Friday, October 31, 2014

LaHune Bay and Aviron Bay

At the entrance to LaHune Bay

Rocky gap near entrance
 The entrances to LaHune Bay and Aviron Bay are separated by the rocky peninsula seen in the photos. This allowed me to visit two fjords in one day. I sailed up Lahune Bay as far as Deadmans Cove where anchoring is possible. After admiring the rock formations and waterfall here, I motored around the peninsula at a respectful distance and entered Aviron Bay. There are a few possibilities for anchoring on the west side of the entrance with good protection from all but the east and southeast. I continued on up the bay to anchor near the waterfall at the end. Although is was near calm while I was anchored here overnight, I kept the boat ready to move on short notice. A bay like this with a valley at the end and high cliffs on either side will greatly accelerate any wind that is blowing off the land and can also be subject to severe katabatic winds after sunset. If I was to stay here any length of time it would be necessary to put out shore lines to secure the boat from the violent winds that are frequent inside the fjords. This was the most spectacular bay I visited in Newfoundland. Not only was the scenery impressive, but there was no garbage along the shoreline and no signs that people had ever been here. I hope it remains like this.I would have liked to spend a week or
Northbound in LaHune Bay
more to do some hiking and climbing, but with winter fast approaching I felt the need to keep moving.I had one more day before the next weather system arrived and will use that to sail to Facheux Bay and wait for the weather to clear before starting south.

No shore access here
Waterfall in Deadmans Cove

At the head of Aviron Bay
A rare calm moment

At anchor in Aviron Bay
Waterfall in Aviron Bay anchorage

Entering Aviron Bay

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Grey River, Newfoundland

Grey river entrance
The Grey River entrance is the narrowest that I entered in Newfoundland. The entrance is marked by a small lighthouse and is all but invisible until you are right in front of the opening.Steering downwind in a following sea towards a rockbound coast looking for the entrance and a shoal between between the entrance and open water was a bit unnerving! Once inside, the swell disappeared  and I motored past the tiny outport of Jert's Cove and continued upriver. Grey river has several channels to explore once inside, all of them with very few places shallow enough to anchor except at the far ends. Deciding that the NW arm looked best for the forecast weather conditions,  I anchored below some cliffs where the water became shallow enough. Later, as the wind picked up to 35 knots and the boat was caught in a tug of war between the current and the wind I could see by the wind rips on the water that I should have anchored closer to the head of the arm. The cliffs on either side created an acceleration zone that I could have avoided by anchoring beyond them. It was here I experienced some of the coldest weather of my voyage north,I had noted 35F at sunrise outside, but nice inside with the heater on all night. Being reminded of the approaching winter season, I began  planning the voyage south with its various possibilities dependent on the weather.
Heading up through the narrow waterway
Steep shoreline and deep water
Junction of NE and NW arms
At anchor in the NW arm
Early morning exit from Grey River

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Burgeo, Newfoundland


Beach at Sandbanks Provincial Park
 In need of some fresh produce other than blueberries, I sailed into Burgeo to restock and found it interesting enough to stay several days.It was a pleasant six hour sail from Grand Bruit. Dropped the sails in the lee of the islands in preparation for motoring the last few miles into Short Reach directly into the increasingly brisk wind. After checking out the end of Short Reach, I decided to land on the newer part of the fish plant wharf. A local on his motorcycle watched me come in and caught my lines. In the ensuing conversation I learned that the fish plant is mostly shut down with the part that was operational processing fish brought in by truck into fishmeal and that  fishing boats no longer came in to unload their catch at the docks. Ashore, I found a very friendly small town with newer well maintained homes and shiny new cars. There is a small grocery a short walk from the fish plant dock and a hardware/liquor/everything else store a longer walk into the center of town. Wifi was found at Joy's Cafe just beyond the coast guard dock.  In addition to the usual cafe fare there was local food on the menu as well- moose and rabbit being featured on the specials board. Fuel and propane is available from EH Scott Garage 709-886-3324. They will pick up your    
Sandbanks Provincial Park
 containers and return them to the dock full for a $10 service charge. This saved a days work as the garage is a few miles away on the outskirts of town. Burgeo is the only town between Port aux Basques and the Burin Peninsula that can be reached by a road, making it a popular destination with a campground and a nine room motel. After taking care of business I explored Burgeo and the small harbor on the other side of town. Wandering around looking lost is not always a bad thing. I met a retired couple who told me about about Sandbanks Provincial Park where there son worked for the Park Service. They offered me a ride out there and gave me a
Hiking in the park
quick tour of the town along the way. I spent the rest of the day hiking all the trails in the park and walking on the nearly deserted beaches. It was amazing to find white sand beaches reminiscent of the Caribbean in Newfoundland as the usual scenery is wind and wave blasted rocky cliffs rising to tundra covered highlands.
Inland lake

