Monday, July 12, 2010

Grand Bruit to Wreck Island

Stan ready to go - day 3

We slept in the church in the resettled community of Grand Bruit the previous night. At rise and shine we knew we had the weather with us again. A quick breakfast of porridge, kayaks repacked and we were on our way back to Burgeo. We would go far on this day.

Good-bye Grand Bruit

We had spent a considerable amount of time in Grand Bruit having to stop overnight to catch the ferry down to Rose Blanche and then again overnight on our paddle back up the coast. I got used to the place and had a number of enjoyable exchanges with the few people who were tying up loose ends before leaving the resettled community.

Grand Bruit will be left to decay like so many other resettled communities in Newfoundland. I've been in a few where the houses had fallen down and where only foundations remained. I wondered if I'd live long enough to come back one day to see only foundations - probably not.

Blue Hills of Grand Bruit

Leaving Grand Bruit the Blue Hills of Grand Bruit loomed over us in the distance. We originally planned a day hike but that may have been a bit optimistic but I'm sure the view from the top of there 400 metre high hills would have been impressive.

The water was calm and it felt like we literally flew over the surface as we made our way towards Sandbank Point.

Constant rocks and sunkers offshore

There were a lot of offshore rocks and sunkers for such an exposed and unforgiving coast.

Into Cinq Cerf Bay

Ralph's original paddle plan was to paddle into Cinq Cerf Bay and paddle inside of all the islands. At the bottom of the bay a salmon river ran out that on the map looked like it had potential to be a beautiful spot. We didn't make it. We did paddle inside of Cinq Cerf Islands, Shag Island but then outside of Blackhead Island to cross directly to Shot Bag Island and Long Point at the other end of the bay.

Looking for a rest stop

Having paddled through Cinq Cerf Bay we paddled around Long Point hoping to find a suitable place to take out for a rest. It didn't look good but as we looked across to Captain's Island we saw what looked to be a suitable beach so we carried on for almost another hour as the far away beach beckoned.


A couple of caribou were on the beach at Captain's Island to greet me. The female and calf had come down to the waters edge for the salt water. They saw me and wandered up into the hills where a stag stood watching over them. These chance meeting are always a nice surprise.

We took out here for our first rest stop of the day.

The fog rolls in

As we sat having our snack break the fog rolled in. It was bright and I suspected the sun would burn the fog off after a while but we left Captain's Island in fog. Stan took charge of Ralph's GPS and led us through the fog around Smoky Island and Muddy Hole Bay. As we crossed Muddy Hole Bay the fog did lift to show we were on target for Muddy Hole Point. I could see bottom in the middle of the bay and thought how interesting this place would be in a sizeable swell.

Connoire Head

Connoire Bay was a crossing of 1 hour as we paddled directly across the mouth of the bay from Muddy Hole Point to Connoire Head. We swung around the Head and in pretty calm conditions and paddled towards Wreck Island. We were ready for a pit stop with over 30 kms under our hulls already on the day.


As we came around the top of Wreck Island we were welcomed by this inviting sandy beach. More than a pit stop, we decided that we'd stay here for the night. The forecast for the next day was favourable which meant we didn't have to run in front of the weather.

Our Wreck Island home

Above the beach a level grassy field with a great view made for an ideal campsite. Looking back in the direction we came from I could see the Blue Hills of Grand Bruit and I marveled at how far we had paddled. Actually, I was astonished how far away the hills looked.

A strand of sand

We had a beautiful sandy beach to call home on Wreck Island.

Burgeo is that-a-way but well over the horizon. We sensed the the trip was winding down.

Fire on the beach

Our bellies satisfied with supper we gathered some firewood on the beach and had a bonfire. Later as the fire died down Ralph made notes of the day's paddle while I played it over in my head. We went to bed contented with the day's activities and slept well after the 36 km paddle.

84 kms paddled and good weather predicted for the next day that would see us back in Burgeo.


  1. I'm really enjoying your write-up on this trip, Tony! It's one I've thought about doing as well (the whole south coast in fact, slowly!). I can't believe what great weather you've had!

  2. Its a great trip to do Michael and you could do the whole coast if you were flexible with time. We were lucky with the weather but a longer paddle will surely require storm days. The coast between Burgeo and Hermitage is more spectacular with massive high cliffs.

    Tony :-)

  3. When you were at Wreck Island, you wouldn't be seeing the Blue Hills of Grand Bruit, but the Blue Hills of Couteau. They look very similar, and run close to one another. It's too bad you didn't hike into the Blue Hills of Grand Bruit as it is a gorgeous hike, about 3 hours to the "saddle". There is a marked path to follow as well. My first time doing that hike was in 1985, and we camped in the saddle for 4 days.

    Thanks for more great photos.

  4. Thanks for posting the photos. I have done a 4 day kayak trip in the Burgeo area but not as far west as Wreck Island. I hope to some GG Grandfather and his family used to reside there in the summers for the fishing and hunting but sadly he and one of his sons drowned while making their way from Connoire Bay back to Wreck Island in a small boat in the 1860s. The island looks barren in your photos but I image there would have been small buildings there at the time when my ancestors were there.

  5. Thanks sky and kingpoint. Obviously I hadn't checked my responses this far back in a while.

    Drownings at sea are a far too common story line in Newfoundland history. We were lucky to have had such good weather when we did our trip.

    Tony :-)