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Monday, 17 October 2011

This Blog……Life Long Learning…..My Ramblings........ Dedicated to Stan and Laura Hunziger

There were a number of reasons why we decided to host this blog of our journey.  I learned early, as a young child, that I am most excited and most satisfied when my life, my good fortune, my experiences, my possessions, and all that I have, are shared.  I cannot and do not imagine my life evolving in any other way.    I was so blessed many years ago to find a lifelong partner who shares and holds the same belief as close to his heart as I do.   At its infancy, when we considered and talked of this voyage, we found that family members, friends and acquaintances were excited for us. They wanted to know what we were up to; they wanted to know we would be and were safe and they wanted us to keep in touch to share our experiences as we travelled along.
I will admit however, the primary reason to host this blog was somewhat selfish.  I wanted to chronicle this odyssey of ours out of my own need to leave an influential legacy for our children and for those who love them.  I wanted to reassure them that as long as they remain healthy, whatsoever they want in life is attainable, at any age, if they made it happen. They are both adults now; great people who we are very proud of but I guess we still had yet to come to grips with the finality in the process of parenthood.  I have a hard time letting go. I don’t want to.  And yet I need to and must even though the captain and I see our children as the most precious gift we have ever given each other. Parenting them, although rocky in places, has been the most important and rewarding experience we have ever undertaken. I have held on as long as I could and if I must let go, within my soul, it will be kicking and screaming all the way.  But the most influential people in my life, living or departed, would not have that; they would expect a dignified, smooth, warm release which must be honoured.  So my quest was to determine how I was to allow myself the opportunity for that process to come full circle and to solidify my own influence upon it?  I knew it would have to have some meaning for me, it may have some for our kids (if we were lucky) and it may provide the captain and I a tool to look back upon should we accomplish this next odyssey we were about to endeavour.  And so the blog was born.
We knew it could also be the tool that may help satisfy those other interested parties’ need to keep track of us. Others had taken it upon themselves to invest time and consideration into loving us, and we were well aware that was not to be taken advantage of. There were many who were uncomfortable that we had taken this challenge on; they worried over us and their unrest was not to be taken lightly.  There were others who wanted to sail with us but could not and that needed to be considered. Others planning the trip themselves were hoping for any helpful information we might provide from our experiences.  And there were those who were just curious about how the journey would enfold.

Upon reading this journal, it may seem to some that we have encountered countless trials as we continued along our voyage.  We have yet to see the difficulties we came up against as negatives. In fact, we were glad to have the challenges that came to us.  The most important rationale behind sailing this vessel to Nova Scotia rather than trucking her to her new home port was our understanding of the immense learning curve we knew we would gain along the way.  This vessel of ours is just one piece in the plan the captain and I have for our future. Some people experience such loss as their children move further and further away from their lives and closer and closer to their own.  In effort to eradicate this for ourselves and to let go of our true love for that part of our lives, we have chosen to reignite our own passion with the help of Bridlewilde and all that she offers.  Ultimately, our constant need to decipher the knowledge we have about ourselves, acquire sound information about our vessel and gain as much sailing expertise as we can possibly absorb will help us navigate there, informed.  Whatever adversity we are challenged with, on the water or otherwise, whatever joys to come our way, we will face together and look forward to its learned outcome.  Explaining to you how utterly exciting that is for us at this new stage of our lives is beyond me.   
Prior to our departure on this voyage, we spent countless hours researching.  We met wonderful people who share our interest and gladly gave us the benefit of their knowledge and experiences.  We`ve spent hours and hours reviewing sailing networks and forums for any pertinent information that may and did help us and we are thankful for it all.  In our effort to add to those resources and say thanks, I have tried to point out some highlights of the experiences, encounters and remedies we have garnered, as many as we could, that may be of some help to those reading this blog  who are or may be contemplating or planning to make this trip or otherwise.

