JUNE, 2000
Jim Fraser's Ted Davis Trophy winning log.
Sunday, June 18
Sailing before a moderate northwest breeze, Naomi soon left River Inhabitants and entered Lennox Passage. My immediate goal was to reach Lennox Passage Bridge at 0945 which should be high water slack. Before 1970, two bridges in sequence spanned the narrows at Burnt Island and Burnt Point. Currents in the passage weren’t impeded much below the combined bridges. When the Arrow’s oil spill began to flow up Lennox Passage, an earth causeway was built from the mainland to Isle Madame, blocking the oil from spreading further along the passage. By the time it was possible to reopen the passage again, the old bridges had deteriorated. A narrow channel was cut through the causeway, and a new bascule bridge was built instead. Strong currents pour through the constrained channel below the bridge abutments.

Close to the bridge I removed the sails and rowed along the banks of the causeway to get a view of the water’s flow under the bridge.  The current still set eastward but at a safe flow. I lowered the mast, centred Naomi between the bridge piers and used oars to keep her straight as she glided through. I was concerned about damaging the tabernacle if Naomi swung sideways and the long protruding mast struck the piers. Just beyond the bridge, I brought Naomi ashore on Burnt Island and scrambled through the brush and onto the causeway.

As I stood on Lennox Passage Bridge, the bridge operator motioned for me to come into the control room. He offered me a can of pop and a chair to relax in. We chatted for a length of time. Recently he had been transferred here from the locks at St. Peters. At the locks, there were always people to talk with, but here, he raised the bridge for sailboats, but they passed through without ever stopping. Soon I had to move on, too. I wanted to sail to Louisdale and call Gail from the public phone at the restaurant. Louisdale is located at the head of a small cove which has a constricted entrance from Lennox Passage. Once the tide began to ebb, the current would prevent our entry into Seal Cove.
Lennox Passage Bridge: looking towards Strait of Canso
Lennox Passage Causeway at Burnt Island: Looking in the direction of St. Peter's
Seal Cove, Louisdale
After beating into Seal Cove, I didn’t know where to land. Most of the inlet dries at low tide and I didn’t plan to be stranded for half a day on the mud. I saw a fish shed, a slipway and fishing gear on the far shore, and sailed for there, assuming it was a public landing. Once Naomi’s bowline was secured to the stern of a flat lying on the slipway, I walked around the corner of the shed. I was in someone’s yard! Feeling embarrassed, I strolled through their backyard and knocked on the door of the house. When an older couple came to the door, I asked them if they’d mind me leaving the dinghy here while I went to use the phone at the restaurant. The couple said there was no reason to walk to the restaurant because I could use their phone and to come inside. They had a phone plan which gave a certain number of free minutes on long distance weekend calls. Once I finished talking with Gail, they asked me to sit at the table and have fish chowder. Also they offered me bananas, plums, and apples from the counter and opened the fridge crisper and said to take anything I wanted. The man still caught lobsters, eels, and crabs, and he had seen my boat while checking his pots off Janvrin Island. While both of them wanted to hear all about my passage from Port Dufferin in an open dinghy equipped only with sails and oars, I could see puzzlement in their eyes. Finally the man asked sincerely, “Do you really enjoying doing that?”

Although the couple suggested I should leave Naomi where she lay, and catch a bus to Dartmouth from Louisdale, I declined their kind offer and returned to my boat. A force 3 northwest breeze hastened our departure out of Seal Cove and back into Lennox Passage. From here it was a steady run to the narrows at Grandique Point. In the past, a ferry operated between this point and Grandique Ferry on the mainland. Now it is a picturesque provincial day park. I sailed around the lighthouse on the end of a long spit and brought Naomi ashore in calm waters behind this barrier. A chilly wind funnelled down Lennox Passage. I quickly unloaded my stove and food container, and hurried over to a park picnic table that was out of the wind. Over a coffee and lunch, I’d look at the chart and decide where to cruise this afternoon.

Nature had her own plans for any cruising this afternoon. In my rush to escape the wind and have a coffee, I had been careless. Instead of anchoring Naomi both fore and aft which was more bother, I had dug the main anchor into the ground above the tide line and given the dinghy enough line that she would lie in deeper water. I then shoved her off the beach, assuming the brisk breeze would hold her offshore. However, I neglected the current rounding the point which swung Naomi parallel to the beach. In the time it took me to set up the stove and unpack my food bin, Naomi was aground on the stony bottom. She wouldn’t float again till around 2200.

Unintentional Grounding at Grandique
I spent a quiet afternoon following the trails in the park and admiring the views of Lennox Passage. I spread my clothes and gear out to dry on picnic tables, and washed up with fresh water from the taps. Once I returned to find three older couples standing around Naomi. One gentleman was pointing to various features of the boat. When I came closer the man exclaimed how Naomi brought back so many memories of his youth when he also cruised dinghies here and on the Bras d’Or Lakes. The men wanted to help carry my boat to the water but I shook my head. They weren’t as young and spry as they might think themselves to be, and besides I was content to be here anyway. Later in the evening three employees arrived to cut the grass. Since the park was closing for the day, I wondered if they might be perturbed that I was still here with all my possessions scattered about. After stopping for a chat, they suggested I should set up my tent by the picnic table and stay the night in the park. When Naomi was afloat again though, I rowed her across Lennox Passage and anchored along the shore of Birch Island.
Nova Scotia cruise - part 9