Damions Cove was a short sail from St. Peter’s Marina. The winds were soft to start but as a front was moving in they increased quite a bit making for a fun sail. We stayed in Damions Cove for two nights. We took Shamus to shore on McNabs Island. It is a small island with a thick interior so we only walked the perimeter of the island. We were the only boat there so perhaps that is why the bugs seemed to concentrate on us. There were some mosquitoes and deer flies but there was another bug that looked similar to a mosquito but obviously wasn’t as it was larger and didn’t seem to have any interest in biting us. Still they were very attracted to our boat. The first night there we left the back of the enclosure open and in the morning there must have been a hundred of them (not including the dead ones) in our cockpit and all over the transom. The second night we closed the cockpit up entirely but there were still bugs all over the transom in the morning. They left a mess between dead bugs and what I can only imagine is ALOT of bug poop! Yuck.
We left Damion’s Cove under sail and after about three hours chose to anchor in Little Harbour because it was convenient to do so. The winds were shifty at first but by the time we entered Little Harbour they were blowing at a steady 18 knots gusting up to 22. The entrance to Little Harbour is narrow but once inside it is a large and well protected harbor. It was a hot day and the deer flies started to find us while we anchored. We quickly took down the plastic panels of the cockpit enclosure and put up the screens and armed ourselves with fly swatters to kill any deer flies that were captured inside during this process. It cooled off beautifully at night and it was the first time on our trip that we have been able to sleep with the boat opened up to let in the breeze - screens closed of course!
We enjoyed a slow morning at Little Harbour and then motored over to Marble Mountain. This anchorage isn’t a private location as there were houses on shore, lots of motor boat traffic and a couple other sail boats at anchor. We just lazed around on the boat after anchoring and rowed over to a spit of land and sand bar to swim and play with Shamus. We had another “Oh No!” moment when we got to shore. I was getting something out of the dinghy and turned just in time to see Shamus lift his leg and pee on a golden retriever who we later found out is named Bruin! First time I have ever seen Shamus do this. Once again we are thankful that Bruin’s owners laughed it off and that Bruin being a water dog was swimming around the rest of the afternoon getting a good rinse!
One of the more interesting things about the Bras D’or lakes is that there are sand bars or spits in a lot of anchorages and they shoal up very steeply at the shoreline. Tim was able to dive into the water off the bar at Marble Mountain. He estimated the slope in the water to be about 45 degrees. Most powerboats and even some sailboats simply pull up to the beach bow first and set their anchors on shore. I must say it is very unnerving to see a sailboat with a six foot keel motor right up to the beach and not touch bottom.
We haven’t gotten very far into the Bras D’Or Lakes just yet. There is a large race called “Race the Cape” that started today. It is a 5 day point-to-point sailing race along Cape Breton Island’s coast and into and through the Bras D’Ors Lakes. Each day of the race ends with a catered meal and some evening entertainment. We want to make sure the race has passed through Baddeck before we get there sometime next week.
In the morning we got some exercise walking up Marble Mountain Road. We were looking for the hiking trail that overlooks the old marble quarry but didn’t find it. Marble Mountain Road is long and very steep so we definitely got some good exercise.
After returning to the boat we decided to go to Denys Basin which is essentially located on the other side of Marble Mountain about 17 nautical miles (nm) by boat – which would take us roughly 3 hours at 6 knots. We left around 11:30 a.m. and there wasn’t a wisp of wind. That changed somewhere between 1 and 2 p.m. when the wind picked up to about 13 knots so we pulled out the head sail and shut the engine down! Yay!!! The sail into Denys Basin was beautiful! We wound our way between several small islands and the mainland of Cape Breton Island. The shoreline is relatively undeveloped and other than one or two motor boats we were on the water by ourselves.
When we arrived at Denys Basin we found a large house and some sort of industrial looking building built on the shoreline of the basin. After such a beautiful sail that felt so remote it was a bit of a disappointment to have to spend the night looking at the buildings so we motored a very short distance over to Seal Cove. Once again we found the depths on the chart plotter and the description in the cruising guides for Seal Cove differed so we entered the cove cautiously. The chart plotter showed a depth of 7.2’ in the anchorage but our depth sounder didn’t drop below 12’ which was more in line with the cruising guide’s description. We arrived late in the afternoon so we relaxed before taking Shamus to shore, eating dinner and calling it a night!
The next morning we left Seal Cove and motored to Maskells Harbour. We passed through the Barra Strait and the draw bridge at Grand Narrows into the Upper Bras D’Ors Lakes. Maskells Harbour is about 6 miles southwest of Baddeck and we thought it would be a good a place to spend a couple days until the “Race the Cape” leaves Baddeck Wednesday morning.
Maskells is by far the prettiest anchorage we have found in the Bras D’Or Lakes so far. The harbor is surrounded by steep, tall hills and thankfully the property owners have decided to leave the shoreline undeveloped. On top of one of the hills there is a rolling green field where a pretty little lighthouse overlooks the lake. At the other end of the field from the lighthouse sits a beautiful barn and farmhouse that we could just barely see from the boat. There is a small spit of rocky shoreline that juts out into the harbor that has a little dock and boathouse. The property owners encourage yachters to visit the shore and the lighthouse. We really enjoyed poking around this little harbor. Shamus especially enjoyed sunning himself in the grass by the lighthouse!
Tuesday, was a rest day in Baddeck for the sailboats participating in “Race the Cape”. Baddeck is less than an hour from Maskells Harbour. A few of the race boats and one motor boat full of racers came down and whooped it up for bit but other than that both nights were quiet.
We really enjoyed this spot! For you oyster lovers, the beach was full of them.
This morning we had a beautiful downwind sail to Baddeck from Maskells Harbour. It was nice to see all the sailboats in the “Race the Cape” under sail as we approached Baddeck.
Tomorrow and Friday the weather forecast is calling for rain. We will grab a shuttle bus to Halifax to get the truck and then spend the next several days exploring the interior of Cape Breton Island.