Fundy soup. Vibrations. Slack water. Into the quiet.

Cruise of the Leight, Part 10: I had imagined my summer of cruising as a “sailabout” of sorts, sharing qualities of the aboriginal Australians’ walkabouts. I was seeking the peace of wild places, mysteries of nature, depths of solitude, and the incomprehensible energy of the sea. I wanted to lie in the sun, drink wine, read, write, muse on things – and do nothing at all.

I knew it was going to be a trying day when I awoke to the sound of foggy few drops plashing on the cabin top at the odious hour of 5 a.m. Looking out there was nothing to be seen. Damn, I had places to go and this wasn’t ordinary fog, but a viscous Fundy soup that had me talking to myself.

While suffering might build character in a sturdy sort, I found the breathless mists more annoying than interesting, as much as I understood perfectly well that nobody cruises the Bay of Fundy for its fabulous weather. So, there I was, a slightly less than enthusiastic singlehander, in the thick of it at Head Harbour, on Campobello Island, having read that a nearby fog horn recorded the most operating hours of all such signals in Canadian waters. Good news, indeed.

I was planning to head for Saint John – and hopeful of seeing something along the way, for the 45-mile run presents a dramatic stretch of shore, to say nothing of the world’s highest tides. Fundy weather has messed with me enough that a forecast calling for a southwesterly, gusting to 20 knots, seemed unlikely, for fog is a southerly business, and often hangs around for a while. The decision to head out or hang out didn’t come quickly. Morning was stretching its legs when I powered the 26-foot sloop into a gray nothingness, the flooding tide adding a sense of urgency.

It’s hard to convey the emptiness of my lot, as the main slatted lethargically, knowing not a breath of wind, to say nothing of a soldiering breeze. With the engine at a strident 2,600 rpms, we made six knots of it, knowing there’d be a price to be paid in a few hours.

There’s a certain nervousness to these waters on the best of days, and edging toward Point Lepreau, the rocky finger sticking out into the bay set tide rips to dancing, as though the water were boiling. I could feel vibrations through the tiller, but see nothing beyond the encircling mists.

Midday came and went. The wind and world were no-shows. Then a breeze stirred, all five knots of it, to which I raised the jib and throttled the engine. It soon flagged, however, and even with the tide under us, sailing slowed. Once again, the snarling beast in the Leight’s belly sang its song, which was more than I could say for the wind.

The hours dragged. Dipper Harbor, Chance Harbor and Musquash Head passed unseen and the tide came foul. I hugged the 20-fathom line, gave the engine a few more revs and made four knots – more or less. A scale-up revealed the red rock cliffs of shore, and at length the gray on gray of Partridge Island marked the entrance to Saint John Harbor, where at last I could head inland, and escape the tension, tides, rips, fog and gnarly weather. I was ready to be among people again, and looking forward to meeting up with Leigh after my river cruise, for I was no hardened singlehander.

Timing is everything getting up the Reversing Falls and into the St. John River. If I could make slack water at 3:28 p.m., the Royal Kennebeccasis Yacht Club would be my destination, otherwise it’d be a rolly night at Market Slip in downtown Saint John, which wouldn’t be all bad, for pubs were close by.

There was a certain energy in the air when the sloop came into the commerce, industry and shipping of Saint John. While accounts of passages up the falls are often laced with drama, minding the short period of slack water, I again found it a straightforward run. Once the bridge and paper mill were astern the sloop came to a dreamy stretch of river, bold shores climbing to a high ridge carpeted in maple and oak. A musing breeze wrote its script, and the Leight was a magic carpet as I winged out main and jib, sat back like a pharaoh, and sailed into the quiet.

David Buckman’s book, “Bucking the Tide,” is about discovering the New England and Fundy Coast in an actual wreck of an 18-foot sloop. It’s $19, including shipping. To get one send your snail mail address to