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LATE SUMMER AND FALL BOATING IN CAPE BRETON

It’s hard to believe that September is here, and the bulk of another summer is behind us. As we look towards what is arguably the best season in Cape Breton – Fall – recreational boaters across the island are beginning to make plans for the final weeks of favorable boating weather.



Late August and into September are worth approaching with a bit of apprehension, as this is the time that hurricanes may make a northern march towards the shores of Nova Scotia. Thankfully, Hurricane Franklin, churning with sustained winds of more than 150 km an hour as I write this, decided to keep our beautiful province to the west of its path, and spare our leaves for now, for a (hopefully) fantastic Celtic colour season. Hurricanes usually come with a fair amount of warning giving those with boats a bit of time to prepare, but you can keep an eye on developing systems through the Canada Hurricane Tracking Centre online.


If a strong storm is predicted, be sure to add extra lines to your vessel, and reduce windage by removing things like canopies, sails and sail covers, BBQs, etc. Most of the marinas in Cape Breton offer great locations to weather a storm, but phone early if this is your plan, as places can fill up. Hauling out is also always an option when easily accommodated. This season is expected to have a higher-than-normal number and strength of named storms in the Atlantic, and while September is often our busiest month, Hurricane season runs through to the end of October.


But don’t let the threat of fall storms darken your prospects of continuing to enjoy Cape Breton by sea. Fall is arguably the best time to be on the water – with warm dry days, waters at their peak warmth for swimming, and cool evenings for those who enjoy sleeping aboard.


We usually set our sites to put the boat away for winter hibernation by the last week and a half of October, which gives plenty of sunny warm days to get the boat hauled and winterized – and while those tantalizing late fall days tempt us to delay saying goodbye to another boating season, it sure beats hauling and winterizing in the cold, damp rains and early morning frosts that November often brings.


So, what to do by sea during fall in Cape Breton?


St. Peter’s Pirate Days

This year, St. Peters will be overrun by pirates from September 15th to 18th. There is so much to do in St. Peters for everyone and visiting by boat definitely fits the theme! Be sure to check out their itinerary, but for those who are making the trip by sea, St. Peters Lion’s Marina offers everything you need for a day or multi-day stay, including showers; ice; and a very welcoming and helpful community. All amenities are only a walk away, including access to supplies like fuel filters, etc. And for a different flavour, the Canal offers space to tie up closer to the sea, and the adjacent campground is a fantastic place to spend a night or take a stroll through some of the forests and explore some of the ruins. Be sure to follow their Facebook page or visit the website for a list of events for any age, and don’t forget to wear your best pirate costume! They usually have a parade of sails from the marina, and if you’ve never participated in one, it’s well worth the effort to get the boat dressed up and join the others!


Baddeck and the Bras D’Or Yacht Club

Baddeck is kicking off September in style with a parade of lights this Saturday, September 2nd. Baddeck is always a fantastic destination by water, and the newly renovated docks offer an incredible space to tie up with access to shore power and potable water dockside. Besides visiting the museum, shops, and restaurants, the Bras D’or Yacht Club offers trivia on Thursdays, and live music on most weekends. Refilling the larder is a bit of a hike, but thankfully the restaurants in easy walking distance make up for the added steps from the dock to the local grocery store.


Fall Racing in North Sydney and Ben Eoin

If you’re a sailor (like me), then fall offers continued racing in Ben Eoin and a return to racing at North Sydney. Even if you’re not on the water, both clubs offer ample space to go and watch the races, and it’s well worth the trip to either space! While biased, I truly believe sailboats are beautiful under sail! Be sure to watch the clubs Facebook pages for race start times and updates, as well as get to the final results.


Sunset Cruises in Sydney Harbour

Fall evenings are lovely and usually calm! Sydney Harbour offers three or four great locations to sail between on an evening – whether it’s the Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club in the heart of downtown Sydney; the Dobson Yacht Club with arguably one of the best restaurants and friendliest staff (The Dory); a trip to Northern Yacht Club with absolutely wonderful facilities adjacent to a lovely family friendly park; or sneaking in to tie up by the Lobster Pound for a more formal evening. Of course, you can also just cruise up and down the harbour and allow the many extra tourists that come with our busiest cruise ship and tourism time to take photos of one of the greatest places to be for their Instagram feeds.


Quiet Nights at Your Favourite Anchorages

But of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t spend a moment talking about the best part of fall sailing – finding secluded anchorages to call home for an evening! The water is usually warm, especially in the Bras D’Or lakes, and the evenings are often cool and calm, offering clear views of majestic starry skies and comfortable late-night swimming. Some of our favourite places to feel like we are the only people in the world while on the anchor are Johnstown Harbor, Deep Cove, the Crammond Islands, Little Harbor, or around the “hook” at the MacPhee Islands.

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