susys running away to sea

"The rigors (sic) of an expeditionary lifestyle"

Monday, July 31, 2006

More Sunday

On 1 May this year (2006), I was flying over the sea I'm now crossing - Belle Isle Straits. I was looking down on the endless wilderness lands of Labrador, and in the sunlight, I could see the silvered land of NFL. We are now over 8 weeks into our trip, about two thirds of the time has gone and already I feel the pulls - regret for endings and time passing, and anticipation of seeing my beloved family again.

A dolphin - a 'jumper' - rides the bow wave, and vanishes.

Last bit of Belle Isle Strait is choppy, and the wind has increased - we are motorsailing with one reef in the main. I went for a quick snooze and when I reappeared, J said I should have used his bunk, as it's on the lee side. "Get you in my bunk, one way or another" he growls.

Later: "I bin thinking, J, if we had done what we shouldn't, and we'd fallen out, it would have spoilt this trip, not?"

"You're right, I guess". Unconvinced.

Got to Red Bay, and tied up at the public wharf. There was no-one around! No fishing boats tied up. Scattered white houses and some washing on a line, desperate to fly away.

Unlike NFL no-one comes to the wharf to see who we are. (But the next day, I get told we had been seen coming in - not missed) We officially tie up by 7.45 pm. Both tired - 13 hour day, and the last bit strenuous. Staying here tomorrow.

1890 chart

shows the hill contours round Red Bay, Labrador like a mad doodler gone crazy.

I see no ships, but ...

Approaching the Traffic Separation Zone, north and west of NFL, J asks me to keep watch for shipping. And as I'm watching, and seeing nothing, and writing this, I see a blow, a fin, THREE whale backs in a group next to the boat, and more, further off. I shriek for J down below. They just stay there, near enough to pat, near enough. And after we pass, they dive, slow motion, flukes high in the air - humpbacks!

Sunday 30 July

Left St Anthony after a musical night. The main mast ecided to be a tuning fork for the wind, and its internal string section tuned up and in, vibrato. J of course had no problem sleeping.

Looking back from the sea, we saw St A glowing in the sunlight, while we bathed in dark cloud. Dolphins escorted us and an immense whirl of seabirds were circling, wheeling, diving for their breakfast.

Course NE, wind out of the north 15-20 knots, so all sail set, engine off, big swell reducing and then 2 hours up the coast, the sun caught up with. Now this is sailing.

We're heading for Cape Bauld, the most northerly point of NFL, so after rounding it, we will be going south all the way. Meant to be heading off to Labrador this afternoon.

And LaM? Well, Suse wasn't able to fixit. Maybe next time, Jack.

"Dirty Old Town" and "Fairy Tale of New York" on the susiPod.

And the sun hides its face again as I write, but it's not cold - teeshirt and fleece. We have the sea all to ourselves, as usual. Wonderful, wild and alone.

Rounding Cape Bauld - it's like the end of the earth, with gannets. From now on it's all south and home, with extremely mixed feelings.

First, though, we cross the Belle Isle Straits, with Belle Isle a haze in the distance, as is the far Labrador coast.

Hair of the Bitch

"Did you write about the hair I found in my dinner the other night, huh? huh? and I din even send it back? Huh? Now that's savoir-faire."


Why do gentlemen need handkerchiefs? Pockets of snot. Why do they have to blow their noses, anyway? Disgusting habit.

Why don't they sniff and cuff, like me?

Sunday 30 July

Left St Anthony at 7 am, heading for Red Bay, Labrador - which is where I am writing this!

I haven't got my notes with me, so will be back later.

It was a long day, getting here and docking by 8 pm.

lol xx

Jack's Scrabble Rules

1. All spelling is variable
2. X is a word, and can be attached to any other word
3. Contiguous letters do not have to make new words
4. Latin is allowed for Jack only
5. Jack is always right - it's his board, his dictionary, his boat.

So all it could do was to rain, rain, rain, rain ...

The sun did not shine
It was too wet to play
So we sat in the boat
All that cold, cold, wet day.

I sat there with Jackie
We sat there we two
And I said:
"How I wish we had
Something to do.

Too cold to leave port
Too wet to make sail
So we sat on the boat
We did nothing but wail.

So all we could do was to
Eat, read, sleep, sit
And we did not like it
Not one little bit.

(So we played Scrabble. With deep apologies to Dr Seuss)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Salli -

I'm a fashion victim on this trip.

Saturday 29 July

OK OK I was a day wrong, but now I know what day of the week it is. I've walked to the Vinland Motel, lor bless their socks, for their free internet, even though I'm not a resident. We are meant to be leaving sometime around midday. Trying to rain all the time. Glum.

Not really, me - quite chipper, it's just the weather. Dunno when I can post again, but keep looking and comments please!


Nevermore, quoth the Raven ...

St Anthony's has a Hitchcockian air, or a feeling E A Poe is lurking. There are these truly enormous black birds everywhere, cawing loudly, flying and walking and owning the place. Gothic fantasies ...

Say again?

J asks me to repeat what I said. This time I do it in American.

"Thanks for the translation," says J drily.

Salt box

A saltbox is an old house, clinker built like a boat, and in shape like a child's drawing. When people moved, voluntarily or otherwise. they took their houses with them, floating them across bays on rafts.

Red Indians

The Beothuks, two of whom support the Newfoundland coast of arms, were an elusive tribe of native people, who decorated themselves with red ochre. They were finally hunted to extinction in the 19th century.

But a whisper has it, they are still around, still hidden, in the genes of current livyers (live heres).

Putting on a brave face

J winces at the terminal untidiness of my burrow in the forepeak. He refers to it in yachtsalesmanspeak - "your stateroom."

"My in-a-stateroom, J" I chirp.

Reading ...

"Theatre of Fish" John Gimlette - travels, comment and personal history in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Lament for an Ocean" Michael Harris - somewhat dry but compelling account of the history of the collapse of the cod fishery. Small mesh nets 17 storeys high (Spanish). Emptying the offshore stocks, hoovering up the caplin (cod food), raping the spawning grounds. Think - last tree on Easter Island.

Friday 28 pm

Still trying to get to L'Anse aux Meadows. The Vinland Motel recommends I try the Grenfell Interpretation Center - which I do. There I meet G, who suggests coffee. I pick my dry and dusty tongue off the floor at the mention of caffeine and follow him to the cafe on the lower floor. G is a busy chap - Coastguard radio, with a selection of local organisations, songwriter, fossil hunter, beer mat and old comic collector, rider of skidoo, motorbike and a unicycle, magician to children, father of a beloved young daughter.

"Listen!" he says, but I know when I'm beat - he talks for a living.

He can't manage LaM - he's on call - but escorts J and me round the Grenfell House, left intact nearly a hundred years ago, down to Lady Grenfell's silk underslip. It's a house to covet, and enormously expensive to maintain, but it's on the tourist trail. Then on to the Rotunda - the best hospital foyer ever - floor to ceiling ceramic tiles, making huge abstracts of the country, the sea, the people. Unglazed in dark browns and grays, shot through with glazed metallic blues and reds. It's a giant circular sculpture, rather - and we're inside it. I run my hands, blind, over the knobs and fissures on the central pillar. Created late 60s/early 70s, I believe. Of the period and utterly stunning within a very institutional exterior.

Clean Laundry, Dirty Mind, Mr Q!


J tells a joke

J is standing next to me, rummaging among his drawers. "Do you know what savoir-faire is?" he asks.

I wait.

He proceeds to tell a mildly bawdy and only mildly amusing joke.

I laugh till I cry.

Because he's brandishing a fistful of his knickers in the telling.

Now that's savoir-faire.

Non sequitur

"Non gratum anus rodentum"

Isn't worth a rat's ass!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Oh, and ...

Saw two polar bears


F*****g B*****y

Trying to get from St Anthony to L'Anse aux Meadows (purported Viking settlement) is proving a test, indeed. Taxi $120(!!), bus - none, hire car - $80 + tax + fuel, backhander to local - offers around $50 - no takers. B****r and F**k! All this way, across the Atlantic and I can't get half an hour up the road!!! I'd stick out my thumb, but I'm not sure J wants to do that. Will ask on my return. Cruise ships bring their own buses from St John's. The three enterprising teenagers playing games on a computer at the Information Desk, Tourist Office, said several people had asked about transport to LAM - and left it at that comment.

