Boat names often tell a story about their owners – perhaps the owner wants to send a message, maybe about the owner’s philosophy or lifestyle. For example, “Carpe Diem” (seize the day) is a popular name that I see quite often – the owner is sending a message about his/her philosophy, or is perhaps urging others to live by that philosophy. Other boat owners, perhaps, are just following a longstanding tradition of naming boats after their wives or sweethearts – I see many, many boats named after a woman, but I don’t ever recall seeing one named after a man; maybe that’s because historically boats have been referred to as female in gender, or perhaps because most boats seem to be owned by men rather than women.

In any case, following are some boat names that have caught my attention over the past few weeks for one reason or another.

This is the best name I’ve ever seen for lobster boat:

This guy is making a wish…

I’m guessing this guy is a doctor –

I’d love to know the story behind this one….

We now know why this guy has a boat:

This guy must be very polite –

Wine and boating often seem to go together (hopefully after tied to the dock or moored), because I see many boat names that refer to wine in one way or another:

This large yacht costs alot of money, so I hope the owner’s prediction comes true!

Whether this boat is owned by a man or a woman, I suggest he/she be careful about what they choose to brag about…

The name “Joint Adventure” was chosen jointly by our family and the McNichol family, who lived next door to us at the time the name was chosen. Tom McNichol and I became good friends, as did Trish and Mary McNichol, and our families enjoyed many good times together. We decided to buy a boat together, and the name embodied both our partnership and our objective of creating family adventures with the boat. Unfortunately, both Tom and Mary have since passed away. Tom was a boater to the core and I think of him often when I’m on the boat. We keep the name partly as a legacy to Tom, Mary, and the McNichol family, and partly because we seek to share our adventures with as many others as we can – by making it truly a “joint adventure”!

Cape Breton constitutes the northeastern quarter of Nova Scotia. It is technically an island, separated from the mainland of Nova Scotia by the Strait of Canso. It is sparsely populated – it’s 2021 population translates to just 32 people per square mile! As a result, much of it is wild, remote, and pristine. Much of the coastline is rocky.

In the 1700’s, Cape Breton was controlled by the French, who built a large and formidable fortification at Louisbourg, which was one of the most important commercial and military centers in New France. However, in 1745, New Englanders, with help from the British Navy, captured the fort, only to have it later returned to the French by treaty in 1748. The British then re-captured and destroyed the fort in 1758, and Nova Scotia was formally ceded to the British along with the rest of New France via the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

One of Cape Breton’s primary attractions is the Cabot Trail, a 185 mile loop road around the coast of the island. It is considered one of the world’s most scenic destinations, marked by stunning ocean vistas, old growth forests, historic glacial features, and the Cape Breton Highlands. We didn’t have time to do the Cabot Trail justice, but any road trip to Nova Scotia should include a trip around the Cabot Trail.

One of Cape Breton’s dominant features is Bras d’Or Lakes, which constitutes about one third of the area of Cape Breton. The name “Bra d’Or Lakes” means “Arm of Gold” in French; it is one of the largest saltwater lakes in the world, although the water is actually brackish. It is connected to the ocean by just three narrow passages – two open directly to the North Atlantic at the northeastern end of Cape Breton, and the third is through St. Peters Canal and is controlled by a lock. As a result, the lakes don’t completely flush with the tides, which creates the brackish composition of the water and limits the tidal range in the lake to less than a foot.

Although referred to as Bra d’Or Lakes, it is all connected by several narrow passages, so it is technically a single lake, accessible throughout by water. The lake consists of two main bodies of water, which I’ll call the south lake and the north lake, connected by a narrow passage. It is known for its pleasant weather, its relatively calm and predictable winds, its remoteness, its absence of fog, it’s comfortable air and water temperatures for swimming, and its many hidden bays and coves just waiting to be explored. Our overall Down East Loop plan always included a side trip into Bra d’Or Lakes for a week; as it turned out, we spent 9 days there, and enjoyed every minute of it!

