Sunday, September 20, 2009

The lore of the Rogue's Roost

The lore of the Rogue's Roost

Rogues Roost is an isolated cove, with narrows only a few feet deep in some places.

It is located in the vicinity of the villages of Lower Prospect and Prospect, Nova Scotia. The Rogue's Roost and Snow's Cove of Rogues Roost are the sheltered anchorages in the narrow passages between Roost Island and the mainland.

Notorious for it's unique geological features which trapped many a Pirate and Rum Runner.

According to some websites, the Roost was popular as a hideout for privateers during the War of 1812. Legend has it that Young Teaser, a soldier and his boat of the same name, now haunt the route.

Notable shipwrecks in the area include the SS Atlantic in 1873 & the HMS Tribune in 1797.


Roost Island features a small inlet only accessible by kayak during high high tide.

This "hidden lake" is one of the most quiet spots, but don't be surprised if a kayak tour pops in at high tide. A colony of terns nests here.


Named after a long-time stewart of the area, Capt John Snow, Snow's Cove of the Rogues Roost features a tight exit into Cub Basin.

During high tide, it allows a sheltered route for kayaks and canoes.

A bronze plaque affixed to a granite cliff face reads as follows:

“In Memory of John Snow, 1914-1970; keen small boat enthusiast, founding member of NS Schooner Association, leader of many organized cruises, an outstanding shipmate; [this plaque] erected by his many friends on this the site of his favorite anchorage, Snow’s Cove of Rogue’s Roost, ‘…and all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow rover, and quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over’; Erected July 15, 1972”.

John Snow drowned in a a tragic car accident in Halifax's Northwest Arm in 1970.

More Lore

Legend has it that the Rogue's Roost was more than just a sheltered anchorage.

During all the great oceangoing eras, from pirates, to the exile of the the acadians, to the turn of the century rum runners, the Rogue's Roost's clever geological design was the rogue captain's worst enemy.

For once you had found safety in the anchorage of Snow's Cove, there was only one narrow exit... and the impassable backdoor into Cub Basin. Like a mousetrap, an entire ship and it's crew, could find themselves trapped, with very little effort on the part of the assailant.

Even as recently as the last prohibition, this safe-haven was notorious for police - and bootlegger raids.

Evading by Salts & Corks

Local lore recounts tales that rum runners knew exactly how many corks it took to float a bottle of rum, and exactly how many pounds of salt it took to sink it. Armed with this knowledge they soon starting evading the hunter by throwing burlap bags filled with salt, rum and cork to the ocean depths.

While their ships were examined by officers, the rum was safely stowed on the ocean floor.

No sooner were the officers gone that the salt had dissolved enough to let the cork float the rum. Another speakeasy could continue to thrive...

Sailing through the Revenue Act

Excerpt taken from a sailing journal dated 1907, a ship returning to Newfoundland from a Trouting expedition:

ugly sea.

V tSH you would come up here and have a look at
the weather, sir." The Rose had been kicking a
good deal for the last half hour, and I noticed that
she was making short tacks. The calm, which
had lasted since early morning, had evidently
given place to a north-easter. I went on deck
and found the Rose close-hauled, diving into an
Exactly where we vere 'e could not make out, for
a heavy fog, with mist, had come up ith the wind and had
completely shut out the land.
'" Looks pretty bad, Captain," I said, " any chance to get to Rogues'
Roost before night ?" Rogues' Roost, I may say, is a small
Cove, Just how it comes to be called by that uncomiglimentary name I cannot
say. It was suggested to me once that it was so called because it was a place
of frequent resort by Nova Scotia Traders, I never could see the connec-
tion, for be it said, Canadian Traders, with one exception, ith
whom I became acquainted during my Collectorship, were
honest enough not to deserve the implied charge. I am in-
dined to think that the inhabitants of the Harbor 'ere respon-
sible for the name. The one exception above-mentioned existed
in the person of the trader of whom it was remarked on the
occasion of his trial for smuggling "that he was able to sail a
whole schooner through the Revenue Act."

Topography, Fauna & Vegetation

The area is mostly covered in heathers, low grasses and evergreens. Berries abound nearly all seasons. The landscape is rough, and barren. Glacial Striations are noticeable on the top of Roost Island and surroundings. Deep narrow channels were carved out by retreating ice sheets tens of thousands of years ago. In many areas the topsoil has eroded to weather. Large erratic boulders and glacial anomalies salt and pepper the landscape. Areas inhabited by the Double Crested Cormorant appear as lifeless patches in the evergreens, destroyed by the birds messy occupation.

Deer, mink, and a variety of other small game inhabit all the surrounding lands.

Hawks, Grey & Common Gulls, Terns and Bald Eagles are common sight in the Audubon life.

The Great Blue Heron also makes the Rogue's Roost it's home and is a certain sight, particularly in the evening when the sky is overcast.

Visiting the Rogue's Roost

There is no land access to the Rogue's Roost. It is one of Nova Scotia's marine features. Accessible by sailboat, pleasure boat, canoe or kayak.

The local outfitter offers sunset tours at reasonable rates


Entrance into the Roost

  • 44 28' 18.2" N

  • 63 45' 24.7" W

Snow's Cove

  • 44 28' 14.0" N

  • 63 45' 2.0" W

    Shipwrecks in the vicinity

    RMS Atlantic

    Year: 1 April 1873

    Location: The Atlantic struck an underwater rock called Marr's Head 50 metres from Mosher Island (Meagher's Island), Nova Scotia.

    Stats: 562 died with a total survivor count of 390 people of the 952 aboard

    HMS Tribune

    Year: 16 November 1797

    Location: Thrum Cap shoal, in the vicinity of Chebucto Head

    Stats: 12 survived of over 240

Sea Kayaking in Nova Scotia - 25 to 30knt wind

Here's Peter and I coming back from a precautionary rescue we had to perform tonight. The winds are blowing hard, and the sea was ugly.

Please note that we are both trained professionals and were responding to distress. Never paddle in a sea state that is beyond your level of experience, and certification. You should NEVER go out recreational kayaking in these conditions.

The holy shit moments only start to happen about 4m15sec into the video. The first few minutes is setting up through a more sheltered area, planning how to head out into the rough stuff. When we clear that last island, the sea starts to spray! Unfortunately 5 minutes in , I think i hit the camera accidentally, and turned off the video. First minute of the vid is just setting up the camera on my PFD

Sea Kayaking in Nova Scotia 20 - 30 knot winds

Pete does a roll in a sea kayak with winds 20 to 30 knots

Pete does a roll in a sea kayak with winds 20 to 30 knots

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