Waiting for the Wind
Just waiting for wind on a quiet weekday evening

By Katherine Stone

“I have travelled the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes and the Alps, and the highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all.” This couldn’t have been better said than by Cape Breton’s most famous resident, Alexander Graham Bell. From the summer of 1886 until his death in 1922, Bell lived half his life on an estate that he built at Red Head, a peninsula opposite Baddeck, using the Bras d’Or Lake to test man-carrying kites, airplanes, and hydrofoil boats. It was here that the famous Silver Dart took flight off of the frozen ice of the bay.

Stunning Frontage
A beautiful stunning frontage and a magnificent cruising area of the Bras d'Or Lake

The native Mi’kmaqs called the Bras d’Or Lake “Pitupaq,” meaning long salt water. Today it is known as the “great inland sea” (the largest in the world) in the centre of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. Six major rivers empty into the lake, combined with three points of contact with the Atlantic Ocean, making the water brackish. This combination supports lobster and oyster fisheries and a significant concentration of bald eagles. Coupled with the outstanding natural beauty of the Cape Breton rolling hills, UNESCO declared the area a Biosphere Reserve in 2011.

A Warm and Welcoming Fireplace
A warm and welcoming fireplace

 

 

 

 

A renowned summer vacation destination, the lake has approximately 1,100 square kilometres, running 100 kilometres in length and 50 kilometres in width. The Washabuck Peninsula and Boisdale Hills divide the lake into northern and southern basins linked by the 1 kilometre wide Barra Strait. Silver Donald Cameron, Canadian author and yachtsman, describes Bras d’Or Lake as “A basin ringed by indigo hills laced with marble. Islands within a sea inside an island.” There are many explanations as to the origins of the lake’s name: the most popular came from the French, the first Europeans to settle the area, who called it Bras d’Or, meaning “arm of gold,” which probably referred to the sun’s rays reflecting upon its waters.

A beautiful four season recreational spot, the idea for a marina at Ben Eoin came about due to the efforts of a small community group that wanted to make the area a world class recreation centre. Starting with the Ben Eoin Ski Hill (420-foot vertical), founded in the early 1970s, plans were put in motion in the early 1990s to develop an 18-hole golf course and marina at the same time, immediately adjacent to the ski hill. As the golf course took shape, it soon became evident to the organizers that the golf course development would exhaust all the funds.

In 2010, architect Graham Cooke took the first tee-off to open the course, which exceeded everyone’s expectations! A renewed group of volunteers now set in motion the vision to build the marina. Partnering with Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation, a not-for-profit Ben Eoin Marina Ltd. was started in 2011. Comprised of a Board of nine volunteers, including representatives from the Ben Eoin Ski Hill and the Lakes Golf Club, the 76-slip marina was quickly completed in November 2012. The governance structure ensures that the link between all three recreational facilities will co-ordinate and manage their future growth and goals.

Tranquil Waters
Tranquil waters in the harbour await a beer after a long day at the office

To construct the marina basin, the entrance was double boomed and water was completely pumped out so that dredging could be done and dock anchors were installed in consultation with local residents and indigenous groups. The docks were then constructed to marine standards under the watchful eye of local club member tradesmen. Construction then started on the clubhouse, which was designed and overseen by volunteer fleet captain/dock master, Ray Campbell. The volunteers soldiered on and ground was broken for the clubhouse building in November 2011.

Located on the south shore of the East Bay arm of the lake, a 25-minute drive from Sydney, you will find the newly constructed Ben Eoin Yacht Club. A Social Membership at $99/couple or $150/family is the best deal in town. From the beginning of May to the end of October, the Friday Night Socials, pub nights, sail/power poker runs, and regattas all offer fantastic musical line ups for great dancing and fun. Like most clubs, the demographics of their membership is getting older and they are trying to institute programs and services for younger boaters with families.

Open to any community member, the Learn to Sail program is now two years old and open to juniors aged 8-16, with certified Sail Canada instructors offering the CANSail 1-4 program. Sail Nova Scotia first arrived with their mobile program and then the club bought their Optimist sailboats, some lasers, laser IIs, and 420s. With the wonderful golfing facilities located right across the road, there is also a sailing/golf camp offered in August. To get the kids inspired, Olympian Lisa Ross volunteered to be on hand for registration night and to speak about her competitive experiences. In future plans, the club would like to include an adult program in 420s as well as J/24s. To get as many kids involved as possible they have partnered with the United Way to offer scholarships.

Sailboat racing has long been a tradition on the Bras d’Or Lake with Regatta Week hosted by the Bras d’Or Yacht Club for over 100 years. Like St. Margaret Sailing Club, also in Nova Scotia, the sailors often went from beach to beach with their races, having no formal building or committee boat for regattas. Ben Eoin Yacht Club hosts the East Bay Regatta each year in July and will be coordinating with other clubs to provide expanded regattas for both yachts and junior sailors.

