We want to have some time to putter around the coast of Maine especially Penobscot Bay so we are turning back towards home. In the past we have always enjoyed our two week cruising vacations but they seemed so brief. It will be nice to cruise the Maine coast without a timeline and be able to visit places in Penobscot Bay that we haven’t had the opportunity to go to yet as well as visit some of our favorite spots.
The eastern shore of Nova Scotia has fewer anchorages than the southern shore and most of them are a few miles inland. We decided to do our best to find anchorages that stayed more on the outer edges of the coastline – doing so would be shorter and faster than deviating to anchorages in land. Our return route took us back to many of the same anchorages we had visited when heading east but we did find a couple of new ones along the way.
Unfortunately, there was not any sailing to be done. The prevailing winds were right on our nose the entire way. We did get some motor sailing in but most of the time we didn’t even bother to raise the sails.
August 1 – 2.
We left Baddeck on August 1 and returned to St. Peters Marina where we spent the night. Daryl and Janet Lyon and their pup Sailor were there on their boat Blue Chip. We had originally met them at the Shelburne Yacht Club towards the start of our trip up the coast and spent a little time with Daryl when he had moored next to us in Lunenburg. It was nice to see them again! We also met Craig & Karene White who sail a very nice Oyster 56. They are full time cruisers and it was nice to exchange stories of the places we have cruised in Nova Scotia and the British Virgin Islands and hear about the many other places they have visited since they started cruising about 3 years ago.
The next day we exited the Bras D’Or Lakes through the St. Peters Locke and returned to Yankee Cove for the night. Yankee Cove was just as pleasant the second time!
At the end of this leg we would be in an area that didn’t offer much in the way of anchorages on the coastline. Tim studied the charts and decided we would check out a little cove nestled between Tuffin and Little Tuffin Island. The cove is not designated as an anchorage on any of our charts or in any of the cruising guides. If the cove was unsuitable for anchoring then we would continue to a cove located off Hartlings Island where we had previously anchored.
Luckily the little cove at Tuffin Island was perfect. It offered good protection from the southern swell and the wind and was also very pretty. There is a nice little rock beach that was a great spot to land the dinghy so we could take Shamus to shore. We were surrounded by sounds made by seals and various types of sea birds from the time we anchored until we left. The noises made by the seals were beautiful but kind of eerie since we couldn’t actually see them. Tim and I agreed if we had the means to record the seals we could make a fortune selling the recording for Halloween parties and haunted houses.
Although I am sure at some point in history someone must have anchored in this location they had not bothered to make any notation of it on any charts so we took the liberty to christen the cove “Ghost Cove” when we noted our stay there on Active Captain.
Monday night we anchored in a cove on the southeastern end of Wolfes Island - another new location to us but this one was a designated anchorage on our charts. I think it may be the most beautiful spot we have been to so far – very Maine-like except for its sandy beach. We explored the inner and shallower parts of the cove with the dinghy and walked along the shoreline. The sand beach is small but very picturesque. It moved right up to the number one spot on our list of favorite beaches. The rest of the Wolfes Island shoreline was rocky. One area of the shoreline has a massive boulder that is flat and that has an incredibly smooth and polished surface. If I were a person who liked to sit on beach for hours on end I would take my beach chair right past the beautiful sand beach and set it up on this amazing rock. Tim and I, especially me, are not sand lovers. I absolutely hate getting sand all over me and in everything I have with me. This rock was a perfect place to kick back for an afternoon. It was warm and went right into the water. However, you would definitely need a beach chair if you planned to sit there for long. It is after all still a hard rock!
Although a popular spot for boaters from Halifax we had it to ourselves when we first arrived but a few other boats showed up for the evening. We saw a massive bald eagle sitting up one of the erratics. This bird was gigantic and we were looking at it from a distance! At first glance we actually thought we were looking at a person who had hiked up there to check out the view. Huge!!
August 6 - 7. We returned to Lunenburg. It is still our favorite town in Nova Scotia.
August 8 – Returned to Carters Beach. There were a few thunderstorms around us just as we were arriving but thankfully nothing directly overhead. Shamus was thrilled to be back on this particular beach. He had enjoyed digging in the sand when we stopped here heading east and decided he need to dig some more!
August 9 – McNutts Island.
McNutts Island is located just downriver from Shelburne Yacht Club. The anchorage itself is not particularly pretty but it does offers good protection for the night and we understand there are some nice trails on the island but we didn’t take the opportunity to find them.
August 10 – Rounding Cape Sable Island – Part 2
Wow! Rounding Cape Sable Island coming west was anticlimactic compared to our eastbound rounding . We read comments from one person who indicated that he has never had a smooth passage around Cape Sable Island. We have experienced both ends of the spectrum. There was hardly a ripple on the ocean on our return rounding compared with the big breaking swells we had before.
