Nova Scotia

Foreign-flagged pleasure boats starting to arrive in Sydney

The first foreign-flagged pleasure boats to arrive during the pandemic visited Sydney harbour this week, sparking excitement in the port as pandemic restrictions start to ease up.

Port GM says it's good to see tourist traffic after several months of lockdown under the COVID-19 pandemic

A pair of sailboats from Europe moored in Sydney harbour overnight on Tuesday after stopping at the Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club marina to check in with Canadian Border Services. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

A sailboat from Germany and another from Denmark were the first foreign-flagged vessels to visit Sydney harbour in Cape Breton during the pandemic.

Paul Carrigan, general manager for the Port of Sydney, said the boats docked at the Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club marina and then moored overnight on Tuesday in the harbour.

He said people often like to talk about ships coming and going, but there was an extra buzz about the port as pandemic restrictions start to ease up.

"The community gets excited when foreign-flagged vessels or any nice sailboats or yachts ... come into the port, so it was nice," he said.

"It was good scenery, something good to watch during COVID, because typically we haven't seen many foreign-flagged vessels come into our port."

Carrigan said the Canada Border Services Agency cleared the vessels, but under pandemic rules, the crews remained on board and the captains only were allowed ashore to get supplies.

Grateful for showers

The captains were grateful to get access to some of the services at the marina, he said.

"I guess they'd been sailing for quite a while and their eyes lit up when I mentioned that we had shower facilities here."

Carrigan said the visitors were welcomed as a sign that COVID-19 restrictions are slowly lifting.

"It's great for tourism and it's giving some normalcy to our marina."

Carrigan said he spoke briefly with the captains of the sailboats, but didn't get many details about their trip.

The Vessel Tracker website shows the boats travelled from the Canary Islands off Spain to Bermuda and then Sydney. Carrigan said the captains indicated they were heading to Greenland next.

Even though the cruise ship season is cancelled this year, Carrigan said port staff have been busy preparing and maintaining the marina and marine terminal building.

Restaurants like Portside and Flavor on the Water and the fish-and-chips and ice-cream kiosks on the boardwalk are open and Carrigan said pedestrian traffic has been getting busy.


About the Author

Tom Ayers


Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He has spent the last 16 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at


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