Whale Cove. Mile 3480

Philippa was all for getting up promptly and catching the 9.30 ferry to the next bit of Digby Neck this morning, but the rollercoaster had knocked us out and we woke to find Tom standing over us looking with concern at his clock “it says 9.19 you know…” We had breakfast at 10 and thought about aiming for the 12.30 ferry instead.

These little ferries are terrific. They run 24 hours a day and cost $5 return for every vehicle. Once he’d waved us into position, the crewman  came over and said “what year?”. “1978”. He nodded slowly and approvingly.


Our whale watching appointment was at the ferry landing on the other side. We zipped up into big orange survival suits, which our guide said were to really ensure that they could find the bodies, as the water was cold enough that you only had a fifty fifty chance of lasting more than fifteen minutes in the water. It looked nice though, flat and mellow in the sunshine.

The zodiac boats can really move and Tom’s eyes lit up as we throttled up and bounced out into the bay. Within twenty minutes we saw a big whale spout ahead of us; a humpback.


We drew up perhaps forty feet away and watched it move steadily through the water, blowing every ten seconds or so before diving with a curl of its tail. Tom was as entranced as we were “I saw a Humpback whale’s tail!!!!”. Further on we saw two others swimming together, and then a juvenile which was much shyer, blowing a couple of times before diving for more than five minutes. It would surface some distance away, blow a couple more times and then vanish again. Tom, our guide said the whales were becoming increasingly inquisitive about the whale boats and seemed to have learned that they were no threat. Its such a thrill to see them so close.

Back on shore we headed west again to find the “Balanced Rock” trailhead. It is, you may be surprised to hear, a trail to a rock which is, er balanced on another rock. A nice little walk in wonderfully warm sunshine, and the rock hadn’t fallen over or anything so mission accomplished.

Another fifteen minute drive takes you to Freeport where you catch the next ferry to Brier Island. Right by the dock is Lavena’s Catch Cafe, which Glora had recommended. We’d expected a seafood shack I suppose, but Lavena’s is a proper restaurant and was fully booked when we got there – “we only have the terrace available” which was outside in the sunshine and exactly where we wanted to sit. Philippa started with seafood chowder in the lightest butteriest broth I have ever tasted. It was a delicious little warm mouthfull of fishyness. Lobster was their special tonight and it seemed like a no brainer, so we ordered one each. They are somewhat alarming really – red painted little aliens. Or giant sea-woodlice. Either way, they were delicious. So full. Please. Carry. Us. To. RV.

Waiting for the ferry back, there was a board about the history of the ferry service, which started with a sailboat in the in the 19th century. It later became motorized and run by ferrymen with terrific names: Cossaboom, Sollow and Outhouse.

When we drove on again the same deckhand guided us on and asked all about Harv. “Now that is a nice rig. I don’t like the new stuff, but yours has lines“. We had a long chat with him and showed him around. He left us for a bit and came back to say we should go up onto the bridge and meet the captain.

Up we went and met Captain Frank Gillis “call me Frankie”. His accent was a fascinating mix of English accents – more Norfolk than anything. He showed us over the little hand controls that he drives the ferry with – and then he headed out. It was fascinating to watch him manoeuvre against the rising tide – and not at all easy because the current runs at eight or nine knots which is, I am told, fairly pacy.

He slotted us in against the next jetty while answering Tom’s questions about the radar. What a lovely bunch of people there are here on Digby Neck, its been a treat.


Categories: Magic Bus

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