Sailing to Canada

Good feelings abound, we are sailing Ingomar out of Cape Cod bay on a warm sunny day heading north towards Nova Scotia, Canada. It’s 2:30 in the afternoon on a warm, sunny day. We raise our sails in 17 knots of wind and head for the top of the crescent that forms Cape Cod. As we clear land the winds rise to 25 but ease to a steady 20 knots from the south and we get ready for our crossing to Nova Scotia. Ingomar clears the bay making great time. The tide is carrying us swiftly out to sea and we see 9.5 knots. We make a steady 8 knots throughout the day until evening. The conditions on the water are near perfect as the sun sets into a beautiful painter sky.

Captain sets our course for Nova Scotia
Heading out Cape Cod Bay
Cool sailing
Offshore sailing – Nova Scotia

Filbert is having trouble getting comfortable, he just can’t seem to find his rhythm. He goes below, looking for a place to tuck in and then comes back into the cockpit, circling around us. I put a soft fleece blanket in his carrier and he finally tucks in for a long nap. I’m not sure if he’s uncomfortable sailing or if he is cold. Yeah, I forgot to mention, it is freezing!

The temperature out on the water at night is brisk, and we are wearing layers upon layers of clothing. A thin layer of smart wool, covered in fleece, topped with a wind layer and then we have on a combination of wool and fleece – socks, mitts, toques, and neck warmers. Topped with our PFD of course. That night we crank our Espar and take turns going below to warm up. Filbert throws in the towel around 10 pm and retreats to the warm interior to sleep. I envy our cat sometimes.

The next day is entirely the opposite. Once the sun rises it is lovely and warm with bluebird skies and calm waters. We lounge in the cockpit biding our time. When we sailed out of Portsmouth there were lobster buoys all over the bay but they lessened and once offshore they disappear. Yet we begin to see what looks lie buoys but discover that they are balloons. An inordinate amount of helium balloons floating on the water. We count 28 in one day! Lethal to sea life, once they deflate, fish and turtles mistake them for jelly fish and eat them. This of course is detrimental to their health and often results in death. It’s sad to see.

We are making excellent time and arrive off the coast of Nova Scotia on our second day out. About 70 miles out from the south west tip, we pick up on favourable tides from the Bay of Fundy, which carries us along at 8 knots. Our timing is a little off because of the speed we’ve made and it looks like we will arrive at Halifax in the dark. That’s not ideal but because we are too cold there is no hurry to slow down.

An incredible moon accompanies us in the evenings. Dressed in a strawberry hue, she rises each evening, a beautiful sight on dark nights. It’s amazing how clear the stars and moon are out on the water with no light influences from land. We have come to know our constellations rather well.

The best spot for Sunsets
MVP goes to our auto helm
Cat reflections on sailing
Sunset Gazing
Captain Fillybear
Tumultuous Sky

On the last evening, 3 days into it, we sail past the Bluenose II, looking tall and majestic in the water. Our destination is the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron (RNSYS), where we figure we can pick up a mooring ball and clear customs. We pull in around 3:30 and it is flat calm and quiet. Its been a fast and easy sail but the temperature has shocked all of us. Our Espar has kept us warm with multiple cups of coffee, tea and bullion. All said, we are pleased with this run. The smell of pine as we sail into the bay that night is everywhere, a sure indication we have arrived back in Canada.

Wayne, the dockmaster at RNSYS, is welcoming and wakes us early the next morning to tell us the mooring we picked up is too light for our boat, so he advises us to come into the fuel dock. We call customs and the two men who come aboard make us feel so welcome. I always feel as if I am doing someone wrong in other countries but our Customs officials are wonderful.

This is a great spot to hang for a couple of days and thats exactly what we do. Our friend Simon who we keep running into, first in Newport, then Annapolis and now Halifax, gets in touch and offers to drive us around for a tour of St. Margarets Bay. It’s a beautiful spot and we visit Peggy’s Cove, a place we’ve sailed passed several times but never visited. We have a bite and hang out with Simon at his place catching up on each others lives.

Hanging out with Simon at his awesome spot
Simon and Al
Peggys Cove
Simon at Peggy’s Cove
The Lighthouse, Peggy’s Cove

Next morning we say goodbye to RNSYS and head into downtown Halifax. Halifax is boater friendly, making it easy for us cruisers to get into the heart of the city. Bishops Landing is our spot, right in front of the Bicycle Thief, a favourite restaurant of mine. We walk around the city and explore, it is bustling with activity. After provisioning and some exploring, we grab a bite, and then hang out on Ingomar. Filbert is delighted to be able to jump off the boat and explore the docks as well.

The Bras D’or Lakes are incredibly beautiful and because we were in a bit of a rush coming down, we have decided to take a week and explore them. We leave Halifax next morning with the intent on reaching the locks in a day. But once again the elements foil our plans and we end up spending 5 days on the coast of Nova Scotia, lost in fog and high winds. It became known as the Great Fog Slog.

Foggy and sunny
Yes, its foggy

We finally reach the lakes where it is warm, sunny and calm. St. Peters marina, just inside the locks is up and running, so we tie up for the night. A friendly local boater, Alan, offers us a ride into St. Peters, where we fill our propane tank and get some provisions. Next morning we sail to Baddeck, a well known boating community on the western side of the lake. Sailing into the channel we’re surprised to hear our boat name over the VHF. It’s Tom from S/V Courage who sailed up from the BVIs a week after us, a fellow vagabond who we hung out with in the Caribbean.

The Locks – come ashore!
Filbert Exploring

It is one of the best feelings to come into a port and meet up with a fellow sailor. We get the anchor down and run into town because we need an oil filter. OK, actually Al goes to find an oil filter and I head to the Baddeck Yacht Club. It’s Friday and the place is hopping. I try a local beer made called Black Spruce, while waiting for Al and Tom.

They arrive shortly with Fabian, a German traveller whom they had just met. Fabian is doing a pan-American trip in his BiMobil with his girlfriend and 2 dogs. We instantly all hit it off and spend the evening getting to know one another. Fabian invites us for a tour of Cape Breton the next day and we are game.

Al, Tom and Fabian
On the beach in Ingonish
Look at that there
Ingonish Beach
Drone times
Bimobiling

The Bimobil is awesome. It can go almost anywhere and thats his plan for his adventure. We talk about the parallels between his adventure and ours as sailors. We’re all exploring, just using different modes of travel. The Cabot Trail is beautiful, and we spend the day driving around, stopping in Ingonish on the beach for lunch. We drive to the northern tip of the trail and stop out on a headland awed by the sheer beauty of it all. Fabian gets his drone out and capture some sights. A random restaurant stop on the way home turns out to be an excellent choice, offering fresh lobster and halibut. Its late when we get back to Baddeck but reluctant to say goodbye, we head to Ingomar for a nightcap.

Winding down

Nova Scotia has been super and while the weather was nothing to get excited about the friends we met and made while visiting sure were.

Author: tess

A full-time adventurer, I am sailing our 37-foot Tartan with my husband and kitty, to the Caribbean from Newfoundland while documenting it on our blog, greatbigsail.com

1 thought on “Sailing to Canada”

  1. Hi,

    Isn’t Canada awesome, why do people wander to the corners of the globe when we have so much to offer? Then there’s our weather!!

    Your photos and blog certainly makes me want to spend time in Nova Scotia.

    The batmobile on the Cabot Trail, what could be more fun?

    Love and kisses,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.