The Harbour
The harbour can accommodate for the season and some for a couple of days

With the indented shoreline of the lake and numerous protected, soft-bottomed harbours and coves, these snug anchorages provide shelter and calm waters. The Bras d’Or Lake is crystal clear with 78 degree water and no fog. Along with local boaters, visitors from Canada and the United States enjoy the best sailing waters in North America. In 2011, Baddeck played host to the Ocean Cruising Club during early July as they prepared to make passage to Newfoundland. In 2012, the Cruising Club of America (CCA) returned home to Baddeck. CCA was founded at the Bras d'Or Lake, in Maskell's Harbour.

 

 

 

The Ben Eoin Marina is the largest on the lake with 14 acres, 75 slips (seven for visiting yachts), and room to accommodate boats up to 40 feet and with a draft of 10 feet; however, special arrangements can be made for larger vessels. All amenities are available including a fuel dock, boat ramps, mast crane, electrical/fresh water hook ups, washrooms, showers, laundry facilities, Wi-Fi service in the clubhouse and docks, variety store, plenty of parking, and daily posted weather reports. The marina docks are 8-feet wide, tapered and fendered for ease of boarding and docking. It’s a popular place with weddings booked almost every weekend; during these events, members and guests are free to access the lower level of the clubhouse and showers.

And Old Salt
An old salt permantently looks out for mariners in front of BEYC

Cape Breton Island is known for its Gaelic music, food, cultural experiences, and hospitality - not unlike the yacht club. Where else can you go for a sail, a run in the power boat, or early morning fishing excursion and then play a round of golf right across the street? The Board of Directors, Mike Gillis (Commodore), Ray Campbell, Sandy MacNeill (Treasurer), Bryan MacDougall (Jr. Sail Director), and marina manager, John Williams, were all able to agree that being the closest marina to Sydney, boaters love their location, fuel service, clean facilities, friendly people, AND great showers!

Gilbert M. Grosvenor, editor, president, and chairman of the National Geographic Society, put it into perspective, “The Bras d’Or Lake is my favorite landscape on planet Earth. Nestled into the rolling hills of Cape Breton, NS, their pristine tidal waters reflect centuries of Scottish culture, music, and friendly people.”

I sure am glad that I made a point to stop by and visit, and you should too!

Ben Eoin Marina and Yacht Club; 4950 East Bay Highway, East Bay, NS B1J 1N9 902-828-1099
www.beneoinmarina.com

Related Articles

Wednesday, 25 June 2014 15:44

The formation of Glacial Lake Iroquois, at the end of the last ice age, was to have a lasting effect on the boating activity on Lake Ontario. Many years ago, as the lake eroded, it left geological...

Monday, 04 November 2013 11:11

The power of one is a dominant proclamation that resonates within many small, casual, easy-going boating clubs throughout Canada. These boating fraternities were often started with the vision of one...

Thursday, 10 October 2013 11:41

Ever thought about joining a year-round boating club where you didn’t have to own a boat to be able to cruise or race with friends? How about placing yourself in an environment where learning is the...

Tuesday, 20 August 2013 15:37

Third Oldest in North America, Located in Both Canada and the United States.  Every boat needs a port to call home and her owner benefits from a sense of camaraderie by sharing interests and his or...

Friday, 11 July 2014 11:10

Bernie Luttmer of Swan’s Yacht Sales, has finally had his brainchild come to life, and he tells me that he was just about ready to retire when the boat of his dreams came into production – the...

Friday, 03 January 2014 10:27

When many boaters in Central Canada imagine cruising in the Maritimes, they think fog, fierce tides and the perceived perils of the open ocean.  While there can be plenty of those things (although...

Boat Reviews

Video Gallery

 

 

Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54By Zuzana Prochazka

Beneteau saw an opportunity to add a little thrill to any cruising adventure, so they took the hull of the First 53 racer (introduced just last year), and with a few fashionable changes, created the Oceanis Yacht 54, the new entry-level of Beneteau’s swanky Oceanis Yacht line. The result is a performance cruiser that sails like a witch and looks like a grande dame.

Design

Roberto Biscontini is the naval architect and Lorenzo Argento created the details of the exterior and interior design. 

Read More

Destinations

  • Prev
Over the course of four days in September 1864, representatives from Prince Edward Island, Nova ...
The new owners of L’Orignal Marina offer boaters a new destination. Located in a charming ...
Commemorating 100 (+1) years of through-navigation on the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic ...
On Friday, April 2 at 7 pm ET on TVO and streaming anytime after that on tvo.org and the TVO ...
Salt Spring Island, the largest among the Gulf Islands, has a certain mystique—much of it having to ...
Located in Lake Huron, the internationally significant Manitoulin Island is the largest freshwater ...
In Part I, Sheryl Shard ended the story at June and the start of Hurricane Season when they were ...
You likely aren’t quite ready to travel yet, but we have our fingers crossed that we can all fly ...

