14 August, 2015
Saturday, August 8, and we’re off the dock at Fortune by 08h00. The prediction is for increasing winds and seas as the day progresses, and we want to get into Gaultois early, so that we can explore, get the pump, and leave the next day. Gaultois is a little outport with a population of 150 people. As with all of the outports along this coast, its’ population has been steadily declining since the collapse of the Cod fishery. Along the way, we spy a couple of Mola Molas, but no whales. As we round up into the harbor, we see that the small public dock is full of boats-no room at the inn. Anchoring is out of the question, as the harbor is deep, deep, deep. Hmmmm. The fish plant looks like it’s closed, so we pull over to the wall. It is GNARLY! There are a few irregularly spaced tires hanging from rusty cables, and many of the vertical beams are missing, exposing the 10” spikes that formerly held them. Any port in a storm. We dig out the fender boards (a couple of 8 foot long 2”x10”’s). We’re tied up, but it ain’t pretty. There’s a squadron of mosquitoes living under the dock, and it smells like a few sewer pipes drain out here as well (no treatment plants here, everything goes into the harbors). One of the old boys who helped us tie up tells me that they “Han’t worked on da dock since she’s built” “When was that?” “Noneen sistah tree”. We had read in one of our cruising guides that there was a trail over to Piccaire (say pick-a-ree) Bay, that was a beautiful 5km trek across scenic valleys past pristine fresh water ponds. Our buddy at the dock, Earl confirmed this, and pointed out the trail head up next to the church (by the way, mostly everyone in these parts is Anglican, if you wanted to know). The hike to Piccaire was as billed. Pretty rugged, and lots of bugs, but the terrain afforded some spectacular views. Our only disappointment was that when we got within view of the bay, the trail petered out, and there was NO WAY to bushwack down the last ½ mile to the water, as the brush was too thick, and disguised lots of ankle-snapping holes running down through the rocks. On the way back, we were treated to a little swimming exhibition by Mr. Beaver on one of the ponds. The ladies found that the tiny, but really sweet blueberries were ripe, and came home with a fistful to top the frozen Mango concoction that the Admiral had whipped up for desert. Oh yeah, did I mention that Bald Eagles are in view every time that you turn around up here? Back in town, we headed over to the B & B for a libation while waiting for the 16h30 ferry. Seems that a lady from Ontario saw that the “hotel” was for sale on Kijiji (a Canadian Crags list), and bought it for $5K (yes, she did volunteer that info). After she did the rehab, she bought the general store (from whaling days), and is currently remodeling that as a music venue. Recently, she has purchased the old bait shed, and will build artist’s studios there. After the ferry came in, and the part wasn’t on it, she took us over to the store to show us around. She has a vision, and I guess she figures “if I build it, they will come”. Matter of fact, a group played there to a sold-out house the night before, and wants to record their next album there. That night, another Newfie group was playing, which explained to us why the public dock and the B&B were full. The “Gaultois Days” festival-every town has one, right? The pump was on the 19h30 ferry, so we were all happy campers. We missed the music, but I suspect that a good time was had by all, as we heard the revelers breaking up at 0400.
We were off the dock by 0800. It was windy, but no rain. The seas were big on the ocean, but our course took us through “Little Passage”, running up and between a group of islands into McCallum, our next outport stop. Along the way, we passed numerous aquaculture sites, where the main crop was Salmon. Growing fish in these pristine bays seemed like a pretty good idea to Suz and me, but none of the locals that we’ve talked to had anything good to say about the process. Stories about fish dying in droves from under oxygenation and disease, as well as pollution from overfeeding ran rampant. Bill and Lauren recently saw an expose on CBC revealing that these undertakings were not economically viable, the government pouring in lots of $$ to keep things afloat and make payrolls. Maybe not such a good idea, after all. While underway, I reworked the new pump as the outflow nipple was oriented 180 degrees from where we needed it.
It was only a 3 hour cruise, so we got into McCallum before noon. Terry, the Harbormaster, met us at the dock and guided us in. We had a bit of a crosswind of 20 knots blowing us off the dock, with shallow water all around, so his help was appreciated. Once we got the boats nestled in, it was time to get to work. The new macerator went in with a minimum of expletives, and before long Seastar was ready to be sh#tless. Since I was grubby anyway, I figured that it was a good time to change the Girl’s oil, check all her hose clamps and hydraulic fittings, and clean out the shower sump. While I fussed with that stuff, Suz got the housecleaning done. The clouds were lowering, and the winds were increasing, so we decided that it was a good time for a walk before the rain moved in. We strolled the boardwalks from one end of town to the other, and climbed to an elevated vantage point overlooking the harbor. Along the way, we passed Marion and Didi’s house, which doubled as the bakery (we met them in Burgeo, where they keep their home built sailboat that they sailed from Germany several years ago). With rain, fog, high winds and heavy seas, we decided to stay a second night. Marion made us some fantastic loaves of almond raisin bread, braided to perfection, and Terry brought us a couple pounds of Halibut steaks cut from the fish that he had caught 2 days previously. After the last ferry of the day left, a 100’ research vessel from Memorial University in St. Johns came in to the dock, seeking shelter from the nasty conditions. The captain had a heck of a time getting her in to the dock with the high winds, and several times, as she drifted towards us, I wondered out loud if we’d be getting a new boat. Terry was incredulous at the skipper’s inability to handle his vessel, but all ended well. Once he was safely tied up, my only worry was having to listen to his generator running all night a few yards from our bed.
