We had a beautiful sail to Fortune. Everything worked out perfectly. We showed our PCR covid tests from Saint Pierre and got cleared in easily. Annika and Thomas from ASTA arrived at the same time. Just behind the marina there was a small trail and we found a few blueberries, raspberries and black berries… what a treat!
As hurricaine Larry was on his way, we had to leave Fortune early the following day to go West and make it to Grey River. It was a beautiful sunny morning with some foggy spots during the day. The landscape on the South coast of Newfoundland is stunning. We made it into the fjord of Grey River perfectly on time to check our anchorage options for the upcoming stormy days. ASTA and us found both a good spot with plenty of swinging room. We checked again, if everything was well attached or stowed away and were ready for Larry to come.
Everything was fine, it was very windy but we had perfect protection from waves and swell. After two days the wind calmed down and after admiring the mirrorlike water around us we made our way out of the fjord again. On the way out we wanted to stop in Grey River at the ferry dock to do a hike. We were allowed to stay until around 3 p.m. when the next ferry comes. Grey River is one of a couple of outpost villages on the South coast that are only reachable by boat. There is no road connection.
We had a chat with some locals at the dock. One of them was Clive, a very friendly guy. Luckily he repeated most sentences about three times, so we could understand about half of it. He had a very strong dialect which we found quite difficult to understand. We asked about how they make their living in such a remote place. Especially the winter season must be very tough. Clive told us that hunting karibous and moose is a very essential part of their daily life here. As there are no moose in Switzerland we asked if moose tastes similar to deer. “I will bring you some moose!” , he said and after five minutes he came back with a frozen 1.5 kg block of moose in a vacum sealed bag! We luckily had some Lindor chocolate in the galley to offer him in return. What a generous gift! We were looking forward to put that moose on the barbeque! “Wear the rubbers for the hike!”, he told us before he left. That was a good advice as the trail was partially wet and muddy from the rain that Larry had brought the previous days.
Annika and Thomas joined us for the hike. Once we had passed the woods we reached the glacier polished hilltops covered with blueberry bushes. From the top there was a beautiful view. We enjoyed a small picnic and picked blueberries for dessert. We arrived back at the ferry dock just on time to leave before the ferry arrived. Our next anchorage was a recommendation from our friends from Little Cloud, Aviron Bay. You anchor in a pool, surrounded by mountains and a stunning waterfall. I think one of the most beautiful anchorages we ever had. The only downside was that the high mountains seemed to accelerate the wind resulting in heavy gusts and a lot of swinging around. But we decided to stay for one night, as the scenery was simply breathtaking. Annika and Thomas preferred to continue to François (our next stop). It was a magical anchorage and we enjoyed the total remoteness and the views especially at sunrise next morning.
Next morning we continued to François. The small floating pontoon was already occupied by ASTA and another boat but we were allowed to go alongside a local fishing boat. The setting of this small village with 64 inhabitants is simply spectacular. Like in Grey River there is no road connection. The village is surrounded by towering mountain cliffs and only accessible by water.
We packed a picnic and got ready for a hike. Annika and Thomas joined us. We wanted to walk the Friar Trail but as a loop. A local guy, showed us the way. We followed first a small trail alongside the bay and then climbed up a steep path following a dry waterfall. When we reached about 200m above sealevel we were in blueberry heaven…. we have never seen as many blueberries before! The landscape up there was spectacular: glacier polished rocks, small blue ponds and green blueberry bushes as far as you can see. After a nice picnic and lots of blueberries we followed the path westward passing some scenic viewpoints where you can look down to the fjord of François. We ended down at the big pond above the village (and picked some more blueberries) and then took the boardwalk down to our boat. We declared this one of the best hikes we have ever done! We rounded off that fantastic day with delicious moose on the barbeque… Newfoundland we love you!
While ASTA decided to move on we wanted to stay a little bit longer in this paradise. We moved MIRABELLA to the floating pontoon, made a lovely picnic at the pond and hiked up to Charlie’s Lookout and…. of course picked blueberries again… another day in paradise.
Our next destination was Ramea, a small island off the South Coast with about 450 inhabitants. We were allowed to stay at the town pier just behind a fishing boat. There is a beautiful boardwalk leading almost around the whole island. Everyone was very friendly and we enjoyed our time there. We loved the boardwalk and Jaël and Amina had great fun in flying the kites.
