Home Again Home Again

We spend a significant amount of time in Shelburne monitoring the weather. A succession of tropical storms and hurricanes march northward along the east coast, all seemingly aiming for Nova Scotia at one point. Though most such storms turn east, Nova Scotia and Maine have both been hit hard in the past, they aren’t immune. Our weather “angst” is high. We don’t want to find ourselves mid-way across the Gulf of Maine with such a beast taking an unexpected turn and bearing down on us. So we repeatedly scrutinize Passageweather.com and Windyty.com and other online resources and listen to the Canadian weather forecasters on VHF radio. The diversity of opinion and the variation among forecast models is remarkable as well as frustrating. Sadly, it’s the nature of weather forecasting in general. One model predicts 1-2 meter head seas with 8 second periods (awful) and another 1-2 meter following seas with 11-13 second periods (OK ride); for the same time-frame and location, and only 24 hours into the future. Do I stay or do I go? In the end, we opt to make a run for it with an “out” should things go south. The “out” is to duck into Clark Harbor on Cape Sable or run north into Yarmouth should conditions prove intolerable offshore.

The departure day dawns dead calm; the harbor surface is a mirror. It is a cool, crisp, beautiful morning. We time our departure for mid-morning so that we can arrive at a point about 25 miles off the coast of Maine at sunrise. This will allow us to navigate the zillion damn lobster pots deployed along the coast. As we motor down the 10-mile length of the bay we appreciate the beauty of the place we didn’t experience when we arrived in thick fog 3 weeks ago. This time visibility is unlimited. We reach the entrance to the harbor and motor out into the north Atlantic; still calm. 1-3 foot seas; long period; nice ride. Because of the calm conditions we stick closer to the coast and shave about 5 miles off the journey. Hours pass and we wonder where the nasty seas are as we slowly round Cape Sable. Thankfully, none of the forecasts were correct. The good ride continues.

We quickly settle into our offshore routine. Engine room checks every two hours; the Lugger is quite happy with these cool temps. I had replaced the stabilizer cooling pump to fix a water leak and the replacement is working nicely. We prep the pilothouse for nighttime running; setup the radar and our display preferences, shut off some electronics, put neutral density film on others, dim them all…it’s a process. In the end we have eliminated most reflections on the pilothouse windows much improving our visibility. The dim glow of our green and red navigation lights still illuminates the foredeck. We need to fabricate some simple light shields to address that issue. Tweaking and more tweaking.

By nightfall we are easing away from Nova Scotia and negotiating our way through a fleet of fishing vessels. The current here is strong; over 2 knots. At one point Tivoli hits 12 knots at her normal cruising RPM that generally produces 7.5 knots. We have to slow down or we will reach the dreaded lobster pots in the dark. We idle back until, eventually, I’m at the lowest RPM I dare and we are still doing 8 knots.

As I stand at the port side pilothouse door scanning for traffic I can see my breath condense on the window. It is now cold outside; 60 degrees (yes, to one who has spent the last two years in shorts and T-shirts, this is COLD). We remain comfy in our hermetically sealed cruise ship; toasty warm, quiet, soft music on the stereo. I can’t help but think of sailing friends enduring this passage in foul weather gear, cold spray over the bow, wind shrieking in the shrouds. Been there, done that. We are quite happy with the trawler lifestyle and thrilled with Tivoli; what a ship!

The cold air nearly matches the seawater temps so fog is unlikely. There are clouds and potential rain to the west. The Milky Way is spectacular. Sadly, the constellation we call home is not visible in most of the US due to light pollution. Out here 90 miles there is no light pollution and the night air is crystal clear.

After several hours the current running into the Bay of Fundy with the tide finally eases. We calculate a speed of 6.5 knots will get us to the pots at sunrise so we tweak the throttle periodically attempting to hold us to that speed. The strategy works and we reach our point at sunrise and, exactly as expected, see our first of hundreds of lobster pots. During our time in Maine we’ve played with both our radars and our FLIR camera attempting to find a good way to spot these pots in poor visibility. The FLIR is of no use; the radar is helpful but doesn’t image all the pots, so you still strain to peer through the mist to spot that next potential prop-tangling nightmare. Of course, the weather has now turned and it is foggy and threatening rain. Slowing down to wait on daylight has also bought us some time to allow a rain cell to move southeast, away from our route and Southwest Harbor. We finally reach the SWH entrance and turn into the now familiar bay. The fog is starting to lift; Cadillac mountain looms on the horizon, mist hangs in the hills and valleys. The heavy fog that irritates on the one hand is transformed into beauty on the other.

It is once again good to be back in the land of plenty. We hoist the Q flag and call Customs & Immigration to arrange for clearance. We also call Dysart’s Great Harbor Marina and warn them we are back. Soon we are safely tied to the dock and plugged into shore power. Home again, home again.

We have thoroughly enjoyed the short 3-week visit to Nova Scotia. Spectacular country. Our sunset arrival in colorful Lunenburg will be etched in our memories forever. We will be back.

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