Wednesday, July 30, 2014

At the beginning of the hike, what a gorgeous day. 
Our first day of fog and rainy weather occurred a week after we had started our Newfoundland adventure.  Our new radar came into its own and confirmed our position as we approached the coastline in dense fog.  We entered a narrow hidden opening at Grey River and motored up the fiord to anchor, surrounded by high hills which were still shrouded by clouds. The rest of the rainy day was spent below warming up by the propane furnace and Bob tried his hand at jigging for cod again, but no luck. 
We awoke to bright sunshine and a beautiful vista of blue water surrounded on all sides by towering green hills.  We headed out to our intended destination of Francois Bay but once out on the ocean the winds were light. We sailed along until it slowly diminished and our sails were flogging in a 3 knot breeze.  With the prospect of having to motor another 8 miles I looked at the guide book and discovered we were just passing a spot that had a 600 foot waterfall that had an anchorage at it’s base, Deadman’s Cove.  Instant right turn and shortly we were in paradise.  The granite covered hills towered over the boat and beckoned. 

Barry chose to stay on the boat to monitor the anchor and save his knee from further abuse.  Bob and I rowed ashore and hopped off on a sandy beach.  It may have started out as a walk, but shortly it turned into a hike and at the end we both agreed it had been a fairly substantial climb.  We clambered over big boulders and sunk to the top of our boots in mushy muskeg, and I scrambled up some fairly steep granite pitches on my hands and feet like a monkey.
The tundra was in bloom with bluebells quaking in the breeze, the Labrador tea was covered in riotous pink flowers, and we found a patch of ripe  blueberries which we feasted on.  
Near the spot where I thought we might turn around, it is fresh water and there are brown trout to be caught here. 
At the top we were greeted with numerous small ponds which had formed in depressions in the rocky landscape.  We walked over the last rise and a never ending vista of rolling hills extended as far as the eye could see.  At this point we could see the fog rolling in from the ocean covering the knolls at the entrance to the harbour and I suggested that perhaps it was time to go down.  My big brother replied that I could wait for him there if I wanted; he was bound and determined to see the top of the waterfall.  Like that was ever going to happen!!!  We continued up and over and up and over, hiking as far again until we arrived. 
The white speck is Cat's-Paw IV anchored at the bottom of the water fall.
It was glorious, the spume from the waterfall was blown up the hill by the wind which was whistling up the steep slope, showering us with a very fine spray.  The views were stupendous, Cat ‘s-Paw IV was lying in the middle of a calm bay, the smallest of specs from the top.  We could see the ocean off in the distance,with the fog occasionally rolling over the hills closest to the shore.   The water fell down the steep granite face, the striations in the rocky adding a modern art dimension to the landscape, quite magical really.  
Resting on the scramble down the hill!
Rather than return the long convoluted way we had climbed up we chose to hike further westward and scramble down the face of the slope.  It was difficult because a lot of the time we were in flora that was up to our knees and we could not see where our feet would land, a recipe for turning an ankle or twisting a knee.  Our sturdy boots did their job, and saved us from injury as we completed our descent. At the bottom we were about 800 meters from where we had left the dinghy and I had no problem letting Bob forge his way through a lot of dense brush to get it, while I angled down to the shore picking a shorter path through the evergreen forest.  I was one tired hiker that night but went to sleep with the satisfaction of completing an excellent walk/hike/climb. It is so good to be back in Canada and hiking in familiar territory where I can recognize the plants and trees and feel confident eating berries that I know.  Hooray for being Home!!!   

We are now in St. Pierre, a  French island just off the coast of Newfoundland.  We visited Miquelon yesterday but it was a rainy, foggy day so we just spent a few hours ashore.  We arrived here late in the day so we plan to spend all day tomorrow exploring the town.  We hope to head to Argentia, Nfld after that and take a bus into St. John's,  it is just too far to sail and get back to Sydney in the time frame we have. Wifi and Internet cafes are few and far between on this coast so I will update as I can.  

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Squid Hole, just outside of Isle Aux Morts, Nfld.
We sailed for Newfoundland on a Friday, if you are a superstitious sailor, it was tempting the fates. I think I have finally put that myth to rest in my mind because we had an awesome sail.  It was bright and sunny when we left Sydney Harbour and continued that way throughout the day.  The winds gradually picked up and soon we were rollicking along at 7 knots, with a single reef in the main and about 2/3 of the genoa out.  It was wind on the beam for most of the time a super point of sail.  We closed on the Nfld. Coast at sunrise, my brother has joined us for our Nfld. adventure, and he was at the helm.   He spotted land but by the time I poked my head up for my shift we were in heavy fog and visibility was down to 20 meters.  It was very appropriate weather for our introduction to the only province or territory in Canada that we have not visited.  When we were within three miles of the coast the fog began to lift and we sailed into Isle Aux Morts in sunshine once again. 