This blog and my ramblings throughout it are dedicated to my parents for without them, none of this would ever have been possible.  Their gifts were deep and wondrous and have given me so much.  I remember fondly, my precious memory of a warm day when a gentle breeze blowing across the bay rustled an aging pine tree on the beach under which my dad and I were seated.  As a younger man he had looked ahead, purchased a beach property, as one of his contributions toward the future of his children, his grandchildren and of generations to follow.   It was his dream; his ideal; a legacy he was proud of; a place in time where he thought his memory would stand fast forever.  We were taking a break - we had been mucking about it all week, cleaning and clearing it up keeping it ready for the remaining summer’s dream – things he so loved to do for his family.   We sat quietly taking in the beauty of our surroundings and I asked him how it was that I would ever be able to thank him for all that he had given me over the course of my life.  He told me that I couldn’t.  Our children were then still quite young (and so was I) and I am not sure, at the time, if I was more hurt or surprised by his answer.  He told me that if I could do for my children, what I thought he had done for me, it would be then that I would understand why I could not thank him and his legacy would live on.  He died three days later.   And I do understand!

We had no plan as to what this blog would look like.  It is what it is!  I hope it has given you something. Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts for being a part of it.

HOORAY!!!! We're Home! Gold River Marina, Chester Basin, Mahone Bay, NS

What a day today was to be!  One of those days that one houses in the deep recesses of one’s memory forever.  It was Day 58 of our Down East Route journey. It was Thanksgiving Day, Monday, October 10th, 2011.  And it was a day for thanksgiving – because today was the day we arrived at our final destination – Gold River Marina, Bridlewilde’s new Atlantic homeport.

Susannah was on board. We were not awake early.  The three of us had slept soundly on the boat the night before and the captain was the first to rise. He made coffee for himself and Susie and tea for me. It was another beautiful day although not quite as warm as the two prior days.  But it had remained warm enough through the night that there was no heavy dew all over the boat.   It was a bonus not to have wipe down and dry off the boat before our departure.  By 9:30 am we had cast off away from the wharf and were pointed out the channel we had cruised in the afternoon before.  We asked local mariners if it was possible to slip out into the Atlantic Ocean through the islands to the west rather than head all the way back out the channel and around Betty Island again and we were told that it was possible.  It was also recommended that one should be familiar with the waters there should that passage be attempted.  Especially those back channels since there were no markings or channel buoys to assist one to pass through the narrow wedge between the rocky islands. We decided to take the extra time to go safely back through the channel that we had entered to make our way back out to sea.

Once we were heading west again down the south shore, we passed by the famous site of Peggy’s Cove at the mouth of St. Margaret’s Bay.  The wind was still light but we noticed it was starting to build.  We sailed on hoping to make some good time but it was evident that the shift was going to set us directly into its path.  We were hoping to see some marine life for Susannah’s benefit.  We did see a school of tuna dancing over the crest of the water but the highlight was the little starling that flew over the boat, back around it and then landed on one of gib lines just in front of us.  It seemed to rest there for quite some time as it hitch hiked a restful ride aboard Bridlewilde and then was off as fast as it had arrived.


Mahone Bay is an expansive piece of sheltered water that is 12 nautical miles long by about 8 nautical miles wide.  There are plenty of hideaways throughout which is probably a good reason why so many rumrunners, pirates and privateers of days gone past found the area so attractive. Apparently Captain Kidd is supposed to have buried a huge treasure on one of the many Mahone Bay islands but treasure hunters have been searching for it for over 200 years and it has yet to be found. The area is known to be one of the finest cruising grounds in the Northern Hemisphere due to the sheltered waters, the historic towns and villages about the bay, the  prevailing winds and the picturesque scenery.
As we passed Little Tancook Island to enter Mahone Bay we expected to see more sailing vessels than we did but it did not take long to understand why.   The wind had increased to nearly 30 knots. It was causing the waters of the bay to become quite hard.  The waves also increased in size, they were not large but they were heavy and solid so they slowed our passage across them significantly.  We had to continuously change course back and forth across them to make any time at all.  We found it quite a challenge to douse our large main sail.  We do not have lazy jacks mounted.  We know they would be helpful to keep our large mainsail stable and in place as it lowers. (Note to self – another piece of equipment required.)  It was difficult to fluke it neatly and tie it quickly but because Susannah was on board she was able to take the helm to keep Bridlewilde pointed directly to the wind while her father and I were able address the sail.  We were thrilled she took it on with the gusto she did. As always, she was a great asset to us. We could see the town of Chester ahead of us as we headed up the bay.   We motored toward our plotted course between Birch and Clay Islands and along Frog Island, past Warrens Ledge and into the well buoyed channel of Gold River. As the captain steered our little vessel round Borgeis Point, we were in full sight of the marina we were headed for all these long and wonderful days prior.  The captain ever so lightly pushed Bridlewilde into her berth with such finesse that you would never know this was her first ever docking there.  But it was to be …..Bridlewilde was home.











