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January 19th dawned cold and breezy with a crystal clear sky….a perfect day for the annual Bras d’Or station get-together in the Annapolis Valley.  

First on the day’s agenda was hiking the trail at the Blomidon Provincial Park.  Gathering in the parking lot at 10:0 seven (7) intrepid Bras d’Or station members donned their gear and headed up the steep first section of the trail.  The hikers reported that conditions were typical for this annual trek:  icy on the steep uphill climb then snow cover on the plateau portions of the 12 km long trail….difficult but invigorating conditions.

The second event was the gathering at the home of Barbara and Peter Watts in nearby Habitant.  They open their home for a post hike get-together where the day’s hikers and other station members commiserate with each other about the trials of winter hiking in Nova Scotia.  Peter and Barbara served up delicious champagne cocktails and appetizers and as the post trek pains faded everyone enjoyed the wonderful views of the Annapolis Valley that surround the home.

The third tradition was our annual Blomidon Inn dinner.  Twenty nine members and guests congregated to enjoy a pre-dinner beverage and to catch up on winter activities and pending summer plans.  Taking their seats members were welcomed to this annual dinner by the station RC Bernard Prevost who thanked Wilson Fitt for organising and leading the day’s hike and a special thank you to Peter and Barbara Watts for opening their home to members again this year.   He extended a special welcome to Nova Scotia to Commodore Brad and Ann Willauer who travelled from their home in Portland, Maine to join us for the evening.

Commodore Willauer spoke to the group about the CCA’s focus on environment, safety at sea and the Bermuda race.  He also noted the continued ageing of the club members and encouraged our members to seek out potential candidates for membership, keeping in mind the main considerations for membership: does the candidate have offshore sailing experience, are they a good shipmate and would you lend them your boat?   

Between courses we heard from the station’s Environment of the Seas Committee member, Allen Bishop.  Allen updated us on Committee meetings and spoke to encourage members to use more environmentally sensitive cleaning products; such as baking soda and vinegar for cleaning rather than  the usual chemically based cleaners which introduce harmful toxins into our oceans and waterways.   Allen also noted the opportunity to encourage Beach Clean-Ups during station cruises and raft-ups. 

Recently returned from competing in the 2018 Sydney to Hobart race, station member Michael Archibald spoke to the group about the race experience and of surfing down waves in 30 knots of wind at night. Mike passed a laptop around to show photos of the boat launching off and surfing down the backsides of waves during the race. The boat, a Kerr 40 named “Showtime”, was hitting speed of 25+ knots during the first 24 hours finished a respectable 4th in the IRC-3 class standings.

Camaraderie, good natured ribbing and story-telling concluded the gathering for another year.