Shopping by Dinghy

Inspired by I realized that shopping along the Nova Scotia coast line has its own set of problems. First, make sure you have something on board to haul your groceries in back to the boat.  I use a folding fabric cart with two wheels and a handle.  I call it my little old ladies shopping cart.  My mother gave it to me, a re-gift from someone and she claimed she had no use for it.  She is at the age that she doesn’t want to look like she is getting old, but I am at the age where I don’t care!

For almost 10 years our boat was located at Shining Waters Marina deep inside St. Margaret’s Bay slightly west of Halifax. The world famous Peggy’s Cove is at the mouth of the bay on the east side. I assume that most people know that Peggy is a nick name for Margaret. Sailing out of St. Margaret’s Bay and west you quickly arrive at the beginning of what we refer to as the South Shore of Nova Scotia, which includes communities of Chester, Mahone Bay, Lunenburg and Bridgewater on the LaHave River.  As of 2020, we now summer at Oak Island Marina in Western Shore and winter across the bay at East River Shipyards.

I always provision the boat well for for every trip but occasionally we extend our visits, run out of beer or just want something different to eat or drink! Our needs and our desire will make the decision on how far we want to walk.  We’re not young anymore and neither of us are fans of too much walking, although I can’t deny the exercise won’t hurt us in the long run!  It is only painful for the short term.

Shining Waters Marina has a boat store but doesn’t offer anything beyond ice and a soft drinks from a machine. Their washrooms, encased in marble which includes two showers, one of which is a double size makes up for their lack of a convenience store. There was one occasion where we were dropped off at the boat and were without a car staying a bit longer than planned we ran out of beer. The closest NS Liquor Corporation (basically, the only place you can purchase any alcoholic beverages to take home in Nova Scotia) was just a short boat ride and a small walk away in Hubbards.  Hubbards is a small but vibrant community.  It is known for its dances and lobster suppers at the Shore Club. It has a nice small beach, a camp ground and loads of rental cottages.  They have a sailing club and their community wharf area has over-night berth rentals, but if you want to just go there to do some shopping or sightseeing, they usually can find you a spot for half a day. I can’t remember how long the walk was.  Possibly 15-20 minutes west up the #3 Hwy, you will find the strip mall, which has both a liquor and grocery store. Take the short cut through the hardware store parking lot!  On the way back, there is an antique store to look through. The safest time to shop for antiques is when you are on a boat.  There is no way to take that century old piece of furniture home.  A nice stop for a quick meal and beverage is at the Trellis Cafe.  Then back to the boat with all your goodies!

Oak Island Marina is part of Oak Island Resort, and offers many amenities, including indoor and out door pools, hot tubs, restaurants, bars, tennis courts, and miniature golf. It has beautiful walking trails. A short drive or sale is to the town of Mahone Bay which is a lovely spot to just hang out. It is meant for boaters and most everything (excluding a liquor store) is located along the water front.  The liquor store can be walked to. You can easily just anchor in the harbour and dinghy into shore. They have a grocery store and loads of other little shops and most important my favourite place there, is the Mug and Anchor Pub. If you are a fan of the Curse of Oak Island, the Mug and Anchor is a spot where they often meet to eat.

The town of Chester inside Mahone Bay, is becoming very modernized and grocery stores, liquor stores and even drug stores are moving into new spaces closer to the highway and a much further walk from the waterfront. But is do-able, even for us.  Within a short walk from the front harbour at the Chester Yacht Club there are many little shops, cafes and boutiques and the Fo’c’sle Tavern.  Of course, Chester is best known for Chester Race Week.  At this time, entertainment overwhelms the small community and hundreds of boats participate in the annual event.

I really like visiting the Lunenburg Yacht Club.  It has a very good restaurant and a pleasant bar, but it is a considerable distance (two peninsulas away) from the town of Lunenburg.  The town is great for shopping and eating.  There is even a small grocery store near the boat shop.  Before we had a boat, we often tented in their Town Camp Ground. Looking out over the water from the top of a hill and was a short walk to the waterside grocery store.  The liquor store is further away.  With this trend, one would think they don’t want sailors to drink!  But there are plenty of establishments in the town of Lunenburg which serve alcoholic beverages.  It is difficult to find space to dock your boat on a local wharf.  Even sometimes it is difficult to find dinghy space.  We find that anchoring closer to golf course on the other side of the harbour is the most protected area.  We once picked up a mooring in the harbour during a storm and found we were dragging the mooring!  The harbour can be wicked.  It isn’t the best protection for sailing vessels and not the best anchorage.  One of my paternal ancestors were brought to the Lunenburg area via Halifax as Foreign European Protestants from the Holy Roman Empire in the mid 1700s to build the area.  The Governor of Nova Scotia was fearful of the enormous population of the French Acadians who out-numbered the English.  Although none of those living in the Lunenburg area, except the military, spoke English, they were not Catholic. Integration obviously was not speedy enough for the Governor who then ordered a deporation of the French and Catholic Acadians.  Those tough Europeans managed to do the best they could with the land and built an amazing heritage community.

Sailing further down the south shore coast you will come across the LaHave River. It is most certainly worth a venture inland.  The LaHave Bakery is to the left. It is on the river, has a wharf and is certainly worth the stop. I have only been there by car, but it is easily accessible by boat.  Further down the river is the LaHave Yacht Club, where you will find very friendly people and a nice little bar.  Once this far inland, the temperatures increase and you might find yourself overboard for a swim to cool down in the somewhat brackish water, depending on the tide.  Overnight berths here are the best rate we found, but again there was no grocery and liquor stores within walking distance. Futher up the river the town of Bridgewater is located.  Yes, there is a bridge which goes over the water.  The liquor store is on LaHave Street near the old bridge and near the grocery store which backs onto the river.  Located in the town is the newly construction Bridgewater Marina.

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