Pilot Press

The Cruising Guide to the Nova Scotia Coast

Updates from 2014-2016
The current edition is dated January 2014 (this is the copyright date on page 2)

General Remarks

Foreign yachts wintering over:
The rules for keeping foreign vessels in Canada changed in 2013. In short keeping a yacht for longer than a year could make the owner liable to import duties. See comments on the home page of this website for more information, and below under Foreign Yachts.

Aquaculture
2013 - Mussel farming on the South Shore of the province has been severely affected by the arrival of Tunicates, a slug like invasive species that has wiped out many farms. The tunicates have not arrived yet in other parts of the province.

Bald Eagle in the Bra d'Or Lakes

PUBLICATIONS AND USEFUL WEB LINKS ( page 9)

Provincial tourism web site that can help you with some questions, worth a look to see events www.novascotia.com

An excellent resource sponsored by Dobson Yacht Club in Sydney, NS. Has many useful links including St.Peters Canal info. Do not miss this one if you cruising “down north” it is useful. http://cruising-cape-breton.info

A good site for a general overview of marinas and facilities www.maritimeboating.com

Nova Scotia Sailing Assn. Sail Nova Scotia website with some good links and phones numbers for marine safety and weather. www.sailnovascotia.ca/cruising/cruising-resources.html

Waterfront Development Corp. Halifax and Lunenburg berthing and events calendar. You can explore plans for development links. https://my-waterfront.ca

Lobster Seasons around Atlantic Canada www.tastelobster.ca/images/fishing_regions.pdf

Weather Reports And Cellular Telephone Service (page 12)

If you have cellular service (see below) Environment Canada provides a full weather report for all Maritime marine areas toll free 1(855)627-4630. There are four major "Providers" of cellular coverage in Atlantic Canada: Bell, Telus, Eastlink & Rogers. Bell, Telus & Eastlink have good rural coverage and as a result they can cover the coast of the eastern shore to about a distance of 10 miles offshore. Cellular coverage is line of sight plus a bit. Coverage in bays and harbours with high hills can be spotty or non-existent as in Liscomb. The bottom line is one should check with your provider to see who they have a roaming agreement with. Bell/Telus ( they use the same towers) is the recommended choice. I have no experience with Eastlink but their coverage map is similar to Bell/Telus so coverage maybe as good.

Rogers has poor rural coverage in Nova Scotia and none in Newfoundland. As a result their coverage is reasonable for the South Shore where there are towns but poor for the NS Eastern Shore and Newfoundland. To look at various companies coverage there is a website: www.comparecellular.com/coverage-maps/

Excellent weather data is available at the link from the menu page link below. http://weather.gc.ca/mainmenu/marine_menu_e.html

Buoyage (page 7)

2013 - At present the Canadian Coast Guard is conducting a survey of Nova Scotia's buoys looking to remove unnecessary buoys and add new ones if needed. An extensive consultation is underway with various marine interests. Recently the Coast Guard has been introducing Cardinal buoys in addition to the familiar red and green buoys. A full description of all Canadian buoys can be found on CHS Chart #1 or Canada Transports Form TP 14542.

General Observations about crossing Gulf of Maine: (page 15)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
We spent two nights at sea crossing the Gulf of Maine to Shelburne.  The Gulf of Maine can be extremely cold at night in early June.  If you attempt this passage, bring every means at your disposal to stay warm. We were advised to delay our departure until July because of the potential for fog in Nova Scotia.  This year's weather may have been unusual, but we encountered no fog at all on our trip through Nova Scotia in June (other than a narrow band well inside Halifax harbor).  This year the June winds were often from a northerly quadrant, bringing dry (but cold) air from the Canadian mainland to Nova Scotia.

During June, eastern Nova Scotia coast still has open season for lobstering.  While there are not as many lobster buoys in Nova Scotia as in Maine, many Nova Scotia fisherman set out just a single buoy per pot, on an extremely long line.  This line often floats just below the surface, trailing off from the buoy 20 feet or more in a direction dependent on the wind and current.  These pot buoys must be given an extremely wide berth; navigating in narrow channels among them can be nerve-wracking.

Customs (page 16)

CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency – or generally referred to as “Customs”)
St. Margarets Bay, Head Habour, (page 78) Shining Waters Marina is a customs clearance telephone reporting site. A 30 minute car ride from Halifax Airport-YHZ, or downtown Halifax, make it a convenient stopover for crew changes and services.

Foreign Yachts (page 17)

As with most types of enforcement it is an individual by case basis that will determine outcomes.  

Legitimate work performed at a yacht service yard does allow for a vessel to remain in Canada past the 12 month period or what was reported as your length of stay to CBSA on entering.  The E29B document is the paperwork to file, and the marine service provider will do this for you. Generally you need some scope of work that is more than storage and painting.  Sail repairs and systems maintenance make the case, as well as extended cruising plans to northern Canada.  Safety trumps most obstacles in a request for extensions.

Most marine service providers have a good working relationship with CBSA officers.   However there are some officers that are tougher than others.

Negative encounters are rare, but deference to authority is always a good idea and any attempt to mislead or push back is not going to help the case. Safety trumps all, so a concern voiced about danger to your vessel will modify the mood of the more zealous types.  The link to the CBSA site has a section on "Authorization to act as agent" that should be considered if you wish to leave your vessel in Canada. This procedure is covered at this link as well, http://www.puffin-press.com/CanadaLimits.pdf

There is a clear policy stated on the CBSA website that applies for Canada. The basis of this regulation is that your foreign yacht is being imported temporarily, and cannot be left without an owner or agent to act responsibly. Canadian citizens pay tax and duty on importing yachts, at a higher rate than the 5% GST than applies to visitors. http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voyage/fv-be/menu-eng.html

Petit Passage Notes (page 32)

2014 - Report by Ernest Hamilton in Glooscap II
More than once I have slogged my way north from Yarmouth up St. Mary's Bay in a Nor-Easter on the flood tide bound for Saint John via Petit Passage to come abeam of Meteghan, the last convenient stop before Tiverton, to have to make the hard decision whether to stop or to carry on. If one arrives at Petit Passage in a displacement-speed boat from the south much after high water slack one may not make it through the passage to the small vessel harbour; and there are few options of shelter on the south side of the passage beyond laying in a lee under a headland awaiting the turn of the tide (I don't think that anchoring is a practical option due to the depth); or returning the 10 miles across St. Mary's Bay to Meteghan. There is even less shelter in the approaches to Petit Passage in a sou-west breeze.

