Thursday, August 26, 2010

Anchorages of the Bras D'Or

As I mentioned in my last blog, we have tried to spend more time at anchor on this trip to the Bras D'Or, and we have managed to visit a few spots. The Bras D'Or Lakes are brimming with coves, harbours, and inlets where you can easily find some seclusion and protection from almost any wind direction. We have only scratched the surface of the great locations over here, and we have plenty more destinations on our list of future visits.

Our thoughts this year was to alternate between anchorages and marinas. While we are quite comfortable at anchorage in Obsession, the lack of refrigeration means we have to get more ice for the icebox every other day. Also, Obsession doesn't have a particularly large water tank. We can probably get by for three days or so with the water we carry, but then it gets down and we're more comfortable stopping and refilling it. After all, we need our daily shower!

Cape George is a popular spot during the day - which in our experience means you can expect about a half dozen boats on a nice day. Although we didn't anchor overnight, we did spend an afternoon here. As in most areas in the Lakes, the water is deep enough to allow you to anchor relatively close to the shore. This is a big difference from PEI, where the sand bars keep you out quite a distance. This cove is at the Lake end of St Peters Inlet, just before entering the wider part of the Lakes. For Obsession, it is just a bit over an hour for us to motor here from St Peters Marina, so it's a perfect spot to take family for a day.

This is the second year that we anchored in the Crammond Islands. These two islands lie close to each other, and are just three miles north of Dundee Marina. To get to the mid-island anchorage area, you pass through the channel, which then opens up into a circular, well-sheltered area.

We spent a night anchored in Little Harbour this year for the first time. I had been wanting to check out this place since I first heard about it, and we finally made it this year. This has quickly become one of our favourite spots. You almost have to be right on top of the entrance before you can even see it. The entrance to the harbour is very narrow - probably less than 100 feet across in places. However, it is quite deep and there is no problem getting in with our 6 foot keel. Once through, it opens out into a circular bay with plenty of room for dozens of boats. It is extremely quiet and isolated. There were three other boats in the harbour while we were there, at least two of which were unoccupied (we couldn't tell if there was anyone on the third boat or not). We spent a wonderful afternoon and night at this spot, totally set apart from the rest of the world.

Orangedale is a bit off the main track for the Bras D'Or Lakes, but we wanted to explore this section. The wind was not entirely cooperative, so we had to motor for about two hours through the sometimes narrow passages to get to Orangedale. Once there, we buzzed by the community (which is quite small). Although the cruising guides say that there is enough water at the end of the dock for us, we didn't actually stop at the town. We anchored in MacDonald's Cove next to the town, again with no one else around.

On the north side of Iona, Maskell's Harbour is midway from the Barra Strait Bridge to Baddeck. Since it is only few miles from Baddeck, this is a very popular day trip. We anchored for the night, along with a half dozen other boats. It is large enough that we had a whole section of the harbour to ourselves, and none of the boats interfered with each other. There is a small peninsula that extends out from land to the midpoint of the harbour, and most boats like to tuck in behind this bar. When we arrived, there were already a few boats in there, so we anchored on the other side, near the beach.

Our final anchorage on this trip was in Deep Cove, west of Baddeck. We had this area to ourselves. It is smaller than most of the other places we had stayed in, with only swing room for a handful of boats. Again, the harbour was quiet and isolated, with no one else in sight.

It's always surprising that the Bras D'Or aren't more crowded with cruising boats. For a relatively small area, there are so many quiet, interesting, and scenic spots to check out. There are enough marinas and facilities for regular resupply, and hundreds of isloated spots to explore. Most of the time, we had an entire anchorage or harbour to ourselves. There would be only one or two houses even in sight, and often no roads anywhere nearby.

This was our third visit to the Bras D'Or Lakes with Obsession, and it won't be the last.

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