Welcoming Port Felix

Port Felix had a few surprises for us. Our friend Ray, who had been our neighbour during the ‘Oceanolog’ wintering at Morrisburg Marina, had a brilliant suggestion for our stay in Port Felix. He recommended that we dock at a private wharf for free: the house of his sister Denise was there facing the peer. The excitement in the air, we arrived just before the sun went down, greeted by the serene solitude – no internet, not even a hint of mobile service! Naturally, this meant we couldn’t inform Denise of our arrival. However, the night turned out to be nothing short of magical. 

As we ventured onto the deck to admire the stars, the profound silence enveloped our senses. But to our delight, the night wasn’t as quiet as we expected. It began with the haunting hoot of a great horned owl, piercing the veil of darkness. Soon, we found ourselves serenaded by a symphony of unfamiliar sounds echoing in the distance – mysterious groans, sighs, and plaintive howls. They were harmonized by the haunting calls of two loons. I grabbed a flashlight, hoping to unveil the enigmatic creatures behind these sounds, but alas, the source remained elusive, hidden in the shroud of the night. Yet, beneath the dock’s edge, a mesmerizing sight awaited us – graceful sea anemones, swaying their petals under the water’s surface. It was a night of pure enchantment.

Denise, Toze, and Mouski (their dog, proudly named after Rimouski, Denise’s hometown) were at the dock early in the morning. They showered us with a warm and hospitable welcome, serving up a delightful breakfast before embarking on a tour of their beloved village. Together, we explored Port Felix, making cherished acquaintances with the locals, and even tried our hand at mackerel fishing off Toze’s preferred pier – the promise of big fish lingered in the salty air. Our fishing endeavours yielded no catches, but boredom was far from our minds as we were entertained by the vibrant wildlife. A curious seal kept a hopeful watch over us, anticipating a treat. A cormorant dove so close that I feared it might become an unintended catch, but in the end, it skillfully pilfered a fish from our neighbor’s hook and swam away, content in its conquest. An otter made a brief but endearing appearance, circling us with an inquisitive gaze before gracefully vanishing into the depths.

Port Felix, with its population of fewer than a hundred, thrives as a humble fishing village, its livelihood centred around lobster, halibut, and shrimp harvesting. One of the village’s standout attractions is a lookout point, offering breathtaking vistas of the picturesque harbour, meticulously designed in homage to Basque Captain Savalett’s ship. Our day concluded with a heartwarming dinner shared in perfect harmony. Denise presented us with warm socks – she knitted them herself! – and a little painted rock collected on Port Felix’s shore. While we couldn’t predict the future, one thing was certain – Denise and Toze had etched their place in our hearts with unforgettable memories.

Arriving at Port Felix
Anemones at night
Good morning, nice to meet you!
Welcoming sunrise
View from the cottage’s window
Unique wooden stove “Lady Scotia”
Warm presents made by Denis!
Church of St.Joseph
Cemetery with sea view
Denis is telling about history and present days life in Port Felix
Hello from the Captain Savalett’s Ship
No luck!
Lucky cormorant gets a fish
Oysters farm
Oysters factory “Bill and Stanley”
Some float, some flight
Beautiful local architecture
View on the wharf from the hill
Calm docking
CTD-cast in Port Felix
The plot of CTD-cast data at high tide shows uniform in water column temperature (14.46+/-0.02) degC with a salinity of about 29.14g/kg, which decreases about 0.26 g/kg near the surface, probably due to a freshwater input with tidal current. Oxygen saturation is good, around 100%, but with quite low Chlorophyll (5ug/L) and organic matter (4.5ppb) concentrations, which result in the absence of fish in the harbour – here is a broken primary food chain supply (phytoplankton) and no thermocline in a water column for the plankton day-night migrations. Low concentrations of organic matter and the presence of filtering water anemones resulted in very clean waters – the first time I measured such transparent waters with an attenuation coefficient of about 0.001 1/m, I saw my CTD at the bottom!
Goodbye, Toze and Denis! Thank you!
Goodbye, Port Felix!

Canso in trouble

As we navigated across Chedabucto Bay, we finally reached the ‘mainland’ of Nova Scotia and pulled into the bustling fishing wharf of Canso. As we explored the intricacies of this fishing port and meandered through the charming streets, we couldn’t help but notice an intriguing sight – posters plastered in the windows of many houses declaring, ‘We say NO to the Canso spaceport!’

Our curiosity piqued, we sought to unravel the story behind this fervent movement. It wasn’t long before we had the opportunity to chat with Jim Geddes, a passionate activist leading the charge against the Canadian-Ukrainian spaceport project. We listened as he articulated their perspective, and it became apparent that more than 400 local residents had joined forces to voice their dissent against having a spaceport right in their backyard.

The crux of their concerns? The proposed spaceport sat a mere 3 km from their homes and a scant 3.2 km from the local hospital and nursing home. Not to mention, it was nestled just 4 km from the Barrens Protected Wilderness Area, a haven for wildlife, and a crucial migratory bird stopover. The potential risks of rocket launches, especially ones with questionable reliability, weighed heavily on their minds. The prospect of rocket fragments raining down from the sky was enough to give anyone pause.

For us, as Canadian-Ukrainians, it was vital to empathize with their anxieties about the future of life in Canso. We imagined the unsettling scenario of rockets with uncertain fates launching just a stone’s throw from their homes and vital social structures. In solidarity with the residents of Canso, we wholeheartedly support their quest for a peaceful and secure future.

