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:
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.
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.
Taken around 11 a.m. Wind is from the southeast. The centre of the hurricane is still to the south of Cape Sable Island and tracking northeastwards towards us at 30 mph (50 km/hr). Winds at nearby Lunenburg are reported to be SE 81 gusting to 99 km/h.
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.
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.
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.
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).