Monday, October 17, 2011

Cripple rock; A fighter ace, and 4 dead men

27 September 1942, flying Hurricane BAO 1364 (No.125 Squadron), reported:

"While flying over Conception Bay near Bauline, aircraft developed glycol leak, smoke appearing in cockpit. I climbed to 1,100 feet and attempted to make the airport but found that by this time the smoke had so filled the cockpit that I could not see forward so I rolled over and bailed out, landing in the water and after about 35 minutes I was picked up by fishermen from Bauline."

Mere sunsets ago in the big picture of time. Excitement and fear filled that day in 1942. A Canadian pilot bobbing in the North Atlantic. A reality. Fishermen rushing to their boats to rescue. Aside from the thousands of kilometers of coast line on the Avalon to explore lies thousands of years of moments. Bauline; nestled among towering mountains looming over the small protected Hr. I was welcomed by people at the wharf with great conversation in a strong preserved English accent. Greeted like a long lost neighbour; a memory of the Newfoundland I left years ago.

 I passed the last saltbox house of this beautiful community; heading for Cripple cove along a unspoiled shoreline.

My day was near perfect. The last of a passing front rolled off into the Atlantic to reveal a warm summer like day. The smell of warm blackberry bushes; a roar of swell on the mountain's. Eagles soared ahead on the updrafts. Seagulls laughing. Chasing and fighting each other for a lone mussel.

My neck gasket warm and uncomfortable; relieved by the cool mist of rolling water inside the cave. Legs popped out over the sides of my kayak using small strokes to remain just out of reach of a small crashing swell.

Would be minute creeks transformed into crashing waterfalls. Tumbling to the sea; along whats known as " The Scrape". Just beyond I would find what I'd come to see.

Cripple rock.

5 men from Northern bay took to the ice in search of seals. The ice pack moved further and further from shore as the men hunted. Nightfall came. The 5 men walked all night to stay warm. To remain alive. Come Saturday as the sun rose; three of the group (two Hogans and a Fahey) could go no further. A Mr March and Hogan made it to cripple rock and rested before making the final cross on slob ice to solid land. Mr March could go no further; and succumb to the cold. Somehow Mr Hogan beyond all odds made it to Cape St. Francis lighthouse. The SS Hercules was dispatched finding two of the bodies; which were returned across Conception bay to their port of call.

 I stopped for supper just before nautical twilight. The cool fall night setting in; my stove glowing brightly reflecting off the gelcoat of my kayak. My shadow silouetted here onto a screen of piled boulders dancing as the the fames of my stove battled a light bay breeze at my feet. I couldn't help but imagine the stories that had unfolded in this little cove. Small snippets of the past never recorded.

My cadence lighting "fire on the water".  Millions of stars in the sky seemed to reflect the bioluminescence.

Two ol' skippers came down to see how my day went; and to pick up our conversation where we had left off earlier. From atop they hill they had seen my glow sticks bobbing outside the harbour on my approach and wanted to hear what it was like outside the bay.

A moment.


  1. Thanks Gio!

    I was wondering what happened to the comments lol.

    very much appericiated!