Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Hurricane Fiona, our Waterloo

The original title of this post was Privateer, soon changed to Vector Homecoming. But that has been overtaken by events, as they say in some circles. I promise I will get to the privateers, and Vector's entirely-without-fanfare homecoming, but not before I delve into the title I finally settled on, and especially because many have asked us if we will be safe during Hurricane Fiona. (Short answer: yes.)

Anyone who's read more than a few posts here knows that I can be pretty darn wordy. Today will be worse, because I am going to start with a digression that I think is, nevertheless, important to the story line. It's from a time before Vector, or even Odyssey, the 40' bus we lived in for a decade before moving aboard Vector. A time when we would escape our everyday working lives by riding our big touring motorcycles on long trips for a weekend, or maybe a week.

Vector secured at West Head Harbour, Cape Sable Island, where we will ride out Fiona.

On one such trip we found ourselves in Las Vegas, Nevada, and, not being gamblers, we occupied ourselves with the other things sin city had to offer. That included a number of amusement rides, including roller coasters, of which we are both big fans. I'm acrophobic, a not uncommon phobia, but I'm usually able to tough it out on tall amusement rides like big coasters and Ferris wheels such as the one we recently enjoyed in Montreal. I somehow made it through a career in telecom that sometimes involved being on antenna masts or other tall structures, and I've even challenged myself with a 200' rappel into a cave.

And so it was that while in Las Vegas, after dinner on the top floor restaurant of the Stratosphere Tower, as it was known back then, which did not bother me in the least despite being some 1,100' above the street, we decided to ride the roller coaster on the roof. After all, I love roller coasters, and the view from dinner was perfectly lovely.

Privateer monument in Liverpool honoring the vessels and crews who captured American ships. The names of the privateer vessels are inscribed at the base.

We got in the carriage and pulled the safety bars down, just like a hundred other roller coasters. A whoosh of air as the brakes released, and we left the station. And at the first turn, looking out into a thousand feet of nothing between me and the streets of Las Vegas, my eyes slammed shut, my entire body clenched, and I exerted a death grip on the safety bar. I only hoped the ride would end before I died. My relief a few minutes later, as Louise, whose eyes were still open, assured me we were coming back into the station, was short-lived, as they simply let the train through for us to go around the whole thing a second time.

I am an engineer. I have great confidence that this roller coaster is safe. I can look at it from every angle and realize that even if something came loose and a car left the track, it could not launch itself over the edge of the roof. I know at an intrinsic level that I had a much higher chance of dying on the thousand-mile motorcycle ride to and from Las Vegas. But none of that mattered one iota, just as the safety record of air travel does not matter to someone with aerophobia. The amygdala has taken over, and rational thought is powerless to overcome it.

Even the playground here is privateer-themed.

This is an "amygdala hijack," and I bring it up because Louise suffers from this kind of involuntary response when the boat gets into certain kinds of motions under some sea conditions. When you ask your doctor what to do about an amygdala hijack, the first thing they will tell you is to avoid the triggers, if possible. If you are acrophobic, avoid heights. Aerophobic, take the train. Claustrophobic, don't go into small places.

For us, this means staying out of the sea conditions that impart the specific motions that trigger the response. When we encounter them while already at sea after forecasts prove to have been inaccurate, we'll take a bail-out option that we built into the plan, or change course or speed to alter the motion if possible. But sometimes you just have to close your eyes and grip the safety bar with white knuckles, your body flooded with cortisol and adrenaline, until the train gets back to the station.

Monument to a lost trawler and crew in the local cemetery.

I'm never getting back on that infernal rooftop roller coaster as long as I live. But Louise keeps going out to sea on Vector. Part of what makes that possible is that she does the weather routing -- we don't go out until she is comfortable that the sea state and wind forecasts support a passage that will not involve these kinds of motions. That's been a challenge all through Canada, where the forecasts have been neither as granular nor as accurate as what we've been using elsewhere, and particularly here on the Nova Scotia coast, where the conditions are perfect to create those triggering motions.

This has made for slow going all along the Nova Scotia coast, and to a lesser extent the Northumberland Strait before it. That's seldom a problem for us; we have no schedule to speak of (other than winter is coming), and we actually enjoy spending a little extra time in the small towns and even the remote anchorages in such a scenic place. We're happy to hole up someplace until conditions on the outside improve and we take the windows as they come.

The British regulars are still here among the loyalists -- all the fireplugs are dressed as redcoats.

