Saturday, June 7, 2014

Snow Dragon's New Blog

Snow Dragon's blog has been moved to WordPress. Click on New Snow Dragon Blog

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas: Past & Present

Please click on Christmas: Past & Present We are still playing with Tumblr as our new blog format, please let us know what you think.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Lunenburg: Return To Snow Dragon

Please click on Return To Snow Dragon to view post. We are experimenting with a new blog format, please let us know what you think. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Labrador To Newfoundland

From Battle Harbour we intended to stop at Red Bay on Labrador’s south coast, a newly recognized World Heritage site for its Basque fishing and whaling history. But when we entered the Strait of Belle Isle, and found the usually windy strait completely calm, we decided to continue on to Newfoundland turning our planned day sail into an overnight passage. Finally at midnight, after spending the day motoring, the wind filled in from the NE and we comfortably sailed at 6 knots with a beautiful full moon lighting the way. The fast downwind sailing continued until we reached Boone Bay a couple hours after sunset the following day. After looking over the anchorage options in Boone Bay we settled on Needy Bay, as it seemed well charted and straightforward enough to enter in the dark.  

In the morning after catching up on our sleep, we pulled anchor and headed for the town of Woody Point just across the bay. On the way out of Needy Harbour we realized that there are uncharted rocks that come across a good portion of the entrance on the north side. Luckily Krystina had favored the south side as we came into the bay and didn’t get near the partially submerged rocks.

The cruising guide mentioned limited dock space at Woody Point but said nothing about anchoring. From the chart we figured there should be reasonable depth on the south side of the town and ended up anchoring just off the general store with a spectacular view of golden mountains. While wandering around town we came across a tour bus group who were looking for souvenirs, particularly books, and we told them their was a shop a short walk away that probably had what they were looking for but they didn’t want to risk the bus leaving without them and didn’t stray more than a block or two away.    

After a quite night at Woody Point, we moved further into Boone Bay and anchored in Lomond Cove just off of Gros Morne National Park. The warm, sunny day was perfect for hiking and we walked along the trail to Stanleyville where there are the remains of a sawmill built in 1899. At the trailhead was a large bin full of gravel with a sign asking hikers to take a small bucket of gravel with them to place along the trail where needed. Frances grabbed a bucket and filled it two-thirds of the way thinking she wouldn’t have to carry it very far before finding an area that was in need of new gravel. The trail was well clearly well maintained and we walked for over a mile before Frances found a minor discrepancy in the surface, or at least an excuse to get rid of the gravel and hung the empty bucket on a tree branch encroaching on the trail to remind us to pick it up on the way back.  

A third of the way we met a couple with a dog and young son coming from the other direction. As they passed, they said we were braver than they were, indicating that they had decided to turn around, and blessed us. Considering the trail was listed as moderate, we were a little mystified and were still mystified once we reached the other end as it was indeed a fairly leisurely trial with a bit of an incline. The site of the old mill turned out to be a beautiful wooded bay, with only the one old piece of machinery still visible on the far side of the river.

While we were wandering around trying to find more evidence of the sawmill we noticed a sign warning that we were in a hunting area. Gros Morne National Park is protected and we hadn’t realized that the trail had taken us outside the park boundaries. On our way back we noticed a large amount of loose fur on the trail and came across a skeleton of a moose, next to a no hunting sign. The unfortunate moose had only been a few feet away from safety.

On the dock we met a family who were camping for the weekend. They mentioned that there was a nice trail around a lake nearby and warned us that it was supposed to rain the following day. Sure enough dark cloud rolled in overnight and it was lightly raining by morning. We decided to chance the weather and went to shore layered in Gore-Tex in search of the lake trail. We didn’t find the trail but did find a Newfoundland road map amongst the other information pamphlets in the Park’s cooking hut, something that had been impossible to find in Woody Point. By this point it was pouring but that didn’t stop us from admiring some pitcher plants, the official flower of Newfoundland and picking wild shaggy mane mushrooms for dinner. 

Since it was still raining and we were already soaking wet by the time we returned to Snow Dragon, we pulled anchor without bothering to change and sailed back to Woody Point in the warm rain.

 For more photos please click on Labrador To Newfoundland Album

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Labrador: Battle Harbour

                                                                                           Battle Harbour started as a seasonal fishing station that eventually grew into Labrador’s oldest and at one point, largest permanent settlement. The area thrived and supported a community of 200 people until a devastating fire and the decline of fishing finally convinced the majority of Battle Harbour families to relocate under the government’s resettlement program in 1966. Many of them choose to move to Mary’s Harbour just 11 kilometers away. Today Battle Harbour is a National Historic Site owned and managed by the Battle Harbour Historic Trust, it is a place were one can step back in time and explore an important part of Labrador’s history.