Altogether a rather glum day, folks. The glum lady running the Tourist Office (2 km walk there and back, to view the fog over the sea) failed to manage to use her facial muscles; NFL's history has been reduced to various Interpretation Centres and cod and puffin fridge magnets. And it rained on the walk back, and me without my cloak, as ever.

Local person of note here: Sir Wilfred Grenfell, 19/20 century mad Englishman, who set up various medical centres here and in Labrador (jolly good show), and made his 3 dogs a bit mad, too, when adrift in nearby Hare Bay, he skinned them to keep warm. Never heard of cuddling up, then, Wilf?

Another chap, the late Joey Smallwood, who ran NFL like his own monarchy, apparently, allegedly, and all that, suggested the fishermen burn their boats - horror of horrors, what with EI (Employment Insurance) - ie think of something else to do with the fish going going gone. Well, now, people like me are trying to be harvested - taken to LAM - willing to be reasonably exploited - but no takers.

Maybe I'm just a bit surprised at the attitude of acceptance of the status quo, and want a bit of initiative. Maybe I'm tired - it's a nice enough place, the boulders are a wonderful celadon green, the wildflowers are brave in the fog. And the b****y b*****y s*****g ATM spits on my cards.

Thanks for your comments, peeps - Alan: we're going back to the States - plan A; Rayray: dolphins, shmolphins - gimme whales! (Not really, they were beautiful and loads of 'em); Rayray again: I have to speak American so Jack knows what I'm talking about. Eg: sidewalks, glayshers, yards (not gardens). He has had to stop referring to what we call our 'bottoms', as his version has me cringing. Tee hee!

Oh well, onwards and upwards. I'm off to a bank for money - fingers crossed. Then I'm going to try another Interpretation Center and then back to the supermarket to phone for fuel again. And I'm down to my last pair of clean knicks.

"Put your trust in the Lord and L.O.L" - sign on a church. LOL to everyone xx

Friday 28 July

Woken up at 5 by large shipping noises in the harbour. Peeped out of my hatch to see .... NOTHING! Except noise and FOG (FA-AHG)!!!! Later, it turns out to be a container ship. On Gord's PC he has a screen picture of Sylvester Stallone's superyacht in the harbour. So big stuff comes in here.

I have walked up to Lighthouse Point to the tourist place to get info for L'Anse aux Meadows, a must see while I'm here. There are no organised trips, so I get a taxi number. And the internet. And a cup of coffee in a while, I hope. There is a stuffed polar bear here, but I have to pay to see it. We'll see ...

More later.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Thursday more

Got to St Anthony's this afternoon, after a nerve-wracking wriggling round the rocks densest fog entry - thank goodness for radar, I say. The chart (Brit Admiralty c. 1800 bc) showed us to be off Hare Bay - a wide bit of water - and lots of searoom, when the radar showed hard land to port and not that far off, either.

Anyway, tied up in front a large ex-fishing boat (was Danish, North Sea fishing - guess till that was vacuumed clean), now US owned and used to take tourists on trips to Labrador. We look like poor relations! And this is the best yet - not only no ladder, but a concrete wall swooped with large rubber sausages. I have made a rubbish, but workable, Jacob's ladder to shimmy up the wall. J has lashed a horrible plastic ladder to the wall coping - I refuse to use it - it creaks and wobbles.

I went shopping and got delivered + shopping back to the boat by the store manager, Gord, who most unbelievably kindly offered me use of his computer and the internet. I met his wife and gorgeous little blond son, and their wuffly dog, Jackson.

Cauliflower cheese + ham for supper - tired out! Heard J raiding his candy store after I went to bed. Fading away, he is.

We're a couple of swells

My shore-going rig:

Seaweed hair sprouting over a red visor, sunglasses, faded black teeshirt and ditto cutoffs, pink flipflops.


Ancient floppy hat, faded polo shirt, chino shorts and leather belt, long socks and lace ups.

We're not that fussed about fashion, are we? We get a few looks ...

Thursday 27 July

"Soozee!" shouts J from the cockpit, in an offhand way. "There's a bat here - can you get rid of it please." He's fiddling with the Beast's controls in a busy way. I'm at the bow, winching up the anchor, and don't mind a break.

The bat is huddled down in a tiny space aft of the mizzen mast. "How am I going to pick up a bat, J?" I ask, peering at the little body. Then I notice "It's a bird, it's got feathers!" And little webbed feet - definitely a bird. I don't mind picking up birds. I scoop it from its hiding place and launch it to the sea. Bit of squawking, and it's not one, but TWO tiny black birds; one in is the water, and one still on deck. I lift it into the water, less than a handful.

They've got webbed feet, right? Seabirds, right? I am suddenly smitten by the sight of them having trouble, flapping long slender winds and struggling to take off. They manage eventually and disappear.

We continue rasing the anchor. "Jack," I say, "you didn't want to pick up a 'bat', did you? That's why you called me?" He looks at me in an unconcerned, macho what rubbish are you talking about woman sort of way. I'm not fooled.

"And these are the hands I picked them up with!" I say, wiping them over his shirt.

"Aaargh!" he recoils in horror.

(You're writing nasty words about me again" J comments. "Never, Jack" I assure him. "Only poking fun (prodding a finger at him). Occasionally." "Occasionally! Constantly!!")

Through thick fog, we make our way to the entrance of Cape Rouge Harbour. As we near it, I see one of the tiny birds in the water again, and as I watch, it vanishes below the surface. It doesn't reappear. Later in my bird book, I see they are Wilson's Petrels, who hover over the water, fishing, and never land on the surface. I feel saddened that my ignorance has caused its death.

Along with the fog, we have a calm sea and no wind - motoring again, NE up the coastline. Groups of dolphins appear from time to time and escort us for a while, their backs pale turquoise under water, grays above. The small ones throw themselves about, flicking their tails for glee.

The memory of the little birds stays with me, as I watch gannets and puffins dive - so much better adapted to the water.

Stands the clock at ten to three?

Around 3 oclock in the moring I am woken by J thundering overhead. "Soozee, there are bats out here. Come and look."

I'd heard skittering on the cabin roof and squeaking: "Let's wake Susan, quicker-licker-lee-hee-hee!" But in the darkness, I couldn't make out more than a brief pale shadow flicking past. I heard them quicksplash in the water. Bats fishing?

Wednesday 26 July - Cape Rouge Bay - notes in a rush

Rowed across the bay the see a waterfall, then back, drifting with the incoming tide along the shore. Landed, picked mussels and put into a net bag.

11 people came by from Conche to say hellow - they are a wedding party up from St John's, and used to live in Conche.

I boiled my mussels, but J wouldn't have any. I said could I be buried at sea if they're fatal. Bit gritty, but OK - took a picture of them!

J didnt have my mussels - I don't think he trusts things from the wild, because he'll eat them in restaurants.

"Now, venison" he adds - "I like venison. If you can get a moose ...".

So I tell him of my childhood and how my father used to hang the deer he's shot from the frame of my swing. "Only for the pot, J" I assure him. "But he was a bit of a killer. I could butcher a moose - if I had to - from watching him so many times."

Tuesday 25 July - Fourche Harbour

Rowed to shore, and took a trampled path leading round to the head of the cove. After a while, realized it wasn’t a human path (no humans here, bar me), but a moose path - confirmed by large squelches of moose poo at intervals. Reminded me of the game I’ve played with my grandchildren, being chased by various wild animals - checked over my shoulder, you know, just in case. (There were also enormous heaps of giant - and I mean giant - rabbit droppings - you can tell me now what huge animal produced these.)

PS Found out later the monster rabbit poos are moose, the others ... BEARS??

That really would begoing on a bear hunt ...

