susys running away to sea

"The rigors (sic) of an expeditionary lifestyle"

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wednesdy 30 August

Well, today, I'm up and about and bright as ever - maybe a diet of low food, low sleep, some alcohol and 100 percent adrenaline is a bit extreme!

The sun is shining, I'm blogging, J is reading and we're waiting for Kenny Ker-nickle to come back and fit the fuel pump.

A funny turn

Tuesday 29 August

J and I took the buses into downtown Halifax. Being a dolt with buses, I paid as well as J! And no chance of getting the money back...

On the second bus, I was accosted by an English voice - another Susan, from Weymouth, but left over 30 years ago. We, or rather she, talked about her life - widowed, late husband, grandchildren, would like to live in NZ again, museum guide - until she got off. Nice lady.

Halifax is a really cool city - multicultures and bicycles and fairtrade and organics

J and I walked down to the waterfront, saw some old boats (part of the Maritime Museum), went into the Marina office and found we could have moored here after all, then went to look for books (pre S's bag of books). Found an old bookstore, where J searched out, it seemed, only those books with a watery theme. So far, he'd led the tour, which accounts for the obsession with all things maritime in this paragraph. Never mind the little shops, clothes, jewellers, cafes, then ...

But all of a sudden, in the stuffy bookstore, I came over all strange and had to sit on some stairs. Low blood sugar, despite the slow release banana for breakfast. I found J and we went outside where I slid down the granite wall to hunker on the sidewalk. This doesnt happen to me - but I thought altitude didnt happen to me, either (see May blog). Anyway, we went to a cafe, had coffee and samosa, and gradually I began to feel a bit better, providing I stuck to slow motion. We had lunch in a rather spartan and grubby pizza/Lebanese place, then caught the buses back to the boat.

I had a little lie-down, a little read, a little sleep.

Monday evening

and J took me out to supper at Phil's Nova Scotia style Fish and Chips up the road. The fish was excellent, the batter crispy, the chips a bit too thin - but a good time was had by both.

Then to the club house in a vain search for puddings, but the kitchen wasn't open that night. So J had a candy bar and I had coffee - J talking to another Phil and Nadine from the States, and me to India behind the bar. She's going travelling round Europe with her brother next year - not waiting till she's 50 blah blah, then!


There have been cormorants since Baddeck in the Bras d'Or Lakes, swimming up to their necks, guzzling fish and standing on mooring buoys stretching out their wings to dry - adorable.

Today, Monday, there was one on our pontoon, looking at the ducks in the water. It's quite a big bird with a long yellow beak hooked at the end. Its feet gripped the end of the decking, and were clutching on in a jointed, prehensile way, like webbed hands. Then it plopped into the water, leaving behind a large porridge turd.

Monday 28 August

Ken Knickle (the K is pronounced - an old German name famous in Lunenburg), the diesel bloke, came along. He suggested that water is probably getting into the fuel system through the deck vents - and yes, we did have the decks swept in the pounding after leaving Canso. He's taken the fuel pump off for stripping and testing.

I should have guessed ...

Still Sunday.

Back to the boat, and now we have neighbours - a powerboat. I went to check if our still-strappped-on dinghy was in their way (it wasn't), and was invited on board for rum and coke. P & J, the very merry, couple of sheets to the wind, joint owners, said their engine had broken down and they had had to be towed in. (Hey! You can sail with sails - and wind!)

Slightly ahead of me down the rum bottle, P proceeded to lightly grill, roast and then put me on toast about my trip, finances, motivations, credentials, conclusions, attitudes, life in general towards wildlife, Newfoundland, the kipper and screw setup (!) on Fortune, oh and did I mention Newfoundland?

His friend J leant forward and quietly mentioned P comes from Newfoundland.

You can take the b'ye out of Newfoundland, reet?

I said how much I liked the nosy Newfoundlanders, being nosy myself ...

(PS - write back, chaps - you can comment here! We should be gone by the weekend. It was great fun and a pleasure to meet you both)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sunday 27 August

R & S, a few boats down, went out for the first time ever in their new-to-them sailboat. They've never sailed before and this was to be a short motor out, down a bit, and then back. Coming back into their slip, the gusty wind caught the stern, swinging it towards their neighbour's boat. Being the nice guys they are, S already having jumped ashore with spring in hand, R decided not to bash the other boat, and backed out again, taking not S, but the spring with him. And it got round the prop, as it does. This time, the wind, really picking up, was sweeping R and boat down on to not one, but two sterns. Club boat + boatman + J intervened and with S and me on the pontoon, we all pushed and pulled till everything and everyone was safe and sound.

(S came round a day or so later with a big bag of beautiful books - such timing - just finished my last one (Bernie Howgate's Journey Round Labrador) and already had my hand poised over J's sleeping form to steal his ...)

J is now headfirst down the coffin berth (arrghh) trying to fix the Autohelm, and is doing one of his favourite things, turning into an oily rag. I'm reading in the cockpit, in the sun, passing him tools on request and avoiding the grease on the worm drive (the steering system). Hard life being crew.

In the afternoon, with J recovering horizontally from his horrible arduous claustrophobic confinement, I take myself off to the Commodore's Picnic for a couple of vodka and oranges...

Here I met, and of course, talked to, some people from the Dartmouth YC (across the bay), giving publicity to the same N Atlantic Merchant Navy Convoy Association I had met at the Royal Newfoundland YC in July. This seems to be a commemoration that is taking off pretty widely on this side of the Atlantic, and in Norway (where it was founded). There is a racing programme on both sides on alternate years, so the future, as well as the past, is promoted. And a jolly good thing, too.

The best tattoo in the world

Lisa, who cooks at the yacht club, has the cutest tattoo ever - her baby daughter Chelsea's footprint on her upper arm. It's in the style of a shaded map - a tiny island of foot with offshore islets of toes.

The Royal Nova Scotian Duck Squadron

Not to be confused with a similar sounding (but no ducks) yacht club down the arm a way.

This is a small fleet of brown ducks, bobbing by, heads cocked sideways, avaricious looks in their eyes.

'What do you want to sacrifice, J?' I ask, going to one of his goody stores, this one in the oven. 'Muffins? Doughnuts? Cake? Cookies? For the ducks ...' as I extract some old stale bread behind his back.

He jumps round, aghast and disapproving. 'None!' he roars.

'You're such a child,' he says, taking a photo.

Shakin my booty

So, 60 hours after the engine died, and the autohelm came out in sympathy, we finally docked in Halifax.

At the yacht club this evening (Sat) there was a barbeque and dance, rocking to excellent Bruce Wheaton. J even escorted me on to the dance floor ... There is definitely something about men dancing - such verve! Such style!

After he decided enough was enough, I stayed on, grooving and jiving till it was pumpkin time. When I got back to the boat, J was still up, making yet another list of things to do ...

Tugboat Susy! (the longer version)

Saturday 26 August

I've ALWAYS WANTED TO DO THIS!!! I've seen drawings in magazines and books, and now I'VE ACTUALLY DONE IT!!!!

