Mariners travelled from Joggins, around Cape Breton, and down to Northport
Not wanting to ‘rust unburnished’ in their retirement, thousands of years ago Ulysses and his merry men pushed off from their home in Ithaca into the Mediterranean Sea.
According to British poet Alfred Tennyson, before seeking new adventures, Ulysses said to his men, “though much is taken, much abides, and though we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are: one equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will – to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.”
Keith Hunter may not have given such a resounding speech when he and his merry men set off on their journey from the Two Rivers wharf near Joggins last month, but set off they did. They returned home to Northport in early September after having navigated the seas around the entire province of Nova Scotia.
“On the sixth of August, we left on the high tide and followed the high tide out of the Bay of Fundy as it was dropping,” said Hunter. “We made good time and went over to Halls Harbour, and from Halls Harbour over to Digby, and then to spots all the way around the province. It was great.” The journey started out calm. “I started in Two Rivers and I went as far as Lunenburg and, except for one day when it was a little rough, it was flat calm,” said David Wood. “I got off in Lunenburg, and as soon as I got off it got rough.”
The entire trip was 2,300 kilometres, and they spent 350 hours navigating between 22 ports.
They travelled three days in dense fog and lost four days due to high winds and waves, meeting 16-foot waves near Canso.
“We’d go down one wave and all of a sudden in the cabin you couldn’t see air, all you could see was water,” said Blake Daley, who did much of the navigating.
“One wave was 16 feet but, fortunately, it had broad shoulders, so it was the gentlest wave we had the whole trip. But the sight of that wave was unbelievable,” added Daley.
Daley said they looked into the maw of the wave.
“Jens (Jensen) asked, ‘what’s a maw?’” said Daley with a laugh.
High waves forced them to seek shelter in Canso and in Port Hood on the western shore of Cape Breton.
Hunter purchased the 33-foot boat, the Goeland 11, in 2014.
“The fellow who had it built was Willie Gibbs. He was a friend of all the fellows on the boat,” said Hunter. “The boat was built by a fellow in Richibucto, New Brunswick. He used all Cumberland County wood from Hoeg’s lumber mill to build it.”
Gibbs launched the boat in 2001.
“He was diagnosed with cancer in January of 2014, and by August he passed away,” said Hunter. “In the interim he sent an email around wanting to get rid of his boat and his truck before he passed away, and I was the first one to get back to him on the boat.”
Hunter and his crew took their first adventure on the Goeland 11 in 2016, and spent five days navigating the Bras d’Or Lake in Cape Breton, then in 2017 they spent seven days travelling the circumference of PEI.
“Somewhere along that trip Blake said, ‘wouldn’t it be nice to go around Nova Scotia?’ and I jumped at the chance and said that would be a real experience,” said Hunter.
Hunter loves being out on the water with friends, and says they might navigate the southern shore of Newfoundland next year.
“It’s only a maybe for Newfoundland, but if not Newfoundland maybe the Magdalen Islands.”
The crew of the Goeland 11 gathered for a photo after making landfall in Northport in early September. From left, Bob Janes, Jens Jensen, Brent Jensen, Blake Daley, Morris Haugg, Keith Hunter, and David Wood. Three of them - Hunter, Daley and Jensen - made the entire trip around Nova Scotia, while the others joined the team for different parts of the journey. Also along for part of the trip was Keith’s son Michael (not in photo).