The idea was to stay at Roque for a day or two, after that late arrival in the night. But morning came, awake at 6:30, and a lovely north wind. And if I hopped right to it, almost an entire incoming tide. The forecast said “around 10 knots” for the wind, continuing from the north. One might think that a north wind would not be the best, but this coastline is really northeast/southwest, and if the breeze goes a little northwest it’s truly ideal. So off I went…
Naturally, by an hour later, when I was thoroughly committed, the breeze died back to a moderate riffle on the water. But the boat was still moving, and that early bit of wind had allowed for getting out into the current. And the best part about light wind is that it really lets you see what’s going on in the water. Porpoises, for one thing, and seals, and the swirling current patterns.
Eventually I was again passing Cross Island – site of the twilight zone experience from the afternoon before. With a good number of lobster buoys, each trailing their pickup buoy about 10 feet down current, one could see the wild pattern of what was going on out there. Each buoy had its own particular current direction, generally going the same way, but with enough variation – as much as 20° or so – to help explain what had been happening the day before. That day there was too much wind/waves for this to stand out. Added to the wavering current, the wind had its own shifting thing going on, coming from the north across the various islands. No wonder I had been having so much trouble!
Dave has a theory about current that I’m inclined to agree with, that it’s like a garden hose left loose on the ground with the water turned on full blast, causing the hose to flip around, snake-like. And seemingly randomly, never doing the same thing twice. His theory is based on observing current in the same spot at the same time of tide doing different things on different days. Or different things at different consecutive moments on the same day. This makes sense – like watching a river with rapids that move and change as the river gurgles. And of course the Bay of Fundy, with its enormous tides and resulting enormous currents, is a great example of the hose turned on full blast. It was so much nicer observing this process with loads of daylight, a couple of hours of favorable current left, and a mild breeze suitable for studying the water. I’ve been learning so much in these big tides, and really enjoying the process.
As it turned out, that bit of breeze barely made it to Cutler. At about a quarter mile out from the point that you have to get around to go into the harbor, there was a gurgling noise off toward the open water. The tide line! The main current out in the open water had turned, and where that current sheared against the still inbound water near the shore, there was enough activity to make a clear gurgle. Fundy is amazing.
Out came the yuloh, and I gave it a good run toward the point. I was still pretty committed about declining the motor – but pretty determined to get into that harbor! The yuloh still has to get its own blog post – but the longer that gets postponed, the more I learn about it, so it’ll be a better, more thorough writeup when it finally happens. Anyway, it worked! It was possible to get the boat close enough to the corner, just as the current was starting to be too much to go against, to be in position for the perfect little bit of wind that came up at just the right moment and pushed the boat across into the more protected beginning of the harbor. Hooray!
By an hour later, with a combination of wind and yuloh, we – boat and I – were anchored up at the shallow end of Cutler harbor. Again I had this idea that now I would take a rest, and sail farther in a couple of days. And morning came, and it seemed the perfect set of conditions for a run up to look at Canada.
Because of the plants, and the home canned beef stew, neither of which are border-worthy, the Canadian border is the defined limit of this trip. I was all fired up to sail to Nova Scotia, when I left home – charts are on board, along with passport, appropriate flags, etc. – but I hadn’t completely thought through the food situation. Beef is not allowed across either border, and soil and live plants are unlikely to be accepted. I have ideas for how to do this differently in the future, but for now, I’m unwilling to give up my food!
So my goal became to at least look at Canada. And I’ve succeeded! Grand Manan Island, and Campobello Island, both Canada. In the end, I turned around about 3 miles south of West Quoddy Head, going across Grand Manan Channel to within about 1 mile of the border marked on the chart out in the middle of the water. Technically you can cross the line without going through customs processes so long as you don’t anchor or tie up anywhere on the other side. But I didn’t want to push this, and the tide was about done anyway. So I had a really good look, took a bunch of pictures, and turned around.
The way back involved spending a rolling but beautiful half the night in the outer part of Haycock harbor, and then setting out before dawn to once again catch the tide going the right way. Next thing you know, the tide was about done, and I was almost but not quite into Cutler. One of these days I’m going to go into that harbor with enough wind and no tide stress! But it worked out again, and I spent the next few days cozy at the shallow end of the harbor.
The lobster folks are a little slow to warm up to you in Cutler. But by the time I was leaving – after three days that included a false start and return when there wasn’t enough wind to get around to the next bay – some of them had actually started waving, and I had started to become familiar with specific boats. It’s an interesting harbor, and well protected at that far end, and I would go there again.
So now I’m at Roque Island, again – delighted to have a strong phone signal and a workable Internet connection once again! The wind is supposed to be light for the next couple days, and I’m hoping it’s true. This is a lovely place to stay.