We lashed the dinghy to the starboard side of the boat and I drove the dinghy and Fortune under 2.5 hp outboard up to the head of the Northwest Arm about a mile to the Armdale Yacht Club. J was directing from the cockpit, as I had very limited views. Guess who got the wet job again - water slopping in over the dinghy bows! But it was sunny and the water was warm and it was the GREATEST FUN EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

'Take a photo, Jack!' I shout up at him, but he's too busy being worried about his boat. Happily, someone in a passing yacht snaps as we go by and later detective work tracks it down. I may get my picture yet.


Friday 25 August

0604 wind died. Did stuff round the boat - J mended a gaping seam in the jib, I cooked stuff from the fridge before it went bad. Then, because it was nicely sunny, I sunbathed while J dozed below. We were drifting off Jeddore Rock, but no problem.

Round about 10.30, a small breeze from the southwest rippled across my back. Something stirred in my head. Surely this meant something? Now, what ...? Oh! Wind! Ah! Yes! Sailing! I pulled out the jib and off we went, silently sliding through the flat water. J woke about 5 or so minutes later.

'And going the right way,' he marvelled. Hmmm.

He pulled up the main and we carried on towards the entrance to Halifax harbour. Tacking off the entrance, the wind, bless its socks, died on us, and so did my heart. So near, so far. But eventually it picked up again and we tacked up the Northwest Arm under jib and mizzen, anchoring about halfway up, about a mile upstream, off a beautifully manicured lawn with little green round bushes and an I-want-it house.

There's more ...

Thursday 24 August

'Autohelm's on the fritz,' says J, when I come on watch again. A new expression to me, but instantly understandable. J has the sails nicely balanced, so Fortune is virtually sailing herself - the advantage of a long keeled boat. We are still tacking against the 10-15 knot wind. I finish up some cold soup for breakfast.

While J slept, I had a great time playing boats, tacking up and down. Unfortunately, I forgot about him, and the last tack tipped him out of his bunk. All that day we continued zigzagging towards Halifax.

In the darkness, phosphorescent organisms sparkle in our bow wave.

My watch from 8 pm, and J is understandably keen to preserve the battery power - so, no lights.

AAARGH! I had to tack, couldn't see jacksh*t, couldn't find the torch, when I did, couldn't find the on button, when I did, misremembered the course to steer, overcorrected, backed the jib, tacked back again, totally disoriented, had a mild fit of hysterics, woke J, insisted on masthead lights and compass light. J retired me to bed.

Up again 2.15 am - with above lights on - damn the batteries - everything was jolly good, and I played boats again very happily while J snoozed.

Bleedin' nuisance

Wed 23 August

We left Canso in the early morning, motorsailing through the seals and the sun. The wind, as ever, was coming from the southwest, our direction of course. We tacked across our course, as the sea was extremely choppy - going into it stopped us short.

By the afternoon, we had gone some way down the coast, when the engine coughed, and about an hour later, died a sudden and rather final death. Thank goodness this is a sailboat, so we could at least sail - and then naturally, the wind turned fluky and then this, too, died. J had been trying to sort out the engine for quite some time - changing filters, bleeding the fuel line, cursing a bit. We had plenty of searoom - far enough offshore not to have to worry about lumps of land, and three anchors in that event, anyway - and it was dark by this time. So now what?

When the engine stopped, we had decided to carry directly on to Halifax, as there was no other big town/city to sort out the problem. We had gone back on to a watch system, as this would now be a longer trip with none of the stops we had planned. J had a short rest, while I stayed as lookout on deck. The mizzen was still up, but not the main and jib; I had the wheel hard a-port, and J had said to tie it, so we drifted round and round in circles. To save battery power - and there was no-one else around - we had turned as much electrical stuff off, so it was pretty dark out there. I heard something 'breathing' in the water - scary! But nothing when I shone a torch out there.

At 10 pm (22oo for the boaty people), J took over, found some wind and some bouncy waves. I was levitated out of my bunk in the forepeak (the bounciest place to sleep on a boat). So much for trying to sleep, especially as he had to tack several times. By midnight, I gave up even a semblance of dozing, and was on watch till 3. And then I slept till half past 6 the next morning.

Tuesday 22nd August

We spent a lazy day at anchor off Canso, because the wind was shrieking around us, and in the relative shelter of this harbour, there were whitetops. Mind you, the sun was shining and the deep cockpit is sheltered, so serious sunbathing was taking place.

Later on, another boat (US flag), picked up a mooring next to us, but they pretended not to see us (?). Takes all sorts.

Monday 21 August

To rather a lot of rain, we left the Marina at St Peters, southern end of the Bras d'Or Lakes, and went round the corner to the Canal and Lock. As we entered the lock and threw a line to the lockkeeper, the current swung Fortune round and we ended up back to front, having to exit the lock backwards, J steering in a rather nonchalant manner.

Back at sea again, and the fog was fairly thick, but not so bad I couldn't make out the marks leading us round the mess of islands, past the Bay of Rocks (oh, yes it was) and out into Chedabucto (?sp) Bay. This is an enormous bay, and with the murky weather, the distant coast of Nova Scotia kept disappearing. It's one of those times when you think you'll never get there. I was on the helm for five hours, on my monkey perch - which sounds a long time, but with the rocky sea, it gave me something to do and something to hold on to.

But at last, we started spotting offshore islets, and J was plotting our course to take us up to Canso. Now, this is the useful bit about being helmswoman - none of that tedious passage planning, just steer such-and-such compass course, and have all the fun of seal watching on our approach. Their heads stuck out of the water, twisting to watch us as we chugged on by. We didn't have a large scale chart for Canso, and the buoyage was confusing, to say the least, apparently directing us into a very narrow and shallow cut between one seal island and another. So we decided to take a chance on using a wider piece of water called False Passage, with a spectacularly chunky lump of unlit rock right in the middle. Hmmm. One eye on the echo sounder, the other on the water - the advantage of the wandering squint, eh? And J chooses an anchorage just off the town.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Tugboat Susy

In Halifax Armdale YC - long story cant do now, but I drove the dinghy lashed to Fortune up the NW Arm of Halifax Harbour - no engine, no autohelm. THE GREATEST FUN EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! J WETTIN HIS PANTS THOUGH sorry must go

Sunday, August 20, 2006

PS Wendy found this information about Screech - so she's brave at sea and on land

Wendy Killoran

Is the RTI kayaker I met in Codroy - and the first woman to do this!! Such enormous congratulations to her - honestly, I felt a fraud - all I've done is go RTI sitting on my arse! Hardly an achievement.

But you should check out Wendy's journey on :

hey - it might have created a link!

Sunday 20 August

Left Maskell's Harbour about 9 this morning for St Peters, at the bottom of the Lakes. Overcast, warm enoughfor a teeshirt, wind about 15 knots, some whitecaps. All sails up after we went through the bascule bridge at Iona.

If you want to learn to sail, or to sail for just the fun of it, or brrmm around in a power boat, or any other watery carry on - here's the place for it. These lakes and islands are extraordinarily picturesque, and have a tamed comfortable feel to them. My quiz answer (see earlier post) still applies.

