert Island, Maine

9-25 Bad day for Ann

Saturday- rain, fog, drizzle, showers, no sun

Ann writes:

     I had to cook breakfast since the Lodge didn't have any reasonable breakfast items. They seemed to be more set up with buffets for conferences with little to offer individuals at a reasonable price.
     By noon, it looked less drizzly so we decided to hike the Liscombe trail. This turned out to be a bad mistake for me. They blamed the trail condition on the recent hurricane, but I don't think you can fix slippery rocks, tree limbs and bogs. Every 10th step was a real struggle over the 6 mile course that was advertised as 4. My ankles started to give way after 3 1/2 hours and I just wanted to get out of there. Finally, I really whacked my head on a tree branch, and I must have brushed against something else because the next time I took my camera out, the LCD screen was broken. The camera actually still works, but you can't see what you're aiming at, or any of the controls since everything uses that screen. What a bonehead thing to do; I am so upset! I just want to go home...

Jon on the suspension bridge before  Ann broke her camera

The tree on the trail that did Ann in
Jon writes:

The trail started out for the first 2 miles as a smooth graveled path, then suddenly decayed into a scramble over roots, slippery rocks, downed trees, and bogs. And of course half way through it began to rain. It was a pretty place though, and would have been much more so in the sun, I'm sure.

Liscomb River at the Lodge

Beautiful trail - for 1.5 miles or so!

Trail? Actually, much better than bush whacking, but not a stroll, either...

The cascade of dark tea water at the top of the trail

I guess it wouldn't be Nova Scotia without a little moisture?

'Anomaly' is currently on the hard in Somes Sound, Mt. Desert Island, Maine

Friday, October 8, 2010

9-24 Country Harbour to Liscombe Mills

Friday- grey drizzle, cool and wet.

Ann writes:

     I'm still dozing a lot; I don't see how I can sleep so much. Maybe the drugs are still in my system. The only points of interest were the Cranberry Point Lighthouse that has a strangely shaped outbuilding next to it, and the bald eagle we disturbed in the channel on the way in.  We arrived at Liscomb Lodge marina around 3, and Chester answered the radio and came to help us tie up. Said he'd worked there 33 years.

Liscomb Light at Cranberry Point on Liscomb Island

    We tried to warm up with specialty coffees in the lounge. There was no fireplace and 2 drinks were over $20. Dinner later was very expensive and Jon's planked salmon was dry. My Digby scallops were good, but the chive risotto was a bit undercooked and tasteless. I'd recommend the blueberry crumble over the chocolate trio.
     It's quite wet and grey which doesn't help the ambiance. The river is nice even though the organic matter gives it quite a tawny brown appearance. Liscombe Lodge has a large building with hotel style rooms, but I'd go for the little cabins along the river if I had to pick. They're really cosy looking and it looks like each one has it's own fireplace.

Jon on lawns sloping down to Liscomb River
Ann admiring the hydrangeas
BTW- this area can't seem to agree whether the spelling is Liscomb or Liscombe.

Jon writes:

After weighing anchor and getting the thick mud washed off the anchor and chain, we began motoring in light winds down the coast 30 miles to Liscomb. The Liscomb Lodge is about 8 miles up the harbor and river, and is a large hotel and conference center run by the province of Nova Scotia. The channel is narrow but marked, and we arrived at a somewhat ramshackle dock wondering if that was really it. But Chester, the marina manager for 30 years answered on VHF to say go ahead and tie up, just don't tie to the Hurricane Earl damaged bits. We were the only one there in what is supposed to be a very popular spot. You get the run of the resort (hiking trails, indoor pool, etc.) included in your $40 berthing fee. We ate at the restaurant famed for its cedar planked salmon (perhaps living on its reputation?).

View of 'Anomaly' in the Liscomb River from the restaurant deck
If you were looking for a secluded quiet week in the woods, this might be a good place. The setting is beautiful and the cabins are oh-so-cute.

'Anomaly' is currently lying Northeast Harbor, Mount Desert Island, Maine