Lobsters and blueberries are some of Nova Scotia’s best known exports outside of the world of sea kayaking, inside the world of sea kayaking Nova Scotia is best known for massive tide races in the bay of Fundy, fog, and some excellent craft beers.
Ok so these days there are plenty of places you can sink a well crafted beer after a days padding, but the fog and tides in this area are significant.
Nova Scotia is a peninsular of Canada on the east coast, a sort of anvil shaped place with Cape Breton being an island separated by a small finger of water joined by a causeway bridge at Port Hastings.
As the Europeans started settling this area they bought with them many of the place names, I guess to remind them of home and while Nova Scotia has a Truro, Halifax, New Glasgow, Liverpool and even Sydney, little could remind you of these places other than the place names themselves.
Its coastline is 7500km long and lies in what is called the ‘mid-temperate zone’ or to most people pretty dam cold zone, so although the province is almost surrounded by water, the climate is more akin to Canada’s seasonal changes than the maritime influenced weather Ed experiences in his home town of Falmouth in Cornwall.
Because Nova Scotia juts out into the Atlantic, it is prone to intense cold-season storms. “nor' easters" - primarily November to March, arriving from the Northeastern United States, and occasional tropical storms and hurricanes in late summer and autumn.
Nova Scotia is also very foggy in places, so foggy intact Halifax averaging 196 foggy days per year!
Ed Martin, while by his own admission only a year ago was not an extremely experienced sea kayaker, but adventure sits as comfortably in his lap as Monty the cat after a fish supper, and this summer Ed decided to take up the challenge and have a go at sea kayaking the complete Nova Scotian coastline.
Ed actually decided to accompany Peter Botanic on his trip of a life time, but the partnership wasn't to last and by the time the fog had cleared on their own personal differences and aspirations Ed was already going it alone.
This for Ed was where the trip really started once again relishing the adventure of the unknown.
I asked him how he trained in preparation for the trip.
Ed’s method is a gradual and methodical process, not only of training but also of decluttering and simplifying his life.
He moved from a house into a yacht in a marina, to a yacht at sea en route to the Faroe islands with a sea kayak attached which he would use to paddle away from the yacht and then back, to gain strength and get used to open swells.
Then eventually simply paddling and living out of his kayak.
In this way Ed had both prepared his body but more importantly his mind for the task ahead.
Ed fell into to his rhythm and started putting some good milage underneath his Rockpool Taran he had chosen for the trip.
In the past few years the Rockpool Taran seams to of been the boat of choice for many paddlers wanting to make some seriously fast pace while still being able to pack a decent amount of expedition gear.
I asked Ed what he found the most challenging thing about the trip -
Ed - Because the water in a lot of places particularly around in the Northumberland straights was very shallow and tide and swell running over these shallow rock ledges I was forced to paddle sometimes unto 4 nautical miles out to sea, during this time the fog was sometimes so thick my line of site was almost reduced to almost 0 visibility.
Physically hard days was not something Ed found mentally difficult, the opposite in fact.
Ed is used to pushing his body to the limit, whether it’s cycling through Patagonia, solo multi day ocean crossing in his yacht, or cold water swimming, the feeling of a hard days paddling was a good feeling. So a hard days paddling was something to be embraced rather than to shy away from mostly leaving him in a state of exhilaration rather than exhaustion.
What were the highlights of the trip?
Ed - For me it was the locals and many times I was touched by the deep kindness and generosity of the local Nova Scotian’s.
On one occasion, I was just about to bed down for the night under a bridge (to save time taking my tent down in the morning). The next day I needed to be up before dawn to make the 10 mile crossing of the Minas Channel in the Bay of Fundy. There was a couple fishing on the beach near where my boat was and I got chatting to them. Miriam was interested in my trip and then asked “where are you sleeping tonight?”. When I told her I was going to sleep under the bridge, she responded by saying “I don’t think I can allow that to happen”. Half an hour later I was back at their home where I was given a bed for the night. The next morning Miriam was up at 4.30am making me bacon and eggs and coffee and sent me off with a packed lunch and loads of chocolate.
Several times I got talking to fishermen as I came into small harbours and was offered a bunk to sleep in on their boats rather than put my tent up. These acts of kindness made a big impact on me and saved me time when arriving late or leaving early.
Simply put the encouragement, support and kindness I got from the Nova Scotians I encountered on my way was great.