Sunday, September 23, 2007

Return to Bell Island

(Photos: Alison catching a wave; Paddling near Little Bell; catching another wave; Portugal Cove morning - photos by Stan MacKenzie; Bell Island stratigraphy - photo by Alison Dyer)

It had been four years since I paddled around Bell Island, Conception Bay, (approximately 26km) with a group of paddling friends. Another trip was organized this past saturday by Joe Carroll who miraculously got the weather perfect. Sunny, warm (in mid 20s) and slight breeze (forecast 20km southerly). We left Portugal Cove (above) on the 8:20am ferry and were on the water less than an hour later. It was a far less rambuctious ride around the northern head than last time (steep northerly swells). But enough swell that we didn't risk going through a cave and sufficient for some fun surfing on the western side.

As the last photo (take in 2003) shows, Bell Island is distinct from the mainland, consisting of horizontal beds of Ordovician sandstone and shale. Iron ore mining was huge on the island in the early to mid part of the 20th century, in fact, the Wabana mines was one of the largest producers of iron ore in northeastern North America. The mines - now closed but open during the tourism season for tours - extend far beneath the seabed of Conception Bay, apparently creating one of the most extensive submarine iron mines in the world.

Many thanks to Stan MacKenzie for taking these photos on the water (and without a waterproof camera!).
For some superb photos of the Bell Island trip, check out kayak the rock, and check out Stan's blog.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bergy Bits

Sept. 17.2007

Bergy bits. Unusual term but common sight in Newfoundland. Refers to chunks of icebergs that can be as small as a car or a large house - this one which we paddled by in New Melbourne, Trinity Bay this past June, was more akin to a suite of low-rise condos. Also known as growlers. Great place to find icebergs at any time around the province is

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Coasting Trade a great listen

(Photo: Overlooking St. John's Harbour)

September 15, 2007

Listened to a recent audio book by Rattling Books in the car the other week. Coasting Trade is wonderful feast of stories and soundscapes - of angels leaving signs for rum-runners; neon panties screaming from an old woman's laundry line; a woman knitting a stove; the wild abundance of an immigrant's garden.... all woven with the sounds of the sea and ports and diary entries from a 19th century schooner sailing around Newfoundland. MP3 download from Rattling Books is only $10. Highly recommend it. Below is a review by Rave AudioFile Magazine.

COASTING TRADE Robin McGrath Read by Anita Best, Robert Joy, Rick Boland.

In a performance of less than an hour, producer Chris Brookes and poet Robin McGrath transport the listener to a Yankee schooner circling Newfoundland in the late nineteenth century. The production, a Canadian tapestry for the ears, is beautifully embellished with sound effects that capture the waves, ship sounds, and local fauna. Robert Joy, Rick Boland, and Anita Best bring a lyrical beauty to this "Performance for Three Voices." McGrath provides fleeting glimpses into the lives of an immigrant, a biologist, a smuggler, and Newfoundland locals scratching a life out of the rugged terrain. The short performance is superb, with the rich voices of Joy, Boland, and Best meshing into a melody against the harmony of background sounds. H.L.S. © AudioFile 2007, Portland, Maine

Chicken & Egg

Sept. 14, 2007

What came first, the chicken or the egg. Fortunately, in this case, the answer is straightforward. We have been awaiting an "Egg" for sometime. It came, with a stream of September morning sunlight & a wide 9-year-old-grin last Thursday. Bad news, one of the teacup twins (above) had pecked at it. Note to self: get oyster shells at the Country Store. Later that day, we gave all four hens an outing to celebrate (okay, two had flown the coop or rather the run; we later spent an hour chasing down the last hen).

Never imagined raising hens could be so, well, interesting. Mind you, it does cut into other pursuits, like paddling. Ah well. Balance in life.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dungeons & Cellars, Bonavista Peninsula

September 7. 2007
A road trip this summer took me first to the Bonavista Peninsula. I was interested in revisiting Elliston to check out its root cellars for part of a project I'm working on. No sooner had I driven down the alder-shouldered road off the highway than I saw a house with a cellar. Walking up for a photograph, a man popped his head out of the window of his house and encouraged me to enter the cellar, take photographs and generally have a look around. I had a great chat and interview with Bert Crewe the following day as well as meeting Rex and Edith Chaulk of the neighbouring community of Maberly.
Connecting the two communities is Sandy Cove, a beautiful stretch of fine sand and behind a small, clean and quiet municipal campsite. With my work finished on the second day around 5pm I launched for a paddle, along the coast past Elliston then back across and out to the puffin colony causing a gigantic flock of them to take flight. They nest on a rock mere feet from the headland, one of the most accessible places to view these adorable flyers.
Close by is a provincial park I also had to check out: Dungeon Provincial Park is a slice or so of cliff, a collapsed sea cave, sandwiched between community pastures leading to Cape Bonavista. In the photograph above is Spillars Cove, an attractive looking stretch of coastline for adventuresome kayakers. Which means I have to return with a few paddling buddies.