There is no such concern when arriving from the north as the small vessel harbour is down-current from the narrows of the passage when the tide turns foul.

In essence, when going north in a slower boat (boat speed less than <7 knots) getting through the passage 1 hour after high water slack will be difficult so plan your day accordingly.

Grand Manan, New Brunswick:
North Head (page 18)

2014 - Mary Shirley & Frans Kok in Remedios

Anchorages: The harbour master in Grand Manan recommended that we not try to tie up in the small, enclosed harbor at North Head (where we had stayed in 2007). The harbor was very busy with lobster boats unloading their pots prior to the end of the lobster season on June 29. He advised us to take a mooring in the bay, but to avoid the moorings further west. These were left over from an abandoned aquaculture enterprise and not maintained, although they were heavy 5 ton concrete blocks. (We later saw lots of these blocks piled on shore.) The harbour master was very cooperative and promised to give us space inside the harbor if the weather got bad. He recommended that we stay in North Head, rather than try any of the other harbors on Grand Manan; (he manages all of them).

Remarks: We were able to clear customs by phone in Grand Manan. It helped that we have Canpass numbers and both our crew were Canadian citizens If you are there during and for a month after lobster season, you can get lobster at the pound behind the ferry office: turn North (right) at the main road. You will need to check the hours when the pound is open.

Facilities: You can rent bikes at Adventure High Inc.: turn left at the main road and it is just beyond the Compass Rose Restaurant. The bikes are Treks and in good condition. It is an attractive ride to the bakery (about 15 minutes) and the supermarket in Castalia (about 45 minutes). The bike rental place provides side saddles to carry groceries. There are several restaurants and cafes near the dock. We ate at the café and thought it was quite good.

Yarmouth - (page 39)

Airport has no commercial carriers at this time. Yarmouth – Portland Ferry service may not resume for 2016.

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
Killam Bros. Marina has room for quite a few yachts, with 110 V AC and water available on the floating docks and a separate fuel dock.  The facility is well-maintained and convenient to local stores and restaurants.  The harbor is well-buoyed and easy to enterenter, although the channel is narrow in places.

2014 - Hannah and Michael Moore – Rosita

Facilities: Killam Wharf marina is in good shape. Laundry in both male and female washrooms. 2014 was quiet for them except when we were there, there were maybe 7 yachts tied up and the moorings all occupied, but room for more at the docks.

Remarks: In 2014 a new ferry started service. It is a day trip from Yarmouth that arrives from Portland around 07:30 and left at 10:00. Check out details on line before you travel. http://novastarcruises.com/

Pubnico Harbour
Pubnico Harbour

Pubnico (page 42)

43° 36.3’N 65° 46.5’W
2014 - Mary Shirley & Frans Kok - Remedios

Directions: The entrance to the Pubnico harbor is wide open and well buoyed. Round green “P1” and head NE into the Harbor. There are strong tidal currents in the outer harbor and it is wide open to the South, so proceed to one of the protected wharfs on the West or East Side. We went to Lower East Pubnico Harbor, the first harbor on the East side. This harbor has changed recently and is different from what is shown on the charts -- it now surrounded by a wharf. After rounded red nun “P4”, head north towards the opening in the south wall of the wharf. (Locals advised that you can take “P4” on either side, and we kept it to starboard on exiting without problems.) There is a red spar outside the entrance to Lower East Pubnico. We kept it to starboard upon entering, and, upon advice of the locals, to starboard upon exiting, and never saw less than 12 feet at low tide.

Anchoring And Berths: It is flat calm inside the harbor except in strong southwesterlies. There is ample room to turn around. The depth at low tide is at least 12 feet. There is a floating dock; tie up to one of the fishing boats on the dock. The lobster boats are likely to be inactive after the season ends (in May in this area). There is far less commercial fishing activity in this harbor than in Lower West Pubnico (which we visited in 2007), and you will usually have a very quiet night.

Remarks: The hospitality was wonderful. One of the fishermen even went out and caught fresh flounder for our dinner, and a friend cleaned it on the dock. There is no water on the floating dock and no other facilities except a place to leave garbage. A trail (mostly used by ATVs) runs along the water and passes a number of fish plants which were not open when we explored the area, but looked operative. We were told that the government plans to build a breakwater about 100’ from the opening in the wharf to provide better protection from the southwest

Stoddart COVE (page 43)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
We found our way in here from Lockeport in thick fog with radar and GPS.  Although the anchorage looks like it might be somewhat exposed to southwesterly winds, the northwest point on Stoddart Island appears to provide protection. We found good holding in 12 ft and calm waters during our overnight stay.  The heavy fog out off Cape Sable even seemed to lighten up in the anchorage.  Stoddart Island has a couple of houses on it, but no sign of any inhabitants while we were there.  Our charts seemed a bit vague about the passage north of Outer Island and the location of the tide rips offshore, so we played it safe in the fog the next morning and retraced our steps back out past Green Island (off Cape Sable Island) before turning up toward our course to Yarmouth, which, with contrary currents, made this anchorage a bit of a detour, rather than a convenient stopping off point.

Shelburne (page 51)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
Having conservatively estimated our likely progress across the Gulf of Maine, we found ourselves approaching Shelburne well ahead of schedule in the middle of the night.  At night the harbor is challenging to navigate because of the profusion of unlit buoys, aquaculture equipment and moorings.  We tied up at the Shelburne Harbor Yacht Club, where the members are very friendly.  Dockage was C$1.10/ft/night, 30amp 110V AC C$7/night and diesel C$1.23/liter, in each case plus HST, which seemed about average for the coast.  The Club's clean bathroom, shower and laundry facilities are available only during the day when staff is on hand.  The outer floating dock is somewhat exposed to SW winds and waves coming up the harbor, as the breakwater beyond it does not extend out very far.  The town was charming.  We cleared customs by phone by calling 1-800-CAN-PASS; nobody from Canadian Customs came to the boat.

