Friday, September 3, 2010

Shediac to Charlottetown: "You DO drink, don't you?" (8/20)

Backing up a bit because Ann is much more diligent than me at keeping up.....

Shediac to Charlottetown

There is nothing to tell about the 60 mile run across the Northumberland Strait to Charlottetown, other than we had an east wind ("we never had east winds in the summer") that was also too light to make for good sailing. But I did try, and gave up two or three hours in the process. Had there been anything like the 10-15 knots forecast, that might have helped, or a favorable current rather than adverse. Then there were the ubiquitous lobster pots to dodge, and a nasty little chop under the Confederation Bridge far out of proportion considering the light wind driving it. The bridge is large, but nowhere on any document could I find the clearance listed, other than 49 meters at the center two spans (which are obviously higher than the others). As it turned out, the spans on either side are probably more than 100 ft, and we could have gone under most of them.

Approaching Confederation Bridge - will we clear?

In any case we arrived at the mouth of Hillsborough Bay at dusk, and it is nearly a 9 mile run up into the harbor. It is well buoyed and well lit, so the main hazard were the lobster buoys dropped in some cases directly in the buoyed channel. On approach to the harbor a call to the Charlottetown Yacht Club was promptly answered with the news that it was full up for the night, and a suggestion to call Quartermasters Marina next door. Which I did, on the same channel as I could find no annotations otherwise in the cruising guide and channel 68 is almost universally used for marina operations. There was no answer from Quartermasters so we determined to go in and have a look. 

The problem is that the entrance is very narrow, perhaps only 30 or 40 feet, leading to three narrow fairways between docks. With no idea where to go we proceeded slowly up the first fairway towards the fuel dock, decided we really needed to have all the lines and fenders on the other side but there was no room to idle and move them and certainly no room to turn around, so I backed out again, turned around, and backed down the same fairway. By now we were drawing a small crowd, even though is was 10 PM. The more sober among them promised to hunt up some marina personnel, and by the time we tied to the fuel dock they were there. We could stay, but would need to move to the third fairway right to the end against the wall. It was a tight spot requiring backing in through the narrow entrance, making two sharp 90 degree corners, backing down to the end of the fairway, then making another sharp 90 into the assigned berth. So, out into the main harbor again, swap all the fenders and lines to the other side, then back down the obstacle course and finally tied up for the night. My GPS track of the evening looks like a yo-yo. 

At that point we were offered drinks by the Live Wire of the dock. I pleaded for restaurant advice instead, which was supplied along with another offer of drinks. I said I was hoping for dinner first and was asked in a severe tone, "You DO drink, don't you?" to which I replied of course, for fear 'Anomaly' might be cut adrift in the night had we been teetotalers. We were directed to Gahan's Irish Pub which not only served food well past 10 PM, but quite good food at that. And I did sample some of their in-house brewed beers, too. We had brought our umbrellas as a precaution, since there appeared to be some squall activity coming, but were unprepared for the deluge of near Biblical proportions that began just as we finished dessert. There were creeks forming in the streets as we made our way back to the dock and it continued for hours afterwards. 

Charlottetown is a very nice spot to spend a few days. Being the provincial capital, it has cultural attractions and amenities; being the capital of a province with a total population of about 150,000, it has a distinctly small town atmosphere. The old town near the harbor has been kept free of eyesore signage, the the buildings are for the most restored originals of the historical town. There are numerous restaurants and shops, though for a supermarket one has to go a mile or two inland. 

We met Paul and Christine who were embarking on an ambitious boatbuilding project and shared their knowledge of the Nova Scotia coast they had cruised numerous times. They were kind enough to lend us their car to do provisioning and see a part of the island. 

We met Chris and Monica, owners of the Nonsuch 30 berthed in the marina, who drove us around the east end of the island as our tour guides. They had lived on Prince Edward Island some 40 years and seemed to know every harbor and point. 

Ann and Monica
The Rest of the Story

'Anomaly' is currently lying Harbor Breton, Newfoundland, Canada

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