Everyone we met in Labrador told us we must stop at Battle Harbour, the only problem was it had just closed for the season. On the assurance of the Battle Harbour ferry office in Mary’s Harbour that a work crew was still there and would welcome us; we decided to check it out anyway. With the short distance to Battle Harbour, 12 knots of northwest wind and flat water, we didn’t bother with a mainsail and just rolled out the jib. Furling the sail and starting the engine just before entering the harbour’s narrow but more sheltered north entrance.

Cod Drying, North Entrance To Battle Harbour

Strong winds were expected that evening and the following day and we were relieved when a group of men waved us over to the perfect spot where Snow Dragon would be blown off the high wharf. After helping secure Snow Dragon’s lines and warmly welcoming us to Battle Harbour; they reiterated that they were officially closed for the season but there was no problem with us being there especially since our presence doubled the female population in Battle Harbour, something the 7 men on the island were happy about.

They kindly left the buildings open for us to wander through. While we were in the old flour store admiring the heavy timber construction with naturally curved braces and reading the information detailing the Harbour’s history. Lloyd who we had met earlier on the dock, came by to tell us more about what it was like when it was a functional fishing station as he had grown up in Battle Harbour. While we were talking about the resettlement program he mentioned that the government was still trying to move people out of smaller settlements and is offering $200,000 convince people to move from places like Williams Harbour and Norman Bay. The government might be trying to save money by not having to continue supporting smaller settlements but the reality is that $200,000 isn’t enough for a family to start their life over in a different location and the people we met in those small communities didn’t show any intention of leaving.     

It was such a glorious day that after talking to Lloyd, we decided to cut our tour of the historic buildings short and explore the island. Peter, the project manager, stopped to tell us about a trail that looped around the back of the island and gave us a tour of some of the restoration work they were doing. Though it’s a site of historic importance to Labrador, the government expects it to be self-funding. Peter explained that the Battler Harbour Trust has had financial difficulty but is now under the guidance of a new chair who has the right connections to promote the site. He also mentioned the ferry to Battle Harbour is scheduled so visitors can spend the night in either the historic doctor’s cottage or the simpler bunk house. Time will tell if they can get enough visitors to cover expenses but from what we saw, they are doing a fantastic job restoring buildings with a mix of modern comfort and traditional simplicity.

Though the trail Peter guided us to was fairly easy walking between glistening granite boulders and colorful plants, there  was the occasional wet patch that was difficult to get around. The views to the outer shore of the island were wonderful and well worth risking getting our socks wet for. We could see waves breaking over the various under water hazards, a reminder that navigating in Labrador takes a careful eye. The trail took us out to the site of a plane crash that happened while the settlement was still inhabited No one had realized it had happened until a boy from Battle Harbour came upon the wreckage a few days later. There were no survivors, the accident site is marked by a memorial plaque and the wreckage of the plane has been left in place.

In the evening, Krystina was walking back to Snow Dragon enjoying the beautiful moonlight when she passed Lloyd. As they greeted each other he commented with a smile “a lot of traffic tonight”. And they both continued on their way without seeing another person except the life sized photographic cut out people on the dock, who were most alarmingly life like in the moonlight.

As promised by the weather report, strong southwest wind filled in overnight tuning into strong west-north-west by morning. Definitely not the right conditions to transit the Strait of Belle Isle and we were happy to be weather bound in such a glorious location. Frances braved the rain, wind and cold to look for more wild cranberries and it took a lot of searching before she found some patches worth picking. Then returned to Snow Dragon to make wild cranberry chutney.  

While out for an evening wander we stopped to chat with Lloyd and Minnie who were also out enjoying the beautiful evening. They return frequently to spent time in their summer cabin near the house where Lloyd grew up. They invited us over for tea and wanted to hear all about our journey. When we told Minnie how surprised we where that people in Labrador were so shocked by the idea that two women could handle a boat, she explained that in Labrador women don’t have a history with boats, their role has always been shore based.

Krystina At Lloyd And Minnie's Cabin

Krystina thought she left her mittens at Lloyd and Minnie’s and Frances kindly offered to go back and check. Before she left, Krystina suggested that we give them a jar of Snow Dragon jam to thank them for their generous hospitality. We wanted to give them something unusual for the area and decided on kumquat marmalade made when we were in Portugal last April. We also gave a jar of cranberry chutney to Peter as a thank you for his generosity in letting Krystina use the WIFI in his office.

After 2 nights at Battle Harbour the weather forecast showed favorable conditions for moving around to Red Bay on Labrador’s south coast. We had planned on going out through the narrow south entrance but in the morning there were still waves crashing across the tickle and decided to play it safe and go out through the more sheltered north entrance. The sun was just coming up as we motored out of the harbour, taking in the fresh color of the morning as we hoisted the mainsail and began making our way to the Strait of Belle Isle.

For more photos please click on Battle Harbour Album.