That calculus changes dramatically when a hurricane is headed our way. And suddenly there is a very pressing schedule where none had been before. Fiona is currently forecast to bring 45 knot winds to this part of Nova Scotia, and while long-time readers know that we've weathered a dozen tropical storms in this boat and winds of 70mph, there are just some places you can not be during those kinds of winds. And so it is that I brought the boat around Cape Sable, known as the "Cape Horn of Nova Scotia," without Louise on board.

The forecasts supported this one window to get around the cape before seeking shelter from Fiona, which, at the time, was forecast to hit Nova Scotia as a Major Hurricane, with the cone of uncertainty extending as far west as Halifax. And while it looked very much like we would be able to do the passage together like any other, with Fiona bearing down, the possibility  of turning back if the going got too rough was just not an option. With at least one forecast showing steep seas, we opted to have her travel comfortably overland, a distance of less than seven miles, while I took the boat around the cape some 24 nautical miles to the exact same destination.

At Fort Point Lighthouse park they've built up the seawall, I assume due to flooding. The rocks go right around the tree.

At the beginning of this post I promised to catch up on the much more mundane goings-on before Fiona reared her ugly head. When last I posted here, we had just returned from dinner in Liverpool, hoping for a quiet and comfortable night. Unfortunately, no sooner had I hit the "publish" button on that post than the wind shifted to hold Vector sideways to the incoming swell, causing her to roll at her resonant period. That can be a recipe for a sleepless night, and so with only light winds forecast, I took our emergency/kedge/stern anchor out in the dinghy, set it, and then used the dinghy to push Vector back in line with the incoming swell while Louise took in the rode at the stern and secured it on deck.

In this orientation the swell imparts only a gently pitching motion, which is not resonant and thus self-amplifying, and is much more comfortable than the roll. This is the very first time we've deployed this setup, a fairly small 35-lb Manson Supreme shackled to 100' of 1/4" braided Dyneema® rode. It worked surprisingly well, considering this is a very small anchor for a boat of Vector's size, and the rode is a poor choice of fiber. This combination was selected because it is the most holding power that Louise can lift and heave over the rail by herself, and we deemed that a requirement for an emergency anchor that might have to be deployed while I was unable to leave the helm.

Cannon at Fort Point with Vector in its sights.

Wednesday turned out to be one of those days when the weather router declared outside conditions a no-go, and so we just stayed put in Liverpool. I took the dinghy ashore to explore the town a bit, which has a rich history. An influx of loyalists escaping the American Revolution swelled the town's population, and in the War of 1812, privateers from Liverpool captured numerous American ships.

When I was not exploring, I was beating my head against the wall trying to get one of the two plotter/sounders for the dinghy working. The current one quit a week or so ago, and the old one I had replaced on account of a broken connector, but kept as a spare, was also not working. We don't need the plotter, but we rely on the sounder for probing shallow anchorages or docks before bringing Vector in. Sadly, both seem to suffer the same problem, dead backup batteries, and I have no way to source the solder-in batteries here.

She looks rather alone in the Mersey. That's Brooklyn in the background, whose marina was far too small for us.

During the day the winds clocked around 180°, and we found ourselves hanging mostly from the stern anchor, so we let it go with a buoy attached and let the boat swing all the way around. I went out in the dinghy to try to recover it, but the dinghy was not powerful enough to pull it out -- that's how well it was set. We just left it with the buoy, planning to raise it later with Vector.

At dinner time we returned ashore together for dinner at the Privateer Inn, part of which is the former home of famed privateer Joseph Barss, captain of the Liverpool Packet, which captured 50 American ships before succumbing to a much larger vessel. Dinner was good and they had some nice drafts.

Louise reached into the fridge for a beer and came up with this sealed but empty can, right in the middle of a boxed 12-pack. Note the tiny hole at the bottom. Nine Locks offered to send a replacement but we have no place to receive it.

We came back to Vector to find her once again rolling with the swell, the wind having died down. With the other anchor already well set, we weighed the main anchor, drove the boat around to the other side of it and dropped the hook, then brought the second rode back aboard to the stern. A little fussy, but it worked and it was easier than pulling it up and setting it again.

I was all set to march up to the grocery store Thursday, 3/4 mile north, just past the Hank Snow museum honoring the home town country singer. But the morning check of the forecast said we had a shot outside for Shelburne, with an earlier option of Lockeport, so we weighed anchor to head outside. Once again we had to drop the stern anchor with a buoy, and after weighing the main we pulled the rode up, cleated it off, and I pulled it free with the boat. It came up with a huge ball of mud, well-buried. A great demonstration of how good these "super high holding power" anchors can be in the right bottom.