Upon our arrival at the marina we found our friends Bruce and Belinda had come to see us land. But more importantly, our boy Ben was there. He had come to greet us.  We were doubly thrilled.  Susannah was on board and Ben had come to greet us. They both understood what it was for us to make this journey. Both our children made sure they had participated in Ontario to help us get Bridlewilde ready for her departure. Both our children made sure they were there for us to share in our joy upon her arrival.  The captain was in his glory and I was so pleased too.  We had made this epic journey eastward.  We had conquered the feat.  We had those we loved most in the world close. We were safe and happy. We had much to be thankful for on this special day.






Friday, 14 October 2011

........so, so much......Way Beyond Our Prospect...............

It was a wonderfully warm and bright morning when we glided out into the Atlantic Ocean from Three Fathoms Harbour.   We were anxious about the day; we knew it was to be definitive; we were expecting to cruise past the Halifax Harbour.  Once that waypoint was reached we knew we would be approaching the outer perimeter of a new point of reference for our whole trip.  We would be heading into the area known as the South Shore of Nova Scotia.  We learned to sail in the South Shore of Nova Scotia, we had spent countless hours roaming up and down its shores in search of a suitable marina that was to become Bridlewilde`s home port and we were about to reach it , Mahone Bay,  one of best sailing grounds in the  Northern Hemisphere.
The swell was gentle as we sailed past Shut In Island at the mouth of the Three Fathom Harbour. 

We expected a light wind of 10 -15 knots  for duration of the day and that is what we were awarded as we made our way along the shore past Half Island Point  where the peninsula slides  inward toward Terminal Beach Bay and on to Lawrencetown.   We had spent a couple of hours just a few days prior sitting in our car, pulled over to the side of the road on top of a knoll overlooking the long beautiful expanse  of the Lawrencetown Beach, watching,  in awe, the extreme kite surfers  on the water there, take on the heavy swell and wind of the day.  We recounted how pleased we were that we were not experiencing those conditions today as we sailed past the area ourselves.  The conditions remained stable as we cruised past Devil`s Island and Thrumcap Shoal that mark the turning point into the commercial port of Halifax.   The sky was clear and the sun warmed the mid October day. 


We could clearly see the outline of the sister cities of Dartmouth and Halifax across the harbor from one another.  I saw the captain take a second breath as he looked inward toward the harbour entrance. He called his mom, whose house is located just a few short nautical miles in, on the Halifax  waterfront, to let her know that he was home.

As we passed across the mouth of the Halifax Harbour we crossed Anchorage Areas A and B where huge container ships anchor awaiting piloted access into the harbour.  As we sailed through the shipping lane into Halifax, we passed across the bow of one large vessel anchored out there. 


We were surprised that we did not see much vessel traffic – we thought that we would see more action about here.  Save the one container ship, the only other vessel we saw was a small aluminum power boat with one fellow aboard trolling along – it seemed that he was fishing for mackeral.  He waved as we went by, we waved back and then slipped swiftly  past Herring Cove and Chebucto Head in line to follow the well buoyed route through  the Sambro Channel.  By mid afternoon the wind had shifted to our nose again and we had to douse the sail.  The captain was so disappointed because the day was so nice.  We were hoping that we would be able to sail through the day but we motored across Pennant Bay, sneaked in behind Betty Island and made our way into Prospect Bay and the community wharf in the stunning little village of Prospect.

  We were met on the wharf by local mariners who took our lines and assisted with the securing of our boat.  They were fine people who owned the beautiful 44 foot sloop at moorage that we passed as we came up to dock.   