Port Mouton (page 58)

2015 - Alexander MacMillan
REMARKS
If you are passing Little Hope Island you will be sailing past two of the best beaches in Nova Scotia. St. Catherines River Bay and Little Port Joli Bay. Situated between Port Joli and Port Mouton, these bay areas are part of Kejimkujik Seaside National Park. In a word, isolated. There is no vehicle traffic allowed, the public must hike in, 5 km, no bicycles, dogs on a leash only. It is one of the most pristine marine environments left on this coast.

  St. Catherines River beach is over 1 mile long with rocky islets, kelp beds & seals at the southwestern end. At the easterly end of the beach there is stream outflow of warm water from a tidal pond that can be navigated and explored with your dinghy at high to medium tide. This is an easy spot to land as well if the water levels permit. Swimming and walking the beach in seclusion are the attractions. Swimming in warm water is a plus feature.

  Little Port Joli beach is only .5 mile long, but has the same tidal pond outflow feature at the easterly end. A nice place to swim, less cold for sure and you can drift along downstream, stand up, walk back. There are reports of ticks in the bush interior and of course deer flies. The park is a protected nesting area for the endangered Piping Plover, so take care where your walk.

  If your opportunity is affected due to weather or time of day, you can anchor at Port Mouton, Carters Beach and hike in 5 km from that side on the Old Woods Property Road.
This is the Parks Canada link:
www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ns/kejimkujik/visit/seaside-bord%20de%20mer.aspx

  Both are day anchorages only in settled weather, ideally light northwesterly before the SW sea breeze kicks in the afternoon. Holding ground is good in 2-4 fathoms, the chart shows some irregular contours that could be used to advantage.

  There are no facilitates ashore and likely you will be the only ones on the beach.

Brooklyn (Herring Cove) (page59)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer There was nobody around at the yacht club marina when we tied up at 5PM in early June, but the electricity on the dock worked and the club house was open, where rudimentary bathroom and shower facilities were available.  We left a donation in the receptacle in the club house.

Lahave River (page 61)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
a.  Moshers Harbour:  We anchored about 400 feet off the beach just after the aquaculture symbol and before the private docks on the chart off the north shore of Moshers Island. Winds were moderate from the south.  During the night our anchor dragged and we reset a little further off the shore where we held fine, but leftover waves from the previous day’s southerly were radiating around Moshers Head to the east and rocked us uncomfortably as the then southwest wind held  us broadside to them.  I would not recommend this anchorage with winds from south to east.  That being said, the harbor was pretty and easy to access from courses running up or down the coast.

b.  Creaser Cove:  After our uncomfortable night in Moshers Harbor, we went up the La Have River and around Kraut Point to Creaser Cove and anchored in 12 ft about halfway between the government wharf and the moored boats further in.  Here we found great protection from wind and waves from any southerly quadrant.  The weather was squally so we did not go ashore, but enjoyed the pleasant scenery in the breaks in the clouds and watched the La Have Ferry pass back and forth.  The channel up from the mouth of the river is well-marked.

Lunenburg (page 64)

2015
DIRECTIONS: Battery Point Fog Alarm is now user activated.  To do so, go to ch 65A VHF (156.275MHz) and key mic 5 times within 5sec.  Alarm will turn on for 30min.  If you need it to sound for another 30min cycle, simply repeat keying of microphone.

ANCHORAGES AND BERTHS
Berths are available at the east end of the harbor, Lunenburg Boatlocker (280 Montague St.) (902) 640-3202 or VHF 68, manages these berths and the ones at Zwicker Wharf farther west. There is also a new dinghy dock at the Zwicker Wharf location. There are plans for a marine welcome center on this site, it has easy access to the town and overnight berthing is offered. https://my-waterfront.ca/waterfront/lunenburg/

FACILITIES: Fuel truck delivery can be arranged for larger vessels, but if you need a smaller amount, the jerry can method is probably easier. The constraint usually is the size of the nozzle on the truck and the fuel fill pipe capacity on the boat.

Lunenburg has free WiFi along the waterfront that extends out into the harbor but this can be bandwidth challenged. Most restaurants and bars offer WiFi as well. In addition you can visit North Sails Atlantic at 150 Pelham St., 3 streets up from Zwicker Wharf and the staff will let you log on to a high speed server. Most services are available close by, sail repairs, rigging, electronics, chandlery, engine repairs, wooden boat repairs , ships carpentry. There is a very good grocery store in the old town on Montague Street and a larger newer store 1.5 km away with a liquor store. Lunenburg Foundry has a 75 ton travel lift for haulout. Lunenburg Boatlocker, 280 Montague, and North Sails Atlantic, 150 Pelham can help connect you with the services you need.

Houston North Gallery has moved to Halifax

2015 - Stockton Smith - Weather
A comment on fueling in Lunenburg: A diesel fuel truck can access the small floating dock directly in front of the Lunenburg Boat Locker.  My solution is to secure several 5 gallon jerry jugs on deck.  We beg, borrow or hire a car to drive us to a gas station to refill the jugs.  I've found this solution much preferable anywhere in NS or NFLD, except for yacht refueling stations, such as Shelburne and St. Peter's.  Also, the floating docks attached to the Zwicker wharf are only secured by a few insubstantial chain points.  In a blow, I would highly recommend using extra docking lines attached directly to the actual pier pilings.  We rode out three days of nastiness with no problem.

  2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
It was hard to figure out what moorings were available for guests.  Eventually we took a white mooring with two orange lines streaming from it.  It looked to be in good shape.  These moorings are managed by the Boat Locker (902-640-3202) and the charge was C$20 per night.  The mooring field can be rough in a south wind, which was fairly strong while we were there.  There was no space available for transients at the Zwicker Wharf. We saw the (reconstructed) Bluenose II out for her maiden sail and later went on board at her dock.  Lunenburg was charming; its museums were very interesting.