Another, slightly different regimental fireplug. The large connectors have been styled as backpacks, so the soldiers face away from the street.

The first few hours we had a good cruise, but seas began to build much greater than forecast in the afternoon, and  we started searching for an earlier bail-out than Lockeport, We ended up pulling into a small embayment with just the right kind of protection known as Little Port L'Hebert, which is not a port at all, little or other wise; even the few homes around the cove lack docks. We dropped the hook mid-cove (map), and had it to ourselves until after dinner, when a big cruising sailboat came in and dropped anchor a couple hundred feet away.

Friday we tried again to make Shelburne, but just a mile or so out of the cove we made an about-face and came back to wait another day. The sailboat left shortly afterward and never returned, but sailboats under sail have a very different motion than Vector, with more wind being better rather than worse. We had the cove to ourselves the second night.

Vector's birthplace. I only know it was in this group of unrelated buildings; I am guessing the white one with the large blue door.

Finally Saturday we escaped Little Port L'Hebert and made our way to Shelburne in fairly heavy seas. Things calmed down when we rounded Sandy Point, and then there it was up on the hill: Vector's birthplace. She was mostly built right here on Sandy Point in Shelburne, and likely launched at one of the enormous ramps in either direction along the main road. I'm fairly certain this is her first homecoming since leaving Shelburne some 19 years ago.

It was another full hour before we were in Shelburne proper, where we landed at the fuel dock at the Shelburne Harbor Yacht Club. The fuel we took on back in Brewerton, NY was just about gone, down to our last 40 gallons. I had figured it to bring us all the way back to the US, but an unplanned detour into Lake Bras D'Or, several false starts and U-turns, and running at higher RPM in some of the rougher sections to help the stabilizers all took their toll on the fuel reserve. More importantly, with just 40 gallons left in the belly tank, we had less stability and more motion than normal. When full that tank holds two tons of fuel, at the very lowest part of the boat, and the absence of that weight was noticeable.

The marina was very concerned about how much fuel we wanted. If we had "filled up," we would have completely emptied their ~1,200-gallon tank.

And so it was that we took on 1,500 liters, or just under 400 gallons, of diesel fuel at CDN$1.98 per liter, or about US$5.60 per gallon, just about what we paid back in Brewerton. The extra 2,800 pounds in the belly tank has made a difference in the ride, and I can stop sweating stretching the fuel back to Maine. After fueling we dropped lines and headed to the anchorage just to the north, where we dropped the hook (map).

We splashed the tender and I headed ashore to explore the town. The town landing was right smack in the middle of the annual Whirligig and Weathervane Festival (I kid you not), with numerous creators of the namesake items along with food vendors and the usual festival-booth suspects. I did not buy any whirligigs, weathervanes, or food items.

I snapped this sign after the festival had closed for the day. No idea what the moose signifies.

In addition to strolling the diminutive downtown area, I hoofed it up to the more commercial "mall" area to pick up a few provisions at the grocery store and some more beer at the package store before returning. My final stop was the yacht club, to see if any members hovering at the bar might have some advice about rounding Cape Sable. No one at the bar even had a boat, leading me to conclude this is a drinking club with some yachts, and not really a yacht club with a bar. As a side note, I could have tied the dinghy up here instead of the town landing, but they wanted a $15 dinghy fee, even after we dropped $3k at the fuel dock.

I dropped the provisions back off at Vector and we returned ashore together for a pleasant dinner at the Emerald Light Cafe, one of only a few restaurants in town. Shelburne is a bit off the main highway and does not see the kind of tourist traffic that has kept some of the other ports thriving even after the maritime industries have tapered off. This is another town where the loyalist roots and influence are plainly visible.

Vector at anchor in Shelburne Harbor.

I could easily have spent another day in Shelburne, and with perfect information about being pinned down by weather, we might have just stayed a week. But the very next morning we again had a decent window to move along, with any hope of getting around the cape before possibly being pinned down by a tropical storm requiring us to move along. And so at 8am we weighed anchor and steamed the full hour south to the ocean.

We only managed two hours in the North Atlantic before seas became intolerable, even though the forecast suggested we might have made the cape, and well short of our hold-short stop of Port LaTour. Instead we bailed out to the first comfortable spot, a small cove between a pair of conjoined islands known as Cape Negro Island, where we tucked in as far as we could and dropped the hook next to a catamaran already holed up there (map).

The Dory Shop, part of the local maritime museum. With, of course, whirligigs.

