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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Hummel sets sail

 Somewhere about 55 years ago my friend Louis and I decided we were going to build a raft.  We cut down some trees and pitched the logs down over the 30 meter cliff at Middle Cove Beach and lashed them together.  To our dismay the green sticks provided very little flotation and wisely for our ages, abandoned the project.

Zooming ahead 45 years I had purchased my kayak and started my kayak adventures.  A couple of years ago Louis bought a sailboat to start his aquatic adventures.  Sunday I accompanied him to Conception Harbour to witness the maiden voyage and take some pictures.

While they were getting the boat ready I paddled around close by checking out this abandoned whaling ship.


It was taking some time as would any first time so I went to check out the smell of oil coming from this containment boom.  The smell was pretty strong and maybe coming from one of the other submerged whaling ships that were left here.

Eventually I noticed some movement as the sailboat was backed up down the slipway to taste its first sip of salt water.

The mast was up but the boom still had to be inserted and sails fixed.

And there goes "Hummel" for her maiden voyage, first motoring out to catch the breeze.

Off they go the crew of four.  Makes a pretty sight with the orange mainsail and the start of a love affair with the sea!


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Staycation 2020 - Little Bay Islands; Early wrap

On day four of our trip to Little Bay Island and area we had a decision to make.  What was the plan for the day?  One suggestion was to leave the tents up for another day and head west to explore headlands, peninsulas and arms.  It was then mentioned one of our colleagues had informed of a campsite at Haywards Bight near Pilley's Island.  That would give us other options on day five.  It was settled then, we'd pack up and paddle to Copper Island and the peninsula beyond.

We left Copper Island behind and paddled down the peninsula on the west side of Halls Bay until we reached the narrowest point for a crossover to Sunday Cove Island.

Along the way the smallest of trickles caught Brian's attention for a water resupply.  Trying to direct a wavering trickle into the narrow neck of a bottle was a feat of patience repeated a number of times until everyone was satisfied they had enough.

The shore was interesting enough with a few rocks to paddle around and ...

... massive cliffs of sedimentary rocks that have been tilted at about a 45 degree angle.

At Indian Beach we started our 3 km crossing of Halls Bay heading to a beach just northeast of China Head on Sunday Cove Island.  The beach invited us for lunch and as it was approaching 12:30 we accepted, taking our time to take in the view and the marvelous weather.

In time we continued down the southeast side of Sunday Cove Island, rounded the southwest end and proceeded up Sunday Cove Tickle where we faced a bit of a breeze.

The shoreline was a disappointment with its forested slopes falling all the way to the water line.  It was then just a paddle to get to Haywards Bight to check out the proposed campsite.  When we got there it became apparent we had been mislead.  True, we could have camped there in an emergency but it did not appeal due to its low profile, boggy pond and grass that was sure to launch a torrent of flies.  We went further past Charlie's Cove and into Moorey Cove hoping for something, anything.

It was not to be.  The decision was made to go back to Miles Cove where our vehicles were and conclude the trip a day early.  The other guys grabbed a bite to eat and I eventually started to Miles Cove at an easy pace allowing the rest to catch up.

We unloaded the kayaks and scored a fine campsite at an old ballpark.  One day short we had an enjoyable evening but forced to taste test four beers, versus two, on the last night.

The next morning the five of us had a cooked breakfast at Eddy's Restaurant on the Trans Canad Highway.  I drove west to see my sister in White Bay while the other guys drove home.  I was disappointed to have see the trip cut short but the disappointment was short lived with a two day visit to Woodstock in view.  There, under clear dark skies we had a great view of comet Neowise to top off the week.

The trail of 36 kms of breadcrumbs.


Monday, July 27, 2020

Staycation 2020 - Little Bay Islands; Going round

On the third day of our kayak camp trip at Little Bay Island we awoke to another beautiful day with light winds.  We left our tents up and decided on a circumnavigation of the island.  The only question was clockwise or counterclockwise.  Decision made we got our kayaks off of the rocky put-in and ...


... left Suly Ann Cove and headed counterclockwise past Black Head and turning Berry Head entered Southern Harbour ...

... under the bridge connecting houses on Mack's Island to the rest of the community of Little By Islands.

