Part 1 of 2
I planned to spend the last week and a half of my annual vacation pottering along Nova Scotia’s North Shore.  Between the New Brunswick border and Merigomish, there are several small estuaries and rivers to explore without long exposed passages.  I hoped to have a sedate passage while enjoying some hiking and looking for future canoeing or sailing locations.

The waters of the Northumberland Straits are much warmer than Nova Scotia’s Atlantic shore, and the coastline is predominately red clay or gravel rather than the rock of our Eastern Shore. Additionally, September is the height of the hurricane season. Although most hurricanes have been downgraded to tropical storms by the time they reach our waters, often they leave strong winds, fog, and dangerous seas along the Atlantic coast. Though, sometimes these winds dominate the Gulf of St. Lawrence marine district also.
Saturday, September 11
Forecast N/E 10-15 knots to light

I launched my Wayfarer, Naomi, at Port Elgin in New Brunswick.  This is a small village on the Gaspereau River. There is a good boat launch and well maintained wharf here.  A convoluted passage through an extensive marsh leads to open water on Baie Verte. 

Naomi on Baie Verte

Withies off Tidnish River

After a short sail, Naomi arrived off Tidnish River.  The approaches are marked with withies topped with green squares or red triangles.  Once again, I followed a winding passage into the marsh-lined river and headed upstream to Tidnish Bridge.  I lowered the mast and continued a little further to a swing bridge before returning to below Tidnish Bridge. 

I left Naomi by the bridge (above) and hiked along a rail bed which was once part of the ill-fated Chignecto Marine Transport Railway.  Since the French period in the 17th century, there were various plans to build a canal across the Isthmus of Chignecto. Vessels traveling up the eastern seaboard of North America would be able to traverse from the Bay of Fundy into the Gulf of St Lawrence, thereby avoiding a longer, more hazardous passage around the coast of Nova Scotia.  In the late 19th century, a marine railway, designed by a New Brunswick engineer, Henry Ketchum, was built across the isthmus. There were two parallel rail beds on which two locomotives would haul a ship straddled on a massive cradle.  At Tidnish, and near Amherst on the Bay of Fundy, the stone works for hydraulic lifts and docks were under construction.  For financial and political reasons, the project was never completed.  All that remains of Ketchum’s Folly is part of the rail bed, a stone culvert at Tidnish Bridge, and some remains of the wharves at Tidnish Provincial Park on the Northumberland Straits and near Amherst on the Bay of Fundy.

I anchored for the night alongshore on Tidnish River (above) with anchor lines laid fore and aft.  I didn’t want Naomi to swing into the narrow navigation channel nor foul a passing boat’s propeller with the rode.  Only one boat was on the river that evening.  Long before the wooden skiff arrived, I recognized the familiar, slow hacking cough of an ancient, one cylinder make-and-break motor.  The skipper stopped alongside and we chatted while night fell.
Sunday September 12
Forecast S/W 15 knots afternoon to S/W 20/25 knots midnight

Naomi sailed easily on a force 2/3 reach until near the approaches to Pugwash Harbour.  The approaches are marked with more substantial buoys than I met previously because large 730-foot bulk carriers frequently enter Pugwash to load salt at the conveyor loading tower (see photo below). 


The tidal flow is 2 knots in the approaches but near the road bridge it reaches 4 to 5 knots.  I stopped at the Pugwash Marina (above) which is located near the bridge.  They had one visitor slip which I took.  After a leisurely meal of spaghetti, wine, and veggies, I headed for a coffee shop in Pugwash.  Later, some of the boat owners at the marina dropped by to talk.

Monday September 13
Forecast W 20-25 knots veering to N/W 20-30 knots during the morning