After twisting and twining ourselves around a whole bunch of piney islands, with houses in clearings, we arrived at St Peter's Marina, just round the corner from the canal which connects to the sea. We were invited to look round a neighbouring Nonsuch 30 - unstayed mast well forward, single huge sail, easy to manage and good in a sea. I've fancied one of these for about 20 years. Cavernous inside, no chart table as such, immense shower cubicle. I'd arrange a chart table just to have the shower, eh?

Sat 19 August

At anchor in Maskell's Harbour.

A launch comes real close - they're setting a morring where we are.

"I have 60 feet of chain and I don't know where it is," warns Jack. They let go the mooring line - splash.

"A*****s," mutters J, as they go away. "If it catches on our anchor, I'll cut the f****r loose."

Not his usual language, but can't say I blame him.

Me: read a fat book all day - it's the length that matters, not the quality. Though this one, Fatal Flaw , is good, as it happens. Skinny sundipped in the cockpit, because

J: slept 16 straight hours, barring a short interlude to switch between upstairs and downstairs.

J in sleep mode

Hi from Fortune

Hi from Jack! - making me a bracelet

Hi from me!

Note: face matches wall exactly

Friday 18 August

In Baddeck.
Got talking to biker/sailor Alan on the dock at 6 am. He gave me a lift to the Hi Wheeler cafe - biker caff, of course - and back. Now where in the UK would you get in a stranger's car (not a bike, sadly), on five mins acquaintance?

The Lakes are well tamed, not the dear old rugged stuff of Newfoundland, with its little white houses scattered at will among the rocks and tuckamore round the bays.

J and I went to the Alexander Graham Bell museum this morning. Not only did the dear chap invent the telephone, but he was also a teacher of the deaf. In fact, he always referred to himself as such. He and his family lived in and near Baddeck (Beinn Bheag) for years. Funny presentation - his wife was obviously a woman of means, character and forcefulness! Afterwards J needed to make a couple of phone calls - so we were in the right place. And after that, we had icecreams - a small one here is like a very large one in the UK. J had TWO!!

At the beginning of this journey, I read a book called Servants of the Fish by Myron Arms. Well, I saw his name in the visitors' book at the IT Centre, and then later saw his boat Brendan's Isle when we were sailing from Baddeck later this afternoon. I waved and jumped around like a loony - shouting I had left him a message at the IT place.

We sailed under jib from Baddeck, in the sun - how good is that? And when we got to a small cove called Maskell's Harbour, J and I went swimming off the boat. I went to the small spit nearby, where there were mussels and (I think) oysters in the shallows. J swam to inspect the hull. Caught him with his pants down tee hee when changing later - his face was something to behold! There were cicadas buzzing in the grass on the spit, and on its beach a couple of small wading birds with long long beaks. In the pines - much taller than those of Newfoundland - a woodpecker drilled.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A little quiz

Based on a couple of months in one place, a couple of hours in another.

Which do you think I prefer? Pretty Baddeck, with easy everything and loads of all facilities, or somewhat more rugged and basic Newfoundland with smelly fishplants and vertical wharf walls to shin up?

Is it comfort and convenience and sunshine, or is it rain and a challenge?

And which would Jack prefer?

Answers on a postcard - or a comment here, of course.

Thursday 17 August

We arrived at Baddeck at 6 am and tied up to the public wharf. With a marina, lots of sailboats on moorings, a couple of superyachts and a sailing tours schooner packed with blue plastic padded seats on deck at the wharf - it's quite a culture shock from Newfoundland. This is a pretty, tourist place, well groomed. I shall have to wear clothes here, but for now, J is worn out and falls asleep straight away. I'd grabbed an hour, drag on the cleanest of my clothes - the cleavage teeshirt and pyjama trousers, and head off out in the early sun to look for coffee.

The only person around is standing on the shore. With Newfoundland cheeriness, rather than British reserve, I go up to him - he's R, a French Canadian, staying here with his family for a few days. We go and find a coffee shop and wander up the road. He wants to see bald eagles and has travelled extensively, so, no shortage of things to talk about.

Afterwards, I collect the laundry from the boat, find an internet place - and here I am, up to date!

More later, folks. lol xx

More Weds 16th

We cross Cabot Strait between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, heading for Cape Breton. The wind is from the south west, 3-4, then dropping and variable. We started with all sail, then motorsail with the mizzen up.

We got to the long and narrow entrance to the Bras d'Or Lakes at around 2 in the morning - dark, but with a bright crescent moon and the stars are out. It's the first time we've been out at night since we crossed from St Pierre to Fermouse, nearly 2 months ago.


The quill of the gull's breast feather
On my breast
Woven into the fabric
Pierces my breast
As I sleep
Leaving a blood red tear
Leaving a blood red tear

(c) Susy Worzencraft 2006

Jack is the Artful Dodger

(PS - note to Brit sailors. For 'Dodger', read 'Sprayhood')

Three cheers for Pooh
For who?
For Pooh!
Why, what did he do?

He saved his friend from a wetting!

(with thanks to A A Milne)

And I stayed dry.

Leaving Newfoundland

As we sail away from Codroy, the sun is shining, Wendy is kayaking away to Stormy Point, and we are heading for Nova Scotia. I turn to look back at Cape Roy, and so fitting - the island has disappeared into the fog, sending it back to join that other lost land of Lyonesse.

Wednesday 16 August

Invited myself in for coffee on the fishing boat from Louisbourg, Rumbunkshus, behind us. They're waiting for a fisheries inspector to go out with them. They're after halibut. We talked over the stricter controls over fishing nowadays, and about sealing. Sealing is done on one, maybe two, days out of the year.

A bit later, the sun is out, I've swapped from sweater to strappy teeshirt, and we're casting off, and their big fat line is over our on the bollard. I need help.

"Hello?" I shout, leaning forward off the wharf towards their deckhouse. No-one in - which is a surprise - there are 6 crew after all.

I lean even further forward, trying to see further into the deckhouse. "Hello? Hello?" I shout. There are badly supressed laughs from the covered shelter aft, and I look across at six chaps having a good eyeful of the cleavage.

A Pyrrhic Victory

Discussing our next landfall after four days at Codroy, J wants to push for 24 hours to Baddeck in the Bras d'Or Lakes. I'd rather stop after 16 hous at Ingonish. The forecast is fair for 2 days - which is why J wants to push on, and I see his point. I would only do this if we reverted to the strict watch system of our outward trip - I'm worried about getting too tired.

We then discuss the earlier watch system - and find we have differing memories of its timings. And I know I'm right. Type A person (google this) Jack insists he's right, because Type As are always right, right? Tee hee. No, they aren't!

"Trade you, Jack - I'll go straight to Baddeck if you admit I'm right."

After extensive checking (!!) in the log (by J), cos I don't have to, and finger pointing (by me) - he still can't believe it and keeps on checking.

Behind his back, I'm doing a victory prance!! I lean over his shoulder.

"You remember I said I was a bad winner, J," I crowed.

