Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Expedition Reports 2010


2230, Tuesday, August 17

TAZZARIN and her crew cleared customs and immigration in Portland, Maine as part of her return to the United States.  Dave and Bill then sailed to Foster Island on mid-coast Maine to complete the delivery of TAZZARIN from Canada back to the United States.

The last portion of her voyage home saw some wonderful sailing in 20 plus knots of breeze as she appropached the US coast line.  Then it grew darker as squalls passed through.  On the last night, off Monhegan the sky around us was constantly lit by lightening strikes; luckily, most of these were at some distance from us.

The boast will probably stay in Maine for a couple of weeks before a weekend delivery back to Massachusetts.  This will be the final leg of the Sable Island Expedition which will be just over 1,200 miles of sailing.  I do hope to post a photo gallery of some additional Sable Island photos in higher resolution in the next week or so.  you may want to check back to see more of the island's stark beauty.

1500, Monday, August 16

Sailing at 7.3 knots in a 21 knot breeze, Tazzarin is 55 miles off Monhegan.


0700, Monday, August 16

My first watch last night from 1800 to 2200 felt magical.  I was alone on deck as the sun set over a clear western horizon.  The waxing crescent moon was approaching first quarter and it left a brilliant path of moonbeams on the sea.  The orange and pink of distant clouds faded to black and the phosphorescence of the zooplankton came alive in our bow wave as the Milky Way shone above.  A slight mist came in dimming the moon and encircling it with a glow.  Then I heard them.  A dozen or more dolphins closed in around me.  I could hear their splashed and breaths.  They were just a few feet away following along for twenty minutes, their dark bodies rising and falling in the water alongside.  Then they were gone and I was alone until Dave came on for his watch.

Dave came on from 2200 to 0200.  Then, I took the deck again on what had become a cold, damp night.  At dawn this morning it was 54 degrees out here.  We have passed through a few tide rips, reminding us of how much water flows in and out of the Bay of Fundy each day - land of the highest tides in the world.

We were nicely boosted along by the currents rushing around the tip of Nova Scotia and into the Bay of Fundy.  At times we were making eight knots over the bottom.  We had passed Brazil Rock and Blonde Rock and were now heading straight for Pemaquid Point.  As I write, the gong off Pemaquid is 113 miles away; we are sailing at about five knots under scattered clouds.


1915, Sunday, August 15

We have had to spend a good part of the day under power with virtually no wind. Now we are blessed with a southerly starting to fill in and it certainly feels nice to have TAZZARIN starting to heel to the breeze.  We have made good time and expect to round Brazil Rock about an hour from now at 2015.  Note that we have now changed our ship's clocks to Eastern Daylight Time.  We have had the luxury of seeing numerous whales today as well as gannets, terns and shearwaters feeding in the rich waters.  Several times we have come across small groups of harbor porpoise feeding on our route.  We have only seen one boat, a fisherman, since leaving Lunenburg this morning.

Dave is off watch and getting some sleep before he comes back on at 2200 tonight.  From Brazil Rock, we get to head off a little and make westward toward another Blonde Rock.  From there it is a straight shot across to South Bristol, Maine.  The area we are in right now, south of Yarmouth and north of Browns Bank, is a good area for seeing more whales before the sun sets. Soon the Nova Scotian coast will drop from view.  Our likely landfall in the States will be the cliffs of Monhegan Island.  From there we may have to head to Boothbay to clear Customs and Immigration prior to heading to our destination at the head of John's Bay, just west of Pemaquid Point.



1100, Sunday, August 15

We slipped our lines free of the dock in Lunenburg at 0600 and headed out onto a glassy, still harbor.  We have no plans for another stop in Nova Scotia.  However, the quaint architecture and brightly colored homes and buildings of Lunenburg have left an imprint on us.  Fishermen of old wanted houses that would be easy to pick out at a distance when they were returning from the banks. The town still reflects those bright colors which give the town its charm.


The sun rose over a cloudless horizon as we cleared Lunenburg Bay.  As the day has progresses more clouds have crept in from offshore, but the barometer holds steady.  Southwest breeze has started to fill giving us hope for better sailing ahead.  Shearwaters and gannets circle about us and seals continue to appear as we make our way towards Brazil Rock off of Yarmouth.  We have been staying close to shore with the Nova Scotian coast in view at all times, believing the breeze close to land is stronger.  Right now we are off of Liverpool.  By tomorrow morning we will have left the land behind.


