blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

To the end of the world!

Aerial view of Moncton and Petitcodiac R.
Chris said that the tip of Nova Scotia, seen from the air as we approached Yarmouth today, looked like the end of the world. We are south of the New Brunswick - Maine border here, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, and Yarmouth harbour smells of the seaside.

Because of yesterday's transponder problem, we had no confidence that we'd get here, but the day began well. The weather was perfect for flying, fine, calm and clear. We ate breakfast in a room overlooking the Petitcodiac River, checked out of the Chateau Moncton and a taxi brought us to the Flight College where, to our amazement, we heard that there'd be no charge for Ken the mechanic's inspection of our transponder! Full marks and great praise for the service and courtesy at this place! Ken had cleaned the antenna when he took it apart and perhaps that's the reason why it gave us no trouble today. We did a single circuit to have our "1234" squawk checked from the control tower and the transponder transponded successfully all the way round. It also behaved itself all the way to Yarmouth, whither we flew after we'd loaded our luggage into the plane and donned our yellow life jackets. I sent a message from the air to tell our Yarmouth acquaintance George K that we'd be arriving at 2pm; he got my message and came to welcome us to his home town, which was really nice of him. We shall be seeing him again tomorrow, and his wife Heather.

Chris is dictating the following paragraph:
Approaching the New Brunswick coastline
As we departed from Moncton, the Tower controller reported that he couldn't find our flight plan. But before we left, Chris had definitely filed a flightplan, online. After we'd been flying for a little while, we were asked to contact the Flight Information Centre in Halifax, to talk about our flightplan! We did, and they reported that they, too, had no record of the flightplan. After some discussion, Chris air-filed a flightplan to Yarmouth and all was well, and we tuned back to Moncton Centre. About 10 minutes later, Moncton Centre told us that the FIC was hoping to talk to us again, so we switched frequencies and the almost hysterical FIC man explained that he had found PTN's original flightplan that Chris had filed. By inaccurate copy-and-paste of a previous flightplan, Chris had actually filed a flightplan from Ottawa-Rockcliffe, rather than Moncton, to Yarmouth at 100 knots, total duration, 2 hours. The FIC felt this was too optimistic. A good laugh was had by all ... at Chris' expense.
Over the Annapolis Valley
Coast of Nova Scotia,
near Greenwood
The flight rewarded us with spectacular views of both coastlines --- the cliffs and hills of New Brunswick and the gentler, but still wild, Nova Scotian side. We saw a few islands too during our sea crossing, which took about 20 minutes, and from Nova Scotia we could still see the vague blue outline of New Brunswick. Muddy swirls indicated the underwater currents. Talking to Moncton Centre, we flew through the military airspace near the Greenwood airbase, and beside the Annapolis Valley and its meandering river. We were surprised by the extent of the uninhabited, unfarmed country to our left, i.e. inland, this region mostly just used for logging operations, it seems. The lakes we overflew were unlike the lakes of Ontario, being outlined by pale shores (sandstone?) and full of rocks, presumably quite shallow waters, because dead trees stuck out of some. The fair weather haze prevented us from seeing a very long way ahead, but I think we could still see for a good forty miles. The views were best during the last few miles as we curved our way down towards Yarmouth airport over the inlets, swampy waterways and green islands hereabouts. I noticed several access roads to these beautiful places, so that's our plan for tomorrow: exploring by car (I have booked a rental car).

Marshland near Yarmouth

Aerial view of Starrs Road from the Yarmouth circuit

Yarmouth harbour: fishing boats moored there
We are staying at the Comfort Inn between the airport and town on ye olde strippe malle (as I think of such lookalike places) along Starrs Road. Typical of North America, all the commerce that ought to be downtown is located along this road, which leaves the older part of Yarmouth bereft, stores going out of business there, with their windows boarded up, such a pity. The town proper is an interesting place to walk into, as we did this afternoon; it lies beside the harbour, which, at the start of the 20th century, constituted the busiest port in the world. These days there's still a fishing industry (we saw a small ship called Obsession 1 moored in the harbour, opposite a few other such vessels) and regular ferry services to and from Portland and Boston in the USA leave from the central Ferry Terminal or terminate there, but it is relatively quiet. Water Street has a parallel walkway, with flowerbeds, by the water's edge, a series of informative plaques telling us about the history of the place and giving us a chance to gaze over the sparkling inlet to the narrow peninsula called Yarmouth Bar, with its muddy, reedy banks and fir trees, seagulls squawking overhead. One of Yarmouth's small parks has a stage with a painted backdrop of a sailing ship in trouble, so I assume there are times when people re-enact the drama of a storm at sea in 1866, and the ship called the Research floundering in it.
Stage backdrop: storm at sea
Sails were ripped from the  yards. A tremendous sea smashed the rudder. Without topsails and rudderless, the Research wallowed helplessly in the tearing winter gales. But Captain George Churchill was resourceful, inventive and determined. That all-important rudder had to be repaired or replaced. A man must go over the side into the icy water under the overhanging stern, and if possible, rig tackle, so that the damaged rudder could be steered from the deck. The job fell to the mate, the young, husky Aaron Churchill. Over the side he went, the control rope gripped firmly by fellow crewmen and Aaron, sitting perilously in a bowline loop. With one hand he struggled to rig the tackle; with the other hand he fought desperately to save himself from being smashed against the hull in the turbulent seas, dragged on board nearly insensible, he was given brandy to revive him, then over the side he went to complete the job. 
Main Street, Yarmouth, Sunday afternoon
The Yarmouth crew had to do this eight times by which time they had reached the Azores and they eventually arrived in Glasgow, safe. What a story! I don't know who wrote the above narrative, but he (or more likely she) does seem to have enjoyed writing about that heroic, husky mate, who was 16 years old, by the way.

Another waterside park had a memorial covered with names: those "lost at sea" from these parts.

We climbed the hill up to Main Street and walked along there too, where most places were shut on this Sunday late afternoon, but we found some refreshments at a place called Sips, then also found a newly constructed multipurpose (bike) trail from Parade Street to Starrs Road that avoided our having to walk back to our hotel by the strip malls.

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