Little Bay Islands was a prosperous community in its day with schooners being built and sailed to the Labrador coast to fish.  As I coasted along the shoreline I noticed the remnants of slipways remaining from the days schooners were built and launched.

The house at Campbell's Point with Ethel Wellon Wiseman's shop on the right.  I stopped to speak to the new owner of the property who told me the shop originally was on the other side of what now was a road and was a two story.  He moved the shop, reduced the height and was using it to store his equipment.  FYI Dawn Rae!

We paddled around the perimeter of the harbour.  Some of us refilled our water containers at the house of a weekend visitor and ...

... departed through Boatswain Tickle.

What had been a nondescript shoreline on the west side began to appeal as we entered Wellman Bight on the northeast.

I believe this is Back Cove.  Its not noted on the topo but seems to me a logical place where I'm told the child Marion was saved from the clutches of the sea.

Paddling on we rounded Venison Point and across Batt Cove to enter North Harbour.  There we noticed a small cabin and approaching Mike Parsons came down to chat with us.  Mike and his wife are the only two people living year round on the now resettled and isolated community.  We had a grand chat and did not impose on his secluded getaway opting to head further down the arm to have lunch on this beach with a great view.

Now Newfoundland is a geological wonderland.  I couldn't pass by this site without having a closer look and snap a picture.  This entire area is composed of submarine dark to light volcanic rocks, parts of the earth's mantle as continents collided starting in the Ordovician Period and unseparated igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.  In laypersons terms, a mishmash!  Here a deposit of breccia is sliced showing an angular and subangular deposit of rocks close to their source.

Leaving North Harbour to continue our circumnavigation.

The gang of five stopped at Burnt Head Cove.  Left to right: Brian, Neville, Clyde, Hazen and myself.

At Western Cove we spotted a lovely meadow with a splash of red.  Landing we figured people lived here because piles of rock and been picked to make vegetable gardens and someone had planted these distinctive red poppies in a home flower garden.  The topo shows a dashed trail which would make a fine day hike from the main community.

Back at our campsite we had the convenience of standing tents and only had supper to cook.  We made a bigger effort to collect firewood for the evening's fire hoping it would keep the flies away.  As the fire burned we sampled and rated another two beers from Quidi Vidi Brewery which was part of our regular nightly schedule.

It was an awesome paddle along a spectacular coastline.  We could not have had better luck with the weather.  We hoped it would hold.

Here you have the breadcrumbs for the day's paddle.





Saturday, July 25, 2020

Staycation 2020 - Little Bay Islands; On walkabout

The welcome sign as you got off the ferry at Suly Ann Cove notifies the traveler in the last days that services would be discontinued as a result of the resettlement of the community of Little Bay Islands.  Interestingly the island is called Little Bay Island; the community Little Bay Islands!

At the end of the second day of our kayak camp trip we walked the couple of kilometers from our campsite to the community after setting up tents and cooking supper.  My formative years were in Middle Cove, six miles on the outskirts of St. John's.  It was country living and it was called freedom.  I knew I was going to find the same thing as I walked down the hill into the community.

One of the outstanding houses on LBI.  This was the house owned by Sidney and Ethel Wiseman and where they raised six children.  Ethel Wellon arrived in Little Bay Islands to teach and married a son of the family she boarded with.  Between 1923 and 1931 she brought six children into the world.  In those times everyone had a role to play in survival.  The children had chores to do but also a lot of freedom.  There were no playstations and other modern distractions then but good wholesome outdoor adventures such as ...

... skipping stones on still waters such as we had on our walk, catching connors off of the wharf and maybe building bough houses in the woods.  The last house built is the one center left owned by Mike Parsons and Georgina, the only two remaining residents who live there year round.

But while this is looked an idyllic place in sunshine while we were here, there were limitations to living in such  remote community whose only connection to the modern world is a ferry boat ride.  People of bygone generations made a good living off of the sea; LBI was a prosperous community in its day.  Sadly as society "advanced" young people were lured away after graduating from high school to get higher education or training in trades.  They left and never returned.  People got older and fewer children were born.  That's the death knell of remote communities for children are the life blood of a community, they give it longevity.  And so, on 3 December 2019 the community reached its inevitable end.  I call that a shame for such a beautiful place.

