Annapolis Royal and Whale Watching, NS
Jun 12, 2006
|June 12 - Annapolis Royal, NS
The sun is out, hoorah. We're off to the other side of Nova Scotia, hear Digby and Annapolis Royal. Decided to take a shortcut from Hwy 103 west, to 325 north to Hwy 8 west. Hwy 325 is marked as a lesser route, and it was a bit windy, but the blacktop was fairly new and quite smooth. Hwy 8 was a very rough road.
We were determined to park at a campsite with a view of the Bay of Fundy, so we passed through Annapolis Royal a few miles north on Hwy 1 and went out over the hills to Parkers Cove. There is a steep uphill and then back down again to get over a small mountain range along the coast, but then you arrive in the beautiful village of Parkers Cove. The Cove Oceanfront campground is on a sloping grassy hill down to the water. Very picturesque place. We relaxed for the afternoon and watched the tide drop 30 feet. We could then go exploring on the rocky shoreline. Had a campfire with roasted marshmallows and watched the sunset. A very nice day with the temperature reaching 22C.
June 13 - Whale Watching - Brier Island, NS
I was not aware of a long peninsula that extends about 60kms south of Digby. It is broken up into 3 pieces, Digby Neck, Long Island and Brier Island. Brier Island was our destination to catch our boat for whale watching. Our first stop was the town of Digby, known for its' world famous Digby Scallops. The scallop fishing fleet at the main wharf downtown seemed to be the center of activity for the town.
About halfway down Digby Neck, we took a side road about 1 km out to Sandy Cove. Wow. A secluded beach with beautiful sand and crystal clear water. The beach was crescent shaped and about 500 yards long, nestled at the bottom of a 100 foot cliff. An older gentleman and his wife arrived just after us. Turns out they have lived all across Canada but retired to a B&B in the area that they have run for the past 7 years. They told us about the story of Jeromes' Rock. In the mid-1800's there was a house up on the cliff. One day the owner noticed something moving on a large rock in the middle of the beach. When he investigated, he found a man wearing military uniform, but his legs had been recently amputated. He had obviously swam in to shore and there had been a ship spotted recently. The man spot no English. All attempts to communicate with him had failed. The man lived out the remainder of his life in the area but no one ever determined the nature by which he arrived.
We then caught two short ferries to get to Briar Island. The sun was shining and there was a light breeze. At least we won't have to wrestle with sea conditions on this trip. About 30 of us loaded onto a nice 52 foot trawler for our big adventure. Our target was humpback whales. The trip yesterday had spotted 8, so we were optimistic. After about 45 minutes of motoring out into the middle of the Bay of Fundy a light fog rolled in and Michelle was getting concerned. 'Dad, are we going to see any whales?' Turns out another whale watching company was already out there and was following a humpback. We sailed straight to her and followed 'Corona' around for a while. The kids were very excited and it was marvelous to watch, especially when the tail fluke goes up in the air when they dive down. The humpback and the right whale are the only ones to do so. The naturalist suspected that Corona was pregnant as she was much large than she should be for this time of year. The whales go south in the winter to bred, but they don't eat until they return north.
We headed back towards harbour and stopped a few times to listen for whales in the fog. Sure enough, the crew tracked one down, we actually found 3 together. Foggy was taking a nap, called logging as they just lie there on the surface breathing. They sleep for about 15 minutes at a time. Colorado gave us a bit of a show and there was one other that they couldn't identify. Was quite something seeing 3 of them together. At this point the fog cleared and we headed back to harbour. Everyone on board was very excited about our whale encounters.
Back on shore we met a young lady at the café who had lived on Brier Island all her life. She said she tried to move away 3 times, the longest being a year, but she had to return. She really missed the solitude in the winters. It is a really beautiful island. There are about 200 permanent residents. The lobster season is late November to the end of May, so that keeps them busy all winter. In this part they are allowed 400 traps, so it's hard work and very dangerous in the winter storms.