Certified by Transport Canada for safety, Four Winds Charters' experienced captains have been floating guests across picturesque St. Margaret's Bay for more than two decades. Tours and private charters set sail toward scenic coves and private islands as dolphins and sea birds pass by on their watery commutes. Four-hour deep-sea fishing trips drop anchor approximately 5 miles from shore, allowing the included hooks, rods, and hand lines to grab at mackerel, cod, and shipwrecked inner tubes. Catering is available for both private charters and fishing trips upon request.
Despite setbacks such as 2003's Hurricane Juan, members of the Murphy family have steadfastly hosted tent and RV campers in their own backyard on the Atlantic Ocean for more than 50 years. They like to keep their small campground intimate; their 50 overnight sites are nestled together so visitors can meet each other over complimentary coffee in the morning. At night, campers gather under the stars for bonfires, and staffers boil fresh mussels or play guitar and recount pieces of seafaring folklore. A number of campsites include electricity and water hookups, though others remain un-serviced to maintain a rustic atmosphere and repel hairdryer-stealing bears.
The camp provides panoramic views of the coast and a historical fishermen's wharf where boats still visit today. A sandy beach welcomes long walks by the rocks and cliffs, past landmarks such as a 40-year-old whale skull or games of horseshoe and croquet along the grass. The Murphys also invite visitors into the ocean-side recreation hall to learn cribbage or browse antique tools. Captain Brian Murphy guides guests out into the breaking waves on scenic boat tours, fishing tours, and mussel tours that cover up to 5 kilometres of coastline. For those wanting to explore the water on their own, campground staffers also provide rental rowboats, canoes, and empowering pats on the back.
He wears a beaming smile and a red cap, beneath which his eyes turn to meet those of the happy children who pass his way. He is 65 feet tall. He is a boat.
The fleet at Murphy's The Cable Wharf also includes seven other vessels, but the most recognizable is surely Theodore Too: an enormous, custom-built life-size replica of the friendly Theodore Tugboat, star of the CBC children's television show of the same name. He was originally commissioned to sail up and down the Eastern Seaboard, giving kids a chance to take harbor cruises that were previously only possible in their daydreams, until eventually the staff of Murphy's stepped in to give him a permanent home.
Theodore Too wasn't the first remarkable vessel in the Murphy's fleet. In the early 1980s, Captain Gerald Murphy purchased the Mar, a seasoned tall ship that had sailed around the world twice and been the subject of a documentary. He used this storied vessel to establish Murphy's The Cable Wharf, a sailing and tour company based in Halifax Harbour. With ships in the water, Murphy also planned a restaurant?repurposing the old Cable Ship Terminal, which was built in 1913 and had long been dormant.
Decades later, Murphy's nautical vision lives on. The Mar still glides across harbour waters for themed sailing tours and pirate cruises. The spacious Haligonian III embarks on whale-watching excursions that bring passengers face-to-face with minke whales and dolphins, and the Harbour Queen I?an old-fashioned Mississippi-style sternwheeler?embarks on narrated history tours.
The wharf restaurant, meanwhile, continues the nautical theme on dry land, showing off unobstructed views of the waterfront. It even brings a bit of the sea indoors: a lobster tank filled with more than 300 live crustaceans lets guests net their own meals, while a touch tank brings them face-to-face with native marine life. Coastal dishes, from a buttery lobster roll to pan-fried haddock, fuel more maritime adventures.
Buoyed by the winds and guided by skilled crews, the Tall Ship Silva and tall ship Mar?a 130-foot schooner and a 75-foot ketch respectively?allow passengers to explore Halifax Harbour while gently cresting swells and gliding across calm waters. Morning, afternoon, evening, and moonlit tours leave whenever conditions permit. These outings can provide guests with distinctive views of the Halifax skyline, George's Island and its iconic lighthouse, and any marine life that happens to swim past the vessels. Although passengers have the opportunity to simply sit back and enjoy the sights, they can also take a more active role by asking about local landmarks or assisting crew members as they set sails and blow into the mainmast whenever the winds die down.
The Tall Ship Silva and the Mar also cater to groups' needs by providing them with access to modern amenities throughout each voyage. Each vessel includes below-deck lounging areas, washroom facilities, and a fully licensed bar area where guests can savour anything from a locally brewed beer to a single-malt scotch. The larger Tall Ship Silva also has space for additional features intended to make outings every more luxurious. A wide outdoor deck lined with varnished wood seating allows as many as 150 passengers to pick their favourite view of the harbour and settle in for a while.
Coastal mountains. White sand beaches. Secluded coves. Red sandstone cliffs. Towers of volcanic basalt that vanish beneath the world's highest tides. Nova Scotia's diverse landscape is its own thunderous epic, with vistas unspoiled by humans or squirrels with builder's permits. And wherever Great E.A.R.T.H. Expeditions takes its groups of visitors within this landscape, the intent is always the same?to give them an experience that "reaches the heart."
Ryan Barry has been exploring Nova Scotia for years, bringing back few souvenirs beyond the inspiration for his next blog post, and turning his passion for Nova Scotia and its nature into a business. By leaving the lightest carbon footprint possible?often just literal human footprints, or the wake of a kayak's paddle?he and his team are able to guide adventurers to places unreachable by less environmental methods, such as gas-belching motorboats or riding a polar bear like a horse. The guides provide insights into the region's history and aboriginal folklore along the way, but it's ultimately the land and its colorful wildlife that fulfills Great E.A.R.T.H. Expeditions' motto.
Fundy Tidal Bore Adventures founder Morgan McDonald is a passionate rafter with a decade of experience navigating the Shubenacadie River, whose shores are made of clay and dotted with trees. The high and low tides here mean that there are varying degrees of wave intensity, and the company's experienced guides can tailor the experience to suit each group’s comfort level. Before the trip, guides will help passengers suit up in PFDs and store their valuables in waterproof bags. The crewmember can snap pictures of the trip along the way; they’ll then email the photos to you later or stuff them into a bottle and float them to postal workers wearing waterskis.