Saturday, August 23, 2014

South and East Coast of Newfoundland

Gros Morne National Park

         Land Ho! And there it is......'The Rock', as it is aptly called, is rugged, often barren, and at times foggy and wet, and always breathtaking in it's unexpected beauty. The names alone are as enchanting as the fairies; 'Little Heart's Ease', 'Come-by-Chance', and 'Heart's Delight', are only a few. For years the life's blood of Newfoundland was Cod fishing, so the settlements, often inaccessible by land, grew up around the fishery. As the fishing died out the residents were offered an incentive to relocate to the urban centers.  Consequently, most of the small outposts are now virtual ghost towns.  Former residents and their families return to these abandoned outposts, to their roots, usually in summer to reminisce about the old times.
Gros Morne

Lobster Pots galore!
          Our first port of call after a lumpy overnighter, was Port aux Basque, a rough and ready industrious little seaport on the South East coast. Next morning we decided to be on our way ahead of the weather but were driven back into the harbour by 25 knot winds and bucking seas. Fortunately, our neighbouring sailors were able to grab a line and wrestle us onto the dock against blustery winds. Whew!
Port aux Basque, NFL

Gros Morne
             Safe as houses once again, we opted to take time out to visit Cornerbrook by bus and the well-extolled Gros Morne National Park. The taxi driver assured us there was ' nothing of interest along the way', but as we settled in for the ride the soaring peaks and rocky faces around every turn, told us otherwise. We soon ascended into God's Country, Gros Morne, a vast expanse of green mountain fiords and clear lakes. After a days hiking and exploring we returned to our coach bus and charming Newfie tour guide Sarah of the red hair. Our second attempt to head out of the harbour was more successful and next morning we cruised into the forgotten French colony of the St. Pierre Miquelon Islands. This tiny enclave of France clings hesitantly to the coast of Newfoundland, a relic of the old seafaring days of colonization.

                                               "There once was a puffin just the shape of a muffin
                                                And he lived on an island in the bright blue sea.
                                                 He ate little fishes that were most delicious,
                                                And he had them for dinner and he had them for tea".
  St. Pierre, Miquelon
          Zut Alors! Who would expect this miniature outpost of the French republic here of all places, off the East Coast of Newfoundland? In the 1700's and 1800's England and France fought over the islands and eventually in 1816 they came permanently under the French flag. The town of St. Pierre is nestled between verdant rocky hillsides surrounding an industrious fishing harbour. And yes, the Puffins have arrived huddled together in little flocks! Once ashore we investigated the quiet streets, stopping in for a baguette lunch and observing an amazing selection of delicacies from escargot to truffles in the shops. We dined at L'Atelier Gourmand, a little slice of Paris transported to SPM. In true French fashion it was a 'belle experience culinaire! Back out in the fog we planned our final leg of the journey north via the outposts of Burin and Merasheen, to St. John's.
St. Pierre, Miquelon
           'Oh a little piece of heaven fell from out o' the sky one day'.....and they called it Merasheen.
The waves were crashing over the decks and the winds snorting when we spotted the channel marker and made our way tentatively into the tiny harbour of Merasheen Island,(from the French Mira-Chien or Sea Dog Island ). Inside, a minute dark figure awaited us on the dock. We gratefully threw a line to Ray Hann, brother of our friend and 'boat chaplain' Father William. The usual hearty Newfoundland welcome followed with greetings from Gail, his wife and friends. The majesty and serenity of this remote outpost is startling! There are only nine actual summer residents and virtually no one in the wintertime. However, this gem of a hamlet was once the home of the Hann family and many others. The government relocation program has left most of the cabins empty but every few years they hold a reunion. With the proliferation of the generations there are now over 250 people who attend the gathering of the clans.
Ray and Gail on Merasheen

Little Merasheen Bay
         That evening we dined in style at the home of Ray and Gail. A windy grass lane led us about half a mile through pastures and hillsides spotted with many deserted cabins. At the end of the lane sat a lovely cottage with a gorgeous view of Little Merasheen Bay. Inside Ray was cooking up a batch of his specialty fish cakes and Gail amused us with the fascinating history of the island. We chatted with Father William by phone from Trinity, vowing to meet up in St. John's. Later Ray escorted us home in pitch dark via his off-road quad vehicle. But time and tide wait for no man, and the following afternoon we bade our hosts farewell at the dock to a rousing chorus of 'Farewell to Merasheen' by all the villagers. Tomorrow we will arrive at Trepassey and then across the inhospitable seas past Cape Race to our final destination of St. John's.
Merasheen village

The villagers sing Farewell to Merasheen!

Merasheen Harbour entrance

                                 " Ship and boat diverged; the cold, damp night breeze blew between;
                                    a screaming gull flew overhead; the two hulls wildly rolled;
                                    we gave three heavy-hearted cheers, and blindly plunged like fate
                                    into the lone Atlantic."
                                                                            Moby Dick,  Herman Melville      
Painted houses of St. John's
The crew of CBC awaits us at the dock!
Arrival at St. John's, NFL
Celebrating with Brendan
Merasheen Boy, Father William and Friends

Rob, the new First Mate arrives for the long trek home


Bermuda or Bust!

       And so ends this chapter of The Voyage of Chantey V and it's crew. After over fifteen thousand miles  and endless stories to tell of life's rich pageant on the sea, the first mate returns home to terra firma and el Capitain embarks on the long voyage homeward. First stop....Bermuda! 
       As the weather cleared Daragh and Rob drift out into the mists, four days westward to Halifax and then another seven days straight south to the island of Bermuda.....and beyond.
Stay tuned for more adventures from the captain's log of Daragh Benignus Nagle.
                                           "We shall not cease from exploration,
                                             And the end of all our exploring
                                             Will be to find ourselves at the beginning,
                                            And know that place for the first time."


  1. What type of boat is Chantey? Also welcome to Newfoundland.

    1. Moody 376, centre cockpit sloop.We really enjoyed our visit to Newfoundland

  2. congrats on you passage to Bermuda. Hope to see you in Mexico when you head back our way....we will still be there!
    Hasta Luego
    Anne & Dick

  3. Thanks you guys, we were very happy to get here. Looking forward to meeting up and seeing Mexico again.