LBI has one claim to fame as I found out as I read this plaque.  Helena Strong of Little Bay Islands met and subsequently married the future Prime Minister Richard Squires.  Future Prime Minister because in those days Newfoundland was an independent dominion, the same standing as Canada.

This was the house of the father James Strong, head of the fish exporting company of James Strong Limited.

A round of beer tasting and ranking finished a large day.  The plan for the next day was a circumnavigation of Little Bay Island, the island with a visit to the harbour of Little Bay Islands, the community.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Staycation 2020 - Little Bay Islands; Arriving

Wednesday, July 15th, we had gotten ourselves in position to paddle to Little Bay Island from Paddocks Bight on Sunday Cove Island.  We took advantage of a picnic table where we had camped.

The day started off mostly cloudy as we set our sights on the Oil Islands 3.5 kms hence and just off of Long Island.

Almost an hour after leaving Paddocks Bight we arrived at the Oil Islands in a little cove dominated by a huge cobble bar.

I wondered why we were getting out here as Brian beached his kayak.  Turns out Brian had done some research.  As we climbed onto the upper level we saw numerous deep pits that Brian explained were food cache pits of unknown age.  They could have been Native Beothuk Indian or even predating to Paleo-Eskimo.  Seals were hunted in season and cached in the 1+ meter deep pits and covered with rocks.  Difficult to get perspective but the stick I placed in this pit was 1 meter long.  In the bottom was an archaic artifact of plastic *lol* which ...

... this gnarly tree probably dates from too.

The location is called the Oil "Islands", plural as the topo map showed a passage between two land masses.  We poked into the inlet but it was only passable at high tide.

Leaving the Oil Islands we made our way to the community of Lushes Bight.  We could see the lights of the town from our campsite at Paddocks Bight which, on location, made the town appear much larger than it was.  We were attracted to the brightly painted stages.  After checking out Lushes Bight and talking to locals it was getting close to lunch time so we ...


... paddled on to find this beach where we had lunch in preparation for ...

... our 5 km crossing to Little Bay Island under clear blue skies and calm water.

I paddled to within sight of the bridge connecting Little Bay Island to Macks Island but did not enter the harbour.  We would save that for the next day so proceeded down the southwest coast of the island to find ...

... our campsite at Suly Ann Cove.

We set up the tents, cooked supper and later walked to the resettled community of Little Bay Islands but more on that next time.

Here are the breadcrumbs of the day's paddle.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Staycation 2020 - Little Bay Islands; getting in position

In 2010 Ralph, Stan and I were on hand for the funeral of Grand Bruit on the South Coast.  The community was being resettled and we were there to witness it.  On December 31, 2019 the community of Little Bay Islands was effectively resettled as the last ferry departed and services were discontinued.  Only two people decided to stay and live independently.

December 31st was not a time of year to be caught on the northeast coast of Newfoundland in a kayak if a person wanted to enjoy it.  So we waited for summer.  On July 15th Brian, Clyde, Hazen Neville and I set off from home to see the depopulated community.

It was an almost six hour drive from home to our jumping off location of Miles Cove on Sunday Cove Island.  We arrived at 4:00, loaded our kayaks and set off for Paddocks Bight a short distance away into a little breeze.  The late hour mandated it would be our campsite for the night.

Forty minutes later we arrived glad to see plenty of green open space.

The northerly breeze was chilly but we were happy to arrive; the kayaks hauled up on the pebbly beach.

There were two cabins on site, one of which had occupants.  We walked over to see a Mr. Hewlett and inquire about permission to camp.  He said we could camp anywhere and as the owners of this cabin weren't around we ducked in behind and tucked our tents out of the wind.

Beautiful roses on site!

Prior to leaving Hazen proposed we each purchase two beer varieties from Quidi Vidi Brewery to sample and rate each night of the trip.  He even purchased green wool hats for the beer tasters.  All for one and one for all.  Notice the book in hand to record the evaluations from 1 - 10.

As the evening wore on the temperature dipped further.  Luckily there was enough wood to gather for a fire for heat.  We had to stand however as the smoke followed us around so we had to keep moving.  There'd be no sitting in wobbly chairs this evening.

Eventually the sleeping bags called to us.  We were content to be where we were and in the morning we'd be off to Little Bay Island.

Here are the breadcrumbs.