McCallum to Harbour Breton
The weather is cold & wet again. In the low teens when we woke up, maybe 16 during the day, probably below 10 at night. Never mind – good sleeping & we are developing a skier’s tan.
We sailed from McCallum to St. Albans in Bay d’Espoir (pronounced ‘despair’). The Bay has the same high hills lining the passages but instead of the sheer granite cliffs we have become accustomed to, the green hills roll more gently down to the water.
This is the Aquaculture center of the province and the majority of the sheltered bays are home to cages of Atlantic Salmon and Steelhead Trout. Mussels are also farmed here. This Bay is connected to the rest of the province by roads & it seemed odd to see cars again! We needed fuel but none was available to pleasure craft on the waterfront so Bradd hoofed it with our jerry cans to the nearest gas station. He was given a lift by the fellow in charge of economic development for the area and so had an opportunity to ask more questions about the aquaculture industry.
How fish food works in Aquaculture
Feed for the fish is sprayed into the circular cages in the water. Underwater cameras watch the rate at which the feed is being consumed as it falls. The feeding requires a delicate balance. If too much feed is sprayed in, some will not be consumed & will fall & build on the bottom which of course is undesirable. Ecologically it is not good to say nothing of the waste of expensive feed. Too much feed being consumed is also not good. This force feeding makes the fish too fatty & their poop is then nutrient rich. Bottom feeding fish like cod will consume the nutrient rich poop & that is probably what caused the dark flesh & smell that we were told about in McCallum. Just the right amount of feed allows the farmed fish to grow well without being too fatty, their poop is not nutrient rich & therefore will not be consumed by the bottom feeders.
The industry has obviously been very good for the town’s economy – lots of homes under construction, new cars, etc. St. Albans didn’t appeal to us – maybe too ‘townie’ – so as soon as we finished our business we sailed to Hermitage. Hermitage is technically not an out-port as it does have a road. But it has the out-port feel about it. The harbour is full of colourful boats but like the rest of Newfoundland, the homes have succumbed to white vinyl siding. We tied to the government wharf and the Harbour Master came by to collect the $3 docking fee. What’s not to love about this place!
How to paint a boat on the cheap
Across from our dock, the boat Ryan Elaine lay on her port side when we arrived at low tide. It looked as though she had recently had a new paint job. As the tide rose that evening, she began to right herself & float. We watched her captain wait patiently for her to be floating freely. He then started her engines & took her to a dock. We suspect that the next day he would repeat the process, grounding her on her starboard to paint the other side. Beats paying for a haul out!
No swimsuit sailing in NL
Cold again in the morning but good wind so we sailed out of Hermitage Bay and around to Harbour Breton. Great sail but wearing floater coats, gloves & wool caps on July 30th! We docked at the marina but found they had no services & we couldn’t pick up an internet signal that wasn’t blocked. So we moved to Jerseyman’s Harbour & dropped the hook. It is yet another site of an abandoned out-port but unlike Grand Bruit, all that is left is a few foundations, the cemetery and the helicopter pad.
How to relocate a community
We had visitors that evening – two young fishermen from Harbour Breton, Jamie & Jamie. They had never been on a sailboat before so welcomed our invitation to come aboard for a beer. We asked when the settlement had been relocated because we were surprised at the lack of building remains. Jersyman’s Harbour is just 2.5 nm from Harbour Breton & the
Jamies explained that when they relocated the community in Jersyman’s Harbour, they just took the houses with them! Dragged the houses down to the water, floated them & towed them off to their new digs!
The Jamies promised great things for us the next day if we stayed at anchor – bottled moose, scallops & fishing – but they had already imbibed a bit of party mix before they came on board & were heading off to another party. The next day dawned with heavy rains & dense fog.
Harbour Breton to Grand Bank
Fabulous day on the water! When NL gets a good day its a “LARGE” one. Blue skies, smooth waters, fair winds, whales, Atlantic white-side dolphins – what more could you ask for?
All of the male citizens of Grand Bank who are over the age of 70 spend their day relaxing and arguing the topic of the day on the 2 benches in front of the Harbour Master’s office. And so there is a knowledgeable collection of folks to take your lines & assist in the docking process. Following that there is a steady parade of people coming by to make your acquaintance & offer assistance. Another example of the fabulous Newfie hospitality.
Grand Bank, at the tip of the Burin Peninsula, was once the epicenter of the fishing industry in Newfoundland with nearly 400 years of history. Everything related to the industry took place here including the building of schooners, dorys and all the hardware needed to equip them. There is an interesting Seamen’s Museum (housed in the former Yugoslav pavilion from Expo ’67) and a walking tour of historical buildings in town. The museum boasts a large mural on the end of the building, once the largest outdoor mural in NL, and there are several other murals along the waterfront. They also have an excellent summer theatre. And we arrived just in time for their week long summer festival.
We decided to stay a couple of days to watch the dory races.
Theatre in NL
We bought tickets for a dinner/theatre production of ‘Toronto Adventures’ and tickets to see ‘Cod on a Stick’, written by CODCO. We noticed when we got back to the boat that our tickets for ‘Cod on a Stick’ read Row 3 seats 5 & 7. Not wanting someone sitting between us, Bradd went back to the box office to see if there was a misprint. ‘No me lad’ he was told, ‘We puts all the odd folks on one side & if you wants to get even, you have to go t’other side’. Don’t you just love it! Both plays were well produced & very entertaining. We were surprised at how relevant the CODCO play was given that it was written 41 years ago.
Next episode: Grand Bank to France!