Saturday, September 7, 2013

Winter storage of foreign boats in Nova Scotia

Our media have been much vexed on this subject for the last couple of weeks. It has long been the law that boats imported into the country have been subject to taxes. (15% on assessed value in this province).
This is what my book has to say about it, and it has not changed much since the 1996 first edition.

The cruising permit is good for six months. If a boat is kept in Nova Scotia for longer than this, it will be assessed for HST, a tax loathed by Canadians, and which currently stands at 15% of the value of the boat. If you wish to keep a boat over a winter here, you can avoid this, and extend your permit by getting a work order from a boatyard. Overwinter storage and painting the bottom will satisfy the Federal Government's leeches.

I suspect they won't like this if you try this two years in a row. The official form for this is #E99 and is available on line from the revenue men.( will get you there eventually

The revenue men have ignored this for decades. It may be that someone in the head office has woken from their slumbers and realised this legislation was actually on the books and could gather more shekels for their insatiable maw. They are planning to enforce this, and they consider things like bottom painting routine maintenance and not eligible for exemption. Safety issues WILL exempt you from the tax,( problems with the rigging, transmission or electrical problems, noise from the prop shaft, leaking, etc.) but don't try this for years in a row. It is almost impossible to get advance rulings from these creatures in writing, so  you, ( and us) are at their mercy). You can appeal their decisions, but I can tell you from personal experience , the playing field is very much tipped in their favour. Some U.S. states ( Georgia for one) have similar legislation, though it is not often enforced.

The Cape Breton Boatyard in Baddeck, home to a dozen expensive American boats, some of which have been there for 20 years is incensed by this action. Some of the boats have decided to leave, and this will adversely affect employment in the yard, some of the few well paying non-government jobs in a depressed rural area .If  you own Canadian property, the rate is reduced to 5%. This is likely to loose more revenue than it gains, but these guys are not known for clear thinking.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Heckman's Anchorage- Lunenburg Back Harbour

Just to the northwest of Chockle Cap is a small island, Hobson's Island. At least it used to be there. On the chart it is supposedly 30 feet high and it used to have a little lump of red soil, looking like a small loaf of bread, with grass on the top. It has gone, presumably in one of our recent big storms and now looks like a drying reef. There is a north cardinal buoy "ME" 400 yards or so to the north. Middle Ground, to the west is now marked with a black and red isolated danger buoy "M". The shoals extend quite a way from the remains of the island and it is well to give this a wide berth.

Mahone Bay Civic Marina

The town of Mahone Bay has become quite organised in respect of visiting boats. The town maintains a mooring field of 50 moorings. The majority of these are rented seasonally but there is usually availability for transient boats ( I'm tied up to one while writing this). The mooring field pretty well fills up the space you might have once used to anchor, and if you want to anchor , you will have to do so outside the moorings. Renting a mooring is much to be preferred as the holding ground is poor and the mud foul. The dinghy dock has been improved and it is no longer a hazard to get ashore, it is just east of the public wharf. The marina monitors channel 68 or call 902 624 0348. On entering, there used to be a light on a little cribwork structure. Thus disappeared in a recent tropical storm and has been replaced by a flashing red buoy. You can get water at the public dock, and there is a pumpout (which may or may not be in working order) but there is no fuel.

Carter's Beach

Those of you that know this beautiful anchorage will be familiar with the little stream that runs into it. It used to come out just east of Carter's Island, which is on the west boundary of the beach. It has changed its course, and now exits to the west of the island. Approaching by dinghy, you can't see this until you are right on top of it. I think this change happened during a hurricane in 2010.


