Sunday, November 24, 2013

Easy Go Lost

Easy Go was lost on November 5, 2013 while on our way to the Caribbean directly from Cape Breton Island. This is a mid ocean route crossing the Gulf Stream around 60 degrees west. We found ourselves in very strong storm conditions in an area of the Gulf Stream with strong current some 700 miles off of Cape Cod. We were unable to work our way out of the complex conditions presented by wind over current after 5 days while steadily being driven east. We normally try to get across the Gulf Stream in less than one day. We left with a favorable weather forecast but found ourselves in trouble with many miles to go. Early winter brings on changeable conditions that make this particular passage challenging, even for those of us who have done it a number of times.

Easy Go performed well in beating to windward in 45 knots of wind for four days with the wind aligning with the current favorably. While rough Easy Go persisted. I was unable to cook or rest adequately in these conditions. When the wind shifted to NE and increased the situation became overwhelming with wind over current. The current in this area was running in excess of 3 knots. A series of small equipment failures (sails, electronics and water ingress), that in lesser conditions could have been rectified relatively simply, could not be addressed. My own fatigue and deteriorating condition was a major contributing factor. Making the decision to call for assistance while still afloat and with the energy to save myself was not easy but was necessary. I felt conditions would deteriorate further and this proved to be the case over the next few days with continuous gale to storm force winds followed quickly by Tropical Storm Melissa.

I put out a Mayday via SPOT. AMVER, via the US Coastguard arranged for two ships, Bishu Highway and Athina L to attempt a rescue. After waiting for conditions to improve we decided to abandon ship, in consultation with Athina L, in 6 meter waves and 40 knots of wind in the dark. More info about the rescue will be available at a later date.

Athina L took me to her next port of call in Hunterston, Scotland where I spent time recovering from injuries with the assistance of friends from the Ocean Cruising Club (OCC). I have since returned home to River Bourgeois, Cape Breton where I continue to recover. I mourn the loss of Easy Go. She took great care of me for a lot of ocean miles as did her predecessor the first Easy Go. There was no insurance so the next Easy Go will take some time to come to be. Lost everything but my life; the adventure continues.

In this article the "We" referred to is myself and Easy Go. I was sailing single handed. No lives were lost.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sailing South

The time has come again to sail off south for the winter. Planning to head for Dominica directly from River Bourgeois, Cape Breton this time. Sailing single handed this trip. We'll see how it goes!

An additional feature on Easy Go is the SPOT Tracker located at:

This page will keep a running tab on the noonsight inputs from Easy Go for those wondering where I am.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Return From Newfoundland to Cape Breton via St. Pauls Island

All good things must come to an end. Cooler nights and the first forecast of northerly winds encouraged me to take a turn to the south and start working towards the Bras d'Or Lakes and home. After sitting out the winds that came before the wind shift I got in the anchor, which had slipped a bit on the shelf, and set off in relative calm with the motor to get out of the fjord and Bonne Bay. Winds were forecast to the NW and that is directly into the mouth of the Bay. Didn't want to get caught in a head wind and hoped that the promised shift would not be too long coming.

On the way out I saw Pelorus Jack anchored near Norris Point.

We got out of the Bay and the promised winds came up and rose quickly. Setting sail then taking in a reef as the wind came up was a great way to say goodbye to Newfoundland. The front passed through putting the winds into the high 20 knot range but with small seas. Great sailing with the wind on the starboard quarter, sails out to port and Reggy doing a fantastic job of steering. The winds diminished a bit after the passage of the front and we settled into our passage routine of watchkeeping, eating and sleeping. Good to be back at sea again putting the land behind us. Later in the day Pelorus Jack showed up on the AIS having left Bonne Bay shortly after I saw them. We had a nice chat on the radio. They were cruising down the coast while I was heading offshore. Old habits of sailing without an engine are hard to shed. I like to get at least 20 NM offshore before I can relax and get a little rest.

The winds diminished overnight but we were still able to sail well into the next day. During the night there was a display of Northern Lights. I woke up at one point and looked around. Sure enough there was a ship going by without displaying their AIS. Likely Coast Guard of Military. They routinely leave the AIS transmit off but keep good watch so not to worry.

Southeast of Cape Anguille, NFLD. the winds went very light and I decided to motorsail towards St. Pauls Island and Cape North, Cape Breton Island both of which were now clearly visible. I can see how the First Nations people travelled bewteen NFLD and Cape Breton without problem and never out of sight of land.

St Pauls Island has two lights, one at either end, and is the site of many ship wrecks. The tides conflict with the currents of the St Lawrence River and create serious rips. In heavy fog conditions one would not see the island before running into it as many ships have done over the centuries. No one lives on the island any longer but there are still lighthouses and the remains of the lifesaving station. There is no safe anchorage here and winds were forecast to rise so I decided to head towards Dingwall in behind Cape North to take a break and visit this part of Cape Breton.

