W8328 Naomi Circumnavigates Cape Breton's Isle Madame
Sunday, July 18: Isle Madame à bicyclette

After a great breakfast of bacon and eggs, toast with homemade jam, muffins, and coffee, I pondered what to do
for the day.  Al suggested I borrow his bicycle and that solved my indecision.   I placed my chart and jacket in a sail bag, and slung these over my back.  Then I was on the road peddling to windward in low gear. 

For most of the day I cycled through Poulamon and Martinique, across to West Arichat, and on to the port of Arichat.  Here I visited the town's museum in an old forge by the waterside.  From there I travelled over the hills to the fishing port of Petit-de-Grat and then over more highlands to Cabbage Cove, Petite Anse, and Sampson Cove. 
Petite Anse
Sampson Cove
Houses on the hillside behind Sampson Cove reminded me of Newfoundland outports with their bright colours and the twisty little roads that wind among them.  I was never quite sure if  I was driving on the road or around someone's backyard.  At the end of the village of Sampson Cove, I left my bicycle and began walking along the coast toward Red Head.  Rolling, grass-covered cliffs stretched into the distance.  I wished I had brought a lunch with me, and had the whole afternoon to spend hiking on the headlands.  In the distance Green Island's gaunt profile broke up the open sea beyond.  There was not another person in sight and I treasured in my isolation.  Too soon though, I reluctantly started biking back to D'Escousse.
Green Island
My large-scale chart has secondary roads and even dirt paths marked on it.  It doesn't have road numbers marked on it though.  While biking, I occasionally halted to refer to my chart as roads branching off only had numbers on the road signs.  Early in the trip I learned one of the habits of the locals that I experienced repeatedly.  When I stopped beside the road to inspect the chart; a car pulled up alongside me.  The driver demanded to know what my name was - both first and last.  I felt like a fugitive as I told him.  He then responded by telling me his name.  Now I knew I was in the company of a fellow rogue - but what were we up to?  He then proceeded to ask if  I needed directions and then wished me a good day.  People on Isle Madame often stopped for a chat or to offer assistance but the "What's your name?" came first. 

Returning through Arichat, I called my wife, Gail, from a public phone.  When I told her I was in Arichat, but had arrived here on a bicycle rather than a boat, she was puzzled.  Peddling  back to D'Escousse  in the afternoon, I was tired and hungry.  Since the village restaurant was closed, I planned to get supplies from Naomi.  However Sara and Al invited me to have a belated lunch and supper with them instead. 

The weather improved later on Sunday.  Al maintains a Halifax professor's schooner in exchange for using the boat.  During this foul weather the vessel was tied alongside the wharf, but she belonged on a mooring.  Al asked if I would lend a hand moving her to the mooring and we would go for a sail also.  On Sunday evening we boarded the old schooner.  She was a wooden boat with a length of 36 feet at the waterline.  Originally she was a South Shore fishing boat but the fish hold was replaced with a cabin.  All the blocks were wooden and the running rigging strong and simple. 

We had a brisk sail in Lennox Passage but I found it hard getting used to pegging the tiller and leaving it unattended to go forward.  After sailing a dinghy, this leaving the tiller came about as natural as driving down the Trans-Canada Highway with both my hands clasped behind my head.  I was impressed by how steady the boat handled and understood how small fishing schooners were worked by so few fishermen. 

 A sailboat on a nearby mooring looked familiar.  It was Silversark, a hand-built cutter, owned by the author Silver Donald Cameron.  His home is beside the bed and breakfast.  I particularly enjoyed reading, "Wind, Whales and Whisky," an account of the passage his family made around Cape Breton in this motorless sailboat.

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