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Wednesday, March 17, 1897

In Cumberland Bay.

An Extract from My Diary

It was broad daylight when I awoke, we had covered a dreary waste of water during the sultry August night. The breeze with which we had been sailing was rapidly dying out. When off Cape Chignecto, we were in a perfect calm. A calm on the water is always provoking, especially so when but a few miles from the end of a long and wearisome voyage, and with every prospect of a storm. The sun which had been shining brightly in early morning had disappeared behind the darkening clouds. The flood tide soon made, however, and we drifted slowly up Cumberland Bay, nearer the end of our journey. For the lack of something better to do we sang, told stories, coiled rope and viewed the land or rather the wooded cliffs. Cumberland was a strange country to me, indeed the whole country round about was like a new strange world. I suppose I felt like Columbus on his voyage of discovery. The high black cliff, streaked with what resembled red clay, but hard as adamant itself, crowned with a heavy growth of soft wood, was anything but interesting. It was a gloomy shore, everything seemed dark and dismal, we had not even the privilege of seeing a gull or duck as we slowly glided on. Now and then a cat’s paw would strike the water, the little ripples would break and sparkle for a moment then all was still.

A large woodboat schooner drifted wearily in our rear. We were some distance from Eatonville, a village noted for its lumber when to our dismay the tide turned. We could not expect the tide to remain in our favor always so we were obliged to be content. I was probably ten or eleven o’clock when we anchored, the woodboat lying outside of us. There is a certain pleasure in lying at anchor in company with another vessel likewise becalmed. Sailors, as a rule, are good natured, so we passed a time very pleasantly shouting friendly greetings at each other but we soon tired of this sport and tried to invent some other form of amusement. We at last determined to go ashore, we were longing to place our feet on solid earth again. All agreeing to the proposal we had some difficulty in arranging for one of the crew to stay aboard, at last it was arranged that the steward, a stalwart, good natured fellow, was to remain and prepare our dinner, we promising to return at one o’clock. Thus arranging matters, we sprang into the boat and commenced to row in the direction of an old saw mill which was almost opposite our vessel.

Deceiving bluffs! We were nearly a mile from the shore and such a strong ebb tide. When I began to realize my position my companions laughed at my discomfiture, they had known the distance but I was completely deceived by the high laud. Their laughter had the effect of making me more eager to reach the shore. We soon entered a miniature bay, the sight was enough to make one wish for a camera to take views of this wonderful cove surrounded on three sides by the towering, frowning cliffs, the opening was narrow not more than a few rods across. The surrounding rocks were like iron, so black and cold, so tall that they resembled spires, so pointed and finger like. We gazed on the sight with rapture. With a few strong strokes we were on the beach, which is so bold that when the bow of our boat was on the beach the stern was in deep water. The tide had probably fallen eight or ten feet, scarcely that I think. Almost instantly I sprang ashore, but what a beach, I cannot describe it. Imagine Italian marble broken in pieces the size of a turkey’s egg and perfectly round. Imagine a beach like that, and so bold that at low water barely twenty feet of shore visible, and you will have a pretty good idea of the beach now before us. We secured the boat, then scrambling up the steep incline, we reached the mouth of the brook piled full of logs and decaying slabs, these proved a little difficult to climb over but we succeeded and were at last free to explore the pathway of the book; its high banks we could not scale on account of the tangled undergrowth. We followed the winding stream some distance. Wild gooseberries grew in abundance, we regretted that we brought no dishes with us, so seizing our hats we proceeded to strip the bushes of their luscious fruit. This being accomplished we prepared to return to our vessel.

We returned by a different route than we had followed up the little stream. Under a bush surrounded by beautiful flowers, we discovered a bed of some wild animal, supposed to be a bear, and as the surrounding country was covered with forest I think our opinion correct. Passing down to the shore we discovered that our boat was aground and it was nearer three p.m. than one. Carefully depositing our well filled hats we prepared to row back to the vessel. A light breeze had sprung up in our absence which demanded our immediate return. It was easier rowing back than rowing in, for hunger is a great stimulant. When we were in hailing distance our watch hailed us with the pleasant tidings that it was three o’clock. We saw he was angry, poor fellow, so we kindly relieved him of his duties, not arduous by any means, but rather disagreeable when one knows all are enjoying themselves except him. The steward having a weakness for gooseberries was at once liberally supplied. Having refreshed the inner man we prepared to resume our journey. Our companion the wood boat was already hoisting her anchor. We were more nimble than the "Jake" as we jestingly called her, we were under weigh first.

The wood boat had more wind than we and speedily gained on us. When off Eatonville the "three sisters" that I had so admired during the forenoon, were now quite near us. The sisters are great towers of natural rock, and at a distance very much resemble women in some long trailing red garment. The rocks must be several hundred feet high.

The sky was completely clouded over the breeze was developing into a strong wind. Just as the lighthouse at the end of our journey loomed in sight the "Jake" passed us, so close that I could almost touch her rough begrimed side. A few words passed between our captains, then I read her name. We had lost within a mile or two of our destination. Then the government steamer passed us and saluted the lighthouse and passed on into the mist that was quickly gathering. We rounded the point and were inside the bay or river. Opposite Lighthouse Point we anchored, the state of the tide forbade further progress. Across the broad mouth of the river we saw the shattered hull of a vessel, its gaunt ribs reminding one of a great skeleton. For one eventful week we remained at Apple River, everything seemed to be fascinating. A description of the place and surroundings I will leave for another time. Hoping you are not angry with me for wearying you with this prolonged detail, I will bid you good night, shrouded in the mists at Apple River.

Yours truly,