Friday, July 31, 2009

Sabine Hatch

Here lies Sabine Hatch

After Stan and I stopped for lunch we paddled to the resettled community of Anderson's Cove and underway Stan saw this lone gravestone in Lobster Cove. I got out to look.

I read the gravestone which read "In loving memory of Sabine, beloved wife of Thomas Hatch, who died Aug. 26th 1890, aged 36 years"

The gravestone was clearly not 119 years old. Someone had placed this marker in recent years. I found that remarkable; this woman clearly had left a lasting impression on someone after all those years.

There's no community listed in the 1921 Newfoundland census for Lobster Cove. But there is a John Hatch listed for Stone's Cove who was born in 1880 and he had a daughter Sabina who was born in 1903. Could it be that John was a nephew of Sabine and remembered his Aunt by naming his daughter after her? Was the memory of Sabine handed down through her?

What does this mean to me as I'm not related? It makes me wonder how she lived to be remembered so. It makes me wonder am I living my life such that someone 120 years from now would even give me a thought?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Stone's Cove

Where did everyone go?

That's the question I thought this building foundation asked. This was a significant investment by someone as the cement had to be mixed by hand, it says I intend to be around here for a while. Maybe they were in terms of a human life but in the grand scheme of things it was the blink of an eye. But nothing is forever and the need for access to modern conveniences meant that a subsistence living with a huge quality of life had to be given up for life in a bigger center.

A 1921 census lists there were 191 individuals living in 36 homes. That was a sizeable community in my estimation for such a small area with very little level land. The surnames on the census were: Elms, Pope, Harris, Bond, Dinham, Tibbo, Buffett, Hatch, Johnson, Riggs, Frances, Fizzard and Miller.

Of the 191 souls, only 8 people were over the age of 60. I think that speaks volumes about longevity when you live in an isolated setting.

But, what's more important? Quantity or quality?

Stairway to ???

I wonder who poured these steps and who else lived here where a house once stood. I wonder how many kitchen parties were held here, how many times dinner got burned on the stove, how many times a wife waited expectantly for her husband to come home from the fishing grounds? No one will ever know.

Now I lay me down

The shores of the church lie on the ground where the former church stood. It was a fairly large church judging by the number of shores and the outside perimeter of the foundation. Well, it would have had to accomodate 191 souls.

I'm watching

A lone cemetary marker with the name "Price" on it looks down over Stone's Cove. There didn't appear to be a grave nor did I find any other gravestones. That is pretty unusual for a community that in 1921 had 191 living souls. I suspect that they burried their loved ones in the cemetary at Crant's Cove because some of the names on the Stone's Cove census are on gravestones there - in particular Bond and Pope.

Three individuals from former families have returned to build cabins but a far cry from the heyday of Stone's Cove

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Crant's Cove

First view of Crant's Cove

This was my first view of Crant's Cove from the seat of my kayak as I rounded the point coming from Anderson's Cove. There are no visible signs on the land that there were ever buildings here but the number of headstones made it look like this was a bustling community at one time. Not so.

Crant's Cove was settled by the families Crant and Stone. The Stones subsequently moved one cove over to the left and grew to be larger than Crant's Cove. The 1921 census of Newfoundland doesn't have a listing for Crant's Cove so it must have been inhabited by a very small number of people, maybe just the Crants themselves.

I had a quick look at the names on the headstones. They included Pope, Thornhill and Bond; all names that appear on the census for Anderson and Stone's Coves. I suspect that these communities used the land at Crant's Cove to bury their dead due to shortage of suitable land in their own communities.

If I get back here in the future I'll take more time to check more headstones.

Crant's Cove

Looking over the cove and the cemetary on the point. The cove is not very deep and doesn't offer much protection from the prevailing winds. This view is northeast.

Premium land in a rocky landscape

We had been to Anderson's Cove where it didn't look like there was much arable or flat land for raising of vegetables, yet in its day Anderson's Cove had a bigger population than Crant's Cove. After leaving this place we went to Stone's Cove where the terrain didn't look as good either. That made me wonder if protection from the sea was more important than usable land to people who settled in the area. Probably was.

