Tuesday, July 21, 2009


On the advice of Jen at Eagle North Kayaking, we decided that our second kayaking trip in Cape Breton would be out of Pleasant Bay. This is where most of the whale boats launch because whales are most common along the eastern shore of Cape Breton. Most of the tours guarantee that passengers will see a whale.
Jen's advice to us about finding whales was to follow the whale tour boats.

The books say, and Jen concurred, that there is a launch fee to use the ramp at Pleasant Bay. However, there is no obvious place to pay the fee and nobody tries too hard to collect it. We used the ramp and the parking lot without any trouble or any fee. Since Pleasant Bay is a working harbor, we were advised to make sure our cars were parked out of the way. The lot is very large and it was not an issue to park off to the side. Besides we are used to being deferential to power boaters at the ramps back home.

Five minutes out of the harbor H spotted two pods of whales. The pods were a good distance off shore, but we didn't care about being too far off shore. We wanted to paddle with whales.
A whale tour was heading toward the whales. Whale fever was in control.

We reached the whales just after the tour boat, but in plenty of time to see the whales. I took out my camera and started just pointing and clicking without really paying much attention to what the camera picked up. I wanted to enjoy watching the whales, and figured if I took enough pictures I'd get at least one good one.
The pod breached all around us for a good five minutes. On several occasions they surfaced within feet of a kayak. The whole experience was indescribable.
Once the pod began moving out to deeper water, we decided it was time to let them be. We had our fun. We all joked that we could just paddle back to Pleasant Bay, break camp, and head home. Our vacation was complete.
We did begin paddling toward shore, but not in the direction of Pleasant Bay. Instead we continued down the coast toward Fishing Cove. The coastline was rugged cliffs that offered few places to land even in calm conditions. The few beaches we saw were steep, shallow patches of round pebbles with dumping surf. Storm swells-really any swell over two or three feet-would make landing difficult and staying dry impossible. The waves would cover the beaches and wash a camper out.
We did stop for lunch on the best beach we could find before Fishing Cove. It was deeper than the rest and sheltered slightly by some shallow rocks that broke up the surf. Still you could see that the sea frequently pounded the rocks. They were carved into round inverse wave patterns. One piece of granite had a perfect wave pattern etched into it's side where a harder white vein of rock held fast.
After lunch we headed a little further towards Fishing Cove. H was concerned that we might get back too late to discuss our Cape North trip with Mike at Eagle North if we continued, but the rest of us wanted to go around the next headland to see if we could find Fishing Cove.
Surprisingly enough, our navigation skills using a terrible map were spot on. Fishing Cove was just around the next headland. Fishing Cove is a tiny protected hamlet tucked into a notch among the mountains. You can either hike in from the Cabot Trail or kayak in from either Pleasant Bay or Cheticamp.
We didn't spend much time exploring the cove. H really wanted to get back. She did not want to get back to Eagle North, or camp, too late and it was already five in the afternoon. We had at least an hours return paddle and a thirty minute drive back to Eagle North.
We hightailed it back to Pleasant Bay. I think our average speed was close to four MPH.
Sadly, when we got to Eagle North Mike told us that the forecast for the next day called for high winds and rain. The trip around Cape North would have to wait at least one more day.

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