Part 2 of 2
Wednesday September 15
Forecast S/W 25-30 knots

Oyster punt with tongs

I woke to unusual sounds and low voices nearby.  When I poked my head out of the boom-tent I saw two men standing in a punt.  They waved and went back to work laboriously tonguing oysters using long poles with rakes attached to one end.

Since the winds were predicted to be too brisk for open sea sailing, I decided to head through the marsh to Wallace River and potter there for the day. 

Again, I lowered the mast for the Wallace River Bridge (above), but this is an easy process single-handed in a Wayfarer dinghy. Once on Wallace River, I motored upstream enjoying the views of the high tree-lined shore and the marsh birds, ospreys, and eagles on the river.

Views from the Wallace River rail bridge

After a couple of miles, I arrived at the old Wallace River Rail Bridge. The bridge is high enough that I didn’t need to lower the mast. Originally, a section of this bridge was designed to swing open so sailing vessels could be towed further upriver to be loaded with cargoes of sandstone blocks. Sandstone from the Wallace area was used in the construction of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Province House in Halifax, and the Halifax Citadel.

I continued upstream until the river became too shallow for navigation before returning to the rail bridge. The rail bed is now part of the Trans Canada Trail and I walked an attractive section bordered with pasture and woodland in the afternoon. As evening arrived, I set up the boom-tent and camped by the bridge.
Thursday September 16
Forecast S/W 20/25 knots to S/W 15/20 knots later

At dawn, I drifted down the Wallace River, through the Wallace marshes and beneath the causeway.  I hoped the wind would remain light.  In Wallace Bay, the wind freshened though. Soon I reduced sail as Naomi began to bash into the backs of waves. She could easily broach and capsize which is not a good idea, especially when cruising single-handed. As the wind increased, I put a double reef in the main. 

Because I was concerned about rocks off Malagash Point, I continued seaward to round the starboard buoy marking Washball Reef. I failed to spot this buoy and ended up sailing further offshore into Amet Sound than necessary. When I turned to windward in order to tack up Tatamagouche Bay, I felt the weight of the wind.  
What followed was a long miserable slog up Tatamagouche Bay. With a working jib and a double-reefed main, Naomi couldn’t point high enough to cover ground to windward efficiently. My 150-lb. human ballast meant I still had to luff the main often and frequently hike out.  Naomi’s hull oil-canned when she dropped off wave crests and into the troughs.  Water sprayed over the foredeck and onto the dinghy’s floor. My intentions were to sail to the head of Tatamagouche Bay and anchor near the mouth of French River. From there, I’d walk along the Trans Canada Trail into Tatamagouche and stock up on provisions and call Gail.
This tedious beating wasn’t much fun. Plan B arose. Sailing under a lee from Brule Shore, I furled the jib and dropped the main. Then I fired up my 2HP Honda motor and puttered along the coast to Barachois Harbour. Here I took a berth at the marina before sorting out my gear to dry.  The marina owner offered me a ride into Tatamagouche for supplies and later I settled down to an evening of snacks and wine. By 1900, I was alone at the marina. I spread my food, clothes, and reading material in the marina clubhouse which overlooks the bay.  As I relaxed in my chair and contemplated the scenery, I knew I could get used to this style of cruising.
Friday September 17
Forecast S/W 15-20 knots to S/W 20-25 knots in afternoon

I decided to stay a second night at the marina (above).  Partially, the decision resulted from my reluctance to be sailing single- handed in 20-25 knot winds. Also I had a passion to visit the fish and chip shop in Tatamagouche, walk the Trans Canada Trail, and slum it ashore. After hitching a ride to town in a tow truck, I spent a leisurely day in the shops and walking the Trans Canada Trail.  During the early evening a couple on a local sailboat invited me over for margaritas.  Another boat owner, who just returned from his summer cruise, offered me some stores left over from his cruise.  When I approached the marina owner to pay my $10 for a second night, he declined my money and said the second night was free. Later everyone left again and I settled down in the privacy of my own clubhouse (below).

Barachois Marina
Unfortunately, I felt uneasy about the weather. My marine radio was issuing weather warnings about a tropical storm rambling northward from Cape Hatteras which might track along the Nova Scotia coast. “Mariners are cautioned” and “Small craft warnings for the marine district” aren’t the messages a solo dinghy sailor wants to hear.
Saturday September 18
Forecast N/W 15-20 knots to 10 knots afternoon

By 0400, I had Naomi ready to sail.  I left Barachois Harbour at first light and headed for Pictou under light winds. The predicted northwest winds would have a long fetch over the shallow Northumberland Straits and I anticipated a lumpy sea. Beyond Tatamagouche Bay, the next shelter is Caribou Harbour over 20 miles away. Skinners Cove and Toney River in between are small sheltered fishermen's harbours but both have narrow rock-bordered entrances and shallow approaches which are hazardous for small underpowered sailboats in rough weather. 
<>Wind against current created confused seas off Cape John.  As the wind picked up, I furled the jib and soon reefed the main. Waves became white-capped and occasional sloppy seas broke over Naomi’s sidedeck, giving me a slap on my back before depositing themselves on the dinghy’s floor.  The little scuppers were kept busy sucking water out of the cockpit. By the time I reached Caribou, the wind began to falter.  While I was entering Pictou Roads, the wind disappeared.  I motored into Pictou Harbour (below) under gray skies and a steady drizzle which turned to rain.

My original intention was to anchor for the night behind Caribou Island (upper left on chart above) before continuing on to Merigomish Harbour but instead I headed for the marina in Pictou. With the weather deteriorating, I suspected I wouldn’t be cruising any further.  Here I’d have a launch ramp, telephone, and pub close by while I came to a decision.

Pictou Marina
Sunday September 19
Forecast N/E strong winds
As I sat in the warmth of a waterfront pub, I watched a steady wind-driven rain splatter against the windows.  Last night there had been a torrential downpour which went right through my canvas boomtent. There are no floorboards over the bilge in the Wayfarer MK 3's, so rainwater flowed along the floor and collected against the aft bulkhead. I occupied myself for a time, bailing the cockpit during the night. Fortunately, my heavy sleeping bag and extra clothes were all dry in sea bags on the shelf below the fore-deck.
After a number of hours deliberating in the pub, I came to the obvious conclusion: The cruise would end in Pictou. The remains of a tropical storm from southern waters were clashing with a low from Quebec over the Cabot Straits and Eastern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Hurricane force winds up to 70 knots were forecast for the eastern Northumberland Straits and for the western district, winds to 60 knots by Monday noon.  On Tuesday, the winds would be north 35 knots by evening and northerly gales were forecast for Wednesday. This covered the remainder of my vacation. At 1700, I called my brother-in-law, Kevin, who drove into Pictou with my boat trailer and we hauled Naomi ashore.

I enjoyed my week's cruise in Naomi. I had hoped to spend a night or two in Merigomish Harbour before returning to Pictou, but the foul weather ended that plan. That didn’t bother me in the least. Merigomish Harbour will still be there for a future visit. Pottering on small tidal rivers and tucking into tidal mashes was fun. Staying at Pugwash Marina and Barachois Marina was a little decadent but interesting. From the New Brunswick border to Merigomish Harbour is an ideal dinghy cruising location and I plan to return again and visit some of the rivers and inlets I missed on this passage.

Jim Fraser, W8328 Naomi
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