"Well," he admitted at last, "I guess you were right."

"Don't even think about it, J," straightfaced. "It's history - I've forgotten ALL about it." And I laugh again.

Mind you, of course he's got his way - and it's the long trail to Baddeck, after all.

Nearly a Canadian

Did I ever tell you I was nearly a Canadian?

Many years ago, when I was two, my father came over to Cananda to see if he'd like to emigrate. With relatives in Toronto, he somehow only got as far as Quebec. And, being winter, found it rather cold. So he went no further, turned round, came home - and I'[m still English, right?

Though now a h'onorary Newfoundlander, reet?

Soggy Sue, soggy Sue, soggy, soggy, soggy ...

Tuesday 15 August

A gale blew up overnight and from the south, where we want to go. If we were going north, it would have been a great sail - the sea state was pretty regular except along the cosst, where the surf and the rollers and breakers are destroying themselves on the stony beaches.

There are big waves and spray bursting over the wharf and the boat on the inner side. Having spent the morning knitting and sewing

"Aint I domesticated, Jack?"

"Domestic," he replies

I togged up in foulies just to get off the boat. I was soaked with the spray while trying to pull Fortune up against the wind. But after that, it was warm and dry, with with all that wind.

Went to the cafe, and being my usual observant self, saw there was a new waitress, taking a break at a table. I thought she looked familiar - and it was Wendy, having lunch. No chance of covering up my lack of recognition, of course.

After 3 cups of coffee and the pleasure of flushing the restroom loo with a mere press of a finger, we went for a walk out to Cape Anguille lighthouse. We had both passed it four days earlier - W in her kayak + inquisitive seals, me asleep in my bunk. Speaks for itself, doesn't it.

Walking back along the coastal path, she on long legs bounds across rocks and puddles and mud and a couple of torrenting streams, almost dryshod to the end. Me - I stumble and flounder, trews and shoes awash and a-mud. I could blame the varifocals (I do), or the short legs (I do), but basically, I'm a bit clumsy, with a genius for choosing wobbly rocks.

The wind blows me inside out and it's feckin marvellous. W and I say goodbye - she'll be off early. A pleasure to have met her.

I wake J up to tell him what a great walk it was. I can tell he's envious - he drops off again at once. I could do with a shower now, so of course, I won't get one.

Monday 14 August

We have invited Wendy to supper tonight, so I go to the store for vital supplies. Supper is then based on what the store has to offer - tinned fruit and tinned cream and tinned vegetables and a packet of lemon meringue filling and fresh onions. Oh, and beer and Pepsi.

So, supper - with what I have left on the boat - is: Mexican (chilli powder) tortillas and Screech cocktails. With tinned fruit and lemon pudding and cream. We ate in the cockpit, took various grouped pictures, J read his poem about our different languages and we laughed and talked rather a lot. I got some instruction on plumbing, kayaker style, with an interesting slant on makeshift loo paper (small smooth boulders). Funny evening!

Codroy church

Codroy church overlooks the bay, and the churchyard is a resting place with the best view. A playful puppy and an old man eating a tomato escort me across a couple of open back yards and guide me round the church, which was painted white with a green dome only last year. Inside, it is painted white with blue beams. So beautiful.

Walking past later, J wonders if it is a moslem place of worship - that dome. I suggest it might be extremely unlikely to find this in remote Newfoundland.

An Immodest Proposal

I was walking along the road in Codroy and had reached the store, when a pickup pulled up.

"Hello," says the man in the passenger seat, in that friendly, Newfoundland way.

"Hi," I reply, being a friendly person myself.

"Come over here," says he. So I did.

"You're an attractive woman," he says. Simpering, I can only agree.

Recipients of an email will know I like men who have their own teeth. This gent certainly had his - all one of them - so when he outlined a statement of his assets - house, ATV and so on - this had to be a proposal I had to consider seriously. For a millisecond.

The lie came so easily, it could have been the truth.

"I'm spoken for," I reply regretfully. Ah, to receive an offer for my hand - and to so churlishly turn it down.

Round the Rock by kayak - Wendy, Bernie and the three beers.

Coming back from a visit to the cafe, I pass a tent in a garden by the beach. There is a kayak nearby. And a woman nearby.

This is Wendy Killoran, the first woman to circumnavigate Newfoundland by kayak. All by herself. I was so impressed. Me, I had lounged around, boating. I had heard someone talk about her somewhere round St Anthony. So I couldn't resist and introduced myself. Lean, fit, excellent legs - no, not me, dammit - it was just great to talk to a woman, the first since Laura in St John's.

I shall write more about this later, but we met for both of us at just the right time. She was within a couple of days of completing her journey, and we were later joined by Bernie Howgate, another kayaker and writer. Ended up sitting on the deck of the house where Wendy was camping, drinking beer till dark.

At the cafe, hours earlier, I had bought J a couple of takeout puddings topped with heaps of whipped cream. Three beers and no food all day, I took them back to him, still in their containers, upside down. He was more than happy to eat them, though.

What are these birds?

Three little mottled water birds, floating and paddling in the haqrbour. They have black and white barred wings and slightly tiptilted beaks. They duck their heads underwater, searching for fish and then paddle on by. They are very endearing.

A visitor


I ignore it and carry on on dozing in the cockpit.


Impossible to ignore. I turn my head sideways and look up.

"I fear you have me at a disadvantage, sir," I say to the man on the bike on the wharf.

"Nice boat," he says and pedals off to the end of the wharf.

Phew, he hadn't noticed the cozzy down to the waist.

"Getting a tan, then," says he on his way back.

Sunday 13 August

In Codroy after yesterday's rocking and rolling in NW 25 knots.

This morning, the place is deserted and I have things to do.

So, there you are, sitting on an empty wharf in the sun, washing your knickers - as you do - when who should turn up, but the men of the town, in cars, ATVs and on foot, as if , by sheer chance, they all needed to inspect a dead end wharf early Sunday morning. Much cause for hilarity - again the comic turn! And J has to suffer the indignity of knicker shaped signal flags flying from his lifelines.

Saturday 12 August

Finally, we could leave Blue Beach, Long Point and Port au Port Bay. The wide entrance to the whole bay is occupied by a long and wicked reef (waves hurling themselves to their deaths), which extends under the water to meet up with the end of Long Point. We have to cross this again. It was pretty dodgy coming in, with the depth sounder - I love all these instruments - rapidly shoaling and a sharp turn to deeper water. On the way out, we now have local knowledge (!), and can feel the way over the bar with a bit more panache.

Off down the coast, past Cape St George - more like Cake St George, because it looks as if someone has taken a bite out of it.

Across St George's Bay - a big one, this, and to starboard we're scuttling across the gigantic Gulf of St Lawrence. Under jib and jigger, the wind is picking up from the northwest, and there are whitecaps to the waves. Few gulls are out, there is early fog, then it's cloudy, and if we're good, a bit of sun. Sounds like typical Newfoundland weather.