  
It was 4.30 in the afternoon.  We were thrilled to be here because our daughter Susannah and her partner, Jeff were coming to see us here later that evening.  But even more importantly, Susannah was going to be spending the night on board and sailing with us on the final piece to Gold River the following day.   While we waited for them to arrive, I chatted with local sailors.  The people with the 44 footer were getting prepared to set sail in 2012 to take their vessel offshore and had committed to at least a one year journey.  They had not yet decided where but were thinking the Caribbean or possibly across the Atlantic.  We met another single fellow who had just finished installing wind and solar powered generation systems on his 46 foot steel trawler in effort to make it as self-sufficient as possible.   He was planning to move his vessel from the wharf to a mooring ball in the harbour where he planned to live aboard her for the winter.      After exchanging contact information so that we could keep in touch, the captain and I strolled into the village while we waited for Susie and Jeff to arrive.
Both the village and harbour of Prospect were breathtaking…..way beyond our prospect!  They both face out to the Atlantic. The shoreline of the bay is rocky, almost bald. There are many small islands spattered about which create narrow little channels through them that wind out to the sea.  This makes for some wonderful anchorages in the coves of the area. The shoreline is dotted with lovely homes characteristic of the east coast flavour so evident in coastal communities of the south shore.


  




  One will see sailboats, fishing boats, dories, kayaks, trawlers and cape islanders secured on moors or private wharves spilled throughout the waterways, inlets and back bays of this beautiful little hamlet.  The rocky edges toward the shore are encrusted with wild roses, many of which were fragrant and in bloom. We walked along a one lane road that wound around tidy, brightly painted cottages and homes on the water`s edge where I noticed a lady seated on a rock at the shore.  As I moved toward her to greet her I was overcome by the aroma of the sweet grass that blew across my face in the light breeze.  Clarissa, the lady on the rock, told me that she too was overtaken by the beauty of the place and hated to have to head indoors as the evening cooled. She pointed out her pretty little home not 300 feet away on the rocky beach that she told me was the place of her birth just 72 short years before.  We had never been to Prospect before but Bridlewilde had brought us here. But for her we may never have taken in this wonderful place and this wonderful day. 





As we walked back the windy road to the harbour Jeff and Susie drove in. We spent the rest of the evening passing time with them, chatting about the boat and our travels. Another childhood friend, Burton, showed up to say hello.  Yes, it was a good day! The captain and I sunk into bed that evening, very  happy, feeling that we had much to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving weekend, knowing that the following day`s sail would bring even more.




Thursday, 13 October 2011

Three Fathoms Harbour

The captain and I have been to Three Fathoms Harbour before but this would be the first time by boat.  We`ve been there to watch surfers ride the swell, to watch the sun set over the Atlantic, to watch the herring and tuna boats offload, to watch the sea roll in a windstorm, to watch people and there just to watch as the day unfolds. 





 It has always been one of those little spots where we have always felt at ease so it seemed fitting that we would bring Bridlewilde in here for protection from the elements for the night.  It is a gem of a harbour as far as we are concerned.  We arrived close to 6 pm and tied up to the government wharf.


There is easy access from the sea. The excellent pubic wharf has both 110 and 220 watt service but we did not see where the outlets where located.  It is a busy fishing harbour and there are many private wharves located along the shoreline.  We saw a few good anchorage areas with mud and sand bottom but  there are no other services.   The breakwater is lined with many small two room camps tucked in neatly amongst each other. 


These camp locations have been awarded to families on 100 year lease terms from the provincial government. The lease can be passed down in families but cannot be sold nor is there any room for new construction which helps to create the area`s unique ambiance.  I wandered around the harbour trying to take a few pictures while the captain secured our vessel for the evening. We talked with a couple who have a camp and lobster boat here – they came to the wharf to welcome us when they saw us arrive and we talked until the sun went down over the sandy western shore of the harbour when we went back  onto our boat to make dinner and enjoy the sunset.