With the winds freshening even at dawn, I wanted to get under the road bridge at Pugwash and head for the more sheltered Pugwash River.  Looking down from the bridge, I watched eddies from the flood tide whirling about amongst the bridge abutments.  I didn’t want Naomi spun sideways with the mast down and either bend the mast or tear out the tabernacle.  But I didn’t want to wait too long because a stronger wind could create its own problems.
Eventually I compromised.  I waited for the current to decrease somewhat before shoving off.  However, my plans came apart. I used one of the oars to push away from the dock so I could clear the neighbouring yachts and swing the bow into the stream. Unfortunately, the strong current punched Naomi back against the dock and she slid sternwards along the dockside.  Before I could react quickly enough, the oar blade caught between two floating docks, jammed in the rowlock and snapped off! 
I quickly tied Naomi to the dock mooring cleats and searched for the piece which had snapped off.  Perhaps with bolts and duct tape I could lash the oar together again.  The shattered blade was gone but I kept the rest in case I found the remains above the bridge. All I could purchase at the local hardware store were some poor quality 7-foot oars which I reluctantly bought.  I can’t imagine cruising anywhere in a Wayfarer without a decent set of oars but these pudding spoons would have to do.  The only place I knew which sold well made 9-foot oars on this coast is Stright-MacKay’s in New Glasgow.  However, this chandlery is located near the end of my intended cruise.

Mast lowered, Naomi heads for the Pugwash Bridge

I lowered the mast, and motored under the bridge.  In the basin beyond, I hoisted the main and had a great sail (above) up the Pugwash River until it began to shoal several miles upriver.  The river is sheltered by high trees with rarely any sign of civilization. Later I returned to where the river meets the open basin and anchored Naomi near shore.  She dried out as the tide ebbed.  After supper, I walked the tidal flats nominally bird watching but always on the lookout for the remains of my oar. 

Camping on the ...

Pugwash River

During the evening, I reclined against the thwart with my inflatable mattress serving as a cushion and backrest.  The canvas boom-tent rippled from gusty downdrafts, but it sheltered me from the weather.  Naomi rested solidly on the mud bottom.  Right outside, a strong, chilly north wind raised white caps on the basin, whipped tree-tops, and blew across the marsh grass in bold green waves.  Bald eagles soared in the turbulence.  I enjoyed these views nestled in my dinghy.

Mounds of salt at the mine
Tuesday September 14
Forecast N/W to diminish by noon S/W 20-25 knots by evening

I waited for slack high water at 1130 before lowering the mast and motoring back under the bridge to Pugwash.  A sloppy sea still ran in Pictou Roads. Naomi rose and slammed over short, steep waves. A green buoy bobbed a distance to windward. I wished I had a large-scale chart of the harbour approaches to indicate how far to seaward I must travel to clear Pugwash Reef. Finally I cleared the reef and swung Naomi to starboard. The northwesterly headwind became a more congenial breeze on the quarter.  My destination was Wallace Harbour.  Once there, I’d shelter from the predicted brisk southwest winds. 

While cruising along the coast, I encountered (above) the luxury yacht Destination Fox Harbour which is owned by Ron Joyce. He and hockey star Tim Horton, were the co-founders of the Tim Horton chain of coffee shops.  Onshore, his upscale Fox Harbour golf course, club house (below), and luxury accommodations were a bit too garish for my liking.

As I sailed up Wallace Harbour, I almost stranded Naomi on the extensive starboard mud shoals. The dragging rudder kicked up a roostertail of mud as Naomi headed west across the clam beds for open water. I often ignore channel buoys while dinghy sailing, but sometimes they aren’t kidding and are meant for little boats, also. 


The inner harbour at Wallace was crowded with fishing vessels and the outer high wharf sides were too exposed to tie alongside comfortably.  I sailed onward, lowering the mast, and motored under the Wallace causeway (above).  Beyond the causeway lies an extensive marsh which is designated as a national wildlife area. Several seals entertained themselves sliding down greasy mud banks before splashing into the water as Naomi passed, but I didn’t envy their larking in that thick sticky mud. 

I anchored Naomi in the marshes, where I hoped she wouldn’t dry out at any point on the surrounding mud banks. Then, wearing high sea boots, I cautiously slogged ashore (see boot prints above), to roam the more firm marshland. Later (see photos below), I relaxed in Naomi, listening to the wind whistling through the marsh grass, and watching the wader birds, geese, and eagles seek their meals.

The night was too clear. I gazed at the bright arch of the milky way through my 7 x 50 binoculars, and then tried, with difficulty, to pick out the basic constellations I am familiar with at home in the murky Dartmouth night sky. This mass of stars was overcrowding my night sky!  At one point, I was pleasantly distracted as a meteor trailing a long fluorescent tail streaked across my view.
Part 2
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