Nine Mile Creek is only a few miles from Charlottetown Harbour but it is not frequented as a cruising port. Part of the problem is that the western end of the Bay is very shallow and the last eighth of a mile is in a fairly narrow dredged channel. Add to this the fact that this is very much a working port with absolutely no amenities. The wharves service the extensive mussel and oyster operations in the bay and there is little room beyond the six to eight commercial fishing vessels working out of here.
Why bother then? Well, it is a pretty sheltered area with a good breakwater to the south and it is well-protected from the prevailing SW winds. It may not be a destination but it makes a nice stop on a day sail. Because the mussel operation is industrial the boats are usually away from the wharf in the daytime. The whole operation is pretty interesting, especially since the oyster growing is carried on in a different manner from the rest of the province. Rodney Clark, a Summerside native who operates Rodney’s Oyster House in Toronto is experimenting with something other than the good luck approach to oyster farming and has developed a way of high density cultivation of the oysters. The best reason to visit is because the best course is along the south shore of the Holland Cove / Cumberland area and the views of the shore are a real treat
All along the coast which has a high cliff in spots there are little indentations in the cliff where a tiny rivulet has carved a vee in the cliff and has formed a beach in a shallow cove. This shore has an almost continuous sand bottom and with few exceptions can be sailed with little damage to the hull even if you do go aground. On the other hand it is difficult to get close to shore at low tide, especially if you have a boat with any kind of deep keel.
In the spring of the year there is a contrast between the newly plowed fields and areas where the dandelions have populated pasture fields. There are parts of the coast which are not easily seen from the road. In one place a sizable vineyard is in development and elsewhere there are clusters of old and new cottages.
A landmark on the shore is St. Martin’s stone church whose steeple is marked on charts. This is the only stone church in the province and one of only a handful of stone buildings.
The seemingly open bay is about a quarter filled with a huge mussel operation with acres and acres of buoys marked off with yellow spat buoys, some used a staging points for the many cormorants or shag ducks which have nested in nearby islands over the last thirty years. A marked channel is left through the buoys but it is hard to sail and going around the operation to the north or south is preferred. The thousands of buoys in geometrical lines support mussel “socks” where the shellfish grow suspended above the predators on the ocean floor. The mussel beds must be in locations where they are well-flushed by the moving tides.
Once in the Nine Mile Creek Harbour it is pleasant enough but you can quickly see that those who are here are here to work. This makes no pretense of being anything but a working harbour. It has only the bare essentials.
The entrance is narrow and you have to sail close to the shore avoid the sand and mud banks that drift down on the bay from the nearly awash spit connecting St. Peter’s Island with the shore. This breaks the waves but there is little to break the wind blowing across the low foreshore which can make entering the harbour a problem when the prevailing SW wind is strong.
Coming back to Charlottetown one of the treats in the unique Blockhouse light which dates from the mid-nineteenth century.