(originally published on the SetSail website)

Maine to Nova Scotia

The light is affecting us already. We’re near Halifax, Nova Scotia, en route to Greenland, but the voyage definitely feels like it’s begun.

After a month-long preparation, where Hamish and I worked 12 hour days, 7 days a week, and Helen and Anna spent all the time with my parents, we suddenly feel like a family again and the pressure of the preparations is fading away.

Tonight, we’re nestled in a narrow gut between two islands, with an anchor out in the middle and three shore lines astern. We can see the bottom clearly behind the rudder, though the bow is in 20 feet. Whenever we have cause to lift up the rudder and pull out the blue shore lines, we feel a certain rightness to the anchorage: we’re using the boat the way she was meant to be used.

We cast aside the cruising guide to find this place ­ Jason found it in a climbing magazine he’d brought with him to Belize last winter. Rocky granite near Halifax ­ we weren’t entirely sure this was the right anchorage, but the gut looked like a promising spot, and, as we climbed over the hill, the girls running on orange lichen covered granite, we saw boulderers with their giant landing pad backpacks hiking below us. We climbed down the easy route, while they climbed up the most difficult routes they could find.

Anna befriended one of the climbers, who helped her up an easy route, but then the girls tired of climbing and watching the “spiders,” and stripped off their clothes and jumped into a slimy pond under the ledge. Hamish and Alder clung from the rocks, and I watched. Jason, whose idea it was to come here, was underwater, swimming around the anchorage in his new wet suit. (He eventually did make it to the ledges ­ the sun goes down so late, he could fit in a day of climbing after five.)

Thus far, we haven’t seen any lobster pot buoys in Nova Scotia, although we understand the season is open east of Halifax. We had to weave around net pens as we neared Halifax. I told Hamish confidently, “they’re tuna pens,” and puzzled over where I’d learned that bit of information. Ah yes, the climbing magazine …

Hamish and I were here six years ago aboard my 28-footer, and we find ourselves remembering all the details as we trace the old radar plots on the paper charts into each anchorage. “I don’t remember going in here,” Hamish has said several times, but then we look at the frequency of radar fixes: oh, we must have had 100 foot visibility; oh, we must have had a quarter mile here … but when the sun does come out on the granite shores, we remember the marvelous light and remote feeling, even though you can see a hundred houses if you turn around on top of the hill.


© Kate Laird, 2005


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