On the way back, I realized the neatly trimmed bushes were at moose mouth height.
Rowed to the end of the cove, instead, where there was a graveyard moated by a fast flowing stream. There are Hynes, Parsons and lots of Randalls. The stones are new and white, unweathered - but the dates are from the 60s and earlier, so they have been replaced. It’s overgrown, but tended periodically. And all the headstones have their backs to the water.
There are millions of tiny flies, rubbed from my eyes, scratched from my hair, spat from my mouth and excavated from my ears. And they bite - I’m now covered in itchy lumps. Back at the dinghy, I stripped and waded into the shallows - not deep enough to swim, so several rather freezing dunks instead. There is a boulder garden at this end of the bay, so returning to the boat, I row facing forwards.
We left at about 11 am - sunny, with flukey winds. In the other arm of Fourche are the rusting remains of Newfoundland’s last whaling station. We sail past this now peaceful place, then turn and head out to sea.
Off Canada Bay, further up the coast, a pod of dolphins come and inspect us. They stay for quite a while, urging us to play, but we’re not much fun, and they leave us in search off other games.
Cape Fox (?Faux) and Cape Rouge ahead - on the chart, they are two huge lumps of land stuck on to the mainland. They are made of entirely different rock to the pinky gray high rounded hills of the coast (which remind me of a range of domed elephant skulls). The rock of these capes is reddish-brown sedimentary layers, slanting skywards at 45 degrees and more, jagged, with no ice age smoothing. As we go along Cape Fox, the land is stepped like Mayan pyramids, crowned in grass, and smacked with guano from the herring gulleries. Coloured like the old Newfoundland flag - green, white and pink.
We turn into Cape Rouge Bay - a wider expanse of water compared with others we’ve visited. We anchor off La Biche, some way inside, passing a summer fishing outport of around 10 houses. As Jack drops the anchor, the wind starts to howl out of the south west. Now, indeed, when’s it’s not wanted! Rain all night, poor forecast, food thinning out …

Monday 24 July

Left Little Harbour Deep in gray mist, trying to rain … Wind on the nose, seas lumpy and confused chop, current against us. Motored up the coast till 1.30 pm and turned into Fourche (Forked) Harbour and North East Cove. This is a deserted, or ‘resettled’ outport - half a dozen houses and fish sheds, windows blocked up and doors padlocked.
I saw a moose!!!
More plumbing
Just before bed, I went to the head - and it was full to overflowing. In an absent-minded moment, I had forgotten to turn the knob to ‘off’. Apologised profusely to J, while trying, and failing, not to laugh. What ignominy - foundering by wee!
Killed mosquitoes and to bed.

Sun 23 July

Left La Scie about 9 am, having found water at the ice plant. (I thought they made icecubes for drinks, till the chap there said it was for the fishing boats.)
Rainy and overcast, but quite warm. My foulie trousers have developed severe leaks around the fore and aft seam - I shall try Duck Taping it. (No, that didn’t work.)
A couple of whales are splashing about out to sea, but of course, they’ve moved on when we get there.
Westwards out and across towards Partridge Point, the other side of this peninsula - and after weeks of waiting, I finally make out, through the murk, the long arm of western Newfoundland, stretching northwards over the horizon. At its tip, it’s a clenched fist, with an arthritic index finger pointing to the Arctic and North Pole.
Got supper ready this afternoon (beef strips, scallions, carrots, mushrooms and bamboo shoots marinaded in honey, soy, olive oil, curry powder, ginger, coconut milk and black pepper - followed by fresh (just) fruit salad.) PS - it was really good!
We cross White Bay shrouded in white mist, and arrive at the entrance to Little Harbour Deep. And as we sail in, we are surrounded by dolphins, throwing themselves into the air - because they can! Some are cavorting a little way away - just having fun.
This inlet is fairly narrow between high hills about 1000 feet high, I gather, and at the far end is an abandoned house and outbuildings. We anchor off - it gets shallow quite quickly. Still cloudy and pretty cold. No radio signal here - so no forecast for tomorrow. Always that problem - if it’s good weather, do you grab it and sail on, or stop and enjoy it?
Except when we’ve been sailing overnight, when I’ve slept in my clothes, I usually wear my navy satin nightdress to bed. Tonight, it’s too cold for that, so it’s fleece, woolly trousers and woollier Antarctic socks. And three blankets.

Sat 22 July

My daughter Kate’s birthday. I sang Happy Birthday to her several times in her direction. I hope she heard me. Still no signal on J’s phone.
Rain was pocking the water; the strong winds - a leftover from a tropical storm surging over us from far off Cape Hatteras in the south - passed over us in the night. We decided to go.
The hummocky islands, the cliffs and mountains green with scrub pines, my paradise of swimming and the flower valley, all dissolve into mist and memory, as we sail slowly up the invisible coastline. A small black hump breaks the still water, and vanishes. Whales are there, invisible like the land, but for tantalizing, tiny glimpses.
As we approach Cape St John, fragments of cliff appear in the murk. The rain slows and stops, and a weak pale sun is a disk in the sky. This cape is stupendous - the most impressive yet - sharp, spiked, towering, cruel - and its summits, for we seem to take an age rounding and rounding it - are hidden in veils of fog, and then suddenly silhouetted against a clearing sky.
As I watch this massive headland pass, I hear a blow behind me, and it’s a whale! Right next to the boat! It’s smooth back curves up, and then down, down as it dives. So close, then gone. I watch and watch, hoping it will surface - but of course it doesn’t.
By the time we come into La Scie (The Saw), a fishing outport of moderate size spread out around the long inlet, the rain has stopped finally, the sun is warming up, and we moor against a fish-and-fly dock, helped by two men, who make our lines fast. Never mind the smell, they can get us fuel delivered to the boat.
Another sailboat is anchored in the bay - a Swiss boat, a Swiss couple, Sonia and mark, who dinghy by to say hello, then off to shop.
J and I wander into the town, have a guided tour round an excellent museum in an old house, get oil and large incontinence pads for the Beast, and finish off with icecream and cappuccino at the garage. They have wooden benches inside for the convenience of customers - how thoughtful.
After last night’s supper out in the cockpit - curried potato salad, green salad with olives and feta cheese, tuna in mayo, hot cheese bread - tonight’s (down below, out of the smell) is a bit mangy - reheated leftovers, but they have to be eaten up. J is more than happy with this - till I tell him I threw the mouldy bread away! Extravagence! Wastefullness!

Poetry and other things

You’ll remember me, when the west wind blows …
Oh western wind, when wilt thou blow?
The small rain down shall rain.
Christ, that my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again.
14 century, Anon
* * * * *
21st continued …
The wind is increasing strongly over the afternoon - it’s still warm, but we could be staying here tomorrow. After supper, J put a couple of angels down the anchor line to increase the holding power of the CQR.
* * * * *
Mark Twain, who wrote an awful lot of really good stuff:
"There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such trifling investment of fact." Ahead of his time.
* * * * *
Stevie Smith, about the ironies and absurdities of life:
"I was much further out all my life
And not waving, but drowning."
* * * * *
Also, Byzantium, by C P Cavafy - journey of life
* * * * *

My Eden

Friday 21 July

It’s another wonderful day of sunshine - getting on for 30 degrees. I’m going exploring, while J has some R&R in the cockpit. Down the ladder over the stern, and into the dinghy. I’m in my swimsuit, with a drybag of teeshirt, trousers, trainers and camera. J wants some shots of the boat.
As I row away, time switches itself back to a distant memory of learning to row in Fecamp harbour when I was six. I’m sitting in a little wooden dinghy, facing my father, his hands over mine, as he shows me - dip the oars, pull, lift, back, dip again. We are in the shadow of a quay, rowing to where my mother is drying out the bedding slung across the boom, and other housewifely boaty business. So many years on, and I’m doing the same jobs.
But for now, it’s back to Swallows and Amazons - discovering desert islands - Mate Susan, released from boatwifery. I pull to the shore and find a place to land among the boulders, twisting the painter round a jagged and bony rock. Yesterday’s plague of jellyfish - medusas, lion’s manes - have gone. I strip off and swim. It’s cold and clear and exhilarating. Down through the water, I see mussels and scallop shells, and little sharp stones in the mud. The water washes around me and, it seems, through me, stripping off layers of years and worries. I am removed, for the moment, from my world to this timelessness.
I dry myself with my teeshirt, put it on, and the trousers, and the trainers - how all at once strange they feel, these everyday clothes, like a loose skin, better sloughed off. But the rocks are razor-edged and the undergrowth is prickly.
There is a set of wooden steps where I have landed, leading to a picnic table built for giants, sheltering among the pines. Pinned to a nearby tree is an old photo of four brothers - the Roberts - fishermen from their clothes and the small boat they’re posed against. The date is 1957 - I wondered if this place was special to them.
Away through the brush is a rickety rackety spruce pole bridge leading - where? I wade through the grass and walk up and over the poles - until they start giving way. They are old and dried out and brittle. I decide a broken ankle or worse isn’t a good idea here. With extreme care I test every pole before putting my weight on it - ominous splitting noises, and I lift my foot very quickly. Leaning on the wobbly side bars is no good - they’re ready to collapse. I’m not sorry to be admiring the bridge from the picnic bench again.
"Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass"
Making another trail in the heat, I push through pink rosebay willow herb, blue forget me nots, yellow buttercups, red cloudberries among the waist-high grasses. Bees and flies hum, a butterfly darts, and the wind is picking up, hushing through the pines. It is intoxicating and stupefying here. A trickle stream splashes in the dark of moss, stone and fern down to the cove. I cup my hand and drink. It is beyond description here. I cry with joy.
* * * * *
I row further round the bay and then back to the boat, where I take photos of Jack and Fortune. J has rigged the sun awning, so this afternoon is to be gainfully spent drowsing in a louche delirium.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Clean, clean, clean!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday 20 July

I've just had a SHOWER with not just WATER, but HOT WATER!!!!

