JUNE, 2000
Jim Fraser's Ted Davis Trophy winning log.
Wednesday, June 14
Today should be another day of sunshine, southerly winds and modest seas. By Thursday however, the stationary high would move on, being replaced with a low from Hudson Bay. I decided to sail for Canso since part of the coast ahead lay wide open to the Atlantic and would be exposed to heavy seas and fog. Under an early morning southerly breeze, Naomi sailed off our anchorage. Already, Terry and his friend were out in the open trap skiff, labouring over their lobster pots. I headed for bell buoy PQ4 in the centre of Dover Bay’s approaches. Just yesterday I had watched a Coast Guard buoy tender lower this buoy and its tackle into the water. Previously, I had noticed that some of the buoys marked on the chart were not in sight. It seemed quite late in the year to be setting navigation buoys. Later I learned that the powerful winter storm early in the new year had combined with higher than normal tides to shift and damage many of the buoys as well as damaging wharves throughout the Maritimes. A new boardwalk and picnic shelters built at Black Duck Cove by the residents of Little Dover, had been torn up and cast into the woods by the waves.
Terry's trap skiff, Dover Bay
From the bell buoy, we headed for Little Dover Run; a sheltered passage behind Little Dover Island. The twisty opening to the Run is indistinguishable amongst the clutter of rocky outcrops and shoreline, so I steered a compass course for it. In the narrows of Little Dover Run, Naomi was overtaken by a weathered green trap skiff. The two men in drab oilskins asked, “Where you sailing from? Where’d you anchor last night? Where you sailing to in that little boat?” At their feet was a large galvanized pail from which reddish brown lobster claws stretched to wave greetings. As our conversation ended, one of the fishermen reached into the pail, lifted one of the creatures out, and offered it to me as a gift. I refused the offer - with thanks though.

Exiting Little Dover Run, I headed seaward to clear shoals off Madeline Point before sailing for Andrews Passage behind Andrews Island. This section of the coast has many shoals and I was thankful the weather was calm. As Naomi cleared Andrews Passage, the wind died and left us drifting off Glasgow Head. I was content to recline in the shade of the mainsail and wait for a breeze. On the horizon, Cranberry Island and its squat lighthouse appeared to hover above the water due to refraction.

My world was still except for a few lazy seagulls and occasional fishing boats coming and going from Canso. Eventually the breeze returned and the brightly painted wooden homes in Canso grew in size over the bow as we sailed on.

Canso Marina
I decided to stay overnight at the marina primarily to get a shower but also it would be much quieter than the Fishermans Wharf which was active with lobster boats and crabbers. Besides Naomi, there were only three small motorboats belonging to locals at the marina. The owner was repairing the showers and they’d be ready by 1700 hours. In the meantime I walked into town called Gail: and stopped at the restaurant. While waiting for my meal, I glanced at the cheap reproduction of a painting over my shoulder. I shuddered when I stared at it. Ships of the Spanish Armada were foundering off the rockbound coast of Northern Ireland, leaving survivors clinging to broken spars as they waited to be dashed onto the rocks by the rough sea. I have had similar visions of Naomi capsizing in rough weather, me grasping onto her rigging while shivering with cold, and being washed towards breakers on an identical shoreline.

On my way back to the marina, I stopped at the Grassy Island Interpretive Centre. The Federal Government operates a museum depicting the history and living conditions on the island when it was an important fishing station and strategic position during the fourteenth to eighteenth centuries. Being the only visitor at the centre, I was surprised when the employees offered to take me over to Grassy Island on the converted Cape Island fishing boat and give me a guided tour of the island.

While returning from Grassy Island, the skipper, the guide, and I chatted in the wheelhouse. A fishing boat with large circular crab pots passed us on its way 30 miles or more out to sea. It began to lower long stabilizing arms from each side of the hull. On the end of these wings are small torpedo-like weights which are lowered into the sea. These complicated devices are designed to reduce the boat’s rolling. They are common on South Shore draggers and long liners which fish Georges Bank and the mouth of Fundy but rare on Eastern Shore vessels. When I commented the boat must have originally been built down Shelburne way to be equipped with “sissy sticks”, the skipper laughed as it was his father’s vessel. He had never heard stabilizers called that before, and he’d be sure to kid his father about them on his return.

It was only 1800 and I lounged under Naomi’s boom tent at the Canso marina. To celebrate my arrival in Canso, I indulged in a supper of wine, cheese, and bread. Shortly before, I had luxuriated with a long steaming shower, and shaved at the marina washroom. Now I wore my clean, shore-going clothes, carefully bagged and stowed before the cruise for just such an occasion. I really felt like “Jack in Port” after my passage from Port Dufferin. Although there didn’t appear to be much night life in town, I would do a promenade anyway. I lay down for a brief nap after supper and fell asleep till 2200. Still groggy, I climbed into my sleeping bag without removing my shore duds and went back to sleep. So much for my night on the town in Canso.

Nova Scotia cruise - part 6