Southwest Cove (page 76)

2015 - Ron James - Quinita
ANCHORAGE
We just arrived at South West Cove, NS, 44 31.59N 064 00.72W, hoping to find a secluded anchorage.  The cove is now filled with moorings and, given the depth of water there is no room to anchor.

We’re sailing on a 32’ catamaran in company with a 40’ trimaran.  We were informed that the first mooring, when entering the cove, is a guest mooring.  The forecast was for light winds overnight, the mooring had a very stout (1”) line attached and so we rafted. 

Head Habour (Schooner Cove) page 78

2014

Facilities: Shining Waters Marina, near the head of St. Margarets Bay, is a customs clearance telephone reporting site. A 30 minute car ride from Halifax Airport,-YHZ, or downtown Halifax make it a convenient stopover for crew changes and services. www.shiningwaters.ca

Between St. Margarets Bay and Halifax Harbor

There is in the summer months a fish trap that extends out from Betty Island near Devereux Shoal, red nun AP50. This can extend out 1-2 miles offshore as shown roughly on the red line annotation on the accompanying chart. It consists of an anchor line on a fish trap just below the surface that is a hazard to navigation. You can avoid this to the north by passing close to AP50 or steering well south by 3 miles as indicated on this chart screen shot. The 1S (one sierra ) traffic zone boundary reference, 6 nm west is just a vicinity approximate position. It is sometimes marked with a high flyer but often nothing will alert you until you are upon it. If you are leaving or approaching Halifax it is to be avoided.

Halifax (page 92)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
We stayed at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron on our way up and down the coast.  The facility is beautiful and the members are very welcoming.  The food at the wardroom in the clubhouse was very good and the service was excellent.  We took the bus that stops right in front of the club to provision and to go into downtown Halifax.  The fare is C$2.50 and, with a transfer, you can get back to the club or all the way downtown.  The Maritime Museum is excellent and an interesting diversion is to take the ferry over to Dartmouth.

Three Fathom Harbour (page 100)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
This harbor is conveniently close to Halifax and passages to the north, but, when we tried to tuck up against the western shore above Graham Head  to get some lee from the northwest wind, our anchor did not set on the first try and the anchorage was very rolly with leftover swell coming right in from offshore.

Jeddore (page 101)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant

DIRECTIONS: Jeddore Rock is high and obvious and Jeddore Head is a prominent clay bluff that makes a good reference point when approaching from seaward. The green entrance buoy YT5 can be hard to see against the rocky beach behind, and will seem to be very close the shore and farther east than you expect. Be sure to leave it to port as Thorn Shoal extends further east than the charts indicate.

A summer afternoon southwesterly provides a magnificent reach in smooth water all the way up the harbor.

ANCHORAGE and BERTHS: Jeddore is very well marked up to the last pair of buoys YT 21 and YT 28 that take you into the large basin of the Eastern Arm at the head of the harbor. We anchored under the lee of the shore to port after this pair.

South of Brown Island there is an opportunity to turn to port between green buoy YT 23 and RGR buoy YTU and follow another well marked channel into the Western Arm which has potential for a more snug anchorage than the Eastern Arm.

Facilities: As noted in the previous update, Sea Rover Marina has closed. However, you can land your dinghy on the beach near the Salmon River Bridge and walk to Jeddore Lodge and Cabins and its licensed dining room (phone 1-902-889-3030).

Owl's Head Bay (page 102)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
We anchored in the far northwestern tip of the bay to find some shelter from a very strong northerly wind.  Although this cove shallows a ways out from the shore, we found good holding in about 10ft and relatively calm waters.

2014
Facilities:
Sea Rover Marina has closed

SHIP HARBOUR (page 103)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant

DIRECTIONS: The along shore passage between Jeddore and Ship Harbour inside Jeddore Rock, Old Man Rock, Egg Island and various other ledges and rocks is straightforward in clear weather. The rocks are all obvious and easy to avoid.

BORGLES ISLAND Anchorages (Page 103)

Deep Cove: The smooth sloping rock along the south shore of Deep Cove is remarkable. The best anchorage is between the island shore and the rocky ledge in the middle of the cove. The water between the rocky ledge and the head of the cove seems deep on the chart, and actually is for the most part, but there are some scattered, very large boulders that come within a couple of feet of the surface at low water that could give an unpleasant surprise. At one time there were houses on Borgels Island and a road that lead from Deep Cove to the beach on the south side of the Island, but we could find no trace of either in 2015.

SHOAL BAY AND TANGIER HARBOR (Page 105)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant

Shoal Bay: The passage north of Borgles Island into Shoal Bay is not marked but is straightforward. Little Island is aptly named, a low rock pile with a little bit of grass. Round Island is also well named, round, high and well wooded. Take the passage between Little and Borgles Island, favoring the Little Island side.

Tangier Harbor: The channel between the mainland (Indian Point) and Inner Baltee Island is deep and well marked although buoys are not shown on CHS Chart 4236. A large white lobster pound building provides an obvious landmark on the mainland shore. Travelling west to east, pass between a red and green pair, YN3 and YN4, on the Shoal Bay end, stay mid channel, and exit into Tangier Harbour with two reds YN6 and YN8 to starboard and one green YN7 to port.


The public wharf on the east side of Tangier Harbour is in good condition and there is room to tuck snugly inside the “L” if there are not too many local boats (there were none in August 2015). The fish plant is a salt fish operation so no fresh fish is available. Willie Krauuch Smokehouse is no more, alas. Nothing else ashore here, although acquaintances report that they found themselves at this wharf with engine trouble and the local folks were very helpful.


POPES HARBOUR (page 106)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant
You can take a shortcut inside Ironbound Island at the tip of the peninsula that separates Tangier Harbour and Popes Harbour. There is 10 feet in the shallowest part but be cautious of a rock off the north shore of Ironbound.