My hair is clean, my bod is clean - AND I'M JUST GORGEOUS!

Well, I now smell better than the fish dock anyway.

Off to the Bay of Islands today - the sun is shining and it looks like another fantastic day.


Apostrophe's and other things

It's good to s'ee our grammatical custom's from the Olde Countrie s'urvive and thrive over here. S'ome word's have live's and plural's of their own. Current favourite is vehicle's.

The Laundry Mat

On the sign outside the harbour washroom facilitie's, is the offer of a laundry mat. Is this a refinement of the bashing the clothe's on a stone routine, which I tell J is how I wash his clothe's?

Steel Nose

Another sign at the harbour: "Beyond this point hard hat's and steel nose must be worn"
Steel nose???? What have I missed? Are these people descendent's of Tycho Brahe?

Din dins

Jack invited me out to dinner tonight. It was extremely enjoyable - al fresco at the Harbour View.

We had:

Starter: Fisherman's Chowder x 2

Main course: J - cod
S - Screech and Coke

Pudding: J - Apple pie and icecream
S - Screech and Coke

CD music - Irish folk songs. Before the end of the main course, I'm singing along.

Twillingate Fish Dock

stinks! At least, so say the man, woman and lovely shaggy dog I meet on the quay. Actually, the dog thinks it smells rather good really.

Also, simper, simper, the bloke thinks I'm in my forties. Never one to disoblige, I merely grin, consigning my passport to the fiery furnace, my poor abandoned underage children to the care of social services, and my grandchildren simply works of art and fiction.


are always gratefully received - someone out there is reading this!

So, please, comment away.

Lovely to hear from my former students (Tuesday class, Cambridge City Council) - so glad all has gone well with the ECDL! Having terrible trouble remembering CCC and ECDL!! How soon it all slips from my brain. Now, people, chuck it all in, forget it all, and do something else instead! Wish I'd been able to do it years ago .... but better late than never!

Love, Susy xx


Sigh of relief: "Aah, so that's where you've been - sailing on the other side of the world." - to my parents.

Then I woke up.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Using an Ancient British Naval Chart - by George, it makes you proud to be British

From Seldom, south about and west through Sir C. Hamilton Sound, up north past Change Island, then to the west between Bacalhao Island and Berry Island, now under all sail.

The best day's sunshine and sailing so far - skipper and crew both delighted!

Ended up in Toulinguet.

This is now called Twillingate.

Have away, me Johnnies ....

Leaving Seldom Come By in glorious sunshine, I'm helming in vest top, underpinnings, and rolled up trousers. Who wants white strapmarks in the tan, girls? Not me. So, all straps at half mast. Sadly the formerly capacious family bosom still retains enough weighty dignity to bring all scaffolding down, so - heave away, haul away, and back to strapmarks.

An apple a day ...

Choices, choices!

An apple washed and scrupulously dried with the drying up cloth, or a fix of pesticide on an unwashed apple?

All this probably counteracted by the penicillium in the bagel.

Further plumbing note - obviously becoming an obsession!

Sitting on the loo in the washroom block, reading the notice "Please don't put toilet paper in the toilet, signed the Management", in an absent-minded fit, guess what I did. And it wouldn't flush away. Suddenly, the excessive pumping, for little cause, in Fortune's head seems worthwhile - at least you can dump bog roll in that bog.

Plumbing - again

Weds 19 July

There having been no hot water in the marina showers last night, I felt brave (ie dirty) enough to copy J's cold shower. Stripped off in the cubicle, turned on the shower - no f***ing water! Not even cold water. Just a meagre trickle. Having got this far, I wriggled various bits under the droplets, soaped up, and wriggled to rinse. Hair untouched and vile. Water turned off because repair man is coming to fix the heater after we leave.

Later still

Seldom Come By is on Fogo Island on the north side of NFL. There is a museum attached to the marina, free entry for moored (paying) boats. Which reminds me, the marina has a great sign on the main (old) building - the F.U. Trading Co Ltd!

The buildings were once a fishermen's co-operative, but with fishing gone, it was bought out and privatised last year, converted to the marina and museum. The largest building houses washroom facilities (no hot water for the shower - J had a cold one - he's such a maaaan!), laundry, and a recreation of the store. Here there are the old store counters and shelves, and numberless files of quantities of local documentation. On the shelves are a collection of objets trouves, all meticulously labelled with the item name, item use, and donor's name. I'm impressed by the amount of work that's been put into this. Included among the items are: a pair of home-made sealskin boots (prob the most interesting item to me), a fish hook straightener, used for - yes! - straightening fish hooks; two large saws for cutting down trees; and a small wooden box, which the label states had various uses. Now, I must admit, some of these descriptions were stating the obvious, which puzzled me somewhat. Until I saw the world map downstairs, with pins stuck in by visitors from all over the world! Even the Antarctic, S Georgia, S Orkneys (been here), China, Burma (haven't been here) - so then the explanations become clear. Cruise ships call here now.

The second shed was more interesting to me - full of old fishing memorabilia, sadly now redundant. (Saw a fishing boat called "Seldom Venture" - not these days, anyway.) The shed smelt of tar and old wood, and took me back to childhood visits to boatyards with my father. On the wall, a notice from 1929 detailing restrictions on cod fishing, so even back then, they were aware it was a finite resource. Gone, all gone, now.

Incompetent Crew

Jack is up on the wharf talking to one of the other people from the other boat.

While they're busy chewing over boaty things, one of my clove hitched fenders uncleaved itself and fell into the drink. This, following an abysmally useless demonstration of heaving lines ashore

"That's alright, Jack. Don't mind me, I can get this, I can do it, just let me get - er - er - the boathook. Yep, that's fine, no it isn't. No, no, just carry on talking, no problem. Oops, boathook too long, cant get the line. Don't worry, Jack, I can get the shorter boathook. You just carry on talking among yourselves. No problem, I can manage - heave, drop, heave, drop - bloody fender - fish, fish, ah! gottit - that's OK, Jack, got it - don't you trouble yourself. Yep, yep, here it comes -splash - no, no, try again - don't you worry about me, Jack, I'm fine - fish, fish - HOOK! - here she comes, Jack!"

And all this to the laughter of the two ladies on the dock. J and the gent oblivious to the drama below their eyesight. In fact, while I'm giving this demo of marine ineptitude, I can hear him boasting about my prowess. Farce? I couln't invent it.

Not going to Lumsden after all

but to Seldom Come By - well, with a name like that, you gotta. Though with our visit, perhaps an adjustment of name I feel - Slightly More Frequently Come By, perhaps?

We are going to the marina. Tee hee - this is a marina like none in either the States or in the UK. There, they are crowded places, with no room to move - boat parks. This one has room for two boats, and essentially, you moor against a wharf as usual. Except this one you have to pay for - not a public wharf. There is one other sailboat there already, so fifty percent full already. We make it 100 percent.

Boys will be boys

Waiting outside for the library to open are four young boys, clutching a book or two between them. Obviously, an island culture, away from the pernicisous influence of towns, has led them to the quiet pursuit of reading.

The library doors open, and indulgently, I let them rush past me - encourage the little darlings, eh? I'm an avid reader myself, but this time, I've come to use the internet.

And so have the boys. Of course. Four boys + four PCs - none for me. Next time, I'll be the one pushing them out of the way.

Still Tues 18 July - notes

We are getting butterflies and bees visiting.