Lockeport is a pretty good place to spend a few days if the weather outside is playing up. Its not far off the beaten track, access looks difficult on the chart but unless you draw 12 feet is easy in practice. It is tempting just to anchor in the harbour, but the holding ground is poor and if you drag you'll be lucky not to go aground on some unforgiving rock. The marina on the west side , just south of the big Clearwater fish plant is inexpensive, the owner, Bruce, very helpful and diesel is cheap. The restaurant serves very good fresh fish. There are a couple of other restaurants within a block of the marina. The liquor store is just across the road from the marina. Go one block to the west and turn right, you will see a grocery store, which, for a remote place is very well stocked. Carry on past and you come to a walking trail, part of which is the old railway track, that goes  round the whole town. It's about three miles and takes me a little over an hour.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

restricted opening of St. Peter's Canal lock

you should be aware that Parks Canada have restricted openings at St. Peters. As far as I can tell, they are open daily in July and August, but last transit at 19h. After labour day, only open at weekends, and close completely Sept 22. The website is not at all clear, and there may be even less service than this, so check it out before you make the long trek here

Saturday, March 16, 2013

how to get books

I have this on here before, but I'll repeat it.
If you are interested in a book, actually a CD, send an email to me at
Mail address is
RR#1 Glenwood, Nova Scotia , Canada B0W1W0
fax is 902 643 2665
cost is $65 which includes mailing, bank charges etc.. As long as our currencies are withing 10% of each other $US and $Can are at par.
Cheques on any US , Canadian, or European bank in any convertible currency are fine.
In person, you can also pick up copies at the Shelburne Harbour Yacht Club
 I did originally distribute a number of CD's to various booksellers, chandlers and so on, on consignment , but the reality was that they never paid me, so I terminated these arrangements. Writing the guide was never conceived as a money-making operaton, but I have to say this experience was disappointing.
My internet connection, from our sole provider is so slow that I can't send the book out online, and I can't really do paypal either for the same reason
Our mail is a little slower now than it was in Queen Victoria's time, so it may take 2 weeks after I put a CD in the mail for it to reach most parts of the USA.
If you buy a CD you are welcome to print it out, as many times as you want, for your own use without any further royalties

The Knot Tavern, Lunenburg

The Knot is a tavern at the extrem western end of LIncoln Street, just over the road from the gas station. It doesn't look much from the outside, but inside it is very pleasant, good food, and very economical. Best of all, it's open all winter, which many of the other joints are not. I am quite happy to recommend it

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

printing a copy of the guide

I am indebted to one of my readers, Dr Fred Hubble from  Florida for the following information. If you want to make a printed copy of the guide, consider  Fred says they do it for $55 and deliver in 8 days. If you have to suffer a really slow connection. like me, I suspect they'll take a flash drive, rather than doing it online. I haven't used then myself but their website looks pretty good. And, as I never thought of this, if anyone wants the guide on a drive rather than a CD I'm happy to do this

Miss Ally

       Another extra-tropical cyclone followed a week after Nemo. While Nemo didn't cause any deaths, this storm caused a tragedy. Miss Ally, a 45ft Cape Islander with 5 young men on board, out of Wood's  Harbour, a few miles from my home, was in the vicinity of Sable Island fishing for halibut. On the night of the 17th, winds became well over 80knots from the northwest. Attempting to reach port on the mainland, the vessel was overwhelmed and all were lost. The EPIRB went off but there was no mayday. The overturned hull was seen by aircraft the next day, There was confusion by the official authorities over the rescue effort, the SAR chiefs thinking there would be no survivors.As the hull remained afloat, with a possibility of trapped bodies, a team of volunteers from the community  took a another small boat with a volunteer team of divers to the site, 80 miles offshore. They reached the hull at 16h on the 22nd, sent divers to examine the vessel but there was major damage, the wheelhouse, cabin, and everything in the boat gone. No bodies were found. The navy's dive team reached the site the next day and confirmed there were no bodies. The barometric pressure at the height of this storm was 957mB, the lowest I have ever seen.
      Secondary depressions that form or intensify in the Gulf of Maine and travel NE over the outer banks of Nova Scotia are common. In the summer, Sable Island is in hurricane alley. There is no weather radar   coverage anywhere off southwestern Nova Scotia, and our forecasters are often caught out by this, as they were in this case. and provide much better information and they forecasted this storm ( as strong as the top end of a category 2 hurricane) accurately. Only problem is that you need internet access and unless you have this by satellite, you are very lucky to have a signal more than 20 miles offshore. For this reason, I keep a weatherfax on board ( mine is a Sitex digital one that uses miniscule electricity) and I have a Weems and Plath digital barograph, cost less than $100, and which has a little flashing icon that comes on if it's going to blow,and is almost never wrong.
   This isn't the first tragedy we've had and it won't be the last. Commercial fishing in the winter is an inherently dangerous activity. When you tie up in one of these harbours, perhaps spare a thought for the guys that are at this all year round

Sunday, February 10, 2013

extra-tropical cyclone "nemo"

Nemo has just left us, maximum winds same as category 2 hurricane, and there has been damage on the shoreline between Wood's Harbour and Lockeport. I've looked at some of it. Most of this will be repaired by summer. I haven't had any reports from Seal Island and the surrounding areas, so if you go to these places this summer, approach with caution as the marginal anchorages here are very vulnerable to severe weather.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

are cruising guides obsolete?

     well, that's what some of the guys into electronic media say ( I'm thinking of Active Captain, amongst other ones), and while I wouldn't want to diss anyone, I don't think we quite ready for the boneyard yet. Those of us who write guides are always out-of date. Very true, it's impossible to keep up, but are the alternatives better? You want to enter a harbour late at night in thick fog with the only thing you've got a three year old one line comment about the anchorage written by a guy who may have only been there once? Maybe not so simple. After all, the rocks don't move around all that much, up here, anyway, so being outdated doesn't result in loss of your boat. Conflicts of interest? well, I've never accepted a penny from anyone. I'm pretty sure the Tafts, Curtis Rindlaub, Duncan and Ware don't either.
       In a less travelled place like this, the number of reports are few, the reports about local weather conditions and difficult harbour approaches are non-existant ( one one Active Captain report, I'm pretty sure the whole approach instructions to a certain anchorage just lifted straight out of my book, which raises  my blood pressure a bit,  but other guideshave done this too, so I won't get excited about it)
      To my mind, the biggest failure of these types of guide is that you just don't get the ambiance of the place, however imperfect ours is, its definitely better than unverified,one line, reports from multiple sources. And of course, if you can't get an internet signal, you are toast.
       But, they're free, doesn't cost you a cent to register, and you may get some useful information once in a while. but you surely can't sit comfortably in front of the fire and have a decent read with them

developments in Cape Breton

       A new marina is being built in East Bay (Bras d'Or lake). Breakwaters and docks have been completed.This is part of a resort complex at Ben Eoin, on route 4 between St. Peter's and Sydney. Some of these projects die at birth, but this one seems to have more going for it. I can't find it on Google Earth but the approximate position of the entrance is 45º58.40'N   60º26.15'W.

      If you have transportation , this is a short ride to Sydney or Louisburg. There is a ski resort ,supposedly becoming a year round destination on the other side of the main road. The scope of the marina facilities is not yet apparent, but it will be a welcome addition to a fairly remote part of the lakes.

      The Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club has been in operation for more than 120 years. Unfortunately the economic problems endemic to Nova Scotia outside of Halifax has hit here too. In 1975 the population of industrial Cape Breton was 130,000. It is now 90,000, with many of the young people moved to Alberta to find work. The 68 remaining members of the club can no longer maintain their 120-year old clubhouse which needs 2 million dollars in repairs. They have sold it to the waterfront development corporation and they are moving their headquarters to the new marina above. I think this may make to marina viable , and without this I would have serious doubts about this. The RCBYC docks and boathouse will remain at their present location in Sydney.
     I wish them well, the last three decades have been difficult for anyone living outside the Halifax Regional Municipality, which gets an enormous amount of government largesse, while the rest of us, though we provide the vast majority of the province's exports, struggle with crumbling infrastructure  and ever declining levels of service from the provincial government