Tall Ships in Lunenburg

Abord the tall ship Unicorn, on the Lunenburg waterfront
Abord the tall ship Unicorn, on the Lunenburg waterfront

After their triumphant sailpast in the sun in Halifax, several tall ships came to Lunenburg for a mini version of the big event. The Unicorn, in this picture, takes teenaged girls on excursions of several weeks with an all-female crew for life-changing experiences. I heard its captain explain to some astonished men that no, in fact, there aren’t spats among the crew, and in fact they all get along very well. And the ship is clean, particularly the bathrooms, not something you can expect on many ships. I was ready to sign up.

“Rockbound” musical a jaw-dropping production


Since we live and sail on Mahone Bay and have come to know most of its islands by sight, I read Frank Parker Day’s 1928 novel Rockbound with great interest.  I wasn’t the only one.  Thanks to CBC’s Canada Reads program, the previously obscure novel has been lionized by the Canadian literary establishment and the public.

One of the book’s biggest fans is my mother.  She has read it several times.  When I took her sailing around East Ironbound Island, the setting for the novel, the binoculars and cameras were in constant use.

If Day’s characters were as thinly disguised as his settings, it’s no wonder that the locals he met on Ironbound felt betrayed by his portrayal of hard-drinking, feuding fishing families eking out a hardscrabble living on a small island.  But they are long gone now, and new generations of readers marvel at the dramatic sweep of his story, his vivid characterizations and the detailed portrayal of pre-industrial fishing.  For me, Rockbound has made the outer islands of Mahone Bay come alive with the ghosts of those who have gone before.  Imagine rowing from Tancook to Ironbound, from Ironbound to Pearl (“Barren Island” in the novel) – well, I can’t, really, but characters that I have come to care for do just that in the novel, so I believe it is possible.

Rockbound
Poster for Rockbound, the musical. Click picture to visit Two Planks website.

When I heard that Two Planks and a Passion Theatre Company was developing Rockbound as a musical, I was astonished and very curious.  Written by Allen Cole and under development since 2006, it is now playing “off the grid” (outdoors) at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, half an hour north of Wolfville.  My mother and I, both very excited, went last Wednesday.

From the opening song, my questions and doubts about how a musical format would serve the story were laid to rest.  My ears were awash in delicious sound and my jaw remained in my lap for much of the performance.  Harmonically and rhythmically complex and expressive, the music transcends genres and beautifully evokes the epic story and the setting.   The acting and singing were wonderful.  How else could this play have been done?  The music elevates the story, poeticizes it, universalizes it.

I hope to see Rockbound again when it comes to Chester Playhouse August 13-16.  Meanwhile it is playing until August 9 at Ross Creek.  Not to be missed.

The boater’s spring ritual

A busy spring day in the marina
A busy spring day in the marina

It’s a laborious but joyful spring chore for boaters in Nova Scotia: taking off the winter cover, cleaning her, fixing her up, painting her bottom, waxing her sides perhaps, and getting her ready to launch.

Owning a boat means using a lot of elbow grease, unless you’re wealthy enough to hire someone to do it all for you.  And contrary to what you may think, boat owners aren’t all wealthy – partly because their boats keep them so.  But the ability to get out on the water provides richness to their lives, whatever their bank balance may be.

Imagine being a sailboat and spending the winter looking at this view. Wouldn't you be saying, "Let's go already!" come spring?
Imagine being a sailboat and spending the winter looking at this view. Wouldn't you be saying, "Let's go already!" come spring?

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!

First time in a canoe this year

We did it because we could. The ice is gone, the tide was high. My son and I dipped the canoe in the ocean and paddled out to a nearby island. He hiked around it and then we paddled back again.