Charts are in feet, metres or fathoms.

Going past the North and South Penguin Islands. Who says they're in the southern hemisphere.

Must be a fluke

Ooooohhh - right next to the boat!!! A great fluke lifts and sinks right next to us.


Jack's beloved Tilley hat has jumped ship, and lost in the fog! Tragedy - he loved that hat. But he found another one, which has done many, many sea miles from its salty look.

En route from Greenspond towards??

Two whales blowing off the starboard side, iving and surfacing. Quite a long waay off, but the "blow" drifts. From my little whale ID book, I think they are humpbacks.

Under all sail, and the sun is shining, and heading towards Lumsden, 34 miles away. We gybed round to 350 degrees, saying goodbye to the whales, and then what do I spot but a couple more, but closer. This time the dorsale fin is larger and there is a smooth edge to the fluke with white under, and a very curved back on diving. Hmmm - nope dunno which sort these are. But they are whales!

The best thing I brought with me - my varifocal sunglasses - binospecs par excellence - whale spotter's delights!!

Total 6 spouts - different places - here be whales indeed. SusiPod now playing Master of the House from Les Mis. "Lord knows how I've lasted, living with this barstid, in the 'ouse". Nope, not a comment on J, who is far too busy navigating and only wants to see whales breaching all round the boat!

Lots of birds - shearwaters, black guillemots, razorbills.

And faaahg! Just like that ... and the sun is still shining - I can sunbathe in faahg!

And then the fog's gone!

Gannets diving for fish - climb, hover, look down, start tumbling down in a wobbly dive, fold wings at last minute and hit the water like spears.

Wind about 3 knots with occasional whitecaps of The Brandies, a shoal/islets towards Cape Freels. Leaving Bonavista Bay.

Doing it in the cockpit

Haven't done it for some years, actually, and never in a cockpit. And I only do it lying on my back, genteelly raising some of my clothing, and lowering others. And never before in public. And my mother told me nice girls never, never, mooove ...

But hey, I'm on holiday, I'll never meet anyone here again, so caution to the winds, and

SUNBATHE MY TUMMY!!!!!!!!! Yaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday 18 July

To the strains of The Battle Hymn of the Republic on the susiPod, and a fine dawn, we left Greenspond, waved off by two chaps in shower caps from the fish factory. I spent a happy half hour lying in the bows watching the sea.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Cherry Cheese Squares

"Are they nice, Jack?"

Lugubriously, still munching: "Not particularly."

I love to go a-wandering ...

Monday 17 July - vile weather all night - J woke up, said he din't want to leave and went back to bed. Can't say I blame him.

So, with sailing off, off, I decided to go for a walk - there is a round-the-island trail. Wearing fleece and foulie jacket, I set off up the road, passing the whale windvane on a house belonging to people from Rhode Island - I feel very local knowing this. Then up a boardwalk to Hancock's Head - a false alarm, the real trail was over there and after floundering around the boggy bits and falling into overgrown empty space, I staggered over to the real RTI trail a couple of hundred metres away. Then it's off, on the genuine boardwalk, to the tune of Lili Marlene.

Stunning scenery - took a photo. Another few yards - moe stunning scenery - took another phot. In fact, the whole walk was breathtakingly amazing - gave up taking photos and just soaked it up. Unlike most of the places we've seen and been to, this island isn't smothered in stunted pines. It's moorland and heathland, peat bog and march and rocks, and all the way the sea breaks over the glaciated boulders that are the shoreline.

No geologist, me, but the rocks in the peat seem to a white limestone type, glinting with quartz shards, while the shore is pinky red granite type, moulded and worn smooth by thousands of years of ice, wind and water abrasion.

The path is boarded, or pebbled, or a peat track, over the low undulating landscape. There are benches and gazebos at intervals, some dedicated to the memory of people lost at sea.

Little brown birds chat their beaks angrily as I pass, disturbing their solitude. I try and make a list of the plants - pitcher plant, low growing rhododendrons, purple vetch, red & white clovers, ferns in the bogs, and I think (told later) the local speciality, bakeapples - a small reddish berry. Later, on the more sheltered side of the island is a small area of scented pines, and hidden among them, a dunny. I took a photo.

Halfway along (total five miles) the sun came out, and with a convenient piece of found rope, I tied jacket and fleece together (reef knot), slung them over my shoulder, and tied the rope round my waist (overhand knot). So, hands-free and striding out!

Passing the causeway, I reached the main road, where a total of 2 cars - traffic! - passed me on the way back to Greenspond. I bought apples and Coors Light (breakfast) at the store. I asked the lady there to take a photo of the Happy Wanderer, but she looked somewhat bemused, so I passed on that, and took one of her instead.

Back at the boat, J looking fed up - it's the weather - he was expecting it to be better and suggested we miss out most of the rest and rush to Bras d'Or (Br'ddore) Lakes on Nova Scotia. Having no expectations either way about the weather, I'm not fussed where we go, but did say I wanted to see L'Anse aux Meadows (Viking settlement) and Labrador (to say I've been there).

Oh Lord

Sunbathed in the cockpit, after walk.

There are lots of old building in good state here. The fish plant has caplin trucked in because there are none round here . Caplin roe is sent to Japan and China - it's a tiny delicacy. I asked a chap on the dock (lots of people have come to visit and chat), didn't they need the caplin roe for next year's caplin. He didn't seem to worry - shrugged and accepted it. Apparently, it's the first year there haven't been caplin here to be caught. I wonder why.

I tried buying a shower at the B&B - they wanted 20 dollars. I washed my hair in a bucket of water on the wharf.

I went to the church service this evening - a big anglican church in the teutonic style - white, red roof, sharply pointed spire. Inside, it's all painted a pale gray, even the excruciatingly uncomfortable pews. I have a backache across my ribs - which makes a change from low backache, which has completely gone - must be all that monkeying on the helm.

Anyway, a long and rambling Eucharist service, with a long and rambling sermon from the cheerful and informal Rev. Vernon, who had introduced himself earlier, and asked about this new visitor to his church. He even managed to bring in a bit about sailboats into his sermon!

About 10 or so congregation, and similar number of robed functionaries up at the altar.

Resounding hymn singing, especially one vigorous lady near a microphone - no "stuttering tongue", hers. (I'm quoting from a hymn - none of which I knew, but overcame by mumbling in an undertone.

Why was I in church? It always reinforces my disbelief, yet the words beyond the Word, give solace.

J had cooked supper when I got back - meatballs in tomato sauce and pasta and salad - excellent!

And for dessert? Changing the genoa for the storm jib rounds off a meal nicely.

Sun 16 July

Under full sail, overcast and rainy, but scenic, we sailed from deserted Deer Island to Greenspond, a small outport. It has a picturesque rocky entrance - from the land side, but from the sea, I was able to see the waves crashing over a very nearby outcrop as we entered the harbour - it's a great sight close to, but closer ... hmmm, no.

J takes over the helm when we get to any hard bits. It's Susy's first rule of sailing, to avoid any hard bits, and this extends into all walks of my life - liquor, work, luck and er, oh yes, men. But as we all know they're hard to find, anyway, tee hee. Oops, promised myself not to be smutty. Oh, well.

We are blown on to the wharf, so go round to the sheltered side. We are helped by various people, and I even manage to hurl a line across quite a (for me) wide stretch of water - and it's caught. I'm not the best thrower ever known.

After the mooring is sorted out, I went for a walk, and talked to an indefatigable lady, planting geraniums, helped by her pregnant black cat. When we met up later, it was as if we had never met - and started all over again....

By the fish plant (our mooring, as ever) are: one house for sale, one closed restaurant for sale, one closed general store for sale, and a yard sale - contents of a store, whose owner is moving to Toronto.

Greenspons used to be an island but is now joined to the mainland by a causeway. There is also an extremely cute bridgelet to adjacent Ship Island. The whole area is picturesque - rocky islets, bays, white houses - but you feel it's prosperity is in the past.

Sat 15 July

Rainy, but the forecast isn't too bad, so we should leave soon. I made a bracelet from the rest of the embroidery floss.

Yup, left and heading for Deer Island.

