Tag Archives: Tatamagouche

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.

Plotting a course

Last week I had to be in Halifax for business and took the opportunty to return along what is called the Sunrise Trail running along the northern coast of Nova scotia and into New Brunswick.  I visited the part of the Trail from Brule shore, near River John and followed it to Port Elgin in New Brunswick. It was a sort of scouting operation for this summers cruising.

Northern Nova Scotia Coast

The area has no shortage of harbours for a boat as shallow draft as Ebony.  Generally the rivers have sand or mud bottoms and so hold reduced perils even if one does touch here and there. When I drove through it was a very low tide and I got a much better appreciation of the area than I would have from charts or Google maps (although using both together is a good plan).

Almost due south and about 35 kt from Charlottetown is Barrachois where a basin  has been dug and holds about 70 boats, some of considerable size.  This is remarkable as the low tide creates a bit of a sill which prevents coming and going except at high tide. Very common in European harbours but rare in Canada.  When I was there the Barrachois Harbour Yacht Club members were gathered in the warm afternoon sun . I thought it was a club picnic or other social activity but was told, no, they were just waiting for the water levels to come up so they could go for an afternoon sail.   I was assured however that there would be little difficulty getting into the basin with my 2’8″ Halman draft.

A few miles further along was Tatamagouche. It is at the head of a river that looks to have enough water for Ebony but with a winding channel.   There is no wharf just at the village but a landing space has been made about 1/2 mile down river.  This is a very touristy town and has obviously had a lot of ACOA development money pumped in to increase the visitor infrastructure.  I spotted several B&Bs which could be an alternative to sleeping on board.

I didn’t explore out as far as Malagash where a wharf is shown which I suppose at one time must have taken some larger ships as it is close to the Malagash Salt Mine.  Rounding Malagash Point it is westerly run to Wallace which is another town which still maintains a small fishing fleet with a well-protected basin with wharves on three sides. Wallace was formerly a popular cruising destination for Charlottetown Yacht Club members but is now rarely visited.

Salt is also the reason d’être for the large wharf and loading facility at Pugwash which is about 17 kt west of Amet Sound .  There is lots of water but a winding channel . The Pugwash Yacht Club    is a small operation on the south side of the river but there are private floats as well. While I was in Pugwash I got a very warm welcome from a number of club members who were getting a boat rigged. They urged me to return and stay at the club wharf.

It is another 20 kt along the coast to the Tidnish River but there are a couple of inlets, River Philip and Northport which had, or still have, fishing wharves and buoyed channels but it is not clear just how much water there is over the bar at these spots. Tidnish River which is right on the Nova Scotia / New Brunswick border is marked by withes and there appears to be a large powerboat population but the water can well accommodate a Halman even if there is no public wharf.

At the head of the bay Port Elgin has a good-sized river and a public wharf. The village was formerly much busier and there are traces of former prosperity which are long gone.

This then, is one of the potential cruising routes for the summer’s voyages. About 160 kt round trip to Charlottetown. Across the Strait and then against the prevailing wind creeping up the coast, but then a down wind ride along the PEI shore to home port.

I can hardly wait.