45:00.34N 62:05.91W. Liscomb River, Nova Scotia

Cantilena returns from North America
Des Crampton
Sat 18 Jun 2022 12:58

It has been an eventful week since our last post at Baddeck.

We finally broke Baddeck’s hold on us last Thursday and after offering our thanks and farewells to Stuart and his kind and attentive team at Baddeck Marine, we headed out on the Lake and pointed the bows to the south. With Terry’s shoulder recovery in mind we decided on a short hop to the idyllic Maskell’s Harbour. This northeast facing inlet is protected by a long sand bar stretching inwards and across the entrance leaving a narrow but deep passage at the southern end. It is well wooded all around and offers a calm and peaceful haven with protection from all wind directions. With strong northerly winds due overnight we anchored close-in under the north side. It was not long before the resident bald eagle perched nearby to look us over. So pleasant was the place that we spent a relaxing day and second night there making an early start on Saturday. While at Maskell’s Harbour, VHF traffic made us aware that an electrical fault had rendered the Barra Strait swing bridge temporarily inoperable. By the time we approached the cheery bridge keeper advised that the fault had been cleared and swung it open allowing us to pass without even having to slow down. The Strait is overlooked by the Iona community museum which conserves the buildings of the nineteenth century religious community. With 10 to 15 knots from the south it was a good opportunity for a pleasant close-hauled sail towards St Peters at the southern end of the lakes.

At St Peters a southerly wind, good for crossing to Newfoundland by the way, brought a nice warm spell but stalled our southbound plans. A good meal at the local inn was notably accompanied by a Truro-based blues guitarist whose impressive talents allowed his instrument to speak to his appreciative audience. Tuesday offered favourable north-easterly winds, so we planned to lock out into the Atlantic Monday afternoon, anchor in the adjacent cove and make an early start across the Canso Strait on Tuesday. In the event, the prevailing southerly was not as strong as forecast and allowed us to set off across the Strait directly. With two weeks of the lobster fishing season remaining, we dodged pot marker buoys all the way across but were taken by surprise by the sudden onset of thick fog. With visibility less than one boat length and unable to keep a good watch, fear of snagging a lobster pot line in the propeller forced a decision to head in amongst the islands to anchor for the night. The anchor went down in four fathoms in the lee of Andrew Island. The errant forecast dealt another unexpected card when we were woken at 03:00 by a north-easter whining in the rigging and causing Cantilena to tug heavily at her anchor. This unexpectedly strong wind, gusting at over thirty knots, now had us stuck at anchor instead of sailing gently southwards. The anchorage was not ideal, so we spent a rather tense thirty-six hours doing anchor watches in full wet weather gear ready to relay the anchor or move at a moment’s notice. As it turns out, the anchor had miraculously found a patch of very heavy mud between the rocks and did not budge throughout. With the wind blasting over sea water at a temperature of about three degrees it was extremely cold, so we kept watch below deck keeping a constant lookout aided by the GPS and with the heater on.

Wednesday offered better prospects as the north easterly blow declined so we headed out to sea in bright sunshine and enjoyed a pleasant but cold offshore run. The left-over sea meant rock n’ roll but we were happy to be moving again. Late that afternoon we made our way in behind Goose and Harbour Islands in search of calm water for the night. Although the swell had declined considerably, the anchorages here would have been rather uncomfortable, so we headed into Isaac’s Harbour where we anchored as recommended in the cruising guide, in still water off the church at Goldboro. Inspection of the building through the binoculars revealed a sign of the times. It was derelict with even the For Sale sign falling apart. After our long anchor watches of the previous two nights, we slept well. Thursday’s forecast offered strong mid-morning south westerly head winds, so we took advantage of the early morning calm and motored into the Liscomb River ahead of the unfavourable wind. Anticipating another strong blow Friday night, this time from the southwest, we pushed on up the very scenic river to a delightful and well protected anchorage behind Riley’s Island. The prospect of a few drinks and good meal at the nearby Liscomb Lodge had no bearing on the decision of course. Not to mention the now full laundry bag. Given the prevailing south westerly winds off Nova Scotia at this time of the year, it was becoming clear that progress towards Halifax and Maine beyond, would be in fits and starts.