Newfoundland - The Last Fontier
By Bradd & Maeve Wilson
After seven years of cruising almost 50,000 miles, I’m embarrassed to say that we had never made it to Newfoundland. Since leaving the Great Lakes in 2004, Maeve and I have sailed the Eastern Seaboard, to winter in Florida & the Keys, the Bahamas and Cuba. During our summers we had explored the North Channel, the St Lawrence, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia but had never taken the leap across the Cabot Strait to the “Rock”. Our friends in Nova Scotia raved about Newfoundland; the fjords, the islands, the food and the people but two things had always dissuaded us - cold and fog. 2011 was our year to install a heater, tune-up the radar and take the plunge.
Our departure point was Dingwall, NS. It is the most northerly harbour in Cape Breton and just 65 nm from Port aux Basque, NL. It is a great all weather harbour with good depth. Unfortunately, although the entrance is dredged every spring, it continues to silt in. We approached carefully but just as we reached the jetties, a swell picked us up & dropped us on bottom. A VHF call to Sydney Coast Guard brought us directions into the harbour. We headed for the entrance again. At the same time, someone on shore had watched our initial approach & had telephoned Paul Fitzgerald, a Dingwall fisherman. Paul & two crew came out in one of his boats to meet us to guide us in. Once in, they offered us their wharf to tie up rather than anchor. They quickly docked first & were waiting to catch our lines. Such service!
We chatted for a while, mainly about the weather, fishing & hunting. I said I was looking forward to ‘bottled moose’ in Newfoundland. Paul left & was back in minutes with four moose steaks & a small moose roast! Can anything beat the Cape Breton kindness & generosity?
Our crossing was unpleasant but uneventful – a good thing. We were only able to sail for about an hour – motor sailing the rest of the time. The wind was from every direction but the right one & so were the seas. We made landfall in the early evening at Isle aux Morts, approximately 6 nm east of Port aux Basque and made our way in to Squid Hole, one of the most beautiful anchorages we have ever seen. Luckily we took photos when we arrived because we woke-up to dense fog the next morning.