Prince Edward Island lived up to its image. It gentle, bucolic landscape provided a soothing counterpoint to the rugged terrain we were in just last week.
We arrived at the Silver Fox Yacht Club in Summerside on Friday, August 8 after a beautiful cruise from Excumiac. It’s amazing that we didn’t see another boat except for Diva Di in our 6.5 hour cruise! We did see a couple of playful seals though!
There was a brief period of excitement as we encountered some particularly rolly seas. A loud bang from down below indicated that the sliding door to our cabin had not been secured and it slammed shut making it impossible to get into the cabin and second head. This had occurred before and all we had to do was open it and put the pin in the door to keep it open. This time, however, something had fallen and wedged the door so it couldn’t be opened. We took turns coming down from the helm to try to reach inside to jiggle the door open and push the offending object away using everything from spatulas to our boat hook with no success.
We decided to leave it alone and deal with it later. After an hour or two, we heard another bang and hurried below to find that the situation had righted itself and the door was open. Next repair job for Jonny is to install a new latch in the closet door, the absence of which exacerbated the problem.
We proceeded to have two beautiful days touring Prince Edward Island in the rental car with Duane and Diane. On day one, we headed west and visited several small towns in the southwestern and northwestern parts of the island. Everywhere we went, we saw dairy and potato farms and surrounding the island, the sea. Flowers adorned most of the houses and attractions across the island. And everywhere we went we saw the red soil for which PEI is so well known.
We learned about the Acadian culture in PEI at a museum dedicated to Acadian people and their history. It’s a fascinating story, captured in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called Evangeline which we are reading aloud together in the evenings. The Acadians settled into PEI in the early 1700’s but were forced into exile by the British and their villages were destroyed. It was not until many years later that they were allowed to return and settle in very specific areas on the island.
Lynn decided to read Anne of Green Gables, the classic book series that takes place on PEI. The evocative descriptions of PEI whetted her appetite for seeing the island even more. Anne of Green Gables is a major tourist draw on the island with plays and references to the story everywhere. We went to Cavendish where the story largely takes place a (under a different name) and had a nice seafood lunch. We managed to miss the real touristy part of this town and proceeded over the gently rolling hills to Charlottetown.
Charlottetown is the biggest town on the island and its provincial capital. It’s a beautiful town with interesting architecture, lots of theatres, restaurants and shops as well as nicely maintained historic streets to walk through. Charlottetown is noted for being the city where the federation of Canada was first negotiated and signed. There were several references to this as well as people dressed in period costume who engaged us in conversation about the controversy associated with that historical event. There was an interesting art project in which the artist was covering every inch of a huge piece of American elm with galvanized nails. The city reminded us of a smaller version of Burlington, Vermont without all the outdoor clothing stores! It would have been nice to stay at the marina here but unfortunately its reviews were not as favorable as the one in Summerside .
On the way back to the boat, we also visited the seaside hamlet of Victoria. There are many cultural activities on PEI with almost every town hosting its own little theatre.
On Sunday, we headed out to explore the eastern part of the island. We visited the towns of St. Peter’s and Souris (mouse in French). There, we heard a Sunday afternoon concert in the gazebo in the tiny town center.
Again, we passed beautiful open vistas of potato and dairy farms with occasional corn fields thrown in for good measure. Lynn just gazed out the window lapping up the pastoral beauty!
We visited the Prince Edward Distillery. It is owned by two women, one of whom used to live in Florida. They produce award winning spirits including potato vodka, gin, rye, bourbon and rum. One of the owners gave us a tour which was fascinating and of course we got to taste the merchandise. We limited ourselves to buying a bottle of their gin which had won the highest honors of all. Their potato vodka was also very good! Interesting fact - it takes 18 pounds of potatoes to make one bottle of this vodka (and no, it doesn’t taste like potatoes and it is very good)!
For lunch we stopped at a seaside restaurant called – what else – The Lobster Shack! It was a beautiful setting and a very yummy lunch of lobster rolls!
We topped off the day with a return visit to Charlottetown where we encountered a fire that was just being extinguished near the historic district. We treated ourselves to a fried clam dinner but were a little disappointed that they did not live up to our standards (which are very high since we both grew up on the Connecticut coastline that is know for its fried clams – bellies, of course).
We had a jolly evening back at the marina bar sharing drinks with our Vancouver pals, Max and Pat. The next morning, Jonny changed the oil on Zendo while Lynn did grocery shopping and laundry. A special note of thanks to Fred and Ken, the previous owners of Zendo. They have been an invaluable resource to us throughout the trip. They are always available to help with any questions we have about the boat.
We made our final preparations before heading out for an anchorage on our way to Nova Scotia. We clearly had a lovely time in beautiful Prince Edward Island!