Bras d’Or Lake

Our sail from Sable Island back to the mainland was a delight. Overnight we saw water with as bright a phosphorescent glow as we have ever seen. Doubly fun when dolphin swim by looking like glowing green comets in the water.

We arrived at the south east corner of Cape Breton Island, at the village of St Peters where we entered Bras d’Or Lake (pronoiunced “ba-door”) with an experience new to us: Taking Harmonie through a canal lock.

The lock gates in the St Peters Canal.

The swing bridge at the lake end of the canal.

The canal was built 150 years ago, and connected the lake with the ocean. Since the tides in the lake and ocean here are out of sequence by up to 4 feet, the lock was needed.

Once in the lake, we put in at the St Peters Marina for easy access to the grocery store and to top off the fuel tanks. A very low key and quiet place.

Bras d’Or Lake is huge estuary that drains most of Cape Breton Island. It has a small natural opening to ocean at the north end, and the St Peter’s Canal to the south. It is about a 50/50 mix of salt and fresh water and hosts a unique eco system. Where else do flounder, cod, and trout live together?

Sailing on a lake is different than in the ocean. The wind is more fickle, as it twists and turns around the hills and valleys, and the water is very calm, lacking any of the ocean swell we are used to.

We have found a small harbour fittingly named “Little Harbour” where we anchored to wait out an approaching nor’easter that is threatening tomorrow. Once the weather calms again, we’ll be making our way further up the lake to the town of Baddeck, the cultural capital of Gaelic speaking Cape Briton.

As our email inboxes fill with the manic notices of end-of-summer sales from numerous sellers of VIS (Very Important Stuff) we realize that our time this far north is getting short. Our plan is to head out in to the ocean at the north end of Bras d’Or Lake and begin our southern migration. If the stars align perfectly we might get another stop out at Sable Island. From there we expect a stop at Newport, RI, and then on down to Annapolis by early October.

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