It is time to leave the South Coast, and head for Placentia Bay, my hometown. The weather forecast while good, SW wind 20 knots, also poses significant rain coming our way. To avoid it, we hightail it out of Francois at 5:30 am and head for St. Pierre. The fog is thick but we make it into port by 2:30 and the rain starts just an hour later.
Our last chance to divulge in french pastries, excellent cheese and cheap french wine. I love St. Pierre and would encourage anyone to make a visit here. It’s a short run from the south coast of Newfoundland but you immediately feel the small European city vibe. While the restaurants are great we have the halibut from Francois. It is so delicious! Filbert is quite pleased with it as well.
The fog persists next morning but we set out for Long Harbour, prepared for an overnighter that will take us straight up Placentia Bay. It can get busy in this bay, there’s a fair amount of tanker traffic, ferries and fishing vessels. When you combine it with fog, it can make for a tedious night on the water. And it was. Al said it was his worst sail since we left.
We pull into Long Harbour around 6 am. It’s bittersweet coming around the small island where my Mom was born and passing by her house, now empty. We are exhausted and feeling a bit down. After tying to the government wharf we decide to take a snooze before calling customs and deal with it once we’ve slept. When we do call them, after a couple of hours sleep, they inform us that we have to report to the nearest customs port and that would be Argentina. So, we haul ourselves back up on deck and make our way to Argentia, about 90 minutes out the bay. Argentina is a ferry port and has little infrastructure for small yachts like ours. After scouting around for 20 minutes or so the customs people finally direct us to a spot. It’s still not great but they run and catch our line, offer a warm hello, and after business is done, they chat for almost 30 mins.
Sailing back to Long Harbour, the sun comes out. Al wants to hoist the sails, as a tribute to Mom, so we do and we sail around her island this time. Our friend Matt comes out and meets us in his boat. A more joyful entry than earlier this morning.
The next day is Canada Day and I cannot imagine a better place to celebrate than Placentia Bay, where I grew up. I am incredibly proud to be Canadian. When sailing in the Caribbean and US, our flag was always greeted positively.
The plan is to head to Port Royal for a weekend of fun, food and foolishness. There are 9 adults, one child, 2 dogs and 1 cat. Port Royal, a once vibrant community was resettled as part of the government’s initiative to relocate island dwellers to the mainland. While it may have been resettled, the people never really left and in the past few decades descendants have returned to the jewel to build summer homes.
Our boats are loaded at noon and we head out the bay. The harbour in Port Royal is protected and once inside it is mirror calm. The land is verdant green and echoes with sheep calling to one another. The weekend is spent exploring, a few hikes and dinghy trips around the coves, some dancing and lots of food. We meet some of the people who have homes here. They are friendly, the water incredibly calm and the air is warm and silent. Placenta Bay is an incredible bay that has many islands, enough to keep any sailor busy for a long time.
Returning to Land life
Theres many details to cover over the next couple of weeks but squeeze in a visit to Harbour Buffett but unfortunately the fog persists. Placenta Bay is best in August and September when the caplin weather has subsided. We are trying to settle back to land-lubber life and are traveling to the city every couple of days. Sadly we are leaving our cruiser life behind and assimilating back into a routine. When we bought a car, I knew our cruiser days had ended (for now). You just cannot have a car and live on a boat full-time. Oh well, it had to happen at some point!
Even though we have an excellent dock in Long Harbour, thanks to Earl, our boat is getting damp. Running the Espar is helping a little but not enough to stay ahead of the moisture. We make the decision to leave our placid berth in Long Harbour and take Ingomar around to St. John’s. It will take a couple of days with an overnighter in St. Brides but right now we’re jonesin’ for a sail.