Friday, July 25, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008 (Facheux Bay, Newfoundland).

As hard as it was to pull anchor and leave Brimball, the sky was too inviting to ignore. We headed out with a plan to run up to the Conne River to stop over at the local Mi’kmaq reservation to perhaps have an on-shore (second) breakfast, but the drive-by didn’t appear promising and there is no dock area there for a quick touch and go…, so we continued on to the Ultimate scenic route – Lampidoes Passage. While I’m not certain I could detail the substantive differences between Little and Lampidoes passages, I can attest they are beautiful. The scenery is relaxing not only to the eye, but to one’s very soul. The air is laundry-detergent-commercial pure; the landscape Maine on steroids – sort of lunar-Norway with a touch of Ireland [like Yellowstone filled with water!]. The water in the passages has been millpond flat so the ride is simply peaceful. Lampidoes dropped us again into Bay D’Espoir, and that turned into the mouth of Hermitage Bay closing off that circle back out to the SW coast. We passed over McCallum, Pushthrough, Rotten Row and Bonne Bay to our current anchorage at Allan Cove in Facheux Bay [the deepest fiord in North America]. We went from 91 feet of depth to a nail-biting 7’ before dropping anchor a stone’s through from cliffs on either side in a comfortable 12’ of 65 degree water…, it ain’t Maine, and it ain’t the Chesapeake.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 (Brimball Harbour, Bay D’Espoir, Newfoundland)

We cast off from Harbour Breton with a forecast expecting mostly heavy cloud cover and rain headed for Hermitage Cove, around the head point of Burin Peninsula. Student workers warned us “there’s not as much happening in the next few towns as there is here in HB.” It’s all perspective my friends! As the day went from early to mid morning, the skies went from gray to blue. We had a lovely sail with engine off by 8:00 am traveling at a respectable 7.5 knot average. Once in Hermitage Bay proper the engine was back on with the wind on our nose, and we marveled again at the magnificence of this geology and its absence of most human imprint. We circled in to Hermitage Cove for an on-board “look see” and circled right back out to take full advantage of the now pristine sky and the penultimate scenic extravaganza of Little Passage. Little Passage connects Hermitage Bay to Bay D’Espoir (locally pronounced Bay Despair – gotta love ‘em). The passage was narrow (like Route 3 to Boston seems narrow) and deep, with waterfalls, tree-lined cliffs, fishing eagles, and tiny tuck-ins throughout. We never saw one other boat, despite the small penned aquaculture farms. We eased our way out of the passage, and into Brimball Harbour to set anchor about 12 feet from a granite cliff with two waterfalls. Head-in to the wind and anchorage was a small spit of sandy beach, to starboard the cliffs, to port a few rocks and the 100-150 ft passage. Hot showers with good sun and some all natural air drying, a lovely dinner and reading in the cockpit to a sunset which turned from rose to purple to golden. The only sound other than the waterfall and birds was the occasional hum of our refrigerator. A hard day to beat.

Fish Plant in Harbour Breton

Fish Heads

Girls on the Line



Thirtieth Anniversary Photo

July 22, 2008 (Harbor Breton, Newfoundland).

[Left] Downtown Crossing; [Below] Harbour Breton; [Far Left] More of Harbour Breton; [Bottom] Sunny Cottage

What a great day! Though we planned to leave for Hermitage Bay this morning, early morning rain led us to change plans and hunker in instead. Thanks to Tropical Storm Cristobal touching Nova Scotia. We fired up Tim & Paula’s propane heater early and got nice and toasty then took hot on board showers and changed into dry clothes. A Newfoundland luxury.

By 1100 the rain had stopped, so we took a walk to Scottie’s Restaurant for lunch. Once across the bay we were informed that we were headed in the wrong direction. The result was a gratuitous ride across town to Scottie’s. The Fisherman’s Platter was recommended by our driver, but I wouldn’t have it unless Cod Tongues were included. It was explained that they were short on Cod Tongues in anticipation of this weekend’s Come Home event, so they were only serving them with the Fisherman’s Platter (scratching the Cod Tongue & Chips meal from the menu). What luck for me!! Next on the menu – Newfoundland Seal Fin! Can’t wait!

After Scottie’s we hit the grocery on that side of town and I was happy to carry home a sack of potatoes and two liters of water while Tess hefted the lettuce and bananas. Equal division of labor, I say.

After dropping groceries back on the boat, we again headed across the harbor to Sunny Cottage. A beautiful Queen Anne style “mansion” with a great, personalized guided tour for two dollars each (including tea and cakes afterwards). They even took us to the top of the widow’s walk (“we have no insurance, so this’ll be at your own risk”). What a great view. What a great opportunity. What a great place.

