18 August 2018 | Bay La Hune, Newfoundland
We quite liked the Squid Hole anchorage in Isle aux Morts, which among its attributes can be included an abundant crop of cloudberries, at least at this time of year. For those like us who don't often eat them cloudberries are something of an acquired taste, but stewed gently with a little added sugar they make a nice desert.
From Isle aux Morts we sailed eastwards to Bay Le Moine (I won't try to guess how that is pronounced in Newfynese). This is a spectacular anchorage at the head of a long fjord surrounded by very high ground which can generate some serious wind gusts. These come hurtling from on high down to the water. In more than one fjord like Bay Le Moine there is a hill called 'Blow me down' and it is easy to see why. Moreover, like most such fjords on the south coast of Newfoundland, Bay Le Moine runs in a north-south direction. This, combined with the frequent winds from the southerly quarter that can be greatly magnified by a sea breeze generated by a hot hinterland on a warm sunny day, can produce strong winds running straight up the length of the fjord, even when the winds on the open sea are light or moderate. It pays to anticipate this. Fortunately we did in Bay Le Moine and we shot up the fjord under just a scrap of jib. Then when one gets to the head of the fjord where the depths reduce very fast, one has to be smart about rounding-up into the wind to set the anchor before the boat begins to drift back at pace towards the shallows.
From the spectacularly beautiful Bay Le Moine, where we spent two nights, it was on to the town of Burgeo. Here we anchored in the Short Reach for just one night. Given the proximity of the fish dock, one night was enough.
On leaving Burgeo on the 13th August, and just offshore of the Burgeo Islands, we were treated to a close encounter with a fin whale. The fin whale is one of the largest whales. This one was probably in the small to mid-size range for the species, but when it came up to blow just 10m from the boat it looked quite large enough. After diving under the boat it came up for another blow on the other side, so we had a very good view and can be pretty certain of the species identification.
By mid-afternoon we were tying up to the floating dock in the small community of Francois (Franz-way in Newfynese) at the head of a mile-long fjord. Francois is still a populated and functional outport; an outport being a small fishing community where the only access is by sea. Many outports have closed down now and the residents have relocated with Government aid to larger and better connected towns or villages. But Francois seems to manage to survive. There are no roads, and therefore no cars or trucks, just boardwalks. But the boardwalks can be quite busy with ATV traffic, and it certainly seems to be the case that no home is without at least one ATV.
The people of Francois are friendly in a quietly reserved way, and a popular pastime seems to be taking a stroll down the floating dock to see whatever visiting yachts happen to be in. Here, as in other places we have been, this meant we occasionally heard unexpected tapping on the hull. For some reason people can't resist tapping a bare alloy boat to get a feel for the material, but it means we often shoot up the companionway to welcome visitors to discover our 'visitors' are just curious passers-by.
Over the few days we spent in Francois the population of visiting yachts built up to a total of six, some of which we had encountered further west along the coast or in Cape Breton (and in one case in Bermuda). Then yesterday morning (Friday) there was a burst of activity on the dock and five boats left within a twenty minute period. At the entrance to the Francois fjord the two US boats in the little flotilla headed SE and the three British boats turned west. Of the latter, one was beginning to make its way back to Baddeck in Cape Breton for repairs, and after a short sail two of us turned into Bay La Hune where we both anchored in Deadman's Cove.
The name of this anchorage does not reflect its attractiveness. It is a super spot that we are told we share with a family of otters. There is no sign of human habitation, just spectacular hills and rock formations and a quite lovely waterfall. It is to experience places like this that every summer a small number of cruising boats make the significant journey northwards and cope with the frequent fogs and uncertain weather of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Today, we plan to pick a pot of the early blueberries that are beginning to appear around the bay and do some cod jigging from the boat. Ultra fresh poached cod fillets followed by a blueberry desert would be a wonderful bonus in this lovely place, but it does depend on our luck with the cod-jigging kit. We shall see.