Family Dominix

The name on the headstone was "Dominix"; sentinals looking southeast over the entrance to Crant's Cove. There are no names Dominix on the 1921 census for the communities in the area so they must have migrated to the area in more recent times.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lost places found

Greeting the morning

We had made it to Anderson's Cove, Crant's Cove and Stone's Cove. Abandoned communities lost to time but rediscovered on our paddle in Fortune Bay.

The night before in Lobster Cove where we camped Saturday night, Stan and myself were driven into our tents by rain and wind. The rain falling on the tent had a sedative quality but the wind beating on the tent made me wonder how long it would take to drift off to sleep. But sleep I did thanks to almost 30 kms of paddling.

When I woke at 4:30 the rain was coming to an end but it was still blowing out in the open waters outside of Lobster Cove in Long Harbour. I watched a fishing vessel come out of Anderson's Cove opposite and head out into the exposed waters with water flying everywhere. I relishedcthe thought of paddling home in it but the wind dropped, the fog settled in and we had pretty much glassy calm water to our paddle out.

The calm after the storm

Whitecaps gave way to a glassy calm sea by the time we had the kayaks loaded and got underway for our paddle out. There was a bit of fog but nothing to concern ourselves with.

Big Conne in the fog

We crossed straight across the mouth of Big Conne (an indent in the coast that's almost 2 kms deep) on our way out whereas we paddled in there and into Little Conne on the way down to Stone's Cove. It was effortless paddling once I got the loaded boat moving. The Newfoundland Census records of 1921 list two communities in Big Conne which I didn't know about beforehand. Might be something to check out if I ever get a chance to paddle there again.

Loaded to the gunwalls and sitting low in the water

For some reason, with identical Nordkapps and fully loaded, Stan's boat was heavier and lower in the water.

Stan's boat being stealthy black doesn't show up well in some pictures against a dark background so I watch for photo ops where he's in the light. It was flat calm behind the protection of Petticoat Island and we took our time drifting sometimes because you could see clear to the bottom where forests of seaweed rose to the light. I guessed the seaweed was close to 3 metres tall, quite amazing really. Sometimes it pays to look down.

Lookin' good

The greenery was particularly green after the rain the night before and fog that lingered somewhat. That, coupled with Stan's beautiful Nordkapp was worth a shot. Here we're just about to leave the protection of Petticoat Island with Chiffy Cove in the background.


Stan sits in the reflective waters near Chiffy Point after we emerge from the protective waters behind Petticoat Island. I was slightly ahead of Stan at this point and noticed the greens and browns reflected in the water and waited for him to drift into the picture for a "Kodak moment".

Home is the sailor, home from the sea

Hauled up on a slipway back at Harbour Mille after approximately 50 kms to and from Stone's Cove. A memorable trip for me all the way around. I would definately do this again but next time I think I'd be better prepared by printing an old census to compare to some of the headstones of the abandoned cemeteries. There's something about the words of the "Ode to Newfoundland" that strikes a chord with me ... "Where once they stood, we stand". I'd like to know a bit more about the cast.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Places lost

Loaded up and ready to go

Stan proposed an overnight kayak camping trip earlier in the week. Some discussion and we settled on a paddle from Harbour Mille in Fortune Bay to the resettled community of Stone's Cove. Stan just wanted to paddle somewhere new, I thought visiting some of Newfoundland's historic abandoned communities would be a great added feature.

Scott Walden had visited the Province of Newfoundland some years ago with the intention of photographing the remains of some of Newfoundland's resettled communities. The result of that visit was a book entitled "Places Lost". These were isolated settlements that the Government of the day thought should be moved and the inhabitants consolidated in larger communities for access to modern conveninces.

We got into Harbour Mille Friday afternoon hoping to cross so that we'd have more paddling time on Saturday. It didn't happen as it was blowing with many whitecaps visible. We toured Harbour Mille and after some (too long for words) scouting, we found a nice spot off the road to put up our tents and catch some Zs for an early morning rise.