We ended up chatting with the catamaran, Grit, on the radio. He was single-handing to Cape Cod, and he actually left the anchorage at 4:30pm for that passage, just as the wind shifted. We only stayed another hour ourselves, as the shift in the wind meant we'd be pummeled in this anchorage. We enjoyed it the short time we were there, watching the sheep roaming the shores. The island once hosted an entire community with houses, shops, and even a hotel, all gone now, with the only inhabitants a flock of sheep and an automated lighthouse.

We moved only a short distance across the bay to Ingomar Harbour, threading our way through a narrow entrance into an anchorage more protected from the now easterly winds (map). Three other boats came in around the same time and anchored nearby, and we all discussed making for the cape in the morning on a favorable forecast.

In case we forgot it gets very cold here.

When we awoke Monday morning the other boats were gone, including a trawler-style boat the same size as Vector but half her weight. They were headed for the cape with about a two-hour head start. We weighed anchor after coffee to follow in their wakes. Alas it was not to be; as soon as I made the turn to the west around the south end of Cape Negro Island we found ourselves in steep four footers, and while things might have flattened out if we pushed through them for a couple of miles, that was not in the cards.

There was no way to turn around, and so we spent a miserable twenty minutes running along the south end of the island before I could turn north along the west side. It was too uncomfortable to anchor in West Cove on the island, even though it was out of the wind, and we ended up circumnavigating the island all the way back to Ingomar Harbour (map), anchoring some two hours and ten nautical miles after we left.

Our circumnavigation of Cape Negro Island.

We figured we might be spending the night in that anchorage, or maybe even a week until Fiona passes, but we were highly motivated to get to a safer place, and so when the winds and seas finally laid down enough by 4pm, we again weighed anchor for another attempt. We no longer had the correct current conditions to make the cape, even if we were willing to do it in the dark, but we could get to the last harbor just east of it, the Barrington Passage, which is no longer a passage because it has been bisected by a causeway.

We made it to the head of the harbor just at the end of twilight and set the hook in the dark as far in as we dared (map). It was a tenuous set over a rocky bottom but it was good enough for the night. In the morning we splashed the tender to sound out the very narrow, very shallow channel leading in to the more protected anchorage next to the causeway. You may recall the sounder is out on the dinghy, and so this involved a "lead line," in our case a lead diving weight on a 25' nylon cord marked at intervals. I marked the soundings on the chart app on my phone.

These rocks are called The Salvages. Those are actually fairly large breakers to the left of the lighthouse, reflecting the seas we were in right here.

Armed with soundings and at the requisite tide level we made our way through the tight entrance at dead slow; at one point I got far enough off soundings that we hit a rock with the starboard fin. The underwater camera later revealed some damage to the fiberglass fairing but not much else so we will just live with it till the next haulout. After extricating ourselves we made it into the little anchorage with no further issues and dropped the hook (map), very precisely to allow swing room all the way around.

It was a very comfortable anchorage and we had a great set in a sand bottom. But there was no way we could put enough chain out here to ride out 50mph winds, which is what was being forecast yesterday morning. The forecast for this morning said we could safely make it around the cape, but there was no guarantee we'd be doing it in anything that was not going to send Louise into a panic, especially after a week of ever-building dread about this particular crossing, fueled by horrific accounts by pleasure boaters ill-prepared for the task, or lobstermen who go no matter the forecast.

Vector in the very calm anchorage at Barrington Passage. Likely the largest boat that has ever been in here.

I suggested I could take the boat around on my own and she could get a lift the seven miles down the road and meet me. But that same building anxiety meant she did not want me out there alone, either, and, admittedly, there are certain risks to single-handing. And thus it was that I spent the rest of the day making phone calls and trying to find a local fisherman willing to ride along.

And here is where I must add my voice to the chorus of cruisers who will tell you that the people here will go to the ends of the earth to help a stranger. By dinner time I had four different skippers willing to ride along, several offers of rides or cars, the Coast Guard telling us they would be keeping an eye on us, and lots of advice about sea conditions and route plotting. I selected one of the four offers, and thus reassured, we went ashore at the dinghy dock and walked across the causeway for dinner at JB's Steak and Seafood, groceries, beer, and dinghy fuel.

This whimsical lobster and very pointy Adirondack chair are in the waterside park in Barrington Passage.

By this time, everyone in town on both sides of the causeway, who had already been seeing our boat all day, had heard the story (everyone knows everyone here), and on our way back a carload of lobstermen stopped us to chat us up about the whole affair. It was all very surreal.

