Archive for July, 2010

Waiting for the ferry to Nova Scotia…

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Beginning tonight at 7:30 PM local time, we will be leaving Newfoundland, and closing the circle heading back from Argentia to North Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Wednesday was spent with a little exploring and a short hike. Finally got to the top of some hills to get a nice panoramic view. Where it was evident the wind – which wasn’t supposed to pick up till late afternoon or evening – was early (it was not yet noon). I so wanted to hike on the endless rocky knolls stretching into the distance and so very inviting. But, more strongly wanted to get into a safe port so we could get the ferry on Saturday! And, once the wind started blowing, it was forecast to keep blowing for at least 3 to 4 days. As it was, Wednesday afternoon paddling was a slog in blowing wind and building seas, but we arrived safely back to a sheltered harbor.

Thursday was spent in Rencontre East (pronounced Rouncounter) – accerssible only by intercoastal ferry – sorting gear. Woke up to overcast skies that looked as if it could rain. Locals who had the forecast said it would be a nice day, with rain on Friday. And, indeed it was beautiful! Sun came out, blue skies, short sleeves and a nice breeze to keep things cool. Perfect – could have used a dozen more of that kind of day this trip. Though, wouldn’t have had much paddling on the open coast – as, outside our very protected harbor, it was more than a nice breeze!

As we were unpacking boats and drying gear and re-organizing for the trip home, a woman was in her yard next to the dock and struck up a conversation. Then Shirley invited us in for tea – which included homemade soup, rolls, muffins, cheese, yogurt and converstation with Shirley and her cousin, Donna. Donna was visiting from Belloram (pronounced Bell OR im) and was full of stories. Shirley (in her 70’s?) has just sold the home she grew up in…. She and her husband have used it as a summer home (with the first indoor plumbing installed in 2005) for many years. He died a couple years ago, and she said it just isn’t the same. Despite her packing, however, she took time to cater to us. Not only feeding us, but inviting us to take a shower and allowing a load of laundry. Pure bliss to have a shower and clean clothes after 3 weeks! She also said we could put our bags in the shed overnight. Another detail which was a wonderful bonus, as it meant we would not have to unpack and repack our boats anymore!

Took a couple short walks that day. Around a pond in the area. Throughout the town. And along the Rencontre River to the “head of the lake”. Rencountre Lake is 4 1/2 miles long and 1/2 mile at it’s widest. Tucked between steep cliffs. Gorgeous. We had thought of paddling up, but after Wednesday’s difficult slog, we were both tired – and wanted dry gear for the journey home.

Started to drizzle in the evening… and we spent our last night in our tents in pouring down rain. Awoke to a drizzle on Friday, and got our tents and remaining gear packed. Wheeled our kayaks to the ferry dock, and holed up in Shirley’s shed until it was time to board. Then, Shirley stuck her head out and called “come on in for coffee”! So, in we went. Met her son, Shaun, who arrived on the previous evening’s ferry to help pack and move. She apologized for sleeping in and not having eggs and bacon to offer!

Soon, the ferry was loading and we were off. Into high seas, from the perspective on my sensitive stomach, though the captain was unphased. “It’s not too bad”. No doubt, he has seen much, much worse. He also told Carl “I’ve been on the sea all my life, and you guys have got more balls than I have to go out in those little boats”. I guess we just choose our days more carefully than he can as a ferry captain! All perspective. Of course, it was also foggy and raining on our 1 3/4 hour crossing. Seemed fitting..

Arrived in Bay L’argent without incident. Waited about an hour for our ride from Greg Pittman (and his 14 year old son). Had a nice brunch, drove into sunshine, and dropped our boats off at the ferry terminal. With all the hassle coming over, it was surprisingly anticlimactic. “We’ve sent kayaks over before – no problem.” Our boats and gears are currently stored at the terminal, and we have been hanging out at the Castle Landing Bed and Breakfast, in Placentia. Enjoyed a walk to town, ice cream and a rest by the sea before it began to drizzle again. Had a great dinner – with fresh veggies!!!! – and enjoyed our first night in a bed in 4 weeks. We are basking in the cover of a house (it is raining again…), flush toilets and daily showers. Plans to go to a historic sight in walking distance if the rain clears.

