Monday morning we were up early at Cranberry Campground for our 213 mile transit over to Prince Edward Island (PEI). PEI is a crescent shaped island about 200 km long nestled along the northern coast of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick at the southern end of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. It’s known primarily for potatoes and…of course…the novel Anne of Green Gables.
We had a pretty good trip over…although we got slightly confused by our GPS units and ended up needing to make a couple of U-turns in order to get on the right road to our destination at Pine Hills RV just north of Charlottetown about in the center of the island. Well…the first U-turn was caused by Neil’s GPS…it was zoomed out a bit far and didn’t really show the details of an interchange we needed to navigate through…he only saw two roads on the screen and we needed to take the one that curved right…we had seen a sign a mile or two back that indicated Charlottetown was the left hand branch. We took the wrong one…and about 5 seconds later he figured out the issue with his GPS…when he zoomed in more it showed all the detail and confirmed that we were on the wrong road headed to Southside instead of Charlottetown. We quickly figured out we needed to turn around…and luckily there was a wide spot just after the interchange where he could easily turn around in the road…we wanted a minute or two until there was a gap in both directions and got turned around. He had Connie come around front so we could have two sets of eyes reading the signs and looking at the GPS units…and she took the wrong exit again…she caught it quickly and told him on the radio not to come down here…but as the guy in the old song about the Streaker said…it was too late…we were headed back towards the bridge off of PEI. So we needed to make another course reversal…luckily again a mile down the road there was a seafood store with two entrances into the parking lot…so we quickly turned in one and out the other…and found ourselves once again approaching the original interchange where Neil’s GPS tricked him. This time we went the correct direction…and amazingly enough when you don’t have the GPS zoomed out too far it shows you the whole interchange including the correct way through.
We continued on another 20 miles or so to Charlottetown…then headed north around the bypass road to Brackley Point Road and thence north 10 miles to the campground. We quickly got checked in and headed to our site…they told us it was a pull through 50 FHU site…it was actually two back in sites that butted up against each other that they use as a pull through…but hey, it works. We pulled all the way forward to get on the most level portion site…which actually turned out to be almost perfectly level despite our original thought on looking at it that it would be a difficult leveling job. Little Red is parked in the unused portion of the second site behind the rig. Neil had to get the guy next door to move his car temporarily…although the site is long the road was pretty narrow with a lot of trucks and cars parked along it and while he could probably have gotten in just fine sometimes it’s easier to get the car to move instead. The owner was happy to assist though which made it an easy peasy parking maneuver.
We got setup and then headed out to the local pub named Outriders…where we had a couple of brews and dinner…we were originally going to have left over bolognese sauce from the night before but Connie was out of sorts after the double U-turn thing so he bought her a brew instead.
Looking at our schedule and the weather forecast…which changes almost hourly so it’s hard to really figure out what days to do Fun Stuff© and what days to do laundry, groceries and other chores…but we decided to head out Tuesday morning. Before we got here…she had a drive planned around the northwest end of the crescent that forms the island (the horns of the crescent point north)…this area is…strangely enough…named North Point. Anyways…on the way in after the pub we stopped by the office and picked up some of the local tourist propaganda…and after some deliberation the DLETC announced that the drive around North Cape had been replaced by the Epic Technicolor Six Lighthouse Extravaganza…it’s the same road but we had some actual destinations along it instead of just a drive around the coastal road.
So off we went after breakfast…Connie had planned a lunch stop for us…but something went wrong with her calculations and instead of getting there at 1200 for lunch we didn’t actually get there until 1330…which means that after lunch dinner would mostly become a non-thing. No worries…we’ve done that before and we’ll do it again…but Neil had really hoped for a normal lunch this time and had even talked to her about it…but somewhere between the google mapping and figuring out how long the various portions of the drive would take things got confused.
So the…well I’m just going to skip calling it the Epic Technicolor Six Lighthouse Extravaganza and use ETSLE instead as I’m gettin’ tuckered out just typing all of that…anyway the trip included stops at Cape. Egmont, West Point, Howard’s Cove, North Cape, Tignish Run, and Northport Back Range lighthouses. All of these are still operating except the Tignish Run light…and construction dates ranged from the 1865 until 1978…and the lights here actually have some differing physical characteristics so they could actually be recognized during the day as compared to some other areas we’ve been in.
So…off we go on the ETSLE we go…and the drive started out as sort of an adventure.