View from the highest point in the Park, Grip Head

Monday, October 27, 2014

Grand Bruit, Newfoundland

The abandoned outport , Grand Bruit

Government dock for Nomad
 Visiting Grand Bruit was a remakable, if somewhat disconcerting experience.First, a little background information to put this in perspective. Newfoundland has always been populated by fishermen, and those engaged in the near shore fisheries settled where the fishing was good so they could reach their preferred fishing areas without spending a lot of time rowing or sailing there. Whole communities grew in these areas and could only be reached by boat or extensive backcountry travel on foot. With the advent of motorized travel, the Trans Canada Highway was pushed across Newfoundland linking the larger towns, but it was not possible to put roads through to the more remote communities. Even today in the few surviving outports access is by the government run ferry service, which also brings in supplies. Children are educated locally until about high school age then sent to boarding schools in the larger towns to complete their education. The Canadian government decided long ago that it was to expensive to provide services to these remote communities and has been trying to get people to leave their villages and move into more accessible towns such as Burgeo and Port aux Basque, offering them ever increasing
Local history
buyouts to leave their homes. Apparently, it is worth removing families from their homes where they have lived for many generations to save a few dollars.
Streets for people, no cars in the outports
 Grand Bruit was the most recently abandoned outport, its residents departed in 2010. The infrastructure is still in good condition as are most of the buildings, although some of the older buildings are beginning to deteriorate. Some are still used occasionally for vacation homes. Many are locked up with the interiors looking like the residents had just left a few moments ago. Others have moved everything out . Some were unlocked and were still furnished right down to family pictures on the wall with the house beginning to fall apart.I saw a note in one house that read "take anything you want now, it's free. Please close the door in case we make it home someday." and there was a picture of an older couple on the countertop. Very sad!
I signed the guestbook in the church and read through it. Some visitors were the past residents, many were cruising people. The only way to get to Grand Bruit now is on your own boat or by a long skidoo trip in the wintertime from Burgeo. I visited the local cemetery where many of the gravestones had common family names as most have lived there for many generations. The hiking trails north of town were becoming overgrown but were still easy to follow. With no people around the
Guestbook in the church
wildlife comes right into town, there were fresh moose and caribou tracks everywhere.
The harbor provides good protection from all directions except for the southwest. It may be possible to anchor in the cove on the west side for protection from the southwest. The floating dock on the west side was in good condition, but looked a little light duty for a cruising boat. I tied to the more substantial government wharf on the east side of the harbor. With a nearly two meter tidal range, I had to position the stern beyond the end of the dock so the wind generator blades would not be at risk of damage at low tide. It was a odd experience to stand on deck and watch the sunset over an 
The road into town from the dock
Careful navigation required
apparently normal town and as it became dark there was not one light to be seen, even the communication tower back in the hills was shut down.  With the town bathed in the glow of the moonlight and all those darkened windows  looking down on the boat with no sound other than the wind it was an eerie and somewhat disturbing feeling!
Blueberries everywhere

