Friday, February 10, 2012

Harbour main

1508 km of coastline around the Avalon has begged me to see each meter. Progress has however slowed to winter storms and less than ideal weather. With another storm moving back onto the Avalon; I drove out to pick up a small leg I decided to stop drop last visit due to increasing winds. I had a good chat with a gentleman as I prepped my kayak to launch out of Chapel's cove; Conception bay.

Cascades of groundwater rolled down the steps of Red rock cove just outside Chapels cove harbour. Flowing water near muted under thick sheets of ice still a white noise in my left ear.A loud crack of gunfire echoed out the bay from a cove behind me. I flinched as I normally do; my body figuring somehow if I lean forward slightly I wouldn't get shot. Turr Hunters I figured As I paddled along the beautiful red cliffs.

The wind being light (southerly 30-40km/hr) I crossed over to Harbour main Island. Seals and turr's fled my approach. Sizing up the wind I decided I would make the short crossing across the harbour and backtrack around the coast. Using the wind I made the 1km crossing directly over to Ram horn Bight; this would join two previously completed legs in my "expedition". A large dark spot came into focus as a huge cave during the crossing!

Sizing up the small swell and winds relation inside the cave I entered the benign environment. The  southerly wind pushed my drysuit tight to my back and neck as I entered the wind tunnel; I could feel goosebumps rising on my neck from the cold. Pulled up my storm hood and drifted towards the end of the cave. I was surprised to see an exit into another cove about 50m inside!

Unfortunately due to the low tide; kelp covered rocks blocked the exit. A HUGE sea otter hopped up on the rock inside the cave and stared at me...then as if it took a minute for his eyes to adjust to the dark of the cave begame pretty irate I was there. A large hissing animal in cave.... I attempted to snap some pics (all are akin to bigfoots blurry shots) and backed out of the cave leaving the guy alone (and myself intact!) 

Using the high water at cliffs edge I stayed close to the shore; using the coves and points to block the headwind. While not very strong it will slowly drain every bit of heat out of you after a full day on the water.

Much like Chapels cove Harbour main is a very tiny town with a few dozen traditional saltbox homes with the largest building being the town church. I paddled in around the head of the harbour where the rugged topography permits a small winding road and cobblestone beaches that once allowed a place for fishermen to salt their catch.

The eastern side of Harbour Main has a few cabins pitched atop the hills but offers many landing opportunities where rivers and cobblestone fill gaps in the stone walls.

Roaring waterfalls produced some of the neatest pieces of art I have ever seen. Frozen flood level water disrupting the waters edge in the river above froze into a rich earthtone along it's sides. The center flow free from the stains of earth was frozen into a mix of blues.

It was civil twilight as I left the cove and landed back to my car. A little chilled I drank a coffee and talked to the same gentleman who I had chatted with earlier that day. The man told me the shot I heard had been an end of a life. One which I would have seen if I had turned right instead of left. Out of respect for the dead and their family I will not get into details. It really gave me things to think about on my long drive back to the city. Fragility of life; and how rapidly it can change. How making a simple decision to go left or right can really change your day. 

 It's amazing the connections and people I've met along this small journey of mine. Unlike a mall or a city street you cant walk past someone on a beach or a wharf without a "hello" or "how are yah doin". The beach and landing spots from the ocean seem to be a place where a person cannot be ignored. I've never entered negative conversation on a beach; and have always walked away with some local knowledge of the area you'll never find in books or online. I learned of the fire that almost destroyed the small community; to the size of sea trout in the pond. I learned of a persons death, and the breif synopsis of this gentleman's life. All said and done I have a open invitation to drop in for a coffee in Chapels cove any time I pass through. 

Where else on earth do strangers act like that? Where else do humans afford each other that kind of respect?


  1. That looks like a great paddle Lee, and you're so right about the folk one meets when out on the water

    Kind regards

    1. It was unreal to get back out there after such a long Hiatus...keeping an eye on these non abating winds for another window!


  2. Great stories, incredible photos. I read what you write and I miss Newfoundland for hours after I shut the lid on the laptop.

    As for turning left or right, all I can say is that life turns on a dime.

    Keep writing great things.

    1. Thanks a bunch Ken. I'm glad I can evoke feeling from a place that seems to call to many of us from afar. Very very nice to read your comment tonight.

      I'll keep bringing you the island until you return!