I’m in a public library in La Scie, a small fishing village at the tip of the Baie Verte Peninsula. It’s good to finally be off the long Northern Peninsula and moving East! Yesterday I crossed from the Southern tip of Bell Island, to Bai Verte, 90K of open water. The forecast was not great, calm seas until the afternoon and then headwinds. I got up at 4:30am and was on the water at 6:40. The sea was completely glass and I sprinted at 4.5 knots trying to get as many miles behind me while I could. Once the headwinds come up and your speed drops to 2.5 knots or less it takes forever to cover ground and it really wears you down. I was hoping that the forecast would be wrong but the headwinds started around 2:00pm and were howling by 5:00pm, with steep, choppy waves. After 16 hours I reached the tip of the peninsula just as the sun was setting. Unfortunately the two coves that looked so nice on my topo maps and GPS were completely unsuitable for landing – - steep rocky cliffs. It’s hard to describe the emotions you feel at this point. You are completely spent from a long crossing, it is getting dark and cold, you just want to get out of your kayak and stretch your legs, and now you have no idea how long it will take to find a landing. I took the safe route and backtracked a few miles to La Scie, since as a harbour I knew that I would at least find a place to haul out, and aids to navigation to guide me in.
As I paddled into the harbour, surrounded by steep, jagged cliffs, the moon was rising, the stars and the milky way were shining, and every paddle stroke was glowing from bioluminescence. It was one of the most fantastically beautiful moments that I have ever experienced (but at that moment I just wanted to get OUT of the kayak and PEE!).
I appreciate the comments and all of you who have followed my daily progress. This trip has been an amazing experience. The hospitality of the Newfoundlanders has really restored my faith in people. The fishermen, in particular have been very helpful. The sea can be harsh and all sailors are at the mercy of the wind and sea. There seems to be a kinship among people who take to the sea in small boats, and a culture of reaching out a helping hand.
Most nights I have been camping in the wilds, but I have been hosted four times. Usually I have tented, but on occasion when in a town the local fishermen have directed me to the harbor authority building — usually with running water and toilets and hot coffee on the stove. Several times now I have slept in fishing shacks (gear huts), rather than putting up the tent. One of these was huge and empty — big enough to work on several fishing boats. One was tiny and was cramped full of crab and lobster traps — making for a most unusual aroma…
Looking at the map, the trip could be done in as little as seven days if I push hard — and that’s the irony of it. I enjoy pushing hard but by doing so the trip is shortened. At the same time, I don’t enjoy going slow. From past trips I know that I will feel a little lost when I finish. The amazing daily routine of being a part of the sea will be shattered, and it will take some time to get used to “normal life” again. At the same time, I’m very much looking forward to seeing friends and family again. Trips like this are fleeting — and perhaps that’s the beauty of them.