Although my life is now firmly based in NZ, living aboard and sailing Fantail, May and June of this year saw me back in the Maritimes and sailing on Iron Bark once again. Trevor had invited me to join him for a couple of months, and as he was planning to winter-over once again in Greenland, I thought he might appreciate some help with the preparations.
After spending two or three weeks in Halifax, we had knocked over most of what was needed to be done, so set off for a short cruise to the S Coast of Newfoundland, a place I have visited only too briefly in the past. We made our way up the coast of Nova Scotia, through the Bras D'Or Lakes, locking in at St Peters
|In the St Peters Canal|
|Passing under the Barra Strait Bridge|
|Newfoundland fog - much less than usual this year|
However, what we didn't realise, as we groped our way in to anchor, was that for most of the rest of our stay in Newfoundland, we would enjoy beautiful, sunny weather.
Our first anchorage on the S Coast was Culotte Cove, a place Trevor had discovered the previous year and wanted to visit again. It was a delightful spot and we had some pleasant walks ashore.
|Iron Bark at Culotte Cove|
|Water Temperature on 29th May!|
We left Burgeo for pretty little Doctors Harbour where we stayed for the night before heading off to Grey River. Grey River is the start of the astonishingly dramatic scenery that brings sailors back time and again to the S Coast. This is also the only part of Newfoundland where some of the communities still have no road access. Sadly, there is a lot of pressure on the inhabitants of these remote communities to finish the job that Joey Smallwood started half a century ago - and move from the outports to the larger towns. Some people have stuck to their guns and refuse to leave and Grey River is one of these communities. The entrance to Grey River is narrow and between very high cliffs
|Entrance to Grey River|
and the village is squeezed onto a narrow ledge of flat land at the base to the left-hand cliff as you enter. We went to anchor in SW Harbour, where a lot more houses had been built since our last visit. Apparently the good citizens of Grey River (Pop fewer than 200), find there is too much hustle and bustle in the big city and need to escape to the peace and quiet of the country! As we sailed along the S Coast, we found a lot of new building going on, which while no doubt great for the locals, was a bit disappointing for us. This startling increase in wealth is due to the fact that many Newfoundlanders work away from the province at the Tar Sands in Alberta, about which I will forebear to comment. My feeling was that with so many people working away, the profound sense of community, which was such a cohesive part of Newfoundland society , has diminished. I also felt that they were much less interested in visitors than they used to be. Most people now have access to satellite TV and the Internet and no doubt their world is a much bigger place than it used to be.
We spent quite a time in the Grey River, exploring its several anchorages before moving along to Hare Bay, another impressive fjord. One of its arms - Morgans Arm - has a most impressive series of waterfalls at its head. We anchored nearby to go for a walk and I found a wonderful route up alongside the rushing water, which was truly dramatic.
|The waterfall at Morgans Arm|
|Looking down at the anchorage at Morgans Arm|
Trevor did a bit of boulder rolling and we both enjoyed a respite from the blackflies.
|Trevor and boulder|
Our next harbour was on Brunette Island. We arrived there late in the afternoon and put off going ashore for the next morning. There were half a dozen caribou ambling along the beach, their ankle bones clacking quite audibly, and I watched these for a while. At one time there had obviously been a sizable outport - the reasonably extensive bay was surrounded by signs of houses. If you reckon to half a dozen per house, there may have been as many as 1000 people there at one time.
After breakfast, we went ashore and wandered around. The caribou, sadly, were a long way away - dots on the landscape.
|Graveyard at Brunette Harbour|
In the afternoon we sailed to Harbour Breton. I had hoped to revisit St Pierre-Miquelon for a nostalgic taste of France - and its food - but alas, this was not on Iron Bark's itinerary. Harbour Breton, though smaller than St Pierre, is still a sizable place, with several large - by local standards - shops.
Just as fortunately, a passing driver stopped and drove us round to the supermarket, where I topped up our stores. A quick visit to the grog shop, and then back on board and underway towards Jerseymans Harbour, just across the bay. There were one or two new and/or rebuilt houses here and quite a few signs of the original settlement - particularly the surviving ridges from the potato patches. We rowed ashore to take a walk along the old road to Bay de L'eau. Although a bit boggy and overgrown in places, it was surprisingly easy to follow and we reckoned that it was probably cleared as a snowmobile track in winter.
|Old wharf footings at Jerseymans Harbour; wrecked ship in background|
|Iron Bark anchored at Jerseymans Harbour|
Trevor wasn't entirely confident about the filters, so first thing after breakfast, he sorted things out properly. He was just tidying up when we were hailed from the shore. We rowed over to the wharf. I climbed up the ladder and a complete stranger threw his arms round me and said: 'Jerry - you remember me! Great to see you again.' I had to confess that I didn't and it turned out that he thought we were an entirely different couple. His explanation was that 'the boats look the same'. As theirs was a red, hard-chine, Bermudian ketch, one would beg to differ, but I guess all boats that aren't white plastic sloops look the same! Anyway, Jerry was not daunted by this minor mistake and we went up to his house for coffee. He is rebuilding the old family home and although he works away a lot of the time, is hoping to settle there permanently. He told us that the local climate has improved out of recognition since he was a boy, so that now he can plant a good vegetable garden. I guess some people are benefiting from global warming!
|Little Bay St Lawrence|
From Little St Lawrence, we sailed to our final Newfoundland outport before I left Iron Bark. Burin was a lovely little town and a fitting conclusion to our cruise. We anchored in Ship Cove, which obviously welcomed yachts because they had built a dinghy dock for visitors. This was marked by a VW Beetle that had been made into a cute joke: a big key stuck out of its back and on the front was a snow plough and a pair of moose antlers. On top was a light box with Burin written on it.
|Iron Bark and Beetle in Ship Cove|
We ambled down the road to the wharf and were warmly greeted by the Harbour mistress, who gave us coffee and biscuits. She was quite happy for us to bring Iron Bark round to anchor, the incentive for us being a washing machine!! So we went back and motored round. We brought the laundry ashore and while it was washing, Marguerite kindly took me to the local shop - about 10 km away! It was a much-appreciated kindness.
The following day we made a quick trip to Marystown, to stock up before heading back for Nova Scotia. From there I flew back to New Zealand. while Trevor headed north again.
I managed to clock up 1000 miles in the Maritimes, but I have to say that after a season of sailing my wonderful junk rig, I am even less enamoured of gaff rig. Once a junkie, always a junkie! But Iron Bark is a great little ship and perfect for the sort of extreme sailing that Trevor chooses to do. For my own part, I am happy exploring the New Zealand coastline on my own little boat. All the time I was away I was thinking about her and planning projects and little cruises that I hope to do. In my own way. In my own time.