Never believe the weather forecasts….including marine weather forecasts

Dad at the helm
Dad at the helm

From Murray Harbor in PEI we zigzagged across the Northumberland Strait to get a couple more sailing days in and increase our chances of seeing whales. Many seal and dolphin sightings, but no whales on this trip ūüôĀ

However, we had an amazing day of sailing southwest in the the strait! Waves were low, the west winds were ideal for a close reach the entire way, and we really got to feel how Tortuga moves. Dad even took a turn at the helm.


Pictou Harbor

We anchored¬†the previous night in a coastal town named¬†Pictou back on the Nova Scotia side. It is apparently the birthplace of New Scotland. On display is a replica of the Hector, which carried the first immigrants from Scotland to North America in the 1700’s. The main street has tartan flags¬†of all the clans from Scotland who settled there. We never found Stewart. We grabbed a late lunch/early dinner at one of the local restaurants, with a great view ūüėČ and dinghy’d¬†back to the boat. The winds shifted to the north at night, as expected. ¬†We got a great view of the sunset from the stern of the boat.

View from lunch/dinner
View from lunch/dinner
Entering Charlottetown
Entering Charlottetown
Entering Charlottetown

The next morning (yesterday) the marine weather forecast predicted winds returning back to a west/southwest wind at 9-12 knots with gust up to 15-17 knots and waves around¬†0.8 meters. ¬†Were we in for a surprise… as as we exited out of the wind protected harbor/bay entrance, we were hit with¬†a northwest wind that was more like¬†double the predicted wind speed. We faced more like 18 knots of wind with gusts up to 25 knots and big waves! ¬†The only other boat we saw in the strait was the ferry that transits from Wood’s Island, PEI to Caribou, Nova Scotia. We were happy once we entered the Charlottetown Bay. ¬†The winds were still brisk but the waves were much smaller and manageable. ¬†What started out to be an easy jaunt turned out to be a long day of hard sailing.¬†We had a very nice welcome from some relatives of Eric who were¬†born and raised on PEI. We found a good local seafood restaurant to replenish us, too.

Tortuga is¬†now tied up to a slip in Charlottetown, PEI. She’ll be here for a few days before she continues her next journey up the St. Lawrence Seaway. We’ve cleaned her up, written down detailed¬†instructions, and prepped her to take on new guests. It is somewhat like sending a child to camp, as we are having a delivery captain sail her into the Great Lakes in the next few weeks. The summer¬†is rapidly coming to an end and Eric’s and my schedules are¬†becoming pretty hectic, such that the hope of us getting her to Chicago before the lakes freeze necessitates us to hire someone to move her along when we can’t. ¬†Tortuga’s adventure continues…

That’s an American Boat!

IMG_0031We’ve heard this a couple of times since we’ve been in Canada while Tortuga’s been tied up in a few of the harbors/marinas. ¬†We wondered whether the people¬†were fascinated by the fact that it is a boat traveling from the United States or for some other reason. ¬†We have not seen that many sailboats in¬†the Canadian waters and big sailboats for that matter. The sailboats¬†we generally see are smaller and local to the area, and likely out for daysails.

So we asked the harbor master in Pictou, and his impression is that people are more intrigued by where the boats come from.

The people we meet in the slips are generally very curious either about the boat and/or about the route that we are taking to get the boat back to Chicago.


Sunset in Jeddore Harbor

We are anchored in Fisherman’s Harbor on the coast of Nova Scotia tonight. ¬†It has an abandoned fishing dock in a cove. ¬†We did not secure ourselves to the dock, but anchored a few yards away from it in a protected¬†cove. Protected from the waves, that is, not from the wind. The wind is blowing at about 15 knots consistently (even at night) with occasional gusts, however due to a ‘short’¬†fetch (weather term that determines waves and storm surge), the waters are very calm. No other soul is out here, save a few houses on the shore and some birds on a gravel breakwater.

One surprising thing along the entire Nova Scotia coast is that it seems well connected. Even though we are pretty remote, we still have an LTE signal. Good for us to keep in touch with family and work.

At anchor in Jeddore
At anchor in Jeddore

This is our second night at anchor since leaving Halifax. We arrived in Halifax early yesterday morning, around 1am and had a late start after getting the boat ready and provisioned. After a quick stop to get gas at the Royal Nova Scotia Squadron Yacht Marina (yes, that is a mouthful), we sailed on to Jeddore Harbor, getting there by dinner time. Typically, the predominant winds are southerwesterlies, however yesterday we had a north east wind. Eric and my dad had the gennaker set up and ready to go for the day, however, we ended up sailing close hauled all day long.

Dad underneath the gennaker
Dad underneath the gennaker

My dad is joining us for this journey. He is getting a little bit of everything: wind, waves, sun…a quick sailing inauguration¬†on the open ocean. We had some pretty strong winds yesterday and it was a welcome reprieve once we got into port and settled in for the night. After dinner, another great sunset with fishing boats docked along the coast.

