Day 20 – Grand Manan Island to Yarmouth

Day 20 – Grand Manan Island to Yarmouth

Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Chart
Click to view the full chart

Alright, so Canada doesn’t share their charts as willingly as the U.S., and we’re out of U.S. charts. I found these, the bad news is they look like this. The good news is I can link to specific coordinates, so there is no searching a huge chart for the relevant area anymore.

We woke up at 5:15am in order to get moving at first light. I strapped The Dingy onto the foredeck while Andrew took Caly ashore. We were hoping to make it to Yarmouth, a distance of about 65 miles, but as we’d be close hauled and hadn’t been able to fill our gas tanks, we would stay in Westport if need be. Either way we were in for a full day’s sail, and a full tidal cycle in the Bay of Fundy.

Sunrise start, Grand Manan, New Brunswick
“Guys … how long until the next rest area?”

We set off motoring in calm air. Caly somehow knew she wasn’t going to be able to hold it all day, and kicked off the morning by peeing on the sail cover Andrew had allowed her to curl up in. It was only an hour since being ashore.

Sunrise, Grand Manan, New Brunswick
Not much wind, trade boats?

The sun rose as we passed a lobster boat, and we made our way through the islands off Grand Manan to open water. On the way we spotted a smaller sailboat, away from any discernible anchorage and drifting slowly. It looked as if she might have pulled her anchor and set adrift all alone, but we were too far away to tell for sure. That was the last boat we saw for some time.

The morning orange turned to blue, and the wind started to strengthen. We killed the Atomic 4 and put up the sails. Far away from the rumbling lobster boats and breaking waves, the silence was amazing. We sailed on and watched the depth sounder climb higher as we reached the drop off into the deepest part of the bay. Open ocean stretched in every direction.


The silence was broken by a loud burst of air. I turned and saw the long, smooth, gray back of a whale sliding back below the surface. She surfaced again, on a course directly towards ours. This time Andrew saw her too. Her next surface would be extremely close to Isla. I waited with my camera ready and stared down into the dark water waiting. But she stayed under. We are no whale experts, but we think it was a finback whale.

As we sailed on Andrew pointed out porpoises to starboard, but we looked closer, their dorsal fins were too tall and straight. It was also apparent they were much larger; the lack of internet left us to speculate.

We continued on in remarkably smooth seas, but had to resume motoring as the wind weakened. Excitement was high from the whale and the pod of mystery aquatic mammals. Despite growing up on the coast we had only seen one whale between the two of us, and it was on a whale watch.

Whale, Bay of Fundy
Some kind of whale, any experts care to comment?

We spotted another curving back a few minutes later, a humpback this time. Numerous Atlantic whales summer in the Bay of Fundy, especially humpbacks, minke, finback, and the critically endangered right whale. Right whale habitat is even marked on the charts, to prevent collisions with vessels. The whales all migrate north to the rich waters each year, and even birth calves in the protected bay. By the time we had crossed the deepest part, we had seen seven whales!

I followed one with my telephoto lens, waiting for it to surface again. A white sided dolphin, the former mystery mammal, jumped 12 feet into the air, flipping as he did, in the very spot I was looking.

Dolphin, Bay of Fundy
Not a porpoise

Caly did not appreciate any of this. She was laying around in inconvenient and uncomfortable looking positions without whale views. I was starting to question why she even signed up to come sailing in the first place.

Caly sleeping, Crossing Bay of Fundy
Sleeping on the job

We sailed over the steep shelf on the other side of the bay and Andrew spotted a triangular fin above the surface of the water. As we approached with curiosity, a shark?, it became clear it was moving too slowly. We pulled up alongside to see the fin’s owner, a massive sunfish. It must have been the size of The Dingy. The bizarre tail-less fish was basking on its side with its mouth open, feeding apparently. They primarily feed on jelly fish, and in some sense their peculiar looks resemble reorganized jelly fish matter.

Sunfish, Bay of Fundy
Use your imagination to fill in the underwater bits

We passed by Westport and continued onto Yarmouth, the current impeding progress over the next six hours. By our estimate we were fighting currents approaching two knots. I monitored our progress relative to two brightly colored houses several miles to port. Hours later, they seemed just behind us.

Yarmouth Lighthouse, Nova Scotia
This one’s Canadian

Isla crawled around the Cape Forchu Lighthouse just west of the entrance to the Canadian harbour. The sun was approaching the horizon, and Caly celebrated the 14 hours at sea by vomiting in the cockpit.

Yarmouth Harbour, Nova Scotia
Real daylight adventurers opt for anchorages, then moorings, then dock space

We grabbed one of the moorings at the end of the dredged channel, and rowed into Killam Brother’s Marina. Caly was wiggling with excitement for solid ground. I hopped onto the dock and she jumped to join me. She reached the end of her leash squarely between the dinghy and the dock. Andrew yanked her up from below the surface of the water; it was still unclear if she was capable of swimming. Perhaps she had resigned to drowning so as to avoid more sailing for the day.

Salty wet dog in tow we walked around Yarmouth before making dinner on Isla, and getting some much needed sleep.

7 Replies to “Day 20 – Grand Manan Island to Yarmouth”

  1. Poor doggy. She is loyal to be on an adventure. Hope she had a comfy dog bed to put somewhere. Maybe she is seasick. Glad shark did not get her when she fell in. Never know what’s below in my mind…

    1. This was definitely the roughest day for her. Fortunately she was in high spirits most days and never complained too loudly, always happy to be outside with company

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