At anchor Pinware Bay
At anchor Pinware Bay, Labrador
Unlike yesterday's report I think it is safe to say that the last 24 hours
have been rather eventful and, like the Chinese proverb about an interesting
life, it isn't necessarily good.
Much of yesterday was spent motoring, we tried sailing for a while later in
the afternoon when the water's surface appeared extensively ruffled but
after less than an hour the sea was once more a glassy sheen and we returned
to motoring. At this point we were mindful of two things, getting Max home
in time for the start of college and the weather forecast which was
predicting a gale for Sunday (i.e. today).
In the evening we made our way in between Quirpon Island and the mainland of
at the northern most point of Newfoundland, a very narrow channel and came
to anchor in the small harbour on the western side. Here we enjoyed a
relaxing meal in peace and quiet and considered our options. One option was
to remain in Quirpon Harbor, it was well sheltered and we were safely at
anchor, the downside was that if we stayed here overnight we would be well
behind the curve for getting Max to Sydney in time for his flight home. We
momentarily considered sailing further north in search of further icebergs
but Max, a conscientious student, is keen not to miss any of his studies, so
we scratched that option. The third was to make for the coast of Labrador,
only 20 miles away, and get to anchor before the westerly gale came in.
This would have us closer to Sydney and place us in a good position to make
use of the forecast northwesterlies once the gale had blown over. Belle Isle
Strait has a reputation of being a difficult piece of water to negotiate,
being relatively narrow, and funneling the prevailing southwesterly winds
along its length. With all this in mind I decided to try for the Labrador
And we made it. The forecast has proven pretty well spot on. We left
Quirpon Harbor just after sunset in a freshening northeasterly. I had hoped
to make it across the strait and be at anchor before it got too fresh but
for a variety of reasons this we failed to achieve. We ended up missing our
first option for anchoring, and I chose to run downwind for a while and seek
shelter in a bay, of which there were a few to choose from, further down the
coast. But this meant we had to be at sea longer and the wind was steadily
getting stronger. By 3 a.m. with Erin bravely on watch, Sylph was down to
double reefed mainsail and 50% jib, the wind was well above 30 knots. I
decided to drop the mainsail and reduce the jib still further. The mainsail
came down OK but regrettably the jib didn't make it. In a particularly bad
gust it split asunder as I was in the process of furling it. I had little
choice but to furl entirely what was left of the rest of it. Now we were
down to bare poles and still doing 4.5 knots. Max was coming on watch, so
while he steered in the cold wind and rain, I managed the navigation,
keeping close to the Labrador coast, waiting for daylight so we could get
safely to anchor, before the worst which was yet to come.
Dawn arrived, I was on watch, the wind had eased and we were drifting at
about 2 knots. I had a couple of anchorages in mind and flashed up the
engine to investigate the first, Pinware Bay. It was not ideal as it was
not very well protected from the northeast wind but it would be very good
for the westerly gale when it arrived. I was satisfied. [(ignore bits
between square brackets if you wish) Now this I maintain is the true
function of consciousness, to analyze the past, assess the current situation
in light thereof and use this information to predict the future in relation
to one's survival and further happiness; self awareness is a rather
troubling epiphenomenon of this talent. We humans cooperate to an amazing
level in our attempt to achieve this and I am grateful to the many fellows
of my species, in this instance the meteorologists, who dramatically
increase my chances of survival on an at times very hostile planet. And
global warming, can we get beyond three days of accurate forecasting and
cooperate with one another to act in the interests of.... all?]
We anchored some hundred yards off a beach abeam of Ship Head in Pinware
Bay, grateful for a rest. Sylph was rolling slightly but when the westerly
gale arrived she would be well sheltered.
And then I lay my head down to sleep.
When I awoke a few hours later the gale had arrived, the seas were flattened
as the wind blew off the protecting shoreline, the damaged jib was flapping
on the forestay, the anchor cable stretched taught ahead of us. Meanwhile
down below the crew was enjoying a late breakfast of copious piles of apple
and cinnamon pancakes courtesy of the maestro pancake maker, Max!
Now we wait for the gale to blow over. Tomorrow the wind is forecast to go
northwest 15 which will be ideal for continuing on our way up Belle Isle
Strait. But before this can happen we need to get what remains of our jib
down and the spare hoisted, an evolution which requires light winds.
Hopefully a lull will come.