We weighed anchor this morning at 8am to have enough tide to get back out the squeaky channel and dropped a lunch hook in deeper water, where I deployed the camera to inspect the damage. I was too wrapped up in phone calls to do it yesterday. And at 10am we tendered back to the dock, where we met Jason, my crew for the morning. Jason handed Louise his car keys and the two of us returned to Vector, decked the tender, and weighed anchor.

Screen capture of a murky video showing leading-edge damage to the fin.

As it turned out, the milder forecast was correct (well, other than slightly higher winds), the passage was uneventful, and it would have been no problem at all for us to have done it together. Sort of like keeping it from raining by bringing your umbrella. Better to have taken the needless precaution than the other way around.

We had not been entirely sure where we were going to take the boat once we rounded the cape, with a few options in mind. But in the course of lining up help, and in no small part on the suggestion of the Coast Guard, we ended up here, at the West Head Harbour (map), where we are rafted up (or shouldered, or breasted up, depending on whom you ask) to an offshore lobster boat, the F/V Atlantic Triumph. Lobster season is closed and the boats are idle, and no one is going out now until the storm passes anyway. Most of the harbor is breasted two or three deep.

Our new friend Eric in the Canadian Coast Guard SAR boat doing donuts around Vector off Cape Sable. These are the conditions we had, very benign for the cape.

Louise stopped in to the harbormaster's office when she arrived and they figured out where to put us and she texted me directions. The Coasties, who had done a few passes around us offshore since it was practice day with the SAR boat, helped tie us up when we arrived. After offloading a week's worth of fresh groceries Louise gave Jason back his car. No one would accept anything for their help, but Louise gassed up the truck before she arrived at the harbor.

When Jason first met us on the dinghy dock at Barrington Passage, he was carrying a bag with about two pounds of fresh tuna. Not only do they not accept anything... they bring welcome gifts. I cranked up the grill and we had grilled tuna steaks for dinner.

The view from our aft deck for the next few days.

Getting off the boat is a challenge involving climbing over rails, crossing a fishing boat, then climbing a straight ladder that is often 2-3' from the boat. There's nothing to go to, anyway, and so we'll mostly be right here on board until Fiona passes. We have four lines to Atlantic Triumph and another two all the way to shore, and a 30-amp power hookup, so we are all set.

I will try to post storm updates, as appropriate, on Vector's Twitter account. My next post here will not be until we cast off lines and are under way to points west. Of course, I should be more careful what I promise: I ended my last post by saying I would post under way to Shelburne, and we had so many short sea days and challenging conditions that I never managed to type under way. This might have been two or three much shorter posts had I been able to do so.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

A pleasant week in Halifax

We are under way westbound along the Nova Scotia coast, with Halifax  and Lunenburg astern. We have our sights set on the harbor of Brooklyn and Liverpool this evening, on the second of a two-day weather window. We've been in Halifax for a week and I have lots of photos to share in this update.

Vector docked at Museum Wharf in Halifax, across from HMCS Sackville in her "dazzle" camouflage.

After my last post, seas built throughout the afternoon, and with the unreliable forecasts here, we decided to keep open the option to make Halifax Harbor in two days rather than three. That meant passing up the free public wharf in Little Liscomb or even the run a few miles upriver to an anchorage just off a nice little resort, in favor of pressing on through a channel north of a small group of islands. We dropped the hook in the lee of Dogfish Head on Goose Island (map), just across from the small fishing port of Marie Joseph.

Sunset moon over Goose Island from our very calm anchorage off Dogfish Head.

The islands sheltered us from the relentless swell, and we had a comfortable night after a nice dinner on board. We saw no eagles here but we did see some harbor seals. In the morning we got an early start, again in case we needed to make Halifax Harbour in just a day, but with Jeddore as our nominal destination. We worked our way back out to open water between numerous rock shoals and islands.

This large concrete sculpture in the form of a breaking wave, just a stone's throw from us, was popular with kids who would scamper up and slide down. The sign at lower left forbids climbing, but they surrounded the sculpture with spongey playground surfacing anyway. We heard squealing at all hours.

The actual playground, just a few feet away, also very popular.

We had a very comfortable morning, but not long after lunch time the seas were growing, and the forecast for Monday was deteriorating. We had made the right decision to press on to Dogfish Head and get an early start. By the time we arrived at the turn for Jeddore it was clear we needed to push on to Halifax, or we'd be spending another few days in an anchorage with no services.

This sculpture "Sail," is made entirely of stainless wire mesh.

