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.