Through the Dildo Run to the Toads Asses
A Cruise in Newfoundland, Canada
with Allan Parry (text) and Jim Fraser (photos)
e-mail pre-amble:

----- Original Message -----
From: Al Schonborn
To: Jim Fraser W8328
Cc: Dick Harrington
Sent: Friday, October 29, 2004 8:56 PM
Subject: Newfy cruise pic, etc.

Hi, Jim:
Hope you've had a good summer's sailing - as I did. Just came across that lovely pic (below) you sent me in July - have finally scanned it and will post in Weekly Whiffle 8 Nov 04. ... Best regards,
Uncle Al (W3854)

-----Original Message-----
From: jim fraser []
Sent: 31 October 2004 22:05
To: Uncle Al
Cc: Allan Parry; Dick Harrington


Allan Parry is writing up a log of our cruise in Newfoundland. I hope he will send you a copy of this cruise for the Canadian Wayfarer site since I didn't write up a log.  Newfoundland/Labrador is an interesting but rarely visited cruising ground for dinghy sailors.  We visited Nfld. in June when there were still lots of icebergs and "bergy bits" around and the temperature was cold.  Allan was always cold. As soon as we were ashore, Allan would quickly build a little hoochie out of rocks, driftwood and a tarpaulin.  In no time, he was embracing a roaring fire of driftwood and discarded lobster pots within his shelter. At these times, Allan Parry reminded me vividly of the Robert Service poem The Cremation of Sam McGee.  Sam McGee was panning for gold but hated the cold of northern Canada.  Eventually he freezes to death.  His last request is to be cremated.  His buddy stokes up a fire in an old ship's boiler and deposits Sam's corpse within.
I was sick with dread , but I bravely said: "I'll just take a peep inside.
I guess he's cooked , and it's time I looked;" ...then the door I opened wide.
And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: "Please close that door.
 It's fine in here, but I greatly fear you'll let in the cold and storm --
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm.

I remember reading a cruise in Labrador by an American Wayfarer sailor from Maine (Al's note: Geoff Heath). It appeared in the defunct Small Boat Journal and I believe the fellow sent a copy of his log to the UK Wayfarer Association. He took his Wayfarer on the coastal ferry from Lewisporte to Labrador and did a cruise there.

(Al's note: North from Nain, the northernmost settlement in Labrador. Geoff's crew got appendicitis after one day's sailing so Geoff sailed back to Nain, dumped the crew in hospital, then sailed north for a week before returning to Nain. He showed us his slides at an AGM in the early 80's. I liked the part best where he single-handedly hauled his W across hundreds of feet of rocky beach with rollers and block and tackle in order to get it past the high tide line. Give me the North Channel - and a crew - any day!!)

Best wishes


----- Original Message -----
From: Allan Parry
To: jim fraser ; Uncle Al
Sent: Wednesday, November 03, 2004 4:06 PM

Hi Al & Jim

I wrote the attached for the W-News but you are welcome to use it as well if it suits. I sent some of Jim's pictures to accompany the article in the UK. I made the mistake myself of taking mostly colour slides with the intention of ordering a CD at the same time. Kodak told me that they no longer offer that service! Perhaps Jim could oblige with some pictures in this instance as well?

Jim and I had a very interesting and enjoyable trip to The Rock. The cruising was wild - other boats very thin on the ground.  The icebergs were the highlights for me. We wanted so much to get a photo of the Wayfarer sailing in front of a big iceberg but never got the opportunity to do so - there's some advantages in sailing in company! We did think for a moment of climbing onto a bergy bit for photographic purposes, but common sense prevailed when we realised the water temperature was approx. 0 degrees C! The bits do go well with rum, though!

We rounded off the trip with a visit to Gros Morne National Park. This has fantastic geology and scenery. The stay in Cape Breton Island on the way home seemed very civilized compared to where we had been.

Best wishes


----- Original Message -----
From: Allan Parry
To: jim fraser ; Uncle Al
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 2004 2:18 PM

Hi, folks

Jim , please thank Gail for translating for me. Thanks for sending the pictures.

Al, sorry for the format submitted, hope the Microsoft version works OK.

The Dalhousie computer must have removed the proposed title which was Through the Dildo Run to the Toads Asses: A Cruise in Newfoundland, Canada.  Maybe its porn filter was set too high?!