2100, Saturday, August 14

We arrived in Lunenburg this afternoon and got a berth on the opposite side of a pier from an old Greenpeace vessel also associated with the sea shepherd organization, which used to do work in preventing whaling by other nations. Lunenburg is a World Heritage site and retains much of the character and flavor of a fishing town.  The waterfront has a wonderful feel including the bright red wharf buildings of the over century old Adams & Knickle scalloping business.


We hurried ashore and had time to look in at the Houston North Gallery, which always has some of the finest Inuit art from the peoples of northern Canada. We then spent some time in the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, including poking through a retired Grand Banks fishing schooner, pausing for a moment at the crew's table in the foc'sle. Lunenburg was home to some of the finest fishing schooners ever built, the best known being the Bluenose.


We managed to get showers ashore and headed out for a dinner overlooking the harbor.  We now plan to depart at 0600 Sunday morning to make a straight shot down the coast and across the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine to the mid-Maine coast.  It will be a run of close to 300 miles.  The weather looks amiable.





1030, Saturday, August 14

As planned, we cast off our lines from the dock at 0500, well before the sun was up.  We are now at moving west through the Atlantic Time zone of the Canadian Maritimes, so we are an hour ahead of New England.  The further west we go in this time zone the later the sun rises each day. So, in darkness we headed out the northwest arm of Halifax Harbor.  We were alerted by Halifax Traffic Control on the VHF radio that there was an inbound container ship which had just taken on a pilot to guide her in.  This meant we stuck to the far right of the channel to avoid her as she proceeded in to unload her cargo.

At about the same time the ship passed us the sun peeked over a clear eastern horizon with Dave Schylling at the helm.  It was a beautiful dawn. Soon we were rounding the lighthouse at Chebucto Head and turning westward through the Sambro Channel hoping to shave a little time off the day's run by taking this inner rock strewn passage rather than going out and around.

The gentle call of loons met our ears as the day brightened.  Seals popped their heads out to watch TAZZARIN pass.  A small pod of pilot whales surfaced alongside.  We are making our way to Lunenburg for the night and hope to have time to go ashore for a while if we keep our speed up.  It is one of my favorite harbors on the Nova Scotian coast; a coast which for us in uncharacteristically fog free for now.





2130, Friday, August 13

Dave and Bill took an early morning flight out of Boston to Halifax.  We went straight to TAZZARIN at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron and took her from her slip to the fuel dock to top up the tanks and put ice aboard.  We put her back in her berth and hopped in the rental car to head to the Nova Scotia Museum here in Halifax.  The Provincial museum was our partner on the archaeological research on Sable.  We met with Steve Powell and discussed aspects of our findings on the island; he seemed pleased with the results from our research.

Steve also suggested that the Nova Scotia Archaeological Society would probably love to get Dan up to Halifax for a lecture on our Sable expedition.  We also informed the museum that Dan would be submitting his formal report later this year and that he was also considering writing an article for publication.


Dave and Bill then grabbed a late lunch and then got food and provisions at a local grocery store and loaded all onto the boat.  Bill did a little work on the boat and then the two of us headed to the Historic Properties area on Halifax's waterfront for a quick visit to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and a look at their small Sable Island exhibit.  We strolled the boardwalk for a bit and then had dinner at Salty's restaurant overlooking the commercial section of the port of Halifax.  Now it is early to bed.  We anticipate getting under way at about 0500 tomorrow to begin the trek westward toward home.  We plan to take TAZZARIN to mid-coast Maine over the next several days.



1300, Sunday, August 8

TAZZARIN arrived at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron at about 0130 this morning.  It was an amazing eight days at sea.  I say at sea because being at Sable is not like being in a harbor - it is simply out in the Atlantic.  More tales will follow.  For now, the crew headed back by car at 0430 this morning and Bill is still with the boat taking care of some maintenance needed after the expedition, he will fly home on Monday.