On September 22nd we headed back to Halifax as Karin spontaneously decided to visit us there. We moored on one of the floating pontoons at the Waterfront. Jaël, Amina and me walked to the bus station to welcome her and afterwards we had a nice lunch and stroll around the waterfront together. Sunday was very stormy and rainy. We walked in our complete foul weather gear to the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s market. The market was a bit disappointing. People told us that on Saturday it is much better and it had not yet regained its popularity after Covid. Karsten followed a little later with Luca and Lucia. They were back in Canada and it was great to see them again. Due to the lack of the expected food stalls we left the market hungry and stepped in a lovely pizzeria as it just started to rain again. When we arrived back at the boat it was horrible to watch how the boat was jumping at the floating pontoon. A line was just about to be chaved through and we tried our best to avoid any damage. Being all excited about our visitor we did not focus enough on the weather forecast… but luckily it calmed down in the evening.
We did some beautiful hikes with Karin during her stay. One from Lake Micmac to Shubie Park and back, another one on MacNabs Island and the best of the three around Ash lake and Fox lake with stunning scenic views. Time passed much too fast and it was already time to say goodbye again.
After Karin’s departure, we decided to sail to Bras d’or Lake on Cape Breton Island together with ARIA. It was a good sail up there and the timing through the locks at St. Peter’s worked out perfectly. We anchored in St. Peter’s and had a stroll around the village. You could easily spend the whole summer in the area of Bras d’or lake and around Cape Breton island as there are many nice anchorages and small villages to discover but with the late opening of the borders we were already late in the season and focused on Baddeck. It is a beautiful little town nestled along the shore of Bras d’or lake. It marks the beginning and the end of the famous Cabot trail (if you are travelling on land, an absolute must). Baddeck is also known for one of it’s most famous summer residants, Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone.
We arrived late afternoon and had a delicious dinner at the Freight Shed, a lovely restaurant just by the public dock. The next day we visited the Bell museum together with Karsten, Luca and Lucia and learned all about Alexander Graham Bell and his inventions. Later in the afternoon we checked out the local library. On Saturday morning there was a great Farmers market in town. We had a chat with a Swiss guy selling beautiful wooden chopping boards and he told us where to buy the best Maple sirup. Next to the stall with the chopping boards was a Bavarian guy, who sold handcrafted soaps. Jaël and Amina got curd cheese as a gift on the cheese stall and while we where chatting with the cheesemaker about Gruyère and other Swiss cheese a local guy who knew the cheesemaker joined and started talking about skiing in Switzerland with us. His name was Brock and before saying goodbye he told us we should come to the Lakeside Restaurant this afternoon for some live music. Funny enough that would have been our plan anyway as the nice lady at the tourist office had already recommended this place before. Brock was playing there with his band “the Celtic Cowboys”. When we arrived there later in the afternoon, the place was already full and we had to wait outside until we got a free table. The music was great and after they had finished playing we had a chat with Brock and his wife Nina. He generously offered to give us all (MIRABELLA and ARIA) a lift to get to the Uisge Bàn Falls the next day and in return we invited Nina and him for breakfast on ARIA in the morning.
Next morning (my birthday) we picked up Brock and Nina at the dinghy dock, showed them our boat and then went on ARIA to have breakfast all together. Afterwards, Brock drove us all to the Uisge Ban Falls parking and joined us for the beautiful walk through the colourful woods to the waterfall. We shared a great picnic with homemade focaccia, salami and brownies made by Jaël and André. It was a great afternoon. Later on ARIA Lucia offered me a homemade unbelievably delicious chocolate cake… what a treat!
On the way back to Halifax we stayed in St. Peters for another two nights. We met Xiaolei for dinner and I went for a nice walk with her the following day. In the evening we cooked dinner together in her Air B&B.
Back in Halifax we anchored near the Armdale Yacht Club. There was a nice sailors community in the marina and as we parked our dinghy there we got to know a bunch of really nice people. Some local couples and families enjoyed their last weekends on the boat before hauling out for the winter or moving to the bubbly dock, where it does not freeze. So on the weekends Jaël and Amina always found other kids to play with and André and me got invited to sundowners and lovely get togethers. Nicolas from SELKIE, a boat we had met during our stay in Antigua, sent André the contacts of the pre-owners of their boat, who lived now in Halifax. The sailing world is very small… you always meet people, who have connections to the places you go. Angela and Eric had sold SELKIE to Maggie & Nicolas and lived now with their kids Eliana, Dorian and Anneka within walking distance to the public dinghy dock just behind our anchorage. They invited us for dinner and to our kid’s great delight they foster kittens until they are old enough to get adopted. So cute! Jaël and Amina would have loved to take one on the boat!!! Eliana was about the same age as Jaël so they got along pretty well. It was a wonderful evening and we enjoyed the company. We felt very much at home in Halifax surrounded by all these friendly people.