We arrive at our last Newfoundland stop - Codroy Harbour, round the corner from the larger ferryport, Port aux Basques. It has an off-shore island, with an artificial breakwater joining it to the mainland to form a protected bay. We tie up inside the outside wharf.

In thunder, lightning and in rain ...

Friday 11 August finds us still in Blue Beach Harbour, with the above weather.

So I altered my black trousers - you know, the ones I couldnt do up at the beginning of the holiday, and can now pull up without undoing the zipper.

We had scallops for supper - simply fried and simply delicious.

I made mussel chowder with those giant mussels, but half way through preparing it, turned to J and said they were so large, there was too much detail for me to want them. J made a coarse remark - how unlike him - about large muscles. Still turning him down ...

Tips for the squeamish

1) Don't ask, don't look, don't listen
2) Have the constitution and stomach of a concrete elephant
3) Go on - eat that peck of dirt - and that one - and that ...
4) Never look in the mirror
5) Remember - salt water gives hair body (happily not body hair) and is free
6) Be in charge of changing and washing the drying up cloths
7) Medical details can and should be vetoed

A couple of funny terns

(Been wanting to play on this word for ages!)

One with a fish, one without. The one without is behaving like a youngster, but in full adult plumage. It's squawking really loudly, crouching and pecking madly at the folded wingtips of the bird with. The bird with has its back to the other one, and is trying to ignore the destruction of its wings - and definitely isn't going to share the fish. After the fish is eaten, it flies away, triumphant.

Extract from the official log of the good ship SV Fortune

"Tuesday August 8th. Gale warning continued; stayed put, rain, cloudy, mild. (My cold slightly better.)"

Ah, bless!

Thursday 10 August

Still here - forecast lousy, but the sun is shining at 7 in the morning, so I creep out to take a photo story of the place. It's extremely picturesque in its decay - titles will include: Dunroamin - (a rusty RV body overlooking the bay), Dunfishin - old boats and lobster pots in the weeds, and of course my usual plumbing obsession, Dundunnyin - a couple of caved in outhouses. Sorry I cant put the pictures here - you'll have to buy the book!!

It was so gorgeously boiling hot, I went for a swim in the harbour and it was lurvely!! Swam to the stone heap in the middle and round to a wrecked dinghy, and could have stayed in for hours more.

Later, one of the scallopers returned and I bought a pound of the largest, fattest scallops J and I have ever seen, with some giant mussels thrown in - "You want a feed of mussels?" What can a girl say to that one?

Wednesday 9 August

We left Rocky Harbour to go down (landsman) or up (fisherman) the coast - south, anyway. We ended up at a place enthusiastically called Blue Beach, being neither, at the tip of Long Point off Port au Port Bay.

BB was once a landlocked pond, opened to make a harbour. And once it was thriving, with people living there, fishing, a small restaurant - a proper community. Now is it tiny and decrepit, deserted and decaying. The harbour has a huge heap of stones in the middle, as if proposed improvements ran out of the will to live. There are still a few summer cabins in reasonable repair, and a couple of scallopers, but no-one now lives here.

Trumpet Voluntary

Still in Rocky Harbour, at 7.15 on a fine evening, someone was playing "Drink to me Only" on a trumpet. It drifted over the water from the bandstand on the bayfront - hand very good hit was. I had 'igh 'opes of a concert, but he dwindled greatly after that.

Guess he's been told to 'get that ** thing out of here and practice somewhere helse'.


H is a random letter 'ere, dropped and hadded at will.

H'over - as in h'over 'ere
and my fave - Montre'h'awl

Earwigging the geographically challenged

"That's the Gulf of St Lawrence (correct), not even the Atlantic (wrong coast, chum)."

Li'l Ole Screech Drinker, Me - oh yes, again and again!

For the less well travelled, unlike your correspondent, Screech is RUM, and meant to be 'orrible ole stuff for reformed meths drinkers. However, it's now just rum in tourist bottles, and for a total abstainer - from Coke, Pepsi etc - I am now sloshing it down, mixing the two together. Rum and Coke doesnt sound quite so exotic, does it?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Wild RV'ers

RVs, or recreational vehicles or campers (UKspeak) are rampant here. They have parking sites of their own - mainly gray gravel and not very congenial to one used to boat parks. And they come in all sizes. Some are little cuties, detachable from a pickup base, and others are leviathans, with extendable side bits. The few roads there are here are big enough (the TransCan) and straight for these giants. Wouldn't like to try country roads in 'em in the UK.

Like boats, really - smaller ones can get into small places, the big ones have to lurk offshore.

Li'l Ole Screech Drinker, Me

Tuesday 8 August

Forecast still for gales, so might as well stay here. J has decided his flumonia is on the mend, but he's still groggy. So after breakfast he's back asleep. He's looking a lot better, poor chap.

I have managed to flout Canada's liquor laws. No, I havent really, but now we can and do drink ourselves stupid 24 hrs a day in the UK, buying the stuff everywhere, here has been quite different. Because this is a tourist place, there is a liquor store (not to be found everywhere). Open from 9-11 am only. I hurry in, feeling furtive, and grab a large bottle of Screech. It's put in a brown paper bag and I feel like a right alky.

Anchors Aweigh!

Not us, sadly, but the name of the group now playing at the motel tonight. The room is full to bursting, and I sit with a couple of local ladies, Ruby and Regina. They're waiting for their husbands to join them. The band is local, and includes on accordion, the owner of this motel, Reg Williams, the chap who earlier said I could use the PC. Having told him this morning, by way of thanks, I would love him for ever, I came across him during their break and thanked him again, and said how much I was enjoying their music. And he said I could use the PC anytime - so here I am again - hooray! Such good PR - I bought all three of the band's CDs.

And the music is great! Some I know, some is new, and I get hoarse joining in. They play three times a week, it's for us tourists, and quite scripted, but so well done, it's 'spontaneous', bawdy and excellent fun.

Screech and coke and back to the boat by 1.15. You will be delighted to know I did not fall over for a change. But getting back on to the boat was quite interesting. No chance of waking J from his sickbed, and the winds howling the boat away from the wharf at full stretch. I pull and heave - nothing - think I might have to spend the night in the now thunder, lightning and rain, curled up on the wharf. That option doesn't sound much fun, so I heave and pull, and eventually, grudgingly, the boat comes close enough between gusts, so I can get aboard. Drip through the cabin silently, and creep into my bunk. The anguish of the sawing lines, and the thump, thump, of the boat being swept against the wharf soon get me up again to move the fenders. I am expecting an early start and wouldnt mind some sleep.

A right Herbert

Halfway back to the town, I meet a couple, walking!! We stop, of course, because walkers are rare beasts here. They are walking to the lighthouse, and carrying their dog, Herbert. He's 13 and blind, friendly and furry, and loves to go out, but just cant keep up any more. Just as well he's quite small, if he's going to be carried! Don't let Finn know about this option - I can't carry a labrador!