Ya don’t know what those last two mean? Huh? Surely you do…it’s simple. Why it was over the river and through the woods…but we definitely didna make it to grandma’s house…no sir-ee…no grandma’s house here. Instead we got to Cape Egmont light…we didn’t stay there very long as we discovered a ridiculously huge number of ‘skeeters there…so we got a few shots brushed ourselves off, got into the car, killed a couple that came in with us, and headed back up the road…hoping that the ret of the day would go better bug wise.
Cape Egmont Light
Naturally Connie found some flowers.
While Neil grabbed a couple shots of the cliffs down to the water on the seaside of the light…the bugs didn’t really get bad until we came around to this side…there must have been a bog somewhere over there they were breeding in.
Second stop was West Point Light…right on a sandy beach so it was the tallest one of the day as it didn’t have any land height adding to it to help get the light higher off of the water.
Next up was Howard’s Cove Light…this has got to be the smallest lighthouse we’ve ever seen at 19 feet tall…and it doesn’t really look that tall.
A couple of shots of the harbor at Howard’s Cove…we saw a lot of boats up on blocks like this in yards away from the water…they were either stored there or were getting worked on or something. We wondered how they got them back and forth to the water until we saw the specialized trailers they use to move them. They’re essentially flatbed low-boy trailers but instead of picking the boat up and driving the trailer underneath there are movable wheels on top of the trailer that conform to the hull…these wheels have tires on them so the trailer can essentially back under the boat from the bow and pick it up off of the ground . I presume they then back it down a ramp and float it off just like you do on a 16 foot outboard boat from it’s trailer. All of the ones we saw had cradles mostly in the center and rear portions with boards stabilizing the bow…those get gradually removed as the trailer backs under the bow and the boat is picked up off of the cradle then winched forward on the movable wheels to get it fully loaded. We didn’t see one loading but the standard support arrangement as seen here and the one we did see completely on the trailer make this really the most likely method. I wouldn’t have thought you could pull a 45 or 55 foot boat like that onto a trailer without a crane…but obviously they do it as we saw several boats and trailers moving around and not a crane in sight.
There’s a cute 20something Nova Scotia gal with a short bright red dress and matching unmentionables under it sitting on this rock near the light…she was having troubles keeping the dress down in da wind. Ya don’t see here? That’s because she jumped off before he could get the camera out…and he didn’t want her boyfriend to beat him up…but use your imagination and she’s there…trust me.
Up at North Point there are an awful lot of wind turbine generators…we saw at least 300 or so of them. Each one is about 210 feet tall and has 3 blades like the one displayed before. These are 3,000 kilowatt (KW) generators…the same electrical out put as the ones Neil used to have on his submarine back in the day…3,000 KW is enough for at least 250 US houses with standard 100 amp service…and probably double that since most homes outside the US have much less than 100 amp service. I don’t know what Canuck homes have in them…but Italian ones that normal people live in have 20 or 30 amp service only…so if the ones here are 50 amp service that would be about 500 houses per generator. The 300 or so number of towers the we estimated would be about 900 megawatts total…or enough for about 75,000 homes at 50 amp service…and 900 megawatt would be about average compared to the output of a power plant which typically run 500-1,500 megawatts.
North Point Light
Connie got a closeup of the light rotating.
These are called inuksuks…they’re person shaped rock cairns that are constructed by native people in the arctic regions of North America…because there are few natural landmarks in arctic regions. Nobody is sure whether they’re used for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, hunting grounds, places of veneration, drift fences used in hunting or to mark a food cache. There were no information signs here…so it’s not clear whether these are ancient inuksuks or modern reconstructions…but given the number located in one place I’m guessing the latter. Size ranges from a foot or so tall up to about 4 feet…and they’re fastener free, relying solely on gravity and friction to remain upright.
Neil really liked this one the best…it’s about 18 inches tall.
And there were hundreds of ‘em I tellya.
Better photo of the North Point Light taken at the right moment to get the light in the shot…took 4 or 5 shots to get it perfectly straight on.
After lunch…which was a burger for Neil and seafood chowder for Connie…we found a place that has shrimp free chowder for her and Neil figured out how to get a decently cooked burger in Canuckistan. They have this ridiculous national health department rule that says burgers must be cooked to 180 degrees…which essentially means every bit of juice is boiled out and it’s practically jerky. Your standard medium burger that is still pink inside in the US is cooked to about 130-135 degrees max and even a well done one in the US is only 155 or so…180 is just crazy. However…if you tell your waitress (or waiter as the the case may be) that you want it cooked as close to pink as they are allowed to make it…then they cook it to what we would in ‘Murica would call medium-well…not pink but still with some vestiges of juice left in it and at least edible as opposed to a burnt cracker.