SHELTER COVE (page 107)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant
As noted, there is good water well into the cove. The bottom slopes up gradually and holding is good. Land your dinghy just north of the salt march at the head of the cove and look for a path not far into the bushes. Ito your left, the path leads to two beautiful back-to-back beaches separated by a grassy ridge.

MUSHABOOM HARBOUR (page 111)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant
ANCHORAGE: The anchorage off Bull Beach can be rolly, it’s difficult to get ashore by dinghy and there is nothing there. Another choice is off the lovely sandy beach at the provincial campground in Taylor Head Bay between Bob’s Bluff and Psyches Island.

The Gates: The Gates passage is unmarked but the way is obvious and deep. Heading east, the passage runs north of well treed Little Gates Island, and south of Malagash Island then through the narrow but deep passage between Malagash and Monahan Islands, and into well protected Malagash Cove. The rock in the middle of the cove is obvious. The shores are built up with houses but you can land a dinghy near the bridge at the head of the cove for a run ashore.

SHEET HARBOUR (Page 113)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant August
Softwood Passage: Like all other parts of the inside passage along the Eastern Shore, the protected route from that runs north of Hardwood and Softwood and Round Islands from Sheet Harbour Passage (Sober Island) was well marked in August 2015. It’s easier to make this passage from west to east than the other way around. It would be difficult to pick up the buoys if approaching from the east late in the day with sun in your eyes.

Red buoy XP 14 at Sheet Harbour Passage is shown on CHS Chart 4235. Proceeding east from there, the reds are to port and greens to starboard. Pass in sequence between a red and green pair XS8 and XS9, and another red and green pair XS7 and XS6. Then, passing north of Softwood Island, the buoys fan out with XS4 and XS2 to port and XS1 to starboard. Although the rocks and ledges seem alarmingly close at hand, they are all marked by the buoys and clearly visible even at high water. There is at least 10 feet of water through this run.

Once past buoy XS1, head due east to pass through the channel between aptly named Round Island and the obvious Round Island Ledge immediately to its north. Continue east about halfway to Sutherland Island then turn northeast to round Beaver Point and into Beaver Harbour.

There is a pleasant lunch stop at Hardwood Island, protected from summer westerlies. Anchor under the protection of the bluff just north of the point that juts out from the east shore of the island and go ashore at the little beach at the head of the cove. By keeping a careful eye out for the rock awash off the northern tip of Hardwood Island, you can go north from here and join the Softwood passage at Buoy XS9 then head east as below, or turn west to Sober Island.

(Ed note: both Navionics and Garmin charts advise caution in these passages, noted with a information icon information icon to state the passage is buoyed and may not show all the buoys shown below).

BEAVER HARBOUR (page 115)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant

HORSE’S HEAD HARBOUR: There was no aquaculture in 2015. The little basin is supremely well protected from all directions with excellent holding in mud. There is a floating dock at the head of the cove maintained by some of the local residents. You can land your dinghy there for a walk ashore.

NECUM TEUCH (page 116)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant

DIRECTIONS: There is a lovely and well marked inside passage from Beaver Harbour to Marie Joseph. The buoys are all shown on CHS Chart 4235. Leaving Beaver Harbour eastbound, pass north of the Harbour Islands, leaving green buoys XM3 and XM5 to port. Then turn north, leave High Island to port, red buoy XM6 to starboard and green XM7 to port.

Turn to starboard at red XM10 and thread the narrow passage between Baptiste Island to the north and Black Duck Island to the south, exiting the other end by leaving green XM13 to port.

From there, in relatively open water, steer about 105 magnetic to pass north of Kitts Reef and the Halibut Islands to red bell buoy XA4 by the western end of Tuffin Island. Pass close along the bold south shore of Tuffin Island and south of Tuffin Ledges and Tuffin Shoal to green spar buoy VV7, then turn sharp to port to head north towards red buoy VV8. Continue in the same direction until the northern tip of Crooks Island is abeam and then turn to starboard to enter Marie Joseph Harbour via Hapes Point.

Marie Joseph Harbour can be safely entered from a more offshore course by passing between red bell buoy XA2 just SW of Bowens Ledge and black bell XA3 located SE of Halibut Islands. Go either north of south of Frying Pan Island, a low, flat rock ridge and then to VV7 by Tuffin Shoal as mentioned above.

Mitchell Bay (page 118)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
We anchored in the northeast cove on Hartlings Island and found good holding in about 12 ft. and shelter from any wave action out in the bay.  The cottage on Hartlings Island was unoccupied when we were there, so we wandered around the trails on the island and enjoyed pretty views over the neighboring islands and ledges.  A delightful spot.

Marie Joseph Harbour (page 120)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant
ANCHORAGE: The little cove where the two halves of Hapes Point meet is a lovely and private anchorage. The bottom shoals gradually. There is a beach and very pleasant walking ashore here.

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
We detoured here to escape a blustery SW wind.  It took us two sets to get our CQR anchor to hold.  There was plenty of water in the center of the harbor.  The land is rather low-lying, so the harbor is not really all that sheltered from the wind, but there was at least no wave action with winds from SW.  The government wharf was filled with commercial vessels and with a jet ski that was tied up in the middle of the wharf, so there was no room for us to tie up.  An old steel hulk has been pulled up on shore in the village, presumably for cutting up, so the scenery is none too pretty.  We were amused, however, by a seal struggling with a flounder that looked too big for its mouth out in the center of the harbor; it spent more than 15 minutes trying to subdue and then consume the fish.  Passages in and out are quite clearly marked.

2014 - Mark Lenci in Sunflower

Anchorage And Berths: In Hawbolt Cove, anchor north of the government wharf in 10’ of water. The holding ground is mud and good. The government wharf has 8’ on the end at low water. In 2010 and 2014, it was reported that Hawbolt Cove has a very weedy bottom. The weeds are dense enough to affect the sounding on depth sounders by several feet. Proceed carefully.

