Playpen is cruising again. After accompanying Skooch from the Chesapeake Bay to New Bern for the Rensezvous 2004 in May, Playpen spent a few weeks home and then cast her lines for Nova Scotia.

Installment 4

New Brunswick to La Have River

8/3/04 Bouctouche to Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia 46nm

After breakfast John helped us off the dock (the wind was blowing
again), and we zigzagged back out to Northumberland Straits. The wind
blew 20+ as we crossed the straits against the current to Prince Edward
Island. We secured at the Silver Fox Curling & Yacht Club in
Summerside. The facility has the largest curling arena in the world–6
lanes accommodating 48 curlers at a time on the ice. In the summer the
arena is turned into a catering facility. We watched the Weather
Channel to monitor Hurricane Alex and the low in the St. Lawrence. Our
anemometer had been reading 20-25 while sitting at the dock. After
dinner we strolled down main street, bought a few groceries, and avoided
ice cream. We decided to monitor the weather situation in the morning.

8/4/04 Summerside to Charlottetown, PEI 46.5nm 5 3/4 hrs
At 0600 the anemometer read “1"; so off came the lines. We caught the
current for a cloudy, little bit rolly ride to Charlottetown. We like
the historic, touristy capitol of PEI. We caught a video and
dramatization of Canada’s Founding Fathers discussing the beginnings of
a Federation. The profitable comfortable Maritime provinces weren’t
crazy about joining Ontario, but they eventually acquiesced. After
delicious Cow’s ice cream we returned to Playpen for weather watching on
TV. It sounds like a yucky few days ahead. We strolled through town
for a self-guided house and garden tour (Fred had his 2nd ice cream).
It was a delightful a day and evening.

8/5/04 Ch’town to Pictou (Pick-Toe) Nova Scotia 45.5nm 6 hr.
Another cloudy, slightly bumpy morning ride. We waited a few minutes
for a sailboat to move and provide dock space for us at the Yacht Club.
We were docked across from Hector, Canada’s Mayflower. Pictou is
Canada’s Plymouth rock. The citizenry is super nice and friendly. The
hardware store owner drove Fred to the marine store for $1.00 worth of
screws, the sailboater left his restaurant lunch to move for us, the
carpenter at the Hector found and cut a piece of wood for us; and we
were invited to a birthday party on the dock. We had ice cream for
dinner and went to a Ceilidh (Kay’Lee) where we were entertained by
fiddlers, singers, and 2 young award winning Scottish dancers. The
weather forecast called for high winds and rain (again).

8/6/04 Pictou to Freeman Island, Lennox Passage, Nova Scotia
The winds were calm and the sky overcast at 0700 when we left Pictou. A
few miles out the rains came, and the winds picked up to 25–sure glad we
have a pilothouse and radar. Seven hours later we entered Canso Straits
and lost the wind. The Canso locktender told us we wouldn’t bother to
tie up–just float through–huh? We hung fenders and affixed lines (just
in case), and the rain turned to a drizzle as we approached the lock.
We sat in the middle of the lock as the back gate closed, and the water
receded about a foot. The front gate opened, draw bridge raised, and we
motored out–easiest lock ever! The only dockage available at Port
Hawksbury was along tires tied to the government wharf. With the 6'
tides we would ride above the tires at high tide and below them at low
tide. We opted to anchor in the bay. Upon further investigation of
forecast winds we decided to up anchor and get to a more protected
spot. Two hours later we anchored “below” (as both guidebooks said)
Freeman Island in the Lennox Passage. It was a quiet, rainy, lonely,
dark spot.

8/7/04 Freeman Island to Baddeck, Bras d’Or Lake 51nm 7 3/4 hrs
We slept in, the Capt changed a fuel filter, and Sharon cooked while
waiting for the fog to lift. By 1100 we were bored; so fog or not, we
hoisted the gooey muddy anchor and set off. Visibility was about ˝ mile
but got a little better as we rounded the island. The forecast was for
20 kt winds in Bras d’Or lake, increasing to 30 tomorrow. The guidebook
says (in bold print) when entering the lake from St Peter’s Canal be
sure “starboard marks are left to port” ok... We navigated under clouds
and drizzle through the lake and yet another lock to the typical tourist
town of Baddeck, the northern most port of the lake and our turn-around
point. We strolled through town, had dinner at an Inn, avoided ice
cream, and returned to Playpen for a movie. The local regatta ended and
the raucous partying went on til 0400 outside our porthole.

8/8/04 Baddeck to Clarke Cove 26nm 2 3/4 hrs
We awoke feeling grumpy after a noisy night and walked to the Alexander
Graham Bell Museum. Mr. Bell was quite extraordinary, and his museum is
very well done. The rain clouds parted and blue clouds appeared; so we
headed down the lake. We were now officially headed home. The wind
blew 20+, but the lake was comfortable and the pastoral scenery lovely.
We anchored in Clarke’s Cove under Marble Mountain behind a marble chip spit.

