Newfoundland 1997/00 - Photos by Tony

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These photographs were taken over a four year period starting in Toronto with the Newfoundland Flotilla in 1997.

The flotilla of 75 sail boats journeyed to Newfoundland  as part of the celebrations to mark the 500th anniversary of John Cabot's voyage. We left on 11 May and arrived on the 24 June in Bonavista  Newfoundland to meet The Matthew, a replica of Cabot's boat which crossed the Atlantic from Bristol England at the same time.

The remainder of the photos were taken in 1998, 99 and 2000 during several trips round  Newfoundland and  Labrador, mainly single-handed. The photos of northern Labrador were taken in 2000 on my way back from a trip to Greenland.

I have written the text with the cruising sailor in mind so these pages can be used as a simple cruising guide.

Click  on Toronto to Newfoundland to begin the journey.

Click here to see photos and description of Meriah our 32 ft sailboat. 

Newfoundland - first and lasting impressions

Sue and I had never been to Newfoundland before going there with the flotilla in 1997 and we had never taken our boat Meriah off the Great Lakes. By the time the flotilla was over we had fallen in love with the people and the place. So much so that we left Meriah in Newfoundland in 97 and I returned in 98 and 99 to sail single-handed and see more of the province. Our boat is now in Sydney Nova Scotia just across the Cabot Strait and I returned again in 2000 to sail to Greenland and Labrador.

Newfoundland only joined Canada in 1949 having been a British colony to that time. The history of the people shows in their names, their accents and in some of the words and expressions they use. I heard reference to the bonnet of a car and where else in North America do most people still remember Guy Fawkes night.

When you travel to Newfoundland you cannot help be struck by how much fishing has been an essential part of the history and how much the decline of the fishery has had an impact on the lives of the people. This impression is probably even stronger when you travel by boat because it is fishermen who catch your lines and all the talk in the small coastal communities is about fishing. Even fishing neophytes like us quickly learn about the different kinds of fishing boats, which species are still being caught, what the price per pound is and who is buying (mainly the Japanese it seems)

When cod was king, before the cod moratorium in 1992, it was possible for hundreds of small communities to survive on inshore fishing from small boats. Many of these "outports" had no road connections to the rest of the province in fact many were on islands. On the Labrador coast there were even many communities that were occupied during the summer only by fishermen who came from Newfoundland every year. Now that cod fishing is (almost) banned, these communities make no economic sense and cannot be serviced by the government. The fishing which is still thriving like crab and shrimp requires larger boats which go hundreds of miles offshore so the population tends to be concentrated in the larger communities. This has lead to dozens of declining or abandoned communities or "outports". It makes Newfoundland and Labrador a fascinating place for the cruising sailor to visit but it is full of rather different memories for the inhabitants.

In spite of this recent history, the spirit and friendliness of the people shines through. In many parts of the world the local people see a cruising boat and immediately look on it as a source of revenue. You get the impression they are standing in line with their hands out. In Newfoundland you are looked on as a new friend who must be given hospitality. We were hardly ever charged for docking and if we offered payment for some kind service provided, it was usually refused.

To anyone who is considering a trip to "The Rock" either by road or boat, my advice is to go for it, you will not be disappointed. We will be glad to provide any information to help you plan your trip.

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