That’s it for now. The paddling is done, but the journey not quite over!


July 21st – Finally in McCallum!

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

I wrote this draft on July 21st, and got booted off the computer when I tried to publish it. I know it is out of order, But is part of the story!

July 21st:
Well, the first, and biggest goal of the trip, was to get to McCallum – traversing the exposed and difficult southwest coast.  As you know, we have had our share of weather days – another one yesterday, making 7 total!

We paddled in fog (surprise, surprise!) again on Monday, though had some bits of blue sky and decent visibility initially.  Even got to see the cliffs surrounding Francois as we departed.  But, it settled in thick later on.  Visibility ever decreasing, blue sky disappearing, periods of sun glowing through lessening.

Traversing some exposed coast in swell and clapotis, it became darker and darker.  Eerie, almost.  Black cliffs, black water, seemingly black fog.  We eventually ended the day in Cul de Sac – a lovely mile long cove with an amazing waterfall a the end.  We were treated to a wee bit of blue sky dancing with the fog, before it again turned dark and gray.  We could hear the waterfall, but not see it.

Yesterday, fog remained like pea soup all day, and the forecast for increased wind and waves.  We sat it out.  Forecast for today was good.  Didn’t get too early a start, as there was a risk of morning thunderstorms.  Turned out to be a good decision – blue sky began to peak through as we prepared to leave.  We paddled out of the cove into intence, bright white (with hardly any visibility) fog.  But, that is the kind of fog that often burns off.  And, as the morning went on, it fully dissapated.  We were finally able to see the 700 meter cliffs we have paddled by these last days.  Fantastic, majestic, awesome, and so many other descriptors that don’t do justice.  A west wind picked up in the afternoon and virtually blew us to McCallum.  One of the nicest days of paddling so far.

Now we head toward Gaultois, Hermitage, Harbor Breton and up into Fortune Bay and Belle Bay, toward a rendevous with Greg Pittman to shuttle us to the ferry in Argentia on the 31st.  Will be fun to see what lies ahead!

Carl Text Update 7/26/2010

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Lally Cove. After yesterday’s mix up, we were both a bit down as we were now retracing our steps. But we got up early this morning to head back to Sandyville/Hermitage and arrange our shuttle to Pool’s Cove. It was a dreary, drizzly, morning. As we started out there was a distant thunder clap! So back to Great Harbor for the 3rd time to wait for the thunder to pass. We bucked up a bit as we watched a pod of Whales pass by on their way through the bay. We got back to Sandyville- spotting a few seals- and arranged for the shuttle quickly – same trailer as last time, different driver- and we were in Pool’s Cove and back on the water by 3pm with glorious blue sunny skies again. We explored the North Bay, trying to hike up a stream for a better look at a cool waterfall but gave up before one of us went in and twisted an ankle! As we went around the north edge of the bay, the wind picked up and we had great fun playing in the waves all the way into camp. Spirits lifted once again. Still sunny, hope it stays that way, we deserve it.

Carl Text 7/25

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Back at Great Harbor! We paddled to Connaigre Point on our way to Harbor Bretton. As we rounded the point conditions on the other side of the peninsula were OK but had the potential to get worse and we had nowhere to duck in for about 7 miles if conditions did worsen. So we ducked back into calmer water and I listened to the marine forecast. It called for the winds to increase to 20-25 knots gusting to 35 knots, and the wave heights to increase to 1-2 meters. A combination that caused us to act prudently and play it safe, returning to Great Harbor. Unfortunately, I got it wrong! The stronger conditions weren’t forecast to arrive until later this afternoon, so we could’ve gone on- dammit! A waste of a paddling day! However the long range forecast is still not too good so we might have been stuck at Harbor Bretton anyway. So, hopefully tomorrow, when the rain stops, we plan to paddle over to Hermitage and get a ride up to Pool’s Cove, where we can paddle around for a few days in more sheltered conditions ending up in Bay L’Argent.

