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Lunenburg to Yarmouth

In the last Ariose Note, Ariose and I became acquainted with the water of the Atlantic and I became re aquainted with my own fear. Did I really think that I could just brush away the anxiety of overnight passages that rendered me helpless in the past? Fear won.

Gathering up the resources in my brain, still swirling with the realization that I couldn’t just go and essentially forget the past, it occurred to me that a slow and easy pace would have to be the way to gain access to a world of passage making. George agreed! For now, I”m a coastal hopper and will focus on day hops with the occasional overnight, whenever the opportunity arises or my brain says “ok, lets give this a try again”!

So, I left Lunenburg in a beautiful early sun-drenched fog colouring the air with pink and orange as I spotted the lighthouse before turning to the South to find my first port – Port Medway N.S.

Coastal hopping adds considerable amount of distance to the process of getting south because each day you have to travel significant distances off of the ocean to hide behind islands, promontories and breakwaters. While sleeping, the only distance you’re making is purely in your dreams. So, thinking about the enormous distances involved that includes the entire coastline of the US and then multiplying it by two for time and distance and you’ve got what looks like an impossible task.

Each one of these ports that I visited along the Atlantic coast of N.S. had it own charm. Unfortunately, because I’m just using their waters to hide from wind and ocean swell, there isn’t a lot of exploring going on and most of them aren’t set up to access from the water for someone wanting to go ashore.

Port Medway and Liverpool, I’m afraid, will only get a cursory mention here. They served an important purpose in my journey, but, I cannot know them by this method.

The first port I stopped at for a significant period was Lockeport. Named for one of the first settlers to the area, the Locke family, it was a good choice for someone needing to stretch his legs and get a few supplies while being somewhat of a tourist. This would be the last taste of summer weather I would have before reaching much more southern waters. The first night I anchored on the South side of the town and rode the swells of the open Atlantic since the winds were from the North. It gave me a chance to see an incredibly beautiful beach (crescent beach) from the ocean side as, the next day I was motivated to find more protection from the southerly winds forecast for the evening.

The morning of the move, I pulled up the anchor, felt the wind play with the bow as I moved swiftly to power up the genoa and begin the task of tacking back and forth out of the bay, being mindful of course, of all the shoals marked on the chart. It took a while, but the effort of doing this on a beautiful sunny morning with no real time constraints, pays for itself in satisfaction. And satisfied I was, when I rounded the last bouy at the northern edge of the Island and turned up into the wind behind the break wall. Utilizing the lack of wind power to drop the main and feel the wind pulling Ariose downwind a little while I dropped the anchor and felt that satisfying tug in the anchor rode when it bights into the ground, swinging the bow into the wind and securing a spot for the night! With only the clinking of ground tackle and the flapping of sail fabric….I’m sure my sun drenched grin stretched as far as the whisker pole across the bow of Ariose. Oh yeah…..“This is why I keep doing this”.

Lockeport kept me smiling. As I searched for supplies, I found one example of everything a town needs to be self sufficient, but, only one. One post office, one fire hall, one drug store one restaurant and many people willing to chat with this lonely stranger in their midst, looking like a tourist who had lost his way and got separated from the bunch that trampled through at least weeks if not months before; a straggler for sure. People were so willing to chat, give me advice, fill me in on local folk lore, all delivered with smiles and genuine hospitality. They really endeared me to the place from the onset.

Town pier with the little Marina building on the left and the White Gull restaurant on the right.

I tied Poco methodically to the pilons of the pier, climbed up the metal rungs on the ladder heavily stained by barnacles and vegetation from the markings of a higher tide and spotted the White Gull restaurant. An unassuming but functional building which turned out to be serving their last meal of the season. I went into town hoping to make it back for a nice fish dinner…my first night out! And, so it was!

While in Lockeport, I walked a nice trail along a rocky part of the Atlantic, with a view to the beach that I had anchored off of the first night. Lockeport is essentially an island with a causeway being the main road in. Then another access is an old CNR trestle was clearly used during the booming West Indies trade by the Locke family, long in the past but was now just a quicker way for residents to walk up to a hardware store and gas station about a kilometer down the road. This trestle forms a nice scenic walk from town along the crescent beach road, along a back harbour, back onto the trestle and back into town, total distance 4 kms! (see the map of Lockeport above). It turned out to be the perfect place to get some exercise while admiring the unspoiled beauty of the beach.

A few days here while waiting for better weather gave me just enough time to stock up on groceries, fuel, sea sickness medication and water. The fire hall turned on their outside tap for me and the owner of the gas station delivered me back to the pier with 2 full containers of diesel for Ariose. So nice!

The next series of ports in my sights were within a days travel and were chosen for the upcoming wind speeds and direction. It’s especially important if a big blow is forecasted – like over 20 Knots; the more protection from the wind means less stress on the boat and on the Captain when he’s trying to get a rest filled night on the water. So, I set my sites on Ingomar and Clarks Harbour. Ingomar is only memorable for me by the effort I put into sailing amost all the way in through a narrow channel – lining up the zigs to line up with the zags of the channel is an interesting game to play. Sometimes it works out, but, sometimes an extra tack is necessary or a little help from the diesel, often with a little bit of anxiety thrown in for good measure. I always try to keep this option at the ready.

