5. Shelburne to Halifax

Tuesday, 11 JULY 2017 / McNutt Island, Nova Scotia, Enroute from Portland, ME to Shelburne, NS

“Do you feel it?” whispers Glenn. “It’s sublime.”

Actually, I don’t feel a thing.

The boat… Is…




After weeks of constant movement, the utter lack of motion puts us in a state of awe at the earth’s capacity to also be so completely tranquil. Is it possible we are still on water, we wonder. All three of us are in bed just starting to open our eyes after lengthy naps. We arrived in Nova Scotia around 7AM after a 48-hour sail from Portland. It was a cold night.

Just as we rounded westward and entered the bay that leads to the town of Shelburne, a thick fog dropped in all around us. Very quickly, we couldn’t see the shorelines. Then, it closed in further and further. Soon, we were creeping along in an unnerving white isolation of absolutely nothing in every direction. My hairs rose. We were wet and cold. As we motored forward, we noticed we were fighting a current flowing against our path of travel. It was time to stop. We were too tired and too blind to be safe anymore. So we used the Navionics to guide us to the closest protected anchoring point, a shallow bay on the backside of McNutt Island. We dropped the otter, slumped happily into bed, and floated off for a rest. Now, we are waking up and shaking off our deep slumbers. Not having to resist movement has melted us into our sheets. We feel really rested… and hungry. I get myself moving over to the stove and make all of us a 5PM “breakfast” of tiny, perfect pancakes. (Perfect is their name, not their character.)

Outside the fog has mostly been eaten by a surprisingly hot sun. The land around us is low and desolate. We are nestled in the crook of a long curving arm of rock, yellow lichen, and tall pines. The birds call to each other, their voices overlapping. Their banter, and our own slow movement across the boat, is the only activity we can sense for miles.

We sit and gawp for a bit and then start to get our act together.* We check out some maps, change our clothes, clean up dishes. But as we start to move toward moving, incredibly, another heavy fog settles. The fogs here are thick. The coast, from which we couldn’t have been more than two hundred feet a few minutes ago, completely evaporates and we are in complete sequestration again. We wait again, read, knit, repeat, and eventually decide to continue to Shelburne in the morning. The fog stays for the night too.


*Gawp is a word suggested to me by the MS Word thesaurus. I admit I have never seen this word nor know it’s actual definition. But damn that’s a good word.


Wednesday, 12 JULY 2017 / Shelburne, NS

We pick up the anchor at 9ish. The fog is thinning. The current will only be favorable until about noon. So we go. I sit on the bow to spot obstructions. The only things I see though are jellyfish. Palm sized and reddish brown, they pulse themselves in the opposite direction of Shelburne. They are slightly ominous.

We arrive in Shelburne about an hour later. We dock at the yacht club and call in our arrival. The CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency) officers arrive promptly and proceed with the customs check-in.



Please be advised, large portions of this entry have been omitted here due to snark and inappropriate language.

 – The Management



Canada’s laws regarding entries across their borders are fairly standard. They require that private boaters proceed directly to a check-in point upon arrival. (There is no time limit stipulated.) In most of the countries in which we have arrived by boat, “entry” has been defined as stepping foot on land. In Canada, “entry” includes dropping an anchor. We missed this detail in the law. The CBSA thus claimed we had been in the country since yesterday morning and had not reported our entry promptly enough. Because of this the CBSA officers choose to fine us $1000CAD. We are disheartened that the officers make this decision. We have never entered Canada by boat.  Nor have we ever broken any laws regarding entry into any foreign country. Thus we were hoping that we would get a warning, as this was, at most, an innocent mistake. But the officers decided otherwise.

I know what you’re thinking now, but let me assure you, I behaved.

