Sunday, July 5, 2015

A whale of a day

Rocky Harbour, NL –No distant rendez-vous pressured us into a hur-ried depar-ture this morning. Based on an internet search, I ventured out to church in Norris Bay, only to find the building abandoned and quiet. I found an unlocked side door, so I went inside and learned that today’s service was set for 7 pm.

I snapped a few pictures of this pretty seaside town and also stopped at the wharf to buy tickets for an afternoon cruise around Bonne Bay before returning to the RV. And, since cleanliness is next to godliness, I did two loads of wash at the KOA laundry room. After lunch we headed out to Norris Bay for our cruise.
When we got to dockside, we recognized the ticket taker – he was Wayne Parsons, one of the performers in the Anchors Aweigh show at the hotel the night before last! And his accordion-squeezing partner, Reg, was our captain for the cruise.

Throughout our two-hour plus cruise around Bonne Bay and into the mouth of the Gulf of St Lawrence, Wayne gave us an amusing but informative spiel about the sights and history around us. We were only a few hundred yards out when he spotted the first whale. Then there was another, and another (the same one?) – gliding to the surface for a breath, revealing a shiny black dorsal fin and dipping back into the deep. Wayne said they were minke whales, about 20 feet long, feasting on the small fish in the bay.
When it got chilly in the wind topside, Reg invited us into the captain’s inner sanctum (despite the “Crew Only” sign on the door) so we could see in warmer surroundings. He had a fish-finder set up so he could steer the vessel to where the whales were most likely to be – and it was working! We must have seen 15 whales or more.

Wayne told us that the depths of Bonne Bay had been well sounded by none other than Captain James Cook in the early 1700s, with precision and detail that serves navigators to this day. He also pointed out the Lobster Cove Head lighthouse in the distance, and said on a clear day it was even possible to see Labrador from the bay.
Reg brought us closer to the rocky shore on the return leg of the journey so we could see the geology at close range. Then he cut the engine and drifted when a magnificent bald eagle came into view, perched on a high rock. We watched for several minutes before he took to flight, spreading his wings wide. As a mature bird, he was easy to spot with his white head, but shortly afterward, Wayne pointed out another eagle with the mottled brown feathers of a younger bird. In all, I think we saw six or seven eagles, both young and old.

We were charmed as we drifted past Woody Point and several people on shore came out to wave at us. All the towns had trim little houses, some in bright colours of red and yellow, set on the hillsides. Behind them we could see the sweeping Tablelands, offering a rare glimpse at the unadorned earth’s crust – a geologist’s dream come true.
As if our trip hadn’t been thrilling enough by this time, it ended with Wayne and Reg and another crew member presenting a medley of sea-faring songs, ending (by edict from Parks Canada, Wayne joked) with a lively rendition of I’se the B’ye. At the end of that one, Reg had to abandon his accordion to race topside and dock the boat!

Another visit to Earle’s seaside res-taurant in Rocky Harbour seemed appropriate, where Val scarfed down a steaming bowl of moose stew and I sampled a Jigg’s Dinner, con-sisting of salt beef, cabbage, turnip, potato, carrot, beets and peas pudding. Hearty fare indeed.

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