Clarks harbour is memorable for some different things. If you look on a map of Nova Scotia, Clarks Harbour pretty much has the honour of the most southerly point, jutting out into the Gulf of Maine, like a child tempting to feed a lion some flesh at the zoo. I guess that gulf kinda makes me gulp and the lump in my throat remains. It’s exposed. I was a little nervous to round this cape but I didn’t fear anything was going to happen….I mean, what could happen?– it’s just water like everywhere else.

But, this is the Bay of Fundy with the highest tides in the world. This means also that there are some serious currents to worry about and some strange things that start to pull at your boat if you have no experience with how they interact with the topography.

While travelling along in a westerly direction hoping to turn north toward the harbour I look down at the electronic chart and see that I’m actually going south! How can this be? I look again at the direction that I am pointing and it’s still to the West. Then, I noticed a little caution on the electronic charts which tells you to zoom in to read what it is. Oh, a tidal stream! I was caught in a tidal stream! Ok, so I’ll just power up and motor on through. Nope! Full sails with good wind and a cranked up engine were still no match and I just had to ride this wet water slide south until it spit me out down below. Another lesson. Use the tide charts to plan your departures and arrivals. I ended up having to wait several hours from 2pm until 5pm and motor into the harbour in the dark with the current pulling me in. That’s the way it goes. No harm, but, still a little unnerving to say the least. When I finally set anchor for the night just off the town docks, I was so glad that I had food prepared so that I could collapse into my bunk after a good hot meal. And that I did!

The rough water and the impending darkness as I fought my way up toward Clarks Harbour.

In the morning, I got a taste of the other memorable thing about Clarks Harbour. (pic of Clarks)

The realization that the temperature had dropped enough over night to snow and that it did start snowing so early in my trip with so many miles and an entire coast line of the US ahead of me. I awoke, looked out the companionway to what appeared to be the back end of Santa’s sleigh but that Santa must be going back to get another load because all that was there was some of my stuff. The snow flakes falling on the deck, sticking to the rigging, lying innocently on the various ropes and sailing gear in a juxtaposition that I didn’t find particularly amusing. I mean, I love the snow, but, this is a sailboat and someone at the movie set must have mixed up the props for summer in the tropics scene with bits of that last movie about Santa and his raindeer! (pic of snow)

It was definately time to use this!

Ok, enough about Clarks Harbour! On to Yarmouth.

New learning at hand regarding the power of these tides near the Bay of Fundy, I carefully planed my exit strategy from Clarks Harbour. I woke up a little later than I wanted in order to catch the end of the ebb tide that would pull me out of the harbour so I scrambled to get ready with the hope that I hadn’t missed the ride. Ahh……I hadn’t! Even at slack, I was able to motor out at over 5 knots and get comfortably into open water before shutting down the engine and hoisting the sails. It was a great sailing day and I made terrific time with the tides, wind and waves helping me along. I was very happy to make it to the long dredged narrow channel of Yarmouth, so that I could see my way into what could be my last stop in Canada! I contacted the municipal marina who assured me that I could tie up or use one of the mooring balls for free since they were officially closed for the season. This was great, but, what I didn’t expect though, was the level of this commitment to free stuff and hospitality to boot!

He gave me a key to the showers in a super well heated building, that I joked might be a great place to bed down for the night while he offered me another key to an outside tap for water. “ If need anything to just give him a call”! I almost felt sheepish but, accepted the very welcome things that would make stopping in Yarmouth off season most pleasurable! And just to show my appreciation, I stayed for many days, and had many hot showers.

It was a gray and cold few days in Yarmouth, but the town gave me lots of chance to stretch my legs and refill propane and food stocks. Also, since I didn’t get the right weather for my next big leap into the unknown for 4 or 5 days, I had lots of time to edit videos for Episode 2, write the blog entry and write and record the song Deep Blue. When I did leave, it was definitely time to go and to do my first overnight! Besides, there is no other way to cross the Bay of Fundy! It’s sink or swim time! Ooh, not a good phrase to use at this point.

See you next time! Be sure to check out the link to Ariose Sailing below

Splashing: First sail to Lunenburg!

This Ariosenote takes us into the water at last! Just a minute though. Before we go jumping into the water and getting all wet, lets take some time to acknowledge that I appreciate Darren and the Gold River Marina staff for their desire and in thinking about their clientele and making sure that everyone is treated with respect. I will always champion people and businesses who honestly try to be fair to people. Unfortunately, there are lots who are only trying to take advantage of others. Gold River does not fall into this category. For that, I am eternally grateful and a champion of your marina!! Now, on to wetness!!

Darren, in his colour appropriate attire, inspecting things before loading Ariose onto the hydraulic trailor!
Darren with James who is also the official button pusher to lower the railway travel lift into the water.

Finally splashing at Gold River, my mind was swirling at the sight of Ariose’sunderbelly finally touching the water of the Atlantic once again. I was pretty elated, as you might imagine, to see this all unfold. That’s why there is lots of great video of every step! See Ariose Sailing on youtube (link at the end of this post) for the full video. It’s such a beautiful and natural sight to see a fish out of water, reacquainted with the medium for which it was designed.