The unnamed cove in the northwest corner of Marie Joseph Harbour at 44 57.717 N, 02 06.920 W is a good anchorage with 25 feet of water, excellent holding ground, and good shelter. It is easily recognized by the church steeple on the northwest shore.

Remarks: Visits in 2010 and 2014 have revealed aquaculture activity in Marie Joseph Harbour proper and in the adjacent Smith Cove. In 2014 there were yellow buoys typical of aquaculture near the north end of Round Island, but no evidence of nets. Proceed cautiously between Round Island and Turner Island in conditions of low visibility. This harbour provides a good alternative to Liscomb Harbour for those traveling along the coast because you do not have to go so far from the coastal track to get to it. This contributor recommends the unnamed cove in the northwest corner of Marie Joseph Harbour as a superior anchorage compared to Hawbolt Cove due to depth, ease of approach, and bottom type.

Spanish Ship Bay (page 122) An alternative to Liscomb

2015-Stockton Smith - Weather Gauge

ANCHORAGES: After threading the needle to get in, I highly recommend that one anchor as comfortably close to the south southwestern shoreline as possible.  The center of the bay is totally fouled with thick kelp.  We dragged on two attempts.  After that, I finally remembered where I dropped my hook a few years earlier!  Even with this limitation, Spanish Ship Bay is large enough to hold an entire CCA national summer cruise flotilla. 

REMARKS: It is perfectly protected from all quadrants.  I might suggest a more expanded write-up on this spot.  It beats the heck out of Liscomb for protection!  Plenty of spots to explore with a dinghy. These is a boat launch ramp at the NW head of the inlet noted on the Navionics app. A small general store and gas station (no diesel) is nearby on the route 7, the main highway.


LITTLE LISCOMB HARBOR (page 123)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant
If entering or leaving by the passage west of Hemloe Island, green buoy VQ5 is so far to the east that it looks like there is no room between it and the little un-named island. But there is and you must pass to the east of it to avoid the rocky ledge that almost blocks the passage. Pass north of green buoy VM15 that is situated in the passage between Hemloe Island and the mainland. It’s not obvious from the chart which side you should leave this on.

ST MARY’S RIVER AND SONORA (page 126)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant
DIRECTIONS: Do not attempt to enter the St Mary’s River in an onshore gale. The bar could break heavily.

ANCHORAGE AND BERTHS: The wharf at Sonora was under construction in 2015. This is not a place for yachts.

SHERBROOKE VILLAGE (page 127)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant
As Syd Dumaresq reported, we found a minimum of nine or ten feet all the way up on a rising tide, sometimes quite a bit more. The channel is well marked but don’t be too literal about pursuing straight line courses from buoy to buoy. The Navionics charts are very accurate.

However, contrary to Syd’s notes, the thin water past the last pair of buoys VK75 and VK76 is to starboard, not to port. From that pair, a straight line towards the clump of bushes just south of the floating wharf takes you through good water quite close to the tip of Sinclair’s Point. Anchor in midstream abeam of the floating wharf in ten feet over a hard bottom. There is very little tidal effect this far up the river. The floating wharf is not robust enough to tie a boat of any size up to but is a good dinghy dock.

Walking into town, turn right at the first street to find the museum admission booth and pay your fee to tour the museum buildings. Or continue straight ahead, thorough the museum grounds into Sherbrooke proper for the grocery and hardware stores, a bank and a couple of pleasant cafes. Turn left across the bridge for a short walk to the liquor store on the right and excellent smoked salmon at St Mary’s River Smokehouse on the left.

Country Harbour (page 129)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant

Fisherman’s Harbour (Neverfail Cove) provides decent protection. The bar between the island with the light and the shore has eroded over the years but is still awash at high water, breaking seas from the east but not the wind. The cove shoals rapidly if you try to go further in than the line between the wharf and the light on the point.

Harbour Island Cove (page 130) provides good protection in southerly winds with a slight roll. It is very easy to get into, even in heavy fog.

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
a.  Fishermans Harbour:  We chose this anchorage to get shelter from SW winds and found good holding in 12 feet of water.  The harbor shallows quite rapidly, so there would probably not be much shelter here from any kind of northerly wind.  The government wharf looked a bit weathered and was filled with locals fishing (not that we saw any fish caught), so we did not try to tie up.

b.  Harbour Island Cove:  We anchored close in to Harbour Island to seek a lee from southerly winds and found good holding in about 15 feet, but an unexpected shift of winds overnight to strong northerlies put us too close to the shore for comfort, so we raised anchor and went across to Crook's Cove on the north shore just to the east of Drum Head Harbour.  It looked pretty rocky, but we were able to get our anchor to hold in about 20 ft of water for a couple of hours before we proceeded on our way.

Yankee Cove
Yankee Cove

Whitehead Yankee Cove  (page 133)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant
We confirmed other reports that there is plenty of water if you keep well to starboard entering, port leaving. The mussel farm was operating in August 2015 but there was plenty of anchoring space.

2014 - Mary Shirley & Frans Kok in Remedios

The 2012 CCA Guide to Nova Scotia suggested steering a course of 260 (or 80) degrees heading for (or away) from the fish plant on the far shore of Whitehead Bay to avoid the rock off the SE corner of Yankee Island.  Remedios followed these directions and hit the rock at close to high tide; the rock is located at approximately 45° 13.95’ N, 61° 09.62’ W.  We recommend staying closer to the opposite shore from Yankee Island. When we did, near high tide, our depth finder never read below 11 feet.

The mussel farm was no longer located in Yankee Cove when we visited in August, 2014.


Whitehead (page 133)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
On our way to St Peter’s we were slammed by strong northerly winds off Tor Bay (gusting to 37 knots), so we ducked into Whitehead Harbour.  Out in the main part of the harbor there was not much let up in the winds, so we bypassed Yankee Cove for fear of not being able to avoid the ledge at the entrance and anchored off Haulover Point, the high headland to the northeast of Marshall Cove (the wind was really whistling through Marshall Cove itself at this time).  We found lots of kelp on the bottom here and had to reset the anchor three times (moving slightly further northeast each time) until we finally found good holding in about 20 ft just southwest of a small house on the shore with an old pier off of it.  There we spent a comfortable night out of the worst of the wind.