While passing by St Pauls Island and crossing a current line I had the distinct priviledge of seeing the first of five leatherback turtles that I would see over the next three hours. These turtles are rare and seeing one is fortunate, five almost unheard of. A couple of turtles came as close as ten metres from Easy Go giving a great viewing opportunity.

Arrived at Dingwall around midnight on a clear but moonless night. Felt my way in with the digital charts picking out the mostly unlit buoys and through the narrow entrance to the harbour. Found the fisherman's wharf and tied up for the night. Up early the next morning in calm conditions and headed towards the Bras d'Or Lakes but once out of the bay I ran into head winds from the south so returned and anchored for the day and night while I explored the area of Dingwall. This predominantly fishing harbour has seen better times but I still got to speak with a few people and took a tour of the St. Pauls Island Museum located there. Also took a walk to the beach which is miles long and had no one but myself there.

The next day promised northerly winds so I set off towards the Bras d'Or Lakes early. The winds strengthened from the south so we spent the day tacking towards the entrance to the Bras d'Or Lakes. Arriving after dark at the entrance with an opposing tide we motored in making, at times, only one knot against the current. Fortunately the wind died down at sunset and the waters were calm. There are not many lighted buoys so using the digital charts on the tablet and a flashlight I was able to feel the way up the channel and pass through the Seal Island Bridge. Once past the bridge the fog started to settle down on the top of the hills. Time to find a place to anchor.

A large harbour, appropriately named Big Harbour was close by and being around 2:00 am was an easy place to get into and get the anchor down. Quiet and peaceful. I fell asleep quickly and soundly. Woke at 7:00 am completely fogged in. I had hoped for an early start but enjoyed a leisurely breakfast instead. The fog was starting to lift around 10:00 so I got in the anchor and headed towards Barra Straits.

The route through the lake is well marked and straight forward so I was able to enjoy the scenery as the skies cleared. Went through the bascule bridge at Barra Straits against the tide and continued on to St Peters Canal.

Outside of the canal I saw my friend Greg with a day charter on his sailboat. They came along side and we chatted while I prepared Easy Go to transit the St. Peters Lock and head on home. I called the lock. No Answer and only 4:15 in the afternoon. I got a call back from Gerry at the St. Peters Lions Marina that the lock was closed for the day. Parks Canada, managers of the lock, have reduced the hours considerably this year negatively impacting tourism in the area and inconveniencing local sailors. Hope they find the resources to get back to longer hours. Oh well, tied up to the wall below the lock, close to the swing bridge to get protection from the strong North East winds predicted for the night.

Walked over to Greg's house to use the phone and call Kathy to let her know I was staying in St. Peters for the night. Five more miles and I would have been home. Saw a few other people around the village and went to the Bras d'Or Lakes Inn for a beer and fish and chips. Nice change from my own cooking. After supper I went for a walk to the ocean side of the lock and saw Pelorus Jack tied up but no on aboard. Georgie and Harold from River Bourgeois were there in the car having ice cream so we visited for a while. Georgie looked down the wharf and said that she could see Kathy walking along. I said I didn't think so but Georgie was pretty sure she was right. And sure enough she was. Karin had brought Kathy to the lock to find me and say hello. A definite surprise! Thanks Karin for the very thoughtful gesture.

Kathy spent the night at the boat but the winds that were predicted made it impossible to continue the next day so we stayed tied to the wall. A few boats transited the lock towards the ocean side but went no further and tied up above the lock for the day. We spent the day visiting and getting some supplies.

The next day dawned calm with a little fog and drizzle but we locked through at 8:00 am with a couple of other boats and made our way home.

By noon Easy Go was tied to her mooring in River Bourgeois and the Newfoundland adventure was at an end.

See the photo essay with pictures of Dingwall.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bonne Bay - Gros Morne National Park - Part 2

I cast the lines off from Woody Point early in the morning with mist and light rain falling and little wind. Later in the day the weather forecast indicated a strengthening of wind that could mack teh wharf at Woody Point a little uncomfortable.

Motoring, what a great new experience, over towards Neddy Harbour in behind Norris Point was the initial destination but I wanted a little wilderness experience to break up the visits to the communities. Decided to continue up the the East Arm after passing through the Tickle off Norris Point.

