A quick look at our adventures in 2022 on the East Coast of Canada
For almost 3 years, COVID had forced VOYAGEUR10.10 to become accustomed to the static grounds of Cheticamp Marina, Cape Breton. Voyageur 10.10 had been neglected; "The Atlantic Bubble" had isolated her from us. Unlike most Canadian boat owners, pre-launch maintenance for such a short season was foreign to us! For 7 earlier years, Voyageur had not been laid up for 1winter, let alone 3!!! We set aside the month of May to give her the TLC she required!
We installed new house batteries, re-erected the 73' mast back and related rigging, added some Treadmaster decking where our kayak used to be, cleaned water tanks, recoated the forward head with Brightside, applied two coats of Trilux 2 as bottom paint, patched and re-painted the bimini, re strung the jacklines and all safety gear, re-armed the lifejackets, re-certified our liferaft, rearmed all fire extinguishers, ...WHEW!! there's more...we replaced a shaft bearing, tachometer (which, by the way, was wrong and had to be returned)... and installed a safety cover to the engine gages in the cockpit...Plus ...we did other miscellaneous stuff like change changing lightbulbs and the batteries to all smoke and CO detectors. It seemed like there was no end to the work... We were exhausted and wondered if all this work was worth it, for 3 short months of sailing.
We returned to Ontario in June for a family reunion and a wedding. Then we went back to Nova Scotia and prepared to launch Voyageur 10.10 on July 3.
SHAKE DOWN CRUISE - After letting a gale pass through, we sailed from Cheticamp to Charlottetown PEI to pick up our first crew. Reassuringly, nothing broke and we arrived safely! But we still weren't convinced all our hard work was worth it. Day by day, with our students, VOYAGEUR assured us she was well equipped and prepared for a summer of sailing. We became re-inspired and enriched by our passages and the students who joined us! So "YES, the work was worth it.!"
With COVID still looming, we had limited the number of participants in our courses to 2, for the 2022 Summer.
Leg 1 took us from Charlottetown to the Magdelan Islands. We found the people at the marina and in the town of cap aux Muelles; kind and friendly. Their islands are all but sandbars; low-lying and fragile, smack in the middle of the Gulf of St Lawrence and its associated storms and hurricanes. Hiking around, we saw signs of more shoreline erosion since we were there in 2012. We pondered how these people deal with the reality that their islands could be washed away, in hurricanes like the recent FIONA!
We dodged a thunderstorm on our way to Bay of Islands on the west coast of Newfoundland! While there, we found some quiet anchorages and discovered some towns along the way. As we were unable to dock in the town, we stopped at the Bay of Islands Yacht Club; packed with small and medium sized sail and power boats; its a tight squeeze but great showers and laundry facilities. We managed to complete the two overnight passages in following winds up to 25 knots and reasonably calm seas. Big surprise on arrival in Newfoundland was the temperatures were in the mid to high 20's and pretty much sunny every day. Downside of this dry weather is the record number of wild fires in the province.
Leg 2 started and finished in Corner Brook with us spending 7 days in Bonne Bay cruising in Gros Morne Park! It was amazing to find so many picturesque and quiet anchorages in such a small area. Why are there so few cruisers there? On our bucket list was to climb Gros Morne; which we did with one of our crew! We rode our dinghy ashore, hiked 1.5 kms along the highway to the Mountain and completed a challenging hike Up and Down this rocky but spectacular Mountain. We also visited a Marine Research Centre and celebrated a crew-member's birthday with a fun loving musician at a bar in Norris Point. As anchoring is the norm in this area, we missed having hot showers; To our surprise, Lomond Cove satisfied our longing; plus it offered the added bonus of hikes for all levels! Once again the weather cooperated for the entire 10 day course.
Leg 3 was a favorite for Carol and I. It was an adventure into a world of days gone by. We started in Corner Brook, completed an overnight sail down to Port aux Basque. We stocked up in the the town's grocery and liquor outlets and enjoyed a musical concert in the park. Today, we sadly reflect on how much of where we walked and how many of who we met were devastated by FIONA's wrath!
A short sail to the dock at Rose Blanche, brought us to a thriving community that has found a way to nurture tourism. The reconstruction of its lighthouse and the surrounding hikes bring bus loads of tourists to their community. The people are genuinely open to welcoming you into their homes or chatting to you about their lives like you are part of their family! The highway; the lifeline to all south coast inlets ends at Rose Blanche. The ferries which used to cover all communities on the south coast have been forced to cut their routes; too expensive!. One small ferry covers the towns from Port Aux Basques to La Poile and Rose Blanche but this leaves many ports to the east, with the grim future of becoming ghost towns. The Newfoundland's government's relocation program is a hard pill to swallow. It leaves the outport of La Poile with the risk of becoming its next casualty. Further east, we visited Grand Bruit. From a distance we see a beautiful town with pools of fresh water cascading down to a waterfall in the centre of the town...but there was no-one home!... In 2019, For a sum of money per household, all its residents were relocated; except for 1; leaving it a ghost town. It makes us sad to have seen Grand Bruit's, dock, vacant homes and schools, and its empty churches, bars and stores. These buildings are left to crumble to the ground due to the perils of time and weather like Hurricane Fiona last week! If nothing can be done by resourceful people who care about Newfoundland and its history, every single port on the south coast will meet the same plight as Grand Bruit. The towns of the South Coast of Newfoundland are beautiful and with help, could thrive economically.
Leg 4 was an easier pace. Starting in Sydney NS, we cruised the Bras d'Or Lakes. Although we were there for 6 days, there were so many spots we missed. It's a scenic and quiet sailing ground with lots of nooks and crannies in which to anchor. If you just want to hangout, kayak and explore, the Bras D'Or Lakes is the place! We left the Lakes by exiting through the St Peter's Lock; an easy lock to navigate with helpful lock masters. In overcast skies and no wind, we motor-sailed to D'Escousse and docked at the Lennox Passage Yacht Club (It's has to be one of the nicest clubhouses and the most welcoming people we've come across) We spent an enjoyable evening with delicious food and live entertainment at the Groundswell Pub. The energetic owners and their caring waitstaff procured a great vibe! Next day, motor-sailing under brilliantly sunny skies, we stopped in Port Hawkesbury. Although recent renovations to the waterfront were slowly being let go, the marina was beautiful. Walking through the downtown, its historic plaques and info boards were slowly degrading and many historic buildings were empty, yet it appears Port Hawkesbury has spent its money on developing the uptown with a state of the art recreation centre and an education centre. Uptown Port Hawkesbury's Grocery, Drug stores and Hardware stores gave us access to excellent provisioning. It was interesting to watch a train or two running through the town; day or night ; a feature we didn't expect.
Numerous times, we have crossed the Canso Causeway by car but on this Leg we actually went through the Canso Locks. Traversing this lock holds up traffic for about 10-15 minutes; for that we apologize but Thank You! We entered St George's Bay so we could make our way to Charlottetown in a single overnight passage! Saying good-bye to our last 2022 student, was bittersweet. We had met some wonderfully, interesting people and made a lot of new friends! A Big Thank you to all of you for joining us on Voyageur Sailing's 2022 East Coast Adventures, we think of you often! After hanging out in Charlottetown for a few days we made our last passage of the season to Cheticamp on Cape Breton where we hauled out in time for the two hurricanes that would affect the East Coast. We're home now contemplating the wonderful sailing adventures we had over the past 3 months...Was it worth the work? ABSOLUTELY!!!!
Looking forward to Summer Courses in 2023!!!!