To The Lighthouse (Part 2)

Still Monday 7, sun is shiny, wind is extremely blowy and out in the distance on the end of a headland is the pretty lighthouse we sailed past yesterday. J still unwell, so to let him sleep it off, I'm going to walk to the light. 3 miles, I guess, but undulating. They dont have pavements here - well, yes, they do - that's what the tarred roads are called. They dont have sidewalks here, I mean! Just gravel on the edge of the roads. Depending on how brave I am and how much traffic (ha ha) there is, I walk on the road. And jolly pleasant it is. Views are stunning across Bonne Bay entrance (the big bay, off which Rocky Harbour is a smaller bay), waves breaking over rocks, sea dark green. Half way along, out of the town, is a small wooden house, overlooking the bay - I wave to the people on the porch - would I like to live there!

At the lighthouse, I am about to be charged various sums of money to walk along the trails here (it's part of Gros Morne National Park), so I get a mean fit, and say I'm just looking, then sneak down a bit of a path to photograph the lighthouse. I think the lady there was surprised to have a walker. On the way back, a cute squirrel ran across the road, chittering loudly at me to buzz off and dont disturb. I'm just thinking I might take up walking as a hobby, back to nature, all the things people in cars miss eg squirrel abuse, when 3 bikers go by - and I fancy being a biker instead. Butterfly mind.

Monday, August 07, 2006

7 August - ah, Monday, I see

I've been very kindly lent a PC in the Ocean View motel across from the wharf - free! How kind is that?

I crept out early this morning to adjust the fenders - that crump, crump at uncertain intervals is just awful, and came about with a change in the wind direction overnight. I think we had the gale winds come through yesterday evening. The waves swirl round the end of this L-shaped wharf, pushing the boat nose first into the pilings. J opened half an eye as I passed. "Morning, Soozee" and shut it again.

Overcast, but not cold. So, no sunbathing, so I will go exploring after all - and try not to hit the credit card too hard. Just checked the balance, and hooray! Still got enough to keep going ...

lol everyone - keeping comments coming - I love to see them - like opening Christmas presents. xx

more 6 August

After sailing under jib and jigger (J's terms) from Cow Head, (20 miles) in the sunshine, we turned into the wide bay where Rocky Harbour finds itself. A white italianate lighthouse marks the entry on the north side. RH lives up to its name - rockodiles everywhere, especially on the south side where there is a nasty ledge. We came up to one wharf, but were directed away, deep into a bay, which looked unbelievably shallow, and came up inside the wharf there. A couple of men moved a dory, and then took our lines - I love that - so helpful, especially when scrabbling off the boat is a mite perilous.

The forecast over the island is for gales, so we are staying put here this afternoon and tomorrow. And J is still unwell, so this is the best idea.

I go and find an internet place (phew expensive and an eagle eye on the allotted time) and also have a mooseburger. Yet again, you gotta. I'm still sorry I never had a grouperburger in Eleuthera.

This is a very, no, very, touristy place - with an eye on the till, motels, a rather ugly block of tourist cabins, restaurants, a spawning ground for big buses, and Ise Da B'ye Boat Tours (trans. I'm the boy). But I dont blame anyone - local or tourist - the Gros Morne National Park, from the water, looks stunning, deep fjord clefts, high mountains - picturesque. And why not exploit it - heavens, brings money and jobs here, and nothing destroyed. Except perhaps the enjoyable intimacy of the small places we've visited. But it's easy to be selfish, coming from theme park UK.

It's the only place I havent particularly wanted to explore, though, and spent the afternoon sunbathing on the boat. Grab the sun while you can.

Supper was fried cod - the last of it, and yummy.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

6 August

Sailed early and got to Rocky Harbour - tourist place in the middle of the Gros Morne National Park.

TTYL xxx


Inside the scroll of papers, which include sailing notes from another couple, is an elaborate invitation to join Gunter and Jeanne d'Arc for coffee and brandy, for the following evening. As we expect to be leaving in the morning, I go, with apologies from J, to explain after supper.

And as you will guess, I stayed for coffee and brandy that evening! G is Danish/German and Jeanne d'A is Quebecoise, and they live in a single storey clinker built house, the last house before the sea. It looks like a boat dragged ashore, dark red ochre coloured, ensigns flying, surrounded by bits of fishing stuff, for G is a sailor.

I am invited onto the bridge - full of an eclectic mix of allsorts - I could spend several days just looking at all the things on the walls, floors, windowsills. I spot a dentist's chair and feel at home. And a caribou head, shot and butchered by G & J. J makes her own cod liver oil and says its brandy for the morning.

In winter, the snow reaches more than halfway up the windows. The front door is a stable door, and G has to shovel the snow away through the top half, the bottom staying shut all the while. They have a pet gull, Harry, who will come into the kitchen and otherwise hangs around outside, staring in a meaningful way, until he is fed.

We yarn the evening away, spinning enough to make jumpers for the three of us and some over. I tell G about a boat delivery via Helgoland and the Kiel Canal - and it's where he spent his youth. We solve the world's problems and talk boats. G is ebullient, J d'A quieter.

J d'A gives me a small drapeau de Quebec and a lucky stone with a natural hole in it - I have since put it on my plaited bracelet. Also a larger stone for J, for his boat. I wore the flag twisted in my hair.

I think my lucky stone only works on the boat, because a fishing net snared my ankle, twisting it, and tearing a hole in my knee on my way home in the dark. Nope, not the drink, because it tried the same trick this morning (6 August) in daylight and sobriety.

Only to be expected ...

That in Christmastreeland, there's Father Christmas. And he comes knocking on the boat, FC in shorts, on a quad bike sleigh, and Rudolf is a Newfoundland dog, looking remarkably like his owner, lots of hair, but black.

"I know who you are," I say. "You're Gunter." He looks a bit surprised. We shake hands and I introduce myself. Gunter introduces Rudolf, whose real name is George. George and I exchange wet sniffs (him), strokes (me). George looks as if he would like to jump aboard, leaning well out over the edge of the wharf. Gunter says he lives in the house on the edge of the harbour with flags outside. I knew this one, too. But how? Well, DD told me earlier, didnt she!

Gunter hands me a scroll of papers, which I thank him for, and away he goes. George canters alongside the sleigh - is he pulling it?


J is lying down, feeling sorry for himself. I am getting supper ready. I take a couple of paper towels and go to my in-a-stateroom. And reappear, one towel tucked into my waistband, the other making a little cap on my head.

"Wanna play doctors and nurses, J?"

Anything to raise a grin from the sickbed.

It did.

To The Lighthouse

Unlike V Woolf's lot, I got there - a red and white circular toy of a lighthouse with a conical hat - and climbed up inside, about a dozen rungs, to find there is no light inside.

This was a trail round Cow Head summer peninsula - like walking through Christmastreeland, with the prettiest fungi I have ever seen - like a cluster of harebells, only white, in the dark woods. There were harebells as well. And at the top of Big Hill I looked out to sea, and saw a tug. Hmm. unusual. Then I saw a large rusty barge being towed away from the tug by a small fishing boat, escorted by a couple of open dories. All very dramatic, and rocks all round - a wicked ledge on the outer edge of the breakwater. I had a birdseye view, and the tow was heading for the harbour, so I galloped downhill, past old tumble down buildings and old overgrown veg plots, till I got to the half dozen houses round the harbour. There I saw the barge being manoeuvred alongside the wharf - how beautifully was that done, nudged into place by the dories at the stern.

