To Nova Scotia

5 May 2011: We, (Larry and Judy) will be heading to Nova Scotia around mid May.

Bras d'Or Lake: Our departure point

We will join a 40′ sailboat that is now at Dundee at the south end of Bras d’Or Lake on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. The plan is to help the skipper, Carl Berdie, sail his boat from Bras d’Or to St. John’s, Newfoundland. I hope to be able to update this blog as we have access to internet at points along the way. I hope to upload some photos as well.

Stay tuned. We plan to depart Minneapolis on 12 May for a three day drive to Dundee. We will leave the car there and return by public transport to retrieve it.

10 May 2011: A couple of days ago, I dug out my old Magellan GSC 100 from my trip to Norway on the Rongevaer. It has an internal GPS but can also send and receive short messages (like email) using the Orbcomm low earth orbit satellites. That was in 2000. Question: Is it still supported?

A couple of calls and I found that Time Critical Decisions, LLC still supports the GSC 100 – but haven’t dealt with one in several years. So it may work. Will the battery accept a charge? I plugged in the charger and left it overnight. It turned on and booted up.

The GSC 100

Larry sending a message from the Rongevaer in 2000

Today I sent in the paperwork to get it reactivated. It has an internal almanac that is supposed to track all the Orbcomm satellites. It was loaded in the original software with a 1999 date and no updates. I was told to turn it on, preload an approximate Lat-Long for Minneapolis and set it outside to scan the sky for satellites. I put a test message to send in and queued it up. Eventually, the message was sent! It looks like it will work.

Running Free does not have a radio capable of long distance communication. It is not such a big deal for the trip from Bras d’Or to St. John’s but then she is setting out to Ireland. I will leave it on board and they can use it for sending position messages and a few details of the moment.

12 May 2011: I got more functions working on the GSC 100. I made a slight error initializing the Lat-Long for the GPS. I loaded the approximate coordinates for Minneapolis but put S instead of N! That put Mpls in the southern hemisphere and a long way south. I corrected that and now the GPS knows where it is. I can send “global-grams” but have not been able to receive a message. Time Critical Decisions has been great in helping me get an old piece of technology to function again.

13 May 2011: Success.

I powered up the GSC 100 this morning and set it outside to look for satellites. I came back later to check and it had downloaded the three test messages from the past couple of days. So I have checked out all the functionality of the late 1990s era communicator. Again, many thanks to John at Time Critical Decisions for his persistent support in getting the GSC 100 up and running again. We can receive short email messages but these should only be for important information. We pay for the service by the byte (character) inbound and outbound.

Judy and I depart Minneapolis early afternoon for the three day drive to Nova Scotia.

14 May 2011: We departed Minneapolis rather late on Friday and made it all the way to Mauston WI. We had wonderful visits on Tuesday and Wednesday with Maria’s family and her parents, just arriving from Colombia, and on Wednesday evening with visitors from India.

Today we drove through Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and are now in a hotel in Fairview PA. Google Maps says we still have 23 hours to go! Nova Scotia is a very long way.

15 May 2011: Today we drove from Fairview PA (just west of Erie) through New York and across Vermont into New Hampshire, stopped for the night in Concord.

We have had the windshield wipers on continuously from Indiana! Everything from light sprinkles to torrential downpours. We had hoped to get beyond Concord but it was getting dark with hard rain and moose crossing signs along the road. We put in for the night.

We have had the GSC 100 powered up during the entire trip sitting on the dashboard to see the GPS satellites. It will then be able to find its location without having to reinitialize the Lat-Long as we move east. We have not tried any communication with it in the past couple of days, but are confident it will work.

16 May:Last update before turning off data on Blackberry in Canada. We are about 40 mi from the Canadian border (5:15 edt). We have had rain since Indiana.

Stop at Concord NH

First action photo of our sailing adventure

We crossed into New Brunswick from Hulton ME, losing an hour entering Atlantic Time Zone. Night fell, rain continued and it became difficult to see the white lines marking the lanes on the road. We drove on to Moncton NB and found a hotel about 10:00. It is about 4.5 hours to Dundee NS and Running Free. We are really tired of sitting in the car driving in the rain. I cannot remember the last time I have had so much continuous rain.


Running Free at Dundee Marina

17 May: Larry and Judy arrived at the Dundee Marina at 1:30 on Tuesday. We were able to turn off the windshield wipers for the last couple of hours of the drive!

Here is Running Free lying at the dock at the Dundee Marina.

Running Free at dock before departure

We hope to depart today for places north on Bras d’Or. We had a brief glimpse of the sun this morning. Winds calm and no fog in the immediate area.

We finished some boat projects yesterday after arrival and Judy went into Port Hawkesbury for groceries for the trip to St. John’s. She cooked a great omelet this morning.

Bras d’Or is beautiful – at least the part we can see from the marina. I will be shooting many pictures at we head north.


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