We spent the first night anchored in Squid Hole, a hurricane hole, surrounded by rocky hills covered with low plants which consisted of Labrador tea, blueberry and raspberry bushes, as well as the famous Nfld. bake apple.  Once we clamoured up the hill we discovered areas of muskeg, squishy mossy bog, that if you put your foot wrong you might get a boot full.  Small evergreen trees grew down the slopes of the leeward side of the hills. It looked and felt like we had returned home to the NWT.  Some fishermen dropped by and informed us that the recreational cod fishing season had just opened and that we were allowed to catch 5 fish per person per day and a license was not required.
That was all Barry and Bob needed to hear, we were off in the dinghy down the reach, as the locals described it, to try out luck.  Bob caught 3, Barry 2, and we headed back home with 3 good size cod, the others were too small, for our supper.  My brother expertly filleted them and cooked up a wonderful dinner, I have never had fresh cod before and it was spectacular. 
Our second stop was in Harbour le Cou, a name that was familiar to me from a song by Great Big Sea, a band from Nfld that I enjoy.  We sailed up past the small harbour into a narrow fiord and anchored at the entrance to a waterfall. It was a hot day and Bob and I put our bathing suits on and we all jumped in the dinghy.

The water at the base of the falls was surprising warm and after we had climbed out way up we had great fun standing in the spray and cleansing and cooling off our bodies.  The next day all three of us set off to hike to the top of the falls and discover the lakes that were providing the water for the lovely cascade. 

 It was a great day hiking along the top of the hills, you could see forever as there were no trees to interrupt your sight line. 

We have been hopping down the coast ever since, visiting isolated fishing communities.  In the 1970’s the Nfld. government encouraged entire small communities to relocate to centers where they could receive better health care and government services. Ninety percent of the community would have to agree to move in a community plebiscite.  We dropped our hook in a small harbour beside the former outport of Petite and rowed ashore. 

 It was a very sad sight, the houses were just left, jackets still hung on the hooks, dishes in the cupboards and children’s toys in odd crooks and crannies.  The wooden steps leading up to the houses were rotting, ceiling tiles strewn about the floor, the old wood stoves rusting, and the carpets growing a mossy covering that didn’t match.  A few of the houses in the community were locked and when we peered in the window they looked very livable. The next local boat that approached us explained that the owners would come back and use their former home as a summer cottage. 

Our next stop was a community that voted not to move, La Poile, the only way in is by boat. There are no roads into the community, thus no need for a car; they get around with ATV’s.  The houses were beautifully kept, the yards landscaped with flowering shrubs.  A subsidized ferry comes in once a day and we were told that the locals would leave their cars in the community that the ferry went to so they could drive to a bigger center and purchase whatever they needed.  We approached a few folks and attempted conversation but did not elicit much response.  Wood seemed to be a big source of heat here; there were piles of logs everywhere stacked to dry.  They must log in the winter because the sleds used to haul the wood were sitting ready to be used again, their metal runners, which had been coated in plastic looking incongruous in the summer sunshine. 

Today we are sitting at the docks at the island of Remea which is located about 5 miles off the southwest coast of Nfld.  We plan to spend the day exploring the island; there is an 8 km track that Bob and I intend to walk, A hundred year old lighthouse that is still manned will be the highlight.  Barry’s right knee has been giving him problems so he has chosen to stay behind and do some boat chores. Tomorrow we are planning on heading to St. Pierre and Miquelon, islands which are about 50 nm away, which are still owned by France.  Baquettes here we come!
Barry up the mast trying to get our new mast head light working.  If you look carefully you can see Bob and I on the deck.  We figured we were the ghosts from the Island of the Dead or Isle Aux Morts.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bob and I replacing bolts on the wind vane, some were rusting!
My brother arrived a few days ago and we are getting ready to depart for Nfld. we are waiting on two items I feel are essential for sailing in northern climates.  The first is our Epirb, or emergency beacon which will tell the rescuers where we are if we have to abandon ship or get into really bad trouble. The second is our propane heater.  We capped the heater in Trinidad as we were occasionally getting water down the flue and it was unnecessary.  When we capped it we had a solid stainless steel piece made to fit on the outside of the deck.  It seems that when we took the original with the hole in it in to have a template made, it never found it's way back to the boat, so we ware having another manufactured.  Barry's sister has sent us an Iceberg finding site for Nfld. and I feel that anytime there are icebergs in the vicinity a heater of some sort is an essential sailing tool!! The weather looks good for a Friday departure but unless the repair gods smile on us today we won't leave until Sunday or Monday.  
Jennifer and Leeland doing soccer drills. 
Meanwhile attendance at the twice weekly soccer and baseball practices is required by our grandsons and gladly complied with by their grandparents.  Great Uncle Bob was requested to join in at the participatory soccer skills that Leeland, the five year old is involved in.  The occasional practice spontaneously breaks out on the lawn with either Grannie or Grandpa pitching and William remembering to keep his elbow up as he pastes the rubber ball out of the park.   We had to adjust home base several times because he was hitting them across the road and Grandpa objected to having to scrabble around under the evergreens when an erratically thrown ball got passed the catcher.
Putting the finishing touches on the garden at the office. 
The boys came to help us put the finishing touches on quadrangle garden at Jen's office.  It is quite the transformation.  Jen's own yard is gorgeous as well.  I am going to go out and take a few pics so you can enjoy the beauty which surrounds 1103 Westmount Road.  

