After our dance with all the whales we headed into Garden Cove near L’anse Aux Meadows. It’s a moderate sized cove with decent protection from the predicted blows that were coming in. And from here Ann could walk to the famous Viking landing site. There’s a community at Garden Cove as there is in just about every semi-protected nook along the Newfoundland shore. We anchored out of the way and watched the activity at the wharf.
Throughout our journey we’ve been seeing plenty of fishing activity. Most of the wharfs have buzzed with the comings and goings of dory sized fishing boats. But we’ve also seen a number of larger draggers and long liners (we think … hard to know for sure). We just wave, and try and stay out of their way, including avoiding all their nets hung down in the water.
With the anchor down, we got back to the important parts of life; reading , eating, watching gulls on the dolphin rock , getting less stinky , staying warm , and most importantly, avoiding storms.
The predicted scary weather finally did blow through overnight. It was one of those massive electrical displays where the darkness and light were almost balanced. Luckily our anchor held well, and we were protected from the worst of it.
Let the bells ring out and the banners fly — ANN WROTE THIS!!!!:
I rowed to shore and walked to L’Anse Aux Meadows (about 3km) along the road. My boat-trained body parts complained quite a bit about this unfamiliar walking thing, but the trip was worth it.
Joining an interpretive tour hosted by a local man (from nearby Griquet — rhymes with cricket), I learned that Vikings lived at this location for 30 years around 1000AD, that Leif Erikson was among them, and that their sails were made of wool.
Beyond the site of the remains there is a reconstructed Viking village where the park interpretive employees dress up and bring 11th century Norwegian existence to life. The interior of the sod hall felt cozy especially since dark rain clouds were approaching as I left its warmth. The walk back was quick and a bit wet.
Although the weather had been pretty nice these last few days, the winds had turned to the east. This built up a large swell and big waves that locked us into Garden Cove for a few extra days. The entrance went from this:
to THIS: .
It also turned our formerly calm anchorage into a rolly, uncomfortable bay. After three days of living in a rolling home I was glad to haul anchor and point the bow out. As we headed off we were greeted with our second iceberg sighting, and this one was much closer.
There was still a large swell on as we headed around Quirpon (rhymes with harpoon) Island. There is a narrow passage between the island and the mainland, but it’s a very shallow and with the swells running so large (must have been five meters from trough to crest), we decided the long way around was the safer way.
Finally, at the tip of Quirpon Island we reached the most northerly tip of our journey. We turned the corner, managing the largest swells either of us had ever experienced, and started to head south — heading toward where the butter starts to melt (well, maybe not that far south).
The shoreline all along this northern peninsula had been stunning. As we turned the corner the character became harsher — rougher. With nothing till Ireland or Norway, the ocean waves can build to monstrous sizes, till they crash into the cliffs of Newfoundland.
After a few hours we spotted the entrance to our next temporary home; St. Lunaire Bay. As usual, there is a village in this fairly large bay. But also as usual, we headed towards a more remote part of the bay so we could anchor away from all the busyness.
We went down to the end of the bay and found the perfect spot.
Later that evening we noticed a small boat approaching. It carried Wade and Coleen and their dog Freddie. They came over to tell us we were anchored close to an abandoned mussel farm. Although they had removed most of the old gear, there was still plenty of junk on the bottom to get snagged onto. Luckily Wade had been involved in laying out the farm, and he thought we were probably safe — as long as we didn’t drag anchor.
The forecast called for nothing but moderate (15-25 knot) winds from the southwest. One of us ( 😳 ) decided we had to try and sail these conditions, otherwise we could get stuck for days, Weeks!, even MONTHS!!! So we went out the next day into a large sea and big winds. Here’s how that turned out:
Yup.. it was one of those days 🙁 .
We limped back to St. Lunaire, this time choosing a cove not filled with old mussel-farm junk. It was another stunningly beautiful anchorage, so not too hard to put up with 🙂 . And there we waited. From our little experiment we knew we needed a north to westish wind to make any headway. So we waited…
The next day our new friend Wade came by with his two brothers to deliver us some amazing cod that they had just caught. There is nothing like fresh cod. It is succulent, and sweet. It is nothing like the cod we buy at the supermarket.
The forecast was calling for some favourable winds two days out, which we decided was our best bet to make some distance. Wade had offered to help us replenish our diesel, and anything else we might need. So, we hauled up anchor the next morning — in the rain — and motored over to the wharf. This would be the first dock we’ve been to since leaving Corner Brook.
Nearly every community has a public wharf. Some are rougher than others, but they are all designed as working-boat docks. They are also fixed, meaning we rise and fall with the tides but they don’t. This makes tying up to them somewhat of a challenge for us prissy-boat sailors. But we managed.
Wade met us at the wharf and not only drove us into the village to refill our diesel cans, but also gave us a tour of St. Lunaire. Coleen had a doctor’s appointment in the neighbouring big city of St. Anthony (~2,500 people) and they kindly offered to let us come with them, which we did!
Wade is one of these people that seems to have done everything. He and his brothers were commercial fishers until they sold their boat. He’s also owned a restaurant, ran (still runs) a small sawmill, piloted a tour boat, and is currently a coast guard officer on the St Anthony-based cutter the CCGS Pennant Bay. This is one of the Coast Guard’s newest vessels, and a mighty fine one she is.
We also got a tour of their other sailboat, the Kuan Yin. She’s a ketch-rigged steel sailboat, all fully equipped and ready to go. Wade and Coleen are selling her for the incredible price of only $25,000, so if you’re interested in a boat that would truly go anywhere, including the Northwest passage, this is an incredible deal.
While in St. Anthony we spotted two other sailboats tied up to wharfs. They are both headed to Lewisporte, but the one from Europe had a pretty tight deadline, so we probably won’t see them again till next Spring.
The kindness of Newfoundlanders seems to know no bounds. Coleen and Wade not only helped us restock and gave us these grand tours, but also invited us back to their home for dinner, oops, supper. There we met their grand daughter, along with their five house cats. What a wonderful day it was!
Wade finally drove us back to Pachina Mia, and we settled in for a night at the dock. We said our goodbyes, and then climbed back on board. The boat never feels right tied to a wharf, and there were very odd bumps and bangs that kept us both awake much of the night. We also had to leave with first light to make our next destination.
It was a chilly, early morning. But the winds were workable, and the seas had dropped. We headed out of the bay and pointed the bow south. Not far along we were greeted with a sight straight out of a Newfoundland tourist ad: