Watching and waiting for Hurricane Earl

It is unusually hot here in this part of Nova Scotia (near Mahone Bay), for early September.  Knowing that we’re going to be experiencing the eye of a hurricane before things cool down is not a great comfort, at least not when you own a boat.

Some people are taking their boats out of the water. Nearby, Oak Island Marina is asking boats with the greatest windage to leave the marina before the hurricane passes, whether to a “hurricane hole” such as Chester Back Harbour, or onto the land, to prevent damage to the marina and other boats.

Tanzer 22
Tanzer 22

We have a strong mooring and a small, seaworthy sailboat (a Tanzer 22), and we still plan to do lots of sailing this fall. We will remove the sails to reduce windage, remove the outboard engine, secure or remove anything that could cause damage when bouncing around inside the boat, double up the mooring lines including a line from the mooring to the mast, and hope for the best.

If it weren’t so hot, this work would be easier.

Meanwhile, at home we have to be prepared for power outages and high winds, which means taking down the screened-in mosquito shelter, putting tools and toys away, filling the bathtubs and jugs with water, backing up my hard drive, and stocking up on food, batteries and camping gas. As long as the power stays on, I’ll report here on the storm as it passes.

Getting your Pleasure Craft Operator Card

Boy running outboard motor
Look who has his Pleasure Craft Operator Card!

We moved to the South Shore of Nova Scotia for the sailing, essentially. Lots of folks here have boats. There are kayaks, runabouts, sleek motor cruisers built for speed, a few “trawlers” (non-planing motor cruisers), fishing boats converted into pleasure boats, “personal watercraft” (sea-doos), small and medium-sized sailboats of all vintages, some wooden, and more (if I left your kind of boat out, no offense; just leave a comment below). No mega yachts to speak of; when you do see one of those, it’s probably “from away.”

Even if your boat is just a runabout with an outboard, and even if you’ve been running about with it since God was a boy, since September 2009, if it has a motor, you’ll need your Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) to run about with it in the future – in Canada, that is.

So there’s a bit of a rush on to get the card. Courses are popping up here and there, and presumably they’re being filled by those who’ve been putting it off all these years.

Courses are offered by various groups, such as the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons (CPS), where I got mine in 2003 as part of their more in-depth Boating Course. CPS now offers a standalone Boat Pro course which is geared towards the PCOC exam.

Converted fishing boat
Converted fishing boat

My husband, a lifelong sailor, and our 9½-year-old son recently took a 2-evening course with local instructor Michael Ernst. Ernst uses the curriculum developed by the Lifesaving Society.

Taking a course with a group of people and a teacher who knows what he or she is talking about is actually fun. It allows you to ask questions and learn from other people’s experiences.  There are also online courses available, or you can study the materials on your own and write the standardized exam online with a proctor. Exam challenges are also held at boat shows around the country.

Course prices vary from $30 to $85 or more, depending on venue costs and what the instructor charges. Some teachers, such as the CPS instructors, offer the course voluntarily, as part of that organization’s long-standing interest in promoting safe boating through education. For other providers, including the online courses, it’s obviously a business. Some of these providers are probably showing up in the Google ads on this page, above left.

We are proud of our new young cardholder!  The card is good for life, so he has lots of time to benefit from getting it now.  It serves as a great base for developing his boating knowledge.

Chester Race Week Video

My husband just spotted this video about Chester Race Week.  We sail but we don’t race, so this video gives me a feeling about what it’s like to be involved in this event.  It’s Canada’s largest keelboat regatta!

Lunenburg in the fog

Bright paint stands out in the fog
Bright paint stands out in the fog

It has been raining for weeks now, it seems. A quasi-stationary low has delivered warm, moist air to the South Shore on an ongoing basis.

Lunenburg is still picturesque through the fog. You get a new appreciation for why the buildings are so brightly painted. It’s a cool place to hang out.

Waiting to head out into the Atlantic
Waiting to head out into the Atlantic
Friends of ours are waiting to make a trans-Atlantic crossing in their sailboat, but the weather has delayed their departure. They’ve moved the boat into Lunenburg Harbour so they can enjoy the ambiance and feel like they’ve started their trip. No matter what other ports you may visit, Lunenburg is special, a unique, historic, world-class sailing destination.

Sailing from Halifax to Canso in a dinghy!

Rob Dunbar about to leave Shearwater Yacht Club on tiny Celtic Kiss.
Rob Dunbar about to leave Shearwater Yacht Club on tiny Celtic Kiss.
Here’s a lovely account of Rob Dunbar’s adventure, in 2006, of sailing solo along the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia in a sailing dinghy. Took him 8 days. He was going in the right direction; coming the other way you could expect it to be harder with prevailing winds against you. The story is well illustrated and described. I’ve sailed there in a larger keelboat and paddled near Tangier in a canoe, and look forward to going back. Recommended for hardcore sailors, armchair adventurers and sea kayakers!