September 1st: a beautiful, cool, morning with barely any wind on a glassy, rippled body of water. Like travelling on liquid silver. The swells come slow; small foothills to glide over. We left Pictou in the morning and headed off to our next anchorage, eight hours away. A quiet, peaceful start to September for the first few hours of our trek.
Once we approached Cape George point however, the wind kicked up and we bounced our way through choppy seas until we could point our way into Ballantyne’s Cove – a tiny standalone marina on the bay. The spot though was perfect for what we needed: no provisions to be had, but diesel, laundry services, showers, and delicious fish and chips from the local stand (Fish & Ships) were easily obtained.
I wish someone would explain to me what a Bluefin Tuna Interpretive Centre is. I keep picturing Tunafish wildly dancing about as they tell the stories of their ancestors through movement.
When we were packing in preparation for this trip, I included a tiny sample-sized bottle of the wine that dad had made before I was born (mom dutifully kept a few bottles for special occasions all these years). Since we never did a renaming ceremony of the boat as neither John nor I are superstitious, I decided to bring it along. My plan was to offer some to Poseidon/the Universe for luck when we hit the ocean. But it was hard to tell what was considered ocean… we had been in salt water for a while by the time we reached Nova Scotia and the moment never felt right. But as we left Ballantyne’s cove and crossed St George’s Bay (which was my dad’s namesake) we finally had the perfect conditions; it was the first time since we left Lake Ontario that we’d been able to put up sails and turn off the engine. We were actually, finally sailing. So I made my way to the bow, and ceremoniously poured a bit of dads wine in the bay. And just as I did, my cell phone rang. Mom was calling. Serendipitous.
We sailed for an hour or two before we needed to turn back on the motor. It was truly a perfect day. Warm, blue skies, an ideal breeze. I sat on the bow for a bit just enjoying the moment and John joined me for a short while while Jarvis took over. For the first time since we started, it seemed nothing could go wrong; everything was in our favour. And for once, despite all odds and our track record, nothing did.
We settled in that afternoon at an anchorage just outside of the town the locals call “Harver Bouchie”. (It’s actually named Havre Boucher but the french-ness of everything had started to wane). We got a couple curious local boats rubber necking and making circles around us once anchored, but otherwise we enjoyed a quiet, early night as we planned for our next stop.
The next morning was officially Labour Day Monday and we left Havre Boucher just after sunrise, entering the Canso Causeway and going through the lock which put us just a short hop away from Port Hawkesbury.
The whole town seemed to be shut down for the holiday. We already knew that the marina office was closed for the season as of the day before, but volunteers would be running the marina for those that arrived afterward. A fellow sailor was kind enough to assist us with docking and we settled in… doing the chores that never seem to end: laundry, cleaning, reorganizing, and taking advantage of a very hot, long shower.
At some point in the afternoon John got my attention by informing me that there was a duck on the boat.
I grabbed my phone and sure enough, sleeping on the bow in the sun was a female mallard. I tentatively walked up to her to grab a photo and she didn’t seem shy in the slightest. I then made the mistake of grabbing a couple saltine crackers.
Yes. I know. Never feed the wildlife.
I understand now.
The duck loved the crackers. So much so that she would not leave us alone. She followed us around the boat and when I refused to feed her any longer, she became convinced that my toes were crackers and began chasing and pecking at my feet.
John eventually chased her off the boat.
Twenty minutes later after she was evicted, she was back on, inspecting every nook for dead bugs, crumbs, toes, and anything else that might be remotely edible.
John shooed her off again.
A bit later that afternoon I was relaying the story to my friend Laura via chat when I felt as if someone was staring at me. I glanced around and burst out laughing.
This was one determined duck.
She eventually abandoned us of her own will and migrated over to another boat, undoubtedly begging them for more crackers. She missed out though. The delivery pizza we got that night was excellent.
Tuesday came and our sailing neighbour Barbara was kind enough to offer me a ride to the grocery store as well as gift me with half of an enormous fresh zucchini before she headed off to their next port. We provisioned (another job that never ends), and watched the weather for a good time to depart. With high winds expected to arrive that Thursday, we decided to stay on and take advantage of the amenities and off season pricing of this lovely little yacht club until the winds died down.
Friday morning we departed Port Hawkesbury before sunrise to continue along the causeway and make our way on an overnight passage toward Halifax.