After more water hauling back to the boat (Tess carried the yogurt this time), we followed up on an earlier tip suggesting that we could get a guided tour of the Fish Plant. Now, the plant has been closed for five years (it used to process frozen groundfish from the Grand Banks) and only re-opened in January of this year. It now processes only fresh, farm raised salmon. Within two and a half hours from leaving the water, this salmon is filleted and sent on its way (fresh, on ice) through New Brunswick to your table. An amazing process. A clean and friendly work environment. And everyone is happy to be at work. The pictures (can you believe it – pictures!) tell the whole story.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Arriving in Newfoundland

Fortune Baot Names.

For Gil....

More from St. Pierre, SPM

French pastry.

Paddleball Spectators.

French Street Scene.

Route Halifax St. Pierre 2008

Dawn Treader arrives in Ste. Pierre.
Dawn Treader Crew.
Our Sailor!
Endurance on its mooring.
New driver (watch out!).

Bastile Day, July 14, 2008 (Ste. Pierre, SPM, France)

Bastille Day Crew.
Followed us everywhere.
Real French sailors.
Saint Pierrais.
The Translators.

Monday, July 21, 2008 (Harbour Breton, Newfoundland)

[Left] Arriving (again) in Canada. [Below] Preparing Vin de Honor.

[Left] Vin de Honor. [Below] Signalman at work.
[Bottom] It does say "Viva la France".

It’s been a while since our last update. We are now on the famed Coast of Bays-- The Southwest coast of Newfoundland. Known for its imposing fiords, wild scenery and both populated and abandoned “outports”. The outports are those small fishing communities with a tenacious hold on the cliffs, but a less secure toehold in the current economy. Most abandoned and resettled with “confederation” and finally with the ground fishing moratorium. Harbour Breton is reputed
to be the largest such settlement on the Coast of Bays. We haven’t left the boat as of yet, since the rain started to come down hard once we were alongside the floating docks at the new Town Marina.

We left Fortune, NF at 1020 today trying to beat the rain; and we mostly did. We sailed the entire way, harbor-to-harbor at between 5.0 and 7.5 knots in winds from 12 to 17. fairly good visibility despite the drizzle and light rain. We arrived on a forbidding coast though. Tess’ immediate comment was that it looked like the terrain from Lord of the Rings; and it does. Huge cliffs, topped with green meadows and stunted spruce forests. You can imagine a sea monster coming out from behind one cliff, picking up an outlying island and hurling it your way. We are excited to have this opportunity to explore.

So far, everyone we meet in Newfoundland invites us to stay till the weekend. They all seem to have week long festivals beginning about now. I explain that they need to know that they are competing with our Bastille Day in Ste. Pierre, SPM (“like a whole Town family wedding; or like a whole town drunk”). “That’s right”, they say. “We do that, too.” Should be an interesting weekend wherever we are.

As to our week in Ste. Pierre? Paula and Katie owe us their log entries to be posted. The rest of the crew had contributed their share.

For now, know that if you are going to celebrate Bastille Day, France is the place to do it. We started in the Town Square at noon with the Mayor’s Welcome and a toast with the Vin de Honor (a brandy fortified wine). Where else does the government spring for free liquor? Several glasses of that and most people would go home for barbecue (or a nap). But liberty, fraternity and something else kept the entire Town out until after midnight. The bands played, we all danced, it was great!

We also got to know several boats from France participating in a rally from LaRochelle, France to Quebec City, Canada. The French are, if anything, the only real sailors in the world. We were rafted up two and three across and these guys (and women) spun their boats around without a care, hop off and say Bonjour as they grab their first drink after a 14 day crossing; as if they just went to West Marine for a spare beer cooler. We learned to drink Ricard Patisse and viewed incredible on board wine storage compartments. They too are well fortified on their Atlantic crossings.

But, we came for Route Halifax Saint Pierre 2008. It was great! Some 18 boats competed in three classes, plus a double-handed division on one. We were shooed off the Yacht Club Wharf to a mooring on Wednesday so that the race boats could all raft up together. Thank goodness. Their post-Race decompression lasted (on the first night) till 5:30 a.m. Thereafter, things settled down at about 3:00. Dawn Treader was first to finish, but second on corrected time by a mere 70 seconds. But 2010 is another race year.

The highlight of it all was, of course, having (most of) the family here to celebrate. The food, the wine and the friendship of Ste. Pierre are unparalleled. I even considered entering in 2010, just I could come back.