The main house, with beds on either side of a flagstone pathway, hanging baskets and annuals in rectangular planters.
A close up of the bed in front of the house, I love the contrast of the foliage.  
A bench on the side of the home that was built for Mark's parents, clematis and white roses in bloom.
A newer bed around the tree just at the front of the property, to the left of the driveway. 
Each year she adds to the yard, the other day Mark and Jen went and got a truck load of mulch and we shoveled it off the back of the truck.  Jen laid down landscaping material on the far side of the grannie flat and covered it in mulch in preparation for planting next year. 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Goings on in Sydney NS

Barry and I have been having lots of fun! Jennifer is a very enthusiastic gardener and during her week off, intermixed with activities with William and Leeland, we worked the soil.  The weather co-operated beautifully and we embarked on a few projects.  The first involved adding to the already impressive flower beds she has established around their property.  Then she was determined to transform an interior courtyard at her office.  There were cement patio squares put down in the middle but the rest of the area was all weeds and Jen intensely disliked it.  

We started the project by roto tilling the area, Barry handled that aspect, Jennifer and I edged around the squares and against the wall.  Then we headed to Home Depot and bought some treated lumber, spikes, landscaping material, red cedar mulch, a few bushes and we were off to the races.  Jen got us started, sawing the lumber, drilling holes and then driving spikes through into the ground.  Barry and I raked and levelled the soil and started cutting the landscaping material. Jen had to dash off somewhere so we continued on.  By the time she returned we had done it all and had managed to put the few bushes into the ground.  What a difference, the space looked so welcoming.  
Jen had the morning off today, so after splitting a few of her own plants that were getting large (hostas and bleeding hearts) we headed off to buy more plants and bushes.  Jen choose day lillies, peonies, irises, spirea, a hydrangea, cinquefoil, hens and chickens and a few others whose names I have forgotten.  She had a budget and I was assigned the task of keeping track of expenses.  I even included mileage for the three extra trips we made out to her office, it is a 30 minute drive from her home.  She now has about $40.00 left, so slightly under budget, must not be a government job!!
She and I went crazy getting these plants in the ground.  I let her do the hard jobs, digging the holes and transfering the dirt around while I kept the water bucket full and assisted packing the dirt around the plants and replacing the mulch.  We completed three quarters of the job and then she had to go and transform herself into Dr. Lange and see patients, while I got to finish off the smaller plants and soothe my soul by digging my hands into the soil.  It was so satisfying to finish up and pack things away, the icing on the cake was my daughter telling me how much fun it was doing this with me.  
The bottom picture will have more hostas, one of Jen's patients has split some of his and he told her she was welcome to them.  
We have been to the beach twice. One day Barry and I and the kids hung out on a beach near where Jen works. William and Leeland befriended some kids and had great fun getting buried in the sand. There was also a dog on the beach that chased and caught rocks.  He didn't belong to anyone we could tell, he didn't want to be patted but he played for close to an hour with the kids. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Canada Day 2014

Happy Canada Day everyone.  We managed to make it to Sydney NS to be with our daughter and our two grandsons for July 1, which was our goal when we left Trinidad last Nov.  it was great to celebrate our National holiday with a whole bunch of other Canadians. We are heading off to the parade in this picture, Jen decorated the house, Barry cut the lawn, I got out my red hat and we were off. 
It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, the policeman leading the parade stopped and had a chat with  William and Leeland and then did a very cool fist bump. 
The fireman in the parade were super, walking a long way in the heat of the day. We were right near the end of their route and they still had the energy to smile and have fun shooting water at the kids and the adults.  After the parade we went across the street to the park where they held the local activities. There was a band that was singing Stan Rogers songs, free balloons twisted into shapes at your request, lots of activities for the kids, snow cones 
 and classic cars, who could ask for anything more!
We all our thoroughly enjoying Jennifer and Mark's pool, except Barry who refuses to go in any water that is cooler than Caribbean temp. We have been to two of William's baseball practises and tomorrow will get to experience a gaggle of five year old boys chasing around after a ball when we attend Leeland first soccer practise for the season. Jennifer informs me that not only do the five year old boys run around but there often reluctant parents are required to participate as well. William has a soccer practise at the same time and I now know whose soccer practise I am going to go to!!!