Saturday, August 29, 2015

Halifax, Nova Scotia

We just spent three days in the wonderful city of Halifax, the largest city in the Maritimes.  We arrived there on Tuesday, Aug. 25 after a fine sunny day of cruising on pretty substantial seas.  We were surfing all the way in to the long harbor there.  The banks of Halifax harbor are lined with big beautiful homes. 

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We stayed at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. This is one of only seven yacht clubs that are chartered by the Queen of England.  It was a great choice for us because the dock master was extremely helpful in finding the resources we needed to get some necessary repairs done, especially our auto pilot. 

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This was also the site of a “crew change” for us.  Cathy and Mark were leaving the next morning to catch their flight home and Michael Bracken would be flying in from Florida to join us on Friday.  So after arriving at the marina, the four of us took a cab into Halifax and found a very cool local restaurant for lunch. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around town to get a feel for what is the largest city and government seat of Nova Scotia. 

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Halifax has an particularly long and handsomely developed boardwalk that lines this historic port. It has numerous shops, museums and restaurants and there are several public wharves where one can tie up for the day.

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Cathy and Mark left that evening – they were great guests and we had a wonderfully relaxing time with them onboard.  They got the full array of boating experiences as they traveled with us through sun, fog, and rain and felt the effect of calm seas and some fairly big waves!

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We spent the following days taking care of boat repairs.  Jonny repaired a minor leak in the anchor washdown and got a workman on board who spent hours diagnosing our auto pilot problem and installing a new pump for it.   What a relief to get it fixed especially since we would be crossing the Bay of Fundy soon which is a 15 hour crossing in big seas.  Luck would have it that the following day, the installer called to say that he was able to rebuild and fix our old pump. This, after we spent “mucho dinero” buying a new one!  But we now have a back-up auto pilot in addition to the brand new one that we don’t have to worry about.

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On Thursday, it rained all day so Lynn made a hair appointment and thought Jonny might explore Halifax while he waited.  We took the bus into town but when we stopped for the transfer it started to pour and though we had umbrellas, we were pretty wet.  We decided to see if Lynn could get an appointment at a salon nearby. The plan worked - a sister salon to the original one squeezed her in.  So Jonny hung out at the mall and dried out while Lynn went to get coiffed!

That evening, we were invited for drinks onboard Lady Erica, a beautiful Sabre 48 owned by Graeme and Erica. They are a lovely couple, originally from New Zealand and now living in Florida. They are traveling along the Down East route but in the opposite direction that we are traveling.  We exchanged information about marinas, anchorages and “not to be missed” stops that we each experienced.  Afterwards, back on board Zendo, the two of us had a delicious dinner of halibut steaks that Jonny had bought at the market while waiting patiently for Lynn to get her hair done. 

Our final full day in Halifax was perfect – sunny and warm.  We spent the whole day exploring the city in more depth than we had on our first foray.  We started off at the public gardens -  beautiful formal Victorian gardens that were awash in color.  We learned that the gardens, which were created in the 1880’s, had been destroyed in a hurricane several years ago.  After a major fund-raising effort they were fully restored.  Their dahlias were especially gorgeous – we never realized how many varieties of them exist.  It’s also been interesting to see the hostas and hydrangeas blooming in many private gardens in late August!

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We walked up the hill to the Citadel that is perched at the top of the city.  We decided to pass up the formal tour but we found the view of the city and the waterfront to be fabulous.  The fort was built by the British to defend against a French fort in Cape Breton.  The fortifications were significant but never put to the test – the fort was never attacked. 

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On our walk down the hill into town, we passed the Government House, an imposing looking building that serves as the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia.  They were offering free tours so we availed ourselves of the opportunity.  The residence is officially owned by the British monarchy.   It was an elegantly appointed historic mansion that serves as a ceremonial site and is where the royal family stays whenever they are  “in town. “ 

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After lunch, we went to the Maritime Museum located on the Halifax Wharf.  It was filled with boats of all types and sizes – many with beautiful lines.  There was a large exhibit about the sinking of the Titanic because it was rescuers from Halifax that were the first to arrive on the scene of that disaster. A small percentage of passengers were saved and there were many photographs and clippings that showed stacks of coffins lining the Halifax wharf.  It was fascinating to see some of the remnants of the wreckage. 

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Another map showed the literally thousands of shipwrecks surrounding the entire Nova Scotia coast line.  These shores can be treacherous due to rocky outcroppings, strong tides, heavy fog and north Atlantic storms.  It wasn’t until the invention of radar and electronic navigation that the number of shipwrecks dropped significantly.

Finally, we made one last stop at the Nova Scotia Art Gallery to see an exhibit of Maud Adams’ work.  She was a local folk artist with a unique story. Born in the early 1900’s, she suffered from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.  In her early thirties and after her parents died, she married a local fisherman and they moved into his tiny 9 x 12 foot house.  There she began to paint and sell by the roadside the gaily colored paintings she made of landscapes, animals, flowers, etc.  She then began to paint every single surface of her house.  After several years, she was “discovered.”  Her work is reminiscent of the Grandma Moses style.  When she and her husband died, the house was in a state of disrepair.  By this time, she had become one of Nova Scotia’s most beloved artists and the museum in Halifax was able to raise enough money to have her entire house restored and moved right into the museum.  So there it stands today in the midst of an exhibit of her colorful and endearing work.

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At the end of the day, Michael arrived after a long trip from Florida.  We had dinner at the yacht club because we wanted him, as commodore of the Key Biscayne Yacht Club, to be properly introduced to the commodore of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.  Michael had brought his club’s  burgee (flag)  to give to the commodore as a traditional gift.  Since the commodore wasn’t there, we met one of the board members who graciously accepted the gift and he, in turn, presented Lynn with a  pin in the form of the yacht club’s flag – very British/Canadian!

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That night we prepared for the continuation of our journey.  We would be leaving in the morning for our next stop on the Nova Scotia coast – Mahone Bay. 

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