We knew we could not leave the dock without finalizing plans for our new cover, so we were happy and lucky that Dave at TopShop agreed to do the job. He’s based near Kingston and would normally come and do all the measurements himself. But since that was impossible in our case, he sent us detailed instructions on all the specs he needed.
We assembled our frame and spent a whole day with tape measure and note pad, getting all the numbers. It was surprisingly difficult work, double-checking each measurement, but we got it done and sent the forms off to Dave. He was right on it, and with just a few minor additions he said we were good to go … so we got gone!
Mark, our Ottawa sailing buddy, had already left about a week earlier. He’d been teasing us with pics from the nearby anchorage that he was at. So we headed there to join him. It was so great meeting up again, and this time off the dock.
We spent a couple of nights at this first anchorage, then moved over to another one a bit further out the bay. This was another beautiful, protected anchorage where we got into the groove of doing very little. Books, swimming (Ann), ukulele playing, good food & drink, and plenty of just soaking in the beauty.
After spending the first week in a couple of anchorages in Bay of Exploits, we headed out (briefly) into the full Atlantic, rounding the headland that leads to New Bay, Seal Bay and Badger Bay, where we would spend the next five weeks. At the top of the headland is a place called Fortune Harbour. We anchored here in 2019, so looked forward to returning. It did not disappoint.
We spent a few days basking in the good fortune of Fortune Hrb. But we also did a few small projects like creating a new bug screen for our forward hatch, and of course doing more reading. After a few days we headed back out onto the briny.
Our next stop was a place that had to be visited: Gods Pocket (I prefer the plural, although some insist on calling it “God’s”). The place definitely lives up to its name.
As we headed around into Seal Bay we caught sight of our first whales of the season. Actually, we heard them before we saw them, with one coming up for a big breath close to our boat. The sound of a whale exhaling is unmistakable once you’ve heard it a few times, and these were quite close. We figure they were minke whales, so not as large as humpbacks, but still pretty impressive. Unfortunately, they moved too fast for pics.
Gods Pocket has a very small entrance, with some shoaling off one side. It’s not hard in good visibility, but as it turned out a wall of rain started blanketing us just as we headed close. With no visibility, we had to divert back out into the channel for a few minutes to let the rain let up. Once it did we scooted in to find… heaven.
We lingered in the presence of the gods for a few days, weathering a minor storm which hardly touched us at all in the pocket. After the storm passed the weather turned quite warm again, so we basked in the sunshine for a few days. And of course, Ann went swimming…
After a few days nestled in the arms of the gods we up-anchored and headed off to our next destination: Julie’s Harbour. Both Gods and Julie’s were both highly recommended by our new friends at Lewisporte, so we were keen to see how it measured up. A lovely sail out and around another headland brought us into Badger Bay. Julie’s is right near the end.
While not quite as protected as Gods, Julie’s is another slice of heaven in a land full of heavens. It has a narrow entrance marked by an ancient, rusted out, snowmobile. There is one large cabin/house near the entrance point, along with an old wharf and newer floating docks. But otherwise it’s pretty isolated. We anchored and went ashore for a little exploring.
The following day Ann and I rowed ashore to take a little hike up a creek. There are a couple of freshwater ponds (lakes), and we were both inchin’ for a bath 😉. We made it up, and while the shore was covered in sharp rocks, we both managed to wash the grime away. Oh, and Ann went swimming… of course.
After a few days Mark, who had left us a couple of weeks prior, decided to brave the open water to come and join us at Julie’s. He had been anchored not far away, so he did some heavy sailing to reach us. After a full day of sailing, he made it into the bay, and we tied together.
Turns out Julie’s Harbour isn’t quite as remote or as isolated as other places. It’s not far from a couple of towns, so we would receive visitors nearly every day. Mostly they came in smaller zippy boats, although there were a few Newfoundland dories plying the waters. We learned that Julie’s Harbour was once a thriving fishing village. And apparently it is haunted by the ghost of a girl who died while swimming in the pond where Ann and I had gone.
We didn’t see any spooks, but we did visit the old graveyard that is the final resting place for some of the villagers of this forgotten old outport.
On the way back to the boats we stopped by the old rusted snowmobile again, and then collected a bunch of wild mussels for the night’s dinner. Nothing finer than fresh seafood!
The days slipped by. We got into an easy routine of reading and swimming, rowing and eating. The owner of the cabin eventually came by to introduce himself and welcome us to the neighbourhood. He probably wondered if we were permanently mooring there. But the day finally came when we decided to weigh anchor and head off to …
… back to God’s Pocket!
We had a lovely sail out into the open water, and then down Seal Bay, right back into the pocket. We slid in through the narrow entrance, dropped the hook, and settled into a longish stay so we could pull out the kayaks and do some paddling.
We spent the next 11 days livin’ the life of Reilly 😁, eating, sleeping, reading, swimming, doing a few boat chores, and exploring around in the kayaks. Mark even got in on the paddling. Ann did her happy dance…
One of the joys of boat life are all the daily chores we get to do. Ann discovered the joys of yogurt-making. I kept up the bread and sprout production, and Ann even did her laundry one day.
With the days getting shorter, and the nights getting cooler, the end of our season was coming in sight. We reluctantly put away the kayaks, hauled up anchor and said goodbye to Gods. It’s a place we’ll definitely return to.
We sailed back over to Fortune Harbour for one more night, and then rounded the big headland to get back into the Bay of Exploits. Lewisporte is located at the bottom end, so the end was drawing closer. Joyfully, as we headed back into the home bay, we were treated to the best whale sighting of our season: humpacks!
We were pretty close to home by now, but none of us was racing to get in. We still had a few more days, so decided to try another anchorage that Mark had explored back in 2019. This anchorage has some pretty thin water compared to most Newfoundland harbours. The entrance showed less than 10 feet on our sounder, and it got even shallower as we came in. We grabbed a yacht club mooring and proceed to hang there for the next few days, floating in as little as perhaps 6 feet of water at low-low tide. Our boat draws 6 feet!
The wind picked up as we began to feel the effects of the first of two tropical depressions/hurricanes as they brushed by Newfoundland. We weathered the high winds fine though, although the days were definitely getting cooler and the nights even colder.
[Ann: It was here that we had the inReach messenger on continuous checking and waited for news of little Olivia Jean Barndt, born September 7, 12:15 NDT].
With even more weather coming our way, we decided it was time to head into home port and begin the sad, but necessary work of putting Pachina Mia to bed for the winter. We also wanted to have enough time to deal with our new winter cover, which was still in progress, but had not yet been finalized or shipped. So back we went…
The final 20 nm was uneventful. We motored all the way to try and burn up some of our very old diesel. Mark, who had left a couple days prior, was there to grab our lines. Good thing because the captain (me) hit the dock kinda hard, and crew (Ann) had forgot to hang our fenders out. So all in all, a perfect ending to a perfect cruising summer.