Almost due south of Charlottetown and less than thirty nautical miles across Northumberland Strait lies a wonderful cruising ground for small boats. Amet Sound runs about 12 miles west to east and is about four miles across. Just to the west is the town of Wallace which is also a traditional destination for sailors from the Charlottetown Yacht Club. Within Amet Sound itself there are a range of possibilities. Tatamagouche was once a port and there are still remnants of wharves along the narrow channel leading to the town. At the eastern end of the bay is River John which can (I am told) be reached through a staked channel. The fisherman’s port of Cape John also has capacity for a few pleasure boats, especially when the lobster season has ended in late June.
In the middle of the Sound is the marina at Barrachois and a very perfect marina it is too! There is still a fishing wharf near the bridge but a new dredged marina with plenty of
water lies just to the east. The marina is privately owned but it hosts the Barrachois Harbour Yacht Club which is very busy and hospitable club. The basin is home to a surprising number of large sailboats – even more surprising when one realizes that there are tidal limitations on getting in and out the channel. Drawing over four feet may mean that you can’t enter or leave at low tide but the club members with whom I spoke said that this was a minor inconvenience. A lot of sailing is waiting for wind and tide and if you can’t deal with that then you are better off with a powerboat.
The marina has fuel, a launching slip and a 5 ton travel-lift. It also has showers and a screened kitchen/dining area for boaters. The screens are necessary because even the greatest boosters on the marina will concede that the mosquitos can be fierce. I was introduced to the Bugbusters Hatch Insect Screen which I think will become a permanent addition to my on-board convenience items.
Getting to Barrachois from Charlottetown is the easiest of all sailing directions – go to the harbour mouth and sail south for twenty-five nautical miles. I was accompanied by a colleague in his boat “Le Petite Prince” and aside from the noticeably strong pull of the outgoing tide and a period of calm in the middle of the strait it was a beautiful sail. On the way we passed close to Fitzroy Rock buoy (seen above) and Point Prim Buoy which is about 5 miles off Point Prim and is about one-third of the distance from port to port. The buoy is a whistle buoy but in reality the sound is more of a moan. It can be heard for miles off and seems to follow you for miles after you pass by.
Soon Amet Island began to loom up and it is best kept to port as we head to Malagash Point Buoy. Amet is a flat-topped Island now much populated by cormorants and has a distinct odor if you pass down wind. Passing Amet is a bit misleading as it seems that you have arrived at the destination but it is still a further 7 miles up the sound to Barrachois. After Malagash Point one can head west for Tatamagouche or east to River John but we kept
straight on towards Barrachois. The actual entry into Barrachois is well marked but the channel is well defined and it is essential to keep inside the buoys. The entrance to the marina is quite narrow and there is a rockpile just to the west of the entry with which I now have personal experience. We were certainly comfortable on our fingers and found the marina to be sheltered from all winds.
One surprise at Barrachois was a two-masted schooner anchored in the river above the marina. I was told it was locally-built and is only a few years old. It certainly looked at home on its mooring.