The water was calm even though we were on the outer deck of the wharf.  There were a number of herring boats housed in the harbour and tied to the wharf waiting for their arrival. We had been warned that we may be awakened very early the flowing morning by the clamoring of the fishermen heading out to the sea should they get the quota call from Fisheries Canada and notification that the herring had arrived.  And true to form the fellows were all milling about their boats at 4:30 am readying their boats, chatting and preparing to file out of the little harbour one by one.  We did not mind; we had been early to bed the evening before and had planned an early departure for our next destination.  We were about to leave the eastern shore, cross the mouth of the Halifax Harbour,  slip in to the Sambro Channel and sail down the south shore for Prospect harbour on our second last passage to Mahone Bay.

The Head of Jeddore

We departed Sheet Harbour Passage on Tuesday Sept 27 in the morning with all systems aboard running as though they were brand spanking new.  We had been anchored for the past three nights in the lovely little harbour. The weather for the past two days had been perfect sailing conditions, just as predicted, warm and calm with light winds.  We had been anchored the whole time, all the while knowing that we would have had enough time to have made it to our destination in Mahone Bay.  But we have learned early that we cannot sail without being patient.  This day was new, we were headed for Jeddore and the weather held. It was a good day.




The marina at the Head of Jeddore has the capability to haul out there.  As it was getting late in the season we opted to go there just in case we did not have the time or more importantly the weather to reach Mahone Bay.  Of course we were disappointed with this decision but it was the correct one to make. Driving distance to and from Jeddore from our home is two hours. We could easily travel that back and forth if we left the vessel there over the winter.     



The channel into the Head of Jeddore is 7 nautical miles long and twisted. Jeddore Rock is huge and ominous and marks the entrance to the channel.   Until 1988, Jeddore Rock was the site of the oldest manned lighthouse in Canada.  Now it hosts a large automatic light and the historic manned lighthouse has been taken down.  Although it is very conspicuous, it is an area to keep well clear of as it is passed by for entry.  The cruise in the channel is enjoyable as the scenery is close and pretty.


  One must however, keep a vigilant watch as it narrows and silts heavily in places.  Travelling some passages, we wondered if we would slip between the narrow sandbars without difficulty.  They are prominent; very pretty with sea grasses poking up through the sand and watery surface. The sandbars are also a haven for sea birds and we marvelled at the number of cranes we saw fishing along them.  We saw cormorants, eider ducks and osprey as we slipped along the water.  We arrived with no problems at the Jeddore Head marina at 2.30 pm, secured our boat and made arrangements to keep her there for the time being. We would make the decision in the following few days whether or not we would continue on to Mahone Bay.




We were met by friends who would take us to Windsor, NS an hour drive away.  Our daughter Susie was picking us up there to return us back to Waterville where Keith would go back to work the following day.

Three Days in Sheet Harbour Passage

Travelling with the current and ebbing tides along the St Lawrence River, the Gulf and the Northumberland Strait had spoiled us.  We were conditioned to relatively swift passages that were generally made within the ETA’s we had set for ourselves in our sail plans.  And here on the Eastern Shore we were ever hopeful, each time we returned to the boat to move on with the next leg of the journey, that the next piece would follow suit.  So upon our departure from Port Bickerton, on September 24th,  it was part of our plan to arrive at Sheet Harbour that evening, refuel, and spend the night there.

But that was not to be the case.  We do account for heavier seas, wave height, the Gulf Stream, the tide, departure times, the winds, our distance offshore, the square footage and capacity of our sails, the  engine capability, the weight of the vessel, the sail plan and all the other pieces we need to put together a passage for the day.  Again, ever the optimists, we are always hopeful as we depart.  Because the day had been reported to be one for good weather, we hoped to make our expected knot speed all the way to our destination.  But no day on the water is ever the same and no water movement is ever the same.  And by dusk we had just reached the outer banks of Sheet Harbour Passage.  The darkness approaches quickly at this time of the year and the captain made the decision that we would go into the public wharf at Sheet Harbour Passage.  The channel into Sheet Harbour is 7.5 nautical miles in from the coastline and he knew we would never make that by nightfall. Since the channel, although it is considered to be an easily entered deep water port with a 500 foot common use docking terminal that can handle most ocean going vessels, was unfamiliar to us and still at least a 90 minute run, he decided it was best to call it a day and head in to Sheet Harbour Passage.  The darkness surrounded us quickly but we followed the range marker lights into the harbour entrance where we made a hard 90* turn to port to head into the wharf.  We managed the manoeuvers well in the dark but were unable to locate it.  Our guide identified that there were no services here but the wharf was cement and sound. And we could tell that it was not lit.  Based on our GPS reading and locale identification found on our new hard copy chart, we could tell that the boat was positioned close to where the wharf should be.  We knew the harbour was fairly narrow; we knew we had ample water beneath us from our depth sounder reading; and we knew the harbour was not crowded. The decision was made to drop the hook right there for the night and assess the status in the morning light.