Hiking in the hills north of Grand Bruit

Bay Lemoine, Newfoundland

 It was a great downwind sail from Isle aux Morts with 25 SW making for a fast trip.This is my first trip up a fjord in Newfoundland and it was unique. Having studied a book put out by Environment Canada about the regional weather, I was not caught unaware of the effect these fjords have upon the local wind. Sailing up Bay Lemoine, the wind increased and became aligned with the waterway. After passing the abandoned lighthouse at Rose Blanche, I took all the sails down and proceeded under power in anticipation of making the 180 degree turn upwind into Duncan Cove. As I motored into the cove the
wind accelerated to double or more its speed outside, nearly bringing Nomad to a stop several times even with full throttle. The water is hundreds of feet deep until nearly the end where it shoals up onto a little shelf where I could anchor. I explored the little cove at the end and found it to be deep enough, but decided to anchor further out in a little more wind with an anchor and a shore line to a large rock . To enjoy the protection at the end of the cove, I would have had to put four shore lines out and and warp the boat around to head out  to facilitate a hasty departure if the weather changed unexpectedly.  
More work than I wanted to do! Like Isle aux Morts, this bay was sheltered from the VHF radio signal, although the weather fax came in readable on the shortwave. Exploring ashore is best done at low tide when landing is easier, the two meter tides leaves a nice beach for walking on. Ashore there were some concrete blocks and the ribs and engine block of a wooden boat, all that remained of a long closed fish farm. Getting beyond the beach required some effort as this is wilderness and the vegetation is nearly impossible to penetrate without a machete. I finally located a way up to higher ground and
able to hike the backcountry extensively from there, frequently following caribou trails through the dense undergrowth and staying above the treeline on the rocks. The environment is sub arctic tundra with most trees at higher elevations being only a few feet tall and most of the ground covered with lichens and blueberries and other plants I had never seen before. Off the rocks, the hiking was difficult as the lichens were like walking on an ankle deep wet sponge and that is interspersed with muddy bogs. Where there was any soil, it was all peat that stained all the freshwater brown. Usually  caribou/moose trails  
provided the best route. Seeking weather reports with the handheld VHF, climbing the hills was no help, I had to climb to the highest point above the cove to get radio reception. Most of my time here was spent hiking in the rain and windy weather that is common here. The night before I sailed from here, the wind stopped and that allowed the mosquitoes to find their way out to the boat. I t does not pay to complain about the weather!This area I am exploring is true wilderness, there are no roads between Rose Blanche and Burgeo with only a few outports still occupied and accessible only by boat. It is a
sailors paradise to explore if one is  prepared for the difficult weather conditions that frequent the area and are completely self reliant.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Isle aux Morts, Newfoundland

Nomad sailed from Baddeck Nova Scotia on August 25 after careful calculations to ensure that the passage through   Bras D'Or Narrows happened near slack water.  Even at slack water, there were swirling tidal currents near the shoals  approaching the bridge.  After passing through the Narrows, I hoisted full sail in anticipation of a nice sail across Cabot Strait but as the land fell astern, the became light and Nomad motorsailed through the night to arrive at Ilse aux Morts the next afternoon. After a quick look at Mickle's tickle I decided that the lagoon inside of would be better for the forecast weather.It is a small, deep, and very well protected anchorage. I anchored in the middle, off the rock ledge in the entrance. It was the only place I could comfortably anchor without shorelines due to the depth.although I did run out one shoreline for added security when the wind forecast increased up to 45 knots NE. The anchorage is so well protected that there was no radio reception inside the lagoon. Climbing to the highest point on the island, there was excellent reception for weather forecasts via the handheld VHF and  a strong cell signal to get internet. While hiking around checking for radio reception, I noticed the island had numerous blueberries growing all over, so I returned with an empty container to harvest some  and did that nearly every day that I was here. I remained at anchor here for five days waiting for the weather to settle before sailing to Bay Le Moine. Hiked all over the uninhabited island and explored the lagoon and nearby Mickle's Tickles  with the dinghy.