Through the Dildo Run to the Toads Asses
A Cruise in Newfoundland,
with Allan Parry (text) and Jim Fraser (photos)

lies between latitudes 47 degrees N and 51 degrees N as do Paris and Plymouth. It wouldn’t be cold there in June, would it?  The flight from Gatwick to Halifax, Nova Scotia, crosses Newfoundland and, looking out of the window, I could see white stuff on the hills. Must be summer hail I thought. After all this was the 2nd of June.

I was on my way to join Jim Fraser for a cruise in Notre Dame Bay (see map below) on the NE coast of ‘The Rock’ as the locals call it. As we planned the cruise over the winter Jim e- mailed that he had invested in a new heavier tent and a four-season sleeping bag. This was a little worrying as Jim is a hardy type who regularly gets up at 4.30 a.m. to cycle to work in the winter. Still, it can’t be too bad, I thought, as I’d sailed with Jim a few times on the Nova Scotia coast, and Newfoundland was just a bit further east.

Someone suggested I read The Shipping News as an introduction to the Newfie way of life. I tried but found it a bit depressing, so Gail Fraser said I should try The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float by Farley Mowat. This was much more in the spirit of Wayfarer cruising.
We towed Jim's Wayfarer Naomi from his home in Dartmouth, NS to Sydney on Cape Breton Island. From there the Newfoundland ferry to Port aux Basques takes 6 hours.  “You were right about the snow” said Jim as the island came into view. A pod of pilot whales buzzed the ferry as it slid into Port aux Basques (named after the Spanish whalers who used to stop here). What a grim looking place it was: no trees, just rock rounded by sea and glaciers. The graveyard was situated in one of the few areas of soil. Elsewhere, wooden houses were built straight onto the rock. Not a Tesco in sight.

We joined the Le Mans start from the ferry and set off along the Trans Canada Highway. The rush soon dispersed and driving became the pleasure that it normally is in Canada. We took most of the day to drive to Lewisporte on the ‘Bay of Exploits’, our cruising area on the NE coast of "the Rock".

Bad weather was forecast so we decided to head off into the bay and hole up on one of the islands until the gale had passed. We made 10 miles out to Knights Island and found a perfect hurricane hole. It even had an unoccupied fisherman's hut complete with wood burning stove. A sign inside said ‘This camp is owned by Eugene Snow, you’re free to use it but please don’t abuse it’. We pitched tents on the shore and spent two days feeding wood into Eugene’s stove.

We had been suffering from an overdose of political correctness after camping in the Provincial Parks on the way. They have rules for rubbish segregation, alcohol possession, a ban on gathering firewood, prohibition of cutting marshmallow sticks, dire threats for disturbing assorted flora and fauna etc. Eugene’s place was like a breath of fresh air. We made up a new set of rules for Eugene’s hut :- throw used tin cans out of the door, never wash up, chop down bushes for firewood etc.

On day 3 stocks were running low (specifically of beer), so we ventured out of harbour for a reach over to the attractively named ‘Comfort Cove’ on the mainland. The sea state was ‘lumpy’ and sick making as we reached downwind under ½ genoa. We passed an otter as we turned into the harbour. A crowd of 1 soon gathered to ask about the boat. In exchange for information he gave us a lift into ‘town’.

The one shop in town was strange. We were the only customers and it seemed to have a floor area 10 times too large for the amount of stock. We tentatively asked about beer and received a frosty response.  “How about a public telephone?”  “Sorry, no”. “Is there anywhere to buy fish?” “You could try the fish plant , they sometimes sell fish.”

We trudged back to the harbour deciding that there seemed to be an inverse relationship between the number of churches (marked on charts) and the number of liquor stores (not marked on charts). Comfort Cove was well endowed with churches. The town’s name was probably coined by the same  group that named ‘Greenland’.

The fish plant sold us ‘snow crab’. These are monster spider crabs caught in pots the size of small cars 50 miles out to sea. The crabs are not as big as cars, the pots hold a lot of crabs each. There is very little ordinary fish caught on the Rock since the collapse of the Grand Banks fishery. This has been a disaster for the Province as there is little other employment.


Next day we broke camp and headed for the oddly named Dildo Run. This is a well buoyed channel to the south of New World Island that avoids exposure to the open sea outside the islands. The modern metric Canadian Government chart that we were using had large white areas in this vicinity.” Is this some secret government area or have they just not bothered to survey it?”  I asked Jim. We ventured cautiously across the white area to the Dildo Run Provincial Park.  It might at least have said ‘here be dragons’.

“Are there any shops?”  I asked the warden.
“ What sort of shops?” 
“Liquor Store?”  I asked tentatively.
“Jump in. I’ll give you a lift,” he said. Our sort of place!
Reluctantly we left the park, sailing off the beach. The warden and his friends were watching, fortunately there were no major incidents to spoil our intrepid image.. It was sunny as we sailed down the Dildo Run but gradually grew colder as we sailed towards the open sea. The coast here is washed by the Labrador Current which is cold. It is said that the fishermen on this coast don’t bother to wear lifejackets.

We started adding clothes. There was an iceberg ahead gleaming in the sunlight. We passed the iceberg in company with a ro ro ferry which was carrying mining supplies to Labrador.

Both our vessels headed on a transit through the rocks towards Bacalhao Island. More icebergs appeared ahead, often grounded on shoals or up against the land. We were in full Buffalo gear, oilskins with thermal hats and gloves by now.

We headed back inside the islands for shelter down the sound (called a tickle in Newfoundland) between South Toulinguet Island and New World Island. On the chart the tickle gradually narrowed until it was crossed by a causeway with a 4m high bridge. It was then that we saw  a large iceberg ahead apparently blocking the way through. This was a blow as we didn't want to turn back for the open sea . Fortunately, we were able to pass between the iceberg and the shore. Here we found a sheltered cove.

This camp in Lobster Harbour, though  apparently idyllic, was a 4-star black fly site. Black flies come out in early summer before the mosquitoes appear and are arguably a worse pest. They have a painful bite and are almost unbearable. Jim and I donned full protective gear. This is very unglamorous but who cares. Eating and drinking is difficult.

Next day we motored under the causeway bridge with the mast down, sailed up Friday Bay and around the Toads Asses, a group of rocks off the point of new World Island. We rounded Black Island and planned to make camp on Exploits Island.
On the way we passed a small iceberg grinding up against the shore. As it heaved in the swell, pieces of ice were broken off. We collected some of these as we sailed past. It isn’t easy to pick up ice from the Wayfarer - the pieces are slippery and cold. In camp we celebrated with a drink - overproof Cabot Tower rum cooled with iceberg ice - fantastic! We continued to celebrate to the detriment of tent erection.

Iceberg ice is lovely stuff. The ice originated from snow falling on Greenland 10,000 years ago. The snow was compressed into ice which flowed down a glacier until it fell into the sea and was floated down to Newfoundland on the Labrador current. The ice itself has a milky appearance and is easily split with an axe. It is much softer than ice cubes from the fridge. The resultant melt water is completely pure with no hint of salt. It was formed long before any 20th century pollution. Exploits camp was also noteworthy for its gourmet moules marinière.

We spent a day exploring Exploits Sound - a tickle that cuts right across the island. This was the site of the village of Exploits;  a fishing hamlet that had been evacuated leaving all the houses, school, etc. intact. As we sailed in, a bald eagle accompanied us. With an iceberg at the entrance and the abandoned houses, this was a lonely place.

Heading home the next day, we had a super sail back to the mainland under full rig, taking in lots of green water over the bow. Navigation was complicated. There are a lot of islands and we were at the junction of several different charts. We needed a pit stop to fix our position on a new chart and lay in a course for Lewisporte. Jim wanted to try my Oi Mini hand bearing compass. All went well until our final approach to Lewisporte. “ I just can’t see the lighthouse at St Michael's harbour,” said Jim. We sailed on. “How did that truck manage to cross from one side of the harbour to the other when there isn’t a bridge?” I asked. The truth dawned; we were in the wrong harbour!

Jim Fraser is an experienced navigator and is well used to single-handed sailing. We finally figured out what had gone wrong. Jim's hand bearing compass is used at arms length whereas my Oi compass is used close up to the eye. Jim's glasses contain small magnets so that he can clip on his sunglasses! We later compared readings on the Oi and Jim was getting 20 degrees plus deviation on some bearings! It just shows how easily things can go wrong!
We finished our cruise at Lewisporte and made our way home by way of Gros Morne National Park  This is an interesting place on the west coast of the rock with fascinating geology.

Newfoundland is a wild and beautiful place but not to be taken lightly. A Wayfarer feels very small next to an iceberg. I think we will look for somewhere warmer next year. Thanks again to Jim and his family for their hospitality.
Allan Parry
W 7556