Today, we had the gennaker up all day. The wind was behind us all day. There were a few other sailboats out there in the morning, but most of the day we saw no other boat on the horizon. While we had a bit of weather early in the morning, it turned out to be a good day of sailing.  Some sun, plenty of wind.  We made up our half day by putting in about 65 miles today.

Tomorrow, we hope to get into the Canso Canal. It’ll be an early start and another long day, but this will get¬†us into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which we are told is warmer, much more protected, and have a good chance to see humpback whales!



I spy….

Killams Wharf Yarmouth webcam
Killams Wharf Yarmouth webcam

Eric is on Tortuga heading in to Canadian waters. ¬†He, along with another crew, did a 150 mile overnight sail across the Bay of Fundy to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. ¬†Winds and waves were up, so I imagine a night in a slip is a welcome reprieve. ¬†I just got a text from him… now that he is back within cell phone coverage… that he went through immigration and entered the the harbor there.

Not sure if this is common throughout Canada, but Yarmouth has a city/town webcam and I found Tortuga motoring into the dock! ¬†It’s the boat with sails down just in the middle left of the screen. Pretty cool!


Back on the boat

We’ve been a bit remiss in documenting our last travel leg from New York to Maine. We intended to post daily logs of each day, but haven’t gotten around to it. It looks like we can post date entries, so over the next few weeks that’s what I intend to do. It is as much a way for us to share our adventure as it is a way for us to keep track of our sailing legs. So take a look at the month of June for ‘newer’ entries.

Eric’s on his way back to Maine to restart the next leg of the journey, hopefully to Quebec. I hope to join up in a couple of weeks….unfortunately we all still have day jobs.image

Marshall Islands in Maine?

Tortuga is on a floating dock in the Front Street Shipyard in Belfast, Maine.

On a floating dock at Front Street Shipyard
On a floating dock at Front Street Shipyard

We are leaving her here for a few weeks as we head back to Chicago. This shipyard opened¬†in 2011 and is located on the revitalized and transformed waterfront. ¬†They are a complete shipyard with over 100 employees working on anything from boat building to electronics to carpentry to cleaning. You name it, they can probably handle it. When¬†we arrived, there was a tug boat being hauled in on their huge yacht lift and in its yard was Boston Fire Department boat undergoing repair. Some impressive private yachts were also tied up into the slips and on sticks. A¬†town path along¬†the waterfront traverses the town center, through the entire shipyard and crosses the¬†Passagassawakeag River (don’t ask me how to pronounce it).

Marshall Islands Flag

We have seen this flag on a couple of boats and it was hanging in the Front Street Bar, where we grabbed a drink on land before dinner the first night we arrived. Turns out it is the flag of Marshall Islands, an island country located in the Pacific Ocean near the equator. ¬†It is actually part of Micronesia. ¬†Curiously enough, there is also a Marshall Island in Maine, out towards the open Gulf of Maine in Jericho Bay just south of Swans Island. It is one of the largest undeveloped islands in the eastern seaboard per Wikipedia. ¬†Not sure if this flag is a play on Maine’s Marshall Island or really that the boats we saw with this flag¬†really hail from Micronesia. ¬†I’d guess the former.

Good food and home

Belfast is about a 30-minute drive from where Eric grew up and his parents still live. This city has really become a gem along Midcoast Maine.  Eclectic shops and a great food scene has transformed the Belfast that Eric knew, which was an industrial poultry processing area, associated with feathers, chicken fat, and not-so-good smells.  It is the county seat of Waldo County and is still full of agricultural history.

Young's Lobster Pound
Young’s Lobster Pound

There are some requisite food stops whenever we are here visiting family. One of them is Young’s. It is one of the best places to have a quintessential Maine lobster dinner with a killer view of the sunset. We always bring cloth napkins, unbreakable¬†wine glasses, two to three bottles of good chardonnay or rose wine, and the requisite lobster picks and crackers for everyone and set it up on the outdoor picnic tables where people can enjoy the view and eat once they choose their fare from the live lobster pools. For us, the fare is always a ton of steamer clams with drawn butter for the table and 1-2 lobsters per person. ¬†It is a feast, to say the least! And one that we had twice on this trip.

We also tried a new Neapolitan pizza place housed in a restored building in the center of town. ‘Meanwhile in Belfast’ is a true Italian pizza joint, run by an Italian, and is certified by the¬†international association of Neapolitan pizza. It’s a charming place with delicious and authentic wood-fired pizza. I’d go back again, although they were sticklers in keeping to the menu and didn’t allow substitutions. Hopefully that will change in the future.

The rest of our time we spent with family. ¬†It was good to see the parents, siblings, nieces and nephews who¬†we haven’t seen since this past¬†winter. ¬†We avoided a string of¬†rain storms that¬†dumped a bunch¬†of wind, fog and water on our “day off”, but Eric and I were able to take¬†a¬†day sail into Penobscot Bay where we tested our gennaker. ¬†This sail is a cross between a genoa and a spinnaker and it¬†is good for downwind sailing. I think we both found it surprisingly easy to set up and we were able to make almost 6 knots with the sail in very little wind! With that, we have now set up, at least once, all the different sails that we have at our disposal on the boat.