Ahoy from Northeast Harbor, Maine!
We're back, back in the USA and it feels good to be here! Yesterday we made the 100 nautical mile trek from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to Maine as it appeared that it would be the only good weather window that we'd have within the 4 day forecast period. The forecast was for the winds to lighten last night and then pick up to 25-35+ kts on Sunday and Monday. Yarmouth was an OK place to stop, but I wouldn't want to get stuck there.
It rained all day Saturday, but thankfully it stopped later in the afternoon. At around 4 PM we left the dock in fog and headed out of the harbor. The winds had just recently relaxed and as a result we had 3-4' waves on the beam, which rolled BlueJacket 20 degrees from side to side and the wave period seemed to be just right to keep us in constant motion. We crossed our fingers and hoped that the seas would die down and that we'd get a smoother crossing, otherwise it was going to be a long night.
We checked in with the Bay of Fundy traffic control just after departing harbor. They can either track your progress or just provide traffic information based upon your position. We chose the later and were happy to find that it was very quiet on the bay. The Bay of Fundy can have heavy freighter traffic and there's a passenger catamaran ferry that runs at 50 kts between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth. You definitely don't want to be in the way of that! There's also a lot of fishing activity at times, but we were happy to find that they were all in port.
The fog would build and lighten as moved along. At times we were down to 100 yards of visibility, yet at others you could see the horizon. After the sun set, it became impossible to tell how much visibility we had as the fog and water blended hazy shades of gray. Thankfully the moon was just past full and provided a diffuse nightlight. It reminded me of someone shining a flashlight inside of a nylon tent. From the outside you would see a bright circle and the rest of the tent just dimly glowed. At around midnight I contacted a passing ferry coming to inquire about the visibility towards to coast of Maine and their report wasn't promising. Sure enough, the fog got thicker and we even lost our moonlit nightlight.
Crossing the Bay of Fundy presents an interesting challenge due to the incredible tides and associated currents. The currents can range up to 3.5 kts, but are typically in the 1-2 kt range. I assumed that the currents would be forward progress neutral, as they would only push us either in to or out of the Bay of Fundy and we were basically crossing perpendicular to it. As it turned out, we had about 1/2 of a knot of current with us all night long. Once we cleared the Lurcher shoals, which are 15 miles off of Yarmouth, I simply set the autopilot for the course for NE Harbor and let the current push us back and forth as the trip would take 12 hours and a tidal cycle. As you as see by the image to the right, I was pretty much dead on as shown by the bowed line. (Note that for the final 3 hours I drove a straight line instead of just going with the current, which in retrospect would have been fine.) After passing the Lurcher shoal, the tide pushed us over 5 miles into the Bay of Fundy over 5 hours.
The biggest problem was that I had planned on arriving in Maine at around sunrise. What I didn't take into account was that the lobster pots would start 12 miles away from NE Harbor in 250 feet of water! Arriving off of the coastline before sunrise was not a good idea. Luckily we avoided all of the lobster buoys and headed into NE Harbor as the sun rose. You couldn't tell that it was sunrise due to the dense fog, but thanks to GPS and a chart plotter, we were able to wind our way through the shoals, islands and the myriad of lobster pots.
We called Customs and Immigrations via the cell phone, and after several phone calls we cleared in without having to appear in person. Sue had a humorous conversation with one agent who said that "If you were going to smuggle someone or something off of the boat, you would have done it by now." We were well documented, so they weren't interested in us, but we had to wonder, given the taxes in Canada, what would you smuggle into the US?
It rained all day Sunday and is supposed to continue on Monday with high winds, so we'll be here through at least Tuesday. We may stick around and explore Acadia National Park. From there we'll start working our way down the coast.
-- Geoff & Sue
For the cruiser:
We pulled into NE Harbor after determining that it was by far the most secure harbor on Desert Island. There's no anchoring due to all of the moorings. We picked up a series 400 (for 40-59' boats) town mooring for $25/night.
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