There is a small pocket bay at the very end of the East Arm that is reported to be very protected. I went in there to tray and find a place to anchor. The digital charts are way off in this area. Apparently I was tring to anchor part way up a mountain. Set the anchor five times on the shelf in this bay but the incoming brook has shoaled the waters so that in the swinging room after I anchored in two fathoms I found that I would dry out at low tide on one side while the other was in about six fathoms of water. Finally gave up and moved over to Lomond Cove where another sailboat and a motor boat were anchored in from of the beach. This is a Gros Morne National Park campsite and I thought it might be too busy. Not busy at all while I was there with the campsites in the woods the more popular location. Met the folks on Pelarus Jack and we had a good visit in in their covered cockpit sitting out the rain. We were both anchored in 5 to 6 fathoms on a sandy bottom that gave good holding.

The next day dawned sunny so it was time to go for a walk on the trails and scope out the services in the campground. There are indoor and outdoor showers here that are well appreciated. Decided to take a hike over to Stanleyville. This is the site of an old lumber camp and sawmill that predated the site of a similar industry that was once located in Lomond Cove. These two communities were rare in that their existence relied on the forest industry rather than the fishing industry. Both communities were abandoned after the supplies of logs dwindled.

Forgot to bring my camera for the hike and regretted the oversight half way across the trail. I saw one of the largest bull moose I have ever seen lumbering along the trail coming straight towards me. at least 20 points on the immense rack, large dew lap and not a concern in the world. I spoke to him, clapped my hands, shuffled my feet and on he came. When the big boy was about 20 feet away he stepped off the trail a little to let me pass. This is not a tame animal and I treated him with respect while quickly moving by. After I passed he slowly made his way back onto the trail and continued along. I met a group of hikers who had been following the moose for half an hour and a couple of hundred yards watching him eat and meander his way along without fear.

After crossing a couple of ridges along the well trodden trail I came back to sea level and the clearings of Stanleyville. Ample evidence of human activity is still to be found with some domestic plants in the clearings where houses once stood and various pieces of metal showing that industry had been here. More than 100 years have passed since Stanleyville was occupied. The forests have regenerated and some day all that will be left of this old outport will be memories in some archive. The beach is nice and one could anchor off in calm conditions.

The hike back had me a little apprehensive. The bull moose might still be on the trail. I followed his tracks while keeping an eye out along the sides of the trail Sure enough he had gone along the trail and stepped off before coming back a short distance to lay down and digest his meal. he was set perfectly to watch his back trail while catching the scent of anyone who might approach. When he smelled me he lifted his head to check me out but stayed laying down to let me pass.

The next few day were sometimes windy and stormy but the anchor held well. Made a few more trips to shore to walk around and enjoy the scenery during the nice parts of the day. Fishing for mackerel was really good so I had lots of fish to eat.

The weather was starting to change. The mornings were starting to get a little colder with lots of sea smoke.

Time to think about heading home to River Bourgeois. There were northerly winds forecast over the next few days. Nice to be able to sail downwind. Plans have been working out riding the late summer SW winds north and catching the first Northerly winds of fall to get home on.

View the Photo Essay of Bonne Bay

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bonne Bay - Gros Morne National Park - Part 1

I have wanted to visit Gros Morne for more years than I care to remember. The Gros Morne National Park contains some of the more interesting geological features to be found in Canada along with memorable hiking opportunities ashore.

To get started to Bonne Bay I waited for the the weather reports to indicate that a good window would appear. Getting in the anchors and motoring out of Goose Bay was the start of the next passage. After getting in the anchor I motored up the Goose Bay Arm to ensure that I had not missed a better anchorage. While very scenic there was not another anchorage I would have preferred although there were others that would be serviceable.

The weather called for calm conditions with a promise of SW winds later in the day. Well, the calm certainly existed and with glass calm waters we headed out of the Bay of Islands and north. A sloppy swell was left over from the more recent winds. Once into the Bay proper sails were set that made Easy Go steadier and gave a little boost motor sailing.

Sailing up the coast the winds failed to appear. Motor sailing the 25 NM or so was no great hardship and being close in to the shore in fog free conditions was an opportunity that is rarely available.

Incredible geology combined with towering waterfalls make this a trip not to be missed. The approach to Bonne Bay cannot be missed. The sailing directions give precise directions to line up Gros Morne Peak with Rocky Harbour. We were too close in to shore to make this connection but did manage to make Bonne Bay before dark and appreciate the majesty of Gros Morne.

We doused sails just before dark in calm waters and motored on towards Woody Point, a small community that promised a wharf. Arriving in the dark and passing the lighthouse indicated on the charts I was unable to find a wharf to tie up to. The fish plant wharf was completely full and appeared to be much smaller than the charts indicated. Many of the wharves indicated on the chart were gone. A small floating dock with a sign indicating that it was for the water taxi was all that was available so I drifted in and tied up. In a few minutes three of the local teenagers came down to the wharf to say that the water taxi would be in and it might be better for me to tie up in the ferry slip that was now abandoned and offered a better dock. Thanks boys! Slipped the lines and went to the indicated wharf where the boys caught the lines and helped me secure. A gentleman came down and also gave assistance. He went away for a few minutes an came back with a print out of the tide tables so that I could adjust lines for the tides. Such is Newfoundland! Nice people.