I do have one thing to say about this incident, however. You may be wondering how the CBSA knew where and when we were in their waters given the remoteness of the location of our stop. Good question. When we decided to buy Netzah, we knew we would be going on longer, international excursions. We purchased an AIS (Automatic Identification System) transponder. AIS is a collision avoidance system which allows us to “see” all boat traffic in our area on a screen. The system also makes us visible to them. It provides many pieces of information: boat names, nationalities, sizes, travel positions, speeds, and headings for the boats around us. For large boats AIS is now mandatory for international voyaging. For class B boats, like ours, it’s not, but more and more people have recognized the value and have it for smaller vessels now too. The CBSA used AIS to track us. So, the device we purchased to make ourselves visible was used by the Canadian government to watch us. Whether we broke Canadian law is currently in dispute – we are appealing this fine – but whether it is good practice to target people this way is not. Firstly, because people who are making themselves visible are less likely to be up to nefarious activities. (I have no proof of this, but it seems sensible.) And secondly, why would people continue to voluntarily provide this visibility (and information) to a government looking to make targets out of travelers like us? Given the nebulousness of the laws (regarding the amount of time one has to report) we may, in the future, turn off our AIS (since we legally can). This will be more dangerous for us and others, but may save us a large sums of money.

I had written out a much lengthier account of the way in which we were treated by the CBSA officers because I thought they were a bit creepy. The saddest part of the entire exchange was the attempt to use this blog and my social media inputs as part of an intimidation ploy in which the officers acted like they knew information about us. For a day or two I considered canceling the blog and just keeping a journal for myself. The thing is though, I am enjoying this process so much and I’m enjoying the exchange with the people who have responded. So, go ahead CBSA, keep reading. I write for you too.


Wednesday, 12 JULY 2017 / Shelburne, NS / PART 2

…and where there is night, there is day.

The Shelburne Yacht Club is the best yacht club we have ever visited. Hands down. After we collect ourselves from the morning’s chaos, we go inside to learn about the club and get rates. Every staff member is down to earth, warm, and completely helpful. The members open up their doors and let visitors use the facilities. They smile, engage in conversations, and get to know the passers through. It’s lovely and welcoming.  As Claire checks us in, she tells us that we are in great luck because starting tomorrow night are the start of Shelburne’s Founders’ Days, a weekend-long celebration which include dozens of fun events including scallop burgers, live music/dancing, and fireworks on Friday night! We decide to keep Netzah on the face dock. The rates are reasonable and that way we don’t have to inflate the dinghy. All in all, it takes ten minutes to start to transform a bad day into a good one.

The rest of the day is spent going to the Sea Dog for dinner, on a quest for a functioning ATM, and taking a stroll around the waterfront.


Thursday, 13 JULY 2017

We start the day with a visit to the Shelburne’s three museums. These are small but interesting: the County Museum which is holding an exhibition on the history of women’s underwear in the 19th and 20th centuries (Ava’s favorite); the Dory Museum and Workshop (Glenn’s favorite); and the Ross Shop and House, an intact home and furnishings from the 18th century (my favorite.)  It takes us two hours total and introduces us to local history.

Shelburne is cool. It’s a pretty, small town (and a pretty small town) with an important history. It was settled by British loyalists escaping the American Revolution. (THAT explains a lot.) The population today is around 1800, but was at one time as high as 16,000. It sustains itself today mostly through tourism because – get this – the buildings are the most interesting thing about it (yay for architecture being number one!) There are a good number of very large and intricate wooden buildings. This is because the industry here was boatbuilding. Specifically, the town was known for building dories, small but sturdy wooden fishing boats that were carried and launched daily from larger fishing schooners. Wood craft was highly valued here and it imbues the whole place.

The town, with its beautiful, old buildings, sits at the end of a very long and protected bay. It alternates between deep pine greens and misty, foggy grays. It is particularly picturesque. So much so, that in 1994 the movie version of Nathaniel Hawthorn’s The Scarlett Letter (the one with Demi Moore and Gary Oldman – huh?) was filmed here. There are small signs of this Hollywoodean invasion all around. This is mostly ok, but there is one sad moment when I find out that my declared favorite building… was the one fake one built by the studio. Ah, authenticity is my bane again.

In the afternoon we head back for a rest. Just as we get to the dock, pulling in behind Netzah, is Glenn’s dream boat – not his dreamboat – but the boat he would own if he could live his ultimate dream: a Boreal. Glenn stops in his tracks. His mouth drops. The wind around his hair intensifies. And then, one, tiny tear rolls slowly down from the corner of his left eye. (Just kidding, he’s fine.) We go inside our own now-slightly-smaller vessel.

