We are now in the highly anticipated Bras d’Or! The Bras d’Or Lake is actually a large salt water lake (like an inland sea) in the interior of Cape Breton island which is the northeastern portion of Nova Scotia. It opens to the sea through St. Peter’s Channel on the southwest and through the Great Bras d’Or Channel in the northeast. The lake is over 3500 square kilometers and dotted with small islands, scenic coves and quaint villages. The weather is wonderfully mild and it is surprisingly free from fog (most of the time).
By the way, we learned that Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland. It was named this because many of the original settlers were from Scotland. The cultural influence of Scotland is obvious throughout the province in family names, traditional music and many of the Celtic customs.
Our plan, while here, was to stay at as many secluded anchorages as we had time for. Each bend in the lake reveals another lovely place to stop. It is much like boating in the Chesapeake Bay or Lake Champlain where there are a plethora of villages and coves so close together that it only takes a couple of hours to go from one location to the next. One could spend an entire summer exploring this area, but we only have a couple of weeks.
We left our beautiful anchorage in Poulamon Bay, on August 14, bound for St. Peter’s, the first village we would visit in the lake. As we left Poulomon Bay the early morning fog lifted and we passed through open water leading to Isle de Madame (named for for the last wife of Louis XIV) then entered St. Peter’s Channel which led to a lock. The lockkeepers were, as usual, very friendly and the lock was very small. Friendly fisherman were fishing off the dock walls – mackerel seems to be what is currently in season. As soon as we passed through the lock, we were in St. Peter’s and we tied up at the public wharf behind Diva Di.
The four of us walked into town and visited the few points of interest to us there. The first was quite unique – a store called MacIsaac Kiltmakers owned by a Scot. The shop sold authentic tartans and did business throughout the world. The owner was a charming and very interesting gentleman who explained how tartan patterns are developed and the specific process for them to become authorized. There are literally thousands of tartan patterns but only a few hundred have ever been produced. His shop was in an old house and he had the most beautiful fabric on display along with the accompanying embellishments and Scottish jewelry (sorry, no pictures)! He was proud of the fact that his children maintain a connection with their heritage. His son is part of an internationally acclaimed bagpipe orchestra and his daughter is a fashion designer who incorporates tartans into her custom designs in contemporary and unique ways. His tartan garments were very fine and the price tags reflected as much – so we didn’t even purchase a scarf! He did give us two CDs of his son’s music (both traditional and contemporary) which we’ve been listening to on our journey.
We also visited a museum that was dedicated solely to the work of Wallace MacAskell, a famous maritime photographer who was from St. Peter’s. We believe he was a contemporary of Morris Rosenfeld, whose work we love and is on display in Mystic Seaport (and our home office).
We had lunch in the village and walked along a coastline path lined with wildflowers and saskatoon berries.
There we anchored in a lovely spot next to a sailboat that was moored (but not occupied).
We took the dinghy out for a row and saw this interesting little boat go by.
Later, Duane and Diane dinghied over to our boat for cocktails. After dinner on the aft deck (we are so glad we have a comfortable “back porch”), we spent a quiet evening reading.