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lt is recommended that users approach all canoe routes, portages and campsites in a safe and responsible manner. Conditions can change through fluctuating water levels, natural debris, and logging activity. Arrangements must be made directly with the owners of the portages and campsites.
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|South Shore Region
|Where To Find Us
Mahone Bay, NS
|Lunenburg County ; Queens County (NS)
|Chad Haughn, President, LQRCDA
Description & Services
|A group of islands in Mahone Bay, off Indian Point, with lots of sandy beaches, bird life, and wilderness sites.
Where: East of Mahone Bay
Skill Level: Beginner and intermediate
Time: Day trips, overnight or multi-day
Distance: 14 km loop from Indian Point
Mahone Bay is a huge bay with 365 islands including the ones shown here. It is also the name of a quaint nearby town. The name comes from the French word, mahonne, for the low Venetian boats once used by pirates in the area. The islands provided good hiding places for the American privateers who would sneak out and raid passing British ships. One of the privateers, the Young Teazer, was being chased by the British in June 1813. According to one story, a British deserter on board, fearing the gallows, set fire to the ship. The Young Teazer blew up killing most of the men on board and ever since locals have reported sightings of the fiery ghost ship known locally as the Teazer Light.
This group of hilly islands at the mouth of Mahone Harbour provide great variety for exploration by small boat. Former homesteads and fields can be seen as you paddle by but the islands are mostly wooded. Some old buildings are still used as summer homes but nearly all the permanent residents have moved. Now only one family lives year-round on Zwicker Island. This area is also a connecting point to four other routes providing many multi-day possibilities for adventurous paddlers.
The shoreline consists of eroding headlands, large boulders, lots of sandy beaches and long sandbars. Shell fossils can be found among rock piles on some of the islands. The ospreys sharp cries often bring your attention to their large nests. Most of the islands have nests and paddlers should give nesting birds a respectful distance. You may also see deer on the islands, with seals and porpoise in the harbour. The lines of buoys you see scattered around are commercial mussel farms. The softwood trees on some of the islands look grey due to an infestation of the spruce bark beetle.
Water Safety Notes
Winds - The prevalent wind is from the south and southwest and may be a factor in paddling exposed areas. The shape of the bay can also create some strong northwesterly winds. Plan a route that takes advantage of the lee side of the islands if necessary. The more exposed areas are best traveled on a calm day or early in the morning or evening when the wind generally decreases.
Recommended skill level - Intermediate skills are recommended for paddling open waters such as out to Mason’s Island.
Sand bars - The many sand bars at low tide make for easy landing but also make for easy disappearance of your boat if you are off exploring when the tide comes in.
Boat traffic - Expect some boat traffic around the islands. It can be especially busy in Mahone Harbour with sailboats, motorboats and jet skis.
Points of Interest
1 Fossils - Look for obvious shell fossils in some of the darker rocks at the base of the eroding cliffs at Stevens Head on Rous Island, the north side of Sheep Island and the south side of Goat.
2 Westhaver Lighthouse and tern colony - At one time this island like others in this area was much bigger with a farm, fields and cattle but eroded quickly when the shoreline was altered according to a local resident. Today, there is a lighthouse and an active tern colony. Expect to get dive-bombed by terns if you get too close. Better to give the terns plenty of distance.
3 Indian Point Marine Farms - Get a tour and buy fresh mussels for a boil on the islands. Open year round Monday to Friday from 7 am to 4 pm.
4 Mussels - Good picking between Ernst and Gifford Island. A short portage may be needed here to pass between the islands depending on the tide.
Good picnic spots are in use on the south end of Spectacle and Bella Islands, the east side of Zwicker, the south side of Strum and the west side of Round Island, all privately owned islands. These spots are traditionally used for camping as well. Be sure to bring your own fuel, and leave the site the same or better than you found it. (See Wilderness Ethics).
How to get there
Take Exit 10 off Route 103 into Mahone Bay. Turn left toward Oakland and Indian Point for Access Point One and Two. For Access Point Three and Four, turn left at the main intersection in town.
Access Point One - Indian Point Cove
Indian Point is about 6 kms from the turnoff. The government wharf here is not suited to kayaks or canoes. You can access the water at the bridge at the head of the cove near the basketball net and park there. Parking may also be available at the fire hall about 200 m down the road. Access may also be possible from numerous small slipways along the road. Ask permission from local residents if you
want to park and put in on private property.
Access Point Two - Whynachts Cove
This stretch of road just before Indian Point Cove follows the water and you can launch on a gently sloping beach or on the eel grass. The road shoulder is narrow. If you park here be careful not to block traffic.
Access Point Three - Government Wharf in Mahone Bay
Excellent access point about one km from the main intersection. Ample parking and a ramp to the left of the wharf. It is a 3 km paddle from here out to Strum Island, the nearest of the islands.
Access Point Four - Westhaver Beach
Continue from the intersection about 3 km to Mader’s Cove. Turn left on the Mader’s Cove Road and travel about 1 km to Westhaver Beach. This is a closer access point to the islands than the government wharf but the beach and paddling route are more exposed and may be tricky on a windy day. Parking is limited.
Martin’s River and Narrows Basin- Sheltered inlets with lots of historic old homes.
Ocean Route 2: Blue Rocks - via north part of Lunenburg Route 5; Good one-way overnight trip.
Ocean Route 3: Chester Islands
Ocean Route 5: Lunenburg
Ocean Route 11: Tancook Islands
Topographic map: Lunenburg 21 A/8
|Ages: 16 year(s) and up
Children under 16 with adults - please use own discretion depending on skill level