We approached Deer Island after winding through several islands, and up Bloody Reach. We were looking for a narrow entrance to a tiny tickle along the southern edge, marked only by an outcropping of rockodiles, with and elevated small cliff behind. Motored rather gingerly in and along, nosing into wider bits and out again hurriedly, as the depth sounder rapidly reduced. Anchored in the tickle - about 4/5 metres depth - well, no-one else about for miles and miles, so not really obstructing anyone. The island is low, rocky and covered in these rather stunted pines, and that's it - didnt see any deer. In the morning, it was perfectly still, the pines reflected in the water, with a couple of terns swooping for their breakfast. J said if the weather was better, he would have liked to explore the rest of the tickle in the dinghy - gunkholing.

Friday 14 July

Stayed in Smokey Hole - forecast high winds, overcast.

Embroidered a Noofunlan flag for my white sun visor. Read A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole - which won the Pulitzer Prize some time ago - a tragi-comedy, which had me laughing out loud, overlaid by the tragedy - he committed suicide aged 32 in 1969. Book published in 1979.

Thurs 13 July

Odd changes of mood today.

Left Catalina (pretty bay, narrow entrance, library, one shop) at 8 - no wind, sunshine, puffins everywhere bobbing in the water, diving, taking off, bellyflopping on takeoff, and a flypast of 3, banking over the bow with their stumpy orange feet sticking out behind.

Under engine up towards the turn into Bonavista Bay; a whale appeared several times - just its back, smooth, gray, slow and elegant. I steered from my monkey positin through the long, large, lazy swells. (Getting a bit adjectival here.) I felt - slim, brown, exuberant, free - me!

Anyway, out we come into Bonavista Bay - and it is almost as untouched as when John Cabot saw and named it 700 years ago - beautiful and islanded into the distance. Autohelm on to cross the Bay, and I snooze; J on watch.

Our destination is Smokey Hole, deep at the end of a little bay, and it's wonderful, a long narrow entrance, rocky slabs piled on each other, pine trees all round on the enclosing hills, and some fishing shacks on stilts. We anchor. Another boat comes in later, and anchors as well. We wave to each other. I cook supper and try using a gingerbread cake mix as a pancake thingy in the new NON-STICK pan - hmmm - OKish.

So, here I am in a beautiful place, having a great adventure, exploring out of the way places, and I'm back to the old feeling I had right at the start of this trip - that I should be doing this with someone I love.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Surf's Up, Dudes!

Weds 12 July

Left Old Perlican and crossed Trinity Bay for Catalina on the opposite shore - wind from just west of north and all sails set - and breaking seas on the port quarter all the way - good exercise for arm muscles! Then the wind came up even more, so J decided to take the main down - I am completely for all lines led aft, now, seeing him being thrown about.

Surfed into the fog until we hit the coast - but hitting came later, when we tried to moor in a tiny cove - bump, crash, crump. Reverse and on to the dock, where I found this library - just about to shut, so must go.

Love to all xx

Odds and ends

"Labs leave paw prints on our hearts" + a labrador face on the bows of the boat (Faithful Friend) behind us - how true.

Another boat is called "Fishful Thinkin'" - nice irony.

In August, everyone is going to be allowed to catch 5 cod per day, for the first time for years. If they can find them. What do I think of this? Whaddya think?

Dyed my hair brown yesterday - it had gone rusty - from the fog? or the sun?

* * * * *

Today is, I believe, the first anniversary of the death of J's son, Teague, in a car accident. Photos of him are on the saloon bulkheads. Too sad for words.

And we are ...

"Ah, yes, indeed, landlord. A fine foaming pint of your best Old Perlican, if you would be so good! Your very good health! Cheers!"

Well, no, not quite, though it sounds like a CAMRA candidate rather than a fishing port, and by the time we tie up, I could just do with a pint or two, but not of Old Perlican, which meets and greets you some way out to sea, with the matured odour of crustacean. This, we find out, emanates from the shrimp processing plant, which is where we tie up.

We had motored into the harbour, wondering where to to - the public wharves are painted yellow - but are all in use by fishing boats. A bunch of guys point us round the corner, where a couple more tell us to tie up to "that red boat over there". They are pointing to a white boat, with a narrow red trim. J hears "red" as "radar" and heads for the boat behind the white/red boat. I jump on to this, rope in teeth and we pull ourselves alongside the red/white one.

This is an interesting alongside moor. The boat has an aft area. It has a bow area. It has a very large cabin dividing the two areas. Problem - how to get from front to back - quickly, quickly now - before Fortune's stern drifts away. J holds on to the red/white boat amidships, while I "is this in my terms of contract, Jack?" scamper along an outside ledge a toehold wide, the only external connection between the bow and stern of this boat. I shimmy back and forth several times before J approves the mooring.

I'm going to hit the town. I buy a pound of shrimp (5 dollars - fishermen get 33 cents/pound one of them tells me later) from the plant, and a cappuccino (!) from the local store-that-sells-everything (even fireworks) and is open 7-11. But the store, and a takeaway opposite are the town, so no pint of OP, after all.

Shrimp in ginger, garlic and soy for supper, with salad and rice. I shall have to write a boat cook book. J very complimentary - now nice!

We're off!

Tuesday 11 July - a week late!

But off we went - the engine needed about 3 goes to start it, and it does smoke a bit, but sounds and works OK. My fingers are permanently crossed.

Up past Little Bell Island, Big Bell Island and then 'Nobly, nobly, Cape St Francis to the north-east died away' (I can misquote Browning with the worst) - and how different from the gale a week ago - little wind, overcast and rainy.

Then away north west between the Bay de Verde Peninsula and offshore Baccalieu Island, through the Baccalieu Tickle (!). Here be whales, well, one anyway, blowing, with gulls circling overhead. We had picked up a NNW wind and all sails were up, so we scooted past the whale. Hmmm - sailing? or whale watching? A conflict of interest here - guess where mine lies.

Loads of puffins bobbling on the sea, diving for fish, flying like animated black balls. I saw one forced into the sea by a gull - to make the poor little cute puffin give up its beakful, so the gull gets a meal at no effort. Puffins and razorbills are rubbish at taking off from the water.

We rounded the Peninsula, but the wind was now on the nose. "Start the engine" says Jack, and I try trice before making him do it. If it doesn't start at once, and it now never does, I am convinced it never will. But off we chug, under engine and mizzen - shame about having to get somewhere - it was a cracking sail - sun out and leeward rail under - 7+ knots - not bad for a chunky old lady.

A couple of fishing boats came out from our destination. And we had arrived at the fish dock at 5 - 10 hours, 50 miles.


Monday 10 July.

Carl and his pal Wilbur spent the best part of today prone before the Great God of Red Engines - trying to get the beast to start. It appears, as with most things, it is a matter of timing - and eventually to J and J's pocket's delight, they succeeded. So - no new engine, at vast expense and time.

We have a little mosey out of Long Pond and into the Bay, and barring some blue smoke, all seems well. I am reassured, especially as Carl (who calls me 'child' tee hee) is happy with things.

We have yet another final farewell drink and icecream with Alan and Laura, fill up with water and tomorrow ....

North Atlantic Convoy

Sunday 9 July

Went on Dynamique (Mike) for a sail past for the NA Convoy veterans, ex-Merchant Navy. They were presented with medallions and a luncheon - a very unsung bunch of brave men.

On each boat was a banner with the name of a boat which had been sunk (2nd WW). We had SS Malta, a Canadian vessel. The vets stood on the staging as we went by, and John on board saluted them and they saluted back. Each boat was introduced, together with the boat it represented - extremely moving.

Sadly, it was just too windy for the Convoy Cup race - shame.

Gang aft agley

Sat 8 July

Beautiful sunshine all day. The engine is virtually impossible to start - and needs a fix of Quickstart and even then ... blue smoke pouring from the exhaust. I told J I wasn't happy leaving like this. He agreed and rang Carl again. They drained the fuel tanks and found some gunge and water.

While they were doing this, I went for a bubble watch trip on a hard dive boat next door - shame I hadn't got my logbook, but sat on the flybridge and nattered with Bill the Boatman while the divers went to 2 wrecks, The Saganaga (Canadian) and the Lord Strathcona (UK), sunk by a German U-boot during the 2nd World War.

It looks as if a new engine is needed.

Racy Lady

Friday 7 July and still no engine.

