Thursday, June 30, 2011

To Harbour Buffett by water

A horse of course

Saturday night I slept like a log after our 37 km paddle down from Arnolds Cove. I woke early though, around 5:30. I unzipped the tent door to see what the weather was and as I looked around a horse and 4 goats were looking back at me. I dove back into the tent to grab my camera and emerged to see the horse turning to leave. Awesome!

Breadcrumbs for day 2

We sized up the situation in the morning as we ate breakfast and made a combined decision that it was suitable for a trip around Long Island. We planned to make camp in Haystack that night but would first make a couple of stops.

There's an overland trail from Port Royal to Harbour Buffett that can be walked in about 15 minutes. Hazen had walked there the previous evening but today we'd be going by water around Buffett Head and then turn north.

Underway, day 2

Back in the boats it didn't take long to get back into rhythm.


As we made our way towards the south end of Long Island the cliffs got higher.

Buffett Head looked to be in fog

The wind began to pick up slightly and it looked like maybe it would be foggy on the other side. The fog seemed to be trying to roll over Ironskull Hill and onto the east side of the island.

Nearing the headland

However, it began to brighten as Hazen and Clyde approach the headland. The nearest island Great Seal Island and in the distance to the left is Red Island.

Rounding Buffett Head

The waters around Buffett Head were glassy calm and there were lots of seagulls. The other guys were busy checking out a school of capelin, a small grunion like fish.

On the outskirts

Near the entrance to Harbour Buffett and inside Isaac Island someone has a beautiful site for a cabin and wharf.

Inside Harbour Buffett

Harbour Buffett is but a shadow if itself before resettlement. It was a thriving fishing community with a peak population of 498 in 1921. The whole harbour was occupied by fishing premises, stages and flakes for drying cod fish.

The Maritime History Archive at MUN (the University) has a nice collection of old photographs of Harbour Buffett and its citizens that makes for interesting viewing. the place looks so unassuming now given how active it was in its heyday. We had a quick look around but I think its worth coming back for a closer look, and I will.

Time moves on

Harbour Buffett was abandoned after 1966. As there was no one to tend to the cemetery, nature carried on as if it didn't notice the population had left. Trees grew between the graves and the action of frost toppled grave markers.

On walk about

We walked around the old community remarking about the amount of old foundations and concrete works still evident on the land. There happened to be a few people staying in cabins while we were there and they observed us through binoculars as we entered the harbour. Once we landed we found out that they had put a pot of coffee on, expecting us to have some. And, that is the way it is in Newfoundland.

Finished our short visit to Harbour Buffett, we got back in our kayaks with a send off from the Wareham party and made for Hay Cove and lunch.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Making port in Port Royal

Hazen with Merasheen and Red Islands in the distance

We stopped for lunch south of Spencers Cove in full sunshine and no wind what-so-ever. The sunshine didn't persist though as cloud rolled in. It was still pleasant, just not as bright. Invigorated with a good feed we got back in our boats and continued south.

Clyde and Dean hugging the shore

The waters stayed dead calm as we made our way south from Spencers Cove.

Suitable campsite

The topo map and satellite shot suggested this was a good spot to camp and it was. As we entered Hennesy Cove we were surprised to see five caribou in the cove but they wandered off as we neared the beach. This could have been a good campsite for the night but it was early and after some discussion we agreed to carry on another 10 km to Port Royal to camp for the night.

Jellyfish season

In addition to the eagles and caribou we saw, there's also lots of life beneath the surface. I don't know it its jellyfish season or not but there were lots of jellyfish everywhere.

Destination in sight

Paddling further down the coast we spotted Green Island and knew our destination was close.

Dean entering Kingwell

Kingwell is a resettled community some 15 kms from Spencers Cove. It sits in an indentation the shape of a bowl and protected by two islands. As we entered we caught sight of a woman with camera in hand so we went to have a chat. She was amazed that we had come in these small craft all the way from Arnolds Cove.


The harbour at Kingwell opened up into a round protected waterway with some cabins sprinkled along the shore.

Don Slade, storekeeper at one time in North Harbour, resettled from Kingwell. I knew Don well as my daughters spent part of summers in North Harbour and were treated often to goodies from his store.

Port Royal

Paddling down from Kingwell we began looking for a place to set up camp for the night. We prospected this level site but opted to get back in our boats and paddle to the long beach to the right of all the cabins and hopefully out of their sight.

Beachfront property

A narrow flat area above the high tide mark made a perfect place to pitch our tents.

