For most of this short summer Tainui has been exploring the mid-Labrador coast. David and Ian joined me in Nova Scotia and brought culinary skills and extended bar room hours long forgotten on poor old Tainui. It has been wonderful remote cruising – spectacular auroras, many icebergs, whales and millions of sunkers (rocks awash) not to hit, and secure, tight little anchorages in the stark, granite coastline. The days are long, the winds occasionally strong but generally light. Dense fog is an intermittent but regular extra test – thick enough in the cockpit to lean back and relax on, they say – just be careful that it doesn’t lift suddenly, or you’ll be in the water!
European fishermen have been in these waters for 500 years and they (the waters, not the fishermen) are well-charted. But they nevertheless demand constant attention to navigation. GPS is not as accurate or detailed as the old paper charts. Our chart plotter had waypoints sometimes only 800 yards apart as we followed the old schooner route north from Cartwright. It is very cold but the cabin is snug with the heater on and the door shut. We’re eating well as usual – sashimi arctic char (how’s that for pretentious?), salmon, moose and caribou. The wildlife is stunning and in addition to whales and seabirds we’ve come across foxes and bears.
Many of the seabirds are new to me – gorgeous puffins, razorbills, murres, kittiwakes and guillemots. Whales abound – humpbacks, minkes, killers, finbacks and pilots. So exciting. This late in the season ice is well-scattered but there have usually been 5 or 6 icebergs in sight at any one time. They show up well on radar and the only worry is the growlers, usually the size of volkswagens and barely above sea level. I would be very hesitant to sail at night hereabouts.
We got to the old Moravian Mission at Hopedale. The Inuit locals are quite delightful. Curious, friendly and proud of their heritage, they have been enthusiastic participants in cockpit sessions on Tainui. The kayaks, igloos and dogsleds are all gone but there is a strong sense of ethnic community and certainly pride.
As you get further north the names become unpronouncable – Anniowaktorusek Island, Akkuliakattak Point, Achvitoaksoak and Kajalewiarunek. I would love to go further north still, but the experts say we should be well south by the end of September, when the weather suddenly turns vile. Besides, the crew are very keen to see more of Newfoundland.
Here follow a few pictures – Hopedale, Triangle Harbour, Hawke Bay, Edwards Harbour, Mesher. Keep an eye out for the black bear, and the fox which followed us all day.