Association of Eastern Canadian Sea Kayaking
The Tourism Industry
Association of Nova Scotia
Tangier Government Wharf
Route 7 to Tangier, approximately 85 km (53 mi) from
Dartmouth. Right at Masons Point Road and 1 km (0.6 mi.) to
the wharf. Caution: wharf is in very poor condition.
Same as the departure point.
Trip Length: Weekend, 17 km (11 mi.).
Charts and Maps:
Topographical map: 11/D/15
Marine chart: Taylors Head to Shut-in Island (#4236;
The waters between Murphy Cove and Tangier Harbour are known
as Shoal Bay, and as the name implies, it is a shallow basin
with numerous reefs, islets, and islands. These create
diversity as well as some protection from the open sea. It
is close to Halifax but offers a degree of the seclusion
common to more remote areas. All the islands in the Tangier
grouping are crown owned and have a variety of exceptional
campsites. Several interesting day-long and weekend
excursions are possible and you can put in or take out at
many different spots, other than the one mentioned, since
the coastal highway runs almost parallel to the shoreline.
Beautiful sand beaches, protected lagoons, seal and sea bird
colonies, and hidden homestead remnants will make this a
charming and fascinating paddle route. Mussel beds and clam
flats can add to the evening meal. Although not yet
inundated with paddling visitors, this has become one of the
more popular locations. Take special care with
Tangier Harbour is well sheltered from the prevailing south
westerlies. Even with a change in weather, you should have
little trouble returning to the departure point. If
necessary, you can follow the protected shore and land at
Popes Harbour. The water is shallow and there are countless
shoals, great for seals but treacherous for large boats. You
will encounter few vessels, except in lobster season
(mid-April to mid-June). The exposed areas can be
transformed from a quiet sea into a frothy maze of whitecaps
in very little time. Of particular concern are the areas
beyond Baltee, Tangier, and East Ironbound Islands, which
should be avoided by the inexperienced paddler.
1 Hog Island: Collect some wild mussels for the evening
meal. At very low water the channel is impassable.
2 Jeans Field Point: An early homestead is overgrown
with white spruce where remains of a root cellar and stone
wall are clearly evident. Note the cone-shaped trees at the
water's edge, an indication that they originated on an open
field where they had space to develop understory branches. A
glance at the mainland fields shows this process currently
under way there.
3 Saltwater Pond: This sheltered cove is a good stopover for migrating
ducks. I have seen deer browsing at the water's edge. Their trails crisscross
4 Inlet: The ocean prods deep into Inner Baltee,
almost slicing it in two. A small sand beach juts
into the upper reaches beside a developing salt marsh.
5 Outer Baltee: At very low water the passage between
the Baltees is shallow (even for canoes and kayaks) and is
at times impassable. At the eastern entrance a small
crescent sand beach offers an ideal campsite. Behind the
beach, along the passage, is a soft-shelled clam bed, and in
deeper water are the quahogs. A long-standing osprey nest
sits atop one of the shoreline trees south of the beach.
6 Baltee Head: The remnants of another homestead lie
atop a bluff of blueberries and blackberries. Great view and
even better campsite. The dead bleached trees are from a
forest fire purposely set years ago to enhance blueberry
growth. An interesting hike west along the sea cliffs offers
a spectacular show when a heavy sea breaks against the
shore. Large glacial erratics are scattered about the
treeless barrens, and ridges of greywacke and slate dominate
7 Western Cove: This offers a protected sand beach
and campsite during an easterly blow. In a high sea the
barren bedrock ledges of Baltee Point are the site of heavy
8 Tangier Shoal: Keep a lookout for Harbour Seals
around these shoals and islets.
9 Tangier Island: The island and then the village got
their names from a ship that foundered on the outer shoals
in the 1700's. The first settlers along this shore arrived
about 1790 and the foundations of the original homestead are
still visible at the edge of the open field. This is a
perfect campsite for a large group. The saltwater lagoon is
a nesting and feeding spot for sea birds, and the deep pool
at the entrance becomes a warm swimming spot when, during
low tide, the trapped water heats up. It also has a clam
10 Outer Island: This former cormorant colony is a
good example of how devastating the guano can be to the
woods. Most of the trees are now dead. The birds, nesting
each year until 1994, have moved to a healthier forest on
the outer-island of Route 3. Note: The channel
leading into the lagoon is chaotic in rough weather (even
from the southwest) and should be avoided at such times.
Hike around from the campsite instead.
11 Sandy Cove: With its classic crescent beach and
turquoise waters, this cove looks like a tropical lagoon on
a warm summer day. A must! Contrast with the rocky southern
peninsula with the tidepools - an excellent place to examine
the intertidal plants and animals.
12 Bulls Gut: In the cliff flanking the pocket sand
beach is a vertical section with rock fragments embedded in
a matrix. These are thought to be parts of the bottom of the
earth's crust which have been broken off and transported by
molten lava upward through fissures. The mixture solidified
before reaching the surface and subsequent erosion and
uplifting has exposed it. This is among the oldest rock on
13 Glacial striations: The cliffs display clear
horizontal gouges produced by the rock-embedded ice sheets
over twelve thousand years ago.
14 Carryover Cove: As the name implies, this once
served as a portage, and at high water the carry is less
than 25 m (82 ft.). At low tide that distance will increase
to over 75 m (246 ft.) through salt marsh and mud.
15 Abriels Fish Plant: Usually fresh fish and always
frozen fish available. Lobster. can be obtained at
Ferguson's pound a few miles west, and smoked fish-salmon,
mackerel, and trout at Willie Krauch's in Tangier.
16 Coastal Adventures: This major sea kayaking
outfitting business is located on Mason Point Road where you
can rent equipment, or take a course or tour. They also have
a paddling shop and the Paddler's Retreat Bed &