In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


On Saturday Skipper and Radar came in to tell us there was a ship wrecked on the opposite side of the island. She was a lobster boat that had gotten caught in strong currents and was dashed into the gigantic tumble of boulders that crouch, partly submerged, beneath the waves of the eastern channel. We looked out upon the shallow western channel -- our view. The harbour on this side of the island was calm. But Radar and Skipper assured us that the weather was different on the eastern side. Over there, the currents and a strong easterly wind had conspired to create another climate entirely. They had heard the mayday signal and travelled around to view the boat, by then already abandoned by the rescued crew. "Oh, she'll be gone by tomorrow," they told us. "Those rocks will smash the whole thing overnight." They seemed quite cheerful about it.

This boat wrecked south of Northeast Bluff, at the base of a rocky cliff that makes the site hard to reach by land. Other boats have wrecked there in the past. You can still see ominous old wreckage out in the water and along the shore of a shallow cove.

Salvaging wreckage is a time-honoured practice along the southwest shore of Nova Scotia. Long ago, folks made a living of sorts this way. They lured boats into the rocks at night with bonfires on shore, tricking the sailors into thinking they were heading for safe harbour. Wreckers, they were called. But I imagine for most people a shipwreck, though not caused by them, was still an opportunity too good to pass up. Once a ship is wrecked she is legal and fair game. And who knows what might be there for the salvaging -- or, as Skipper says, scalvaging -- a combination of scavenging and salvaging.

He and his boys did go scalvaging after all -- I guess they couldn't resist the adventure. Skipper picked up his two older sons on the mainland and brought them back to the island. They boarded the wreck at low tide, in the dark of night, after cutting their way through dense forest to a point above the boat where they could make their way down a rocky cliff. They pulled all sorts of interesting stuff off the boat, then left her to her own devices. I heard their ATV going along the lower road, down to their camp, around midnight Saturday night.

They came by on Sunday morning after making a second foray to mop up. They stood in front of the woodstove steaming their pant legs, telling about their late night sortie aboard the broken boat clinging to the rocks amid crashing waves and darkness. They were all three quite cold and soaked and cheerful.

Greg had gone over to take some pictures of what was left of her. He, too, was quite cheerful when he came home. There must just be something about a shipwreck.