We anchored for the night in Swim Harbour (next to Clark’s Harbour). This anchorage is not very scenic but it is well protected and a convenient stop between Cape Sable Island and Yarmouth. There is an island where we could take Shamus to shore. It doesn’t have a great place to land the dinghy. The water shallows up quickly as you approach the island and then we had to climb out and then pull the dinghy up on some slippery, seaweed covered rocks. The island did look pretty from the boat when we got to shore we discovered it was littered with all kinds of trash that had washed up over the years.
August 11 – 12 Back In Yarmouth
We left Swim Harbour for Yarmouth on Monday morning on a rising tide. The tidal current added an extra 2 to 3 knots to our speed over ground. We didn’t break 10 knots but we got close at 9.88 knots. We arrived in Yarmouth right around noon and decided we had enough time left in the day to rent a car and run up to Halifax to get the truck. It was a very long day – roughly 34 nautical miles by boat and then 360 miles (6 hours) round trip to Halifax.
On Tuesday, Tim took the truck back to Portland Maine on the Nova Star ferry while I stayed in Yarmouth and did laundry, cleaned the boat and re-provisioned.
Tim arrived via the ferry back in Yarmouth about 9 a.m. and we set off for Westport / Briar Island shortly thereafter. Once again we left on a rising tide that gave us an extra 3 – 4 knots the entire way. This time we cleared 11 knots once or twice. Zoom!! We spent the night behind a breakwater rafted up with a local fishing boat. The island is very tidy and it was a nice place to walk around. We learned about the Ground Hog Day Gale that hit this area pretty damn hard back in 1976! The storm washed several of the historical buildings right out to sea. It was a doozy!
A nice little fun fact - Briar Island is also the childhood home of Joshua Slocum – the first man to circumnavigate the globe in a sailboat!
We left Briar Island for Grand Manan Island early in the morning. There weren’t high winds or big seas forecasted but both built during the day and we had quite a ride over to Seal Cove, Grand Manan Island. The winds were gusting up to 30 knots and the waves built to be approximately 12 feet – some smaller and some a little bigger.
We finally saw a whale!!! In all those big waves Tim spotted a huge whale breaching. We think it was a humpback! Magnificent! We watched it for several minutes. He was exciting to see but we were glad he was breaching where he was and not much closer to the boat!
We hadn’t really explored much of Grand Manan when we came through in May so we decided to spend the day there Friday and do some sightseeing. We were able to get a ride from Seal Cove up to North Head. From there we walked over to Swallow Tail Light which had beautiful views into the Bay of Fundy and looking back at fishing weirs and the town of North Head.
The west side of the island is uninhabited but we understand there are beautiful hiking trails there. We’ll have to check them out if and when we travel to Grand Manan again.
We had planned on leaving Grand Manan and checking into US Customs in Jonesport, Maine and then anchoring at Mistake Island for a night. Jonesport is listed as a check-in location on the U.S. Customs and Border Control web site. Thankfully Tim called customs to verify the check-in procedures because it turns out Jonesport is only a check-in site for commercial vessels – a little fact not mentioned on the website. The next most convenient site heading in our direction is Northeast Harbor on Mt. Desert Island. We were headed there anyway.
We’re back in the USA! It was a long but uneventful day. It is about 70 nautical miles from Grand Manan to Northeast Harbor. It took us twelve hours and it got a little bumpy towards the end of the trip. We had heard varying stories from other cruisers about clearing US Customs. Some said it was difficult to clear back in to the US but others said it was very easy. For us it was simple. Thank goodness. Tim called about 2 hours before we arrived to advise customs of our arrival late in the afternoon – about 5:30 p.m. We hoisted our yellow quarantine flag when we arrived and waited on the boat as instructed. We were hailed on the VHF radio when the customs officer arrived and told to come ashore with our documentation. He met us on the dinghy dock, checked our documentation asked if we had purchased any goods in Canada. He specifically asked us about produce – in particular oranges and green apples – these are not allowed to be transported to the U.S. from Canada even though Canada most likely imported from the U.S. in the first place. After answering his questions – he welcomed us back to the U.S., instructed us to take down our quarantine flag and have a good evening. The whole process took maybe 10 minutes.
Today, August 17, we cleaned up the boat both inside and out. It really needed it.
We really enjoyed our trip through Nova Scotia most especially the people we met but we are glad to be back in familiar waters. We are also looking forward to getting a few things here that believe it or not we couldn’t get in Canada such as American Cheese, edible pizza, decent breakfast sausage, and affordable beer to name a few! What we couldn’t get in our neighboring country will have to be its own blog post!