Sailing 2012.

Sailing 2011.

Sailing 2010.

Sailing 2009.

Sailing 2008.

Sailing 2007.

Sailing 2006.

Sailing 2004/5.

Sailing 2003/4.

Sailing 2002/3.

Sailing 2001.




Return to Top of Page



You can email us at jj@alshaheen.co.uk


September 4, 2010:  Hurricane Earl


Click here for Diary of a Hurricane

Hurricane Earl.

June 2010


Difficult to know where to start when it’s a 6-month blurb!! So I think we’ll just hit the highlights.


Oct – Apr we spent in Broederstroom, enjoying both the weather and the vegetables from the garden – which grew from a reasonable size to gigantic in a couple of months as we “needed” to plant more varieties! The birds loved it, but fortunately neither the monkeys nor the warthogs had discovered it by the time we left, although we have made a bamboo fence around just in case. Hatton made a wonderful Ayoba scarecrow (which scared nothing cause he was too cute!). We gorged on fresh corn, tomatoes, green peppers, aubergines, onions, spinach, beans, beetroot, carrots, lettuce, rocket – it was a banquet of note. We’ve missed the strawberries this year – that’s a delight still waiting.


As usual John was up to his eyeballs in tasks – some necessary and some created to fill in the time, I think! The man’s got to keep busy, you know.  New French windows, new wooden doors hung, a brand new patio in front of the cottage (bringing the total to date up to three!), new barbecue facility and seating were only some of the things he managed to accomplish – I believe the actual figure was 39 jobs undertaken!















Add to all that the fact that it was school holidays and grandkids time, plus Christmas - and James, Toni, Alex and Tyler came out from Vancouver for 4 weeks – plus both Mervyn from New Zealand and Jill from UK came to visit at different times – and Tracy had a brand new little son, Matthew, born early Feb – well, it was a full season!














Exciting times, wonderful to have all my family together for the first time ever up in Magoebaskloof for a week (although Matthew was present only as a bump!), and wonderful for the kids to get to know each other a bit better.


Cricket was the game of choice, even for the Canadians, and we managed to get them to some good local games.

































Mum wasn’t too good, in fact gave us a real scare one day by dying for a few minutes, then coming back and demanding her tea! But she’s as well as can be expected, and really excited at the arrival of Matthew. 4 generations, 94 years apart!









Back in Sevenoaks, we were just getting into our stride, doing some land rover stuff preparatory to the big Nov Oldies Overland trip, when we had to return to SA abruptly as my nasty neighbour had decided to apply for permission to build a resort (2 conference centres, 2 wedding chapels, 2 restaurants and parking for 200 cars not 300 metres from my front door). Not too happy with that, we mounted what I hope was a successful series of objections – but now have to wait to see what’s going to happen with Madibeng who are in chaos – municipality in administration, all senior staff suspended for bribery etc, all quite a scene. Life in Africa.


No sooner back in UK again and we were out to Camden Maine to launch Al Shaheen. That was three weeks ago, and we are still tied to the dock! Continuous little niggling repairs needed – main sail ripped, engine not working properly, gas strut on boom de-gassed, colorifier leaking – a series of things that has just held us here, waiting to take off to Nova Scotia.

Still, it means we’ve caught up with some great friends again, received all sorts of parcels including a wonderful book My Grandpa is a Sailor done by Toni for John’s 70th and available on

http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1401285. We have generally got our breath back after a rather hectic few months, and now we’re ready to go.

Hopefully it’ll be tomorrow!

2nd July 2010


Sailing in Maine is really difficult! Mussels picked fresh from Perry Creek’s rocks Friday, lobster from the lobster pound at Swan’s Island Saturday night, fresh salmon last night (courtesy of French & Brawn, Camden!)  – and tonight we’re reduced to lobster again, bought from the lobsterboat in Trafton Island as it hauled up pots right next to us this morning – at $10 for two one and a half pounders, it’s cheaper than $12 worth of Canadian salmon from the supermarket! Isn’t life hard??


It would be very easy to spend a lifetime “gunk-holing” these shores – there are zillions of little inlets and islands to explore, long fingers of water which stretch way back into the boondocks – nary a house in sight until you really look hard – and then there’s a window glinting or a smokestack poking above the tree line.


Not much profit in lobsters these days, they say. That’s not what they tell you when they charge you out in the restaurants! But lobstering is getting harder and harder – their quotas are being cut, the price is dropping while the fuel and bait price is rising, a small lobsterman has to haul 180lb of lobster a day to make a good day; the bigger boat up to 500lb a day. That’s a lotta lobster!! The lobster man gets $2.75 a lb from the co-op, who charges us out at about $4.50. Someone’s making money, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the lobsterman! But this whole coast exists on lobsters; it’s not just an industry, it’s a way of life. Chatting to the young man who sold us the lobsters this morning, an 18 year old still at school, running his little boat with his girl-friend, he’s been hauling lobsters “since he was knee-high to a cricket.”


One thing that is really interesting is how dependant we’ve become on available wifi connections – gone are the days of walking to town to find a cafe with dial-up internet – anchorages these days are rated by beauty, ease of entry – and wifi accessibility.  Unfortunately, no freebies on these shores – the Americans (or perhaps it’s the Mainers) are too canny to leave their signals unprotected, so even when we do find a signal, we usually can’t get in. Talk about having your nose pressed to the sweet shop window! So for the moment we have to revert to that old stalwart, our single sideband radio and sailmail, which gives us email access anywhere in the world by radio wave. Wonderful how the old things work!


And of course it gets worse – I’d sort of forgotten about the pea-soup fog that comes rolling in – and closes in for days on end! We’ve been stuck in Roque Island Maine, 30 miles from the Canadian border, for two days now, so fogged in we can’t see 150 metres to the magnificent white beach everyone raves about. So much for the sights! Still, like all things it has its advantages – life in a fog-enclosed bubble means we all draw in, and socialising becomes more active – drinks for eight aboard Al Shaheen the first evening, dinner aboard Aries the second. I’ve just made a huge pot of butternut soup for tonight – who knows what might happen?


So many of these islands up here are privately owned; some you can walk on, some not.  Roque was/is owned by the Peabody family descendants and is still run as a working farm. Stories abound in this area: Horace Dunbar enjoyed a party ashore and had more than his share of liquor, then got in his skiff to row home. Two hours later some more sober members of his party found him, still rowing steadily, his boat’s painter still attached to the wharf!


And what about Jack Bunker, who during the Revolution canoed down the coast to steal a British ship full of provisions? They found it unguarded, hoisted sail, and headed east to distribute the goods to starving neighbours – then chased by the Brits, tucked the ship into what is now known as Bunker Hole (just behind Roque Island here), took down the mast and by the time the Brits sailed past had disguised her with pine trees so she was invisible! Well, it was probably also thick fog!! The ‘tit Manan lighthouse a few miles away boasts an average of 289 days a year of fog!!!


So since leaving Camden, we’ve been to Perry Creek, Swan’s island, Mistake Harbour, Trafton Island, Roque Island, and Cutler. If the fog lifts enough, the next step is to Grand Manan  in the Bay of Fundy, partly to check in to Canada, and hopefully take a trip to Macchias Seal Island, a nature conservancy with a huge colony of puffins. As they only allow 30 people a day on the island, it’s a book-ahead story – we have a booking for next week Weds (14th), so let’s hope the fog lifts enough for us to get out of here.


12th July


Made it to Grand Manan – 18 miles in a total blanket of fog, saw absolutely nothing except the occasional buoy. Actually we hit one hard coming out of Cutler Harbour, gave both of us an almighty fright but fortunately no damage either to our prop of the lobster buoy! We motored into Seal Cove Harbor, Grand Manan in seriously dense fog, relying totally on radar and the chart plotter and hoping to hell either or both were working! I find the fog incredibly disorientating – if asked, I would swear blind we were going around in complete circles. Even sound is difficult: it seems to come from one side when in actual fact it’s coming from somewhere totally different.


Thank God for modern equipment – how those old guys managed I have no idea whatsoever.

The entrance to Seal Cove Harbor was a nightmare – a very narrow rock wall entrance (it’s a man-made harbour) with a sharp turn to port as soon as you come through the wall. None of which showed up on the chart plotter, because the wharf wall’s in the process of being rebuilt! I yelled at a fisherman on the wall (who fishes in the fog, for goodness sake??) to ask where to go, and he shrugged his shoulders and said, “No idée, I just fish heayah.”  Fortunately a pick-up appeared out of the gloom, and a broad brogue yelled out to us to “go straight ahead, tie up to the scow”. Assuming the scow was the lobster float/car, that’s what we did! We’re tied up to a floating dock mid-harbour, tucked very securely behind huge rock walls, in amongst the serious lobstermen.

Great excitement this morning (12th) when we woke up to a clear sunny day, and the thought was to take a dive out to Nova Scotia. However, the fog rolled in again before the tide changed, the talk amongst the fishermen out there is that the sea’s running a big swell, so you know what? We decided to take another day, explore the island a bit, chat to the locals some more (lady at the convenience store told us how she had to go to the mainland to find someone who was not related to her to marry- wonderful humour!), see what tomorrow brings.

We’re in no rush.

July 31, 2010


After all the motoring we’ve been doing since we started out this season, and taking into consideration our increasing ages etc etc, we’ve decided we might go for a marine zimmer frame soon – here’s our next boat. We’ll join that group of mariners who’ve opted to change from sailing to power-boating, The Trans-Vesselites. Cloud Dancer (looks like the boat of choice for us) is an American Tug: rugged, no-nonsense, no tuna towers, made for man and dog. Just right for cruising the inlets – can be taken across to Vancouver easily, without having to take the mast down, wonderful for gunk-holing both here and on the West Coast. Is this the future? Who knows!


It’s been a very foggy introduction back into Nova Scotia – after spending 7 days completely fog-bound in Seal Harbour, Grand Manan, getting to know the locals really well, we finally bit the bullet and dived out on a sort-of-sunny day. Unfortunately it closed in again within an hour of leaving the harbour, so once again we were chugging along through seriously thick fog, aiming for Yarmouth. Of course, you fight the serious Bay of Fundy tides, and it’s at least a 12 hour trip meaning two tidal changes, so you have to get it right or, as one local said, “you spen’ lotta time goin’ no-whare!”


We changed our minds about going through the so-called Grand Passage to Methegan because of the fog – too many dangers according to the pilot book, and too much tide – rips through at 6 knots!! Shades of Woods Hole? So skipped across direct to Yarmouth – well, slow plodded across to Yarmouth! Pity to have missed Methegan though – place of much history, including the story of one Jerome, who washed up ashore after a bad storm, to the locals’ consternation legless (literally, not drunk!) and unable to talk! They took him to heart, however, and he lived there for some 50 years, a recluse, no one ever found out where he was from or what had happened. Strange stories abound on this coast!


Did I tell you about the rips? Why is it that every time I think I know it all, something else bounces up and bites me in the butt?? Suddenly we’re in the land of rips – areas where the sea-bed shoals so fast that it creates great standing waves and massive currents like whirlpools, and going nowhere fast! The engine’s churning away at 5.8 knots boat speed, and we’re making 1.8 knots distance across the ground? The sea-bed shoals from thousands of metres to only a couple of metres in a very quick matter of metres, and the boat bounces around like a cork, literally.















So, I had just got comfortable with the fact that we weren’t going anyway fast, but hey, at least we were sort of going – when the engine alarms screamed and John was yelling “Switch off! Switch off!” So, engine shut-down – and we bobbed about like a cork in a bottle, with the rips now edging us ever closer to the shoals and the rocks while John tore off engine covers and tried to work out what was going on. A few frantic minutes passed, with me getting more panicky by the second, before I remembered John’s continuous maxim “we are a sail boat you know.” So, while he had his head down in the engine, I man/woman-handled the sails up and to my delight we were soon sailing along, out of the rips, making sort-of headway towards Yarmouth! Of course the wind died just as we got to the entrance, but we switched the engine on again and motored, very slowly, in through the fog to pick up a very welcome orange buoy in front of Yarmouth docks. The next morning when the sun peeked out, we found we were not 200 feet from Doctor Island, bird-haven of note – no wonder there’d been such a racket the night before!


Spent a few delightful days in Yarmouth – no fog! Watched the annual SeaFest Parade, in company with new friends Dave & Cathy from Dyad (more commonly known as the BigDumBoat for obvious reasons!!) and Peter & Lucia from Fair Grace – lovely young couple cruising on a shoestring. Restocked a bit, explored a bit, then left again in tandem with Fair Grace, heading north. Two nights spent in way-out anchorages surrounded by fog, a close (very close) encounter with a whale – we think it was a minky).



And another close encounter with a fishing boat, lobster supper care of Delbert, a local from Stoddart’s Point off Cape Negro who came out in his skiff to greet us. We had a long chat with him – we couldn’t understand a word he was saying, his Cape Sable accent was so thick! But we thoroughly enjoyed the lobsters! And we apparently have to look up the Shag Harbour UFOs on the internet, he says very seriously.  


Then it was round to Shelburne, where we once again fell into the welcoming hands of the Shelburne Harbour Yacht Club (Canadians spell things right!) and OCC Port Officers Alan & Jan Pulfrey. Always hard to drag yourself away when you’re enjoying yourself, so our stay there extended longer than expected. In fact, if we hadn’t left when we did, I think we would have landed up buying a house there! Magnificent property on 82 acres, delightful wooden house – and, John’s dream workshop complete with huge compressor and a full-size car jack – and all for C$219 000! Tempting it certainly was! And the people couldn’t be nicer – wonderful community. So, American Tug in Shelburne???


I was up to my eyeballs in a major edit, so spent several days sitting at the anchorage flat out on my computer: finally finished it on Friday, emailed it off, and we spent Saturday doing a quick shop before leaving.


But at the bookshop we met three fabulous ladies, Dar, Bernadette & Vita, who took us to the Black Loyalists Museum just so I could buy The Book of Negroes: they were off to Lockport for a Women’s Festival Concert – so we sailed there and went to the concert too! Great fun, all local women, some of them really good.


And then it was up to Mahone Bay: we skipped out Lunenburg this time, as we’d spent some extensive time there previously, and had the most amazingly fantastic sail – in clear weather, no fog! A long day, 13 hours, but we sailed in to Young Island and picked up a mooring (with some difficulty as there was a strong current running against us) at the home of the Mahone Bay Port officers, Peter Dodd and Terry Follinsbee. The next day we went ashore to visit them; wonderful little home on this great island, and another “land home” at Indian Point, they graciously took us around to see several marinas with the possibility of us hauling out here instead of Dundee in the Bras D’or.


A dinner of chicken skewers and home-grown beans – I could get used to living like this! Threats of bad weather the next day chased us across to Chester and into Back Harbour – old friend Mike Mulrooney of Maggie B was there to meet us, and we spent a delightful afternoon catching up with him before taking off to the Golf Club for dinner. Mike then took John around the next day while I plugged on with the editing.


By the time he came back, we had been invited to drinks and dinner with Ted & Liz Brainard on Big Gooseberry Island – serious sailor of note, Ted has done a huge amount of single-handed racing both here and in the UK, and is also a high-latitude sailor a la Tony Gooch. So we shifted over to the mooring at the bottom of their garden (only about a mile away), and had dinner with them on their island (up for sale, but they’re trying to give at least two-thirds of the island to the town to maintain and conserve as a nature reserve). They prevailed on us to stay another day, so that we could join them for dinner at the Rope Loft with Sid & Sandy Dumaresq – Sid came round in his classic lobster boat to take us all to dinner! How wonderful – who needs a car in Mahone Bay??

We have finally dragged ourselves away, however, on our way to Halifax this morning (31st July) – just in time, I think, or we might have been inveigled to join Ted and his son in their upcoming trip to Sable Island – known as the Graveyard, this little island has more wrecks around it than the local scrap yard has cars! It is a seriously remote and unfriendly-to-sailors spot, a long low rocky sand spit that is shifting slowly with the years, surrounded by strange tides and rips, accessible only with permission from the Coastguard and only for a few hours at a time on a perfect day, says the pilot book! Lots of warnings about leaving someone aboard on anchor watch, and putting GPS co-ordinates in for where you left your dinghy for when the fog closes in! Full of wild horses, sea-lions, birds, though, it’s an –ologist’s wet dream!

Maybe next time.

August 15, 2010


Prospect Harbour (below left) – Halifax – Owl’s Head – Ship Harbour – Little Liscombe Harbour (below right) – Port Howe – St Peter’s, Bras D’or Lakes: the Nova Scotia coastline is incredibly beautiful, especially now into August, as the fog seems to have burnt off to a large extent and we can see where we’re going.















Of course, it also means we can now see the rocks we need to miss – and also means John’s more likely to try to get into the narrowest channels and through the smallest gaps! Makes life a little hairy at times, to say the least. And every now and then, there are reminders of what happens if you DO hit the reefs or shoals – the wreck (below right) was a much bigger boat than us that missed the entrance!















Prospect Harbour was a case in point, as was Port Howe (below) – both very narrow entrances, rock-spattered seaway, with me going “John, watch out!” and him going “It’s okay, don’t worry.” Might as well tell the sun not to come up!
















Prospect Harbour (below) was an absolute delight – picturesque, quaint, no room to swing a cat, so we picked up a mooring (the owner was “away” sailing!): delightful little old houses that would have been fishermen’s cottages but are now weekend homes for Halifaxians. But still olde worlde. Port Howe on the other hand, was a different kettle of fish – I think the Howe here comes from How the hell do we do this?? Again, an entrance to be reckoned with – which led into a fairly large bay – with not a soul in sight and very deep water. Suddenly we were anchoring in 12 metres as opposed to the 3 or 4 we’ve got used to! But we had a great night in each – different, but spectacular.















In Halifax we went up the Western Arm to Armdale – great little yacht club, very friendly folks, and spent a couple of nights there doing the ‘city’ thing. For me, a large part of the enjoyment of sailing is the people you meet – people who do or have done the most incredibly exotic exciting things – like Peter Koz, money man of some sort who was a professional racer, now owns a ‘hobby’ coffee farm in Cartahenga and visits the Amazon and spent weeks with “wild” tribes in Columbia – fascinating. Or JB – fair old derelict who runs open house every Tuesday and collects a bunch of terrific people to swap yarns with!  Ne’er the twain shall meet, but what fun it is to meet with both!

It’s also interesting to see what’s happening in the cruising world – how things are changing. For the better? Who knows. But whereas previously every single boat had paper charts, sextant, etc etc, now a lot of cruisers rely totally on their electronics and computers – great until things go wrong...go wrong...go wrong. As we found out on the way: 3 separate VHF calls for help on the same day. The first was to us hailing “that boat going north just past us” (which was us). When I convinced John that it WAS us – he was waiting for lat/long position etc – the guy came back with “Can you help us please? Can you give us a course for Halifax (at this stage some 8 hours sail away) because all our electronics on board have crashed and we only have a small road map to us” – needless to say, not much help when you’re offshore, in some fog, with lots of shoals and rocks and reefs in your path! The other an hour or so later was a guy crawling along inshore, trying to pick his way visually through the rocks and shoals because he had lost his computer. And the third was a woman in a power boat who had gone aground and couldn’t tell them specifically where she was – other than that it was on a shoal somewhere near an island! – because her systems had failed. So back-up back-up back-up as they say! We still (with all the chart-plotter, radar, gps, fancy instruments etc) do an hourly plot on the paper chart!

The other thing we enjoy here in Canada is the Canadian CoastGuard. What a difference to the US!! The US guys have a competition I think, to see who can give a message in the shortest time possible, so all you hear is “mncbkjefliu1g3ej,hcm\ndsbc.kwjehf OUT”. Bad luck if you were wanting to be rescued!! The Canadians however, are very laid back: they not only speak slowly enough that you can hear every word, they give all the details – lat/long, place name, boat name, problem etc etc – and when dealing with the panicking client (as per the woman who ran her power boat aground), are very caring “Ma’am, we have a vessel coming out to you, take a couple of hours, but I’ll call you every half-hour to make sure you’re okay. And if anything changes ma’am, you call me. Don’t be shy now, you CALL me!”.
















Finally it was through the lock at St Peter’s (above) and into the Bras D’or Lakes, beautiful, warm, only slightly salty – fogless!! And it was just as well – when I flaked the mainsail down in preparation to going through the little lock, we discovered a huge rip down the luff. Looks like sun degradation, the cloth is just disintegrating as we tug it. So I guess that puts paid to going over to the Magdalenes, some very isolated islands off the western coast of Cape Breton, above Prince Edward Island.




Even if we can get a patch, the sail is just too delicate to face major weather (which could happen out there), and we still have to get back to Mahone Bay early Sept to haul out. So, we’ll potter around the Bras D’or for the next couple weeks – not a bad idea, as I see by the pamphlets I’ve picked up that August is back to back ceilidhs and Gaelic festivals – stirs the blood a bit!


Ceilidhs – and eagles – what a combination!




20th August, my mother’s 95th birthday – looks like John and I will be together for a long time, judging by Va at 101 and Mom at 95!! Born 1915, grew up with candles and kerosene lamps – and here we are talking to each other by satellite phone.
















Anyway, we’d celebrated last night by joining in one of the dozens of ceilidhs on the go here in Cape Breton at this time of the year – boy, if you ever wanted a Scottish fix, this is where to get it. The street signs are in Gaelic, many of the locals speak Gaelic – I’ve felt more Celtic here than I did in Glasgow! And the memories still run deep here, Culloden and such was such a short while ago: walking to a ceilidh the other night, an old chap striding away down the road looked at the 6 of us coming off the boats and remarked dourly “Looks like the Campbells are coming!” “Well,” I replied, “you have to beware, behind every bush there’s a Campbell!” I was being smart (I thought), but when we arrived at the ceilidh it was to be greeted with stares and chatter as the old man regaled everyone with his story of our meeting – in Gaelic!!


We’ve had great fun though, everything from a full-on riotous fiddle and bagpipes night to a more solemn solo bagpipe night, to several variety ceilidhs that involved fiddling, step-dancing, bagpipes, singing – to last night, a Milling Frolic. Well, the milling bit I got, a long piece of uncut cloth (damp) in the middle of a long table with everyone sitting around pounding it and singing – frolic it certainly wasn’t!! After an hour or so, we all called it a day and bailed – it’s those sassenach Campbells again, unable to stay the course you see!


The Mac lady at the door (MacDonald, MacNeill, MacGilluvray – lots of Macs here) did try to inveigle us to stay by telling us “there’s a bar out back, you know” – well, no we didn’t, but it wouldn’t have made that much difference anyway! Enough’s enough. Although we do plan to go across to St Ann Gaelic College this weekend – they have a 100 Fiddlers concert – now that sounds fun!


We’ve also really enjoyed the bird-life, especially the bald eagles. Have had some wonderful sightings, including two birds, a male and an immature, on a monstrous stick nest. And another male fishing – they are magnificent birds, a rare treat. And lots of others – my son would have a fit, but I’ve still not learnt to identify them. But have at least taken a step in the right direction by buying a bird book!



















And a bird of a different kind – coming out of Orangedale the other day, we were strafed by a Hercules!













Tusker 307 called us on VHF radio – first time we’ve ever talked to a plane from the boat, but there’s always a first these days – who told us they were conducting a search and rescue training mission and dropping smoke flares – would we please just stay where we were and out of the way. We did!


The Bras D’or is a lovely area, not least because it’s warm. Warm enough for John to swim anyway (see below) – although the leap into the water did require a huge yell of shock as he hit (it’s not THAT warm!), and he didn’t stay in very long, I noticed. But the weather’s been great, really hot. And there are umpteen little coves to visit, umpteen little areas of interest: the Railway Museum, where the old guy caretaking the place kept us for 2 hours over the closing time telling us stories: the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, where I learnt Bell did a hang of a lot more than just invent the telephone! Did you know he also put together the world’s fastest hydroplane – 1919, he was doing 100 kms an hour on the Bras D’or! www.pc.gc.ca/bell - his daughters recently donated a huge amount of artefacts to start the museum, because they were worried firstly that people, like myself, would think of him only as the phone man, and secondly that people would not understand what a great part his wife had to play in his career. Great museum.