We got out of our sleeping bags around 4:30 am, made breakfast and headed to the harbour to put-in.

Stan making progress in choppy waters

We had to make a 5 km crossing of the northern part of Fortune Bay to get on the far shore that would take us to our destination of Stone's Cove.

It was better but still choppy. Not a problem for our fully loaded Nordkapps. I couldn't believe the handling of the boat with a bit of weight in it.

Stan paddles along some massive red cliffs

This stretch of shore is exposed to south and south-western winds but today after we crossed the northern reaches of Fortune Bay the wind dropped and the water went calm. We were very fortunate and relieved to find that the wind had dropped so we could take our time to enjoy the scenery on offer today.

Lunch beach at Friar Head

We got the boats ashore an cooked lunch. Stan and I both made lunch and then halved it to give each other a different taste, so we had a smorgasbord!

Done lunch and cleaning up afterwards, Stan wanted to hike up to the hill overlooking the beach to see what was visable over the surrounding country. There wasn't much to see but turning back we has this great view looking back the bay and the great beach where we landed.

Here lies Sabine Hatch

Our first destination after lunch was Anderson's Cove. Stan spoke to a colleague at work who informed him a bit about Anderson's Cove so we wanted to visit there. We turned north into Long Harbour and Stan noticed the solitary grave overlooking Lobster Cove just inside the entrance to the "fjord" called Long Harbour. I had to get out to have a look and Stan patiently waited.

The name on the headstone was Sabine Hatch and she passed away in 1890 at the age of 36 years. Death at an early age was common for people living in the isolated bays of Newfoundland which locally are called "outports".

Crant's Cove

We left Long Harbour and paddled to Crant's Cove around Long Harbour Point. Crant's Cove is one of the resettled communities features in Scott Walden's book "Places Lost". We came into the cove, with me thinking it was Stone's Cove. I recognized the graveyard with the massive hill behind it and thought it must be Crant's Cove, a community started by the Crants and Stones. The Stones subsequently moved over a cove to the left and settled Stone's Cove which went on to overshadow Crant's Cove in terms of size. Odd I thought as there were many more gravestones at Crant's Cove than at Stone's Cove.

I landed to get check out the graveyard and noted the family names of Dominix, Thornhill, Scott, Bond and notably Pope. That was interesting as we spoke to a fisherman earlier in the day who said his Grandmother was from Crant's Cove and her name was Pope.

Not only is Crant's Cove a place lost but so are the names of most of these families in the immediate area.

Stone's Cove

Next stop after Crant's Cove was Stone's Cove which is also featured in "Places Lost". Stone's Cove is another one of Newfoundland's resettled communities. There was a substantial church and numerous houses but more on that later. It might have been abandoned but sometime later a few came back and built cabins to use when fishing in the area, repleat with satellite dishes!

Home sweet home

When we left Stone's Cove the wind picked up as did the seas. We had some challenging seas but I was impressed again how well the fully loaded Nordkapp handled in the quartering seas. Where to spend the night? I left it up to Stan and he led us back to Lobster Cove just inside the entrance to Long Harbour. Stan chose well as inside here it was calm.

We unloaded the boats, put up the tents and cooked supper. Cooked supper if you can call boiling water to dump into dehydrated food cooking! We chose for simple on this trip.


After we made supper and washed the dishes (!!!) Stan and I picked up some firewood on the beach and had a fire. Something about a fire, ever changing, ever consuming, that is spellbinding. This was our entertainment for the night. It looked a bit like two guys looking at the idiot box but unlike TV, there was time to yak it up in between gathering wood to keep the "home fire burning".

At about 9:30 it started to rain and blow so we retreated to the comfort of out tents and sleeping bags. I wondered what tomorrow would bring for our trip home. We didn't have the luxury of a weather day.

