Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bras d'Or Lakes N.S.

Baddeck Regatta Days 
Bras d'Or Lakes, N.S.
        It was time to take a break from the high seas, so we slipped inside the St. Peter's Canal Locks which opens into the scenic and very placid Bras d'Or Lakes. This inland waterway of  lakes is rimmed with rural villages and farms leading northward to Cape Breton. At St. Peter's we were met by many helpful cruisers, and participated in our first Ceilidh (Celtic music party). The local talent hosted some amazing singers, fiddle players, and even our very own Daragh Nagle on mandolin! Last stop was Baddeck at the head of the famous Cabot Trail where we passed our time visiting the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, more ceilidhs (that's pronounced kay-lee in Gaelic), and attended a dance at the Baddeck Y.C. Next day Daragh did a few more of the never ending Chantey V chore list - one which led to the top of the mast!

St Peters Lock

 Cabot Trail, Cape Breton.
        No wonder the Scots settled on Cape Breton Island which reminded them of the homeland with it's high peaks and luscious green fiords. We headed for terra firma, rented a car, and started up the valley into the Highlands. Along the rugged coastline we drove a sliver of highway through the emerald mountains, soaring capes and sheer cliff faces. We passed the petite French village of Cheticamp and then up into Highlands National Park and the Skyline Trail. Hiking several miles to the coast one emerges at a vast expanse of scenic cliffs dropping dramatically to the crashing waves below. The boardwalk steps afford a panoramic view of this breathtaking vista!
Skyline trail on Cabot Trail
        At the North tip of Cape Breton we settled in for the night at The Markland, a picturesque and windswept setting with a lodge and log cottages, where we celebrated Daragh's birthday! Carrying on through the park you travel through Ingonish, and St. Ann's Bay where we toured the Gaelic College. This college was established to encourage the Gaelic language, music and culture of the early settlers.
       Traveling across country we left the Cabot Trail and drove to Louisbourg on the North Coast. Louisbourg was the stronghold of the French navy who first established a post here in the 1600's. The English eventually took the fort, but the entire village and fort remains has been rebuilt as it existed in the day. The sturdy French stone houses, dairy, munitions, storerooms and fortress walls make an impressive sight against the skyline. After a pleasant evening at The Cranberry B and B we rose for the last leg of the journey home, through Glace Bay and Sydney, where we hopped a bus to Baddeck. Back on Chantey V we turned northward for Dingwall, the final stop before crossing over to Newfoundland.
Fort Louisbourg

The crew of Cat's Paw 1V

Dingwall NS
  Before we could reach Dingwall we tucked into a tiny cove to wait for the current to subside in the Big Bras d'Or channel. As luck would have it, there in the harbour was a sailboat out of Victoria BC! At the dock we met Ann and Barry and family aboard Cat's Paw IV. It was time for a BURP  (Bluewater Unscheduled Rendezvous Party), as we listened to their tales and challenges of world cruising. Next stop Newfoundland!

                                                      "Farewell to Nova Scotia the sea bound coast,
                                                        Let your mountains dark and drear-y be,
                                                        For when I am far away on the briney ocean tossed,
                                                        Will you ever hear a sigh or a wish for me?"

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