Our first stop in the lake was St. Peters Village, which is the entrance point for nearly all of the cruising boats that visit Bra d’Or Lakes, which is not many, considering the enormous scale of the lake; we often went days without seeing more than one or two boats in the distance. St. Peters Village is a small town, by our standards, but is one of only two towns of any size on the lake. The marina is located in a fully protected cove at the end of the canal; here is the story of the canal:

Following is a picture of the small marina in St. Peters Village:

An example of carrying recycling to the next level in St. Peters Village:

After a night in St. Peters Village, we cruised into the lake, poking into a few of the coves along the passageway into the south lake. Our first night, we anchored in St. George’s Cove in light winds, a well protected cove off the main lake:

Swimming off the boat in the cool, clear water of the lake:

A beautiful day capped off by a magnificent sunset!

The next day we went to Clarke Cove at Marble Mountain and tied up to a small public wharf that could accommodate three boats:

Marble Mountain, as the town is known, is an interesting place. It’s the site of an abandoned marble and limestone quarry that opened in 1869 and operated until 1920. We hiked up to the old quarry for a closer look:

On the road to the quarry, we came upon an old General Store that no longer operates; the living quarters upstairs now serve as a summer residence for the owners, who keep the first floor open as an informal, ad hoc museum for those who stop by. When the quarry was operating, the store was a bustling center serving the workers at the quarry and providing supplies of all sorts to the quarry operation. We met Janice, the owner, who spent nearly an hour showing us memorabilia from the store, include various antiques, some products from the early 1900’s that the store sold, and even accounting ledgers of inventories bought and products sold from the operation of the store in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Here are a couple of images:

There was a beautiful sand beach a short distance from the wharf, so after the visit to the store and the hot, sunny hike to the quarry, we went for a swim in the refreshing water of the lake. We had one more stop we wanted to make, however – we were told that there was a winery about a kilometer (about .6 miles) just up the road that closed at 4:00. We thought we could make it if we hurried, so Trish, Pat and I set out on foot. It turned out to be over two miles, and we scurried up the long, steep driveway just as the proprietor had locked up and started down the driveway. However, upon seeing us, she backed up, reopened the winery, and invited us in, handing us each a much needed cold drink! Her name is Debbie, and she was kind enough to treat us as if it was the middle of the day, presenting various wines for us to taste and giving us a tour of the vineyard:

Debbie then took us to the top of the hill upon which the winery is located, treating us to some incredible views of Bra d’Or Lake – here’s one of them:

The wine was delicious, and we bought half a case; after re-closing the winery, Debbie was kind enough to drive us back to the our boat. The entire establishment was understated, but perhaps none more so than the enormous sign at the road announcing the hidden presence of the winery up a long driveway through the woods:

We had one more encounter at Marble Mountain. Late in the afternoon, another boat arrived with three apparently-retired men who immediately popped multiple cans of Bud Light. They then set up a portable gas generator on shore and hooked it to a portable fryolator. We had no idea what they were doing, but soon they were knocking on our boat asking if we had any spare gasoline – it seems they forgot to fill their gas can to power their generator to heat their fryolator. Since we were the only other people around, we figured that was the end of it, but we soon saw them walking up the road to a house up the road apiece, and apparently acquiring some gasoline there. Sure enough, soon the generator was again humming away. By now it was dark, we had eaten dinner, and were getting ready to turn in for the night when we heard another knock on the boat. It was one of the three guys, bringing us a huge bowl full of French fries that they had just cooked in their fryolator! They were the best French fries we have ever had – cut thin, almost as thin as potato chips, and cooked to perfection! Despite having eaten and getting ready to turn in for the night, we ate the entire bowlful! And they turned out to be the nicest guys – and they were on a mission!

I neglected to get a picture of the three of them the next morning, but I snapped this picture as we were pulling out:

On our way up the lake, we poked into Little Harbor to check it out. We came upon this large sailboat, hard aground:

In one of life’s curious coincidences, we later met a boater who, a few years earlier, had been a yacht broker and had listed this boat for sale. He said it had been built in Europe in the late 1990’s, and had originally sold for $1.2 million. Some 20 years later, the owner was from Germany, and he had it listed for $150,000. The owner rejected an offer of $120,000, then later passed away unexpectedly, apparently with no close heirs. After being neglected at anchor for a year or two, it washed up on shore where it now sits. So if anyone is looking for a salvage project – here it is in Little Harbor, Nova Scotia!

