The LaHave Islands—There’s Exploring To Do There

To John and I, one of the best parts of exploring new anchorages is finding new places to hike.

For John and me, one of the benefits of exploring is finding new places to hike.

Age brings wisdom, they say, and so maybe the thunderbolt of insight that struck us early in this late-season cruise is due to this time-based truism. Anyway, for whatever reason, what we realized was (drum roll): We don’t have to go to Greenland or some such place to scratch our itch to explore.

Dublin Where?

Just last week, on our way from Shelburne back to Base Camp, the stars aligned on our approach to the LaHave Islands: It was mid-afternoon, the tide was low neaps, and the winds were light.

John: This is our chance. We’d be stupid not to use such perfect conditions to explore Dublin Bay.

Phyllis: Dublin where?

Apparently John has had an eye on this large bay for years. Almost completely enclosed by the mainland and a number of the LaHave Islands, poorly charted and, except for two short channels, unmarked, Dublin Bay has all the basic requirements for fun exploration.
la-have

Located just west of Lunenburg, the LaHave Islands lie in the mouth of the river of the same name. Though a few of the islands are road-served, the rest are not, which in itself adds spice to exploration.

We’d been sailing by these islands for years without stopping; that was about to change.

A Protected Anchorage

Entering Dublin Bay using the marked channel at the inner end of False LaHave Bay, we soon turned away from the marked passage and started relying on the forward scan sonar to feel our way through a narrow, but surprisingly deep, charted but unmarked channel between the shore of road-served Bush Island and a veritable rock garden of ledges and islets, inhabited by a herd of grunting seals.

After the channel made a sharp turn to starboard (continuing straight on would have brought a quick halt to the proceedings), John saw a large area with a few spot soundings on the chart, between 2 and 3 m depth, just off a small red buoy that marked the intersection of our unmarked channel and a second marked channel that follows the mainland shore.

Arriving at the buoy, we turned to port and slowly felt our way into a large flat area of 3 m depth. Perfect!

That evening, as we were enjoying a glass of wine in the cockpit, a small speedboat pulled up alongside Morgan’s Cloud. Simon, the driver, pointed to where he lives on the Dublin Shore (the mainland) and said he couldn’t resist stopping to find out what a sailboat our size was doing anchored in Dublin Bay—not something he’d seen before.

Island Life

The next day we went dinghy exploring, weaving between islands, landing on non-road-served Moshers Island, hoping to walk to the lighthouse that stands sentinel at the east end of the island (Google Earth showed a possible path we could follow, which actually turned out to be the powerline swath).

One of the best parts of hiking is picnicking, made even better by sharing it with friends,

And one of the best parts of hiking is picnicking, made even better when sharing it with friends.

Approaching the west end of the island we saw an older man on the shore by a small isolated cottage. He gave directions for the trail to the lighthouse, which started a little further east by the house where he had been born. He now owns a Christmas tree farm on the mainland but, he says, he’s on Moshers every summer weekend.

Dinghying a little further, we came to a clutch of old houses and wharves. Johanna (her parents bought one of the old houses on Moshers Island in the 1960s, after emigrating to Canada from Germany) confirmed buddy’s directions to the light, adding that we couldn’t get lost as long as we stayed close to the powerline.

Every hike needs a goal.

Every hike needs a goal.

A short walk along a rough ATV trail took us to the light, passing through a small farmyard along the way. Though the farmers weren’t in residence, on our return to the dinghy we learned from Johanna that they had been living on the farm fulltime since the 1970s. He was once the assistant lighthouse keeper and she works as a vet on the mainland. We hope to meet them someday, to find out what life is like living the old way on Moshers Island.

The light through a window in the old generator shed.

The light through a window in the old generator shed.

We Will Return

The next morning we pulled up the anchor and steamed out the short marked channel along the mainland shore, vowing we would return to Dublin Bay. There is a museum to visit, beaches to walk, and more exploring to do.

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Meet the Author

Phyllis

Phyllis has sailed over 40,000 offshore miles with John on their McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, most of it in the high latitudes, and has crossed the Atlantic three times. As a woman who came to sailing as an adult, she brings a fresh perspective to cruising, which has helped her communicate what they do in an approachable way, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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14 comments … add one
  • Ben Garvey Nov 16, 2016, 11:08 am

    Wow – great find! Been past there dozens of times myself, have looked into the more common spots around Lahave Islands and had mixed experiences, but never noticed that anchorage. It’s now definitely on the list.