As I watched, a couple of dogs barked, aaaah, one big, ginger and friendly, the other "bit of a nipper" terrier type, so I asked their owner, Dee Dee what was happening. The barge is to be used to dredge the harbour for bigger fishing boats. DD is a painter, who with her husband has bought one of the small houses on the peninsula, and spends the summer there. She has a sculpture of driftwood and a found sewing machine at her gateway.

On my walk I saw 1 kestrel with prey in claws, and one ?ptarmigan. This was about the size of Serena, with the colouring of Scratchy, but with no wattle or comb.

And for those of you wondering about Serena and Scratchy - they are two of my hens. This bird behaved rather like them, rushing a bit, stopping, not flying off.


Guess who went for a walk, bought groceries, had two slow coffees and read two newspapers in a diner - and all the time it was raining rather hard. Two hours later, who got a lift back to Fortune, and found she'd unfortunately left her hatch open??!!


Looking on the bright side, one of my boots had fallen over and is dry inside, and the floor needed washing anyway.

I brought J the largest partridgeberry muffin in the world. He was delighted and had it with a tin of soup.

Sat 5 August

J has a really nasty cough and sore throat and looks tired. The forecast is for winds over 25 knots, so we are staying here for a day. J ends up spending the day asleep - which will do him good.

Friday 4 August

Left Port au Choix at 6 am. The coastline is vivid and I can make out details of the high cliffs and mountains behind the coastal plain. It's all very dramatic from here on. It's cloudy, but then the sun comes out. But the wind is chill. We motorsailed , tacking either side of our course to keep the sails filled. Fortune punched her way through exceedingly choppy seas, which slowed our speed, so we ended up at Cow Head, instead of Rocky Harbour 20 miles further on. J had no harbour chart for CH, only some elderly sailing directions - so it was quite exciting to come in - but OK really. (Actually, the following day, from the top of Big Hill on CH, at low tide, I could see some really malicious rockodiles directly in our path, before we spotted a couple of marker buoys and swerved off round them - phew!)

The harbour has been enlarged, out of town, at the end of a natural causeway, connecting CH large lump of land in the sea, with the mainland town. It's quiet and doesnt smell!. A peaceful place, and in the evening several small open boats were rushing out to get their allocated cod.

We had fried cod for supper - so good I made more. And to think my mother deemed cod only fit for cats. Mee-oww!


Wandering back to the boat at Port au Choix, past a fishing boat with several people on the jetty looking on. There's a guy filleting fish like crazy.

"Cod?" I enquired, to be met by blank looks. I tried again. "Ca-ahd?" Ah, yes, local colour. Yes, indeed it was. I explained lots of people haven't understood me. At which, one chap said mostly it was other people who didnt understand the locals. We all laughed.

I asked if I could buy some ca-ahd. Affronted looks - heavens, how had I offended? But they didnt want money, they wanted to give me some - a whole carrier bag full, and then again of mackerel. They call it a feed - I call it eating till you're stuffed.

We have been eating fish ever since - fried, chowder (inc shrimp) and still to come, mackerel pate!


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Thurs 3 August

Phew - spent hours on this PC in the motel here at Port au Choix. Attractive town, round a bay as usual. Sun is shining after a gray day.

We got in here about 3 pm, having sailed and motored from BDC.

As we were nearing PaC, J said we would being going to a marina. I got a sudden, unexpected attack of the melancholies, as a vision of easy marinas, lots of facilities, and French cafes in the sunshine crowded my head. All at once I wanted to stop rather than keeping on keeping on. Told J, who looked dismayed. I've been on the go for three months now, since I left England.

Good news - had a blast of a shower in the gents, found this internet, sun out, feel lots better. Better go and break the good news to J, who thought I might be a rat and jump ship.

See ya! xx

Does my butt look big in this?

Hell, no. Not any more it doesn't - dropped four dress sizes and my trousers are falling down - HOORAY!!


"Don't shout," says J, having just changed the battery in his hearing aid. The other one died weeks ago.

"Don't joke about disabilities, J," I reply primly. "I'm supposed to feel sorry for you."

J and I are well past the age of having inhibitions. He's the lucky one - he can turn his ears off to mine.

"Jeez, I hope I'm not getting a cold."

"So am I, Jack."

Trailing around

Went for second walk - the walking trail alongside a long marshy lake, separated from the sea by a stretch of heathland on the outskirts of BDC.

And I saw real close: 2 squirrels - like gray ones, only red and smaller, black tipped tails held upright, white chests

2 large finches, who barely moved as I walked past

several wading birds, the size of a thin duck on long legs, long long beaks, gray head, mottle brown/black body, pale undercarriage and bobbing head

and biggest and BEST OF ALL - a MOOOOSE!!!

Saw it across the other side of the lake, and it was still there, grazing, when I turned up. We had a pretty long conversation, with snack breaks for the moose, while he considered the situation. Three or so branched antlers with velvet on them. Hanging throat tassel like a goat. Reddish brown and fat and very tall. I got closer and closer, close enough to see pink scratches on one hin leg. I assured him I intended no harm, apologised for eating part of a relative the other night. He ruminated on this, chewing steadily. And still I came closer - by now about 20 of my short paces away or less.

Eventually, he moved a few steps away and stopped. On I came, slowly and gently - the boardwalk went round a corner, and all I wanted was to pass him by. I don't think either of us knew what do do here, but finally he trotted off - just beyond the end of the boardwalk. So I had to turn round, after all.

J said I should have taken my camera - never gave it a thought - just such an amazing thing to happen.

The Circus Comes to Town

We have to move to an outer floating dock.

"There's a current swirls in here," says one of the many bystanders, unnecessarily. (Where did all these people magically appear from? The wharf was deserted only seconds ago.) We are like doomed gladiators in this tiny arena, as current and wind slam us along the bows of the fishing boats. But J thrilled yet again with his aluminum rubbing strake. That and the battering ram he calls an anchor, have saved his boat again.

"That's this afternoon's entertainment," says I, bowing from the foredeck, and acting as human fender.

But we got there, J ferrygliding brilliantly up to our new berth. I don't have to scramble up a wall and a giant tyre here, and we're slightly away from the shrimp plant - though we're side on to the open sea, it's a small gain.


1. J singing 'She'll be coming round the mountain'. I suggest we form a barbershop duet.

2. The Northern Peninsula is very low-lying on the NW side.

3. Ribbon settlements along the coast.

4. Quad bikes in Black Duck Cove - wish I had one

6. In the ferry port, St Barbe, bought second-hand romantic novel rather than Milton's collected works. Quality over quantity? - Milton at least 4 times the thickness (size), rather than thickness (content) of the other.

Wed 2 August

There are two Black Duck Coves on NFL. One is described in a cruising guide as "gorgeous". The other one doesn't get much of a mention. It's not on the tourist trail, though it's trails - well, see later ....