Safe and out of the weather as the rain pounded the tent, I reflected on a fantastic day paddling with good friend and paddle mate Stan. 30 kms paddled wasn't a bad effort.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Toasting the memory of Danny

On Saturday Sherry and I attended the wedding reception of John and Dani Feltham in Glovertown. John is the son of our friends Danny and Joan. Danny passed away in March 2000 at 42 years of age from pancreatic cancer. Prior to the wedding we stopped at the cemetary to raise a glass of wine in memory of Danny.

Danny was full of life, he had dreams - grand dreams. Some of them were coming to fruition when he was diagnosed, others will remain dreams. He left a lot of life on the table whan he passed and I thought back to all the things I squeezed in in the intervening years that I wouldn't have been able had it been me.

I proposed the toast at the gravesite. Why? Partly to remember Danny in a visible way and partly to remind myself to live life in the present. Carpe diem, sieze the day I suppose. Sometimes its easy to forget to live by that tenet. Whether its kayaking or any other activity, do it while you can. The weather may not be perfect today for a paddle but as long as its safe I will go. I might not be given the opportunity tomorrow.

Thanks for reminding me Danny.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Duty calls

Peter in the glassy, reflective waters of Woody Island

Well, there's no paddling on offer today; I've got a wedding to attend in Glovertown, about 3 hours drive away. Its one of those things you just have to do even though you'd rather be paddling. Its not that I don't want to see these friends, maybe just after a paddle. That's duty calling.

I considered taking the boat and have a short paddle before the wedding. I'd just have to slip a tie over my drysuit but my wife wasn't impressed. So, its not to be. I'll just reflect on a fantastic paddle I recently did in Placentia Bay.

Its only one weekend and I'll be back on the water soon.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Royal Blue

The police close in on Sue?

The first thing most people think of when they see the police is someone has done something wrong. Not on this day and certainly not Sue!

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) provided their rescue boat for our paddling safety day on Saturday past. We had a group of paddlers keeping an eye on everyone just in case they got into trouble on the water; having the RNC rescue boat on hand gave us another level of safety. With over 100 peple trying a kayak for the first time, it was good to know we had this back-up.

I didn't know the RNC had such a boat and I don't know what it will be used for in the future but I hope I never need their services. And I guess that's the main reason for safety day and practicing kayak safety. You don't want to have to figure it out when you have to actually rescue yourself or someone else. Practice beforehand so you know what to do when you need the skills.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

All in good jest

Brian and the Dragon Boat

This picture reminds me of an old joke. The story goes that Jack, a weary tourist in London, came upon the pub "George and the Dragon" and thirsty for a pint of ale, knocked on the door. After a couple of minutes a tiny window in the door opens and a snarly voice demands "What do you want?" Quick on wit, Jack says "Yes, well, would George be in?"

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Preaching paddling safety

Avalon Dragon Boat ladies

Today Avalon Dragon Boating, Tumblehome Canoe Club and Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador (KNL) partnered to put off a boating safety day. It was a beautiful sunny day with little wind and warm temperatures, perfect for the occasion. In fact, better weather couldn't have been ordered.

The day started off with a Dragon Boat demonstration, followed by a kayak rescue demonstration by KNL and a canoe safety demo by Tumblehome. A lot of time and effort were put into the day by representatives of the 3 clubs and it was gratifying that a lot of people showed up to take advantage of the opportunity to practice paddling safety.

The Dragon Boat was built by the Dragon boaters themselves; all are cancer surivours. I wanted to get a shot of them in action and it happenned they just came barrelling by me as I floated in my kayak. It was a majestic sight.

I got a chance to paddle the boat and sat next to Alice who explained the mechanics of paddling such a large boat. It was an honour ladies to share Safety Day with you. Live strong!

Brian and Sue preparing for stirup rescue

Brian, Sue, Peter and I represented KNL at Safety Day with a demonstration of various kayak rescues. Other club members were on hand representing KNL by watching over people who were trying a kayak for the first time.

Peter did the play-by-play as Brian, Sue and I worked through Peter's scripted list of rescues. Starting with a low brace and a roll, we moved through Inuit bow rescue, Inuit paddle over the boats rescue, T rescue, assisted re-entry over my bow and the stirup rescue above. We finished with scramble rescues and a paddle float rescue.