Went racing this evening on Windsong, Darrel and Joanna's C&C 30, with Bev and Michelle - all girlies under the command of one man - he was soooo upset! We were taking part in the Woodford Cup, sponsored by Mr Woodford, and the scratch crew didn't do too badly - beating Kenny's C&C 32. Oh, how we cheered as we passed them! After the race was a dinner, where I got somewhat rat-arsed on G&T and wine, having already started on a beer on the boat. Had to talk myself back on to Fortune extremely carefully. The drunk has not yet hit the drink;` still time though.

Happy birthday, dear Ja-ack!

Today is J's birthday! He's still snoring as I write.

When I gave him his card and present (a courtesy flag of Newfoundland), he said he wouldn't have told me it was his birthday until after breakfast, in case we had a rerun of the pancakes.

For those of you familiar with Swallows and Amazons, there does seem to be a remarkable similarity - Captain Jack and Mate Susan have lots of jolly decent sailing adventures, visit lots of islands, eat lots of pemmican washed down with lashings of ginger beer - oops, wandered into Blytonland, now.

Dinner at the YC - and the smuggled cake was produced, covered in candles. Happy Birthday was sung and a good time was had by all ...

except for the dratted engine.

Later that day:

Wed 5 July

Got up early to go: J started the engine, which started then stopped - clunk - abruptly.

Carl, the Diesel Doctor, came - a fuel pump problem.

So - more sunbathing while he and J sorted out the problem - a new pump to be fitted tomorrow (Thursday).

Alan and Laura came round for coffee that evening, served in the most horrible containers - all that Jack has aboard, apart from the two - his 'n' hers - boat mugs, used for everything. As we're here for another day, I invited them, oh and J, too, to the Yacht Club for dinner tomorrow because ...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The people we've met

Alan and Laura - and her dad, Dan - oh and Winston, too, and now Baron the dog:

I cannot thank you enough for all the help and kindness you have shown to Jack and me during our stay at St John's and here in Conception Bay South. Endless thanks!

Jim Payne and his wife Ann

Fantastic to meet Jim again, and to meet Ann for the first (hope not the last) time. Thanks for tea and talk, Jim's music, and advice for a project of mine. When we were in the gale coming up Conception Bay, Jim's song "Wave over Wave" accompanied us. Extra thanks for the sea over bow bit, Jim - hmmmmmmmm!

Thanks to, to Fergus O'Byrne

Jim's fellow musician, and for singing "Peggy Gordon" and for giving me a hug - how nice is that!

And to all the friendly boaty people at the wharf in St John's and now at the Royal Newfoundland Yacht Club, and to the next door dive shop for letting me use their computer yesterday. I love Newfoundland!

Making Jack a sandwich


Take 2 slices bread
Spread both slices with butter, mayonnaise or similar
Take ordinary amount of whatever filling and put on one slice
Double that amount and add to slice
Double total previous amounts and add to slice
Balance second piece of bread on top of food tower
Now cut in half without everything falling apart
Serve with a generous glass of milk

He's a growing lad.

Charts (later same day)

Now, with every chart of the area known to mankind, some of which are reprints of those produced by the Royal Navy (hurrah!) in the 1800's and still have the same funny typescript, spread over the entire saloon, galley, bunks, J is planning our new journey. His is in his element. I am retreating under the flood of paper. The sun is shining. I shall slip into something swimsuitable and be decorative in the cockpit.

* * * * *
2 seconds into the cockpit session, and I'm hailed by this elderly gent, sporting a black trilby, knitted cardi, white socks and a pipe, calling round to say hello. I do like this. He's a friendly talkative chap, who, before he goes some time later, invites us to drop by for coffee on his boat. "It's a long day," he says, leaving the invitation open. How nice is this.

My Fellow American

4 July 2006

J woke up this morning to find the Independance Day Fairy had visited in the night, leaving a paper flag with a few Stars and Stripes on one side and a message to: "My dearest Colonist". Unaccountably, the Fairy seems to have overlooked certain historical incidents and is obviously old enough to remember pre-1776 and indeed, poor mad old George III. For she put the Union Jack on the other side. And "Rule Britannia!" writ large. So good to know one country still dominates the globe.

To the REAL LOUD sound of rousing US anthems, Ole Man River, and my fave, the Battle Hymn of the Republic, the short order cook produced an American Breakfast: OJ, coffee, bacon, fried potatoes, eggs (over uneasily), and probably the world's worst pancake ever. The cook blamed the pan. "She would," said J.

Even doused and drowned in maple syrup, it was inedible - J tried hard, but had to give up. The pancake went from boat to shining sea. J ended up, gratefully, with muffins.

The cook cracked up at the truly terrible meal.

"The intention was good, Jack."

"Yes, kill the Captain," he growled.

That'll teach 'em to want independance - a Brit's revenge!

After dinner ...

Dan, Laura's father, and J spent a couple of happy hours planning a revised route. Dan, a sailor of many years, knows the areas very well, and also works with wharfage around the island.What a treasure!***

He and Laura are having a sailing jolly in a couple of weeks' time - the boat is also at the Yacht Club and is a C&C 38 with a black hull, a cruiser/racer.

*** PS to this today - J has now arranged the route to exclude any chance of happening upon showers, shops, and suchlike unnecessaries - so there will probably be quite a gap here till I can next catch up with the blog.

Feline Groovy - 3 July

J and I have just got back to the boat from superb dinner with Alan and Laura. Oh how wonderful to eat off a china plate! Using pretty salad servers with the china salad bowl! A blue pottery wine goblet! China tea mug! (eh? thought everything was plastic these days) Actually, I think I have a vague race memory of these things in the dim, distant past.

The wine in the goblet came from Canada - a cheeky little red that enabled me to demonstrate an ability to fall upstairs into the sitting room.

On the sofa, Winston the Cat looked down felinely at the figure spreadeagled beneath him.

"Never" he said, puffing on his cigar, "in the field of human conflict have I seen one of THEM look such an idiot."

Hang on, Winston, surely it's two toes for a Victory V sign? A North American cat, then.

Hair of the Dog

Hairstyle du jour - au Chien de Terre Neuve.

(google a picture, and you will see me now)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Half the woman - but TWICE THE GU-URRLL!!!!!!!!!!

Slim, trim and roaring to go!

Things I've found out about myself so far:

I like cruising from place to place - not marinas - wild cruising, anchoring.

Need occasional fix of showers, people, laundry, loo. Oh, yes, and an internet fix. Oh, and yes, of course, an alcohol fix (J doesn't drink at all).

I like being an old fashioned boatwife. J does all the boat/beast maintenance. He also does the navigation. Now see here - I can navigate, plot a course, use radar, gps, autohelm (our three fantastic and unsung boat heroes) and do do all these things, but J does it better and loves doing it.

Boat Food (2)

I do all the food shoppiing and on board we now have:

soy sauce, ginger, garlic, balsamic vinegar, coconut milk, olive oil, honey, honey mustard, croutons, spring onions, broccoli, salad, fresh keeping vegetables

along with a dedicated locker for:

muffins, cookies, buttercoated peanuts, pretzels and fudge.

The cooker is a 3-burner and oven, although J doesn't know how the oven works, and we use it to store bread. He's an easy man to feed - thanks, Mom.

What we have for supper is always a surprise for both of us. My family will be amazed how creative I've been. Yesterday, after reaching port in the gale, we had Boat Soup made from anything I had had around and needed using up. I'd made it in St John 's the deay before, boxed it up and secured it with lots of elastic bands. Despite all the pounding yesterday, it had remained unspilt - I was very proud of it.

Boat Food

At the start of this cruise, J had provisioned the boat with a selection of his favourite tins, er cans, makes unknown to me. Particularly eye catching was a red tin, er can, with a smiley chap in chef's whites decorating the label - my intro to the epicurean world of Chef Boyardee. He creates amazing cuisine - mainly pasta-based, I believe, although I havent's yet managed to consume his entire range. And it's all eminently suited and preserved for the floating fraternity. (Not sorority.) My first taste test of the chef's bonnes bouches was when we overnighted in Port Mouton, Nova Scotia. We weren't completedly out of food, but I was a bit tired of cooking. So, Chef B it had to be. Two tins were opened and dumped into a saucepan. Pale lumps of ravioli in thick orange sauce. A feast for the eyes. And for J, also for the tum. There we were, anchored off in a beautiful bay, opposite a curving white sandy beach and pine trees, eating tinned ravioli. When we could have gone against a little wharf nearby and eaten the famous Port Mouton icecream. I had a silent SOH failure and went to bed early, turning my back on the wondrous bay at sunset.

