Ski Lift

I’m sat in the cockpit with my morning cup of tea. I’ll paint a picture. Ingonish is a bit like a Scottish loch. A long inlet. It’s imperative to follow the narrow, squiggly buoyed channel on entering as a spit extends out from the beach. Wooded hills on both side. Did I mention, Canada has a lot of trees. A lot of trees.

To my right I can see the top of a ski lift on Cape Smokey and two runs cut down through the trees. Not sure if that’s the extent of the ski operation. It’s not very high but skiers will come down to a smidgen above sea level. The sea usually freezes up here to some degree every winter. Although ironically we’re not really that far north. Scotland is further north for example. I don’t think Whistler or Chamonix need to be too worried about the size of the competition here. Sweet though.

Grace is sat in a deep pool. We kept nudging in last night to get out of the wind. At one time I’d have been able to easily throw a stone to the land from where we sit, but I now “throw more like a girl”, (don’t be offended by that comment), that’s a big downside of ageing and surgery to remedy several dislocations. There’s satisfaction to be had in throwing things well. I remember that.

Tomorrow we will head across the Cabot Strait channel to Newfoundland. Our summer objective. Depending where we choose to make landfall, it’s between 80 and 100 miles. We are both aware that it’s relatively easy to keep heading north here. The winds are predominantly south west, from behind. At some point we need to turn round and get south towards Boston before 8th September. That could prove to be a complete bugger. Beating into the wind is not much of joyful point of sail. So we need to make a call as to how long we spend in Canada before turning around and if some north easterly winds arrive miraculously, we need to run with them.

We met Henry, a friend of friends in Baddeck. There are a select slice of individuals who intimidate and inspire me in equal measure. I’d add his name to this list. When I use the word intimidate, I mean in the “wow, you’re bright and your brain and body are working 24/7 and my brain just doesn’t work like yours”. In our too brief time together, we talked mutual friends, him being a direct descendent from the Mayflower, travelling in Ecuador and places to visit in Newfoundland, the reason for visiting him in the first place. He’s a bright, lovely generous chap who visibly adored his grandkids. Thanks Henry. We will return your charts.


Cat Security


I really rather like a grocery store where the owner’s tabby cat follows you around as you shop. Initial customer assessment starts as you enter, the cat sitting under the counter, a slight sneer emanating as you glance at its pervasive feline arrogance. No other animal does arrogance and distain like the cat.

Security in the d’Escousse convenience store on Isle Madame in Nova Scotia is a moggy searching out a tickle under its chin in between dried goods and sausages. It’s an all round much more pleasant shopping experience than trawling the aisles while Big Brother is watching you in Sainsbury’s or Walmart. It felt like being back in Bickertons General Hardware shop in Bellingham, Northumberland when I was a kid, several decades ago.

Our spend, milk, bread and bananas is unlikely to keep Mog in Finest Gourmet Cat Food and tickling sticks indefinitely. But we’d be happy to return again to this fine establishment and will spread the word about this lovely place. I think in some circles this is called Marketing.

We left Halifax on our way to Cape Breton about a week ago. We’ve had more than our deserved quota of fog and rain. Thankfully the last two days have lifted the fog and our spirits. Until getting to d’Escousse, all our anchorages have felt remote and off the beaten track. Seeing any other boats is a rarity.

Except for West Liscombe which has a remote hotel, about 5 miles up a river. Boaters have free access to the indoor pool, sauna and whirlpool. Oh so nice after a day in damp dreariness.

Weather forecasts feel like they’ve come courtesy of the Donald. We were advised we’d get southwest winds of 15 to 20 knots, great for our intended trip, and in fact were delivered NE winds, bang on the nose slowing progress. When combined with the fog, we were keen for an Obama Meteorological offering.

As often in politics if you wait long enough, ignore what’s being broadcast, things sort themselves out without any interventions. Tomorrow we head to St Peters, through a lock into the Bras d’Or Lake. My guide book suggests….”in summer, the water temperature is so warm (65 to 70 degrees) that fog is rare”. Small mercies.

Longer arms


I got it into my head that we needed to do a Peter Kay “Big shop”. A full on purchasing extravaganza so we could avoid supermarkets for a couple of eons. The cupboards, fridge and freezer would bulge like a 1970’s orange space hopper on a particularly warm day. We could stock up for the next two months on the boat meaning no more big shops till we come back from our month in the UK in October. What a dreamy prospect.