Brian, Sue and I had practiced the last 3 days and it was good to see it go off without a hitch. Especially with an audience looking on; there was pressure to perform. Thanks Brian and Sue, it was fun working with you on this.

New paddlers trying out a kayak

I think there were more people trying out boats over the day than there were KNL members. That was a good sign because we wanted to reach these people. The numbers are not in yet but there were many people who took advantage of the chance to try a kayak.

Michael visiting from Quebec

Fellow kayak blogger Michael from Quebec visited us on our Safety Day. That doesn't happen very often - my getting a picture of a fellow kayaker whose blog I read, for my own blog. I think he's escaping the cold and rainy weather of Quebec *lol*.

Hopefully Stan and I will have a paddle with you while you're here Michael.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Diamonds in the sun

The sun sparkles like diamonds on the water around Alison

Across much of Canada the summer so far has been cold, considerably below average seasonal temperatures. In Newfoundland the spring has been outstanding but when summer came the mercury dropped here also. That of course becomes the source of complaints by pretty much everyone I talk to. I don't mind because I'm most comfortable in temperatures around 15 - 20 C.

Tom Petty sang that some days are rocks and some days are diamonds. It can't be sunny and warm everyday; I take it as it comes. As long as I'm on the green side of the sod then every day is a diamond of one kind or another. And, cooler weather is perfect paddling weather as the air temp is about the same as the water temp.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Rock hopping

Brian emerges from the rocks and surf

The end of our paddle on Saturday was a paddle along the shore from Tors Cove to Mobile Bay. Pete and Brian did a bit of rock hopping with waves crashing all about.

I was tempted but don't have the skills yet of these guys and I accept that. That is where I had to exercise restraint so I avoided the tight spots but went through where I felt confident I could manage. Often times paddlers take on conditions above their abilities for different reasons. Pride, desire for acceptance etc.

The danger Saturday was being caught by a wave and being ridden up on the rocks. I watched Pete and Brian carefully and learned. The keys as I saw it was timing - hang back, watch for a bit to get the timing of the waves and paddle hard between waves; keep hips loose; good bracing and be prepared to roll.

I'll be looking for a place and conditions that I can handle and incrementally seek out more challenging conditions. And, practice in the soup of the surf zone. So much still to learn!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

The plan was to paddle out of Tors Cove and try to find the humpback whales that visit the east coast of Newfoundland every summer. When we got to Tors Cove it was foggy and it was risky to paddle out of sight of land. We decided to paddle out to and around Great Island in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve. There was a chance we might see whales but unfortunately we didn't have any luck.

We did see thousands and thousands of seabirds. When we approached where they were massed on the water they would scurry trying to get airbourne and the water looked like it was boiling. This shot captures most of the group of 11 of us as the fog hangs in the background.

There's a huge cave on Great Island that is usually difficult to get into because of the swell that often runs on the east coast of the Avalon Peninsula. Today it was possible and a bunch of us stuck our noses inside. It was still foggy!

Steve paddling out of the cave.

Paddling up the outside east coast of Great Island it looks like there's a hole in the wall of the island. The hole worn mirrors the tilted beds of the greenish grey sandstones of the Cabot Group of rocks and you can see the degree to which the beds have been uplifted from horizontal.

The marine forecast was for 1 metre of swell but out here we had close to two at times. The swell rebounding off the cliffs made for confused seas and I wished I had more weight in my boat.

We paddled down the inside west coast of Great Island with thousands of birds on the cliffs, floating on the water and soaring overhead. I had no idea I captured the bird flying over Bob, Pete and Ysabelle until I got home and downloaded the pictures.