That made for a very long day, but the rocky coastline here is stunningly beautiful. It's similar to Maine, but much more exposed, as Nova Scotia itself shields the Maine coast from much of the northeasterly weather. Contributing to the uncertainty in the forecast and the potential for being pinned down were a pair of tropical disturbances spinning up, one of which would become Hurricane Earl.

These oversize "stairs" know as Queens Landing are also a piece of art. Strip lighting along the sides extends right down into the sea.

By mid-afternoon seas had gotten very sloppy, and our speed made good fell off to the point where we'd be entering the harbor past 7pm. We opted to have dinner well before the turn, and I cranked up the grill around 5:30 and grilled up some brats while Louise readied the rest of dinner, with the pilothouse being something of a dance as each of us took turns minding the helm or fixing our part of dinner. I managed to finish grilling without any brats rolling off the grill and into the briny deep.

The local version of a "Duck tour," these "Harbor Hopper" amphibious tours had to clear in with Halifax Traffic every time they entered and left the water, so we heard them on the radio all day long. I believe these are converted LARC-Vs.

Our dock was booked for Monday, and there was no good reason to pay for an extra night by arriving just before dark, and so I plotted the route to an anchorage called McNabs Cove, on the eponymous island that used to be a military base but is now a provincial park. Halifax is a big cruise port, and just before turning into the harbor we watched the Norwegian Pearl making her way out to sea.

Free concerts on the "Grand Parade" in front of City Hall.

After making the turn to the final northward leg toward McNabs Island, as I was drilling down into the details of the chart, I noticed a note saying anchoring was not permitted there. This despite the fact that our crowd-sourced database showed it as being a well-used anchorage. We started clicking around the entire harbor on our various chart programs, only to find that every square inch, including all of the several anchorages listed in the aforementioned database, was so marked. Uh oh. A last-minute scramble to try to find the underlying documents for this was unsuccessful, and there was no mention of it in the Sailing Directions, or the boaters' guide to the harbor that I had downloaded when I made our reservation.

Vector and Sackville as seen from the Maritime museum. At left is a 73' "Dashew FPB" named Ugly Betty, our across-the-dock neighbor for a couple of nights.

After exhausting all our other options I finally just picked up the radio and called Halifax Traffic, the vessel traffic control for the harbor, to whom we'd been listening for over an hour, and asked. Their very first answer was no, we could not anchor there, so I asked more specifically where we could anchor for safe harbor. That sent them on a hunting expedition, and after a silence of several minutes they came back to say that the area we had originally requested was fine and actually outside the controlled harbor limits. We're probably the only boat ever to ask.

Halifax is the fourth largest port in the nation and ships came and went throughout our visit, including our old friend Baie St. Paul. The container ship ONE Helsinki was one of the larger vessels to pass just in front of us.

We arrived to find another boat already anchored, and we dropped the hook in the cove a short distance away (map). We had a comfortable evening, but sometime in the night the wind shifted, holding us parallel to the incoming swell, and we had an uncomfortable roll that persisted into the morning. That nixed my plans to tender in to explore the island, but while I was researching that, I came across this map, which suggested we might be anchored just above some historic shipwrecks that are not shown on the nautical chart. Fortunately, the anchor came up without issue.

Sunset from McNabs Cove.

We weighed anchor after our first cup of coffee, crossing our fingers that our requested berth was already available at an early hour. We had to swing out around the east side of Georges Island because the enormous Caribbean Princess, who had passed us as we were getting ready to weigh, was spinning around to come alongside the dock, just in front of the equally enormous and already secured Mein Schiff. The much smaller Seabourn Quest was also just making fast to one of the piers.

Caribbean Princess docking between Seabourn Quest and Mein Schiff. We had to leave Georges Island, right, to port to leave her room.

In a stroke of pure luck, we arrived at the dock just as two motor yachts who had been there overnight were casting off lines. We hovered in the harbor for less than two minutes as they departed, then spun around and backed in, to what is reported to be the most protected berth in the harbor (map), owing in no small part to the historic warship berthed on the other side of the same slip. We had heard this harbor can be a rolly mess when the swell is out of the south and we asked for the extra protection. We were not disappointed, and we found it quite comfortable for most of our stay.

Vector as seen from the machine gun emplacement aboard HMCS Sackville.

The Halifax waterfront is a popular destination for tourists of all stripes, including cruise passengers, who on some days numbered more than 6,000 -- one of the ships calling here holds more than 3,900 all by itself. Attractions include restaurants, shops, the maritime museum, and the aforementioned warship, the corvette HMCS Sackville. And, Vector, at least for a week. Lots of photographs, discussion of the motor scooters, and remarks about us being from "Bear, Delaware," which just happens to be our hailing port. We put our Textilene covers up and mostly had the blinds drawn.