The flip side of achieving stock up heaven is you have to spend actual time in supermarkets. Home delivery to a boat anchored in the middle of a waterway is currently not a Walmart option. From compiling a list, dinghy-ing to the shore, walking to the requisite food emporium, buying stuff, reversing the travel logistics and finally hiding our purchases in appropriate places, 6 hours had passed! 6 hours. We had visited 4 shops in total; a wholesalers, two supermarkets and the liquor store. We’d made two trips with a rucksack and two shopping bags each. That’s 3 hours for each trip. My arms are now 4cms longer. I look like a gibbon.

Our time in Halifax ends tomorrow. We will start to sail East up the coast towards the Bras d’Or lake. The inland lake sits inside Cape Breton Island. It’s maybe 150 miles to get there but we plan to day sail it rather than do an overnight passage.

Halifax has been good to us. We have become part locals, having built up a little network of friends. Yesterday, some friends from the Armdale yacht club took us to their fabulous home overlooking the water and fed us tea and cake while we watched the 3rd place play off match. Well done Belgium. You were the better team. Then in the afternoon we walked down to a local park and then into town along the waterfront. We spotted a local boat know to us, shouted to Dan it’s owner and ended up having a beer with his extended family.

And today in the bar where we have watched the previous England games, we spoke to our Brazilian football friend who was enjoying the final and the barman came out to chat to us as he’d seen us on the water in our dinghy a few days ago. It’s been easy to fit in and relax.

Even though we have a boat rammed to the gunnels with food, we bought and shared a slice of pizza on the way home from the watching the World Cup final. That’s unnecessarily extravagant.


Canada seems to suits us. Halifax, Nova Scotia we’ve decided is a place where we could both live. This feeling doesn’t always stir as we travel around. I suppose it’s not too far removed from an attractive place in Britain, making fitting in very easy. Same language, similar culture, a cosmopolitan vibe, a clean environment, lots of waterfront space, cheap shopping, well anywhere is after Bermuda and chilled out, helpful, seemingly content people.

We’ve been here 5 nights now. Our crossing from Bermuda took 5 days 20 hours. A mix of fine beam reach sailing, some motoring and ultimately ghastly fog for 36 hours which is weird when there’s plenty of wind about too. My own aspirational wish came back to bite my bum as I’d mentioned to Miv that I was missing looking at a tv screen, meaning the World Cup and Wimbledon were on the telly. My wish came true as either Dave or I were required to look at the radar screen every 5 minutes or so for 36 hours. We were practically in the harbour in Halifax before our long distance vision got a work out. It was good to get in and stop moving.

I’ve posted a couple of pictures here. One of something that look like a low sitting barge, only for us to realise a couple of minutes later it was actually a massive cruise ship, faintly visible as the fog thinned and lifted. We knew it was there as we’d talked to each other over the VHF radio. The fog phenomenon still played with my limited head space.

Our plan is to make a plan. Now England are through to the semi finals, we (well I mean I) need to be near a telly on Wednesday for semi final trials and tribulations. Can’t / don’t want to miss this one. We went to a bar downtown to watch the Sweden game. I think the bar claimed to have 26 TVs plus a big screen outside too. We sat at the bar between a guy who was a puppeteer and a Brazilian chap who was sad as his team had been eliminated the previous day. Nice chats.

Monday / Tuesday this week we plan to get out of Halifax waters for the night and find a quiet anchorage somewhere a few hours sail from here. Also need to keep a quiet ear on the weather as a depression is brewing off North Carolina and may be on its way here with a bit of nastiness. Post football shenanigans, we want to get to Newfoundland.

A footnote. For you boaty folk, we now transmit on AIS. Dave wired the new unit in today. Only a modicum of naughty words and heavy sighing. Look us up on Marine Traffic – Grace of Longstone. You can stalk us.

And a second foot note. We’ll both be back in the UK from 9th September to 6th October. Flights booked. Usual schedule….work, friends, family. Not necessarily in that order…

And finally… we’ve upgraded the blog site to get rid of the adverts and associated *hit. It should look cleaner and it’s given me a bit more space for writing / storing stuff.  Don’t expect any changes. The world moves slowly on a boat. About 5 to 6mph.