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Courtesy of P.Media
We soon arrived at Conception Bay, not far from St-John's, and by then the weather had cleared. From the shoreline, we were able to spot a few icebergs some distance away.
We decided to follow the enormous bay until we found an iceberg close enough to shore to take pictures, and with any luck, enough wind to cruise with a "berg." We learned
that it is not every year that icebergs make their way all the way to the St-John's area, so it seemed that lady luck was on our side. Previous to arriving in Newfoundland
we thought we might have had to drive several hundred miles north of St-John's to an area called iceberg alley near the village of Twillingate, but happily it was simpler
A couple of hours later on the twisting roads of Conception Bay, we arrived at Bay Roberts, where the grandest sight of all, it seemed at the time, awaited us. A large
iceberg, some 300-meters across, was apparently grounded, less than a kilometer offshore. And, it was windy enough for Eric to sail with his Wide-Board and his big sail.
The wind-chill off the water made the air considerably colder than at St-John's. We guessed the water temperature to be about 5 degrees Celsius, (it was actually closer
to 3 degrees). Eric rigged his gear, crawled into his thick wetsuit and headed out as I put on my tuque and set up my gear to document images of Eric's dream of sailing
around an iceberg.
We couldn't have happened upon a better location, Bay Roberts was oriented perfectly for the wind direction and the iceberg was accessible from both sides of the bay, and
I had several good angles from which to shoot photos. I was still leery of shooting from the water. I'd be submerged up to my neck in water that was 3 degrees C. Another
day, perhaps, would be better; after I had enough images in the can to warrant another angle and brave the freezing water. Eric sailed for an exhilarating couple of
hours from two separate launch sites. I got a lot of the images I wanted for the conditions we had, and Eric only complained slightly of the cold water. He was used
to it somewhat, however, because he often sailed in his hometown in early spring in similar and sometimes colder conditions. He exited the water so exhilarated that he
could barely contain his overwhelming joy of having lived his dream of sailing around icebergs. He said that he got close enough to see some of the 90% of the iceberg
that is underwater, and claimed the water was the clearest he had ever seen with visibility a good 30-meters.
Only a small portion of an iceberg is visible above the water (10% or so). His only worry that day were the large chunks of ice that were occasionally breaking off with a
loud noise and a big splash that generated small waves. Later that evening we heard of a tragedy that killed three people just a couple of weeks earlier when a boat got too
close to an iceberg, a huge piece broke away and swamped the boat carrying the hapless victims overboard. We also heard stories of how an iceberg can suddenly explode
from thermal pressure or completely flip around in the water, carrying anything on the surface down a 100-meters or more in its wake. We weren't dealing with benign
beauty here after all, (a large iceberg had sunk the Titanic, remember?) and Eric vowed to be a little more careful during his next iceberg encounter.
Returning, exhausted, to St-John's after an exhilarating day, we got in touch with Brad who, in typical Newfoundland fashion, invited us to meet his lovely family, eat
dinner and stay the night at his home. It turns out that Brad owned the coffee shop on the main street in St-John's where we ended up having breakfast and great coffee
every morning and most evenings that we spent in St-John's. It was the best place in St-John's to meet people, socialize, and find out what was happening. Needless to
say, we slept extremely well and showed up at the coffee shop early next morning.
Even though the air was cold, I was glad to be here in July and not January. We arrived at the south coast a couple hours after leaving St-John's, only to find the
dreaded thick fog, which normally shuts down any chance of sailing. There was a swell running, but only a small one, with the best waves being about knee high. The
thick fog made it hard to see most of the coastline; we spotted a few potential surf breaks, but they would have to wait to be sailed and surfed another day. Eric
thought the day was going to be a wash and he wouldn't get to sail.
But at Trepassy bay there was a small venturi effect from the narrow bay with a small cliff on the opposite side. Eric sailed through the thick fog and with the help
of the Wide-Board and his big sail managed to reach planing speeds most of his session. Although it wasn't the best sailing session he had ever had, getting wet and
sailing in conditions new to him were reason enough to be content. Brad's friend Beth, who had come with us to the south coast after a quick introduction at the coffee
shop, invited us to stay at her great apartment just a few blocks from downtown St-John's. Eric and I had planned on camping most of the trip, but the generosity of
the Newfoundlanders was overwhelming and they wouldn't hear of us being uncomfortable camping in the cold damp Newfoundland nights. We would come back to the south
coast for more discoveries and hopefully some wave sailing.
The next several days were spent exploring the gorgeous scenery of the many villages, coves, wildlife, lakes and ponds of the Avalon Peninsula. There's some 9,000
kilometers of coastline to explore in Newfoundland, not to mention the vast interior lands, forests ponds and lakes. I shot great scenic images and Eric managed to
windsurf everyday. We saw moose, caribou, rabbits and many different species of birds and eagles. It's a wildlife lover's dream come true.
Eric sailed bays in several ocean locations, some of which had whales frolicking in the distance, some with shipwrecks visible, a clear sign of the dangerous seas
that surrounded us. You have to admire the fishermen that still work here, and those of days gone by.