Mahone Bay

Our friends on Changing Course arrive in Lunenburg so we spend a day doing the museum, shops, and lunch thing. Had a lovely day. We decided we would depart for Mahone Bay just around the corner, a short 19 mile run, first thing in the morning. But, we learned the International Dory Races would be held in the morning; pitting US and Canadian rowing teams. Seemed only fitting to stick around and cheer on the US teams. This event has been held twice a year for 64 years with a race hosted in Gloucester, MA in June and a race in August hosted in Lunenburg, N.S.

The wharfs on the waterfront are lined with spectators, the harbor is filled with small boats that have come to watch the race. I hear bag pipes and watch a blue fishing boat pass with a piper standing in the aft playing as they pass. It is a chilly mid-60’s sunny morning. We are snug in Tivoli with our binoculars and able to see the entire course. There are several class races held, Juniors, Mixed, Mens, Women’s, and Senior teams all compete. The canon boom and the first race is on. The competition is keen in every race. Boats often remain dead even until halfway through the course when a 180 turn is made and the boats return to the finish. This can get tricky and is often where one of the competitors loses the race. Sloppy turns, losing an oar, overshooting the mark creates a gap that proves difficult to regain. Given our distance from the venue it is difficult to hear the results as they are announced but the US wins at least some of the events. We honk our horn with other boats in the harbor to cheer teams on both sides. It’s a friendly competition and is soon over.

We hoist anchor and have a delightful sunny day, calm seas run out Lunenburg Bay and into Mahone Bay, all the way up to the top to the village of Mahone Bay. The Bay is dotted with islands, inlets, and anchorages. The Bay is also filled with sailboats; this is a sailing mecca for Canadians in the Atlantic Maritimes and even further afield. Friends from Toronto on the N50 Sea Turtle know the area very well. As we enter Mahone Bay’s harbor we see the quaintness continues; harbor filled with boats on moorings and three impressive historic wooden churches with prominent steeples at the head of the bay. We drop the hook, launch the tender, and wander about town for a couple hours. Several good restaurants, a decent grocery store, plenty of shops and art galleries. All-in-all a very nice stop.

Soon we are back aboard Tivoli enjoying the sunset and some quiet time watching countless boats come and go. Then it happens.

100 feet. I glance our the starboard salon windows and notice two boats approaching; a center-console runabout and behind it a blue hull sailboat being towed. The wind is piping up and the sailboat is wallowing all over the place with nobody at the helm. The captain is in his inflatable tender trying to tow the disabled boat; his wife is on the bow. Unfortunately wind and wave are pushing them all directly toward Tivoli. I run to the cockpit contemplating my next move. There is no chance of moving Tivoli out of the way. Can I untie the tender, lower the outboard, and go to the aid of this hapless boater in time? I decide that isn’t an option; not enough time left.

50 feet. The tow boat turns away from us in an attempt to pull the sailboat away from what appears to be a certain collision with Tivoli. Sadly, his 2 hp outboard isn’t up to the task. The boat continues to wallow around with the stern swaying to and fro and is now sideways moving toward Tivoli and presenting an even larger hazard. The first mate continues to stand on the bow helpless to do anything to prevent the impending collision. I quickly untie a big Aeres fender and head toward the bow in the hopes of at least cushioning the blow. At this point I see the center console boat has noticed the commotion and has turned around to lend a hand.

25 feet. The center console boat has raced over to the scene of the pending crash and has tossed a tow line to the captain of the sailboat. The captain fumbles to tie his tow line to the line just given him. We wait. Seconds tick by. The whole conglomeration moves closer and closer. How do you tie that bowline again? They drift inexorably onward.

10 feet. The center console revs up and pulls hard, the captain in his dinghy hangs onto the tow line for dear life. The bow of the blue hull sailboat pulls away; as she’s turned around the stern clears the bow of Tivoli by 10 feet.

Boy that was close! I breath a huge sigh of relief!

As the boat is towed past Tivoli the crew on the center console and I both yell at the first mate on the sailboat to get back to the wheel and steer the boat. She finally does so and some order returns to the chaos. We watch as the center console deftly maneuvers the sailboat to a mooring ball and they get her safely tied up.

I told Deanna if the gentlemen in the center console returned to chat we would give them a fine bottle of wine for saving the day. A couple hours later they, and we, did just that. Never a dull moment when boating.

We decide to make a short run to another small town at the head of Mahone Bay. I do my usual pre-launch engine room check and discover the genset needs oil. So, I remove top and side covers on the enclosure and add a bit of oil. I then notice the air filter enclosure has come unfastened and the attachment bolts are nowhere to be found. I rummage through my fasteners collection and, remarkably, find two bolts perfect for the task. I reassemble the whole mess and finally head to the shower.

We hoist anchor around 9 AM and depart for Chester NS; a short 10-mile run north. It is foggy but clears as we proceed, waypoint to waypoint, around this headland, between these islands we slalom our way till we arrive in the Chester Back Bay. We choose this spot as it is well protected and some weather is expected to move through this evening. The Bay is home to many boats on moorings but there is ample room for Changing Course and Tivoli to anchor. We get the anchor down and have the tender launched in short order. We head into town to see what this little community has to offer. It is a lovely small town where many of the houses remind one of New England. We understand many Americans have built homes here, accounting for the architecture. The beauty of this area, even in the haze, is apparent. Islands are everywhere, many with homes on them. The area is definitely upscale. We enjoy lunch at the Kiwi Cafe then join our friends for a cold beverage at the Dock Loft right on the Bay. We watch as the local yacht club manages a race out in the Bay and enjoy the sound of little voices having a blast sailing their skiffs around the marks. A lovely scene. The weather is sunny one minute, foggy the next, then a sprinkle of rain for a brief period. We have come to realize one might need shorts one minute and long pants the next. Not complaining.

Next day is beautiful so we set sail for Halifax. The 50 mile run is uneventful and presents more of the same beauty. As we leave the Bay and enter the North Atlantic the swells grow but they are following seas and the ride is pleasant. One of the guides warns that one should plan on it taking twice as long to travel westward back to the States as it does to travel eastward. We expect to be bashing into the prevailing southwest winds and currents on the journey home. As we turn into the inlet to Halifax harbor a whale broaches to our starboard; then again for good measure. We believe it was a fin whale and is the first we’ve seen in these waters. There are two ships approaching, one doing 9 knots, the other 17 knots. We should be able to clear the shipping lanes before they are upon us but, to be sure, I rev up the trusty Lugger for a wide open throttle run and we race along at 9-10 knots. This blows out the carbon in the turbocharger and increases the distance between us and the oncoming traffic. After 20 minutes we slow down to a stately 8 knots and work our way up the channel. Huge cranes used to offload container ships come into view. Islands with light houses come and go, traffic picks up with sailboats, pilot boats, cruise boats, and even a 3-masted “pirate” boat travel up and down the waterway.

Rather than dock in downtown Halifax where space is limited and one is on view to the hoards of tourists on the boardwalk, we opt to anchor in Northwest Arm, an inlet on the west side of the city. We work our way past a couple marinas, many boats on moorings, and dozens of large beautiful homes. Dalhousie University is located on our starboard, a couple of boat club facilities have fleets of boats out training little ones to sail, rowers ghost past in their shells. We anchor at the head of the Arm in 30 feet of water just off Armdale Yacht Club.

Our tour of Mahone Bay was delightful; we can understand why it is so popular with cruisers from far and wide. Definitely worth a stop should we pass this way again.

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