Amidst this thought-provoking encounter, we also stumbled upon a local hero, Nelson, the skilled mechanic who took on the Herculean task of troubleshooting and repairing the persistent fuel leak in our engine. It was a problem that had been gnawing at our nerves, but with Nelson’s expertise, we held out hope for a smoother journey ahead.

Nova Scotian “mainland” is ahead!
Approaching Canso
Docked in the fishing port
Fishing vessels
Waterfront walk
Enjoy the sea view in my favorite blue and yellow
History of sailing fishery on waterfront walkway
Houses for stray cats with sea view
Private fishing docks
Fishing gear packhouse
Main street with new colourful houses
Old Hart House, built in 19th century
Unusual name of the church
Stained glass church plate with a marine theme
Sea view cemetry
Roll call of times
Painting of lobster’s buoys
Posters against the Canso spaceport were placed in many houses.
Sad mermaid – no rockets, please!
Far away the sailboat “Easy Reach” with Glenn & Shannon approaching Canso – we met them in Gaspe and after we used different routes, it was nice to meet them again!
Low tide in the wharf – stay away from these tires!
Mackerel shoal in the harbour
CTD cast in the Canso fishing harbour
Plot of CTD cast data – quite healthy water with some increase of fDOM from the 1m at the surface, probably some oil increase detection.
Time to the cast off!
Goodbye, Canso, and good luck in your fight against the spaceport!

The gates to the Ocean

Well, the time has come to leave such a different and such beautiful lake Bras d’Or – now our path lay through the St. Peter’s Canal, which we had already explored from land.

The last sunrise in St.Peter’s marina
CTD cast in marina
Plot of CTD-cast data – – well-formed thermocline at 2.5m with cooled by cold air surface 0.5m layer. Very clean water with well-saturated oxygen. High concentration of Chla explains good oxygenation of the basin of marina, High concentrations of fDOM mirrored the temperature plot, so, it could be evidence of an oil spill in marina.
Goodbye, St.Peter’s Marina!
Approaching St.Peter’s Chanal
The bridge is swinged
Operators at duty – the bridge is swung for us!
Motoring the Canal
Docking in the Lock
Conversation with the Lockmaster
The gates are open!
Passing the Lock
Exit from the Canal.
Goodbye, St.Peter’s!
Fenders Up!
Hello, Atlantic Ocean!

Pirates were here!

We were taken aback when we arrived in St. Peter’s and were greeted by a crew of biking pirate sceletons, with flags and banners adorning the village. Initially, we thought it might be an early start to Halloween festivities, but as it turned out, we were fashionably late for the Pirate Festival, which coincidentally coincided with the arrival of Hurricane Lee.

Now, you might be wondering, why pirates? Well, it appears that pirates had quite a lucrative career in these waters, pillaging Nova Scotia until the mid-19th century. They struck terror into the hearts of both the maritime fleet and local fishermen.

The “Golden Age of Piracy” occurred from 1690 to 1730 when Nova Scotia, was largely unsettled by Europeans, making it a possible location for pirates to hide-out or refit. The governor of Fortress Louisbourg in the mid -1720s was so afraid of pirate attacks in Cape Breton that he asked for extra naval protection. One of the nastiest pirates of the “Golden Age”, Ned Low, raided fishing fleets who used Nova Scotian harbours as shelters and fishing stations. Low terrorized a New England fleet in Shelburne in 1720. Some have suggested that he hid treasure in Nova Scotia.

It seems the pirate spirit still lingers in the air, even without the Jolly Roger fluttering above.

Ned Low’s treasure chest:)

Where History meets Nature

As is our tradition, we unfolded our trusty bikes and embarked on a sightseeing adventure. St. Peter’s stands as one of Nova Scotia’s time-honoured settlements, steeped in history. The Portuguese explorers were here back in the 1500s, affectionately naming it Sant-Pedro. Fast forward to the 1650s, and the French decided to set up shop nearby, christening it Saint-Pierre. This region, home to a traditional Mi’kmaq portage route bridging the Atlantic Ocean and Bras d’Or Lakes, witnessed the ebb and flow of a French trading post, a bustling settlement, and a British hilltop fort.

Our expedition took us to the renowned National Historic Site, St. Peter’s Canal, where the mighty Atlantic Ocean converges with the glistening Bras d’Or Lake. Soon, the lock gates of this historic waterway will swing open, granting us passage like a secret door to another world. And if that wasn’t enough, we also ventured into the enchanting Battery Park, where wooden pathways unveiled breathtaking ocean vistas and led us to the St. Peter’s Lighthouse. It was like discovering a hidden treasure trove of natural beauty and history.

Ready to bike!
Glory to Ukraine! Thank you, Canada, for your support!
St.Peter’s Canal
Entry to the Canal from the Bras d’Or Lake
Swinging bridge
StPeters Canal memorial plate
St.Peters Canal entry from the Atlantic Ocean
The lock’s unique double gates, designed to compensate for the tidal differences between the ocean and the lake, are the only ones of their kind in North America.
Floating waiting docks in the canal’s lock

Biking to the Canal ocean entry
Hiking in the Battery Park
Atlantic Ocean view
View on the St.Peter’s oceanfront
Jerome Point Lighthouse
We and the Ocean

“This spicy feather bed
The sea washed ashore
The sun evaporated the water –
It turned out well.
I came and took off my sneakers,
And covered back with a shirt,
And sang: “Pa-ra-ru-ra-ru!” —
It turned out well.”
Biking the shore trail
St.Peter’s Beach
Chicken God – if you find such a stone with a hole on the shore, then good luck will come!
We, bikes and the Ocean