1515, Saturday, August 7

The day has had a bit of everything.  Early morning was gusty.  Early afternoon found the northwest breeze tapering to light.  Now in mid-afternoon the wind has filled in at about 15-20 from the west-southwest.  We had headed offshore to hopefully get a better angle with this wind shift.  We are not quite able to lay Halifax harbor, but close.  The rail is down on the port tack as we make the home stretch.  The outer harbor is about 28 miles away and from there it is another 20 miles in to our berth.  We expect to arrive around 0100 Sunday.  Maybe there will be time for a few hours sleep before a bit of cleanup and unloading before getting people in the car for the 12 hour drive to Massachusetts, getting back home on Sunday evening.





0700, Saturday, August 7

We had good sailing from Sable until about 0200 today.  We were well off the wind as we headed north from Sable to get well clear of the shoals and to give the northern spur of her western bar plenty of sea room.  The southwest breeze kept clocking more westerly and building as the night went on.  By the change of watch at 0200 we were close-hauled with a gusty 24 knots across the deck.  We had a single reef in the main and a partially unfurled genoa.  Fog set in with a short rain squall popping up here and there.  We heard a first ship as we watched her on radar, her low moaning whistle sounding in the damp dark.

Just before dawn, the wind went west north west on the nose and began to die away.  A second ship came steaming up astern, probably bound for Halifax as we are.  We altered course to seaward to keep distance between us.  Now we are motor sailing into the headwind.  However, we are close to the halfway point between Sable and Halifax.  With luck we will be tied up in the northwest arm of the harbor before dawn on Sunday.  The breeze is due to veer back to southwest and fill in later today.  That will help push us on.

Sable still looms in our minds, whether it concerns the final results of archaeological analysis or just the beauty of the island, right down to the blossom of a pond lily.  All of it is tantalizing as we cover the miles homeward bound.


1500, Friday, August 6

We did not make it ashore on Sable today.  We waited until noon to see if wind and surf conditions might improve enough to make a landing possible; and all that happened was that the wind freshened.  At noon we ate a quick lunch and hauled in the anchor, 100 feet of chain and the 150 feet of rode and said farewell to Sable.

None of us were disappointed.  From the start, the plan was to spend five days at Sable and hopefully get ashore on four of the days if weather allowed.

The fog has closed in thick and the sea is a steely gray with tousled whitecaps as we had north, away from Sable's shifting shoals, before turning west towards Halifax.  The wind is hovering around 20 to 22 knots true and will feel like more when we make the turn in the Halifax direction.  We will be close hauled thrashing into it when night falls.  Right now, Dan is at the helm in full foul weather gear under a reefed main.  Soon I will make a final radio call to Sable to tell them we are clearing Sable.

Our minds and our cameras are filled with images of Sable, her current shape, form, wildlife and plants, as well as our own glimpses into images of her past.  For myself, this has been a dream fulfilled that was born the day I visited Sable with my parents 23 years ago on a passage to Newfoundland.  My father was always one to look for an adventure afloat and I have inherited that trait; it has brought richness to my life and to the rest of TAZZARIN's intrepid crew.  Bill


1000, Friday, August 6

We have been watching the weather carefully this morning.  The breeze is a steady 22 to 23 knots from the southwest.  The sea out here in our anchorage is choppy and filled with whitecaps.  We are concerned that even if the surf at the shore is no worse, the conditions on the way in would be difficult.  Right now Zoe Lucas is on the beach beside us, hoping we can make it in for a meeting we had planned.  We may make it in, we may not.  The wind is due to subside shortly; but, Sable is fickle.

One becomes acutely aware that our anchorage is not a protected harbor.  We are simply anchored in a shallow section of the open Atlantic Ocean.  There is always a swell, mostly from the northwest.  The boat rolls constantly and we realize that we have gradually become accustomed to the pitch and yaw.  Certainly, any harbor on the New England coast will feel sedate after our stay off Sable.

 We have begun preparations for the sail back to Halifax.  We will wait for a few more hours to see if we can land on the beach for more work.  Meanwhile we are securing gear above and below decks.  It sounds as if we will spend part of the voyage back to Halifax hard on the wind with some dramatic wind shifts expected.  Early this next week a named tropical storm is headed for the waters around Sable; we will be on a mooring in Halifax well ahead of its arrival.





2030, Thursday, August 5

We have had a successful day.  In terms of the archaeological work, this has been our best day yet.  We surveyed areas just east of the extensive old Lake Wallace at the size it was in the 16th through 19th centuries.  We found several sites of interest.  Certainly some were parts of Old Number 3, one of the Humane Establishment stations.  However, we found some items that appear to be from dates prior to the 1801 beginning of this service.  This is precisely what we have been looking for during the survey.  Some of the other items we came across included bronze ship's spikes and a fragment of a stoneware seltzer bottle shown in tonight's pictures. So, we are excited by what we are seeing.




We got off to a bit of a late start as we waited for some of the surf to improve.  Paul did do his 13 nautical mile run down towards East Light and beyond to scout areas for tomorrow.  We also had great views of Bald Dune and the surrounding areas.  Hiking tires all of us out.  The going can be tricky and we keep a brisk pace walking the transects.  Today included pauses as Dan worked to catalog items.

Tomorrow will be our last day here at Sable and we anticipate meeting briefly with Zoe Lucas who studies the horses on the island.  Zoe has mentioned a site of an old sealing camp that may be 18th century.  We will hope to find some remnants.  We continue to realize that areas of erosion and dune blowouts are the most productive for our work.

We are happy that we now feel we are breaking new ground with the research and continue to marvel at the wild beauty of Sable.


0800, Thursday, August 5

The night was unsettled with gusty winds, passing squalls, rain and thunderstorms.  That is just part of life at Sable as one can see by reading accounts of staff of the island's Humane Establishment, which ran from 1801 into the 1960s.  The morning has a gray sky and a pesky 20 knots out of the WSW.

With luck, and based on the forecast, we expect some brightening as the day progresses.  Yet, it does look like it will be a wet ride in to the beach and a difficult landing today - the surf is running again.  We will each put our survey gear, topographic maps, VHF radios, handheld GPS, spare socks, spare batteries, snacks, lunch, water, notebooks, cameras, etc. into our knapsacks.  We will, as usual, use zip locks and special waterproof bags to protect everything inside and then double bag the whole pack in a trash bag to keep water out during the landing.


The plan is to have four of us thoroughly survey the area east of the lake bed and around the sides of the massive Bald Dune.  Meanwhile, Paul, who runs triathlons, will run down the beach six miles to another site of interest where we have been told pottery shards have been seen.  Paul will then make the run back and, over lunch we will plan out the afternoon.  There is a chance the soft sand will make Paul's intended trek too difficult, in which case he will turn back early.

All the terrain can feel difficult - sandy beach, steep dunes, lush, thick lowlands so dense with marram grass and beach pea that it threatens to trip you up.  However, there is always the inspiration of being in what we all agree is one of the most beautiful places we have ever visited.  The landscape, seascape and wildlife are breathtaking.

As I finish writing, the wind has gone more west and the fog is shutting in.


2000, Wednesday, August 4

The night aboard was still a bit bouncy; however, the wind did stay out of the southwest, which greatly helped surf conditions on our north side of the island.  We had scrambled eggs with cheese and tomatoes for breakfast and then headed ashore.

Our focus was on looking for potential locations of old entrances on the north side of the island into the historically larger Lake Wallace.  Today, Lake Wallace has shrunk to a shallow series of puddles and ponds.  In the 1600s and 1700s it was a 10-mile long lake deep enough for fishing vessels to take shelter during storms.  We also did some survey work inside the current, main Sable Station.  The Station does have a surrounding fence to keep the curious and sometimes destructive horses on the outside.

We had some discussions about how some features of the island have remained constant for centuries while others can change hugely in a decade (or a major storm).  We have learned that areas of dune blowout during past storms are often the best areas to look.  We continued work until mid-afternoon and then began the long beach walk back to TAZZARIN.  Along the way we came across several large seal colonies.  Some of them take to the water while others just lay back and watch us.  Even more interesting are the groups of 20 to 25 seals that will swim down the beach with us, popping their heads out to keep an eye on us as we keep trudging along.

We got back aboard TAZZARIN, hauled the anchor and headed six miles further east down the island.  Tomorrow we are headed to an area at the east end of the old lake bed where we know there were early encampments. Gradually we are working our way west to east down the island.  Our new anchorage has a view of a massive dune, void of vegetation and known today as Bald Dune.  The same dune has existed for centuries, labeled as The Naked Sand Hills on charts of the Revolutionary era.




1800, Tuesday, August 3

It has been a busy two days.  Paul and Charlie spent about 24 hours aboard TAZZARIN at anchor in the strong breeze from the northeast; they kept watch over chafe on the anchor rode, relayed weather information, charged batteries and kept our vessel safe.  Meanwhile, Bill, Dan and David were forced to overnight on Sable waiting for the seas to subside.  When the shore team checked the beach early in the morning, the seas were still too big for safe launching of the inflatable.  It also lurked in their minds that they had now seen more then one seal attacked or suffering from shark bites.  Nonetheless, the seals did not seem to mind playing in the surf as we contemplated our next move.  The night on the boat had not been without its own challenges as the wind shift meant she lay more broadside to the seas and rolled heavily.



So, Dan and Bill continued the archaeology survey while Paul and Charlie placed snacks into a plastic trash bag filled with air and floated it off on the sea.  David walked the beach watching the bag as it drifted in and retrieved the food.  David then met up with Bill and Dan on the opposite side of the island at lunch time and snacked, seated on a large piece of driftwood. A mare and colt sauntered up to the three of us; the colt sometimes nursing from the mare as we ate the snacks.

Making our way back to the north side, we felt the wind shift and lighter velocity had led to less surf.  We made one aborted attempt to launch the inflatable with a large wave breaking over the bow and completely flooding it.  We dragged the boat ashore and tried again, wading chest deep to get us going in the seas.  David and Bill jumped aboard and returned to TAZZARIN.  Paul and Charlie finally made it to shore, along with a decent, late lunch for Dan.  Dan, Paul and Charlie continued the survey work and are now due back aboard before long.

The archaeological work has meant lots of walking transects through the islands varied terrain.  We have found some items of interest; however, most have been from the 1800s or 1900s.  It is clear the island's winds and sands make the puzzle of the past tricky.  But we are pleased with the progress.


2200, Monday, August 2

It has been an eventful day.  We anchored off of Sable Island at 0600 and had eggs for breakfast before heading ashore.  The wind remained strong out of the northeast, making landing a challenge.  However, at 0900 Zoe Lucas was on the beach as planned and we loaded up the Avon inflatable and David, Bill and Dan headed in.  We had a reasonably wet landing and contemplated heading back out to get Charlie, but decided against it due to the sea state.

Zoe was wonderfully informative and a chat on the beach gave us lots of useful tips.  She then headed off to plant small orange flags at a couple of sites towards the west end of the island that she thought would be of interest.  We hiked and surveyed until about 1600.  Along the way we visited the site of the old Main Station and a north shore boat house among other sites.  Here and there bands of horses roamed and meandered past us while terns and gulls soared overhead.  It is amazing to see what the sand does to structures over short periods of time.

By the end of the day, we were well worn out from a light rain and miles of hiking for the archaeological survey.  When we returned to the Avon, sea conditions were far from favorable.  We waited several hours for the winds to abate with no luck.  While waiting, a seal was attacked by one of the many sharks just offshore.  In the end it was clear that the seas were too risky to return to TAZZARIN.  So, Paul and Charlie remain aboard with our substantial anchor and 100 feet of chain plus 100 feet of rode holding well.

The night ashore was looking bleak for Dan, David and Bill until a group of friendly graduate students offered us shelter, followed by an excellent dinner and beds for the night.  Adrienne, the senior of the students, filled us in on her research on the colt populations on Sable while Kenton told us of his work on nitrogen cycles.  A highlight was the spinach and mushroom quiche made by Emily - Excellent and a wonderful chat around the dinner table.  We are more than lucky to have made friends with three terrific people who have made our night safe and our Sable experience unique.

We will plan to return to TAZZARIN first thing in the morning.  The forecast looks promising with winds due to shift to the prevailing southwesterlies.


0830, Monday, August 2

We sighted the dunes of Sable as dawn broke this morning.  It stretched in a long crescent as far as the eye could see in either direction.  It still plays with one's sense of perspective that this island is 20 miles long, tip to tip.  We are now anchored, although it is an uncomfortable anchorage with 15 to 20 knots out of the northeast.  The boat rolls and pitches.  Horses can be seen roaming ashore and gray seals pop their heads out around us to take a look at the visitors.

We are going to attempt a landing on the island in half an hour.  It will likely be difficult and wet given the conditions!  More later.  At last we have arrived!


1715, Sunday, August 1

Essentially a fine day.  The wind has stayed close on the starboard bow out of the northeast, unusual for here. However, we have been able to lay a course to a waypoint off of Sable and are making good time.  Right now we are about 35 miles from the western tip of the island.

Our speed has been good enough that we will stand off the island for several hours tonight, biding out time until we have can run in perpendicular to the island, reaching it in the early dawn and then hopefully anchoring.  It is still unclear if these northeast winds will make landing difficult tomorrow.

Dan has compiled a single chart with many of the historic place names and structures that we have researched over the past couple of years.  Bill has plotted Lat/Lon coordinates for each and is adding them into the handheld GPS for use ashore.  We do want to thank John Winchester in New York who has been assisting with our web postings and also supplies us with weather information.

In some ways the night will feel frustrating as we wait for dawn.  But, approaching this island and its shifting sands in the light of day is the prudent thing to do.


0700, Sunday, August 1

Since leaving Halifax yesterday at 1430 we have had nothing but beautiful sailing.  We began with a sea breeze generated by the sun's heating of the land.  As the sun dipped lower the forecast northeasterly filled in.  So, since dinner last night we have been sailing close-hauled and able to just hold our course to a way point 30 miles north of sable Island.  Wind speed shave ranged between 10 and fifteen knots.  The sun set and the waning moon rose in a cloudless sky.  This coast of Nova Scotia seldom sees such clear, fine weather - so far so good.

Our main concern right now is not arriving at Sable by early Monday morning, but rather if these unusual northeast winds will kick up enough of a surf to make landing on the beach difficult.  The prevailing winds for this area are southwest this time of year, meaning the north beach is protected, but not with the breeze we have.  The good news is that winds on Tuesday and Wednesday are forecast to be light.

At times during night watch over the past week we have chatted about some bits of Nova Scotia history.  Some of the talk was around the famed treasure of Oak Island in Mahone Bay, presumed by some to be the one of the largest pirate treasures ever buried.  It has eluded treasure hunters for decades.  A more definitive tale is the great Halifax Explosion when a laden munitions ship collided with another vessel in Halifax's inner harbor, creating the largest man made explosion aside for the bomb.  It leveled much of Halifax destroying the city.  Bostonians came to their aid, sending relief workers and supplies by rail car to help.  In gratitude, and continuing today, Halifax sends a Christmas tree to Boston every year.  You may have seen it; it is the huge tree lit outside of the Prudential Center each year.  You can easily look up more on these tales online.

For us it is on to Sable.  Just now as I write this email a large whale has surfaced right on our bow and we have collided with a thud!  All is well as chances are the whale weighed in at three times the weight of the boat.  It is only the second time this captain has ever had this happen.  The massive flukes of the whale left a smooth spot on the surface as it sounded, old sailors referred to these as "sleeks."  So, as I said, on to Sable...

1430, Saturday, July 31

We are now departing the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron bound for Sable Island.  The full crew is aboard: Bill Barton, Dan Finamore, Paul McMahon, Charlie Newhall and David Martz.  The run out to Sable should take about 36 hours.  We will hope to anchor off the beach and await a 0900 landing time and a briefing prior to starting our work.

We all went out to dinner in downtown Halifax last night to celebrate the voyage out.  Today has been a day of stowing more gear and supplies and testing equipment.  Dan was busy plotting potential sites of interest for our archaeological research.  We will strive to keep you updated along the way.





