Tuesday 24 Aug

Tuesday dawned partly sunny with light winds out of the south, but predicted to increase to 20 kts during the day. So an early start was in order. We were underway at 0635, leaving tranquil Liscomb Mills behind. We had well over an hour’s travel before heading to sea, and once we cleared the mouth of the bay, we were met with seas of 4-5 ft on our beam. A great day for stabilizers! Our course changed a bit toward the west as we progressed, putting the winds and waves around to our port quarter. Despite seas that varied from 4 to 6 ft, we had a comfortable ride. As we approached our decision point at Tangier, we checked the updated forecast, winds and seas both predicted to increase overnight, so we pressed on toward Halifax, our ETA projected for 1830 hrs. A long day, but sooner a longer day than a second day with deteriorating conditions. We arrived in Halifax on time. A radio call from Cronulla (a big-sister ship-Selene 60 footer) confirmed our slip location, and Richard was dockside to help with our lines when we arrived.

Halifax is a busy port. Nova Scotia’s primary port it serves as a naval port, home to many recreational and commercial vessels so of all kinds transit the harbor. As a result, it can be less than calm, as we discovered not long after we arrived. I believe the dock we were tied to is very close to the wash cycle. Conditions were further exacerbated by the southwest wind that pushed a significant swell up into the harbor. Halifax has a reputation for being a bit “rolly” and we weren’t disappointed. Our first night was uncomfortable, at best. The following morning Aries Too was due to arrive, and we decided to pass on the power and relocate further in toward the head of the pier, and found that it was much calmer. We later took a bit of ribbing from Aries Too’s crew about leaving them the spot in the washing machine. Squatter’s rights. Even Cronulla’s 60 ft. heft was not enough to keep her from rolling the first night. Fortunately, the winds subsided by Thursday morning and the harbor calmed down to tolerable conditions.

Wednesday we walked up the steep slope to the Citadel, Halifax’s fort. Halifax was founded by the British in 1749, and several fortifications prior to the Citadel were constructed on the hill that overlooks the harbor. Construction on the Citadel was completed in 1856, taking over 28 years to complete. The Citadel was built as a response to Louisbourg, France’s fortress to the north. The Citadel was home to the 78th Highlander’s Regiment, who manned the fort until withdrawn in 1906 in response to WWI hostilities. The Canadian military continued to use the fort until 1952 when it became a National Historic Site. Today, Parks Canada manages the fort, and has restored parts of the facility and the buildings. Uniformed 78th Regiment soldiers serve as tour guides and tell the stories of their life and duties in the fort. Our visit was highlighted by a special drill competition where two squads compete for honors in close-order drills characteristic of those practiced during the time the 78th Highlanders were garrisoned at the fort. They use .577 caliber muzzle-loading Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifles, converted to breech loading, but I am not well-versed enough on antique guns to know. But we were told that the guns are not reproductions, but originals.

Our guide told us crates of the guns were found in England, never opened and in new condition. The drills use blanks, but they still crack pretty loudly! The drill was very interesting to watch, and it really is close order, they’re right on the heels of the man in front of them! The Cavalier building houses a Canadian military museum on the upper level, an interesting visit.

Thursday stared with dense fog, our alarm clock was a passing freighter’s fog horn, blasting every two minutes. Fog is a way of life here, and although we haven’t experienced a lot of it due to the great weather we’ve been having, it doesn’t stop traffic in the harbor. Halifax Traffic, the Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) authority for the harbor, manages and tracks all vessel traffic in and around the harbor. We are not required to report, however in adverse conditions, VTS will include pleasure vessels such as ours in their system and report any traffic to us that may be of concern. Halifax has an interest in preventing mishaps like the one in December of 1917 where a French ship loaded with black powder and other highly flammable cargo struck another ship and caught fire, exploding an hour later, killing over 2,000 and flattening 2 sq. miles of the north part of the city. Bad juju.

I digress. Thursday arrived in fog, and misty showers persisted most of the day. We decided to join the passengers of the Caribbean Princess Cruise ship at the Maritime Museum, along with everyone else in Halifax who decided it’d be a good day to stay out of the rain! Not terribly crowded, and the museum is one of the better ones. Lots of interesting info on Halifax, the Canadian Navy, and maritime history. The museum contains a collection of ship models from many eras, many with spectacular detail. Outside the museum on the wharf are located two ships, one the Acadia, a Canadian Hydrographic Services survey ship, the other Sackett, a WWII corvette. Both steam powered, and open for tours. Thursday evening the weather cleared a bit, and after joining our fellow cruisers from Aries Too and Cronulla for cocktails aboard Cronulla, we enjoyed an evening walk around the streets of Halifax.

Friday dawned with sparkling clear skies, we caught up on some chores, and enjoyed some down time just hanging out at the pier. Molly enjoyed an afternoon of swimming from the floating dock, attracting an audience as usual! A family with 3 youngsters ventured down the dock ramp to visit, and they had almost as much fun throwing her water toy as Molly did retrieving it! Later in the evening we joined the rest of our cruising neighbors aboard Aries Too for cocktails. We were treated to the tour, Aries Too is a 53 ft. Krogen Express, a semi-displacement vessel (meaning it can plane and attain speeds up to 16 kts.) built in the Krogen tradition, but by a different yard than the Kadey Krogen. Our cocktail hour expanded into several as we enjoyed the company of like-minded compatriots, and polished off a boatload of great goodies prepared by Linda and supplemented by Barb & Heather. Dee-licious! We returned to Maerin with Aries Too’s crew in tow for the return tour, and were humbled by the complements we received, despite being the “baby” member of the contingent! We bid our farewells to all until our next meeting at another port. Cronulla would be slipping lines at first light with Maerin less than an hour behind. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Halifax!

One Response to “Halifax”

  1. Heather Fenton on 29 Aug 2010 at 3:24 PM #

    A great recap of Halifax. An interesting spot and great company, a bonus. Cronulla tucked away in tiny, charming Shelburne right now. Stay safe and enjoy the rest of NS.