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While sailing along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia is lovely, a massive highlight of our time in Canada – and our whole circumnavigation – was sailing the Bras d’Or Lakes. But first, we had to get to the lakes using the St Peter’s Canal.
This canal (our first one!) links the Bras d’Or Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean via St Peter’s Bay. Most canals have a unidirectional flow, but not this one. Sometimes the lakes are higher, and sometimes the Atlantic Ocean is higher, so the St Peter’s canal has the only double gates in North America!
Before being developed into a canal, it was a small isthmus between the two bodies of water. The native Mi’kmaq peoples would use this small strip of land to drag their canoes from one side to the other.
We left Halifax July 27th for an overnight sail to St Peter’s Canal. It was a cold one, foggy and uneventful, with us staying bundled up the whole trip.
We arrived late Tuesday morning at the St. Peter’s Canal. The lock opens on demand during the day, and the staff was there to help us tie-up. We had to fill out some information, like our plans and CG number. The transfer in the lock was easy…wait for the doors behind you to close, the water rises or lowers about 4 feet, and then the doors in front of you open. You wait on channel 10 for the call, and the lockmaster gets in their car and drives to the nearby bridge to open it for you. Once you get the call, cast off and the bridge opens!
Immediately to the left of the canal is the St. Peter’s Marina. We stopped at their fuel dock for a pump out ($17 CAD) and then anchored in the small bay. They had moorings available but we weren’t too keen on paying after paying for dockage in Halifax every night.
The water was incredibly calm. We took the dinghy to the dock to take a look around, stopping at the canal and venturing up to the Battery Provincial Park office. Unfortunately, the clouds that had been over us all day we’re starting to release, and we were tired from an overnight sail, so it was back to the boat for an early bed.
The next day was cold and rainy so we had a boat day. Thursday was much nicer, so we walked to the nearby coastal trail, which then led us back to the lock. As we were watching, Solaia, a yacht we saw in Halifax, came in through the lock with two sailboats! It was fun to watch and chat with each boat’s crew. The two sailboats were from Maine.
After watching, we walked up to the Battery Provincial Park and hiked quite a bit through the woods and coastland. The views were gorgeous and the sky was starting to clear up.
That was a false alarm though. Friday was a dump again, so we relaxed and enjoyed the boat.
Once the weather did clear up, we took off to cruise the Bras d’Or Lakes.