Newfoundland July 15-19 2013

Newfoundland July 15-19 2013

Postby bargee » 28 Apr 2014 12:59

As T Bone Burnett might sing: "the frightening thing is not dying; the frightening thing is not living".

There's an old man living on the edge of town.

Edge of town.





Sometime in the spring of 2013 I learned one of my favorite bands who rarely get anywhere near the USofA (EDIT to add they're back in the states in 2015!! See you at the Arvada Colorado show!) was playing in St. Johns Newfoundland and I had barely broken in the Folbot Yukon so figured why not go see the Waterboys at the Holy Heart Theatre in one of the oldest cities in North America and ignorantly risk your life in the unforgiving cold North Atlantic... erm, I mean, do a bit of paddling?

How hard could it be?

So I booked the plane and concluded renting a minivan I could sleep in would be both the most practical and economical, and arrived at O Dark 30 on July 15. Packed up the van and went to sleep to wake up later that morning in some parking lot.
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(The 30 thing might be worth explaining: Newfoundland is the only place I've ever been where the time is 1/2 hour off relative to everywhere else I've been. How can you not love that attitude?)

The air temperature was was unseasonably warm that day.

_____

Video notes: these are unedited and of questionable quality but some few* demonstrate a bit of what the big ocean is like and I think will be appreciated: I know I would have appreciated them if I hadn't had the experience. Actually, I still do ;) : it reminds me of the humbling majesty of paddling in Newfoundland.

*Those videos will identified as *A Watcher*; not that I don't want you to watch them all...

The waterproof (it is - I proved it :shock: ) camera I use has a glitch which results in a clicking noise - I'm told the autofocus (which is not my friend anyway) struggling is the problem.

I think it's easiest to view them if you right click on them and open in new tab.
Seriousness is not a virtue.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton
bargee
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Re: Newfoundland July 15-19 2013

Postby bargee » 28 Apr 2014 13:51

First stop was the harbour; I asked one guy how to get to a boat ramp cause I wanted to kayak and he asked me why I'd want to kayak in a sewer? And I thought: well, just LOOK at it.
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Newfoundland is also known as The Rock, for some reason. :?:

I regret not paddling in the Quidi Vidi gut, which is a few miles north of here. Whoever did this video did well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aH6qMMuG2M

These guys were kind when I parked in their way.
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Kindness, BTW, seems to be a defining characteristic of Newfoundlanders: they are almost all, perhaps to a fault. (note to self: reread Michael Paul).

Then I paddled a bit.

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I make about that much wake when I do.

Just outside the harbour, to the north.
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And some lame video.
91 seconds
Image41-L.jpg[/img][/url]

There are cannons.
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I mean: you DO want to keep the French out, right? :oops:

Then I saw some sights around town and nearby. This is just west of the Cape Spear lighthouse (the furthermost east point on North America) looking north: ahead to the left a few miles is St. Johns harbour.
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Downtown St. Johns: I like the way the buildings curve - not sure if they follow the street or the street followed them...
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This is the view from the same spot the previous photo was taken having spun roughly 120 degrees toward the east.
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A typical neighborhood (this one near the Holy Heart Theatre on Bonaventure); the picture doesn't do the colors justice... they don't do bland, here.
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This town is old enough to have much interesting history.
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Seriousness is not a virtue.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton
bargee
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Posts: 29
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Re: Newfoundland July 15-19 2013

Postby bargee » 28 Apr 2014 15:24

On July 16 (after a great show last night - I LOVE YOU MIKE SCOTT - they opened with Fishermans Blues... FWIW - if you enjoy fiddling you'll likely never hear anyone better than Steve Wickham... U2 tangent: he's the fiddler on Sunday Bloody Sunday, teaching The Edge how to play music) :mrgreen:
5 minutes 24 seconds.
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I drove north to scope things out. I initially thought I might be man (google Freya Hoffmeister and you can begin to imagine the self-deprecation) enough to circumnavigate the north end of the Avalon peninsula but a little homework disavowed me of that, even before I arrived.

