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…


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!



A Brief Respite


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We set out yesterday in a slowly lifting morning fog.  The original plan was to reach for PEI, but because of the fog delay I felt like we were trying to force the miles, which became less-fun.  We decided to sail the twenty or so miles to Halifax and tie up at the city marina.

Once that decision was made, the pressure of trying to achieve as many miles as possible was lifted.¬† One of the enduring maxims of sailing is, ‚ÄúDo not sail to a schedule‚ÄĚ. ¬† I now see the wisdom of that philosophy.

Halifax is a very dynamic city with more than a few mega-yachts in port.  We pulled into a very tight space, essentially parallel parking a 45-foot sailboat between a multi-million dollar motor yacht and the city wharf, with a few hundred people looking on.  No pressure.

We took the opportunity to hose down the deck and take on a little water.  Once bright and shiny again, we moved Tortuga over to another, less crowded berth behind the Marriott Hotel, where she now peacefully sits.

Janet and I will be back in a few days, along with her father, to move Tortuga further northward and up the mouth of the St. Lawrence Seaway.  More to follow.

Rolling Seas

Tortuga Maine
Leaving Maine behind in the setting sun

We left Belfast, Maine at about 3:00 pm with the intent of missing some bad weather that was moving out towards the end of the day and into the night.  The winds were supposed to be in excess of 30 knots with seas on the beam at about 8-feet.  This was not my idea of a comfortable, overnight passage.

The trip down the east side of Penobscot Bay was uneventful and slow.  The wind was less than we expected, but we sailed on regardless.  Each hour that we spent in the sheltered Maine bay was giving the weather more of a chance to move out towards the east.

As night settled, and we cleared the last of islands of Maine, the seas grew to 8-10 feet on the beam, which caused Tortuga to rock back and forth.  While the boat was quite happy to do this, both me and my crew-mate, Bob, were less so.

As soon as the horizon disappeared into the darkness, I lost my perspective, which is necessary for me to fend off seasickness.  I dove for the scopolamine patches, but it was to late.

Bob and I spent the entire night, violently ill, standing 2 to 3-hour watches in rolling seas, plodding along slower than we had hoped.

As the soon the sun came up, so did the thunder storms in the middle of the Gulf of Maine.  Still feeling the after affects of the sea sickness, we rigged the boat for storms and pressed on towards our goal of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

We reached Yarmouth under sunny skies and slack winds, motoring into a well-marked and protected harbor.  Cleared Customs and Immigration, dinner, and then to sleep.

This morning the skies are scattered with little wind.  We’ll press on towards Cape Sable, the southern tip of Nova Scotia, and probably grab an anchorage for the night.

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

Whale sighting!

We entered into Maine today. Saw¬†a right whale broach twice about 100ft from us on starboard! One of the coolest sightings so far. North Atlantic right whales are considered critically endangered. They are not massive like hump back whales. Reportedly about 500 survive. The Gulf of Maine is a protected area¬†where they tend to summer and birth calves. In the past because of their high blubber content they were hunted for whale oil. Today most deaths are related to ‘ship strikes’.

imageWe are anchoring in Stage Island Harbor, north of Kennebunkport. We wanted to stay in a place where we would not have to worry about too much traffic and found this on the chart. Seemed ideal and it really is. ¬†Quiet and calm, although there are a lot of lobster buoys at the entrance of the small natural harbor. One boat was anchored¬†when we arrived and another anchored soon after we had set anchor. But that’s it. After making burgers for dinner, I took a quick jump into the crystal clear water to wash off. Cold, but refreshing, and now clean. Convinced Eric to jump in, but couldn’t get Topher in once he saw his dad ‘freeze’.

Our plan tomorrow morning is to row the dinghy over to one of the islands and explore, especially the one with an old abandoned brick house on it.

Sunset Stage Island
Sunset Stage Island

On our way….again

Nothing like some fresh New York bagels to start your day. We had a visit from friends who love to sail and were able to enjoy the sunny and calm morning prior to pushing off. New York bagels are the standard by which all bagels should be judged, and the ones our friends brought¬†were¬†superior. Fresh and warm with a whipped cream cheese schmear that melts just as it touches the bagel…they hit the spot!


We flew back to New York and made our way to City Island a couple of nights ago to reopen all the hatches and get our boat ready to get our boat underway again. While not ideal, this is a version of what people call commuter cruising…flying back and forth from different ports of call while moving the boat to a destination. While many people will take several weeks to sail in¬†a far off destination and¬†then pack it up for a season, we are using this strategy to eventually get our boat to Chicago and to balance family and work obligations. Our next stop is Belfast, Maine.