Riverest MarinaThe new owners of L’Orignal Marina offer boaters a new destination. Located in a charming francophone village in Eastern Ontario, this joined marina and restaurant venue is the ambitious initiative of long-time entrepreneur André Chabot and biologist Alexandra Quester, both residents of L’Orignal.

The purchase of the L’Orignal Marina was made official in November 2020. The new year was barely underway when all 50 available slips were already reserved. No wonder the addition of member and visitor slips is already planned for the 2022 season – the 2021 count is up to 62 power and sail already. At the moment, the Riverest Marina offers boaters a stop where they can launch their boat...

Read More

DIY & How to

  • Prev
Fibreglass boats take a lot of maintenance. Their appeal, half a century ago was their ‘maintenance ...
Last issue, The Boat Nerd, Mike Wheatstone, introduced us to lithium batteries and explained why ...
What is my interest in Lithium batteries? We spend three months of the winter on our Leopard43 ...
Finding the right PFD can seem like a daunting task and extends beyond finding one that fits and ...
If chartering is something you’ve been dreaming about, this series is really for you. BUT be ...
So many decisions to make when planning for haul-out. When/how to winterize? What type of ...
It’s a scary thought - whether your boat is made of wood, fiberglass, aluminum or composite – it’s ...
It’s a scary thought – but whether your boat is made of wood, fiberglass, aluminum or composite – ...
Last summer there was tremendous interest in buying a boat to have fun in the restricted world ...
The boat buying or selling market is hot now and has been since the late spring of 2020. Sean ...

Galvanic CorrosionIt’s a scary thought – but whether your boat is made of wood, fiberglass, aluminum or composite – it’s slowly deteriorating under you. Part of this is the nature of the marine environment: Sun, moisture, waves, wind, movement and vibration all contribute to components breaking down.

But there are other factors that are much more concerning and act at a significantly faster rate that the environment can take credit for. One of these is commonly spoken of, but not terribly well understood: Corrosion. As boaters, we’re concerned with two main types of corrosion: Galvanic and Stray-Current. This edition will focus on galvanic corrosion – in two weeks, stay tuned for info on stray-current.

Read More

 

  

Marine Products

  • Prev
The new Navigator Binoculars take Steiner's marine series to the next level with innovative product ...
The annual Canadian Yachting December issue is back and bursting with exciting stories, boat ...
When strolling the docks of almost any busy marina, a cruiser will see satellite domes atop boats ...
You can do all your holiday shopping at once – your boating friends will unwrap their nautical ...
Constant exposure to sunshine, rain, tree sap, bird droppings and dirt can make even the most ...
Vision Marine Technologies, Inc. announced on October 26th that it has executed a Manufacture and ...
Sharkbanz is the first wearable shark deterrent technology created by experienced ocean goers ...
The Super Air Nautique GS22E wakesurfing boat powered by Ingenity Electric will be at boat shows in ...
Let’s head south. As things open up, boaters are once again looking to sunnier climes. Perhaps you ...
The new ACR Electronics RCL-85 and RCL-95 ultra-bright remote-controlled LED searchlights have been ...

News

  • Prev
Bavaria Yachts is adding another model to its successful SR-LINE. The Bavaria SR36 will make its ...
On November 21 Canadian sailing sisters Antonia and Georgia Lewin-LaFrance from Chester, NS, took ...
Le Boat, leaders in European and Canadian private houseboating adventures, have announced their ...
There is always that moment of discovery when we step aboard a sailboat, whether it be a dinghy, a ...
The Rolex TP52 World Championship brought ten teams from seven countries in Palma de Mallorca, ...
The December issue of Canadian Yachting has a wide variety of nautical editorial to please the ...
In late October, the Royal Canadian Mint set pockets aflame by adding a new Bluenose dime to ...
Launching its twelfth school year, the GLCCSchool has become a premier source of practical training ...
Long standing full service marine repair and maintenance facility, Bristol Marine in Port Credit, ...
COVID cancelled last year’s Canadian Safe Boating Awards (CASBAs) event but we are back for ...

Mia and Caleb's EngagementOn July 23 last year, CYOB published a piece on a beautifully restored 1967 Trojan 42 Motor Yacht in Oromocto NB. (That piece was also expanded in CY magazine later in the year.)

One of our Canadian Yachting contributors, Denise Miller, had shared the article on my social media and a young man reached out and asked if she could connect him with the owners of the boat, Dave and Barb. Denise leapt into action and Dave and Barb were thrilled. They concocted a plan that the young lady, Mia, thought she was coming to model for a sales brochure for Dave to do charter tours.

Read More