(Freya, the self appointed Goddess Of Love To The Seas... who would dare to argue? <insert not worthy emoticon>

http://www.curiousanimal.com/freya-hoff ... body-else/

Here's Joe Glickman's Fearless; she apparently really is.)

So I checked out Torbay bay or cove or whatever: comparatively tame and it might cause a moron to underestimate things.
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Or not. Who can say?
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Then Pouch Cove broadened my horizons even more.
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After demonstrating a minivan was no vehicle for getting to the furthermost north of the Avalon peninsula (it was a rental vehicle so if it could be done it would have been done) next stop was Bay Bulls where I met more friendly and one very spunky Newfoundlerperson(s). Have I mentioned I'm getting to like this place?
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Very much fun!
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A nod to Bruce Cockburn's All The Diamonds.
23 seconds
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Please note I'm well aware I'm no professional photographer/videographer but part of the point of this website is that even us morons can do some interesting stuff and share.

7 dollar Canuck to put in here and they hand write the receipts, and God bless 'em.
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You can also put in a bit north of there for free which is what these serious kayakers did. One built a beautiful boat AND he explained to me how 'Greenland' paddles with their smaller surface area allowed you to submerge more of them and were thence more efficient. I never had thought about that before.
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He also said they saw a few whales.

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This sign was posted nearby; in Jon Turk's book Cold Oceans he writes how native people in the frozen north where he was adventuring would capture and kill dovekies and then sew them up, whole, in a seal skin and bury just under the surface of the permafrost. After fermenting for a few months they'd dig it up and eat them, whole, spitting out the beaks.
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Nummy. :?

I made a point of eating at O'Briens as one of the tour boat Captains was kind allowing me to rinse out my boat, and his daughter was too sweet. I told her I was from Arkansas and bless her she had nothing bad to say!

She seemed pleased to be able to spend her life in one place which is something I can barely relate to, although if I had started out there I might still be there: it's a very nice community.
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The spunky waitress was one of those intensely alive types who always fascinate me as I tend to be the more distant kind. She told me it's a delicacy to put the dressing (the little container) and the brown gravy on the fries - it didn't do much for me but the pea soup and the cod were excellent. I recommend the place - get a window seat if you can.
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Iceberg beer
Seriousness is not a virtue.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton
bargee
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Re: Newfoundland July 15-19 2013

Postby bargee » 29 Apr 2014 12:51

After eating at O'Briens (very nummy) I headed toward Admirals Beach, mainly because I never had done, before.

Heading south up the hill away from Bay Bulls. See the whale tour boat and the structure in the middle of the bay which I completely spaced out getting a closer photo of; I'm told it's used to feed cod.
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I don't know how they know when to turn the sign on... do the moose self-report?
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The Salmonier River, not far from Admirals Beach.
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I spend the night at Admirals Beach intending the next morning to paddle around the nearby island but decided to head out instead; not sure why I changed my mind as it would be a nice paddle. Before I went to sleep I asked a guy out in his yard if it was OK to park there by the beach (such as it is: nothing but rocks but you could put in there) and I eventually gathered (his brogue was so thick I could understand about one word in five) no one would care. I love the laid back atmosphere in the rural areas here: people really seem to savor the slower pace of the minutes ticking by. One of my favorite mental images is seeing neighbors out in their yard leaning on a fence visiting with their neighbor on the other side.
Seriousness is not a virtue.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton
bargee
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Re: Newfoundland July 15-19 2013

Postby bargee » 29 Apr 2014 13:26

This is a good time to list the books and some of the other stuff in no real particular order I read prior to heading to Newfoundland.

Michael Paul's May We Rant And Roar No More relates his solo circumnavigation of the island. He, like me, has a libertarian bent and he has few kind things to say about how Canada treated its relatively newly adopted acquisition. Gives some interesting historical perspective and a very good taste of what's involved in doing extended paddling here - not for the faint of heart.

