Up a Quiet River…

Looking down the Liscomb River, Photo by R. Mair

Looking down the Liscomb River, Photo by R. Mair

We set out on our overnight sail to Liscomb Harbour.

Usually we love night sailing, especially out on the ocean. As the darkness settles in and eyes adjust to the changing light the world becomes a different place. On a clear night there are stars and usually the moon above, and they throw a different kind of light on to the water. Without the sun the world feels quieter, and you listen to the sounds of the boat and the water around you and feel the way it moves through the water. And watch, and think.

But these days it isn’t quite the same, because there’s one challenge we have yet to find a good answer to. Fatigue means that I, Margaret, can’t stand the watches I usually do, and working hard for my balance sometimes interferes with other things. So these days an overnight sail means Richard doesn’t get much rest unless the winds and seas are kind and conditions are settled enough for him to have a nap before night falls while I keep watch. This trip he was lucky – he got a short nap and went into the night more rested.

Sunset at sea, Photo by M. Mair

Sunset at sea, Photo by M. Mair

The sun was beginning to edge downward when he woke. Then as evening came we saw a trawler in the distance (they move steadily but not much faster than we do, so we saw it coming for a long time). As it got closer a gentleman aboard hailed us, and we had a brief and pleasant exchange ending with wishes for a good evening. The trawler moved on into the distance, turning toward shore and leaving us alone to enjoy a spectacular sunset, all red and golden-orange. The sea birds settled down on the water, and night fell; I slept, but woke from time to time to make sure that all was well.

This is a shore of banks and shoals and rocky areas and we find it easier to travel well offshore most of the time. So come morning it took time to work our way toward Liscomb Harbour. Breakfast was done and the dishes cleaned up before we even arrived there. Which gave us both lots of time to concentrate on the long trip up the river, carefully following the navigation buoys and paying great attention to the chart plotter and depth sounder to make sure we stayed in deeper water. It was lunch time by the time we got to where we had decided to drop anchor, in about ten feet of water in a bay well sheltered from wind and waves – and apparently from phone service too.

Island up the Liscomb River, Photo by R. Mair

Island up the Liscomb River, Photo by R. Mair

There was greater comfort not far away (upriver, behind a couple of small islands), at Liscombe Lodge – if we chose to go there. It did sound appealing… The Lodge has a small full-service marina and about seven feet of water as you approach it, according to the charts. But we stayed where we were.

A foggy, windy day, Photo by R. Mair

A foggy, windy day, Photo by R. Mair

The rain started as we arrived. Richard started our generator to recharge batteries well-used on our trip up the river, and since it sits on the stern of the boat he covered it to keep the rain off. We ate, he slept and I kept watch to make sure the anchor was well set. I passed some of the time watching a backhoe work on constructing a retaining wall along part of the bank, and admired the way the operator was able to pick the huge rocks up and place them precisely on top of one another. Meantime the wind picked up and dropped again and the fog rolled in and made a grey blanket around us. And there we stayed for a couple of days, as the wind and rain came and went and the fog rolled in and out.

The boat from Liscombe Lodge, Photo by R. Mair

The boat from Liscombe Lodge, Photo by R. Mair

It was a quiet spot, downriver of a couple of islands, with a few houses visible along the shore. The pontoon boat from the lodge passed by us several times, a couple of jet skis came out to play but kept their distance, a powerboat roared off down the river on some errand and roared back some hours later. But much of the time things were quiet. So quiet that we had difficulty picking up CBC on the radio, and our phone signals came and went.

When the fog lifted, Photo by R. Mair

When the fog lifted, Photo by R. Mair

Meantime we kept an ear on the weather, waiting. A couple of days, and outside, along the coast, the weather improved. We left Liscomb River early on a foggy morning, making our way back along the track that had brought us safely in. Thanks to the technological miracles of modern GPS devices that we could follow that track more or less precisely.

A seal raised its head above the water to watch us go, and we were on our way (we thought) to Whitehead Harbour.

In sailing nothing is certain…

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About Margaret Mair

In love with the sensuousness of paint, intoxicated by the rhythm of words, entranced by the world of water, ever an observer and explorer.
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