As we were leaving Newport we felt as if our sailing journey was slowly coming to an end, so we were taking in everyday with special gratitude. We were falling more and more in love with our sailboat and the lifestyle of a sailor.
Outside of the Newport harbour, we were sailing on a comfortable run at about 4-5 knots and planned our transit of the Cape Cod Canal. We noticed a big change in ourselves. We no longer spent days planning and studying for every passage. We finally had confidence and did a lot of our planning while underway, giving us more time to relax at anchor. Timing the transit through the Cape Cod Canal was critical, otherwise the current would overpower DD's steady engine and we could end up travelling backwards! After a great six hours of sailing, we reached a nice quiet anchorage for the night just outside the canal's entrance.
Our journey through the Cape Cod Canal the next morning went very smoothly. Timing the tide was essential and we zipped through it at speeds DD's motor usually only dreams about. A thick and cold blanket of fog welcomed us to a new world of cold water. As we wiped the mist off our cheeks and layered up, we could almost feel DD start to shiver having spent most of her life in the warm welcoming waters further south. Passing by barely visible fishing boats and curious seals we continued through the foggy Cape Cod Bay, reaching Provincetown where we dropped anchor, settled in, and I started cooking dinner while Jeff took care of one more oil change to prepare DD for final (and foggy) leg of the trip.
A 48hr crossing of the Gulf of Maine to Nova Scotia lay ahead of us, but with questionable weather two days away, we went for the shorter 30hr trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. The morning met us with the sun just below the horizon and seals playing in the light blanket of fog. I was full of excitement because we would be sailing through one of the best areas to see whales, the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary. It was always my dream to see whales on our own boat. The sun rose, the fog dissipated, and although we didn't have much wind for sailing, it meant calm seas for excellent whale watching conditions.
I settled comfortably at the bow with my binoculars and Znak by my side. We were the only boat in sight, and then, fin whales! They were on a safe course, travelling away from us, but we proceeded slowly, keeping a sharp lookout. Suddenly a fin whale surfaced in front of us. What an intimate experience to share the same waters and beautiful weather with the second largest animal on earth! The whales swam away, and as we continued our journey, we came across some more gentle giants, this time humpback whales.
The sun eventually went to bed and we started our night shifts as the temperature dropped. Throughout the night a thick fog formed and as dawn came upon us, more and more lobster traps appears without any logic in their organisation. Even through the thick fog, the wildlife was everywhere, puffins, seals, a sunfish and even a great white shark made an appearance!
After almost 36 hours at sea, we finally reached our planned anchorage destination just outside of Acadia National Park, but we encountered a new challenge in the scattered lobster traps of Maine. With no room to anchor safely between the lobster traps, we continued on slowly through the thick fog and found a beautifully quiet anchorage with just enough room for one boat to anchor between the lobster traps. The next day we waited for the fog to lift a bit for us to safely leave the anchorage and sail into Acadia National Park. En route, we were overwhelmed with the lobster traps, many were partially submerged and barely visible even when the fog lifted. We sailed into the "fjard" (a less dramatic version of a fjord) that the park is famous for. The weather predictions were calling for a hint of favourable winds, so we abandoned our plan of overnighting in the fjard and pulled up the anchor for our final overnight passage that would bring us home to Canada!
Pulling anchoring and leaving Maine for NS in the early evening was a last minute decision to make possible use of the wind while it lasted. There was no time to stop to refuel before dark, but Jeff assured me that even if we motor the whole way we should be able to reach Canada on the less than half a tank fuel that we had left. At about 19:00 we started our journey to Canada. We navigated through thousands of lobster traps that littered the inside and outside of the harbor and were shocked to keep finding them even outside of the USA territorial waters. Darkness fell quickly and although the lobster traps were becoming less frequent, in this light wind we could only motor through and hope none would wrap around our propeller, jamming the engine in the middle of nowhere.
We were happy to finally get pas the lobster traps, but the passage to Nova Scotia was rough. There was a ton of fog, and the predicted wind never fully came to fruition. An uncomfortable large swell rolled perfectly perpendicular to DD, keeping us rocking and rolling all night. We figure the wind was opposing the Bay of Fundy tides and built up a swell that seemed much larger than should accompany the relatively benign conditions. Shifting and inconsistent winds plus the side-on swell had us constantly adjusting the sails, and the fog took it's toll, soaking everything in the cockpit. Despite the cold wet weather and fog so thick we couldn't see more than 10 or 20 metres ahead of us, the sea still entertained us with another apparent great white shark feeding on something, a few huge sunfish trying find sun through the thick fog, and a huge pod of dolphins passing us by. After an exhausting and cold night and day at sea, we were outside of the Yarmouth harbor, a little nervous approaching land in such thick fog. The fog wasn't going anywhere and we had to completely rely on the GPS to guide us into the mouth of the harbour where faint silhouettes appeared as we glided past the buoys marking the path in. Luckily Yarmouth is a sleepy town and we didn't come across any boats in the foggy and relatively narrow harbour. We finally arrived back to Canada!
A quick call to customs and we were happy to set foot on dry Canadian land, treating ourselves to delicious east coast fish cakes and seafood chowder. We spent a few days in Yarmouth and had a great time hosting Jeff’s parents on our floating home. Jeff’s older sister Melanie joined us on the foggy trip through Southwestern Nova Scotia for a week. After almost two weeks of not seeing more than 20 metres in any direction, Melanie was able to convince Jeff to jump in the 7C water for a swim at the crystal clear waters of Carter’s Beach. We had fun taking friends and family out on some day sails, reaching the last harbour of our adventure in Chester, NS.
A lot had happened while we were on the salty stuff, and we finally got to meet the newest member of the Pronko family, with Jeff's little sister Steph travelling from Ontario with our new niece Mia. Here we were in Chester, meeting our new family member for the first time!
All of the adventures are now behind us and on a beautiful, warm day in late August, we felt an unnatural emptiness. Sailing DD to her final resting spot was emotional. Both Jeff and I quietly sailed our trusted and beloved sailboat closer and closer to land. Our memories and the bond that we ended up building with our sailboat was incredible. It felt as if our sailboat, Dragon’s Dance, was a living-being, a friend we had to leave behind in Nova Scotia. Our adventure was coming to an end, too quickly for us to grasp what was happening and where we were heading next. We spent a few days packing our things, until the day came when DD was pulled out of the water to her winter hibernation spot on land. She is now overlooking the freezing waters of Nova Scotia, while Jeff, Znakie boy and I are learning to live on land once again.
Alena, Jeff & Znakie Boy