||Once youre through Grand Manan Channel, youre into the wide-open and temperamental Bay of Fundy. Huge tides move icy water in and out of the bay, which turns warm, moist air into impenetrably thick fog. When the wind blows against the strong currents, the bay is whiped into steep, unruly waves. Still there are times when Fundy lies under a glass surface, lulling, warm, beguiling.
The last of the good harbors are near Letete Passage, tucked behind the Bliss Islands or on either side of Frye Island and the Letang Peninsula. Farther east, the coast of New Brunswick is bold, with only one or two harbors for refuge until you reach the shipping port of Saint John. This small metropolis lies at the mouth of the Saint John River, fortified along its waterfront tby huge concrete container-ship terminals, oil tanks, a ferry terminal, cruise-ship docks, and the Canadian Coast Guard. It is not an easy place for a yacht to lie.
Beyond the city, the dramatic Reversing Falls is the gate-keeper to the insland wonders of the Saint John River. Two irrefutable forces of nature meet at the fallsthe enormous Fundy tides and the ceaseless seaward flow of the river. At low tides, the river cascades out to sea. At high tides, the sea surges upriver. Only during the short slack periods are the falls navigable by boat.
Approach Saint John cautiously. The port is a busy one, catering to huge freighters and expansive cruise ships as well as hundreds of lesser vessels.
Vessel Traffic Services (Ch. 12; 506-636-4696) maintains radar surveillance of all vessel movements in the entire Bay of Fundy, much like an air traffic controller. Assistance is available from Fundy Traffic; contact them on channel 23 well before approaching the harbor, particularly during low visibility.
There are two options for docking in the harbor: the floating dock at Market Slip at the head of the harbor and a large, floating concrete dock in the second to last slip on the west side of the channel.
Most amenities will be found in the boating Mecca beyond the Reversing Falls. A schedule of the tides and the high and low slack waters for the Reversing Falls can be obtained at the tourist information center next to Market Slip.
The Saint John River above the Reversing Falls is one of the most extensive and interesting freshwater cruising areas anywhere. Here youll find practically no fog and insignificant tides. Eventually, the river branches out into three long armsthe Kennebecasis, Long Reach, and Belleisle Bayand an interconnected network of lakes that includes Grand Lake, Maquapit Lake, Washademoak Lake, and French and Indian Lake.
The river itself presents few navigational obstacles, and the odd rock or shoal areas are clearly buoyed.
The Reversing Falls is the key that unlocks the inland cruising treasures of the Saint John River. The Saint John River meets Saint John Harbour at a narrow gorge partially dammed by a submerged ledge. This damming, along with the difference in water levels between the river and the tremendous Fundy tides, produces the unique phenomenon of the Reversing Falls.
Brothers Cove lies just east of Boars Head at the mouth of Kennebecasis Bay and harbors the Royal Kennebeccasis Yacht Club and its fleet. The Cove is broad and relatively shallow, but it is sheltered to the northeast by Indian and Goat Island.
The yacht club welcomes guests warmly and makes its facilities available to all. Fellow sailors will help you find a mooring and provide pointers to favorite anchorages or tips on navigating the Reversing Falls. You can contact the club at 506/652-9430; www.rkyc.nb.ca. Gas, diesel, water, ice, and pump-out facilities are available at the clubs wharf. They accept credit cards. Electricity is available at their slips. They also have a small marine railway, a hydraulic trailer, and a mast crane.
If you havent checked in with customs, this is a convenient place to call 888-CANPASS.
Approaching Gagetown from downriver, sailors must watch out for the cable ferry crossing from Scovil Point.
Gagetown Marina has dockage or moorings. The marina has showers and a small laundromat. A grocery store, book store, and several restaurants are nearby.
Dockage is also available at the Steamer Stop Inn further upriver.
The Mount Arawat Wildlife Management Area has several hiking trails open to the public. Take your dinghy to one of the boat landings south of town.
Douglas Harbour is the center for boating on Grand Lake. The wharf is owned by the Fredericton Yacht Club. Dont try for the apparently perfect anchorage in the western arm of Douglas Harbour; there is a sandbar across its mouth. Look for anchorage in the eastern arm.
Lying more than 60 miles up the Saint John River from the Bay of Fundy, Fredericton, the capitol of New Brunswick, is built on both sides of the river. A railroad bridge with a 25-foot clearance marks the head of navigation for most masted vessels.
Unfortunately for sailors, the downtown area and the citys wharf lie upriver from this bridge. Sailboats with masts higher than 25 feet have two choices: Jesses Landing marina and the Fredericton Yacht Club. Boats that can pass under the railroad bridge can dock downtown at the Regent Street Wharf.
Jesses Landing has dockage for 135 vessels and plenty of room for transients. Gas and Diesel, free pump-outs, ice, and water and electricity are available on the floats. Deep-draft boats can be hauled up a launching ramp for repairs of all kinds.
The yacht club has a small float with water and can provide guests with a vacant mooring. Gas, groceries, a pay phone, and an excellent Chinese restaurant are nearby.
If you can make it under the railroad bridge, the Regent Street Wharf has moorings and access to downtown Fredericton. The Port Warden (Ch. 70; 506/455-1445) is here.
Sailing to Grand Manan is a grand adventure for cruising boats. The best approach to the island is along the bold western shore, rounding the southern tip to reach Seal Cove or the northern tip to reach North Head.
North Head is a fishing village, home to a fleet of brightly painted seineres and trawlers. The village is a port of entry for Canadian Customs, an excellent refuge, and a good place to start your exploration of the island. You can get fuel, groceries, and dinner.
As your near the northern tip of the island, you will see the lighthouse at Northern Head on a plateau halfway up the cliffs; it is a square white tower surrounded by several houses with red roofs. If youre running in fog be aware that a ferry runs several times daily between North Head and Blacks Harbour. You can check ferry positioning on channel 16.
As you round Fish Head, the distinctive Swallow Tail lighthouse will eppar asa white octagonal tower with a red top.
There are three large wharves in Flagg Cove off North Head. Westernmost is Fishermans Wharf with deep water at both ends and you can tie up at either end. There is a $25 fee for dockage here.
The Harbour Authority of Grand Manan is here. Call 506/662-8482. Thee is a rash bin at the head of the wharf, and fuel can be obtained by truck from Irving (506/662-3433). Electricity can be arranged at the dock by permit through the harbormaster. Ice is available at several locations.
Seal Cove is a small and pleasant fishing community on the eastern side of Grand Manan. The approach from the south is easy, and a man-made harbor provides excellent protection.
The old harbor at the head of the cove dries out, rendering it useless as an anchorage.
There are two man-made harbors in Seal Cove; the northern one dries out at low water. The southern harbor, has deep water and excellent protection. A breakwater and wharf (not shown on charts) extend form the north, creating a narrow entrance.