It takes Glenn very little time (5 nanoseconds) before he walks back outside to go meet the owner of Cheglia. A few people have already come by and complimented the boat, but Glenn actually swoons. He tells Martin that he thinks this is the “best boat being built today,” he uses the word love, he asks for a tour.  And this, THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is what I love about Glenn. He does not posture. He does not play. If he likes something – and this is quite rare – he is an unabashed Fan Boy.

Martin invites us over tomorrow morning after his crew is scheduled to leave.


Friday, 14 JULY 2017

World-wide celebrations happening today:

Shelburne’s Founder’s Day.

Bastille Day. (Or La Fête Nationale, according to Wiki.)

My parent’s 52nd wedding anniversary.


First thing this morning: we tour Martin and Lydia’s boat, Cheglia. It’s a Boreal 52, an aluminum center-boarded boat (like ours) but built only a year ago. It’s magnificent in every way. Martin takes a really long time showing Glenn and me around. He shows us the aesthetic components but also all of the technical things. He answers every question we ask and shows us as much of the boat as possible. It takes over an hour AND he gives us coffee. Lydia joins us too. She and I start to chat separately after the guys go see the engine. We talk about our homes – they are from Germany, and our families – they have five grown children (all boys!) We talk about how their trip is going – they are in their first year of a three-year plan, and the places they’ve been (Morrocco!!)  and the places they are going (the Pacific?) We end up really liking their boat, but liking them even more.

In the evening we meet up with Martin and Lydia and their crew, who haven’t left yet, at the club. We eat the promised scallop burgers (really good). We talk. We drink a little. We dance to the live music. We watch fireworks from the deck. We have a great time.


Saturday, 15 JULY 2017

We lay low today because we are preparing to leave tomorrow. We take a short visit to see more Founders’ Days fun (Aboriginal Village!!), a stop at the farmer’s market, some laundry, and dinner on the boat followed by an evening boat parade.


Sunday, 16 JULY 2017 / Enroute from Shelburne, NS to Halifax, NS

We bid goodbye to Lydia (Martin was sleeping unfortunately) and leave at 10AM. A generally good passage. The wind is good, 10-15kts (Glenn found the right window) and coming from a good direction, SW. The seas are, ugh, REALLY ROLLY.



Monday, 17 JULY 2017 / Halifax, NS

We arrive in Halifax around 10AM, our wind having slowed down sometime around 3AM. The fog is very thick. I will write more about this port entry and movement next week, but I want you to know we have arrived…


Coming in to McNutt Island
Coming in to McNutt Island
Harley S Cox building
Harley S Cox building
Harley S Cox building (where the sailing club stores camp boats)
Shelburne buildings
Shelburne building and cat
Barrell making


Founders’ Days
Founders’ Days
“Aboriginal Village” at Founders’ Days


Shelburne Public Dock



Arrival into Halifax (we’re headed to the right!)


Pork Belly joy
Sheer happiness in Halifax biergarten!

5 thoughts on “5. Shelburne to Halifax

  1. Absolutely wait for posts now! Better than People Mag and Harvard Medical Newsletter now. LOVE your words. Thoughts. HUMOR. Ava/Glen and You. I’m on board with you guys. Incredibly a learning experience on my end. ❌⭕️


  2. Wonderful blog again. But so sorry to hear about the unfair fine due to being tracked by your AIS. Whatever you do, please don’t turn off the AIS — it’s too essential for your safety! I worry enough as it is. Sending my love to you, Glenn and Ava.


    1. Hi Linda. Given our experience so far, we will keep the AIS on as needed. We did turn it off when we rested last Monday morning. Even this was used against us, though. The officers implied we were trying to hide our arrival. (We we’re saving the battery.) My main point was that if governments use people’s own devices against them, then people will shut them off even if it’s more dangerous. The infringement on privacy has vast implications for the general welfare of a population. Some say that they don’t care if they are watched because they are law abiding, but legality is slippery and nebulous, especially in certain hands. Long live Edward Snowden.


  3. Hi Anca and Glenn and Ava,
    We follow your voyage every day. Wish we were there. The blog’s story makes a lot of difference. For the first time I realize the power of words. A picture without a thousand words I does not say much.
    Anyway, try to edit some of your pics before publishing, mostly reframing some of them and correcting the exposure. The IPhone has good editing tools. I have reframed two of your pics and they look a lot better. See Instagram.
    Keep up the good work. And I am so glad everything is working so well for you.


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