Gold River was great, but, I was itching to get out and be on my way. I was excited to be at the helm and begin my new job as the captain of Ariose! I knew that it would be a great experience and I was right. The sail to Lunenburg was uneventful and enjoyable. Of course, I had to motor out of the marina, partly because I wasn’t willing to wait for wind and because as a novice solo sailor, I wouldn’t feel completely confident in my ability to negotiate all of the other boats while leaving the docks. I made sure too, from previous experience backing up a full keel sailboat, that the crew put Ariose into the slip stern first so I could just motor out easily in the morning.

In the morning, after loading up on supplies and getting everything put away for the journey, I prepared to leave the Gold River Marina dock for the first and maybe last time.

My neighbour and fellow solo sailor friend Trevor was there to help me begin the journey. We met in the boatyard, as many sailors do, because we are both working on a dream . I learned about his Vancouver 27 by helping Trevor with it and by listening to his description of it. It’s a beautiful design and has many of the features of the Alberg 30. They’re pretty much the same size; the Alberg just has a longer overhang at the stern which makes the extra 3 feel. The amount of boat in the water is essentially the same, as is the remarkable similarity in displacement (weight). With a taller cabin top, the Vancouver 27 seems quite a lot more spacious than the Alberg and I really liked the layout.

Trevor, also from Ontario, was very quick to offer rides into town; a welcome accommodation, considering the 10k walk into Chester for groceries or hardware. I took him up on his offer a coupletimes which made the month I was stuck at the marina much more palatable. For anyone else in this predicament, there is a great not-for-profit operating in the Chester Basin called Community Wheels. It’s donation based and you can get a ride anywhere in the Chester area for very low cost while your driver waits for you to finish! I used it once and it’s a fantastic model for other areas to adopt.

Sailors are an interesting lot and Trevor and I got chatting about mental health before too long. Turns out we’ve both struggled with addictions and have been on our own journey’s to break the cycle. Since addictions are not a choice and are often the result of trauma, whether ongoing and daily, from childhood or intergenerational, and for many…..all three, it was so nice to be in the company of someone who had learned to be companionate and understanding of the struggles of others. When you have struggled, you tend to realize and accept people with how they present without judgement. I noticed this right away with Trevor. We both know that people go through experiences that are difficult and traumatic and that the worst thing you can do is to blame and punish them……..something our society seems to be completely unaware of.

Anyway……to the water! I got the engine fired up and everything ready for the journey. Then, I called on Trevor to hold the bow line as I exited the slip. True to Trevor’s nature, his final parting words were to offer me a ride, if I needed one! Thanks Trevor!

Trevor and his Vancouver 27. I was just about to cast off the bow lines and I asked Trevor to do the casting!

It was a glorious departure! I was pumped and heading out into the blue to start my journey. I pulled out the mainsail at the first sight of wind, leaving the motor running, just in case. Once I sensed the wind and pulled the stop on the engine, I ghosted along at 1-2 knots, but I didn’t care…….I was free!

Soon more wind picked up and I found myself screaming towards Lunenburg under sail! I sailed all the way up the harbour, with other beautiful sail craft in hot pursuit. There are always Schooners of all sorts plying these waters and you are more likely to see a schooner than any other type of boat (check out the video for the schooner regatta). Even the Bluenose II is a very likely figure on the waters in Lunenburg harbour. The maritime history here is palpable and it hangs on your tongue like a wet, dense and salty fog!

As I came towards the end of the main harbour, I decided to take down the sails before entering an unknown harbour, for the same reason that I left a marina with the engine. One day, I will feel more comfortable controlling the boat in close quarters. So, I furled in the genoa in preparation for turning up wind. Then made the turn, dropping the main which completely depowers the boat and took my time tying up the mainsail. Then, into the harbour I went under motor. Having practiced anchoring in unknown harbours many times on our way down the eastern seaboard in 2016, I was not concerned about this maneuver, although, I had always had someone to take care of part of the process. But, with careful consideration of the order of events, anchoring alone was a breeze! And there it was, my first journey! I was anchored in lunenburg Nova Scotia, just a stones through from the iconic Canadian racing sailboat the Bluenose II. (see the video for a short clip of it motoring out of the harbour.

Waking up to this view….(pic through the porthole) gave me a taste of the experiences yet to come!

The next 2 weeks I had relegated to finishing some small projects, getting my first blog/vlog posts out and getting whatever supplies ready for the first major sail out of the harbour.

I awoke to the beautiful regatta of Schooners in the am and thought “so this is what people in Lunenburg do on a beautiful Saturday afternoon”. Pic

I found that it was super easy to walk to groceries and hardware and pretty much anything else. I found great places to go for walks and some interesting shops to wander through steeped in maritime history.

Some things I’m not that good at taking pictures of but here is a pic of the Lunenburg Welcome Sign and a nice trail I found to go for morning jogs!