Together with Xiaolei and Karsten we had a great day in Peggy’s Cove. The coastline there is of exceptional beauty and reminded me of Newfoundland. We walked from the SR 111 memorial to the lighthouse and back. On another day Xiaolei, André, Lucia, Luca and our kids made the Bluff Wilderness hiking trail. It was an overcast day but still very beautiful with the colorful leaves. Autumn was one of the things I missed during our travel. To explore Canada in this beautiful season made me extremely happy and filled me with joy and gratitude.
The days were still beautiful and sunny but towards end of October the nights were getting chilly though. We still wanted to visit our friends in Portland and Cape Cod on the way South but the US borders did not open yet. So it was getting really late. Sometimes we thought that maybe we should just take the next weather window and pull through to Bermuda. But Jaël and Amina of course insisted and said that visiting their friends in Cape Cod was not negotiable … and of course we wanted to visit them too but the good season to sail South of course was slowly but surely over.
While waiting for the US borders to open we enjoyed Halifax. Amina and Jaël got all excited about the crazy Halloween decorations and Jaël was looking forward to celebrate her birthday for the first time in a country where Halloween is really something that almost everyone celebrates. After a long period of beautiful weather there was a storm and torrential rain forecasted for the 31st of October…. so we decided to go bowling with Karsten, Xiaolei (who was back in Halifax in an Air B&B), Lucia and Luca. Xiaolei picked us up with her car and drove us all to the bowling center. It was good fun and we probably made the best out of this really rainy day. After the bowling we drove to Xiaolei’s Air B&B and cooked dinner all together. The weather calmed down right on time for the trick or treat tour in the neighbourhood of our dinghy dock. Jaël and Amina came back all happy and excited about the spooky decorations, their bags filled with sweets. What a fabulous birthday that was!
Finally it looked like the US borders would open on Monday, the 8th of November! To renew our US Visa we had to cross the border on land first (without the boat). Then we would have to go back to Canada (entering Canada requires a PCR Covid Test not older than 72hours) and sail with MIRABELLA to the US. Campobello Island in the Bay of Fundy seemed like the perfect place for our endeavor. It belongs to Canada and is connected to Lubeck, Maine by a bridge. The Canadian and US anchorage are just a few miles apart. The only problem is, where to get a PCR Test… certainly not in Campobello island as it is a very small place with about 870 inhabitants. After long discussions Captain’s masterplan was the following: Karsten and André will get a PCR test in Halifax, when André gets back from the test we will leave, arrival in Campobello Island will be Sunday, Monday early morning we will cross the border and get our visas. André and Karsten will cross the border back to Canada with their PCR tests (by that time not older than 72 hours) and move the boats to the Lubeck anchorage. We will wait in Lubeck until the captain has cleared in in Lubeck with MIRABELLA and then can go back to the boat. Quite tricky to get not only the weather window right but also to coordinate it with the PCR test. But yes, it looked like it could all work out if we leave on Friday, the 5th of November. So it was time to say goodbye…. Thank you Rob and Bettyann, Karen & Dylan, Angela & Eric, Sam & Fabian for your great hospitality! You made Halifax very special! Hopefully we will return someday!
It all went very well. We left Halifax after André had done the PCR Test and arrived in Campobello island on Sunday morning. There was no dinghy dock close to the border so we had to park the dinghy at Welshpool Landing. It would be about a 50 min. walk to the bridge. But we were curious to see the bridge, where we wanted to cross the border the following morning. It was a beautiful, sunny day – perfect for a walk. After about 500m we crossed a lady and greeted her. She greeted us back and asked us if we had arrived with that blue sailing boat, that is anchored in the bay. We answered yes and she explained, that she can see our boat from her kitchen window, that is why she noticed us. Her name was Mary. As there are not a lot of boats that time of the year, she was very curious where we came from and where we were planning to go. We explained her why we were here and she generously offered us a lift to the border at 8 o’clock the following morning. She asked us to stop at her house on the way back to exchange phone numbers and confirm the time again.
We headed of towards the border on a beautiful walk through the woods and stopped at Mary’s house on our way back later in the afternoon. She had her sister in law over and both of them where very excited, to hear about our travel. We spontaneously invited them for an afternoon coffee on our boat. They enjoyed the dinghy ride and Jaël and Amina gave them a boat tour.
Monday 8’clock in the morning we parked our dinghy at Welshpool Landing and Mary was already waiting for us. She drove us to the border and we walked over the bridge. About half an hour later we got our visas in our passport… hurray!!! Jaël, Amina and me had a look around in town if there was somewhere a coffeeshop. The only coffee I had googled was unfortunately closed a couple of days for renovation works but luckily we found a souvenir shop that had a beautiful terrasse on the river and served coffee and hot chocolate. In the meantime André walked back over the bridge and passed the Canadian border again to go and get MIRABELLA. After anchoring in Lubec, André cleared the boat in at the customs. Done! We were back in the US. Thank you Canada for these unforgettable two months.