Up on deck the following morning we were both shocked to find that there was no public wharf in the harbour at all.  And it really did not matter since we had spent an amazingly quiet safe night at anchor.  We found that we were anchored off a lovely point about 300 feet from shore.  We learned later that the wharf had been dismantled 10 years prior.  Note to self – remember this – not all chart data is current - make sure to check the Notice to Mariners updates regularly!

However, it was when the captain was doing his daily routine checks in the engine room that morning that I heard his words of dismay.  Since that oil filter leak near Quebec City, the propeller shaft incident and a couple of other near mishaps, the captain regularly performed a more thorough check of all the systems before we depart. And today was no different except for the fact that when he opened the doors to the engine room he saw all the oil splatters over the walls.  After further inspection and removal of a valve cover he determined what the problem was.  A bolt in one of the valves had broken in two and its weakened state was allowing for oil to spray out around it.  It was a specific part. He suspected he would not find a replacement part, save for a Volvo Penta diesel engine supply shop.  The captain removed the part and began the process of determining what his next move would be.  Just as he was about to remove the dinghy to head to shore, a small cape island boat motored toward us on its way out the harbour.  The captain waved at the boat as it neared closer to us and it pulled up along our portside. Keith explained our dilemma to the people on board and inquired about local services.  The captain of the cape islander explained that he and two other fellows aboard were out for an early morning dive for scallops and would be gone for a couple of hours.   He offered his time after the dive to use his welding equipment to try to weld the break to see if that would work.  Two hours later, almost to the minute, the cape islander pulled alongside of our boat, still anchored.  Keith climbed aboard her with the bolt in hand, waved to me and they chugged off to shore. 
Within a few hours the captain was ferried back to our boat by the cape islander.  He boarded with a jerry can of diesel fuel and a repair job done to the bolt.  The cape islander’s captain did weld the break.  One of the two diving buddies headed in to town after the dive and offered Keith a ride to purchase the diesel fuel we required. To eliminate that 15 mile journey in to and out of Sheet Harbour that we needed to make, the captain seized the opportunity.

Things were looking up and it seemed we would be on our way once the repaired bolt was replaced.  The captain inserted the bolt, replaced the valve cover and continued the process of his routine check on the engine.  He noticed that one of the motor mounts was loose and as he attempted to tighten the mount, it snapped off and severed in half.  We spent another half and an hour going through all the nuts and bolts we had aboard to see if we had one that would suffice.  I was sure that we had purchased extra (just in case) but we could not locate one.  So the captain set off in the dinghy for shore. He was going to hike into town to the garage where he bought the fuel to find the bolt he needed.  As he pulled up to the small dock in front of the house on the point, he was met by a woman named Peggy who related to him that everybody in the little community was well aware that we were out there in their harbour.  She was ready to be on her way out lobster fishing with a couple friends but offered him a drive in to town upon her return if he needed it.  Keith appreciated the offer of help but opted to try to hike into town then.         

Within minutes of his walk along the road, another kind fellow stopped to offer a ride.  Upon the retell of his story,  he driver advised him to stop in at the his brother’s home (conveniently  located directly across the road from where he stood) to check out if the brother had any bolts he may need.  Apparently, this man was a retired mechanic who had lots of miscellaneous parts in his home shop.   Within another short period of time, I could hear the swish of the dinghy oars in the water. I watched the captain climb aboard from the dinghy, now safely secured at the port side of Bridlewilde.  He had the parts he needed to fix the problem in hand.



