Crossing the Strait

 

Google Earth view of Amet Sound

Google Earth view of Amet Sound

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.

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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

Aerial view of Barrachois Yacht Club and marina

Aerial view of Barrachois Yacht Club and marina

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.

Fitzroy Rock Buoy

Fitzroy Rock Buoy

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.

 

Amet Island

Amet Island

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

Detail of Barrachois approach

Detail of Barrachois approach

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.

 

Schooner at Barrrachois

Schooner at Barrrachois

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.

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One thought on “Crossing the Strait

  1. Jacques gallant

    Sultans bow will plough the waters of Northumberland Straight and the waters of the Gulf of St.Lawrence beginning in the spring of 2014.Will be sailing out of the SYC. Jacques

    Reply

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