Since then, Chef B is at the back of the locker - where the tins, er cans, are leaked on and rust gently.

J says when we are in some remote place and out of food, we'll be fighting over the last can. I pinch his plumped-up, muffined-up upper arm - just testing - and assure him: "No contest."

Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day, And make me travel forth without my cloak?

(Monday 2 July, public holiday)

All last night the wind howled and the rain fell. In an interval between rain drops the following morning, I crept out and went for a walk. I got as far as the main road, and found Tim Horton's chain of coffee shops open, and went in to shelter and to write up my notes. Blogging here at a friendly Dive Shop.

Oops, We Did It Again...

Left St John's yesterday, Sunday 2 July, sun, wind SW 4-5. One of my earrings jumped ship - preferred to stay here, obviously (not the diamonds) - and I dont blame it. Bye bye street art, street music, street people!

So, out through the Narrows, turn left, past headland after headland under reefed main going 5-6 knots. Saw usual crowd - puffins, black guillemots, razorbills banking round the bow showing off their fat white tummies and little black legs (aaah!). Then whales blowing near into the cliffs, slapping and slapping the water with their tails, frolicking round their caplin breakfast.

Wind picking up as we go north, and as we get to the top bit - Cape St Francis (Patron saint of travellers, BTW) - it's roaring away, as a guess 6-7, gusting more, and the waves are 2-3 metres. Hard to tell. We harden up into the wind to round the corner, and because we're coming off an easy reach, so Fortune starts her rodeo. Whoaaaaa! Already got the foulies on and footwear of choice - barefoot deckshoes; and J has put a second reef in the main. Weathering the Cape is a payoff between direction and speed - we go for speed, and go further offshore, where a tanker steams, by steady in the water.

We put a couple of tacks in, but to get on, the beast is started, putting the wind further round, so we can get by without tack, tack, tack. It's always going to be a trade-off - if we want to get somewhere before we drop, we motorsail.

(Note: because after all, Fortune is Jack's boat. "Pull it in a bit, Jack" - I indicate the mainsheet, following my alteration of course, coming into the wind. "No, bear off a bit," he replies. Which I do. Half a minute later, "Point up a bit more," sings out Jack, hauling in the mainsheet. Tee hee)

Now the wind is up again, and we have a cheerful gale in the sunshine! (Note the different attitude from the last one, eh, byes?)

So now it's madness and mayhem, all over again. All over again, the boat is swept and swept with green waves - and of course, guess who's always in the way? Yep, with mouth open, as well. Yum. Jack can't believe I find this funny; when he wants to alter course by Three Degrees (three, Jack?), I'm in the cockpit: "A woman needs a good man ..." clinging to the mizzen mast like a lover should.

We leap and lurch our way down Conception Bay, hard on that wind, trying not to luff up as the boat jangles sideways into a trough. And in the middle of all this, J decides he has to have a crap - I cannot believe anyone's system is functioning - mine isn't because it daren't! Each to his own.
J takes the helm while I brace myself in a corner of the cockpit, back to the waves, which slap and slash over my head. I can semi-sleep like this - still aware, but hugely relaxed, and 15 minutes of this later, I am ready to go again.

Having left St John's at 7 that morning, at 6 pm we finally make out the entrance buoys to Long Pond, Conception Bay South, round up, take the main down, and motor into the calm behind the breakwater, and the Royal Newfoundland Yacht Club. We make a miserable sight at their pristine dock - a couple of drenched, bedraggled ragamuffins. I'm still buzzing, but J is, not surprisingly, tired out. We both shower, and he spends unwinding time quietly checking and altering the mooring lines. I check in get a G&T on a tab at the club bar, listen to Jim and Fergus on the CD player, do supper (see Boat Soup later). We both fall into our bunks by 9.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Oh, no - there's more - it's CANADA DAY!

Sat 1 July is Canada Day, and currently in the oldest N American city, in the youngest Canadian province (I think it's province), I have been actively enjoying the lead-in and today's festivities.

Dual Nationality

Anyway, the lead-in. Last night (Friday) J and I went to George (wall to wall pubs) Street, paid our 10 dollar entry fee to see the live band on the street, and rocked to the music. And then I saw it: "Get Screeched In at 11.15." Oh, I just had to. Let me explain a bit. Screech is rum, and a little cottage industry has been built up to sell the stuff and alongside, become an honorary Newfie, complete with certificate. J, who doesnt drink and had had enough rocking by then, decided to go back to the boat (we were getting up at 4 the next morning for the Sunrise Ceremony and he likes a good sleep - oh, yes).

So off I go to the pub, sign in, spend the intervening time anticipating the rum with strong coffee and incomprehensible conversation with an on-the-go Coastguard at the bar, and wonder what I'm up to this time.

At 11.15 nine of us assemble in the upstairs bar and off we go. A mad character in oilskins (boy, wouldnt like to be around when he eventually took them off - it was hot and humid) burst into the room, slapping his hand energetically with a canoe paddle and talking loud and fast. We had to introduce ourselves (cue for taking the piss out of my accent hee hee), sing daft responses to his daft song and to learn the reply to his question: "Are you a Screecher?!?!?" Well, that took a bit of learning - garbled, fast and tongue twisting and left us all cracking up at our attempts.

So: "Are you a Screecher?!?"

"Yes I is, me ole cock, and long may your big jib draw!" To be howled as fast and as loudly as possible.

Having sorted this one out, and by now kneeling on the floor, we moved on to the induction: eating a piece of bologna, ingredients unnamable, tossing off a stout shot of Screech, and then, as you do, kissing a codfish. And yes, I did it all! Excellent! (The alternative to kissing the cod is to kiss a puffin's bum - but as this would have been a wooden puffin, by golly, glad I had a real fish to snog.)

Then we were dubbed with the paddle on both shoulders and presented with our certificates.

And so to bed.

It's now 12.30 and officially Canada Day. Up in the little park, with the dog statues, at the top of the jetty, in case you've forgotten (probably omitted) previous details, it's party on down time, dudes - the ones I wished "Good morning" to, on my way down to the boat. They are very happy indeed.

After a while, some of them moved down to the jetty, and I'm nearly asleep, when BLAAAAASSSTTTT from the cockpit. I know that sound - it's our foghorn. In nightie alone, I stick my head out of the companionway - there are four of them there. "Hey, kids!" I say - and they jump a mile! They are such amiable drunks, so apologetic, shaking my hand, lurching off the boat and just failing to fall in the water. I feel mean breaking up their party.

And so to bed, again.


This is J's alarm for 4 oclock. I havent really bothered to sleep, so I'm quite perky and peer out of my burrow to see a sleepy skipper wondering what on earth he's doing up at that hour. I think he thought I wouldn't get up so early. Ha-ha! I'm good at that ...

And off we go (me: 5 mins to get ready; J half and hour) to catch the bus to the top of Signal Hill overlooking St John's and the Narrows, where the Sunrise Ceremony is to take place. We could see Fortune from the Cabot Tower, and we could see another boat had tied up against us!

And as all ceremonies go, it was a fine mixture of bathos and true emotion. Many of the audience were wearing funny hats, funny clothes. Many of the dignitories were doing the same, only theirs were official. After five somewhat repetitive speeches by various representatives of various things, we are reminded (5 times) that it is the 90th anniversary of a WW1 battle on the Somme, where lots of young Newfoundland men died. So, with the flags being raised, and then lowered to half mast, it was very moving. I really like the idea of saying Happy Birthday to your country. We were entertained by a bilingual choir, much buffetted by a strong wind. The sun shone briefly, but at the right time, through the fog, and the rain kindly held off till the end of the proceedings. Along with lots of like-minded people, we skipped the birthday cake in favour of a rush for the bus, forced an entry through the back doors, and got seats. Breakfast on the walk back to the boat.

And so to bed - third time lucky?

The new boat people woke me up (J can sleep through almost anything), and apologised profusely for disturbing us when they arrived - they had tried to be as quiet as possible, so as not to wake us. Imagine their faces when I told them we hadn't been there!

Have brought a couple of French blokes from another boat to the visitor centre where I am typing, and am going now.

This afternoon, J and I to music celebrations, early night, off tomorrow at about 7 for Conception Bay South.

And so to bed - perchance to sleep tonight? Whaddya think?