The sun was lowering in the sky and I knew that even with the motor mount reinstalled that it would be too late for us to depart from the anchorage.  We would be remaining there for another night.  We had the provisions on board that we needed, even a movie to watch on the laptop if we so chose. It would not be a problem for me to spend another day on Bridlewilde without going ashore.   The captain leaned over the engine, as I had seen him do so many times before, and tightened in the new motor mount and nut. 

With the motor mount secured and the oil checked and refilled, all was back in order again.  The captain scrubbed down the engine and the engine room to clear it of any oily residue.  We keep both a green biodegradable soap and baby shampoo aboard for cleaning purposes such as this.  When we had the oil filter problem in Quebec, the mechanic we used there to help repair it, provided us with a huge amount of thick filter cloths that are used in the cleanup of oil spills. We had extra aboard for the captain’s use as well.  All residue and waste from any of our engine room cleanup flows directly into the bilge. We are conscious that our bilge waste release impacts upon the sea as little as it possibly can so we also use a biodegradable bilge cleaner that is poured into the bilge to help .
I was below in the cabin as the captain went up to the cockpit to start the engine to make sure the oil was no longer spraying around the valve cover.  The engine room doors open inward to our cabin so we have a full view of the engine and good access to work on it. I was below to watch for a spray.
The captain turned over the engine, it engaged and at the same time it engaged it started on fire.   I was watching closely to see if the oil sprayed and it did not. But all the electrical wires all the way down from the ignition were melting and smoking and the engine quit.  Once the fire and smoke cleared it was quite clear which wires were damaged.  Because I was specifically watching for an oil spray I could see what wires had been badly burned and from where.  The captain attempted to start the engine again and again and it was dead.  There was no power to it whatsoever.   He came back down to the cabin to survey this new dilemma.  We determined that it was not a wet wire that caused the fire but the grounding of one live wire as it grazed against another piece of the engine. The mechanic at Waupoos had told us that he had disconnected an engine oil light sensor because the light was non-existent on our engine. The mechanic said that it was not required and it was this wire that we determined was left live where it was disconnected.  We were unaware that the live end had not been taped or wrapped and when the captain leaned over the engine to secure the motor mount, we surmised, that he must have jarred the wire so that its bare end moved just enough to touch the motor somewhere. Then when the captain engaged the key to start the motor the wire grounded, burned the wire casings, melted some of the wires and out went the electrical components of the ignition.  There was nothing more we could do but take a break from this. This mess required some thought and that was going to take some time.
The captain had a restless night. He went to bed thinking this may be the end of our journey but he said nothing to me about this.  I went to bed thinking that with time the captain would have this figured out, he would fix it and we would be on our way.  I was oblivious to the fact that he was not a miracle worker.  But in the morning the captain had a neew plan and right after coffee he put me to work re stringing wire while he began rebuilding wire.  We had sufficient extra electrical spare parts, shrink wrap, components, and wire aboard.  He knew that we must restring the new wire to replace the damage wire the full length from the ignition to the engine, re wrap them, re mount them under the upper edge of the lazarettos to be fed back through the bulkhead into the engine room.   We did that, he connected new ends to the wire ends and the shrink wrap, and reconnected all the new wire to the ignition components to the ignition.   He tried to start the engine and still everything was dead. The captain’s brow wrinkled and he stopped working. He needed a break and space and he knew it.  I heard him switch on the bilge pump to clear it (as he does every day) while he waited for the water to boil to make more coffee. After his coffee the captain went back up the steps,  out of the companion way, into the cockpit and as he was about to go over the side of the boat into the dinghy again I heard that familiar “Oh my God “ he lets out when he is in distress.  I jumped up the companionway to see what was up this time and as soon as I got there I couldn’t help but start to laugh.  I was laughing so much that the captain started to laugh as well. What more could we do but laugh?  What more could go wrong?  The captain had gone up to go aboard the dinghy to head over to Peggy’s to check out her phone directory. He needed to talk with someone who knew about this wiring issue and he suspected he would find an ad for someone in the directory.  But as he was about to go over the side of the boat and into the dinghy he was shocked by what he saw.  He had forgotten that the dinghy was tied to the side of our boat rather than its usual place at the stern.  The bilge through hull exited the hull just above where the dinghy was secured to the boat.  And the entire bilge residue had dumped squarely into the center of the dinghy when he had pushed the activation switch.