Carl Text Update 7/24

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Great Harbor. I was hoping for a beautiful sunset to match the great sunrise that greeted me as I opened my tent this morning. No such luck, the FOG rolled in at about 7:30pm obliterating the great view back over the Connaigre Channel that we paddled across this evening. We got stuck at Raymond Point yesterday with wind, a little FOG and rain that didn’t let up until 3:00pm! So we bagged it for an eighth day! This morning was a new day, flat calm and sunny blue skies. So we broke camp and were on the move by 8am. Paddling towards Hermitage, we came across 4 or 5 Salmon factories, followed a group of 7 Golden Eagles and saw a couple of whales from a distance. We were in Hermitage by 1pm and had organized a shuttle across the peninsula to Sandyville, enlisting the assistance of a local with a trailer. As we couldn’t get a B & B for the night, we decided to paddle on a bit instead of camping in Sandyville as the location didn’t hold much appeal. 6 miles later we arrived at Great Harbor, which is a much prettier setting. Save the FOG of course.

Carl Text 7-23-10

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Rain all night- thunderstorm this morning- windy and rainy now! We’re getting the full set of Newfy weather conditions this trip. Hope to get moving later this afternoon.

Carl Text 7-22-10

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Raymond Point. Guess what we awoke to find this morning?……. You guessed it – FOG! But conditions were flat calm and when we did get a breeze, it was at our backs pushing us along. And the fog lifted by noon. Some sun but a pretty easy 17 mile paddle to our current camp site. Poor Nancy is having a tough time with her equipment breaking- latest is a leaky tent and we may get rained on tonight! But she’s a trooper and has adapted her tarp to fix the problem. Hermitage tomorrow hopefully, we may take a room each at a B & B for a night so we can take a shower. I know I’m getting a little “Gamey”! Only just a week to go before we make our way homeward and leave this wonderful “Rock”. Later Dudes.

Carl Text 7-21-10

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

McCallum. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride since this trip started on July 3rd. A capsize on the second day (no worries, I hit my roll 1st time), which shook my confidence a bit. Then a really rough sea day on the 13th when I wasn’t sure if I’d get to our Red Island destination. I was considering taking the ferry from Francois and letting Nancy go on alone after the email from Richard Alexander! But the ferry didn’t leave until tomorrow- Thursday- so I’d have to hang around Francois for 3 days! Anyway, the weather forecast was favorable so I decided to paddle. I don’t know when it happened but on Monday as we left Francois my “Sea-Legs” finally kicked in and its been great paddling all the way into McCallum. We had to pull into a cove on Monday instead of getting further down the coast as planned, but what a surprise. The camp site at Cul de Sac Cove was our prettiest yet with a spectacular waterfall to boot! Weather held us there for a day and there was fog and thunderstorms forecast early this morning so we left a  bit later than usual. As we paddled out the fog burned off, the sun came out and we had a gentle westerly breeze pushing us all the way to McCallum. Gread days paddle. BFN

Foggy in Francois

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

Hi All! 

Carl and I finally figured out that all these little villages have community internet access.  School is open this evening from 6 to 9 pm, so am able to do my own update!

We are in Francois – and it is still foggy.  But, as we left Cape LaHune this morning, the fog partailly lifted and there were some fantastical, otherwordly views.  Like off of a set for a Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings movie.  The fog drifting over the ragged rocks only added to the scene.  Very cool. 

We had been  forewarned that “there are 22 days of fog in July” along this coast.  It has become our mantra.  Ive always said I don’t mind – even like – paddling in fog.  The kind of fog we had this morning- where there are glimpses of coastline.  The kind of fog that burns off – or comes and goes, making a dance with the blue sky and the land and the sea.  I was OK with 22 days of that!  I now realize I was niave.  I never really knew what fog was until this trip. 