Full moon over the harbor.

As soon as we arrived at the dock, we noticed police cars, lights ablaze, and a line of police tape out on the main street across from our slip. It turned out that the previous morning someone was stabbed to death in the night club across the street, ironically called "Yacht Club Social." The victim was a celebrity in the rap world, and was very clearly targeted; random violent crime is nearly unheard of here. Police cars, tape, and the occasional forensic van had the club blocked off all week, and the club was closed. Tragic, but at least we did not have a busy night club just 400' from the boat.

One or more forensic vans visited daily. The suspect was still at large.

The very next morning, Canadian flags were lowered to half staff all over town, including the pair bracketing us at the waterfront, not for this stabbing, but for the even more tragic stabbing spree in Saskatchewan that claimed ten lives. The flags have not been raised since, on account of the subsequent passing of Canada's monarch -- Canada is still a constitutional monarchy and Elizabeth II was their queen. Upon her passing we lowered our own US ensign to half staff in respect; shortly afterward, President Biden issued flag orders. Our ensign will remain lowered until her interment.

It's very informative to see the war of 1812 from the British perspective. This exhibit in the maritime museum relates the capture of USS Chesapeake, brought to Halifax as a war prize.

The weather was nearly perfect all week, and we made it ashore nightly for dinner, mostly al fresco. I did quite a bit of exploring on foot and by e-bike, and I even took the ferry across to Dartmouth for an afternoon of strolling the town and its parks. I also made excursions to two grocery stores and the Walmart, and a pilgrimage to Canadian Tire, which I'd previously never been in and which might best be described as Goodyear Tire and Auto Centers meets Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Northern Tool. I did not buy anything, but they accepted for recycling three large containers of used disposable batteries that we've been gathering for years.

This may have been my worst Walmart experience ever. I spent 90 minutes just getting essentials; these blank signs reflect the utter disorganization of the entire store.

I took time to tour the HMCS Sackville right next door, which in addition to being a museum ship, is also the Canadian Naval Memorial. These corvettes protected Atlantic shipping from U-boat attacks during World War II. I also visited the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, with many interesting exhibits including the local boat and shipbuilding industries, Nova Scotia's shipwrecks (numbering over 10,000), the ages of sail and steam, and the horrific explosion that leveled much of the city, killing over 1,700, when the relief ship SS Imo collided with SS Mont Blanc, laden with high explosives, in the Narrows during World War I.

A piece of (flat) hull plating mangled by the 1917 explosion.

The museum showcased many "builder's models" -- ship models made at the same time and from the same plans as their prototype ships, for marketing or other purposes. This one is unique, as it was the builder's model of the Lusitania. After she was torpedoed in 1915, the model was repainted and detailed to be her sister ship, Mauretania. 

The museum has a large number of Titanic artifacts, and lots of exhibits on Halifax's role in the tragedy. Most Americans remember from history, or maybe one of the movies on the subject, that the Carpathia steamed into New York harbor with the survivors. But the dead came here, hundreds of them, many interred in cemeteries around the area. White Star contracted the transatlantic cable-laying fleet based here to recover the bodies and whatever could be salvaged.

Decorative woodwork from the Grand Staircase, alongside a photo of it pre-sinking.

While in the museum I stumbled across a docent-led tour of the Titanic exhibit. The docent spent a good deal of time discussing why Titanic was so memorable, despite being, as shipwrecks go, just average by any measure. During his lecture I learned that the deadliest maritime accident of all time was caused by a ship named ... Vector. This oil tanker collided with the horrifically overloaded Philipine ferry Doña Paz, sending her to the bottom with over 4,300 souls. 11 of the 13 crew aboard Vector also perished.

The original Theodore Tugboat and friends, set and filmed in Halifax and now in the Maritime museum. A life-size replica of Theodore, named Theodore Too, used to be docked here, about where Vector is, but it was sold long ago and now graces Hamilton Harbour on Lake Ontario instead.

I spent an afternoon at The Halifax Citadel, the last in a long line of fortifications built atop the eponymous hill by the British. I arrived just in time for the noon gun, a 7" cannon fired daily at noon and easily heard throughout the city. I was pleasantly surprised by how extensive and complete the museum exhibits were, and I enjoyed exploring the fort. Here at the end of the season, most of the young reenactors have returned to school, and although there were a few kilted sentries (of both genders) about, the period military drills and band were not to be found.

