After the snowstorm

The storm predicted by the red sunrise in my last post has passed, leaving the world cleansed and transformed.

And so the shoveling begins.  We have about 3-4 inches of very dense snow here near Western Shore on the shore of Mahone Bay.  A friend near New Germany, inland, reports at least a foot and a half of “thick heavy snow”.  Meanwhile, someone in Kingsburg, which juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, has no snow at all!  This pattern is typical: rain near the coast, snow inland.

Here’s how a tidal inlet on Mahone Bay looked this morning:

Tidal inlet with snow
Jan. 13, 2011, after a snowstorm. Taken with a Fujifilm FinePix S1800 at the widest angle setting, equivalent to 28mm.

Christmas in Mahone Bay

St. John's Lutheran Mother & Daughter Choir
St. John's Lutheran Mother & Daughter Choir, taken from the back of the church with a Fujifilm FinePix F1800, which has an 18x optical zoom. This photo was taken hand-held, from the back of the church, and isn't even at full zoom.

Don’t ever imagine that life in the more rural parts of Nova Scotia is devoid of fine cultural experiences.  In fact, there is more going on in many communities than a busy person can take in, and often it is all the richer for being home-grown.

Such was the case tonight when the St. John’s Lutheran Mother & Daughter Choir, directed by Leslee Barry, presented their Christmas Concert.  The beautiful, large church was packed.  No wonder: the music was very fine, with interesting, complex arrangements well executed, and very accomplished instrumentalists accompanying the choir. Much money was raised for the local food bank, and everyone went home satisfied, and in fine Christmas spirit.

Photos taken with a Fujifilm FinePix S1800 digital camera.

church interior
Christmas concert in St. John's Lutheran, Mahone Bay, one of the "Three Churches". Taken at wide angle (28mm) with the Fujifilm FinePix S1800.

So much the better for knowing several people in the choir!  That’s the human scale of life here in Nova Scotia.

House on Edgewater St., Mahone Bay
House on Edgewater St., Mahone Bay, between the churches. I was impressed by how the S1800 could take pictures at high ISO settings (here ISO 800) allowing after-dark, no flash, no tripod photography like this.

Damage from Hurricane Earl

Grey birch on a neighbour's lawn

Many people were without power for a day or two due to trees and branches falling on power lines.

Damaged roller-reefing jib in Mahone Bay harbour
Floating cabin
One of the two floating cabins in Mahone Bay harbour dragged its mooring inland.
Battered spider's web
Who's the strongest of us all? This spider's web is battered but not broken.

The eye of Hurricane Earl? Video

Around noon, it brightened up, the wind died down and then shifted, and blue sky started to move in.  We weren’t expecting a well-defined eye, but when we saw blue sky, we got excited.

Was it really the eye? Perhaps it was just the sky just clearing after the brunt of the rain had passed, because according to the storm’s dynamics, most of the rain was ahead of the eye.

In any case, it was a nice moment.

Storm surge in Mahone Bay

storm surge
On this tidal inlet near Oak Island, it's supposed to be low tide at 11 a.m., but it looks more like high tide, due to the storm surge.

At 11 a.m., as the hurricane approaches, the powerful southeasterly wind is pushing water into the bay, causing a storm surge. We’re lucky that the tide is low. Otherwise, some coastal areas would be flooded and there would be damage to infrastructure.

At Western Shore, surf’s up! This is usually a quiet and peaceful place, sheltered from the prevailing winds. But not today; the wind is coming right into Mahone Bay bringing the ocean with it.

Hurricane Earl approaching Mahone Bay

Hurricane Earl
Our T22 at 9 am near Oak Island causeway in Mahone Bay. Waves crash on the Marina's jetty in the distance.

We woke early to the sound of the wind, and the news that Hurricane Earl is tracking more easterly than predicted last night, and should pass us directly overhead. Right now it is just south of Yarmouth and has not made landfall yet.

Environment Canada calls it a marginal category 1 hurricane, though some other sources have downgraded it to a tropical storm.

Satellite image of Earl at 9:45 AT

The rain comes in waves.

I have fantasies of being able to photograph the eye if it passes overhead, but may not get blue sky behind.  The satellite image doesn’t show a clear hole in the middle.

A picture out of time

draft horses and wooden sloop
On the beach, it could have been 100 years ago.

The wooden gaff-rigged sloop was on its way from Lunenburg to Mahone Bay.  But the cable used to raise the centerboard had broken.  So the sailor ran her up on Bachman’s Beach, on Second Peninsula, hoping to fix her at low tide.

The team of draft horses was in training, as usual, and was pulling a sledge.  Their driver brings them down to the beach to cool off.  We’d met them before, a couple of years ago, on this beach.

The hull of the sloop was built by David Westergard from a half-model he’d found.  (Westergard is currently building a couple of schooners at the Dory Shop in Lunenburg.)  Only after he’d built it did he learn that it was a particular Pubnico type of fishing vessel that was often fitted with a make-or-break engine.    The sailor (whose name escaped me; add a comment if you read this) had rigged the boat  himself and was bringing it to Mahone Bay for the schooner races.

“Are the schooner races part of Chester Race Week?” I asked, naively.

“Not at all.”

“Do the schooners eschew Chester Race Week?”

“Fiberglass Race Week!”

Right.  The folks who perpetuate the skills of wooden boat building live in a different universe from the carbon fiber and kevlar world of the most serious racers.  But they sail the same waters.

And so do we, on short overnight cruises in our 32-year-old fiberglass sailboat, not belonging to one group or the other, but glad to admire both, from a respectful distance.

Draft horses on beach
Draft horses cool down at Bachman's Beach, July 2008

Mahone Bay Regatta 2010

Mahone Bay Regatta logo
Click to go to Mahone Bay Regatta website

The Mahone Bay Classic Boat Festival, formerly known as the Mahone Bay Wooden Boat Festival, isn’t happening this year, but a new group has come together to present the Mahone Bay Regatta on the same weekend.

So if you’re used to making a trip to one of Nova Scotia’s most scenic towns at that point in the summer, for food, entertainment and a bit of “messing about with boats”, or if you have a boat and like to take part in the races, you should continue to mark that weekend on your calendar.

This year has a strong Pirate theme, so if you come on Saturday or Sunday, bring along some Pirate garb, or at least be ready to say “Arrrggghhh, me hearties!”  You can practice by changing the language on your Facebook to Pirate:  Account > Account Settings > Language and from the drop-down, choose English (Pirate).

Storm Surge on the South Shore

Back-to-back rainstorms this weekend have carried away most of the snow as well as the ice. The tide, augmented by full moon and a storm surge, was as high this morning as I’ve ever seen it.

Storm surge on Oak Island causeway
At 8:30 this morning, at high tide, the water was almost level with the road leading to the Oak Island causway. Some small waves came onto the road from what is usually the sheltered side.
Cannon near Oak Island
Cannon directing its wrath at the sea.

On Friday night, our power was off for 2 1/2 hours, which is very unusual for us.

High tide that night coincided with high winds. Waves were splashing over the causeway.

The cannon in the photo at right used to point straight out at oncoming ships, but since Friday night it has been pointing downwards, as if to protect us from the wrath of Poseidon.

Reassuring!