I have paddled in pea soup fog before with visibility of a couple hundred yards or less – for a full day or more.  And I have had many consectutive days with some fog during part of the  day.  But I had never seen it come in like pea soup for 3 or 4 or 5 days at a time – never letting up.  In Newfoundland, when they say fog banks – they ain’t messing around.  If you could store money in these banks there would be plenty for all the world to share!  So thick it is misty and everything is immediatly drenched.  There are, reportedly, many great hiking trails with amazing vistas.  But, we haven’t done much,  as the primary result would be getting soaked feet!

The other thing is that this fog comes in with southwest winds – which means we not only have fog to deal with, but swell.  And, along this section of coast it means waves bouncing off the cliffs and back at us creating confused seas.  Makes for concentrated paddling… and not so much sightseeing.   On the other hand, we are getting really great at navigating – haven’t turned on the GPS after the first foggy day or two – when we stopped once or twice to confirm where we thought we were. 

The good news is the winds are forecast to be pretty calm for tomorrow – so  should be able to paddle on.  And are forecast to shift to the northwest on Tuesday afternoon, so we may get some clear skies and calm seas later this week!  Any chance to  dry out is appreciated. 

Maybe I’ll come back sometime in August – only 14 or 15 days of fog!  Or in September when, they tell me, the fog lessens but seas are still somewhat calm.  Though, someone else said that’s when the storms start to roll in….  you never can tell. 

Each trip is unique with it’s own stories to tell.  The two constants reported  in any trip along this shore, it seems, are the outstandingly friendly and hospitable people and the rocky, rugged and beautiful coast they inhabit. 


Lake Superior’s Northeast Corner

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Bay Cliff’s kids kayaking program wrapped up this past monday. Everyone got out on Lake Independence who could do an independent wet exit. Thank goodness the weather held. Carl, the camper I wrote about before, did get out onto Lake Independence. He worked hard on his water comfort skills and then successfully did his independent wet exit. He enjoyed paddling onKayaks from the Y program Lake Independence a great deal and said he would like to go again! The hard work, tenacity and perseverance he displayed was impressive. Kayaking does motivate some people…

The Y’s program is up and rolling with a trailer, many kayaks and a lot of gear. The current ten day period sees five events using the boats. We will come close to our goal of getting 200 kids on the water this summer with approximately 14 events.

So it is time for me to take off. I am heading to Canada and gonna paddle on Lake Superior starting in Marathon, ONT and finishing in Wawa, ONT at Naturally Superior Adventures.

View Larger Map

My schedule enables three weeks to travel solo along the Pukaskwa coast, cross out to Michipicoten Island and see the northern part of Lake Superior Provincial Park. It is mostly wilderness with only Marathon, Lake Superior Provincial Park and Wawa closer than 50 miles to a road. Pukaskwa is a national park that is only accessible by water and has a very impressive rocky shoreline that includes Pukaskwa pits on cobble terraced beaches. Michipicoten is a rarely visited island with Woodland Caribou and wacky Beavers.  All of the coast is a rugged shoreline interspersed with some great beaches.

This is, in my opinion the best coastline on the lake. This coastline compares

Packed food bags

All the food for 21 days packed up and ready to go.

well with the best wilderness shoreline I’ve ever paddled along, the west coast of Moresby Island in Haida Gwaii (aka Queen Charlotte Islands) in BC. When I was paddling in Ireland I missed the wilderness a trip like this provides. I also missed the easy pulling up the boat above the high water mark given the lack of tides. Another great feature is the ‘sweet water’. This is the fresh water that is everywhere and one does not have to be concerned about refilling water bags every few days.

Thoughts of a trip like this is what sustains me with the long daily hours and seemingly endless tasks to get everything done.  But this is why I pursue this type of lifestyle, the ability to take off and paddle for an extended period of time along a remote shoreline.