8/9/04 Clarke’s Cove to St. Peter’s 17.7nm 3 hrs
Pampero, who had shared our anchorage dropped off fresh blueberry
muffins for breakfast. We dinghied into the canvas-covered(!) Dock at
Marble Mt. We hiked up the hill and ran into Pampero’s crew. Together
we perused the tiny Marble Mt. Museum and learned that the 3 children of
the area ride 1 ˝ hr to school each day. We then walked a little
farther to the marble quarry and picked up a few rocks. We left
Clarke’s Cove under bright sunshine and headed for the town of St.
Peter’s at the St. Peter’s Lock. The marina had a perfect spot for us
to sit out a torrential thunderstorm. The clouds preceding the downpour
were black on black–the darkest we’d ever seen. We doubled up lines and
hunkered down, but we go no winds. Mother Nature kindly washed every
grain of Lake Bras d’Or salt off Playpen. As usual the Canadian boaters
and staff were very friendly.

8/10/04 St. Peter’s to Isaac’s Harbour 65nm 9 1/4 hrs
Fred changed the sea water pump on the generator, and we were off for
our last, we hoped, lock. We only lowered about 1', and 2 visiting kids
opened the gates for us. We entered the Atlantic with 3' swells and
sunshine. We’d been told to run “whistle to whistle” down the Eastern
Shore coast as there are many uncharted rocks close to shore; so we
headed out to the sea buoy whistles about 3 miles out. The swells grew
to 6', and our speed decreased to 7.5 kn as we rolled down the ocean to
Isaac’s Harbour. The harbour was flat, and with the anchor set in gooey
mud, we enjoyed a steak dinner and sunset.

8/11/04 Isaac’s Harbour to Liscombe Lodge 31.6nm 4 3/4 hrs
The ocean was kinder as we cruised to Liscombe River and Liscombe
Lodge. We secured at the lodge dock, kayaked the river around the
corner to a falls, rode bikes around the extensive property, and had a
wonderful planked salmon dinner. Lodge life is good! Several sailboats
moored in the narrow river, and we could barely see them through the fog
before we went to bed.

8/12/04 Liscombe to Halifax 87.5nm 11 hrs
Fog!! We slowly picked our way down the river. At the ocean the
horizon opened up, and we had a smooth ride to our turning point at
Tangier Harbour. Conditions weren’t great, and the forecast was lousy;
so we altered our course and headed for Halifax Harbour. We secured at
a floating dock downtown, right in the middle of the Busker Festival.
Weather-secure dockage would have been up the Northwest Arm, but winds
were light; so we opted for downtown. The festival is a showcase for
street performers. The wharf was mobbed with spectators, junk vendors,
and performers. At 2300 everything shut down and all was quiet. We
watched news of Hurricane Charley before bedtime.

8/13/04 Fri 13th Halifax to Mahone Bay 51.6 nm 6 ˝ hr
After a leisurely breakfast we strolled the empty wharf and admired the
Canadian Naval Museum ships. The fog lifted a little by 1000; so we
were off. VHF weather forecasts give scant weather but detailed
locations of fishing gear. The weather sounded ok for the next few
days. The ocean turned out not to be as good as forecast. It was foggy
and windy with 6-8' close rollers. We were very glad to be secured at
the small gov’t wharf in the community of Mahone Bay. The fog lifted
and the seas calmed as we got into the bay, and we had a delightful
evening admiring the old fishermen’s architecture and gardens in this
quaint town known for its 3 churches in a row at the head of the bay.

8/14/04 Mahone Bay to Lunenburg 19nm 3.5hrs
The ocean was still foggy with 30+kn winds and 8-10' rollers, but after
a rolly 2 hr ocean ride, we managed to secure to a commercial fishing
dock in Lunenburg. We couldn’t see much through the fog, and the
floating dock was rocking with us. We weren’t sure this was the safest
place to be. We used the marina’s internet to check of Charley and then
had a call from Don on Annie. We were supposed to catch up with Annie
for this trip, but they ad a 3 week head start. It turned out the they
were now just 3-4 days ahead of us, but...Fri. 13th had been real bad
for them. Charley took the roof off their Punta Gorda home, and they
were stuck in Nova Scotia awaiting a weather window. We made tentative
plans to meet for the ME crossing. Meanwhile the fog lifted, wind
abated, and seas calmed, and we thoroughly enjoyed pretty Lunenburg.
The seaside consists of commercial wharves with old and classic deep sea
trawlers. The harbour was full of moorings holding pretty sailboats,
and across the harbour was the green manicured golf course. Town has
working marine yards, a huge maritime museum, pretty Victorian houses,
lots of shops and restaurants, and 3 horse drawn carriages. Just
outside the harbour a Canadian destroyer has been scuttled and is used
as a popular dive site. We settled in for an early night and then the
dock squeaked very loudly all night long.

8/15/04 Lunenburg to La Have River 24nm 4 hrs.
The morning was clear and calm, and we had a short pleasant ride up the
La Have River to the town of LeHave. We secured to a commercial dock at
the La Have Bakery, but the scalloper was coming in to our spot and
30+kn winds from Charley were forecast; so we moved up river to
Bridgewater. We secured at a wall in front of the HMCS Fraser, a 1950's
Canadian submarine chasing destroyer that is lovingly being restored by
a volunteer civic organization. The gentlemen who explained the project
to us was most enthusiastic, and offered us a tour in the morning. We
strolled through town–larger and not as quaint as some of the previous
towns, but a good place to provision. We were told not to dock at the
dock in town (10min walk) because the kids would bug us. Turns out they
like to stand above and toss things down on visiting yachts. The
forecast rain came, but no wind followed.

Next Installment 5


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