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Labrador and Newfoundland 15.8.-30.8.2001

15.8.2001 Labrador, Canada
After an intensive week in Julianehåb with SSB-weather charts, there was at last a break in the flow of lows, and we were able to start our crossing over the Labrador Sea. Obviously we had learned something about the isobars, because the 600 mile passage went mostly in a gentle breeze. No winds against, although the last 24 hours was a tight tack course. We saw a lot of dolphins, some identified as White-beaked dolphins or "Jumpers", which is a very proper name for those jumping animals.
On the 14th of August we sailed in to the Sloop Harbour at the Labrador coast. There exists an abandoned fishing factory, which was built by the government support in the 1980's as a "regional expanding project". In the beginning of the 1990's fish disappeared, and the place was left empty. All the houses and stores are just waiting to collapse down.
In the harbour was an American 44 ft steel boat, coming from the Northern Labrador. The couple told us about a desert whaling station some 20 miles away, where might be found whale teeth. So, we took a shower, had some lunch, and were off again.
We entered the shelterd bay in the Hawke Island just before the sunset, and saw huge rusty tanks. The whaling station had burned down in the 1950's. We explored them the next morning, but found nothing else than rust, coal and rotten bones. The most exciting finding was bear shit. And the most unpleasant was the bloodthirst mosqitos. Despite the net hats we came back to boat with big itchy bites. It was time to continue again. We took the course towards the Battle Harbour, 40 miles away.

22.8.2001 Newfoundland, Canada
We spent two nights in Battle Harbour, an old fishing settlement, which is restorated to a historic site. We made our customs clearance there via the telephone located in the backroom of the shop - same place where our friend Duncker made a call home in 1982. After several attempts, I heard a weak voice through the humming and buzzing line. In this unrealistic atmosphere I tried my best spelling the four difficult Finnish names in English. And it worked! We were officially in the country. Great service! The nearest port of entry with customs was 250 miles away.
Juha got a lift to Halifax and left us on Saturday morning. We continued our sailing over the Belle Strait to Newfoundland, to the L'Anse aux Meadows, an ancient Viking settlement. Leif Eriksson and his men sailed to this place from Greenland 1000 years ago. They built eight buildings of which three big ones, insulated with sod, were for living. The Vikings explored the St. Lawrence river area and the Southern coast from this spot. L'Anse aux Meadows is the only authenticated Viking site in North America and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Our next destination was Corner Brook, a paper mill town with 30.000 inhabitants in the south end of Newfoundland. During the whole 240 mile sailing we had a strong wind from behind, and we made 170 miles on the first 24 hours! In Corner Brook we met the famous newfoundlandian hospitality. There is no small craft harbour in the town, but we moored on the harbour of the Bay of Islands Yacht Club. We got a very warm welcome, and all the basic needs - shower, electricity, laundry, water, diesel - were fulfilled. One guy drove us to the town for shopping. The club and it's friendly people reminded us of our own yacht club Sindbad at home... Even the two-floor wooden club house is similar to Sindbad's.

One of the best things, however, is the warm weather. At last we turned off the oil stove! It has been burning continuously half a year. But now we have reached the summer!
Thus rather small, Corner Brook is the first real town after Reykjavik over a month a ago. It was fantastic to get into a big food store with fresh vegetables and fruits. We bought tomatoes, salad, cauliflower, broccoli, apples, bananas, nectarines. You could buy cauliflower in Greenland, but one head was 35 FIM (about 6 US dollars). Apples were there 4 FIM piece. Also the fresh meet got water to our mouths and it was quite inexpensive in Canada. We also bought some scallops - delicious with garlic butter!

As nice as this place is, we have to continue our way. Our next harbour will be on the Anticosti Island.

1.9.2001 Tadoussac, Canada
In Corner Brook we popped in to a craft shop and met Frank, again one friendly and helpful person in Newfoundland. The shop was full of all thinkable things: stickings, wood works, books, paintings, ceramics, jam, chocolate, postcards, cassettes, textile... Carved whale bones draw our attention, and when we asked about uncarved bones, we got an invitation to Frank's house, where he lived with his parents and three dogs. As a matter of fact, it was his father, who had collected a load of bones - and a lot of other things, too. The place was amazing! Old wooden buoys were hanging from a tree, a couple of old bed ends were leaning against another tree. A pile of whale ribs were lying in the grass, but we were more interested of small scale vertebras (backbone) of a small whale or dolphin found on the roof, and we got one as a gift. The dogs were also very interested of these bones, but for a different reason.


"Crafts, art, antiques, flotsam, jetsam"  -  Frank's shop
There was a note in the window:
WANTED GOOD WOMAN 
Must be able to clean, cook, sew, dig worms and clean fish. Must have boat and motor. 
Please send picture of boat and motor.

On Tuesday, the 28th of August, we entered the Baie Comeau Yacht Club harbour in a utter fog. We had left the Anticosti island a couple of days  earlier, after we'd spent a lazy day anchoring in a shallow sandy bay. There are a lot of deers in the island, and we saw a couple grazing near the water.
We sailed and motored the 270 mile long passage from Anticosti to Baie Comeau in 48-hours, of which the latter was completely windless and cloudless. In the night we saw northern lights, which was a bit astonishing - we were on the same latitude as France. Then the fog covered the stars and the moon, and there was nothing else to stare than the green lights of the radar screen.
We had been warned about the French-speaking canadians, that they might not be friendly towards English-speaking people, but we experienced a totally opposite welcoming. The man in the Baie Comeau Yacht Club spoke as much English as we French, but with gestures and a few words we were offered a lift on his car to a food shop about 3 kilometers away. He drow us there, waited a half an hour in his car, and drove us back. A very silent trip, though.

On Thursday, 30.8., we arrived to the guest harbour of the small village Tadoussac, 100 miles from Baie Comeau. However, we continued almost immediately our way into the Saguenay fjord, which is a part of a marine park. In this area lives the white whale, beluga, and we had seen a climpse of it when entering Tadoussac. And we were eager to see more of that special whale. There is a marine mammal center in Tadoussac, as well as a lot of whale watching chartering. In addition to beluga, there are a number of other whales in the St. Lawrence river including the blue whale. They told us in the whale center, that one of the humback whales in the area has become so social that it comes after the boats. Unfortunately we did not come across this individual.


The Saguenay fjord

It was a real summer day when we sailed slowly into the Saguenay fjord edged with hills covered by thick forest. It felt like holiday. There was a couple of other sailing boats in sight, and a beautiful wooden classic, Havre aux Basques, came so close to us, that we could change a few words. We continued the conversations with Jean-Guy and his crew in the harbour of the L'Anse Saint Jean.
The next day, when we were motoring to an anchorage seven miles away, we saw a beluga and followed it from a distance for a long way. They are 4-6 meters long, weight 1-1,5 tons, and live mainly in the arctic waters. The St. Lawrence river has it's own population of belugas. Because of it's white colour the beluga is easy to observe and recognaise. It lacks the back fin.

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