The family and our dear friends Paula and Tim flew out on an 0930 flight to Halifax. At 1120 we were off to Fortune. Though a light wind motorsail, we were happy as ever to be sailing again. We “visited” the Ecological Park at Fortune Head (a two hour walk, each way) for some great views of the cliffs and the ocean, and met a lot of great Fortunates, but unfortunately, no fossils. Apparently, Fortune Head has been designated a World Cultural Heritage Site as it hosts a place where Pre-Cambrian fossils meet Cambrian fossils (or something like that). In short, it is where we almost, but not yet, crawled out of the ocean. Alas, Mini-Me, I knew you well.

Honest, he hasn’t been drinking here yet but that entry sure sounds it! It is rainy, but not cold. It is beautiful, remote and friendly. Birding has been great, seas have been easy, winds have been favorable and kind. No more pie a la floor, and back to good Canadian Beer in lieu of fine wine. No worries, no cares!

Friday, July 11, 2008

We all loved Louisbourg!!

Wharf at Louisbourg. And its FREE for transients!!
Lobster Wharf across from us at Louisbourg,
New Crew Member?
The fog at Fortress Louisbourg.
Cannon Fire at Louisbourg.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008 (Port Howe to Louisbourg).

Dinner under way versus Dinner at Anchor

The day started at 0600. We could see land on three sides so thought it best to leave our snug anchorage quickly before more fog settled in. We apparently were not quick enough. As soon as we turned from West to East, all sight of the rocks was gone. We slowly made our way via sight, sound and Garmin GPS as several reboots of the Raymarine left us without our chartplotter. Raymarine’s radar was kept up and running so at least we had a sense of less doom as the radar arm loomed over the rocky coast. We had abandoned our planned exit via the Dover Passage (depth minimum 12 feet, width minimum 60 feet) as we could not see more than 20 feet. Instead we went out the way we came in. Port Island in front, Black Rock on the left, Whale Shoal all around us. When sufficiently South, we turned East as I spent a good 45 minutes getting the electronics in useable form. But, if everything worked right we would be just like power boaters. No “adventure” in that.

At 1020 local time we are just now across the St. Peter’s Bay Traffic Separation Zone (Channel) which technically means we are out of Nova Scotia Island and at Cape Breton Island. Today’s stop is Louisbourg, population 1,261. Other than the multi-million dollar Fort Restoration, the CCA Guide has this to say: “lacks charm”, and “restaurants are of the beanery variety” (whatever that means!). We plan on a tourist day at the Fort and rest up for our 30 hour transit to Ste. Pierre. It is somewhat amazing that in less than a week we will be headed into a third country. Like the Caribbean, but without the Sun. And warm water. And rum drinks. And…..

Tuesday, July 08, 2008 (Owls Head Bay to Port Howe).

Left Owls Head Bay in the thick o’fog at 0600 this morning. It was clear and almost bright when we arrived yesterday afternoon. A big fish farming operation (salmon and trout) is in the Bay. We came to near miss it on our way out this morning. We have an 80 plus mile day to Port Howe but with fickle West winds between 3 and 9, we are motoring at 7.5 knots. Though the Main is up, its just so we provide a bigger radar target as its flopping back and forth on the preventer as the wind clocks in four directions. Still on Plan B with a day trip to Port Howe today and another to Louisbourg tomorrow (only 60 odd miles). We are using the time to practice our fog-sailing skills. At 0845 we expect no real lifting until this afternoon. It’s only getting denser and wetter now. Nova Scotia is so beautiful, the fog insures that you don’t become jaded by looking at it too much.

[Tess] 6:30 pm EST now (7:30 Nova Scotia time) and we’re tucked into a harbor even more remote than Owl’s Head Bay. Osprey calling, heron on shore, the smell of Balsam Fir as it’s supposed to scent the air, naturally, sweetly, softly. We pulled in to this port an hour ago and the fog is now beginning to occlude all the scenery, but the harbor seals are still at play and the feeling of being right with the universe is at hand, as is a glass of scotch and a tumbler of George’s discovery – Espresso Vodka! Showers are steaming the day’s work out of folks, alcohol is letting the blood pump back a bit, and dinner is in the oven. Nothin’ wrong with this!

[George] Another great day on the water, is there any other? I’m not turning wrenches in 96 degree heat, can’t beat it. Leaving Owl’s Head Bay in the fog was surreal. The sun actually looked like another planet. The fog always seeming to tease; lifting, burying, lifting. Finally clearing into a beautiful day. This tiny little cove is awesome, one shore house spotted. Talk about isolation this is it. I see why they call this The Forgotten Coast.

[Tim] We did see something today, lots and lots of nothing.
Nothing in the morning because the fog was so thick it dripped on us.
Not a thing coming into this great anchorage because no one lives here.
I love what I’m seeing, but I can’t wait to see Paula.

Aboard Arcadian's Sun

Ladies on the Aft Deck
Sunset in Northwest Arm, Halifax