Charming ghost town

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Squid Hole to Grey River

With the help of the radar & GPS we made our way east to Rose Blanche where we docked at the government wharf.  Rose Blanche is at the end of the road from Port aux Basque.  The small community, like most others along the coast, has a dwindling population.  With the decline of the fishery, many young people are now working in Fort McMurray, Alberta.  Homes are being purchased as summer cottages by people from Ontario, something I think the locals resent.

 

We hiked to explore the restored Rose Blanche lighthouse.  The lighthouse was originally built in 1871 and operated until the 1940’s.  It was then replaced with an automated lighthouse & fell to ruins.  In 1996 a three year restoration began and it is once again operational.  The fog had not completely retreated so we weren’t able to enjoy the spectacular view.  The trails around the lighthouse & back to town made for a very pleasant afternoon despite the rain & fog.  Thank goodness for the heater Bradd installed.

 

Fog again in the morning but the locals told us it would clear so we cast off & headed for Grand Bruit (pronounced Gran Brit).  A Rose Blanche fisherman told us the town was abandoned last year. 

How to abandon a town

When the population of an out-port dwindles to the point that it is no longer practical to maintain the generator & ferry service, the residents are asked by the government to relocated.  It must be a unanimous decision to do so.  On the appointed day, all power and telephone lines are cut off and the ferry stops running.  Residents are allowed to return to their homes in the summer for five years.  After that, they can rent their homes for $1/year from the government.  They are not allowed to make any changes or improvements to the buildings and cannot reverse their decision to re-locate.

 

Grand Bruit is so named because it means ‘great noise’ for the waterfall that cascades through the middle of town.  Brightly painted houses dot the hills on both sides of the bay.  Between the houses, the hills are covered with buttercups, clover, irises, roses and more – quite a beautiful site.  But no people!  It was very eerie walking the streets expecting to see children jump out any second from their game of Hide & Seek.  Such a shame to see a lovely town like that die.

How to visit the Newfoundland coast if you don't have a boat

We finally awoke to sunshine the next day and continued down the coast to Burgeo.  This town has a road in and so has become the ferry terminus for some of the out-ports along the south coast.  If you are boatless and wish to see some of the south coast, you can book passage on the ferries.  Many of the out-ports now boast Bed & Breakfasts.  So adventurous travelers can disembark at an out-port, spend the day exploring the many trails, fishing & visiting with the locals and then catch the ferry again the next day.  We did some provisioning – beer can be purchased at almost every store in NL and we found rum & wine at the hardware store!  Next we caught up on our wi-fi news, bought some fresh cod & set off again the next morning.

 Grand Bruit ghost town wild flowers

The coast from here east is called the Fjord Coast.  It is magnificent & rugged with cliffs rising over 1200 feet and water depths equaling that.  One fjord after another cuts deeply into the coast – some several miles long and all indescribably beautiful.  We chose Grey River as the first to enter.  It is not really a river but a multi-branched fjord.  From the coast, you would never guess there is a harbour.  The narrow entrance (approximately 400 feet wide) is barely visible against the high cliffs behind.  Once inside, the winds are vastly different to the winds on the open ocean.  We had our first experience with ‘Katabatic’ winds.  These are downward bursts of air that the locals call ‘Blow-me-downs’.  They are created by surface cooling at higher elevations causing the wind to roar down the slopes and along the fjords at gusts of up to 60 m/h (100 km/h).  Sailing in the fjords is an interesting challenge!

 

Next Episode: Grey River to Hare Bay

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