Morning brought the sun and blue skies. It sure makes a difference. Now, 8’ seas on 6 second intervals didn’t look like much. We motored along to Hare Bay, a fjord where we planned to anchor for the evening. Along the way, multiple waterfalls cascaded from the 900’ cliffs into the sea. What a treat to have the sun shining and the sky blue! The 7 mile trip up the bay was filled with one ooh and aah moment after another. We entered Hare Bay between two nearly vertical walls 1,000’ high. The water calmed immediately, and we ran along a placid pool nearly 700’ deep for 7 miles. Numerous waterfalls plummeted from above, the only sounds that we heard were from the roaring water. Talk about magical. At the top of the fjord, we rounded Sandy Point, and anchored in 18’ of water. Down came the dinghies to view the half dozen falls within 3 miles of our anchorage. We had hoped to hike along one of the streams pouring into the bay, but unfortunately, there were no sandy beaches to pull up our tender, and the water was so deep even close to the shore that we couldn’t anchor. I let Suz off on a sloped rock face, and she gathered the trunks from a couple of small fallen trees to act as rollers, but we just weren’t able to pull “White Star” up. I’m really considering picking up a second, rubber-bottomed dinghy for occasions like this. We came back to the Girl. Suz settled in for some reading in the sun, while Lauren came over to fish. We had no luck casting or jigging, so we took the tender out for a troll. We had zero luck in the fishing department, but had some nice one on one conversation time. While we were gone, Suz threw together a pork stir-fry with the leftover Asian pork tenderloin that she had fed us the night before. We were sad to talk about leaving, but the weather for the next day was lookin’ iffy again, and the clouds were moving in. Lauren thought that her recurrent kidney infection was going to make another visit, and Suz and I thought it was prudent to get along the way where antibiotics could be obtained.
The next morning was cloudy and gray, and we made our way to Francois (say fran sway), another outport with a population of 73 souls. With wind and 6’ seas, we didn’t have the opportunity to see much marine life along the way, but Bill did report seeing a Mola Mola. As we backed into the floating dock at Francois, Dave and Krowe on “Mysti-Cal” were there to catch our lines. This is the 3rd time that we had crossed paths with “Mysti-Cal”, having seen them in St. Pierre and McCallum. Shortly after we arrived, “Shambalala”, a sailboat from Australia arrived, and the dock was officially full. As with every other public dock in these outports, there was no water or electricity available-kinda like anchoring but mo’ betta ‘cause you can walk right to shore. Walk ashore, we did. A path led up to a rocky prominence around 700’ over the bay, and we had a good lookabout before the rain and fog started rolling in. We tried to bushwhack our way up to “The Friar”, a rocky mesa at 1,000’, but when the top disappeared in a cloud when we were still an hour or so out, we gave it up and headed back to town. Of course we walked every boardwalk in town, visiting the town dock where many fishing dories were moored, the grocery market, and the post office. The rain began in earnest when we got back to the boats, and we hunkered down for the evening. We had planned on leaving Thursday morning, but it was a pea-souper, and we had found an open network, allowing us to get some internet time, so we decided to stay. It also allowed Lauren to call her physician back in Ontario and get some antibiotics. Since we had no cell coverage, L&B walked up to Lawrence and Barb’s house (we met them in Burgeo, where they were working on their sailboat in the parking lot of the marina) to use their phone. Long story short. Her doc called the Rx into the pharmacy in Burgeo, where Sharon’s (the lady who owns the grocery here) daughter is the pharmacist. Said daughter will bring the meds to the ferry that goes to Ramea and Gray River. We’ll go to Gray River on Saturday and pick up the goods from someone that lives there.-Whew! BTW, we have a veritable pharmacy onboard “Alizann”, but treating somebody elses’ kidney infection is way above my pay grade. The rest of the day was “down time”, allowing me to catch up on some reading and writing, and for Suz to get some wedding bills paid (Ali and Ben’s wedding is 1 month away). Unfortunately, there isn’t enough bandwidth on our borrowed internet to get photos up. It took me about 30 minutes to get 6 pics uploaded, only to have the process “time out”, causing me to lose all 6. I guess you get what you pay for. The weather’s supposed to be crummy again tomorrow, but we need to keep moving west.
-Talk to you then