We continued on through the narrow passage to the north lake, and anchored in Black Harbour for lunch and a swim. Here’s Chrissie, enjoying the cool water on a hot, sunny day with the Joint Adventure anchored in the background:

On the beach, we encountered Hector, who lives just behind the beach and invited us back to his house. Hector again showed us the incredibly outgoing friendliness and generosity of virtually everyone we have met on the Gaspe Peninsula and the Canadian Maritimes – he gave us fresh produce picked directly from his garden and fresh mackerel and trout which he had caught and fileted the previous evening. Here is a picture of Hector, with Pat raiding his garden:

With gorgeous views all around, I took this picture of the anchored Joint Adventure from Hector’s property:

In the late afternoon, we motored into Baddeck, the largest town on the Bra d’Or Lakes. Here is a short history of Baddeck:

Baddeck is a lively tourist town with plenty of restaurants, pubs, and cultural entertainment. We spent three days and four nights there, which happened to be during the record heat wave that hit much of the US and Canada. As a result, we frequented Kidston Island, a short dinghy ride from the docks in Baddeck and a wonderful place to swim and enjoy the water environment:

A specialty dish here in the Maritimes is plank salmon, cooked with an open fire on a wooden plank of maple or cedar. We took advantage on a night out for dinner:

Alexander Graham Bell visited Baddeck in 1886 and immediately fell in love with the lakes, the beautiful scenery, and the fresh mountain air. Having become wealthy from his telephone invention, he built a large home overlooking the lake, which is still occupied by his heirs. In commemoration of his achievements, there is a comprehensive museum in Baddeck which tells the story of his life and his inventions, including many of the actual items which he built. While known for inventing the telephone, his other experimentations are less well known. He was fully involved in the development of powered flight, and one of his test pilots was killed in a crash while flying with Orville Wright. In addition, he experimented heavily with hydrofoils, believing that the speed and maneuverability of such watercraft would be important to the war effort during World War 1. Bell also experimented extensively with human hearing and teaching the deaf or those hard of hearing to communicate – he worked with Helen Keller and met his wife Mabel, who was one of his students.

Here are some images from the Bell Museum, the first of an experimental aircraft and the second of a hydrofoil, which set a new speed record over water at the time:

A statue of Alexander Bell and his beloved wife Mabel is situated on the boardwalk in Baddeck:

I mentioned that Baddeck is a cultural center in the summer season as well. Trish, Pat, and I went to three performances while in Baddeck. The first was the incredible stage play “Lauchie, Liza, and Rory in which two performers play nine different parts, morphing instantly from one character to another. It’s absolutely brilliant, and I encourage anyone to go see it if it ever comes your way. The second was a Gaelic musical performance at the Bell Museum, telling the story of Alexander and Mabel’s life. The third was a song and fiddle performance by an extremely talented storyteller/singer and an equally talented Scottish fiddler. I wasn’t able to take any pictures of the first two performances, but here is an image of the third:

Upon leaving Baddeck, we stopped at a small public wharf in Nyanza Bay to investigate the Mik’Maq Cultural and Heritage Center. The center was quite small, but this picture caught my attention in the Center:

Our next stop was the memorable Maskell’s Cove, an spectacular anchorage in the north lake. When we arrived and into the night, the weather was cloudy and a bit cool, and the wind was calm; however, it was predicted to pick up a bit overnight. Here is the Joint Adventure at anchor with a sailboat that came in afterward in the background. Ultimately, a total of three sailboats came into the anchorage, which was large enough for us to be well spread out:

There is a lighthouse on the point next to the cove which is now privately owned; however, the owners, whom we met, welcome boaters to pull their dinghies up on their beach and walk up to see the lighthouse. Here are a couple of images of the view of the anchorage from the lighthouse:

The view looking forward into the lake from Maskell’s Cove:

We found a small, red sand beach along the shore of the cove, and couldn’t resist pulling up the dinghy and just hanging out there and going for a swim despite the cool weather:

Jim and Pat found oysters along the shoreline, and brought some back to the boat for dinner:

