We entered Newfoundland in a veil of fog. Francois was the first outpost we visited along the southern coast in the midst of fjord land. While we were there we climbed up over town, hiked through alpine tundra covered in blankets of wild flowers. Alpine lakes dotted the landscape and pink granite spires broke up the horizon. The Newfoundlanders or "newfies" have had a terrible summer and we managed to hit the first day of summer where the fog lifted to reveal clear skies and T-shirt weather. The late summer meant the alpine flowers were still in bloom and it truly looked like an artist had painted the mountains with every shade of pink and purple you could imagine. We saw fields of fireweed, lupine, sea roses and twenty other varieties I couldn't identify. A new species to us was the carnivorous Pitcher Plant. Days later we got up early, before the sun rose, and entered another dramatic fjord that looked like a scene from Norway, Milford Sound or any of the other great fjords. Morning brought the most fantastic shades of pink as the sunlight hit the lofty peaks. The water was like glass and we passed waterfall after waterfall cascading down off the granite. The only thing missing was a noticeable absence of wildlife. We saw very little. Several bald eagles graced our path, but otherwise it was very quiet.
Many of these out of the way communities, outposts, are in a delicate position and many are closing. When fisheries was strong here, the outposts were in strategic locations to be close to the rich fishing grounds. Now that there is a moratorium on commercial cod fisheries, fewer people make their living off the sea. Remaining are small villages, with their livings subsidized very heavily by the Canadian government. For the last 4 decades the government has been offering a financial incentive to any outpost that will unanimously agree to leave their homes. What does this get the government? Well, for example the outpost we visited had 71 full time residents. For those residents they have to provide subsidized ferry service (they pay $4 to travel 50 miles from the nearest larger town), they have to build maintain and provide services for a post office, fire station, medical clinic, pier, streets (miles of boardwalks around the outpost). In addition they have a helipad for emergencies, wifi and a school with classrooms, a playground, gym, small library for all of the students. They currently have 11 students from K-12. They have two full time teachers and this year they had to add a third because they had an autistic students. I pondered the idea of moving there just to give my kids a favorable teacher student ratio, one they could never get at home. Residents have to vote on whether to stay or go as a community. As you can imagine this can cause a little strife within communities. An outpost closes about once every 5 years and there are only about 5 outposts left on the whole south cost of Newfoundland. It is heartbreaking to see this unique way of life slowly disappearing, but with loss of fishing as a way of life, the need for the outposts in not there anymore.
From the south coast we traveled to Fortune where we rented a car and drove to St. John. We picked up my cousin Cole who will be with us as we cross the Atlantic. It will be really fun to have someone new on the boat, and someone to share the experience with.
From Newfoundland we went to France. Seriously, France owns two islands 20 miles off the coast of Newfoundland. Not French Canada, actually considered French soil. It is kind of a geographic anomaly and if you know anything about Michael, there is no way he is going to let one of those go by without exploring. We arrived into St. Pierre in....wait for it, the fog! We toured several of the different restaurants in St. Pierre. The food was amazing, the baguettes and croissants were fresh every morning.
We are now sitting in Trepassey, on the edge of Newfoundland, waiting out a gale warning before we proceed to venture out. The waiting is nerve wracking, we just want to get out there and start making some miles. Newfoundland has been fun, but Trepassey is not the most exciting of places to get stuck. Although we have met some incredibly nice people here. People go way out of their way to help in Newfoundland. The wind is supposed to die, the rain is supposed to stop and the fog is supposed to lift about midnight tonight. We thought if we left in the morning we may be giving the seas some time to calm. So far, it doesn't seem that bad, so we may be kicking ourselves for not getting out there today. It is so hard to tell what the best course of action is. Hopefully we didn't miss our window of wind, but 35 knots, gusting to 45 didn't sound like where we wanted to be.
I'll probably be making daily updates, hopefully boring ones.......we don't need any excitement on a passage. If you'd like to follow along on our blog, check out our spotwalla link (I think it says follow our track with the Maine to Ireland segment, or something like that) to the right. For some reason the link I could paste only gives our last spot check in, not the track. To remedy that, go into adjustments in spotwalla and change it to the full trip. That should give you our progress thus far.
The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.
Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.
Our favorite sailing quote:
"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron