On Monday, the crew left St Peter’s and crossed over the lake to anchor in Little Harbor (1). Tuesday, they weighed anchor went further north up the lake and anchored near Baddeck (2). On Wednesday, they took a taxi to Englishtown (3) to catch the Donelda Puffin Tour to Bird Island (4). Thursday, they took the Cabot Trail Discovery Tour (5) and returned to Baddeck. Friday brought an end to the fun in Baddeck (6) as the crew returned to St Peter’s for the weekend.
Click on the Still Waters II Travel Map to see detailed Voyage Logs.
This week’s video shows Still Waters II ride around the Cabot Trail. Enjoy!
To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site. The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.
The crew hung out at the St Peter’s Marina most of the day which allowed the skipper to explore the history of the Village that sits on this thin slice of land called an isthmus. Wondering what an isthmus is, are you?
Isthmus is Ancient Greek for the word neck. Today we use the term to describe a narrow piece of land that connects two larger pieces of land, that are separated by water. One of the more famous isthmuses in the world would be Panama, connecting North and South America, and separating the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
In the case of the isthmus at St Peter’s, the land mass is the Island of Cape Breton, and the waters are the Atlantic Ocean to the south, and Bras d’Or Lake to the north. This isthmus was originally used by the Mi’kmaq Indians as their canoe portage into the Lake.
In 1650, Nicolas Denys arrived on the scene and built a trading post on the eastern side of the isthmus. The entrepreneur then figured out a way to haul his ships over the isthmus on skids pulled by ox. This both shortened the distance to ports to the north and made it safer than sailing out in the Atlantic Ocean.
The area changed hands several times between the French and British, with the British eventually winning out for control in 1763. A little over a hundred years later, after 15 years of construction, a Canal was opened in 1869 to replace the haulover road. This year marks the 150th year of Canal operations. The crew were the 424th boat to transit the canal this year and received a Certificate of Appreciation to commemorate the transit.
The crew plans to make several small runs this week to explore the Bras d’Or Lake. Their first run would be 20 miles to anchor in a well protected cove, on the north shore, of the main body of the Lake. On the way across the main body of water, the crew could hear thunder every few minutes. This was strange because the skies were blue with very few puffy clouds.
When they were halfway across the lake, the sky began to turn dark as the thunderstorm began to build. Then they witnessed three lightening strikes. The skipper decided to turn off all the electronics and lower the VHF antenna. Within minutes the rain fell on them and visibility dropped to about a mile. Thankfully, the crew was just on the edge of the storm. Within ten minutes, the storm had blown by and the crew were back in blue skies.
The skipper fired up all the electronics and headed for the narrow opening into the Cove. The crew found three sailboats already anchored, so they poked around to find a spot near the south shore in the Cove.
The crew weighed anchor and headed to Baddeck. There is an Alexander Graham Bell Museum in town that the skipper wanted to visit. The short run was excellent as the wind and waves combined for following seas. On the way to Baddeck they met Confetti on the water and followed her through a set of bridges.
Upon arrival near the Baddeck marinas, the crew dropped anchor, and then took the dinghy to go visit the museum.
You may recall when the crew visited the Helen Keller Birthplace Museum, that Helen Keller’s father travelled to Boston to meet with Mr Bell, and Mr Bell’s advice changed the course and trajectory of Helen Keller’s life. This museum told the backstory of how Mr Bell came to be in Boston in the first place.
Alexander Graham Bell was the son of Alexander Melville Bell. You probably had never heard of Melville Bell before, but he is famous as the creator of visible speech. The young Bell continued the work of his father and became a teacher of his father’s methods in Boston. His work with the deaf was heavily influenced by his mother and wife who were both deaf.
His study of the ear, basic understanding of both electricity and sound waves all came together to help him invent the first telephone. He then went on to start Bell Telephone System which eventually became American Telephone and Telegraph. And as they say, the rest is history. But did you know that Alex gave all but 10 shares of his new company to Mabel as a wedding present.
What do you think of when you see a Switchboard, such as the one below?
Well our crew thinks of the Lily Tomlin character, Ernestine, the switchboard operator who made the lines “one ringy dingy… two ringy dingy”, and, “is this the party to whom I am speaking?” famous.
The first patent for the telephone eventually made Bell independently wealthy, and allowed him to tinker and invent a plethora of other items. The museum spent some time on these other items, but mainly focused on two projects in his later years, aeronautics and hydrofoils.
The skipper found one of those other items to be most interesting though. Bell invented an early model of the metal detector in 1881 for the sole purpose of locating a bullet after the 20th President of the United States was shot in the summer of 1881. The metal detector was used to help locate the bullet lodged in Garfield’s body. Depending on what you read, the metal detector worked flawlessly or not well at all. Bell said that the metal springs in the bed where the test was conducted altered the results, as well as the depth of the bullet, to make the results inconclusive.
Following the Wright Brothers success at Kitty Hawk, Alexander Graham Bell decided to get into the aeronautics business. His wife, Mabel, created the Aerial Experimental Association (AEA) in 1907, with the purpose of constructing a practical flying machine. The group included two young engineers, an American motorcycle engine designer (Curtis), and an American aviator (Thomas Selfridge).
The AEA first used Bell’s work conducted with tetrahedral kites to fly unmanned and manned kites. The group then applied their learnings to gliders. Their first success was with a plane named Red Wing in March 1908. The White Wing and then the June Bug were built and successfully flown. Their fourth flying machine, Silver Dart, made the first controlled powered flight in Canada on February 23, 1909. The Silver Dart took off from the ice just off the Baddeck shoreline allowing Baddeck to lay claim to the Birthplace of Aviation in Canada.
The AEA Charter had a sunset clause, so the group was disbanded in March 1909. Bell had began experiments though on hydrofoils as a means to assist a plane from taking off in the water. By 1911, these experiments resulted in the development of the first hydrodrome, HD-1. They were able to make 50 mph in HD-1 before she broke apart on a test run.
Thru the long winter, Bell built HD-2, but once again she broke up during testing. Then the HD-3 was built and failed. With WWI in progress, Bell received money to build a submarine chaser. His design (HD-4) was a long cigar looking machine with hydrofoils. HD-4 set a world record for marine speed of 70.86 mph on September 9, 1919. After successful testing though, the hydrofoils were never put into any practical commercial applications.
The original HD-4 hull
Full scale replica of HD-4
Sitting on the lawn, contemplating the lives of Mabel and Alex Graham.
Back in 2017 while cruising along the coast of Maine, the Admiral learned about a little bird called a Puffin. Every since, she has wanted to see a Puffin. Problem with Puffin viewing though is that they live their life floating in the Atlantic Ocean far away from shore, a place our Admiral has no desire to visit.
However, there is a Bird Island just north of Cape Brenton that has Puffins nesting during July and August. And there are two companies which offer Puffin Tours. So today is the day for the Admiral to satisfy her goal to see a Puffin. The skipper liked the company quarantee, your money back from the tour if you do not see a Puffin.
The crew learned some interesting things about the tour operators. In addition to the tour, they also have a Lobster Permit to fish 265 traps. Lobster season here is mid May thru mid July, so they check those 265 traps six days a week. Once Lobster Season ends, they turn their attention to the tour business.
The Captain is the Grand Nephew of Giant MacAskill, a local legend in these parts. He is in the Guinness Book of World Records (1981) for being the tallest non-pathological giant in recorded history. He stood 7 feet 9 inches, weighed 425 lbs, and had a chest measurement of 80 inches. He was buried just down from the gift shop in 1863.
However, on the other end of the scale, Donelda explaining the small size of Puffins, the stuffed Puffin is actual size
The Puffin Tour was a great success. The tour lasted a little over three hours and the crew saw Puffins, so they would not be getting their money back. But it was amazing just how small those Puffins happen to be. Most of the ones sited were floating in the water, and they would dive under the water as soon as the boat approached.
Edited pic for a closeup, they are still small
However, the highlight of the trip might just have been the Bald Eagles. On the way out to Bird Island, on two different occasions, a Bald Eagle approached the boat. Donelda, the tour guide, would toss out a large dead fish and the Eagle would swoop down to grab the fish. It was an amazing spectacle to see so close to the boat. While traveling around the Bird Island, the tour saw over 60 Bald Eagles.
The other highlight of the trip were the seals. The Grey Seals were out sunbathing on the rocks as the tour glided by. The seals numbered in the hundreds.
One of the best known things to do on Cape Breton Island is to drive the scenic Cabot Trail. A 185 mile breathtaking road trip that takes visitors on a loop trip around the northern areas of the Island.
The Cabot Trail is named after John Cabot, an Italian explorer who reached the Island back in 1497. He is credited as the European discoverer of North America for the English. He has been lost to history though because it would be another 100 years before this area was settled. Kinda the same fate of my son, Leif Eriksson, who sailed these waters 500 years before Cabot, and gets little to no credit either.
The first surprise of the day was when the crew learned that they were the only ones on the tour today. That actually worked out great as they got to swap many stories with the Tour Guide.
Misty told a few stories about her 13 year old son. She referred to him as ‘The Little Capitalist.’ The stories reminded the skipper of himself when he was a youngster trying to earn a little money.