DOVER PASSAGE (page 136)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant

LITTLE DOVER RUN (page 137)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant
Some additional buoys have been laid at the western entrance and through the run, not shown on any charts

Louise Harbour
Louise Harbour

Louse Harbour (page 138)

2014 -Mark Lenci in Sunflower

Directions: Approach Louse Head on an approximate course of 3300 (mag.). There are five ledges that you should leave to port on entering (though all of them may not be visible due to the state of the tide). Favor the port side when entering and rounding these ledges. After passing Louse Head, watch for two ledges near the shore to starboard that shows at half tide. These are not any of the five ledges that must obviously be left to port; it and must be left to starboard. Proceed slowly and use your sounder. The chartlet shows a typical track into the harbor. There are several anchorages within the harbor.

Canso (page 141)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant
ANCHORAGE AND BERTHS: Canso Marina tucked just behind the breakwater, is short on maneuvering room but provides very protected floating berths with showers and laundry in the adjoining RV park. There are several moorings and lots of room to anchor just outside. The marina owner is friendly and accommodating.

REMARKS: Unfortunately, Canso is in decline, and has little to offer apart from the Grassy Island Interpretive Centre, not even a place to have a cup of coffee as of August 2015 (although that might change if the young couple who purchased the old post office are successful).

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
We ducked into the Cape Canso Marina when dense fog blocked our passage around the Cape.  There were no other transients here at the time, so there was plenty of room.  There was plenty of depth at the floating docks and 110V AC and water was easily accessible.  Bathrooms and showers were available at the marina office building.  It was perhaps a ½ mile walk into town, where there is a museum and a bakery/café.

2014 - Hannah and Michael Moore in Rosita

Anchorage And Berths: Port Hawesbury YC floats have about a 40’ maximum LOA. They told us our 55’ x 6’ 6” would be OK on the wall to the S of the fuel dock. I failed to check the tides and the morning tide was lower than the evening low tide we came in on. That wall cannot float anything more than 5’ 6” draft at a low spring tide. We paid $1.25 a foot for the privilege of drying out…. Laundry and shower suffer from poor water pressure. Cool ravens in the parking lot though…. Water, Fuel and Wifi available. Should have used the Govt Wharf given our size.

Port Hawesbury (page 145)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
The Strait of Canso Yacht Club is one of the friendliest and most welcoming facilities we have encountered.   A member not only offered to drive us to the supermarket in town, but insisted on waiting for us while we shopped so he could bring us back to the boat!  The club facilities are exceptionally clean and functional.  We did not notice any issue with water pressure.  The floating docks are somewhat exposed to wakes from boat and ship traffic out in the Straits, but we did not find it too uncomfortable.  The adjacent government wharf was very filled up with commercial vessels, so one should not count on being able to tie up there.  We did not find much in the way of restaurant options in town, but shopping choices were numerous.  The walk from the marina was quite long and uphill.

Canso Lock (page 146)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
We were invited by the lockkeeper to stay in the middle of the lock with our engine running, rather than tying up to the side.  When we got in, however, the winds funneled up from behind us and, with our limited maneuverability in reverse, we found it difficult to avoid the twin screw power boats in the lock ahead of us.  At 34’, we had just enough room to turn ourselves around to face the wind to get back in control, when the locks opened and it was time to turn around again and get out.  It probably would have been preferable to get out our fenderboard and lines and tied ourselves to the side in the first instance.

Canso Lockmaster – Operates on Channel 11.

St. Peter's Canal (page153)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
Coming from the south in mid-June, the lock tenders responded immediately to my VHF hail, helped us with our lines and locked us though immediately, even though we were the only boat there.  A very friendly introduction to Lake Bras D'Or!

Lion's Club Marina (page 154)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
In mid-June, the marina manager was the only staff around and he did not respond to VHF or answer the phone, but once he saw us tied up to the fuel dock he went out of his way to help us relocate to one of the floating docks and help us with directions to a restaurant, etc.  The bathroom/shower, laundry facilities and other amenities are impressive.  The Lake Bras D'Or Inn, a local institution within easy walking distance of the marina, had a new chef and did not live up to its reputation.

DAMIEN’S COVE (page 154)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant
Swing to port after passing MacNab’s Island and anchor along the north east shore of Joe Sampson’s/Marsh Island. Most of the other coves in this area have been heavily built up and this is one of the few that still offers privacy.

CRAMMOND ISLANDS (page 162)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant

Stay west of the indicated line of entry from the north. The shoal seems to extend further out than you might expect from the sketch chart.

West Bay is cottage country so don’t expect much privacy from jet skis and motorboats during summer months in this or any of the other nearby anchorages.

CLARKE COVE (Marble Mountain) (page 163)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant

ANCHORAGE: The Marble Mountain wharf is well protected with heavy fabric and easy to tie to. There is barely six feet at its end face and it is quite exposed to the southwest winds. The museum and store are long gone so there is nothing ashore except the view from the top of the quarry.

PELLIER HARBOUR (page 165)

2015 - Wilson Fitt - Christina Grant

ANCHORAGE: This is a lovely and private spot, far enough from West Bay cottage country to discourage outboard and jet ski traffic. The water is deeper than indicated, more like 30 feet. The sand spit was awash at high water in 2015, offering protection from waves but not inhibiting the breeze that keeps bugs at bay. The beach just to port of the spit is very steep to. You could put the bow of your boat up on it to step ashore, as we used to do at Marble Mountain.

Baddeck (page 174)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
We stayed at Baddeck Marine, which had decent facilities and a friendly and helpful staff.  There was a good stock of marine supplies at their store.  Staff went up my mast to repair a bad VHF connection within a couple of hours after my inquiry.  The floating docks seem sheltered, but a brief squall from the northeast set everything in motion; it seems the public wharf to the northeast does not offer much protection if the waves come from that direction.  There was a very friendly group at the neighboring Bras D’Or Yacht Club, with excellent local music—a high point of our stay.