The night rain stops, and I go for a walk. J, more pragmatic, is going to read. The forecast is for horrible winds, so we're here for today.

I walk in renewed rain to next door St Barbe, and ask at the motel if they have the internet. Nope, so I have coffee instead. Feed one vice or another - doesn't much matter which. The manageress puts a spinkle of salt on the grounds, when she makes a new pot of coffee - ??

They have a notice in the lobby - 'wet floors'. Even wetter, when I've dripped through them.

"Like to see a dedicated walker," says a cheery chap in the carpark, as I leave. Saw you pass me in your truck, thinks I. Coulda given me a lift. I manufacture a grin.

Black Duck Cove

An onlooker asks, with a smirk, how we liked Labrador. Compared with this crowded little noisy rather smelly shrimpy harbour basin?

"Fantastic!" I gush. Well, it was - wide skies, endless hills and a narrow road leading from Red Bay to ...? An open road, open sea - all make me go on beyond.

It's 1 August, and everyone in NFL has been given this month to catch 5 cod per day. Several men are fishing from the wharf this evening. Dunno what they're catching, but it involves huge hilarity and small greeny fish. So, it's very much a ma-an thang, here.

Tuesday 1 August

Extremely windy this morning - leaving delayed - J changing oil and fuel filters. Me to cafe for coffee.
We did leave eventually, and sorry to leave such a beautiful place, but it's ever onwards ...

You're cracking along with all sails set and drawing, on the wind, but getting up to 7 knots. The little crosses on the chart are galloping across the Strait towards Black Duck Cove - back to Newfoundland. Labrador changes to Quebec to starboard. It's overcast, but not cold. There are no other boats around as usual, and it's fantastic. Then the wind pipes up a bit - and a bit more and then even more. The waves heave and foam and the sky gets several shades darker. We are in a boat that tacks through 60-70-80 degrees when you're lucky - and we'd like to get into harbour before night. So it's back to noisy old motor sailing. J down below, navigating - me steering. J can't believe his luck - crew who likes - prefers - to be on deck. There's only so much admiring the bunk cushions I can do. I hum selections from Traviata and Carmen.

Coming into Black Duck Cove, it's 6 fathoms and shoaling. Only the mizzen is up and J takes it down. This involves my getting covered in canvas, while trying to steer a heavy boat under forward gear only - no throttle - into the wind, against shoaling surf. Later, I did request we lower the mizzen earlier - J likes it to steady the boat (yes, indeed), but I'd bag it sooner. J disagrees.

We come to the wharf. I'm ashore on the stern line, another guy on the bow. "Slacken the stern," goes J. "Just keeping it slightly under tension," says I. "As am I."

Somebody's tired.

yet more

The gulls drop sea urchins on the wharf and the road, to break them open and eat them. I saw them do it!

I also saw a black labrador in Labrador!!!! (People who know me, know I have Finny, my dearest black lab, who I miss very much indeed.)

The last evening, JE and his friend H Dreadlocks came fishing from the wharf. We talked, got bitten by mosquitoes, and JE caught a rock cod.

Monday 31 July more

J bought me a necklace at the gift shop in Red Bay. (BTW - do go there - it's a tiny community, but they have over 10000 visitors a year, and so well worth it for the historical doings - trying to get World Heritage status - or similar - and it's so pretty, with wilderness hills as a backdrop, and a road leading away, which just beckons ...).

Anyway, back to the necklace - I chose a thong with an Inukshuk as pendant. This is a person-shaped pile of stones, with one arm longer than the other, to point the way. And now symbolic of unity. I also got a whale tail with a piece of labradorite in it.

So now I'm wearing: J's turk's head bracelet, my plaited bracelet, diamond earrings, and three necklaces. Of all of them, I love J's bracelet the most - made for me.

Jack Robinson and Girl Friday - Mon 31 July

Jack and I wanted to give the good people of Red Bay a small thank-you for having entertained us - first class exhibitions and excavations of Basque whaling some centuries ago; caribou steak at the Whalers Restaurant; Kind JE, who gave me a quick tour of the town and took me to the internet; and of course, the ferryman.

Ah, yes, the ferryman. For $2 each, J and I were taken to a nearby offshore island in the bay, called Saddle Island. Vast amounts of archaeology have gone on here, excavating trypots, habitations and a whole heap of other whaling doings from times past. There are several ancient Basque wrecks in the Bay itself, one of which, a dory-type chalupa, is now showing in the exhibition centre. Well, J and I were dropped off on the island, and what a pleasant change it was, not to have to do it all ourselves. We merrily waved goodbye, as the ferry sped off, to return an hour later. As we turned to follow the marked path, the sun vanished quick as you like, and it p*ssed with rain for the next hour. Nothing for it, but to carry on. One of us, who spends a lot of time in the cockpit, had come prepared with her slicker. The other, who spends a lot of time down below, was in shorts and shirt.

As we passed the flourishing wildflowers - so beautiful, so desperate, so little time - I read off the marked posts. "Here's a site of a trypot, J." "Here's the site of a house, J." Jack, not a wildflower buff, certainly not in the rain, harrumphed. "I liked the exhibition." He likes tangible stuff, not bumpy lumpy turf, then.

Nor would he eat the bakeapple berries I picked. Wild stuff?? Are you mad? They don't come from a store, complete with peanut butter and jelly. But I thought we might be marooned for some time ...

We did get close to, and photo, a 60s rusty wreck well out of the water on the shoreline. That perked him up a bit.

And as usual, we passed the site of a cemetery. I kept stopping to read the noticeboards, and then had to run to catch up with Wencelas, striding out and grumbling and dripping.

And the kind ferryman? Well, he didn't want to shortchange our trip, did he? So we waited, and waited, and then waited just a little bit more. He - and the rest of Red Bay - had had such a good laugh. We were the cabaret du jour.

Masters under God

The first skipper I ever sailed with was my father, in the boat he built. We went to France, and when we sighted the French coast, his navigation was such, he wasn’t sure whether to turn left or right to get to Le Havre. We ended up in St Valery en Caux – which is where we intended to go all along, of course. It set a pattern for my wanderings - a leaf blown by the winds.

Since then I have shipped on board many boats as crew – the old racing yacht, and cooking green sausages for hungry shipmates (not me); Warren Blake’s Four Friends in the South China Sea (unofficial crew when I felt like it on a diving trip) – he is the late Peter Blake’s cousin; a delivery trip through the Baltic to Copenhagen, when the heart-by-passed skipper cast off, despite our warnings, in front of an opening Kiel Canal and found he had no steerage – sails up pdq, he rubbing his chest all the while; a selection of Captain Blighs with an overfondness for ultimate control; never forgetting R, who with the next 2, got us to and from Spain+Biscay (and other places) and we're nearly all of still speaking; and last but not least S &J, – the laid-back night club owners, husband and wife, who like a good old cruise, drink and a laff. And they know who they are.

And now Jack – sailor of Fortune – ace navigator and all things nautical and such a funny guy. He’d be happy if he never had to set foot on shore.