Halifax is a whirlwind. We spend a night anchored off Armdale Yacht Club at the end of Northwest Arm. A short hike up the road is Binnacles; a very well stocked marine supply store; better than any West Marine I’ve frequented. We purchase a Navionics chart SD card for our Simrad chartplotters. This is to supplement the C-map and Garmin Bluecharts already onboard. By the time we’ve completed getting this and a couple other essentials the afternoon is over. We return to the boat; enjoy happy hour with our friends on Changing Course, and turn in for the night.

Next morning a launch stops by and suggests we move as the Wednesday night sailboat races are taking place and we are in the line of fire. Truthfully, we were out of the channel and had no legal obligation to move. However, being good neighbors, we decided to move up the inlet to the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron Marina (RNSYS). A very nice yacht club in every sense of the word. The hospitality we enjoyed was remarkable. We highly recommend a stop here if you are cruising Nova Scotia. Founded in 1837 the RNSYS is the oldest yacht club in North America. It has a beautiful clubhouse with an excellent restaurant, lounge facilities, patio, haulout facilities, service yard, etc. There is a fresh water pool, salt water pool, tennis courts and even a guest quarters overlooking the inlet. The club has an incredibly active sail training school including sailing for people with disabilities. Every day the little ones are out sailing their boats. I’m very impressed with their skills. I watched a small tike literally sail circles around one of the supervisors/mentors motoring in their inflatable. Fearless and skillful even in strong winds. These kids will be remarkable sailors. But then, Joshua Slocum was a Nova Scotian.

We enjoyed the marina so much we stayed three nights. This gave us time to wash the salt off Tivoli, do a gozillion loads of laundry, enjoy lunch at the restaurant, and see some sights in Halifax. After being on the anchor for a couple of weeks this was a refreshing break.

We took our friends in our tender around the point and up the harbor to Bishop’s Landing in downtown Halifax. We walked the lovely boardwalk, spent 2-3 hours at the excellent maritime museum, and had lunch at Salty’s on the bay. A great time. One of the more memorable experiences at the museum was the account of a shipwreck on December 6, 1917.

This was no ordinary shipwreck. A Norwegian supply ship, the Imo was enroute to New York to pick up relief supplies for war-torn Belgium, and a French munitions ship the Mont Blanc, filled with tons of TNT and gun cotton was bound for the battlefields of WWI. The Imo slammed into the starboard bow of the Mont Blanc in the city’s harbor. A fire started, billowing smoke was visible for miles. Residents on shore, unaware the Mont Blanc held 25 tons of explosives, rushed to the waterfront to observe. The explosion was heard 300 miles away, the ship’s anchor was blown 4 kilometers away, north Halifax was literally flattened. Two thousand lost their lives in an instant, 9,000 were wounded, and 25,000 were left without shelter. The blast flattened more than 2 miles of the city, blew the water out of the harbor; the resulting tsunami claimed more lives. The blast shattered windows 100 kilometers away. Fires raged. The next day a terrible winter storm slammed the area adding to the misery and resulting in more deaths from exposure. The blast was the largest non-nuclear explosion in history. The relief effort was remarkable and, in particular, the city of Boston organized train loads of assistance including medical aid, food, clothing, building materials, etc. Even today a large Christmas tree cut from the Nova Scotia woods is erected in central Boston every year- a gift of thanks from the people of Halifax. Today Halifax is a modern bustling city with little sign of this terrible event in its history.

All too soon it was time to head back to Maine. We spend our last day at RNSYS stowing the tender, filling water tanks, finishing up laundry, plotting courses, and checking weather for an early morning departure. A weather window of 3-4 days should allow us to make good progress back to Southwest Harbor.

The Bluenose II is a famous racing schooner with docks in both Lunenburg and Halifax. She wasn’t in the harbor in either port when we were there but we saw her AIS signal as we approached Lunenburg on our return east. Captured a pic or two. A beautiful vessel.

We highly recommend Halifax. Fascinating city, remarkable maritime history, beautiful scenery, and warm friendly people.

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