The sail from Mahone Bay to Lunenburg was short, but it was also our first hard sail – the boat well heeled over and driving through waves. Fun, but – this, of course, is when you find out all the things that haven’t worked out quite as planned. By the time we dropped anchor in the early evening it felt as if there were rather a lot of them.
The first sign of trouble appeared while we were still sailing. To my horror, I saw that water was seeping across the cabin floor from behind the wooden fronts of the berths in the main cabin. Not only that, it was happening in amounts large enough to use up a substantial amount of paper towels (luckily we always have lots of paper towels on hand, at least for a while).
After some thought, we traced the water to leaks from the top of the main water tank, which Richard thought might not be fastened as snugly as it should be against the now-compressed gasket. So that meant that our two first jobs after anchoring were mopping up thoroughly (Margaret) and tightening the top (Richard).
Then we discovered that somewhere in the excitement, probably when the wind vane’s vane was being changed, the wire to the SSB radio’s antenna had become detached .That radio allows us to talk to cruisers miles away. We like that, and want to continue doing it. So – another fix.
And then (just to keep things interesting, and because boats in movement tending to stress the systems on them) another problem reared its head. The electric pump that pumps water through our drinking water filter decided that this would be an opportune time to cease working.
A few choice words and some thought and work later, and Richard had it going again – this time without the pressure switch that turns the pump off when the tap is not open. We were already using a switch on the instrument panel to turn the pump on and off, so that was not a big deal. Except for the few times we forgot to open the tap before turning the pump on, and put a little too much pressure on the connections under the sink. We are a lot better at remembering now.
Then we contemplated the water we were using, and discovered that all that shaking around had shaken up the water in our tank, which encouraged some sediment and other unappealing things to make their way to our tap (water not used for cooking or drinking is unfiltered). Those unappealing things made us decide, reluctantly, to put bleach in our tank. A practice we had hoped to discontinue.
And all that boat movement taught me (Margaret) something else. Acquiring my sea legs is going to take a bit more time than it used to. Post Ramsay Hunt syndrome, moving myself on a moving boat takes more concentration and strength than it used to be. Being fitter and stronger helps, so the work I’ve already done is paying off. But I’ll be looking for ways to get even fitter and stronger.
The reward at the end of all the challenges was Lunenburg itself. We came into the harbour past a group of trawlers and large power boats, one flagged in the Cayman Islands and others from the United States. There were other sailboats on moorings, at anchor or visiting at the public docks. While we were there a sailboat arrived flying the yellow quarantine flag and checked in, the German flag at its stern well worn and sun-faded.
The first boat that came past us after we dropped anchor was a classic ketch, graceful in the evening sun. It set the stage for what was to come. We saw other classic boats, including the racing yacht Ticonderoga. This is the boat that helped inspire Richard to sail the wider seas when he saw it come flying into Montego Bay years ago, leading the Miami to Montego Bay race. Of course then he might have been dreaming of racing… It is a thing of beauty. So when it dropped anchor not too far from us for a couple of days we had to go by to take a closer look.
Another inspiration sat at one of the docks – the new boat, soon to be called Spirit of Adventure, that Derek Hatfield will use to teach and share his experience gained racing around the world. A very different kind of boat from Ticonderoga, but equally impressive. We did not see Derek, but the inspiration provided by his attitude and kindness and that of his wife, Patianne, is a part of what keeps me, Margaret, working hard to keep cruising and sailing.
The harbour is (from our perspective) medium-sized, with a good amount of room to anchor (though friends told us that all places do not work out equally well, since when the channel in is dredged the material is moved to the anchorage area, making some places silty and not good for holding). On one side there is a golf course (the harbour struck us as being a rather large water hazard); the docks on the other side are are home to a few visiting pleasure boats, several fishing boats and small commercial vessels and various craft that carry tourists on harbour tours and out fishing and whale watching.
Downtown stood out even from where we were anchored. It’s a historic area, its colorful buildings housing a variety of businesses, many of them marine and tourist-related. Stores, restaurants and cafes, bed and breakfast establishments.
To our right as we looked toward shore was the ship-building and dry-dock facility where Nova Scotia’s Bluenose schooner is being refitted. It sits on land still, despite a ceremonial launching last year, with the area around its rudder shrouded by tarpaulins – we are told the rudder is being rebuilt to allow the boat to be certified to American standards. Anyone who hoped to ride on it this year could only gaze instead.
In front of us were docks, some with large fishing boats at them that were painted still in front but rusty behind, and the public docks. By one of the public docks – the one where the pump-out machine and the water hose are – the Farley Mowat, seized from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and later sold, sits and rots.
That dock proved very bumpy on a day when the wind was blowing into the harbour, bringing with it lots of weed which tangled itself around the prop of the trolling motor we use on our dinghy. We needed to stop and remove it at frequent intervals, which was a little off-putting when passing boats that towered over us. If we had known what getting to that dock was like we would probably have parked the dinghy in a different spot and walked!
It’s interesting that the official fisherman’s wharf is away from the main harbour and protected by a surge reduction barrier – that’s where the German-flagged sailboat went to check in. That surge protection barrier suggests strongly that conditions are not always as benign as they were during our visit.
Ashore, the streets are narrow and curving and (of course) uphill as you move away from the harbour. Good for testing your fitness. By the harbour horse-drawn carriages wait to take visitors for tours and we saw many people walking the gentler slopes of downtown, exploring and taking in the sights.
Our own first walk was to the grocery store, happily another gentler climb along a road that curves away from the harbour. We found it with the help of Richard’s smart phone, though asking someone passing by would probably have given us the same information, possibly more quickly! Such are the changes in communications since we first set out from Ontario in 2005.
Lunenburg’s historic nature helped make walking an adventure for me. Pavements are often rough, narrow in some places and in others non-existent, so walking required extra attention and care. But it was more good practise, and the graceful lines and interesting colours of the buildings made the extra effort more than worthwhile.
We stopped in Lunenburg long enough to fix what needed to be fixed (we thought), to replenish our food and water and to spend a little time ashore. We would have liked to stay for the upcoming International Dory Races after catching glimpses of rowers practising, but time was passing and we needed to start our journey to Toronto. So, very quickly, it was time to sail back to Halifax, pause briefly, and move on.