Ashore on a small island near home
Ashore on a small island near home

Ice on an April morning

On a cold morning the receding tide leaves a film of ice on the seaweed and rocks along the shore.  Nova Scotia is blessed with natural shorelines like this, a haven for wildlife which is threatened by development.
On a cold morning the receding tide leaves a film of ice on the seaweed and rocks along the shore. Nova Scotia is blessed with natural shorelines like this. It's a haven for wildlife, but threatened by development. More about that in future posts. We feel fortunate to live along an undeveloped coastline.
Ice forms patterns on two species of seaweed.
Ice forms patterns on two species of seaweed.
Chunks of heavier winter ice are heading out to sea, temporarily caught in the overnight freeze, soon to be melted by the warming spring sun.
Chunks of heavier winter ice are heading out to sea, temporarily caught in the overnight freeze, soon to be melted by the warming spring sun.

Ice leaves, buffleheads take over

The ice that yesterday filled the cove has floated out to sea.
The ice that yesterday filled the cove has floated out to sea. The Oak Island Inn (which is not on Oak Island, but overlooks it) is in the distance.
2009-03-28-buffleheads
As soon as the ice had melted, the bufflehead ducks that had all winter occupied the other side of the causeway, the side that didn't freeze, gleefully (I imagine) took possession of the newly open water.

Derek Hatfield sails again

Derek Hatfield and Spirit of Canada, with some mutual friends, in Halifax Harbour
Derek Hatfield and Spirit of Canada, with some mutual friends, in Halifax Harbour. Photo by Ed Sulis.

Canada’s Derek Hatfield (who makes his home in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia), was forced to retire from the Vendée Globe round the world, non-stop solo sailing race in December, due to damage to his boat.  He nursed his Algimouss Spirit of Canada to Hobart, Tasmania, where he fixed the damage, and on February 27, he left Hobart, determined to complete the course of the race, even if he is no longer officially in it.  Thus he will gain valuable solo experience and the knowledge of his Open 60 equal to that of anyone who completes such a race.  He will not get the support from the race organizers that he would have had were he still in the race.  However, he will be sailing along parts of the route in the company of some other major offshore races.

The Vendée Globe is gradually wrapping up with the final three boats now in the North Atlantic and due to reach France in the next couple of weeks.

Fair winds, Derek.  Hope to see you back home safe and sound in a couple of months!

Derek Hatfield is looking for crew!

Got some serious cash and top-notch sailing skills? Want to sail the Southern Ocean in a very fast, well-equipped boat with an experienced skipper, take her round Cape Horn and up the South and North Atlantic to France?  Does Derek Hatfield have an opportunity for you!

Stranded in Tasmania after broken spreaders on the Open 60, Spirit of Canada, forced him to quit the Vendée Globe round-the-world solo race, Derek has been repairing the boat, but can’t afford to pack her in a crate and ship her back.  He has to sail her.  And this is where you come in – if you can outbid your competition, that is.  Go for it!

Get details on the Spirit of Canada website.

Derek Hatfield and “Spirit of Canada” stranded in Tasmania

Derek Hatfield is in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, having carefully piloted his Open 60 sailboat, Spirit of Canada, to the closest shelter of land after the boat was damaged in the Vendée Globe solo, non-stop, round-the-world sailing race (“the Everest of sailing”).

Spirit of Canada had been hit by a huge wave that knocked the boat over and broke the spreaders high above the deck. The race’s rules require that participants repair any damage without any outside help if they are to stay in the race, but this damage is not something that Derek could have repaired alone.

In fact, of the 30 boats that started this race 50 days ago, only 12 remain in the running, so he is in very respectable company. A look at the race’s map (see www.vendeeglobe.org/en/ and click on the Map) shows the southernmost points of land littered with boats that have had to abandon the race.

“Spirit of Canada” has been a shoestring project all along, without the major corporate sponsorship and intense media interest enjoyed by Derek’s European competitors. The whole enterprise has been built on the small donations of thousands of Canadians. Now they have to get the boat back home to Nova Scotia, and fixed so it can participate in future Open 60 races. Shipping a boat like that is very expensive. However, sailing it home would require that it be fixed first, which has its own logistical challenges. If you can help support “Spirit of Canada” with a financial contribution, please do so. You can make a donation via their website, SpiritOfCanada.net, and send supportive e-mails to Derek from there as well.