2010 08 26
Leaving Chandler early on the morning of the 23rd we intended to make as much distance as possible through the Straits of Northumberland. Landfall would be somewhere in New Brunswick or PEI we just weren't sure where. This last was because we had not a clue about cruising either side of the Strait.
Our only information, the only "guide" to either province in this area, was the free guide published under the name CCA Cruising Guide to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. That and the tide tables. Oh dear.
It was not that we had not looked for guidance, we just could not find it. A couple of magazine articles, and you know how complete and reliable those are, and nothing else.
It was if no one knew any good anchorages in either province, at least not on the Northumberland side.
Yeah, well, maybe they were right.
Finally we settled our intention to put in at West Point on PEI, a nice little harbour on the South West coast. Although making such a destination would require that we proceed through the night, not putting in until midnight. This despite a 5:30 a.m. departure from la belle province.
The CCA guide promised depths of "about 6 feet or so" on the long entry to the harbour and more water once we arrived.
We never arrived. Low tide at our destination was within 30 minutes of our arrival, with benefit of the light of magnificint full moon. The swell that plagued us all the way from Quebec considerately reduced itself to a manageable half foot or so. Meredith was not affected and showed not untoward motion whatsoever.
It is unnerving to come into a strange and new harbour in the dark of night, even such a well lighted night as the one we\ were enjoying. The tide had turned just before our arrival and it plus the wind that rose to greet us pushed us steadily into the approach to the unseen refuge.
We were making 3.3 knots with the boat in idle.
Buoyed courses marking approaches in Ontario waters are designed for true idiots. Compared to those of Quebec and PEI Ontario buoys are lined up like pickets in a neat little yard. In PEI you get one buoy at the beginning of the approach and one at the end. They may be separated by a mile or two of dark disturbing water but that is the helmsman's job. Right?
Well, the tide and wind pushed us right up to the ubiquitous 12 foot high rock breakwater which we would have to round before gaining safe haven.
We were denied. Not 15 feet from the entrance, or what we hoped would be the entrance when we actually got there, Meredith gained knowledge of the bottom. Nothing hard, just a gentle introduction, one new comer to an unknown host.
So midnight, wind at our backs, flood tide pushing us to the lee shore and the lee shore actually directly beneath our feet.
Discretion is important aboard Meredith and this was an occasion that demanded its application. No macho proving of seamanship. Just simple Get out of this place.
The Beta cranked to max revs in reverse and Meredith pulled herself off the mud. We backed until we had sufficient room to turn and turn we did.
We rode our pony out of Fargo intending to fight another day.
But not in West Point.
Six more hours saw us enter Summerside where we put in at the Silver Fox Curling and Yacht Club and have been ecstatic.