Having a vibrant sailing community, the government organization that looks after marinas in the province provide very nice and clean washrooms open 24/7 and even all winter! Heres a pic of the government marina building that I spend a fair amount of time around. I was just filling up water jugs for my first attempt out of the harbour (have I told you yet how many times I attempted leaving the harbour for my first overnight sail?) Then, if a shower and laundry was required, a scant 5 dollar fee got you into the room for 5 bucks! Pretty good deal! For someone living on a boat, that kind of service is rare and very welcome. (Pic of me letting my hair dry)

Like me, Poco is a different sort a feller as evidened by the dinghy dock in Lunenburg!

I was prepared, but, I still had anxiety about the upcoming potential Hurricane Franklin. I found two handheld gps’s to set anchor alarms on. The Hurricane Franklin which was downgraded to a sub-tropical storm by the time it hit the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, but still, the wind really tugged and pulled at the bow of Ariose and swung it around on it’s anchor quite violently. The worst winds were to hit in the middle of the night and I only managed to stay up until midnight and the anchor was still holding well, so, I closed my eyes! At 3am, I awoke, probably due to some loud banging noise, and checked on things during the worst of the wind in excess of 40 knots, but, Ariose had still not budged. I watched until 5am and then fell asleep again feeling pretty confident that there was no danger of Ariose dragging.

What I really love about the experience of going through a hurricane is how the morning after Is like “sitting on the bed with a dazed look, after a tumultuous sexual encounter”. Yahooo! Fiona was like that last year. The sky can be clear, sunny and almost smug with the forgetfulness of the events of the last evening. It’s like, “don’t you remember dear, how angry you were last night?”. Apparently not! And, so it goes.

The time came when I was preparing for my 2 nd voyage and first chance to try over night sailing. I stocked up (pic of poco with jugs above) and got Ariose all ready. In the morning, it was a beautiful and uneventful motor out of the anchorage at 10 am. Brimming with confidence, I left the anchorage. Once I got out in to the open harbour I experienced my first trouble. In the tension leading up to leaving I had forgotten to untie all of the lines that I tie at the bow to reduce noise at night. So, when I first unfurled the genoa, it just got tangled in a mess of constricting lines. Mistake number one. Mistake number 2 was when I thought that it was a good time to reef the main. A squall was coming so I dropped the main a little and proceeded to pull on the reefing lines. What ensued was a vivid portrayal of a comic of some kind, as I pretty much just got wrapped up in lines and strapped to the deck like yesterdays catch of the day, barely alive but still flailing! It was hilarious, if it wasn’t so darn demoralizing and self un-affirming!

I pulled out all of the long reefing lines fed to the cockpit to free myself and the mainsail and continued on. Someone didn’t install those correctly, I said to myself outloud!

It was getting late in the afternoon and I was becoming more and more cognizant of the oncoming overnight sail, my first! I realized soon thereafter, that my anxiety was rising to epic levels and suddenly, with very little consideration, hove to. (stopped the boat). I sat there bobbing, floating, meandering for half an hour at least thinking hard about what I was about to encounter at night, all alone, on the Atlantic ocean. Then, a snap decision occurred, and I turned Ariose around and headed back towards Lunenburg upwind under motor! An anxiety attack is nothing to fool with. I felt good about the decision to turn around because the alternative was not a viable option. I needed to regroup.

I seriously considered ending the trip, thinking that I just didn’t have the ability to control my anxiety and extreme fear to complete this voyage. I mean, was I fooling myself, thinking that I could control this beast that had pasted me to the floor on several occasions while I was sailing with Shirl, rendering me nothing more useful than a stick of driftwood, jetsam of the tides? It took me a few days of reflection before I could even entertain the thought of trying again. After a few days, with the level headed thinking of my mentor George, came a plan to leave Lunenburg with a more manageable expectation. His idea was to day hop down the coast, little by little, before gaining enough confidence to try an over night in good conditions. A sensible approach, I’d say.

So, a few days later, I made a second attempt. Leaving the harbour in a dense, yet, sun illuminated fog………..it was a beautiful experience! And what of that overnight plan? The plan that had me leaving the harbour and heading straight for Cape Cod Maine, a distance of close to 400Kn miles (750approx kms) and 3-4 overnights? Maybe a tad bit too soon? Maybe…..I’ll be on American soil in the next Ariose Note?! I’ll leave you with these lovely couple of shots of Ariose parked in front of Lunenburg.

Fair winds.

Uncharted Waters: An Autistic Captain and Ariose ______________________________________________

An Autistic captain and Ariose! We’re alone, but, we have each other and the open ocean to keep us company! 

Welcome to the Ariosenote blog/ ArioseSailing channel! There is a link to the video at the end if you’d prefer to sit back and watch. Enjoy!

Flag for Neurodiversiy including autism.

A quick plug for autism

So this journey is about Sailing, isn’t it? Yes, it is and there will be plenty of that. But, being Autistic colours everything I do and say, not to mention how society responds to me; it is who I am. If you come from a career that enforced the idea that “your disability does not define you” please subscribe at the very least. There is lots of good learning to have from Autistics themselves since they are the ones that have the lived experience.

With this blog/channel, you will be sailing with an Autistic sailor that wants to break down some of the stereotypes and stigma around being Autistic and neurodivergent in this mostly neurotypically organized and compliant society. If you want to check out the autism introductory video click on Tim’s Autistic Journey for the youtube link.