Ken Campbell's Around The Rock details his solo circumnavigation and again demonstrates the wonder and the challenge of such an effort.

Dan Murphy, Jim Price and Kevin Redmond collaborated on Canyons Coves And Coastal Waters which was helpful in getting a feel for what this novice might be able to accomplish.

And of course I googled a lot:

http://www.canoekayak.com/canoe/exploring-newfoundland/

http://www.gregstamer.com/gallery2/main ... _itemId=20

http://www.myccr.com/content/east-coast

http://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/Thi ... ergViewing

http://www.adventurenewfoundland.com/do ... ment_2.pdf

One of these days I'd REALLY like to do a circumnavigation of Bell Island but all the stars would have to align properly.

http://nfldkayak.blogspot.com/2007/11/p ... sland.html

http://thesquidink.blogspot.com/2007/01 ... sland.html

http://www.tw.gov.nl.ca/ferryservices/s ... _bipc.html

This church was very helpful when I was struggling (such as it was - you live and you learn, or you don't) to return from Bell Island: an easily seen reference point about which more later.

http://www.churchbythesea.ca/?page_id=148

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEcHK6N6SJA

http://www.mynewfoundlandkayakexperience.blogspot.ca/

http://www.berniehowgate.com/newfoundland.htm

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1985 ... s-settlers

I like finding local AM radio stations when I travel as they give you a taste of the place and this one's a dandy:

http://www.thisisnewfoundlandlabrador.ca/
Seriousness is not a virtue.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton
bargee
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Re: Newfoundland July 15-19 2013

Postby bargee » 05 May 2014 18:03

July 17 - mainly driving from Admirals Beach to Cape Saint Mary's Park Preserve to St. Philips with a little paddling thrown in.

They take telephone pole installation SERIOUSLY here.
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I didn't take any pictures but Branch is a beautiful little town it would be nice to spend some time visiting.

Point Lance has one of the very few beaches on the island; it would be a wonderful place to camp and paddle from... maybe next time.
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There are some small islands to the south which would make a nice out and back.

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This was on one of the buildings at Cape Saint Mary's Park - personally I didn't find Canada all that dangerous.
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(sorry)

There are MANY birds not to mention an amazing panoramic view - definitely worth a visit.

Here's a link: http://www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/parks/wer/r_csme/
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As you fantasize about your potential circumnavigation picture yourself paddling along hundreds of miles of coastline very much like that, only without the little landing places in this photo, and absent the glassy sea.
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Not for the faint of heart. <insert I Am Not Worthy emoticon>

Gooseberry Cove.
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Placentia Bay.
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I did some obligatory paddling in freshwater; this is Blaketown pond.
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I paddled a figure 8 around an island which is south of here but indistinguishable in this photo. The pond is big enough you could spend a day here enjoying yourself. The put in is by a gasoline station on the west side; IIRC about equidistant north and south.

If you can't find it ask any local.
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I really like this boat except it's so forgiving it might tempt you into pushing your luck; more later.
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A couple of driving notes: in Newfoundland (I heard it pronounced new found land more than I heard newfundland) you have the right of way for a left turn when you have a flashing, not a solid, green arrow - took me a moment to cop onto that. And as you noticed earlier my method of attaching the Yukon to the van was hardly Thule-like; it was functional but barely which required the occasional roadside stop to adjust things a bit. Anyway, there aren't signs indicating drivers on interstates should move to the left lane when passing stopped vehicles and they usually don't so consider yourself warned.

At St. Philips (I've seen it spelled with two ls - not sure which is correct) looking toward Bell Island.
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I ate fried cod at the place adjacent to the Harbour parking lot - not bad.