Firing the noon gun. I was shooting one-handed, doing the best I could to cover both ears with my other arm, and the shock wave actually pushed the camera back.

These signal masts in the Citadel used to communicate to the other coastal defenses in the harbor. Not the anchor day shape flying from the spreader -- the Citadel can not maneuver!

With a full week in town, I managed to get an appointment for a much-needed massage, and the spa was right next door to the Halifax Gardens, which are lovely. In fact, all the parks and gardens here are well-kept and very popular in the summer. We had not planned on a full week, of course, but we only had a single one-day window mid-week, and we opted to be pinned down in Halifax for a few more days rather than someplace else.

Halifax Gardens.

Gazebo in Halifax Gardens.

Signs say don't feed the ducks. The ducks can't read.

Fountain and flowers in Halifax Gardens.

It was so lovely, with so much to see and do, that I did not make much progress on the project list. Two of our reverse-cycle units are tripping their circuit breakers, so I did clean the strainers (to no real effect), and I also took apart the dryer and its ducts for a much overdue cleaning.

Shop on the main street in downtown Dartmouth. Close to chocolate and wine shops.

Finally, I've been trying to list out all our restaurant venues, for the inevitable time when I come back to these posts on a future visit, or perhaps for anyone else following in our footsteps. We had dinner a couple of times on the pedestrian mall at Argyle Street, including Antojo Tacos (so-so), Loose Cannon (decent for bar food), and Durty Nelly's, an Irish pub which was surprisingly good, even though we usually eschew such places and ended up there by default.

I passed through Dalhousie University, where Vector was tank-tested before final build to see if a bulbous bow would be beneficial (it wasn't). I also passed through St. Mary's College right next door.

We were treated to the start of an overnight sailing race right from our deck; the transom of the Sackville was the starting line. That's the committee boat between us and the participants flying toward the starting line.

Closer to the waterfront we dined at aMano (tasty Italian), Piatto (sister to the one in Charlottetown with the same menu), Black Sheep in the A. Keith brewery building (rooftop patio), and McKelvies seafood (just OK). We also had one breakfast out, at the Summit Cafe right by the waterfront (don't bother). We could easily have stayed two more weeks and not eaten at the same place twice.


Just before we left, the Bluenose II arrived. Normally berthed in Lunenberg, she is on one of her educational tours.

Someone got word that we were leaving the harbor, and we had a fireworks display on our final evening, visible over the corvette.

Our window finally arrived and yesterday morning we dropped lines before 8am for the eight hour cruise to Lunenburg. We wanted to get an early start in case we decided to push another dozen miles and try to make Shelburne in two days. In the end we decided the risk of being pinned down in a remote harbor without enough protection was too great, and we stuck to the Lunenburg plan.

We left well before the Zaandam arrived and were able to slip between Georges Island and the cruise berths. We cleared in to Halifax Traffic when we dropped lines, and talked to the Zaandam on our way out.

We arrived to the picturesque harbor around 3:30 and dropped the hook outside of the mooring field (map). This is another tourist town, with the bulk of them being bused in by the hundreds from the cruise port in Hallifax (Peggy's Cove, which we passed en route but is too shallow for us, is another cruise passenger destination). That makes the town something of a caricature of itself, but it does have lots of restaurants, some historic vessels, and numerous well-preserved Victorians painted bright colors. We strolled the town in the evening and had dinner at the Dockside Inn, which was mediocre but had the most comfortable patio seating in the whole town.

The picturesque Lunenburg waterfront from our anchorage. Our old friend Picton Castle is in her berth.

This morning we weighed anchor and left the harbor, only to find that what was was supposed to be easterly two-foot rollers on nine seconds was, instead, confused 2.5-footers of random period that made for a very uncomfortable ride. Forecasts here are unreliable. We soldiered through it and it's settled down just a tad here in the afternoon. We should be anchored or moored in the harbor before 3, and we'll be here until conditions improve for the next leg to Shelburne. That will be no sooner than Thursday, but might well be into the weekend.

The kinetic sculpture Tidal Beacon, whose grand opening was just days before we arrived. It puts on this show for 12 minutes at each change of the tide. The steps leading to it serve as bleachers for performances in the park.

Update: I had to stop working on the post when we turned up the Mersey toward Liverpool (really). We're now anchored just east of Liverpool Harbor (map). We're comfortable for now, but if more swell starts coming up the bay we may have to move over to a mooring at the Brooklyn marina across the river. We had pizza and beer in downtown Liverpool for dinner; no sign of Ringo or Paul. My next post will be under way to Shelburne, whenever we escape from here.