Grey River to Hare Bay
We are learning to speak nautical Newfie. A ‘sunker’ is a rock lurking just below the surface of the water – usually spotted by the surf breaking over it. A ‘tickle’ is a narrow passage, such as the one we took in to ‘Squid Hole’. A ‘mish’ is a low lying wet piece of ground – a small bog? And a ‘blow-me-down’ is just that!
The next day we moved down the coast to Aviron Bay where we anchored at the head of the fjord below a 1200 foot high waterfall – amazing! We put the motor on the dinghy & spent the afternoon exploring the fjord. We found traces of a settlement in one of the bays at the entrance. The bay was very bleak without a single tree – hard to imagine how settlers could cling to that unlikely spot. The weather changed overnight bringing heavy rains and strong ‘blow-me-downs’. Our anchor held all night but we were up before 6 am, both of us anxious about our holding. We had breakfast, listened to the weather & decided to stay put. Bradd went back to bed while Maeve did some computer work & stood ‘anchor watch’. By the time Bradd woke we had moved enough to cause concern so we hauled anchor & found it fowled with kelp.
Francois was only 10 miles down the coast & the guide book said it offered good all around protection so we decided to move. Many of the out-ports have French names but there is nothing French about their pronunciation. Francois is ‘Fran Sway’. It has a great web site which you can probably find if you Google Francois NL. Their floating dock was occupied so we rafted to Rosita, a lovely boat owned by Michael & Hannah Moore (no not that Michael Moore).
Michael is a Senior Research Specialist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. They were cruising NL on vacation this summer but they have spent many summers here since the early 70’s conducting whale research.
The wind was so strong that we were reluctant to leave the boat. There was quite a load on the dock & not knowing how it was anchored, we thought we should stay put in case something gave way. Luckily the wind subsided by evening so we were all able to relax. Rosita left in the morning and we took her place at the dock & went exploring. Francois residents have made a trail to a look-off point on the cliff south of the village. Where the trail passes through a ‘mish’, they have built boardwalks and on the steepest grades they have constructed stairs. From 1000 feet you get a fabulous view of the harbour entrance and the village.
We cast off after lunch and had the first good sail since arriving in NL. Our intention was to duck in the Rencontre Bay (round-counter) but the sailing was too good so we continued on the Hare Bay – another fjord that some say is the most beautiful on the south coast. We have become accustomed to being alone in the anchorages and so we were surprised to find a converted fishing boat already anchored at the head of the bay. It was disconcerting when he fired up his “whisper-quiet” generator that evening so that he could blast out his Gordon Lightfoot tunes. It could have been worse – at least we like Lightfoot.
Hare Bay to McCallum
Countless cruising friends told us not to miss McCallum so we called it a day at noon and picked our way into the harbour and town dock. The town’s one man welcoming committee was on the dock to catch our lines. Herman (pronounced ‘Arman’ with an Haich) Fudge spends his days walking the town & talking to anyone & everyone including himself! He’s a wonderful ambassador – friendly, helpful with a great sense of humour. We set off to explore town. There are no roads in these out-ports but well maintained boardwalks connecting the houses & service buildings and eventually leading out of town to hiking trails that usually end at a look-out. McCallum is particularly pretty & well serviced. The school just has 9 students but has 2.5 teachers and first class equipment. There are just 2 other children in town, too young to attend school yet. Beside the school is a medical clinic with a helicopter pad across from it. The helicopter delivers the nurses every two weeks and a doctor when required.
How Aquaculture affects the wild cod in NL
Terry McDonald, the town’s Harbour Master, came by in the evening to collect our docking fee ($6.00). We invited him aboard to share some rum & he was able to answer our many questions about the fishing industry. Their lobster season here is very short – just three months, April to June. This was a pretty good year for the catch & they were paid $4/lb. Last year they were just paid $2.75 which barely covered the cost of bait for lobsters (.45/lb) and they didn’t catch their quota. The rest of the fishery is not doing well. They are paid just .60/lb for cod and only .15/lb for ocean perch. There is some aquaculture in the area but it is very controversial. Locals tell us that cod caught near the aquaculture cages have dark coloured fillets & stink. They blame it on the cod (bottom feeders) eating left over food and excrement that falls through the cages of the farmed fish.
Terry planned to fish with his father (80+ years) the next morning & offered to take us out cod fishing after he delivered his catch. We jumped at the opportunity. Terry went out with his father at 4 am and by 9:30 he had delivered his 200 lbs of cod (small catch) & was ready to take us out.
Two Fish, One Line
Maeve said ‘You’ve probably had enough fishing for one day – are you sure you want to do this?’. Terry smiled & said ‘If it makes you happy me love, it is what I want to do!’. We had our limit of 15 cod in less than an hour. The jig Bradd was using had two hooks & he even got a two-fer!
Terry then dropped us on a remote beach. His father had been born and raised in that unlikely cove till he moved to McCallum. While we beach-combed, Terry removed the cod’s tongues for us. Back on shore, Terry & Bradd cleaned the fish & we split the catch. Terry joined us for dinner & further enlightened us on life in a Newfoundland out-port.