Traveling by any means is certainly a privilege no matter what method you choose. However, for those lucky few with sturdy sea legs, sailing on the open water is the only way to go. Today’s sea-loving guest writer, Vera Marie Badertscher from A Traveler’s Library, describes one very unique sailing experience around Nova Scotia’s picturesque Bras D’or Lake.
Sailing Bras D’or Lake
At first all I see is a small speck in the sky, but as he circles, spiraling downwards toward the masts of the Amoeba sailing ship, I can see more clearly his enormous golden-brown wingspan. Then the captain flings a fish into the water and the eagle’s spiral becomes a plummet. The action is so fast that I forget all I ever learned about taking action photography, and stand amazed as he grabs the fish from the water and smoothly flies upward, angling toward land and his mate.
Eagles are so common around the Bras d’Or Lake in this northeastern corner of the province of Nova Scotia, Canada, that people almost take them for granted. Almost. Because a bird so independent, focused and sure of itself cannot be ignored. And active boomer travelers looking for an adventure that inspires, can find it right here on Lake Bras d’Or.
My husband and I have come to the area known as Cape Breton Island for a week’s exploration. We chose to stay at at McIntyre’s Cottages in a homey cabin with a view, just outside the small town of Baddeck. Seeing that lake each day was a treat, but I wanted to be out on the water.
On a previous trip to Baddeck, I had looked longingly at the Amoeba, a 67-foot sailboat that circles the lake on several daily cruises. But on that trip I stood on shore as the lake breezes filled the white sails and propelled the boat across the water.
Bringing a dream to life on Bras d’Or Lake
This time, I had delved into the history of the Amoeba, and when I read about a man who in mid-life realized his dream, I was even more excited about sailing on Bras d’Or Lakes.
I learned from the Amoeba’s website that the builder of the Amoeba focused on his goal with the steely determination of an eagle focusing on its prey. He wanted to harness the wind to move him across the sea like the eagles ride the wind through the air. And he did it. What an example for Baby Boomers, or anyone whose theme song is “I Did It My Way!”
Roy Bryson had always dreamed of owning his own sailboat. At age 50, although he owned a dilapidated boat that he had refurbished, he wanted something better for retirement. He and his wife priced boats and decided the only way they could afford what they wanted was to build it. After months of poring over plans, he settled on a steel and concrete construction method.
For ten years he worked on his boat, enlisted friends to help. Launch day came in 1977. Soon, he and his wife retired from their jobs and sailed to the Caribbean where they lived the sailing life for many years. Eventually, they found their way to Cape Breton Island and the Bras d’Or Lakes where just over 25 years ago, they started summer cruises for tourists.
Now Roy’s son John keeps the legacy alive. Each year between June and October, visitors join him on the Amoeba—weather allowing—to see the eagles and the beauty of the Bras d’Or coastline. Along the way we see the mansion of Alexander Graham Bell—another man who achieved his dreams. In the winter season, Amoeba still heads to the Caribbean where John takes people on charters.
The breeze was strong, and I bundled up in my windproof coat, as we sped across the lake, sails billowing—a perfect day for sailing. If you have ever chartered a small sailing ship, you may be amazed at how spacious the below-deck living quarters are. The polished wood shines and the space looks perfectly comfy. But I love bouncing along on the water, and were I to charter the boat, would spend as much time as possible up on that teak deck, scanning the sky for eagles and appreciating Roy Bryson’s ability to accomplish his dream when he was 60.
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