You will always see my Autistic identity capitalized as Autistic. This erases the medical model of autism as a dysfunction and replaces it with the social model of disability, which enforces the idea that there is nothing wrong with being Autistic. Nothing wrong equals nothing to change! What we need is the acceptance and tools to help us function to our own standard; not to conform to Neurotypical standards. If society stops thinking that we have to fit in to an artificial mould that we simply cannot comply with, then we can be excepted as just another part of the collective gene pool, and, there is no need to change us to be like others; Autists are just different people. Enough on that!

The Sign

It was a gorgeous august day at my home in a lake in Northern Ontario. Cant you just hear the white-throated sparrows, common yellowthroat warblers and swamp sparrows calling? It reminds me of those old Mutual of Omaha short videos from the 70’s.

Sunny, warm and calm, I splashed into the lake signifying the future launching of Ariose into the ocean. But, what if the original splashing is interrupted? (see the video of interrupted splashing).Does this translate into an interruption of Arioses launching? More on that later.

Shirl and I made the trip to Gold River Nova Scotia with the ceremonial first night in Montreal. Then a night in a lovely little Airbnb near Fredericton New Brunswick. Finally, after a few days, we pulled up on Ariose in anticipation and trepidation. I mean, what would we find after an entire winter? Sorry……no photos of beautiful mold!

Concentrating on flying the drone (see the shadow in the hull on the left?).

Ariose looked great on the outside, and sailboats are fairly water resistant creatures, but, water always gets in somehow and the moisture levels over a period of time can render the surfaces fuzzy with mold. I am very happy that we had the local boat works ( Tern Boat Works) drill a hole just above the keel (bottom of the bilge) that lets water out when it does begin to accumulate over the winter. (See video for installation of the garboard plug that is fitted into this hole). Photo of garboard plug

The interior conformed to our expectations, but it was tough to see Ariose in this condition. It seems quite hopeless and disheartening at the time, but, all it takes is a meticulous wiping with some cleaner and anti mold solution over every surface. Before long the boat is clean from bow to stern. Beautiful sunny days that allowed all windows and hatches to be open and the breeze to flow through made this process much easier.

Shirley’s Sienta, a cutie little 4wd RHD that I imported for her from Japan!

Shirl’s 2006 Sienta- (imported from Japan – a special interest of mine -more about special interests and how important they are to Autistic people in a future autism blog) stuck around for a couple days since we needed to get a few things like the sails, emergency raft and such from our local friend George and I needed to stock up on food for an extended period. Then, when it was clear that the soloing must begin, Shirl and I said our teary goodbyes!

The last 2 weeks have been a blur. After getting many things packed away and out from under foot, I began knocking off one project after another.

The projects, oh….the projects!

The garboard plug had to be installed (see the video for installation).

Talking to the garboard plug “now you listen here……I don’t want you changing your mind about staying in the hole once we’re in the water”.

I replaced the packing in the packing gland. It is part of the stuffing box which allows water in from the outside through the stern tube. The packing nut that covers the propeller shaft houses packing material. This material intercepts water that moves up the shaft from outside the boat and cools the shaft. The packing is tightened to allow the water to flow enough to cool the shaft and drip into the bilge. Normally, the flow rate is a few drips per minute. Once the packing wears out, the drips can increase substantially. Like……a stream!

Next, I converted our rigid boom vang into a regular rope vang by taking out 3 heavy springs inside the tube, which allowed me to install a replacement gooseneck bracket that we picked up in the fall after hurricane Fiona.

Then I replaced the sails, the roller of the ancher roller (the other one was warn right off) and carved down the anchor so that I could fit the securing pin in the hole on the anchor roller.

I Installed the solar panels, reprogrammed the controller to accept Lithium, top balanced my new lithium cells and installed them.

Had some trouble getting the app to connect to the battery management system (BMS) but, soon I had it working and battery was fully charged! It was so nice to have a fridge and lights again after an entire week without.

The engine aboard has been a source of irritation for me. When we arrived in Gold River in the fall, the engines secondary fuel filter had been leaking into the bilge and the bilge pumps dumping this into the ocean! I was in a panic upon arrival because this is so hugely against my environmentalist principles that I was fraught with anxiety!

It seems that the installation of a correct o-ring and the correct tightening procedure, took care of this problem. Upon firing the engine up for the first time in 9 months, the leak was fixed! The engine started and ran perfectly!

Now, the throttle on the other hand, created new problems. Both the throttle and the shift cable had slowly become stiffer and stiffer over the last few years. So, when I cranked the engine over, it started and I gave it a bit more fuel. The throttle lever snapped off in my hand due to the amount of force required to operate it. So, another project availed itself. I thought that the cables had become stiff, but, it turns out that it was just the stainless pins that transferred the action of the throttle lever and transmission shift cables were corroded inside the aluminum casing of the binnacle. Once I cleaned up and oiled the pins, the cables worked smoothly. The throttle lever ended up being threaded on both ends with a very common thread that I just happened to have the right drill bit and tap for. So, I drilled and tapped a new hole in the pin to accept the lever and voila, good as new!