Again, from the skipper’s sister’s blog:
Did you ever want a pony? Unlike many of my friends, I can honestly say it never dawned on me to ask for a pony for Christmas. However, the Fuller kids were the only kids at C.C. Duff Elementary who had a real live Shetland Pony who lived in their backyard. He was a Christmas present who arrived on Thanksgiving night. His name was Buck and, when he got it in his mind to be tacky, which was often, boy could he buck. Already the family financial guy at age 8, David came up with a plan to charge our friends 25 cents a ride and we would split the profit 3 ways. He would get the extra penny since it was his idea. Did I mention he was in 2nd grade at the time? After one too many squabbles about that extra penny Mama gave us the option of handing over our money to her to be redistributed after every third paying customer or shutting down the pony rides. David lost his extra penny per ride since the vote didn’t go his way (majority rules, doncha know?) and we all got a nice shiny quarter each time we convinced 3 friends they wanted a ride. Which as I recall was about 1 time. We didn’t have many kids in our neighborhood and weren’t old enough to have friends who could walk or ride bikes over to our house from outside the neighborhood. It was an idea ahead of it’s time and probably why Mama was so easily persuaded to agree to let us do it. She knew we wouldn’t have many customers.
I was probably 13 the November my brothers got busted for an unauthorized zoo. Daddy had taken David and Danny to the deer lease for the weekend and Mama and I were “batching it” at home. That meant tuna casserole (Daddy hated it), Reese’s peanut butter cups and lots of reading and not much else. Our revelry was interrupted by a knock on the back door. I answered the knock to find a boy about the age of my brothers who was looking for them. He was very disappointed to hear they were not at home. I assured him they would be home the next day and he would see them at school on Monday but my words didn’t seem to help. He eventually explained the source of his disappointment was not in missing my brothers but in missing his tour of their zoo. He said he had saved up the dollar required to pay admission to see their zoo and he didn’t know if he would be able to come back until the following weekend. A whole week was just So Long when he’d already been waiting for a couple of weeks while he saved up the entrance fee.
The second he said zoo, Mama’s Mom-antennae were up and into listening mode. He turned to leave but she told me to ask him inside. She quizzed him about the zoo and he spilled the beans on their sweet little set up. He explained that The Boys had been showing off what they called the Fuller Zoo for several weeks. And charging a dollar a person for admission. And here we thought they were just popular and had lots of friends coming around to play. Mama was somewhere between ticked off and amused. I don’t think she was so much upset about charging people to see our pets as irritated that they had kept it a secret. She had me show the boy our zoo – even turning down his dollar when it was offered. I spent a full 30 minutes introducing him to Frisky and her pups, my cat and Mama’s cat, Mama’s poodle, the fish and turtles, Snowball’s children and grandchildren, Wiley and Pepper and ever other little creature I could think of to make his trip to the zoo a memorable occasion. He was the Fuller Boys’ Zoo’s last official visitor. Much to the frustration of my brothers, Mama shut down the operation over the lack of permit for the Fuller Family Ordinance which stated one much get permission before making a profit on the backs of one’s friends.
The crew left from Baddeck and went thru the Margaree River area which is famous for Salmon and Rainbow Trout fishing. The trail then proceeded north thru the Cheticamp area, one of two Acadian towns on the route.
From Cheticamp, the trail continues north to Pleasant Bay where the crew managed to view a pod of whales and took lunch at the Rusty Anchor Restaurant. After lunch the route weaved into and out of the Cape Breton National Park along the northern border of the Park.
The Trail was then south thru the Village of Ingonish and St Ann’s Bay to return the crew back to Baddeck. The crew had great weather through the day to make their tour adventure a true success.
Words do not adequately express the rugged beauty of the areas visited, and the pictures also seem to come up short of capturing the wonder of it all, but here are some of the crew’s favorite sights around the Island.
The crew spent an exhausting three days in Baddeck, so they headed back over to St Peter’s to regroup and prepare for the trip along the south shore of Nova Scotia. The run back was made in calm seas, but once docked the wind picked up to make for a windy afternoon.
Son of a Preacher Man
The crew will leave St Peter’s on Monday and try to make Halifax for the weekend. They should make 4-5 runs to arrive in Halifax depending on the weather.
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lot of time on America’s Great Loop Association’s Forum to get a good idea there are many doing this on a full-time basis. One thing to note here is there is a huge difference between those of us that live on their boat for the purpose of ‘travel adventure’ vs those that
Wow, what great scenery and awesome wildlife!! Looks like a great week for sure! That story about the zoo might just be my favorite David story I’ve ever heard—I can definitely see you doing that! Like Sharon said, thanks for the history lessons—-by the way, how long does it take you to research these areas to see what might be worth visiting? Seems like that would be very time consuming! Anyway, as always, love reading the blog. Safe travels in the next week!
Doing the pre planning on the areas is part of the fun for me. But hours each week looking ahead for sure.
Gorgeous area. We have seen Puffins in Alaska. They look like cute little stuffed toys.
Again, laughed at my own words on your blog. I may have to start charging a user’s fee. 😉
Sure surprised by how small the Puffins were.
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Wow it is s beautiful area. And seeing that eagle go in for the fish is amazing!!
Thanks for the history lessons!!!!