Two hours later we had that mess cleaned up and shortly after that the captain returned from his trip ashore with a new sense of reassurance and a new plan. 



 To activate our ignition the key is turned and then a starter button switch is depressed to engage the motor.  The man the captain talked with on his quest to find someone with electrical know how, suggested he attempt a bypass between the key and the starter button switch because one or the other may be the damaged component.  He would have to test this to find out which of the two was damaged.  With perseverance and the process of elimination the captain learned what had to take place to re –route the wires to make it work.  He disconnected the starter button , rerouted the wiring directly from the key to the motor, and again attempted to start the motor.  It engaged and purred along as though nothing was ever wrong.  He is amazing, this captain of the SV Bridlewilde.    




We had been so busy with the repairs to the boat that we hardly had to time to notice how pretty this little harbour really was. I was never ashore here so I do not have photos from that perspective but I can tell you that I enjoyed the quiet, the clean clear air and it seemed as though I could almost see every star in the sky.   By the time I had time to think about it all, the sun was beginning to set.  We knew we were spending another night here at anchor.  We went to bed exhausted wondering what more this little harbour and the morrow was about to bring.                              

Port Bickerton - the Canadian Coast Guard Station

I have to say that the Eastern Shore is not our most desired sail grounds of our province.  I have to say in its defence however, that the time of year that we were sailing was also not the most desired time to be out on the water in a small vessel trying to course over a large distance.  I also have to say that the effects of unstable fall weather conditions on the area did have an impact on our opinion.  And obviously on other mariner’s opinions as well because we saw very few vessels sailing anywhere as we headed the 210 nautical miles along its shores toward our final destination in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. We like the solitude of the sailing, we like the adventure and we like spending time together.  But I guess it is because we are human beings that we find it interesting and enjoyable or even more so than that, comforting, to see (at least occasionally) other human beings somewhere out there cruising the waters.
But we were on the Eastern Shore and we were determined to make the best of it.  The only people we saw at Port Bickerton Wharf were the fellows at the Port Bickerton Canadian Coast Guard Station who were very accommodating to us.  Our boat had been on the wharf there, for 11 days tucked safely in behind their large well equipped vessel.  They kept an eye on her for us, made sure they had all our access information should they need it, gave us theirs and made sure we knew we could call them for any information at any time as they are available 24/7.  They related to us that their station had become increasingly less busy since the introduction of all the technological sailing aids available to boaters and since the loss of the large fishing industry.   Apparently, fewer and fewer vessels visit their port but they  adjusted its operations accordingly and we are glad to have their services available to us.  We take advantage of the opportunity to call the Coast Guard on the VHF before we depart each day to file a sail plan with them.  The captain makes sure that we cover as many safety opportunities as we possibly can and it is reassuring to know that our plan has been recorded.  The service is free and the CCG is accessible on VHF from most anywhere that one may be located. CCG staff record information such as the name of the vessel, the departure and arrival coordinates, time, who is on board, how many lifejackets are available, ETA (expected time of arrival), registration info, color, vessel type, how much water the boat draws,  the radio‘s  MMSI  identification number if one has been assigned and/or any pertinent information about the boat that may help to identify it quickly should they be required to respond to an emergency call.  It takes about 10 minutes to file – another no brainer activity – why wouldn’t one take 10 minutes from their day to further secure their safety?  If there are particulars that they need to inform you of they will ask for a return call at a certain time to update you with their most recent information, for instance marine traffic movement around about the mouth of the busy Halifax harbour.  Once the destination is reached, the CCG is radioed to close the sail plan which takes about a minute and the process is completed for that particular sail plan.  This process is just one of many that we engage as a tool to better assist us while we are away from shore.  It helps increase our confidence as we leave a port or harbour, a moorage or anchorage, a marina or a government wharf. 

We departed Port Bickerton on September 24th Day 51 for the next leg of our journey.