Bras d'Or Lakes

Sailing area Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Canadas only inland sea is outstanding indeed. After stressful Newfoundland pure rest and recreation: totally protected, surrounded by hills formed in the ice age, warm, we can go swimming from the boat for the first time this year, simple navigation, a secure anchorage always around the corner. August means high season and there are quite a bunch of sailors around. But not enough to make this huge area a crowded place. The charter industry obviously hasn´t quite discovered a market here. Not quite understandable as there are several small low priced marinas with excellent service. All sorts of provisions and supplies can be found in the small towns of St. Peters and Baddeck.

There are two entrances, in the north the fjord of the Great Bras d´Or with tidal currents up to 6 knots, to the south the man made St. Peters Canal. The latter is about half a mile long and has only one lock, separating the Lakes from the open Atlantic. Starting off in Sydney we make for the northern entrance and - of course - arrive there at the wrong time: 3 knots of current against us and - as usual - thickening fog, to give us a little extra fun, the wind picks up against the tide. Our handbook says, there is no fog in the Bras d´Or Lakes, it also says, there is no commercial traffic in the Bras d´Or Lakes. The next thing that happens is that a huge bulk carrier substantiates out of the fog, of course close to the narrowest passage. But we are prepared, he had warned everybody of his existence via VHF.All the same, when it starts raining cats and dogs, we are completely fed up and pull into the next anchorage.

When we get up the next morning, the fog is gone, we lift anchor and have a look around wonderland. The water is deep, clear and clean. Junglelike forests reaching to the waters edge, impenetrable and not very much lumbering going on obviously. In other places we see summerhouses or serious villas, built of wood and colourfully painted. Despite the sprawl there is still considerable room. A lot of European immigrants built and found a new home here.

The epicenter of tourism seems to be the small country town of Baddeck right in the middle of the Lakes and the island. Main topic is the Scottish heritage. But despite all the hustle of the summer guests, time seems to go at a much slower pace here. No wonder the Scots and Bretons loved this place, except for the forests everything is just like home especially the weather. A typical weather forecast: "... a mix of sun and clouds, occasional showers or thundershowers, fog patches; visibility fair in showers and poor in fog; winds southwest light to moderate, at times strong..." Well, whatever happens, you can´t blame the meteorologist...

Sailing here in the summer is a dream. The wind rarely exceeds 20 knots, there is no fetch for waves, although it can be choppy. We can live with the often rapidly changing weather and the Lakes impose an almost unreal sense of peace and tranquillity upon the visitor...

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