The next day I went looking for Internet Access. The local Legion offers WIFI and is one of the nicest places I have ever visited. I was able to get online and make the necessary communications to home, have a few beers and become informed on local info.

The Writers at Woody Point Festival was in full swing. Able to take in a few of the events and mingle with people in town and long the docks was really a pleasant time. Looking for a good festival in Newfoundland? This has to be one of the best. There is great music, readings by the authors and a sharing within the community between visitors, Come From Aways and local residents. More information on the Writers at Woody Point Festival

Provisioning and a meals ashore were no problem. A small well supplied grocery store is clsoe by on the water front with fresh produce, canned goods and frozen meats. It is also the local beer, wine and spirits outlet. After eating my own cooking for quite a while I had a craving for some hot fried chicken. Found a little restaurant that made good fried chicken and fries served up in a home like atmosphere. One is not a stranger long where ever you tie up the boat.

A stay of a few days. Met some other cruisers and it was time to move on to some other places in Bonne Bay.

View the photo essay of Bonne Bay

Monday, September 23, 2013

Middle Arm, Cox's Cove, Goose Arm, Bay of Islands, NFLD

I really didn't want to get up the anchor and leave Wood's Island Harbour. the day I left was to be a very busy one as the Homecoming Day. A ferry was bringing back residents and descendants to visit the island and pay respects to the ancestors in the cemeteries, Catholic and Protestant.

The dinghy was on deck then  I got up the fisherman anchor and everything put away. Retrieving the Bruce anchor I found the cause of the dragging in the heavy winds of just a little while ago. The remains of the steel frame from a chair were tangled and mangled around the anchor flukes. No wonder we dragged!

The morning was calm and I left under power for the next anchorage. Cruising past Blow Me Down with clear skies and just a little swell coming in from the ocean allowed me to travel close to the coast and see all the new homes, one can hardly call them camps, that were being constructed on Wood's Island.

A short motor across the mouth of Humber Arm, the route to Corner Brook, and a turn north brought me to the entrance to Middle Arm in short order. The terrain is much more rugged here than it was at Wood's Island. Travelling up Middle Arm the swell from the ocean disappeared completely and I was able to cruise along the shore taking in the rugged scenery and the outports.

Cox's Cove was my first destination. It is an active fishing community with many many dories pulled up on skidways on the fronting beach. There are no wharves here for transient yachts. One can tie up to the wharf at the fish plant, however, or anchor off the beach in a more exposed location.

The weather was calm so I continued on to the entrance to Penguin Cove and Goose Arm. One of the members of the yacht Club at Corner Brook had told me there was a nice little anchorage in the narrows of Goos Arm so I headed in that direction. There is a little more boating traffic in this arm with all the camps and outports but not so much as to call it busy.

Entrance to the narrows in Goose Arm
The anchorage in Goose Arm is on a small sand bar along the edge of the shore below the cliffs. It is quite well protected from waves but the wind can get up as it funnels along up and down the fjord. I set a Bahamian mooring with two anchors on the sand bar/bench so that Easy Go would not slide off into deeper water.

A gale set in for a day while I was here and the anchors kept everything secure even with the wind blowing up and then down the fjord. There is not really anywhere to go to shore and walk around. Lots of new development is occurring as people come back to traditional family lands and build recreational properties. There area few anchorages in this area. I think that this area is one of the more scenic and protected areas to be found along the west coast of Newfoundland.

To view the photo essay go to Goose Arm, Bay of Islands, NFLD

Iron Bark at Ambos Mundos

Its been more than a year since we had a visit with Trevor Robertson of Iron Bark. That was back in Lunenburg in the early summer of 2012 when he was planning to head north to Greenland for his second overwintering in the Arctic. We also had a great visit with Annie Hill in Lunenburg garnering new ideas from the vast store of knowledge and experience they both have gathered over the years.

I am recently back from Newfoundland and while I was on the west coast Trevor was cruising down the east coast. I was out in the yard on Saturday September 21, 2013 when I saw a familiar mast enter Bourgeois Inlet. Sure enough it was Iron Bark. Trevor anchored Iron Bark and I rowed out to meet him at the same time he was rowing in.

Iron Bark (left) and Easy Go at anchor in Bourgeois Inlet, 2013

We had a pleasant visit  for the afternoon and evenning sharing our summers adventures and winter cruising plans over supper. Trevor had wintered over at 73 degrees north and spent the summer cruising in the Arctic before heading south. It is always nice when friends stop in unexpectedly for a visit, especially after being out of contact for so long!

Visit Trevor's and Iron Bark's blog at for their travels.