Sunday, September 5, 2010

8/28- Bay of St. Lawrence, Nova Scotia (Whales and Waterfalls)


Ann writes:

Another warm day with partly cloudy skies.  The water was flat calm.    Someone who identified themselves as working for the harbor authority came came down and asked for $23. Seemed a bit high given that Souris was $30 with full amenities. Departed at 8:08 am.  Today was a great day for whale watching.  We saw 6 pilot whales by 8:30, and at least 6 more by 9:30.  The last pod was probably bigger, but it was too hard to count them all. We also saw 2 seals, and at least 1 other pilot whale in the Bay of St. Lawrence.  Pilot whales are identified by their prominent fin and their habit of traveling in groups.  
The dramatic West Shore of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
We had to motor the entire way.  The landscape was dramatic forested mountains with many waterfalls falling off reddish cliffs into the sea.  At one point, there was a vein of quartz so big it looked like a glacier.  By 12:30 we were in the Bay of St. Lawrence and lowered the sails, continuing to motor.  We crept into the shallow MacDougall pond at high tide and made our way to the public wharf where Fred and Margrit Gahlinger were nice enough to greet us.
Creeping in the shallow channel to MacDougall Pond
There were a lot of fishing boats tied up, so we stuck out out past the end of the dock.  Allowance also had to be made for the 3-4 foot tidal range.  After lunch, we walked all around the town of St. Margaret Village.  The Jumping Mouse Campground that Margrit manages had beautiful little campsites and views of the Bay.
 The Stumpy trail leads back to the harbor through dense evergreens, hardwoods and open blueberry patches.  Across from the harbor, we found The Hut, which served take-out food and the brand of ice cream that Jon prefers, Scotsburn.  Then we got a bit overheated walking all the way to the Co-Op.  Fortunately, Margrit was also shopping and offered us a ride back. 
Jumping Mouse Campground overlooks the Bay St. Lawrence
I finally did some watercolor painting and Jon BBQ'd our steaks, which turned out to be more lean and tough than we like. 
Jon writes:
Bay St. Lawrence lies at the northern tip of Cape Breton, between two points: Cape St. Lawrence and North Point. It is an open unsheltered bay, but in the southeastern corner is a small harbor, on the chart called MacDougall Pond. Though the cruising guides suggested that there might be 8 feet of depth in the entrance, all of these ports are subject to rapid silting so there might be considerably less if it had not been recently dredged. If we could not enter, then the only choice would be to continue on overnight to Newfoundland.
Pilot whales off of Cape Breton
Approaching North Point, Cape Breton
I had enquired of everyone along the way if anyone had local knowledge. One couple on a southbound sloop in Shediac had been in there (but their Bristol only draws 4.5 feet). They suggested calling the Jumping Mouse Campground located on the shores of the bay, owned by a cruising sailors. I tried but got no answer. Then in Souris, Sam (who wrote his own harbors guide to Prince Edward Island) managed to call Fred and Margrit of the Jumping Mouse and determined that our 6.5 foot draft should not be a problem. Armed with this 3rd hand knowledge, we motored towards Bay St. Lawrence in light wind, wondering what we would find.
The entrance channel was less than a boat length wide - so narrow that if you did ground there would be no turning around - with steel cribbing to starboard and rock riprap to port. In we went, and found that there was actually about 12 feet in the narrow channel, but then shoaled to less than 8 as you approached the wharf (and this on a 2.5 ft tide). However we were in, and tied to the public wharf. In fact Fred and Margrit were there on the dock to catch the lines.
The barn at the Jumping Mouse Eco Campground
'Anomaly' in MacDougall Pond (click to expand)
'Anomaly' is currently lying Harbor Breton, Newfoundland, Canada

No comments:

Post a Comment