    Ever gotten up the gumption to squeeze into the small harbor (more like a large crack) at Cross Island? we did it in our old boat, basically by feel (braille method… on a very calm day); and were rewarded with fabulous hikes over 2 days. Stunningly beautiful island.

    bg

    • John Nov 17, 2016, 12:18 pm

      Hi Ben,

      Yes, try it out, it’s great. Much better than the other alternatives. I think.

      We have been into Cross Island and had a loverly walk out to the light. As to gumption, not so much: we anchored outside and went in the dinghy. That said, having checked it out, I would consider taking MC in as long as the tide was right and there was absolutely no swell—running aground on a rising tide=no big deal (as long as slow), run aground with any swell at all=bad endings.

      • Marc Dacey Nov 17, 2016, 12:35 pm

        I guess you’re making the case for forward-facing depthfinding and/or centreboarders, because this is definitely gunkholing of the first order. Looks a bit like a depopulated Brittany around there.

  • Marc Dacey Nov 16, 2016, 3:25 pm
    • René Bornmann Nov 17, 2016, 4:32 am

      Indeed, a beautiful book which also came to my mind when reading the first lines above.

    • John Nov 17, 2016, 12:18 pm

      Hi Marc,

      No I haven’t, but looks interesting.

  • Eric Klem Nov 18, 2016, 2:51 pm

    Hi Phyllis, that looks like a great spot. I had planned to go there several years ago but given the fog, I chickened out and anchored just off the dropoff by the Squam instead. I am glad to hear it is doable. We seem to end up somewhere in the LeHave islands whenever we make it over to Nova Scotia as it breaks up the long stretch of coast between Shelburne and Lunenberg (we do love Carter’s Beach but only try to hit it one way) for those of us with a slower average speed. I find the passages between some of the islands rather intimidating but we do really enjoy it there.

    Eric

  • Dave Nov 20, 2016, 10:21 am

    Phyllis

    Very nice post. I always enjoy the travel to adventure type articles. The included charts are as important as the photos. I wonder if there is a way to have AAC members share their experiences of special places with similar posts? Just a thought.

    • John Nov 21, 2016, 10:12 am

      Hi Dave,

      I agree, that would be fun, but I think there are already sites that do that. Cruiser Blogs, or something like that. Anyway, there is no way we have the bandwidth to edit and curate a bunch of destination posts from many different cruisers, so I think we will leave that to others.

  • Terje M Nov 21, 2016, 1:53 pm

    Great post nice pictures!

    We are also some keen photographers. When sailing, cruising and exploring we of often live in the moments and our cameras are left on-board. Often, we want to keep the moment for ourselves, that is my excuse for wife not to bring the camera. In my youth, I worked with a professional photographer, back then I dreamed of becoming one; Computers, University degrees, sailing, girls and life got in the way. Photography become a distant hobby.

    I you are serious posting your pictures I will highly recommend http://www.smugmug.com It is a family driven site, that is serious about photography. We have used them for several years, for our pictures and travelling. It is not free but it is fare better and more professional than other free sites.

    I am a Smugmug customer I can give a 20% referral. https://secure.smugmug.com/signup?Coupon=Wix99.pBiu0J6

    John, please delete the link – if it validates your T&C.

    • John Nov 21, 2016, 2:45 pm

      Hi Terge,

      I agree Smugmug is great. Just watch out for them selling prints of your photos without giving you any money, or not much. I don’t remember the details but I was shocked to find that was the default when I was setting up my account. http://www.johnharriesphotography.com

      No problem on the link.

      • Terje M Nov 21, 2016, 3:09 pm

        John,
        Never had any problems with SmugMug. We got a power account. Our private sailing blog is on blogger, it will become public one day, all pictures are hosted by SmugMug. That works very well. For everyone out there – if you love pictures – you would like SmugMug.

  • Robert Dec 3, 2016, 9:26 am

    Right in my backyard; I had wanted to pop into that area last summer, but had reservations (after already ‘kissing a rock’ once, earlier in the season…yes I admit it; ‘zigged when I should have zagged’). Thanks very much for this post, as it’s definitely on the ‘places to explore’ this coming season

    • John Dec 3, 2016, 10:40 am

      Hi Robert,

      Yes, definitely worth the effort. The northeast entrance along the Dublin Shore is probably the best alternative for the first time.

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