The little red head on the left is the throttle lever that snapped off and the transmission lever on the right

The premonition

The original Northern Ontario dive into the my home lake (video of the dock near the beginning) was supposed to signify the splash of Ariose in Nova Scotia. Because of technical difficulties (a micro SD card that couldn’t handle the 4k video) the splash was not captured by the drone, although, the literal splash did occur, I swear – it was refreshing!

Tim about to splash in Trout Lake – FAIL!

Local marina politics at Gold River Marina in Nova Scotia conspired to obliterate my splash date, robbing me of precious preparatory time for my journey on the water. Then I had to sit, ready to go, on the hard through a gorgeous long weekend and think about the last time that Ariose was robbed of the splashing – the marina in Kingston in 2021!. It almost seemed as though, the original malfunction of the drone, just before the northern Ontario splash, was a sign of things to come!

A blessing in disguise?

At the time of writing, hurricane Franklin came and went. Now hurricane Lee is forecast to build into a catagory 3+ hurricane and is set to make landfall directly over Ariose and is creating a frenzy of activity this coming week as boat owners instruct the marina to get their boats out of the water! I guess I’ll stick it out and then splash after Lee has passed.

I just hope that next week brings some water close to the hull. It’s all I can do but hope!

Hurricane Lee (eventually downgraded to a tropical storm)

Having a friend nearby willing to take me in during the hurricane was a blessing, thanks George. We lost power on the first morning of the storm and remained without power over the next night. Then next morning George had already been out to find that the road along the ocean front to his house had been piled up with debree and rocks from the massive waves. On the way to check out his boat anchored in Lunenburg harbour, he had to pick his way through the piles on the way back to keep from bottoming out on the rocks! (his boat Sh’Boom- an Alberg 29 – was rocking but holding fast). Within hours though, the road was cleared.

With the forecast showing that the worst of Tropical Storm Lee had passed, George took me to Ariose to check on it and to leave me to begin the process of installing everything that I had already installed a few weeks before! Luckily, we were on the side of the storm that normally doesn’t get all the rain, so , there was very little problem with leakage inside. Mostly, there was tons of debris from nearby trees on deck, but, no damage. I was surprised by the speed in which everything went back on. I think that having a dry run made the second re-install go pretty smoothly! There’s always a silver lining, if you try hard enough to find one!

After the storm, the marina had a lot of cleanup to do because, in their rush to get as many boats out as they could before the storm, a lot of services that they normally provide went undone. There was a few days of catch up to finish pressure washing hulls and putting things away that would have normally been part of the process. Then….finally, the day came when Ariose and I were next on the list! Stay tuned for this epic beginning to the journey! Fair winds!

Click on the link for the full length video!

Post-Fiona: Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Québec to Canso, Nova Scotia

Hurricane Fiona moved on with haste, but Tim and I remained on les Îles-de-la-Madeleine for nearly a week after she departed. We had to reinstall all the gear removed from Ariose in storm prep and deal with what’s become an ongoing issue. We needed to wait for a good weather window to cross to Cape Breton. And although the aftermath of a hurricane is not the best time to be tourist-ing, we also wanted to enjoy these slips of land that form such a lovely archipelago in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Checking out Étang du Nord

We moved from our warm and dry motel room back aboard a cold and soggy Ariose. That pressure wash of Fiona’s wind-driven rain, which had given Ariose’s deck a clean sparkle, also pushed lots of water inside. Portlights that had never previously leaked, did, and wires from the mast looked as though they had been as good as a faucet in flowing outside rain water to within. Bedding, mattress, settee cushions, most clothing… all soaked, and even our composting head (toilet) contained a few inches of fresh rinse water. For the first few days back aboard, depressingly, it continued to rain.  Did I mention that the motel room we chose to vacate had been warm and dry?

Tim and I got to work, under the eye of the watchful marina heron. A visit to the laundromat for its much-needed dryers was top priority. When the sun did come out, we spread what we could on deck to air. We hanked on the sails, set up the lines, and reinstalled the solar panels. The Cap-Aux-Meule marina kindly did not charge us. We’re not sure if it was a “you survived Fiona” reward or if it was just post-season, and the books had been closed. Whatever the reason, it was appreciated.  Merci Donald!

Certainly, the warm hospitality of our new friends, Richard and Raymonde, made our stay all the more memorable. Gifts from their kitchen and garden were heartening, and their enthusiasm and humour lifted our spirits. Richard, an engineer retired from the local Windsor Salt Ltd mine, whose creative brain has certainly not stopped working, is re-powering his own A30, among other restoration work. He had many questions. We were pleased to share what we could from our own experience upgrading Ariose.

Enjoying fresh seafood and exceptionally good company.

One of the highlights of our time on les Îles was a lovely meal out with Richard and Raymonde. They suggested a restaurant with great ambience, Les Pas Perdu, just a short walk from the wharf. It was a gift of an evening where we could forget the discomforts and the stress of the last week, and just enjoy their good company while we feasted on delicious fresh seafood. (This wasn’t “fresh” as in “not previously frozen”; it was “fresh” as in “hauled out of the sea that morning”. Yum!)

Richard and Raymonde had lent us their vehicle, and we so appreciated being able to get out and explore. Travelling by boat opens the world, but our perspective on most of the areas we’ve sailed to is limited to the narrow strip bordering the water, with little opportunity to experience what lies inland. Having wheels was a treat.

