Monday, September 9, 2013
Lark Harbour Newfoundland - Summer 2013
I finally got away from Ambos Mundos in River Bourgeois on July 31, 2013 after some enjoyable family visits and less enjoyable spring weather. With a new landbase it is nice for family and friends to be able to come for a visit.
The weather window looked good for a direct non stop single handed trip to the west coast of Newfoundland. I planned to go to Lark Harbour in the Bay of Islands as the first stop. Reviewing the charts showed that this would be an easy spot to get into regardless of the time of day or sea state that I might experience upon arrival.
After dropping the mooring and motoring out of Bourgeois Inlet I found a little breeze near Cap Ronde and got up the sails. A little beat into the wind and then time to slacken the sheets and let Easy Go head off to the North East with Reggy, the self steering, masterfully in control. A kindly F4 wind and seas less than a meter was a very good first day out. Visibility was down in the mist but there were no ships showing up on the AIS and fishing was between season. The first day of any trip, for me, is to leave the shore as far behind as possible.
The AIS is the best aid for the single handed sailor. While nothing can replace having enough people on board to have manned watches 24 hours a day, the AIS does make the odds better for collision avoidance. Sleeping in naps of 20 minutes to a few hours gives enough rest. I always, without exception, do a visual check when I wake up during a nap. More times than once there has been a reason to check from setting the sails to seeing a whale or another boat. The closest a commercial ship came to Easy Go during the entire month of this trip was about one mile. I was amazed that I was able to see ships that were sometime eight miles off and on one occasion 12 miles with the refraction of the light. Getting a better sense of distances between myself and others is a calming experience.
The other new addition this year, a SPOT Location device, is allowing friends and family to keep track of my whereabouts on a daily basis. Traditionally sailors would take a noon sight with their sextant to plot their boats location on the chart. In the digital era I activate the SPOT and send a message via satellite giving my location and the everything is OK aboard Easy Go. This message is distributed via a preferred email list and Kathy has been sharing highlights on FaceBook, although I can configure the unit to post to FaceBook directly. When I arrive I press the Arrival/Departure message and everyone knows I have safely arrived at a destination and that a few days without messages will not cause alarm.
The trip had mostly good weather and the winds were from astern all the way. A little rain in the Cabot Strait and a frontal passage near St George's Bay provided a little variety. Lots of shipping in the Cabot Strait so I paralled the shipping lanes until I could make a good perpendicular crossing. Winds went light so the new motor came in handy to get across in a timely fashion.
After 4.5 days I arrived at Lark Harbour at around midnight. There is a very good light at Little Harbour, just before the southern entrance to Bay of Islands, and again at the south entrance of Bay of Islands. Sailing Easy Go as far as she could we were becalmed from the SW winds by the wind shadow of a large hill. Stowed the sails, put out the fenders and mooring lines in this area of calm and then motored into Lark Harbour a few miles away. Using the new Le Pan II Android Tablet and the Navionics HD software made the arrival at Lark Harbour significantly uneventful. The Le Pan II has a built in and very accurate GPS and when combined with the accurate charts I was able to pick out the wharf in the dark and head towards it. Indeed there were not many other lights on so the wharf stood out. Approaching the wharf a car parked along the waterfront turned on its headlights to check out Easy Go.
Tied up to the wharf in a calm with no wind and had a little snack before turning in for a night of uninterrupted sleep. I woke up in the morning to the sound of a fishing boat returning to the wharf. The Home Fishery opened the morning that I arrived and many boats were out for the few days it is open trying there luck at the various ground fish in the area. Most people wanted to get a few of the abundant halibut. Talked with a few of the fishermen and bystanders then had some breakfast.
A local retired fisherman offered to take me in his car to the local store and bank machine. I had left home with only $5.00 cash in my pocket. Not only did we visit the store but we drove to Little Harbour and Blow Me Down Park before returning to Lark Harbour for a tour of the offerings to be had.
Two young fellows came to the wharf on their reduced size ATV and motorcycle to try their luck with getting a few fish from under Easy Go. It is very refreshing to arrive in a community where the young people are welcoming and not afraid of a stranger. We had long talks about all sorts of topics.
Walking in the area is very nice. Lots of people to talk to and with the ferry schedule back up people from away were coming to the end of the road and having a look around in their cars and RV's. The local watering hole, Drop In Lounge, offers free WIFI along with drinks and food. Had a few brew and a meal here while checking out email and making contact with home.
Three days in Lark Harbour and a forecast for higher winds in the near future encouraged me to cast off the lines and head to a new location, Woods Island Harbour located about 5 miles away.
View photo essay of Lark Harbour, Newfoundland