After we returned to Tors Cove and had lunch we paddled over to Mobile Bay. We paddled close to the coast and at one point a group of hikers passing on the East Coast Trail stopped to watch our boats dancing on the waves. We waved to each other in acknowledgment of our outdoor pursuits on this day. Brian and Pete did some rock hopping. I thought better of some of the tighter spots they paddled through but I watch closely to see how they handled being pushed around by the crashing waves. Boy, these guys are good!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Cari - boo

On Wednesday Alison, Peter, Stan and I paddled around Sound and Woody Islands in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. We were lucky to encounter two caribou. Kayaks, being so stealthy, are the perfect vessels to view wildlife unobtrusively.

This is the same animal that I photographed and posted yesterday. I zoomed in to get this picture as the caribou stopped to look back at Alison and Stan who were sitting in their kayaks, maybe as curious about them as we were about her. The fact that she ambled away and stopped to look back assured us that we didn't stress her with out presence.

After we had our dip at Rattling Brook falls Peter said we should handrail and be quiet because there was a good chance we'd see a caribou. He was right. As I paddled along this stretch of shoreline something stirred in my perpheral vision, I looked up and couldn't believe my eyes. A bit of fumbling for my camera and I managed a few shots. The shade here combined with the bright sunlight confusing the digital camera makes it difficult to see the caribou but the stag is there to see if you enlarge the picture. I guess its proof that the caribou's camouflage is pretty effective.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Woody Island Zen

Peter proposed a paddle for Canada Day from Garden Cove at the head of Placentia Bay, down the outside of Sound Island and Woody Island and then a return trip up the inside channel between the islands and the mainland. It was the beginning of paddle that we would describe as fantastic when we took out. We put-in a bit after 10:30, stopped for lunch for about an hour, swam at a swimhole for about 30 minutes and took out at 6:30.

Just after putting in, Peter, Stan and Alison paddle towards Placentia Mans Point where we crossed over to Sheppard Point on Sound Island.

Black and white boats of Stan and Alison with the coast of the Avalon Peninsula behind them. The Come by Chance oil refinery was like a scar on the landscape but a happy memory also of a time many years ago when I fished codfish with my father-in-law on the waters in the background.

Stan and Peter paddle up to a beautiful beach in Maggotty Cove on Sound Island. I was surprised with the numerous beaches we would come across on our paddle today, some of which were claimed by people who built summer cabins behind them.

The schistose rocks of Sound Island in Placentia Bay testify to their heated contorted past in early earth history. And, they made for a very scenic paddle.

The kayaks were pulled up on this sandy beach at Back Cove on Woody Island where we stopped for lunch, a dip for some and some exploring. We spoke to some local people who showed up as we were leaving who told us the beach was cleared of rocks by a Randy Lieb who cemented them into the walls of a house we had earlier investigated. Maybe so, but we saw many beautiful beaches on our paddle today.

Peter and the rocks of Woody Island are reflected in the still waters that greeted us after our lunch stop. It was truly a Zen moment was we paddled along on still waters with Placentia Bay to the left and clear water letting us see fish, rocks and seaweed on the bottom.

Peter under the watchful eye of an eagle perched in the trees above him at about 1:00 on the clock. There was a nest in the trees below and as we approached the shore the Mama flew away to draw us away from the nest while Papa kept an eye on us. She need not have worried because we were only interested in looking and admiring these magnificent birds.

Stan paddling in the zen-like conditions of Placentia Bay after we stopped for lunch.

The falls where Rattling Brook falls into the sea. Getting under the spray of a waterfall like this is always a treat as its a chance to get a cool down.

We took our boats out and laid them along a short path that led to a well concealed treasure above the falls. Peter and Alison knew about the swim hole but if Stan and myself had been here without them we certainly would have missed it. This $1,000,00 view makes it look like its all on one level but the swim hole is actually about 5 metres above the sea level in the sunlight.

Alison and Peter were prepared with swimware, Stan and myself cooled ourselves off in our drysuits. Next time I'll be prepared.

We handrailed along the coast from Rattling Brook falls to Bob Spirer Cove opposite from Sound Island with the hope we'd see some wildlife. We were lucky; we saw two caribou. One walked at a canter along the shoreline and the other was sunning herself when Alison came upon her and gestured we should come quickly. We kept our distance and watched as the yearling sauntered off.