Much of the coastline on Île du Cap aux Meule and Île du Havres Aubert, especially on the west side, looked suspiciously freshly carved, and the seas were still wild. Unfortunately, but understandably, attractions were closed while hurricane repairs were addressed

We didn’t have time to make it to the hardest hit regions to the north, but in the areas we did visit, we were relieved to see that much of the storm’s impact seemed surprisingly minor: roofing shingles off, fences horizontal, and hydro crews busy repairing downed poles and lines. One church’s metal roof was now strewn across the gravestones next door. We also noted more substantial damage. Some boats on stands had toppled, and we spotted a few water-front buildings that had been shifted to now be in-water. As with so many areas in eastern Canada, though, many homes exuded such cheerful character, it seemed surreal that only days before, they had withstood a hurricane’s battering.

One yard we passed caused us to stop and reverse, just to confirm what we thought we had seen. It wasn’t unusual for there to be a parked boat, often just a skeleton remaining of what had been a sea-worthy vessel. But this! This was literally a boat skeleton, adorned with whale bones. Made us smile.

Another boat that caused us to smile was our slip neighbour at the marina. M’onc’Omer, is a beautifully crafted historical fishing skiff. It had been unharmed by Fiona, and although its dinghy, p’tit Omer, did sink, it was easily resuscitated. It was a pleasure meeting its builder, Claude, a talented artist who usually works in copper and whale bones. (google Claude Bourque, artist, Îles de la Madeleine if you’re interested in checking out his remarkable creations). A few years ago, Claude had gathered together his copains, a crew that joined him in a labour of love recreating this classic fishing boat of the islands. Apparently, these boats used to dot the bays, but have now disappeared. Perhaps M’onc’Omer will inspire others to resurrect such lost traditions.

Then, before long, a good weather window was upon us.  North-west winds, at 15-20 knots, decreasing to 10-15 knot westerlies, with seas at a metre, were forecast. This was ideal for the south-easterly crossing to Cape Breton. Although more time on les Îles-de-la-Madeleine would have been lovely, we have lost our appetite for vigorous sailing, and knew it could be awhile before conditions were favourable again.

We bid adieu to these very special islands. Richard and Raymonde, and their cleverly named poodle, Fidel Castré, saw us off, snapping a photo of Ariose as we motored out of the marina. 

Our overnight passage to Cape Breton’s western shores was one of our most successful yet. (Yes, Gravol was consumed and retained.)

We tucked into Cheticamp, one of the closest communities to head to in this crossing. It also happens to be situated in a well-protected natural harbour. We anchored off a public area, and lifted Poco, our dinghy off the cabintop into the water, to row the short distance to shore. We’re getting good at this manoeuvre. It felt great to work out our sea-legs wandering the town and its back roads. Brushes of autumn colour caused us to miss our spectacular maple forest at home this time of year.

Next, it was on to Mabou Harbour. Our friends, Guy and Lisa who had explored these waters on Inti this past summer, had spoken of Mabou being a worthwhile anchorage, otherwise, we would never have braved coming in here. According to the charted depths, there was not the 5 feet we require. As we approached the narrow dredged channel into the inlet, it felt like we would be running Ariose up onto the beach ahead. Quite unnerving.  Inti, also an Alberg 30, is much lighter than Ariose, and likely rides a half foot higher. We questioned our judgement and we questioned Guy and Lisa’s intentions, but we made it in – whew! They were right. What a place! It felt rather magical, as though we had sailed in from the wild rocky sea coast to another world of a pastoral fresh-water lake.   We did run aground, but that was only during our efforts to explore by dinghy. No biggie.

It was then a brisk sail down the remainder of Cape Breton’s scenic west coast.

We headed into the Canso Strait which divides Cape Breton island from mainland Nova Scotia. The Canso Causeway, built in 1955, provides a roadway connection between the two. The scars lining the hill along the Strait bear witness to the volumes of rock required for its construction.  The causeway acts as a damn blocking the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence from those of the Atlantic. Previously, currents were so strong that it was difficult for all but the most powerful vessels to pass through. Now, even 30 foot sail boats can move from one side to the other via the lock. This was the simplest lock of the 40+ we’ve transitted on Ariose. No cost, no pre-booking. We just hailed the lockmaster on our VHF a few minutes before arriving, she stopped road traffic, obtained some details, and provided us with instructions. We didn’t even need to tie up, but rather, just hovered as gates closed and the water slightly rose.  Once the vehicular/railway bridge opened, we were on our way, with an entitled glance back at the line-up of traffic, caused on our behalf.

Before we get too far from Les Îles, back to the issue I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the issue that we had to deal with before departing. Ariose’s gooseneck has become our Achilles’ heel. Ever since our first voyage, we’ve had difficulties with this fitting that connects the boom to the mast. After our first day’s sail in 2016, a vigorous one down the Hudson River and across New York harbour, the gooseneck and the track it’s mounted on pulled out of the mast. We had recently installed a new rigid boom vang (holds the boom down and allows us to adjust sail shape). That model, rather than the more traditional rope block & tackle arrangement, was an impulse buy at the Toronto Boat Show earlier that year. We weren’t sure if the new vang caused the issue, or the, ahem, few uncontrolled gybes we had undergone as we put on a show for the tour boat at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

On that occasion, Tim hitched a ride to the Atlantic Hylands hardware store to purchased larger bolts, refastened the track, and we were on our way. It held well, taking us to the Bahamas and back. Last season, in our final weeks returning up the St. Lawrence to Montreal, the gooseneck track began to pull away once again. We secured it by lashing with dyneema. It held.

Over the winter, we looked into the matter.  The manufacturer of the boom vang, of course, denied that it could be a contributing factor. Ariose is 50 + years old, and like most of us over 50, parts get worn and weaker.  We consulted with a rigger not associated with the vang, and he concurred. The aging metal had fatigued, he felt. Other Alberg owners, some with similar issues, provided lots of good suggestions for either replacing or reinforcing the gooseneck.

Before departing this year, while that mast was horizontal on deck, Tim tapped holes in a stainless steel plate which we inserted into the mast. With some fiddling, we managed to screwed the track through the mast and into that backing plate. Well done! We were set.  The track has indeed remained secure. But when crossing from Gaspé to Îles-de-la-Madeleine, we noticed that the brass car of the gooseneck was becoming deformed, with a slight split forming where it had splayed. Not good. There’s obviously forces being exerted that shouldn’t be, and reinforcing one component (the track) has just pushed the problem to the next weak link (the car).

 At Cap-aux-Meule, a welder at a major boat repair shop, kindly bent the car back into shape, and tack-repaired the crack for us (for a very reasonable $15!!). We then flipped the car upside down so that the weaker repaired end would be under less force. This was a temporary fix, we knew, but we hoped it would be good enough to get to a point where we could purchase a new car and replace the rigid vang. Experts say the boom vang is not contributing but we see and feel that it exerts huge forces. As far as we’re concerned, it needs to go.  We then lashed the whole apparatus, just in case. And sure enough, the repaired and inverted car is now splitting open – again! We’ve adjusted the vang and the topping lift, trying to find an angle for the boom that does not place stress on the car. We’re trying to avoid strong down-wind conditions. And we’ve crossed our fingers. About 10 days in from the latest jury-rigging, and it seems to be holding. Fingers remain crossed.

Okay. Now the hard part of this Ariose Note. Maybe that gooseneck issue – a connection between 2 vital parts on our sailboat that is now splitting apart – is a good a segue way to move into sharing this next news.

Last post began with relationship issues, and here we are again, with more. Apologies to those along with us who are here for the pure sailing stories. Well, the sailing experience, we’ve learned, is perhaps more influenced by the crew aboard, than any other factor. At least that’s been true for us.

As mentioned, events leading up to the hurricane, and down-time taking refuge was an opportunity, a rather forced one, for Tim and me to once again re-evaluate our future. We have about 600 nm in our wake on this voyage, and another 2000 to go to get us beyond next year’s usual hurricane zone by July.

A boat, as we’ve shared before, amplifies everything. That halyard, for example, a mere rope, if left unsecured before retiring will tap-tap-tap on the metal mast, transforming into a torture device as the night wears on. Relationship tensions are also turned up.  Tim is Autistic and I’m not, so as a couple, we function on different operating systems. Sometimes this is complementary. Often, though, the systems are less than compatible and it requires a lot of intentional effort, creativity, and flexibility to make it work.  This is true when we are off the boat, and most definitely true when we are on it.

It often feels as though we are dance partners, with one doing the tango, the other a waltz.  We come together, appreciate our differences, teach one another steps, and pull off some creative hybrid moves.  But it always takes effort, and eventually, in this awkward match , toes are stepped on. Even though no harm is intended, feet get bruised. The dancers need to take space. On Ariose, our melodically named boat, with only 20 square feet of floor space, there’s no room for that.

Anchored off Cheticamp.

Early in our relationship, Tim and I recognized the challenges, and worked hard to learn about our neurodiversity and to adapt and accommodate each other. Through our shared dreams, a strong interdependence on one another grew. These dreams have been the adhesive that has helped hold us through the challenges. Even a metal gooseneck, though, under enough strain, will eventually deform and split.

Tim and I have made a decision, a heartbreaking decision that also offers much relief. We need to take a bit of distance in our relationship, to have some time apart, and this is definitely not possible on a boat. We’re bringing our voyage to a close. Over the winter, we’ll keep our minds and our hearts open to options, for our dreams, for Ariose, and for us as individuals and as a couple.

We’re continuing on to Chester just south of Halifax, where thanks to George, who we think of as our guardian-sailing-angel, we’ve secured a spot to store Ariose for the winter. We will post the next Ariose Note in a week or two, once we have our boat and ourselves on land, to share this segment sailing the wild Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia .

And in case anyone is harbouring any dark thoughts, we assure you that there will be no crew overboard “incidents”. Tim and I are being gentle with each other, and as implausible as it sounds, we are finding moments of joy in this final leg of the voyage. We promise that we will both make it safely home.

Peaceful scene from Ariose’s cockpit at dusk, in the calm waters of Mabou Harbour.