The Great Bras D'Or (page 178)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
It is challenging to time a passage through the Great Bras D’Or in a slow-moving sailboat, even though the Canadian Tide and Current Tables now have a table for it.  The length of the Great Bras D'Or channel is more than 15 miles, so one needs to plan for possibly changing conditions over an extended period for the passage.  We had moderate northwesterly winds forecast and tried to target reaching the mouth after the ebb near slack water.  The winds shifted to the south after we got underway, however, and we passed through faster than we anticipated.  When we reached the mouth, a leftover northerly swell was causing waves to break in the middle of the buoyed channel, so we stayed to the right of the course, although the water was, of course, shallower.  Perhaps the next time I will be able to anticipate changing conditions better.

Ingonish Harbour (page 187)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
We entered near high tide and, although the buoyed channel seemed to be almost up on the sand bar building up on the south side of the entrance, we saw depths of at least 20 feet all the way through.  We anchored in about 25 feet off the former Ingonish Landing Marina wharf at the southwest corner of the harbor (which was almost full with local fishing boats).  Our anchor held, but a northerly wind shift put us too close to the southern shore (southeasterlies had been forecast), so we anchored further out in about 30 feet and held there while a storm blew through the next day.  As we waited at anchor we saw three moose on the spit of land behind the marina.  A pleasant harbor and good jumping off spot for a crossing to Newfoundland.

Dingwall (page 189)

2014 - Mary Shirley & Frans Kok in Remedios

Directions: From the safe water buoy line up the red and green buoys and follow a direction of approximately 283° M through the dead center of the channel between the two breakwaters. Remedios saw no less than 7.7 feet at mid-tide. However, locals told us that the channel is dredged about every two years and at times can carry no more than six feet at low. The bottom is sand.

Anchorages And Berths: Tie up to the fishing boats on the first dock at starboard upon entry, or tie up to the Aspy Bay Fisheries Dock. Stay close to the docks when going up the channel. The harbor is very secure from all directions.

Remarks: Remedios tied up at the first starboard dock, which was close to the spectacular beach along the north pool, but a 30 minute walk to the ice

Cheticamp Harbour (page 193)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
Quai du Phare Marina (with the lighthouse painted like an Acadian flag) is very conveniently located, with water and 110V AC electricity on the docks and decent bathrooms and shower facilities on site.  There is room for maybe four 40 foot boats to tie up.  Cheticamp has a few restaurants (some with live music in the evening) and other facilities stretched out along the Cabot Trail, which runs along the coast here.

Mabou Harbour (page195)

2015 - William J. Wiegmann - Wanderer
We entered Mabou Harbour near low tide and saw some 6 foot readings on the bar outside the mouth of the harbor.  The current was also still flowing quite fiercely out the inlet at this time.  On our way out near slack high tide, the current was still flowing swiftly inward.  Obviously, there is a lag between slack tide in the Gulf outside and the currents moving through the inlet that needs to be taken into account when transiting the inlet. The channel in the inlet is quite narrow and bendy, but pretty well marked.  Definitely follow the marks, rather than anything shown on your chartplotter.  I would not enter this harbor at night.

We anchored well up the harbor not far from the village.  Apart from one rock (which was marked with a buoy), there was deep water available all the way.  We dinghied ashore to the docks at the bridge over the river (which were filled with local pleasure craft) and walked to the town, where we had a great meal at the Red Shoe Pub, accompanied by live music.  We did not have reservations, but did not have to wait too long in any event.

2014 - Mary Shirley & Frans Kok in Remedios

Directions: Locals strongly advised us to pick up the red-and-white VJ fairway buoy and hug the green buoys closely upon entering. Although the charts indicate 2 feet at the entrance, Remedios followed this advice and saw no less than 7 feet one hour before high tide.

Anchorages And Berths: There is a beautiful anchorage in 16-17 feet at low in the NE Mabou River in front of the Mabou Sailing School, which also has two moorings for rent in 10-12 feet. (46° 04.9’N, 61° 24.6’W). Contact Danny MacDonald (cell 902-565-4832). To enter the anchorage, turn northeast after Hughes Point into the last inlet before inner harbor. The Sailing School has a dock and they told us it is about a two mile walk to the town. The anchorage is a 15 minute dingy ride to the town dock just before the highway bridge; follow the private spars to the dock.

Remarks: The Red Shoe Pub is a short walk to the left from the town dock and has live music every night from 5 to 7 pm. Reservations are essential (902-945-2996).

Magdalene Islands
Havre Aubert (page 209)

2014 - Mary Shirley & Frans Kok in Remedios

Directions: From the red flashing buoy “K2” follow the well-marked channel into the harbor. After passing the commercial pier to starboard on entry, the red “YK22” flashing buoy that marks the entry to the channel to the marina (Club Nautique les Plaisanciers du Havre, 418-937-5283, Ch 68). This channel in very narrow and carries less than 6 feet at low. Remedios did not attempt this entry but others, six foot draft vessels who were part of our cruise with the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron reported touching bottom in the channel at low tide. See below for advice for deeper drafts.

From the ‘YK22” buoy, Remedios took a course of approximately 250° magnetic towards the abandoned fish plant to a mooring in Etange Sable at: 47° 13.8’N, 61° 50.07’W. This route and mooring has 10 to 15 feet at low tide. The mooring is controlled by the Harbor Master of Club Nautique les Plaisanciers du Havre, who met us in a Zodiac and guided us to the mooring.

Remarks: From where Remedios was moored it was about a 15 minute dingy ride to the Club Nautique. The Club has showers, laundry, water, and ice at the dock. The nearest store is a small grocery store and requires a car; we asked someone for directions and he kindly drove us there and back to the marina. The Harbor Master can also arrange for a rental car. We were told there were no cabs. There are many shops and restaurants in the small town adjacent to the harbor, some cafes offer free music in the evenings. Café de Grave is especially nice. We found the atmosphere of Have Aubert very French and very charming.

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