Lying in the lee of the light

IMG_2822The best sailing spots are not necessarily over the horizon.  At the mouth of the Charlottetown Harbour there is a tiny indentation in the coast between Alchorn Point and Blockhouse Point. It is a cove without a name but in a south-west breeze which is the norm for this time of year it is a sheltered anchorage.  Just a few boat lengths from the 80 foot channel with its 2 knot tides the cove has the advantage of a slight counter-current.  This is not an anchorage for big boats as it dries to only a few feet at low tide but it has a good sandy bottom  and for thin water boats such as the Halman  it is an excellent spot to drop a picnic hook.

IMG_2824The cove is dominated by the Block House light built in 1877. The unusual square keepers house with the attached three-story tower is a protected heritage place but that has not prevented the federal government from declaring it surplus. Already close examination shows that maintenance has been reduced if not eliminated and its fate is not known.  In spite of some peeling paint it is still an impressive structure.  It appears on dozens of postcard images and is a favourite souvenir  photo from the decks of the many cruise ships that visit the harbour. The 1877 building replaced an earlier structure but there has been a beacon or signal station on the site since the early 1800s. The light serves as a symbol of the harbour entrance or, if you are heading out, as the gateway to Northumberland Strait.

Chart 2037 (2) The cove was once home to an experimental lobster hatchery as can be seen from the adjacent post  card image but not a single trace of the buildings and wharves remain on the site.  While the light once stood solitary on the site trees have grown up and obscured it from some directions although the light is still clearly visible from many miles out into Hillsborough Bay.  Erosion of the soft sandstone continues to be a problem and at some point the building may have to be moved.

IMG_2829The shelter of the cove comes from the high red cliffs and the thick woods to the west. A single cottage faces on the cove and there is a narrow sand beach.  Except for the curious visitors to the lighthouse  the cove is usually empty but sometimes Charlottetown boats head for the spot for swimming or picnicking. Tuesday was a bit of a dull day and the south breeze was cool but under the lee of the light, with hot tea brewed on my gimballed stove and a nautical book in hand it was a fine spot test out my new Bruce anchor.  I watched as a lone sailboat fought against the tide and wind and clawed out to Block House buoy before turning and riding downhill back into the harbour.

1 thought on “Lying in the lee of the light

  1. Pingback: The Lighthouse at Blockhouse Point | Sailstrait

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