This is our third trip to the Bras D'Or lakes in Obsession, and we have made an effort to spend more time at anchor than our previous trips. However, we still spend some time in marinas. In fact, we tend to spend more nights in marinas than at anchor, partly because the lack of refrigeration on our boat means that we have to replenish our supply of ice every day in the icebox. That means making landfall anyway, so we use the time to resupply ourselves. Also, because we usually cannot fully leave our work behind, we need to have internet access every so often.
Finally, even though we have a shower in the head, it is small and cramped, so we appreciate the luxury of having a full sized shower every couple of days.
Port Hawkesbury marina is not on the Bras D'Or lakes, but it is often our first stop on our way home, or our last stop before hitting the lakes. This year, they have opened a large new two-storey building for the marina. They have a shower in each of the men's and women's washrooms, as well as another washroom/shower in the building next door. Most of the space in the building is taken up by a lounge. The facility is licenced, and drinks are available.
In the Bras D'Or lakes, there are three principal marinas - St Peter's, Baddeck, and Dundee. Of the three, we have spent the most time in St Peter's (mainly because my family is nearby) and the least in Dundee.
St Peter's is one of the best marinas that we've visited. There are plenty of berths. The only time we've ever seen them full was last year when a hurricane was threatening and all the local boaters wanted a spot for the night. The staff is always ready to catch your lines when you arrive, and they have plenty of facilities. There are five washroom/showers, a kitchen and television areas, and barbecues for the boaters. It's also a short walk to the town, where most services are available. The one service that is not available in the town is a good marine supply shop.
We have spent quite a few nights at the Baddeck marine. Like St Peter's, they are quick to help you on the docks and the marina is a short walk from the town's services. However, they have limited slips (although there are plenty of moorings) and they have been full at times when we were looking for a spot. There are a couple of showers each for men and women, but no relaxation area for boaters. However, they have the advantage of a full marine supply and repair shop on site. This year, they helped me clean a bad electrical connection on board Obsession.
We have not spent many nights at Dundee. There are two main disadvantages to this location. First, there are no services in Dundee outside the marina. Secondly, cell phone service is spotty at best. Because we also own a summer tourist-related business, we need to keep in touch when we're on the water at this time of year, so being in a location where we can't be reached is a big disadvantage.
There is one other location on the lakes which we stopped into this summer. The Barra Strait marina is at the foot of the Barra Strait bridge in Iona. However, this facility makes use of an old ferry dock, which has seen better days. There is a marina building with washrooms, showers, and laundry facilities. The location is also exposed to the winds from many directions. We briefly considered spending the night, but the south-west wind was uncomfortable, so we stopped only long enough to buy ice from the convenience store next door, then found an anchorage for the night.