Sunday, June 29, 2014

Chasing imaginary whales

When you leave St. Philips there are three ways you can go: south or north along the coast or cross the 5 km wide Tickle to Bell Island.  I proposed an easy short paddle to Topsail Beach.  Derrick said he saw whales in the Tickle Thursday.  Dean said there were no whales around yet.  We agreed nonetheless to go to Bell Island and hope to find whales on the crossing.

We arrived at Dominion Pier on Bell Island without seeing any whales.  They were Dean's imaginary whales, the ones that were not around yet.  At least if they were around, they didn't present themselves to us.

At Dominion Pier I paddled through the piles still standing since mining was abandoned at Bell Island in the mid-60s.

Derrick thought we'd just cross and then return to St. Philips.  That would have been a short day so we paddled north along the layered Ordovician sedimentary rocks bathed in brilliant sunshine.

At Pulpit Head the land curved to the left.  Across Conception Bay the land stretched further north to Cape St. Francis.

At Green Head Cove we stopped for a snack hovering over the rocky bottom which we could see through the clear water illuminated by the sunshine.

The water was flat calm.  The sun created a mirror surface reflecting the white hulls of Dean's and Derrick's boats.

Paddling around Ragged Head and into Ragged Head Cove the distinctive rock formation of Long Harry Point came into view.

Eastern Head separates two small coves but they are connected by this tunnel through the headland.  Passage through the tunnel is protected on the west end by rocks.  Today it was high water when we arrived and even with high water we barely squeezed through.

The three of us emerged from the tunnel into bright sunshine again and paddled on to Jackmans Cove where we pulled out for a break.

I was on the clock.  I had to be home for the 1:30 kick off for the World Cup football game between Holland and Mexico.  Time was getting tight so after getting through the tunnel again we left Eastern Head and crossed directly to Portugal Cove.  Two crossing today.  Not sure if Dean was thrilled with that but every crossing requires a return.

We arrived at Portugal Cove waiting for the ferry to clear before making our way back south along a familiar shore.

We didn't see any whales but we got more than we anticipated.  The short 14 km paddle planned turned out to be 22.5 km.  Edging very close to 500 kms in the first half of the year.


  1. Crossings are my least favorite paddling activity... nothing to do really but to just paddle.

  2. Ya but sometimes you have to do a crossing to gt somewhere!

    The one thing about crossings I like is being out in the middle of the bay, far from land in a small craft.

    Tony :-)

  3. Not imaginary whales - my cousin saw some in the tickle yesterday, And for the record, I am not a fan of crossings either!!

  4. Hopefully there will be more around. We saw lots of caplin at Bel Island.

    There's only tow ways to get to Bell Island - ferry or crossing. The destination is worth the crossing for me rather than the hassle of getting on the ferry.

    Tony :-)

  5. Nice Freudian slip, there Tony!! I was actually "towed" to Bell Island. Cheryl and I canoed around the western end of the island back in the mid 90s. The canoe was towed over behind her sister's sailboat. Just for the laugh, I rode in the canoe for the crossing! Here's the best part - as we pulled into Lance Cove, I moved forward to the bow to untie the tow rope. The boats were still moving, so my moving to the front caused to canoe to dive like a submarine! ! It was damn cold but a very funny situation. We came back on ferry - without having pay as this was when they first implemented the one-way-pay!

    True story!

  6. With the weather this past Sunday, the crossing was very enjoyable. Too bad we didn't see a whale or two, but I saw a few blows in the tickle on Thursday driving be the cove. Thanks guy for a great Sunday paddle

  7. A slip Sean but a slip of the keystrokes. A typo in other words.

    Yes, Derrick, a super paddle and maybe after seeing caplin in the bay there will be more chances to see whales.

    Tony :-)