And of course I’ve indulged myself in buying Cape Breton books – great pioneer stories – like the one where the fisherman with impacted infected molars tied his tooth to a line which was tied to his horse, slapped the horse on the rump – and of course had his tooth pulled! Can’t imagine a dentist doing that today. Where the immigrant from Scotland who had to walk 100 miles to get the papers for his homestead from the official offices – mind you, it’s taken me five months, and I still don’t have my deeds back from the Deeds Office in Pretoria, so I’m not sure much has changed there!


Once again we’ve met up with all sorts of people; too many to mention, although I do keep a rigorous tally of who we meet, where, when – and of course the name of their boat! It’s great to keep bumping into people – sometimes it’s only a week or so since you met, like with Taonui (solo round the world non-stop in 176 days!! www.taonui.com) and Fair Grace: sometimes it’s a year or so, as with Morning Watch. Or two years, as with Dawn Piper and Harry Anderson!

Or it’s a complete unusual, as with the folks standing on the dock in Baddeck – who would have expected to see an old green dusty dirty Land Rover, plastered with stickers, whose map on the side proclaimed their 2008-2010 trip from Chile, down to Antarctica (not by Landie!!) then up the west coasts of S and N America to Alaska – back down to Halifax to ship back to UK. This is the 2nd leg of their round the world story – previously did UK – Cape Town, then shipped across to Aus and travelled Australia before shipping to Chile to start this leg. With them was Malcolm, age 71+, who has recently given up round the world solo sailing and bought a 250cc motor bike in Chile, and has down the same/similar S/N America trip. He thinks he might abandon it soon (he can’t sell it as it has Chilean plates), and buy himself a canal boat to do the European canals. Take a look at their webpage www.heartofdarkness.com.au


And I thought WE were adventurers!

18th Sept 2010

Sailing season’s over for another year! I can’t believe it’s gone so fast – it feels as if we’ve just got on the boat, and here we are getting off. But that’s the way of it when you sail in northern latitudes – it gets cold, and the storms come in – and us sun-bunnies get off!

Gold River Marina has been an absolute pleasure to deal with – from Cindy in the office who remembers everyone’s names (not an easy task) to Darren the yard manager and Johnny his assistant – great people to work with.


It all looks a bit scary at first – what seems to be a real old rust-bucket of a railway to haul the boat out – the thoughts are flashing through our minds – will it cope?



But, with the expertise and hard work of Darren and Johnny, it’s a slick haul-out at high tide, easy transfer to the truck to load her off onto land, co-ordinated and controlled let-down onto the jack-stands.


So she’s got a slight tilt aft – all the better for the rain and snow to drain out!




Next job was the mast lift-out – again, a worrying idea, bringing in an outside crane etc. But again – and in the pouring rain too – Darren and Johnny, with the help of John from Hayseed next door, and hey presto, bob’s your uncle, all done and dusted!


The mast is to be stored indoors, Al Shaheen is shrink-wrapped and will remain outside in the snow and hopefully no wind for the next 9 months.




Peter and Terry (OCC port officers for Mahone Bay) have been incredibly gracious, and we have spent the de-commissioning time staying in their little house at Indian Point – wonderful not to be living on the boat on the hard. There’s something really all wrong about that – feels abnormal – and it’s a pain to have to go up and down the stairs every time you want to go to the loo! Okay for you guys...

And we’ve been able to do lots of socialising, meeting up with so many of our friends here, meeting new ones.

Hmmm – Nova Scotia gets a definite tick in all the right boxes for a permanent summer home. Great sailing, fantastic people, wonderful scenery – crappy winters, but there’s always Africa for that!!

Talking of Africa, we’ll be signing off this webpage, starting our new Africa blog soon – link to be posted as soon as we’ve worked it out. We’re off beginning of November on the Soutpiel Safari – Sevenoaks, Kent to Broederstroom, NWProv, S Africa – November to March/April, 17-18 countries to visit, approx 12000 miles to go.


24th Sept.

Sad sad end to a wonderful season. I travelled straight back to South Africa to visit family etc, and my beautiful little 7 month old grandson Matthew died most unexpectedly the day after I arrived.  We’re all devastated – sometimes life is just so unfair.

But we’re taking Huggy, his favourite stuffy, with us on the trip down Africa, so Matthew will be with us in spirit.