Sailing around icebergs and Narwhals in the far north..
March 1, 2004
Pages » 1 2 3
The interior "ponds" (there are, literally, tens of thousands of them) had some of the best windsurfing conditions of all, with winds on a few days reaching 30 knots.
The water, of course, is much warmer than the ocean and all Eric needed for comfort was a neoprene vest and swim trunks. Eric practiced his freestyle moves on the
windy but smooth waters of these lakes and ponds of the interiors, surrounded by huge forest or the caribou's vast tundra lands. Sometimes you might see a fisherman
on these ponds, but it's a vast resource for water and wind that mostly goes unused through the short summer season.
Most nights found us back in St-John's exhausted from our long days. We got ready for the longer nights with coffee and dinner. Our nighttime host showed us around and introduced
us to dozens of people that helped make our stay memorable and eventful. We ventured to the south coast a couple more times in search of wind and waves, but without much luck.
It always seemed to be foggy, and the waves never really lived up to the forecast. That is probably because of the Grand Banks, located 50 or so miles out, which make the area
one of the best fishing banks in the world. It cuts down the swell size and power before it reaches the coast. ThereŐs lots of potential, with several point and beach breaks
that must get epic during those big hurricane swells that move up the east coast of the U.S. in the fall. We did find a great surf spot where I got my chance to fulfill MY
dream to surf Newfoundland. The last place on earth I thought I'd be surfing, if you had asked me a year ago. The waves were small and the water was cold but the setting made
up for it all.
Talking to Brad in St-John's one morning, he told us that he had been contacted by a movie production company to serve as a stand in for a feature movie about a surfer
from Vancouver Island, B.C. that falls in love with a Newfoundland girl and follows her back out to Newfoundland. They were now filming the last scene to the movie, where
the guy goes out surfing near icebergs with his buddy (sounded like us, minus the love part). Well, we happened to be in town with surfboards and wetsuits, so why not take
the opportunity to make a little money in the meantime, so we agreed to do it. It ended up being the best luck we had the whole trip. We ended up back in Bay Roberts at
our original iceberg for the filming. It was a beautiful and very warm day (28 C-luckily), I convinced the director to use Eric, a windsurfer, in the background. Brad
and I were the surfers doing the scene. I think we spent 3 hours in the water that day.
Half way through the day, a male Narwhal started following Eric around. Narwhals are small arctic whales that are rare enough in arctic waters, but near St-John's!? There
hadn't been a Narwhal that far south in over 25 years!! It was following Eric sailing all over the place. Eric was a little frightened and bewildered at first, but soon
realized that it was just being friendly. It ended up being around and near him for a good two hours. We were stuck filming and my camera was back at the van. I needed
those images...this was unheard of, we were being paid and I couldn't just leave. Suddenly the production crew's camera broke, which gave me the perfect opportunity to
run up the cliffside to the road, flag down the first car and recover my camera from the van. I paddled out on the surfboard and got Eric and the Narwhal to pose for me.
I think the Narwhal even smiled for the camera. I reloaded my water housing and went back out to shoot another roll. By this time, the Narwhal had vanished back into
the deep blue waters of Bay Roberts. The electric atmosphere of the encounter was overwhelming and once again we couldnŐt believe our luck. I think - I don't remember
- I got pretty drunk the night after the Narwhal encounter.
The days and nights went by and our luck continued. Eric windsurfed the battery of St-John's harbor with no wet suit one day, it looked inviting, but can you imagine falling
in 5 C water without a wetsuit? Eric said it was the most scared that he had been in his long windsurfing career. The Wide-Board came through for him once again and he
barely got his ankles wet.
Later the next day, after another long night of partying and celebrating in town, we said goodbye to all of the great people we had become close to on this trip. We left
with trepidation and sadness that all of this would soon be coming to an end. All that remained was the long cold ferry ride back to Nova Scotia. Newfoundland was a world
of difference. It was different from what we had expected and different from the impression that other Canadians have that have never been here.
I'll tell you this, if you haven't been to Newfoundland, you haven't seen Canada. Go, bring your sailboard, and experience this place for yourself.
Many thanks to Brad, Dan, Beth, Lorne, and especially the coffee girls who always had a big smile and a warm cup of Joe ready for us.
Courtesy of New Zealand Adventure