Maskell’s Cove was a wonderful anchorage, and the wind was dead calm when we turned in for the night. However, I was awoken at 4:00 AM by the wind howling and rain falling – at least is sounded howling to me! I got up to check to make sure the anchor was holding, but everything was pitch black – I couldn’t see the shore at all, even when I shined a beam light into the darkness, due to the rain. The only thing I could see was the dim anchor lights of the sailboats anchored some distance away, but I couldn’t tell whether we were moving closer or not. I went to the bow to hold the anchor line to see if I felt any movement that might tell me if the anchor was dragging, but it was inconclusive. So I sat and waited for first light, which finally came an hour or so later. The anchor held, but I gained a bit more grey hair! The wind blew and the rain fell until about noon, at which time we pulled up anchor and headed to a small marina at Grand Narrows, at the narrow passage between the south and north lakes called the Barra Strait. The marina is totally exposed to winds from any southerly direction, but the winds were predicted to be from the north, so the small marina was fine. Here’s a picture of the dockage:

There was a small restaurant at the marina, so we had surprisingly good pizza that night. However, the main attraction for Grand Narrows was in Iona, another small town on the other side of the Barra Strait. There sits a replica of an early village settled by Scottish immigrant – Highland Scots who first settled Cape Breton. The historic village tells the story of the progression of life from the poor conditions in Scotland which prompted the settlers to leave for a new life, through the life on Cape Breton in the 1920’s.

Here is a picture of the village high on the hill taken from the water:

Here is the view of the lake from the village on the hill:

This image is of a stone house in Scotland where the Highland Scots lived in total poverty, prompting them to leave. The period actor explained that they rented the house from a wealthy landlord who kept demanded ever increasing rent. Four adults lived there, all sleeping sitting up in the same bed:

The following two images are of a working machine that made shingles for use on roofs and siding. Dating back to the 1850’s. the machine was powered by a waterwheel, then was connected to an early gasoline engine in the 1920’s:

Here is a machine that was used to process sheep’s wool for use in blankets and pillows. It was also run by a waterwheel originally, then later connected to a gasoline engine:

The next day we ran about 10 miles to the small village of Orangedale. Along the way, we saw several eagles circling above or perched on a tree watching us pass by:

Orangedale consists of a well-stocked General Store and the Orangedale Railway Station and Museum. In addition to the typical items one might expect to find in a small General Store, this had an inventory of household appliances, mattresses, box springs, and other household items that you might normally find in a department store. But there are no such stores anywhere nearby!

Here are a couple images of the small but impressive Railway Station and Museum:

After a night at the small public wharf in Orangedale in which we were once again the only boat there, we we headed 20 miles back to Saint Peters Village, our magical time on Bra d’Or Lakes ended. Its reputation as one of the premier and pristine cruising grounds in the world is well deserved – I can see why a handful of cruisers spend an entire summer here. However, on any given day, we generally saw no more than one or two other boats, and we were alone or nearly alone every night except our time in St Peters Village or Baddeck. Truly a special, unspoiled place by land or by water!

At St. Peters Village, we met Ross and his family, who were at the T-head dock next to us. Ross is a harbor pilot in Halifax, who brings oceangoing ships into the harbor. When a ship arrives in Halifax, it must anchor outside the harbor until a harbor pilot comes aboard and takes control of the ship – the captain is no longer in command or responsible for the navigation of the ship – Ross is (or whichever harbor pilot is assigned to that ship. Ross has piloted ships into the harbor as large as 750 feet or so – 2 1/2 football fields long!

Ross is also a sailor wth a great deal of experience along the Eastern coast of Nova Scotia, so he was kind enough to come aboard and show us some of his favorite spots to go, and other valuable information. Here’s a picture of Ross and his adorable little girls:

Unfortunately, Trish, Pat, and Chrissie left us the next morning from St. Peters Village, embarking on a full day trip including a car ride and three bus rides to get back to their car in Shediac, New Brunswick, then another day’s drive from there back to Massachusetts. However, I think they will all say that the joint adventure over the past three weeks was well worth it!

In the meantime, we head back down the St. Peters Canal and into a short open ocean crossing to Canso to start our journey down the Sunrise Coast to Halifax and beyond.

More to come!!

2 responses to “BOATERS’ PARADISE!”

  1. How were the oysters that Jim and Pat pulled?


    1. I think the ones they could open were good, but they were very hard gto open, so they threw some of them back!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: