New Brunswick, Canada

 8th - 15th August 2005


From South West Harbour in Maine, only about 70 miles from the Canadian border, the idea of heading up to Canada for a brief visit, thus allowing us to re-enter the United States for further period of six months, seemed like a simple proposition.   However we discovered that when travelling by sailing boat, things weren't quite as straightforward as we'd anticipated.    

Our first challenge was to track down a US immigration office in Maine, where we could officially leave the United States by surrendering the I-94 forms we'd been given on arrival in the country.    We poured over the map and, in our naivety, decided on Lubec as our destination, hoping this would make things straightforward, as the US and Canadian border control offices were located at either end of a road bridge over the river there.   However, on consulting the nautical chart we realised that, in order to reach Lubec, we'd actually have to pass through Canadian waters and circumnavigate Canadian Campobello Island as our main mast was too high to pass beneath the International Bridge.   


Anju's route (in black) through Canadian Waters to return to the USA, in order to officially leave for Canada!


Our brief journey through Canada went pretty much unnoticed, with the exception of a large fin whale which decided to surface right ahead of us, to check us out.    We hadn't realised it beforehand but the mouth of Passamaquoddy Bay is the summer home of a large number of whales of several different breeds as well as a thriving whale-watching industry.   


We sailed back into US waters, dropped our hook near the town of Lubec and went ashore in search of the Border Control.    After a lengthy discussion with the helpful officials, we were able to surrender our I-94s even though we weren't actually leaving US waters until the following morning, on condition that we didn't leave our boat again that evening.   Nothing was mentioned about not making any stops on the way home, so we couldn't resist a quick visit to "Phil's Homemade Ice Cream Emporium" on our way!

Next morning all we had to do was to contact Canadian border control to check in to their country, which we felt should be easy, as we were within sight of their office when we called.    However, we were told that the official port of entry was at Head Harbour, 8 miles back in the direction we'd come the previous day.  We were assured by the Coastguard, with whom we talked on the VHF radio, that they'd informed the Customs, who would be awaiting us on our arrival at the harbour.    

Watching the sun go down in Lubec, USA, even though officially we weren't there any more!


Head Harbour was definitely a working fishing port and we tied up alongside a large, ripe-smelling fishing boat to await the arrival of the officials.   We waited and we waited.   Finally worried that the authorities weren't actually aware of our presence, the Captain decided he'd better venture ashore to try and find a phone to call again.    Unfortunately, despite being the official port of entry, where you have to make landfall and telephone the authorities, nobody had thought that it may be handy to place a payphone anywhere near the wharf, the nearest being about two miles away.   Luckily the friendly staff at the office of a whale-watching tour company kindly allowed us to make our call from there, saving us the two mile walk through a country in which, officially, we hadn't yet arrived.

Our fears were confirmed, the message hadn't got through and within half and hour of our call, two extremely tall customs officials squeezed themselves aboard Anju to stamp our passports and count up the quantity of alcohol aboard.   Once this was done, we were free to wander Canada as we pleased.


To celebrate our relief at finally being officially permitted off the boat to explore Canada, we set off on a bike ride to seek out the fish market and try the recommended local delicacy of scallops.    For a small island, Campobello certainly managed to have plenty of hills!   After three hot and sweaty hilly miles, we arrived at the fish market, only to be told that they were out of scallops in the market and the few they had in the back were being kept to be sold in their own restaurant.    Despite our pleading, we were unable to part the market's assistant from her few remaining scallops and left disappointed.   

We cycled back to the island's lighthouse accessible on foot at low tide is accessibly on foot via a precarious assortment of ladders and a scramble over the rocks, which are normally submerged at high tide. Unfortunately as it was now close to high tide we were unable to experience this adventure for ourselves but weren't too disappointed, having already sailed past the lighthouse three times in the previous 24 hours!  Instead we joined the crowds gathered on the cliffs to watch the whales swimming by below. 


Head Harbour Lighthouse - "Guess what, we'll be sailing past it for a fourth time tomorrow!

Signs of Head Harbour's more prosperous past


Exhausted, we made our way back to the harbour and poked around in the dinghy to explore the ruins of an old cannery factory, lots of old fishing boats lying neglected and wrecked, as well as the many moored rafts in the harbour still in use by the fishermen and a salmon farm.   We learned that salmon farming had been big business until the stock was infected by disease, leaving only a couple of salmon pens still in existence.    The other fish pens we'd seen were called weirs and used to catch passing schools of herring, which were harvested mostly as bait for the lobster fishing industry.  It was fascinating to be in a working fishing harbour for a change rather than one catering specifically to recreational vessels.

Being in a working harbour did however have its down side.   Noisy activity began before first light and despite us asking around when we arrived to make sure our neighbouring fishing boat was unlikely to be leaving, we were awoken early by a knocking on Anju's hull and a female Canadian voice telling us we had to move as they were heading out.   We scrambled to dress and hurry on deck but were still too slow.   When we arrived we found our mooring lines had been undone and we were already drifting slowly backwards down the harbour with the tide towards the large fishing boat behind us.    Frantic scurrying around saved us from drifting into anything.  We were feeling a little annoyed at our neighbours for simply casting us adrift when nobody was on deck until the captain of the fishing boat shouted to us as he left the harbour that we were welcome to use his car if we wanted, the keys were inside.

Anju snuggling amongst the fishing boats, Dual Venture in the foreground.

As we recovered from our abrupt start to the day, we realised that our unexpected early rising had another benefit.   We noticed a scallop fishing boat had moored up behind us and the fisherman was busy shucking his catch (taking them out of the shells).   We seized our chance and dinghied over to buy a couple of pounds of extremely fresh scallops, which we later enjoyed fried in olive oil and garlic.    We also learned how the scallops were caught by raking the seabed with large steel frames for about half and hour at a time before recovering the catch.    Scallop cooking advice was also thrown in at no extra cost!

We headed out of the harbour in thick fog to make for the more touristy town of St. Andrews higher up the bay.   We were certainly glad we had both radar and our excellent chart plotter to help us find our way.    

After passing Head Harbour Lighthouse for a fourth time, we headed around Deer Island and experienced "the world's largest whirlpool", known locally as the Old Sow.   As the tide floods around the islands and becomes confused a huge whirlpool results.   Anju swerved violently to port and starboard as we tried to head in a straight line, the nearest thing she'd ever experienced to a fun-fair ride!    Even in the thick fog, whale-watchers were out in force and we spotted a couple more whales ourselves.

Anju anchored in St. Andrews

Why are the cannons always aimed at our boat? 

On our arrival in St. Andrews, BB, the harbour master or wharfinger as they are known locally, rushed out to greet us in his boat, offering us a mooring buoy if we wanted one.    We explained that our budget had recently been blown by the need to replace our roller furler and that we would prefer to anchor if possible.    This was no problem and BB even guided us to the best anchoring spot in the harbour.   

Despite being a small town, St. Andrews offered every facility we needed, wireless internet we could access from our boat, a spotless laundry, a large supermarket, free dinghy dock and many welcoming faces, not to mention excellent beach-combing for beach glass and the added luxury of a video shop! 


The pretty town was very welcoming to cruisers and we were surprised to find so few visiting yachts in the harbour.   However, we were finding life aboard very chilly, mostly due to the sea temperature being only 8 degrees centigrade.   Anju's steel hull, with no insulation below the waterline, was beginning to make us feel like we were living in a refrigerator and and the inside of the hull was constantly wringing wet with condensation.    The chill was also getting to our beloved engine, Yanny, who was becoming increasingly reluctant to start when cold.   We decided that much as we'd like to spent more time in Canada and undoubtedly would in the future, we wanted to start heading south again.  Now that our goal of leaving the USA had been met, we could start to head back there again.

Ironically before we left Canada we spotted our first bald eagle, the national bird of the United States!


Christine's birthday began with us making our way to Eastport, back in the USA and docking there to clear in with Border Control.   Our arrival coincided with the arrival of the Deer Island ferry, which the officers had to attend to first but by the time we returned to their office to complete our formalities, all our paperwork was finished and Christine was greeted with a hearty "Happy Birthday".    We were officially back in the States.    Of course now we had to leave to pass through Canada again.   In fact we decided to spend the night back at Head Harbour in Canada, to make an early start the next day.    We felt we probably wouldn't really be doing anything wrong, as officially we were now in both Canada and the USA at the same time.

10 points for spotting the whale!   Passing Head Harbour Lighthouse for the fifth time.

Armed with the makings of a birthday dinner, local haddock for a feast of fish and chips and a large blueberry pie, we cast off from America and headed back towards Canada.   On our way we were hailed on the VHF radio by David, the friendly captain of a whale-watching boat which had been our neighbour in St. Andrews, who told us that nearby there were several fin whales if we were interested.    Anju took a short detour, and by going in circles for a while we'd had several excellent views of the whales as they surfaced.

This time we rafted alongside an even bigger fishing boat, Dual Venture, in Head Harbour.    We felt it was always best for steel vessels to raft together.   Again we checked with locals that the boat wasn't heading out early next morning and although they reassured us, we were skeptical after our previous experience.  This time, however, it wouldn't really matter as we wanted to make an early start ourselves.    Sure enough a few minutes later, one of the boat's crew, Richard, came by to warn us they'd be heading out at 7 am the next morning.    Of course psychologically we'd already changed back to USA time now which would make this 6 am for us.   Bizarrely, despite their closeness, the two countries were in different time zones!   Still it would mean we'd catch the tide right to surf along at a good speed between Grand Manan Island and the US mainland.

Richard returned to his boat later to give some friends a tour and kindly allowed us to tag along.    Dual Venture was actually a sister ship to the Andrea Gail, lost in "The Perfect Storm", although Dual Venture was rigged differently for Purse Seine fishing for herring.    It was fascinating to actually get aboard one of the fishing boats when we've seen so many at sea.    We toured the engine room, the galley and crew living areas and finally the bridge, where our resident fisherman was impressed by Dual Venture's fish finder, which could find a school of fish at 5 mile range.   We too could have one for only half a million Canadian dollars!


Once his friends had left, Richard asked if we wanted to take a drive around the island with him as tour guide.   We didn't hesitate and enjoyed his interesting tour, which included many scenic bays, harbours and areas where a lot of land is being bought up by Americans to build homes, including the land which was the subject of the White Water Property scandal.  He even gave us a tour of his own beautiful home.   On the way, Richard also helped us gain a greater insight into the life of a fisherman, at sea for two weeks at a time throughout the summer season.   We wondered how he passed the winter months and he told us he sometimes works as support crew for a friend who dives in the winter for sea urchin for the Japanese market.   With the sea temperature being only 8 degrees centigrade in the height of summer, we couldn't imagine having to make a living that way in the depths of winter!

Before our tour finished he asked if we wanted to see the lighthouse.   Why not!

Dual Venture heading out to sea

Early next morning it was time to say goodbye to Canada after our our all too brief visit and we made our way quickly back to the United States with the help of a favourable tide pushing us along at around eight knots!
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