Fire on the beach

After setting up the tents and cooking supper we collected a pile of driftwood scattered along the beach and started a fire. We talked about the day's paddle and plans for the next day all the while warmed by the glow of the fire and refreshments.

Slowly the the pile of wood was consumed and we crawled into our sleeping bags in anticipation of the next days paddle to Harbour Buffett and beyond.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Long Island - are we there yet?

Long Island

Clyde called early last week to see if I was interested in a kayak camp trip upcoming weekend. Absolutely I said. Being five days before the weekend, we agreed to mail around for interest and prepare as if it was a go with a final decision once the forecast became clearer.

As mail flew back and forth over the electronic highway, we settled on a crossing to Long Island in Placentia Bay. Details to be worked out on the fly.

Thursday arrived with a favourable long range forecast so Clyde, Dean, Hazen and I left Friday for Arnolds Cove where we would do the crossing to Long Island. We camped in a clearing off the highway, lit a fire, had a swally and hit the hay ready for a Saturday morning crossing.

Loading the kayaks

Up at the crack of dawn we had breakfast, broke camp and drove the short distance into Arnolds Cove. We found an easy access to the beach where we stuffed all our gear into our kayaks. I believe I saw Clyde use his boots a few times to force it all in.

Leaving Arnolds Cove

It was dead calm in the harbour as Dean and Hazen head for the north shore. In the distance between the darker landmass lay our destination of Long Island.

Clyde in stride

Clyde glides past Bodeaux Island, the last piece of security provided by the mainland before we hit the open water. The crossing from Bordeaux to Long Island Point is a few hundred meters over 6 kms.


Bread and Cheese Islands on starboard. It felt good to be on the open ocean and underway.

Long Island Point

Dean arrives at Long Island Point. We proceeded down the inside channel between Long Island and Merasheen Island.

Long Island landing

One kilometer south of Long Island Point we had our first stop; not because we were tired but more to savour the success of reaching our destination and drink it all in. At this spot Long Island pinches in to no more than 30 meters wide with a similar beach mirrored on the other side. I'll name it Welcome Cove.

Merasheen Island in the distance with White Island off its north end.

Sun, sun, sun

We had a typical sunny day in Placentia Bay *lol*; just kidding. Anyone familiar with Placentia Bay knows its notorious for its foggy dreary weather that can last for days this time of year.

Entering Spencers Cove

The site of the former community of Spencers Cove (spelled variably with a "s") lies nestled under the rolling hills of Long Island 3.5 kms from the Point.

Spencers Cove was settled in 1850 and resettled in 1966. In 1857 the population was 87; 1941 - 119 and 1961 - 163. A sizeable community in rural Newfoundland by even today's standard.

The predominant family names include Slade, Hollett, Boutcher and Peach. Oddly, there are no "Spencers" listed; I wonder then how it came by its name. Maybe that information has been lost in time? The rest of the 1935 census can be found here if interested.


Dean surveys the shoreline where a concrete foundation of an abandoned building was visible.

Hazen and Clyde chat it up

While Spencers Cove was resettled in 1966, the former inhabitants still come back to spend time in cabins they have built since abandonment. By the looks of their boats they haven't done too badly! These guys were only children when they left with their families but as they say here "you can take the boy out of the bay, but you can't take the bay out of the boy".

We had a grand chat with them before leaving to proceed further down the shore for lunch and to find our campsite for Saturday night.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Living and learning

Getting out there

There's no point in getting older without getting smarter.

I'm busy today packing for a three day trip to Long Island in Placentia Bay. I've done some kayak camping but I'm certainly not an expert. I am learning. Last year on our south coast trip I brought back twice as much food as I ate. I allowed for weather delays but took way too much. This time around its more in line with reality and it will free up some room in my kayak for other stuff - like a nice bottle of blueberry vino!

Now, the anticipation of getting underway.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mother IXX

Where a house once stood

Great Colinet Island had two communities at one time but they were resettled in the early 1960's. Having stopped at Mosquito I also wanted to have a look around Regina (locally pronounced Reg-ena) and called Mother IXX at one time.

I walked around to see what was still left of the community and found only foundations. A good site at MUN (Newfoundland's University) has a little history and pages of old photographs of what the community looked like before resettlement. Having seen these photos previously added to the experience of walking around the site while I was there.


A chimney still stands where a house once stood. The hole for the stove pipe indicates where the kitchen was. In those days the kitchen stove provided heat for the whole house and was the social center of the house.

Rock of ages

The foundation of the community church is all that remains of the sermons and prayers uttered in this place. A little imagination is all it takes to see people dressed in their Sunday best entering and departing over the front steps.

Former fish plant

The foundation of the former fish processing plant lies scattered on the beach. A lot of community fish plants are going to look like this in years to come as the sea's resources come increasingly under stress.

The people have left but the community lives on in the memories of those who lived in Regina. After they pass on it will live through the interest of people like myself and Scott Walden also visited the Island and has a chapter dedicated to the two communities in his book "Places Lost", a very interesting read.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mosquito no more


Mosquito is a resettled community on Great Colinet Island and was our first stop Saturday on our circumnavigation. The community was resettled in the early 1960s under Joey Smallwood's resettlement program. You can check out the history of the program here if interested. There's lots of info on the web.

The census for 1925 shows 45 persons living in 11 households. The prominent families listed were Dobbin, Doody and Linehan. In 1935 there were 73 and in 1945, 70.

All that's left now are concrete foundations where the houses once stood. I suspect the houses were cannibalized for the wood because there was no evidence of structures left standing to let waste away.

Grassy field

Mosquito was one of the most suitable areas on the Avalon for agriculture. People who lived here grew their own vegetables and fished the sea. Living here meant all sources of sustenance had to be exploited.

Its said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes. What does this picture have to say? To most probably not much as there's not much going on, there's no action, only a lone spruce tree. But there was at one time. As I walked through the fields I thought about how much work early settlers of Mosquito put into clearing land to grow crops.

Nature retakes cemetery

The graveyard is always a draw for me in Newfoundland's resettled communities because the history of any place can be told by the headstones in the cemetery. In the case of Mosquito it appears the people who moved on to new communities have forgotten those predeceased. The cemetery was badly overgrown, some of the graves were sunken and headstones fallen.

I guess priorities change to making a go of it in the present rather than paying homage to the past. That's the way it is but to me its still sad.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Around Great Colinet Island

The Breadcrumbs

Saturday Clyde,Dean, Hazen and I were in St. Mary's Bay to do a circumnavigation of Great Colinet Island. The island is only a short 1.5 km crossing from the community of Admirals Beach. We saw an eagle, seagulls and lots of seals as we paddled along a beautiful coastline. In addition, we walked around the site of the former communities of Mosquito and Regina.

On our way

Dean leads the way across the short channel to Great Colinet Island from Admirals Beach. Little Colinet Island to starboard and the other side of St. Mary's Bay in the distance.

Aiming pont

We touched our bows on a beach after crossing and started down the east shore. The bottom of the island lay in the distance.

Clear waters

Rocks on the sea bottom, kayakers along the shore, sunbathed hills reflected on the water.

Arriving at Mosquito

Paddling down the east side of the island we arrived at our first stop, the resettled community of Mosquito. Mosquito was one of two inhabited communities on the island. They were both resettled in the early '60s.


Looking down over the former community from the graveyard. The dearly departed had a good view but there's not much left now. More pictures of Mosquito to come!

Checkin' it out

The highly fractured and jointed rocks allowed the sea to wear small caves into the cliffs. It all stayed securely in place as Dean backed in to check it out.


Hazen enjoying the day.

There were caves

Life in live 3D! Greenish waters. steel grey rocks, brilliant sunshine ... does it get get any better?

... and more caves

Turning at the bottom of the island we entered a small un-named cove with a few caves etched into the cliffs.

Monster Cave

Inside of the beast I'll dub "Monster Cave".

Up the other side

After stopping at Wild Cove for lunch we rounded South Point and paddled up the west side of the island. Where on the east side it was flat calm we had a quartering sea on our port stern on the west side. Hazen's skeg was stuck so we all paddled the 5 kms without our skegs in solidarity.

Emerald Isle?

The west side of the island was predominated by greenery so much that it reminded me of pictures of Ireland where so many Newfoundlanders hailed from. The camera really didn't do justice to the shades of green.

Massive cliffs

Dean makes his way underneath massive cliffs with green vegetation hanging on for dear life.


After paddling up the west side of Great Colinet Island and rounding Dalton Point we were in the shelter of Regina Cove, the site of the resettled community Regina (locally pronounced Reg-eena). We stopped on the beach before crossing back to Admirals Beach. I went for a stroll to see what was left of the former community. There wasn't much but I'll post those shots later.

We crossed the 1.5 channel back to Admirals Beach completing our circumnavigation of the island for a total of 25 kms. An interesting paddle into history with our feet in today.