Then it was off to Tingish Run Light…this is the only one that isn’t still operational and the only one we should have skipped. It’s been turned into a day use area…and of the 15 or so shots we took this is the best one as far as being people free goes…sorry, can’t do nuttin’ about the cars, swing set, and picnic tables.
Yeah…we didn’t think much of it either.
Our last stop of the day was at Northport Back Range Light…which was pretty nice. This one is more interesting than your standard lighthouse though as it’s part of a range. Normally…a lighthouse is a single point of reference that you take bearings on. A Range consists of a pair of structures…usually flat rectangular panels about 20 feet square that are painted the same color and usually with a vertical stripe in a different color…anyway the two structures are positioned so that a line drawn directly between them and extended out into the water marks the center of the channel. The one in the back is higher so when you’re out at sea you can see both of them and you simply line them up as you drive from sea into the restricted shallow water areas. By looking at the two rectangles…you can instantly tell whether you’re left or right of the range due to the offset of the higher rear range compared to the lower front range…or whether you’re on the range and hence in safe water if they line up. Most ranges Neil has seen in the past are not lighted as they’re typically used in river passages that are only navigable in daylight hours when you can see the range markers. He’s never seen one that actually indicates the way in from deep water at sea…but as he thought about it it makes sense that for a relatively narrow channel in from the sea that needs to be navigable 24×7 using lighthouses is actually a great idea. The lighthouse was the rear range for vessels entering Northport (and Alberton) from the south and there would have been a seafloor mounted light south of the lighthouse at a lower height…so that from sea both the rear lighthouse light and the lower front range light could be seen. Simply line up the two lights vertically and your vessel is on the correct course and position to safely enter the channel mouth. Once inside the channel entrance the bay widens out and once can use multiple navigational aids on both sides to accurately fix your vessel position…then pass the front range marker either right or left as the channel is designed and proceed into port.
Here’s an image of the Nantucket Harbor range lights from wikipedia that will help explain how the front and rear ranges are used…in this image the range line passes to the right side of the photographer’s location at sea…so his vessel is to the left of the range and he needs to come right to remain in safe water depths.
Here is an image of a chart with a range marked on it…you can see the two range markers at the top right on the land, the purple line leading south shows the safe path through the center portion of the channel. Once inland…the range is not always ahead of your vessel, depending on whether you’re going in or out the range markers may be either ahead or astern of your vessel…the principle is the same though, stay on the range and you’ll stay in safe water depths. Channels which have significant nearby shoal water or numerous turns in the channel have multiple ranges. For instance…the Cooper River in Charleston SC where Neil was based has about 20 different legs in the channel between the entry jetties and the Navy base and about 10 or 12 of the ones with the closest shoal water have range markers. San Diego Harbor on the other hand has no ranges at all for getting into the submarine base at Ballast Point but if you continue on around the river to Naval Station San Diego there are about 6 channel segments and 3 ranges as he vaguely recalls. Very handy ranges are…very handy, particularly in deep draft ships like a submarine or most other warships.
Anyway…this light is now the rear range light…it was formerly the front range light but the old rear range was demolished and the old front range became the rear range of a new range …from looking at google maps and the location of both this light and that of the former rear range light…he’s pretty convinced there’s something amiss with the range as lining up the old front and rear range markers doesn’t provide any useful navigational information and he couldn’t find the location of the new front range marker…but maybe he’s not fully understanding the layout. Perhaps the lighthouse ranges were only used at longer ranges from land to guide shipping closer to port where they could visually pick up additional navigational aids and fix position before actually entering the harbor. It’s a mystery though…geographically the marked positions of what are named the new rear/old front range and the old rear range don’t make sense from a navigational point of view…the line from rear to front then goes inland into PEI and not out to sea. I know…way more than you really cared to know about range markers.
Now if you’ve been counting carefully…and you have been counting carefully, haven’t you…then your count would be six lighthouses so that means we’re done…right.
As Billy Mays (of Oxyclean and many other commercials fame) would say…But wait, there’s more. Bonus Lighthouse!
This one is over on an island just north of Northport…it’s the Cascumpeque Light over on Sandy Island and marks the entrance past Sandy Island to Alberton Harbor just north of Northport.
Interesting things found on the net.
Everybody knows exactly what bears do in the woods…this is where they do it.
It starts early…borrowed this one from RandysRandom.com