Crew: Rich Reinert, Margaret Peitrak, Shanley McEntee, Eric Loss, Mitch McLean, Asta Mail
Blog written by: Asta Mail
Our morning began with Sea Dragon making its way North towards Grand Manan, only about 40 miles away, but still absolutely no sign of land in sight. The fog had come in thick and dense earlier in the evening and had stayed that way all night, closing in around us in a slightly eerie, yet comforting way.
As the sky brightened, we checked the water for the whales and dolphins we had viewed the previous day. We had sailed with a pod of White Sided Dolphins and a Fin Whale the morning before, both barely visible within the small circular area we could view around our boat in the fog. Nothing appeared, and a chill got down under our foulies(nautical slang for foul weather gear), each of us shivering and looking for more layers to keep the cold from penetrating too far.
After a couple of hours of cold, foggy navigation, Grand Manan finally came onto our radar. We had to slowly navigate through the shipping channels, and pass through the areas where lobster pots were out for their last catch of the Manan season. Today was the last day that fishermen were allowed to put out their pots, and there were still plenty to keep sight of as we navigated our way blindly through the fog.
As we neared the island, it was all hands on deck, preparing for anything as we reached the high traffic waters just south of the island. Mitch took the bow watch, with Kate and I on port and starboard, and Shanley at the helm. We stared into the blank slate of the fog, trying to look for land, or boats, or anything that wasn’t just plain greyness ahead of us. It’s hard to describe what its like to look into nothing for so long. Have you ever stared at a tv screen when its just snow, and let your eyes cross? That’s a bit like what it looks like when you stare out at ocean fog for too long.
There were some close calls, especially when we saw a fishing boat barreling towards us on our starboard side, maybe only about 150 m away in the fog. Mitch yelled to Shanley to change course, but the other boat veered away just in time to pass us, parallel to our starboard side, and leering at our crew. Our boat must have seemed out of place in their waters at that time, it being the last day of lobster season, and also a pretty crap day for a sail. We hadn’t seen any other boats in any way similar to ours since we had left Newport.
Our slow trek towards shore finally ended, and as we put down our anchor, we could barely make out the outline of Grand Manan Island. The fog parted just enough for us to make out some houses, a couple trees, and a lonely looking beach on shore. That was all we needed to see to get the crew stoked to go ashore and explore this mysterious island.
We filled the dinghy with people and supplies, and ripped over to the fishing dock, noticing the incredibly low water around the dock line. All of us were excitedly taking pictures and looking at everything emerging from the fog, like gifts out of the grey. We were all starving, and headed straight to a local café, where we proceeded to stuff our faces, enough to feed ourselves for both lunch and dinner that day.
After our huge and lengthy meal, Eric and Shanley headed back to the boat, while Rich, Mitch (yes, those names are becoming interchangeable and confusing) and I headed over to the Grand Manan Whale and Sea Bird Museum and Research Station.
I will let Mitch tell you all about how amazing this place was. Our guide, Lorie, was an absolute whale superstar, and had so much to show us and tell us about, but I will save it for another blog.
After our whale research station experience, we all headed back to the boat, through the chilly rain and fog, and got the boat ready for another long night at sea. We will now need to round down around the southern tip of Nova Scotia, and make our way upwind towards the vibrant city of Halifax, where we will spend Canada Day.
I am not going to lie, I’m not looking forward to my midnight to 4 am shift, because it is dang cold out here! Hopefully the weather will clear up, and we will see the stars once more, letting them guide us south, then north, towards our destination.
More tomorrow from the One Water Story!