1950, Thursday, July 29

TAZZARIN arrived at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron's dock in the Northwest Arm of Halifax harbor.  It had been a tiring but thrilling day of sailing with winds around 25 knots and building to 30 knots by the end of the day.  Heavy rain showers cut visibility at times during our final run up the Nova Scotian coast.  The weather seemed to throw the worst at us as we rounded Chebucto Head and ran up the shipping lanes into the busy port of Halifax.  The wind increased and the fog shut in hard.  We spotted a pilot boat waiting by an outer buoy, a sign that she was probably waiting for outbound ships that would be discharging their pilots.  Soon we saw the first of two massive container ships loom out of the mist.  We stayed just outside the major channel to avoid problems.



On the final stretch up the harbor we passed a large gray seal on the surface with a large starfish in its mouth.  Then the fog lifted as we came further in and made our way to the dock.  We awaited the customs and immigration officers and were quickly cleared into Canada and allowed ashore.  We managed to walk in the back door of the restaurant here and ran into the cook.  She kindly offered to stay late and cook us a couple of burgers and fixings; the first hot meal we have had since the regulator on our cooking fuel system gave out. (We plan to install a new regulator Friday).

So, phase one of the expedition is complete with the boat now in Halifax awaiting the rest of our crew.  We averaged 6.5 knots for the passage up from Manchester.  A good night's sleep is the next thing on the agenda.


0745, Thursday, July 29

Last night the breeze continued to build.  We made excellent time towards Brazil Rock and reached that turning point at 0100 today.  We could see lighthouses on the mainland as we made out turn.  The wind has held steady at about 25 knots, well aft to starboard.  It means working the helm takes attention as we surf off waves hitting top speeds of 9.6 knots.  Clouds have crept in as expected, but the rain has held off.  At 0630 we had a small group of dolphins riding our bow wave for ten minutes, easily keeping pace with the boat.  Seas have built to 10 feet and the cloud cover is thinning.  The sailing is exhilarating.  The best news is that we may be in Halifax by 2200 tonight, ahead of schedule.


1745, Wednesday, July 28

It has been a glorious day of sailing!  The summertime prevailing southwesterlies have filled in nicely ahead of a front advancing off the US coast. We have been averaging well over 6 knots with the wind on the starboard quarter.  As evening approaches the boat speed increases with the wind speed, which is now around 20 knots and building.

We did pass close to one Fin or Sei whale this afternoon.  More notable has been the dramatic climate change.  The sea is cooler and along with it the air temperature has lost the hot summer warmth of yesterday.  We now need jackets and long pants during the afternoon to stay warm.  We sail through some rafts of seaweed being pushed in and out of the Bay of Fundy to the north of us.

Much of the day has been spent sorting and stowing items; getting the boat as squared away as possible before Dan, Paul and David join us for the run to Sable.  Don't forget that you can use the "Crew" item on the "Sable" menu at the top of this page to see photos of each member of the expedition.

The benefit of the good sailing is that we are making good time on our passage.  We are now just 26 miles from Seal Island off the western tip of Nova Scotia.  We only have 45 miles to go to our turning point at Brazil Rock.  We anticipate reaching Brazil Rock soon after midnight if the wind holds as expected.  That will let us turn and start along the southwestern shore of Nova Scotia for the rest of the passage to Halifax.  It now looks as if we may arrive in Halifax in the wee hours of Friday morning.  We are keeping our fingers crossed in hopes that the fog does not shut in with the passage of the front.


1026, Wednesday, July 28

Last evening we began heating dinner in the oven. After about 20 minutes the oven started whooshing like a steam locomotive.  Bill was below and Charlie on deck.  Bill called for Charlie to turn the CNG cooking fuel off at the tank on deck and the noise ceased.  Apparently the regulator connected to the tank failed and the 2,000 pounds of pressure came out full force.  Throwing the solenoid did not stop the flow, only the valve on the tank.

We gave the boat a little time to air out, thankful that TAZZARIN is equipped with CNG instead of propane. CNG is lighter than air and floats out and dissipates.  We have contacted Paul and he is planning to bring a replacement regulator to Halifax.

With the excitement over and the turkey shepherd's pie hot, we ate a grand meal in the cockpit.  Charlie climbed in a bunk and Bill took the 1800 to 2200 watch.  At 2040 the brilliant, red, waning gibbous moon crept over the clear eastern horizon.  Not a cloud in the sky and only one vessel was sighted all night; perhaps a trawler making her way south from Cashes Ledge as we continued on towards the Hague Line separating the US from Canada.





At dawn the sun rose on the bow, showing a few clouds on the distant horizon.  Charlie had had the watch in the middle of the night and Bill took over again before dawn.  Each of us slept peacefully, tucked in our bunks and held in by lee cloths.  The night had been clear and dry with continued fair winds and no fog.  The seagulls have largely left us behind out here. Instead the petrels continue to flit about, joined by a fulmar now and then. From time to time we come across groups of shearwaters, such graceful sea birds whose ability to skim the surface at speed with their wing tips almost touching the waves lets us know we are truly offshore.

Today the good weather continues and we are making close to six knots under main and genoa.  Yesterday we departed Manchester at 1026 and now, after a 24-hour run, we are 146 miles from Manchester and only 92 miles from Brazil Rock at the west end of Nova Scotia.  From there we turn and make the final run of 135 miles in to Halifax for provisions and the rest of our crew.



1700, Tuesday, July 27

TAZZARIN departed the Manchester Yacht Club at 1026 this morning with Bill Barton and Charlie Newhall aboard.  Jack Fadden fired a salute with a starting cannon in honor of the start of the voyage.  At 1106 the boat passed Gales Ledge and headed offshore.  Winds have been fickle; sometimes swinging through more than 180 degrees and varying from 6 to 12 knots.  So, to keep speed up, we have been using both sails and motor.  As of 1700 we are about 40 miles from Manchester with another 200 miles across the Gulf of Maine to Brazil Rock, the turning point where we will turn a bit left and head up the Nova Scotia coast to Halifax.  But, that is still a long ways off.

We have seen a number of other vessels as we head to sea, mostly fishermen, and some cruisers closer to shore.  An immature gannet along with increasing numbers of Wilson's Storm Petrels signify we are leaving behind the shore birds and heading east.  We also have seen a few tuna at the surface.  Much of the day has been filled with stowing the vast amount of gear, clothes, food and other items.

Weather should remain good through the night and through the day Wednesday.  No fog is expected for the next 24 hours.  Then Wednesday evening the forecast suggests a stronger breeze, but all from a favorable direction. So, we are making good time towards our rendezvous in Halifax where we will pick up the rest of our Sable Island expedition team.


2300, Sunday, July 25 - TAZZARIN Departs MYC shortly

Plans are for TAZZARIN to leave the Manchester Yacht Club on Tuesday morning bound for Halifax Nova Scotia.  Bill Barton and Charlie Newhall will make the passage in a straight shot, sailing double-handed.  The trip of about 360 miles should take about three days.  The destination for this leg of the expedition will be the dock at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron in Halifax.  The rest of the crew, Dan Finamore, Paul McMahon and David Martz will be driving up to Nova Scotia on Friday to meet the boat.  We will continue to try and update the web site on a regular basis.  We will be sending data by satellite phone link when possible at sea or at Sable.



0600, Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - All Permits Issued, Expedition a Go

As of Monday we now have both required permits in hand for the expedition.  The first permit is issued by the Canadian Coast Guard and is required for any vessel landing crew ashore on Sable Island.  Access is strictly controlled.  Without a Coast Guard permit in hand the only other way sailors are allowed on the island is if the are involved in a shipwreck.  The second permit is a Heritage Permit allowing for us to conduct archaeological surveys on the island.

The focus of the archaeological work will be in walking transects through Sable's interior dunes and plains looking for signs of early habitation or settlement.  The primary focus of the work is not on discovering wrecks, but rather in looking for sites of early settlement or encampment on the island.  Ths typically took place in three forms over several centuries: 1. Sailors were shipwrecked in one of the island's hundreds of known or unknown shipwrecks and made it ashore to camp until rescued; 2. Planned settlement for one or more years, the earliest recorded being a French settlement of the late 1500s; 3. Sealers, fishermen and others would set up seasonal camps on the island.

Sable also has spectacular natural beauty: One of the world's most beautiful and pristine beaches; Two to four hundred wild horses; Huge Gray and Harbor Seal populations, Unique flora of iris, marram grass, cranberries, etc; and birdlife including the Ipswich Sparrow of New England which flies 500 miles to remote Sable Island to nest and breed.

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