Jul 7, 2007
We woke up to steady rain and dark overcast, which fortunately petered out by our time to load Blue. Packing for four is a challenge but doable if I copy the technique Ron uses in packing his boat for trips to their cabin at Pitt Lake; a real challenge when we always bring too much there as well. Because I had booked both rooms under my credit card, the front desk proceeded to screw everything up when Ron went to pay. This was by far the very worst motel experience of our entire trip.
Our trip to Lunenburg via Peggy's Cove started with continuing overcast and occasional light rain. When we took the side trip into Peggy's Cove, fog had really socked in on the scenic rocks, waves and lighthouse, not that uncommon on this coast. The fog can actually add an interesting element to photographs and I took full advantage in shooting a number of scenic takes.
The scenery continued to be just as gorgeous as we continued down Nova Scotia's Lighthouse Route. We had lunch in a local diner on a little bay where the air was dead calm, creating even more photo ops with the reflections in the water of shore buildings and small craft moored in the bay. The town of Mahone Bay, 12 kms before Lunenburg was absolutely fabulous in its multihued buildings and water setting.
We arrived in Lunenburg minutes later and were instantly impressed by the beauty and uniqueness of the town. We took a short driving tour of the hilly, narrow streets with their myriad architectural attractions. Lunenburg has been designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site and is strictly controlled in terms of what people may do with their homes and commercial buildings, right down to the limited (12?) colours of paint they can use for the exteriors.
The effect of the controls means they have a town as beautiful as anything we saw in the US and have paid off in its attraction to tourists and their dollars. That's important, as the fishing industry has all but disappeared from here and the economy has transformed into a tourism-based one. Speaking of tourists, our carload made the short trip to Mason's Beach and the Atlantic View Motel and Cottages where we had reservations for two nights.
We were blown away by the quality of our accommodations and their location, as we found it to be very much like our honeymoon cottage in Hulls Cove/Bar Harbor, without the heavy traffic we had there. Ron and I walked along the beach across the road and revelled in the quiet as we observed a fishing heron and investigated fresh deer tracks. Within sight of our cottage was an osprey nest with two newborn chicks, which we watched through our binoculars from our deck.
We met chatty neighbours from Edmonton who were scheduled to be married on the Bluenose II at 8:30 am the next day. We wished them well and told them we would think of them at that moment, if we were awake by then. It was only later that Brenda remembered hearing on the news that Saturday was going to be a heavy wedding day because of the proliferation of 7's in the date. We sat out on the deck until dark, finally driven inside by the cool night air.
In the morning, we were delighted to find increasing sunshine on this lucky Saturday. After enjoying coffee and breakfast in the Adirondack chairs on our deck, we drove over the hill into Lunenburg for the day. Our route took us by the hillside golf course along the bay, whose bright green and open fairways dominate the scene across the Harbour from the town site.
We parked and walked the streets and shops where the hilly contours proved quite a challenge for Anne-Marie, who is a real trooper in spite of her constant back pain. We made our way down to the docks where we came across the impressive but sad memorial to fishermen who have lost heir lives at sea. We couldn't believe the high loss of life in the early days of dory fishing when the whole male population of one family could be wiped out in one year. We saw the names of seven men from the Whynacht family lost in one year alone.
We found the booth for the Lobstermen Tours and bought tickets for Ron, Brenda and me, as Anne-Marie didn't thinks she could take the two hours bouncing in the boat. We chose this tour because they actually pull up several lobster traps on the tour and give a lot of factual background on lobsters and the fishery. While we were on the docks, our neighbours from the motel, Gary and Angela, returned from their cruise aboard the Bluenose II, now married. I took a couple of pictures of the Bluenose to show Brian Morris some heavy teak to varnish and brass to polish.
We checked out a number of harbour side restaurants for lunch and settled on the Old Fish Factory in the Fishermen's Museum, with their patio right on the dock. After lunch, we decided that a tour of the Fishermen's Museum was in order after seeing a sign that it was on the New York Times list of "1,000 things to see before you die". It really is an interesting museum and well staffed with docents who have worked in the industry. We became well informed about long-line dory and schooner fishing and the transformation to trawling and nets.
The Museum has two dockside boat exhibits, one a modern side-trawler and the other a schooner, the Theresa E. Connor, which was a sister ship of the original Bluenose. It was amazing to visit the crew's quarters below decks and talk to the grizzled old docents aboard about the god old days. We found out later that the "E" was added into the schooner's name due to fishermen's superstition so that the name wouldn't be painted on with 13 letters in it.
We made our appointed time with the Lobstermen while Anne prepared to read and continue other "light duties" ashore. Along with a dozen or so other landlubbers, the boat headed out to the lobster grounds where our guides pulled up 6 traps with lobsters in 4 of them. While they pulled the traps up, we were given a lot of factual background on lobsters and the commercial fishery.
Our guide was a working fisherman while the skipper was a former fisherman converted to a navigation instructor at the local college. Lobster season in the Lunenburg area is from November to May and this tour keeps them working in the off-season, a good complement to their regular work. We completed the tour out to the mouth of the Harbour and around some reefs, returning by a narrow "gut" through the rocky islands.
Back on shore, Anne rejoined us and we returned to our cottage for a snack dinner and copious wine. We had a pleasant chat with our host Alex, who emigrated from Switzerland several years ago with his wife, Heidi (is that Swiss or what?). They and their Canadian-born 6-year old son Josh acquired the Atlantic View 3 years ago and run in it in true Swiss efficiency, cleanliness and friendliness. Alex actually came from near Brienz, which we had visited last year with James and Susann. Heidi comes from near Thun, where Susann's father, Bruno lives. Once again, it's a small, small world.
It was a fantastically beautiful evening but the outdoor portion was unfortunately cut short by an influx of mosquitoes from the lily pond on the property, brought out by the recent rain.