Launch here is like an Amish barn raising. There’s no boatyard staff to assist, just one guy who comes over with the travel lift after a full shift of lobstering, which starts at 3 a.m. Peter, the lobsterman, had brought us four fresh lobsters a few days before as he visited us to make arrangement for the launch later in the week.
When the travel lift arrived, Sam, Don, and Romeo, all sailboat owners working on their boats, appeared to assist, joining Eric, the marina manager, and Peter, of course, for the event. Lift straps were positioned, the boat was lifted, and jack stands removed. Slowly, the boat was carried to the launch slip.
Because our engine control mechanism was broken, I had to ask Eric to be my “engine room guy” at the other end of a VHF radio connection shifting the transmission into and out of gear on my command as we floated from the launch slip to the dock. With no wind or current, all went well, though a bit nerve wracking.
We waited tied to a dock while the Lewmar engine control mechanism was shipped in from Defender Industries in Connecticut. Finally, it came, and we were successful installing it Tuesday evening.
We set sail Wednesday afternoon to get busy complying with Canadian Border agency requirements for Yankees who store their boats in Canada over the winter. We sailed yesterday afternoon from Souris to the Canso Strait under Beaufort Force 6 conditions (30-knot gusts and two meter seas, fortunately all behind us). Quite a shake down! Boat and crew performed well.
We arrived expecting to transit the Canso Lock, which connects the two ends of the Canso Strait between Cape Breton Island and the main part of Nova Scotia. We have to get through the Strait before heading 12 nautical miles out to sea off Nova Scotia, then turning around and checking back into the country. All in all, it’s a 250 nm detour, but there’s no way around it, according to the Canadian Border Security authorities.
Their rules are intended to deter fat cat Yankees from keeping their boat in Canada indefinitely without paying the steep import duty and tax. To stay in their good graces, we had to obtain an “E29B permit” last fall allowing us to store the boat in Canada. The hitch, though, is that once the boat is launch in the spring, it must be “exported” immediately before it can be returned to Canada for “leisure use.” All that’s needed to “export” the boat is to head 12 nm offshore to international waters. (Kinda’ silly, yes?) Since leisure use is our entire purpose, we had no choice but to comply, hence the back track to Nova Scotia, the closest international waters to PEI.
Our plan was to find a dock or an anchorage just after the Canso Lock to rest for the evening before proceeding on to go offshore. After our 60 nm sleigh ride, we arrived at the lock as the sun was getting low in the sky only to find that the swing bridge adjacent to the lock was down for repairs. The very bad captain had not checked the current “Notice to Mariners” where the lock’s operational status was posted. Alas, we had to back track on the back track to find safe harbor while waiting for the lock to open.
Five nm of backtracking into the wind and waves later, we found a delightful anchorage in Havre Boucher and rested for a layover day. Late Thursday we were contacted by the lock master that the repairs had been completed. We decided to leave early Friday after a good night’s sleep.
At 0600 Friday, we weighed anchor and transited the lock. Twelve hours later, we had accomplished our mission of sailing 12 nm offshore and returning. The sail back was a wonderful Force 5 beam reach (17 to 22 knot southerlies) attaining hull speed almost all the way.
Upon arrival at Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, we tied up to a dock and immediately checked back into Canada using the CANPASS telephone reporting system. We are now fully kosher with the authorities.
We layover today and proceed toward the St.Lawrence tomorrow.