Two ferries passing in the day. If I visit again I'd make a point of riding the ferry on general principle - it's not expensive and they run frequently throughout the daylight hours.
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I read somewhere some years back two of the ferries collided head on during bad weather. :shock:

Tomorrow's goal. Electronic Tangent: I really like my Garmin eTrex 20 - my favorite toy.
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And I went to sleep in the St. Philips Harbour parking lot with this as my lullaby.
56 seconds
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Seriousness is not a virtue.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton
bargee
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Posts: 29
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Re: Newfoundland July 15-19 2013

Postby bargee » 05 May 2014 21:56

July 18 - the big day: to Bell Island and back

I woke to the sound of early morning rain on the roof - nod to Gordon Lightfoot. Temperature was 50ish Fahrenheit and the forecast was for a little warming and 40 kmh winds later. I had some appreciation for 40 kmh wind and its affect on paddling on protected water like lakes but had yet to learn to appreciate the effect on the sea.

So I put in and started paddling toward the ferry docking point on Bell Island. I maintained that course until I was confident I could get there (you hopefully understand I was alone and almost utterly ignorant of paddling in such big water and tend toward not wanting to be blown out to sea unless I have to) and then I deviated toward the NE corner of the island to see the sights.
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And a guy on another forum said it would have been prudent to go with someone but I doubt I could have found anyone ignorant enough to go with me.

Durn know-it-alls! :mrgreen:

Somewhere on that leg I crossed paths with the 0555 ferry heading toward Portugal Cove. For a bit it looked like he was aiming for me but I conclude he wasn't... small pucker moment.
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I know the video quality is unimpressive but you do what you can with what you have. The waterproof (it is - I proved it) camera I use has a glitch which results in a clicking noise - I'm told the autofocus (which is not my friend anyway) struggling is the problem.
33 seconds.
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I estimate that spire at 50 meters high.
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19 seconds.
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See the sea cave.
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See the swell.
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See the sea cave.
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See the video of the sea cave I was too gutless to go through. Yes, I am a wuss but at this writing I am an alive wuss.
*A Watcher*
20 seconds.
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This Is The Sea - nod to Mike Scott

This is as far west as I managed to get: looking toward the lighthouse on the NE corner of the island. You can barely make out the previously mentioned sea cave to the left.
*A Watcher*
33 seconds.
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The swells were fun.

A nod to Chesterton: cosy little cosmos.
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And then I headed south toward Dick's; it was a slog as the winds had arrived. I was paddling strenuously and making about 1-2 kmh. It was all good though as it gave me more time to appreciate the sights (the face I see is Patience - she has high cheekbones and may be winking).
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One of the rare places you can land a boat: Lord, what a forbidding coast.

I walked in feeling guilty cause I was dripping water all over and no one batted an eye. A very decent muffin and coffee.
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They provide breakable coffee cups for the more respectable customers. :)

Dick's is only about a hundred yards from the shore. It's funny how little is really different across cultures and countries: the codgers sitting around the place were talking about gasoline prices 'Aye I bought it for $1.37 a litre over at such and such'.

This photo reminded me of Jon Turk's book Cold Oceans which I recommend.
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May be the 'Beaumont Hamel'.
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So calm here but the winds were doing what winds do and I was a bit apprehensive about trying to head back. I could have taken the ferry but REALLY wanted to complete the round trip.
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I was working up my nerve. The picture doesn't show it but I could see the church mentioned earlier which became a focus point for me as I tried to get back: the red roof is easy to spot.
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I need to note I own both a rudder AND a sprayskirt and neither was installed that day. Yes, I am a moron.

I won't bore you with gps track minutiae but the track shows me paddling out into the unprotected water, whimpering, and turning back to shore. Although even in that brief moment I came to believe I could probably pull off the return trip, unprepared as I was.
Seriousness is not a virtue.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton
bargee
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Re: Newfoundland July 15-19 2013

Postby bargee » 18 May 2014 20:29

So let me begin to end this. I should note I don't recommend anyone trying to do what I managed to do (solo to Bell Island and back with 40 kmh winds in a rudderless uncovered Folbot Yukon) unless you're the type that doesn't whine much if things don't work out like you might have planned.

I should also note that while I was concerned I might not make it back to St. Philips that those few moments were when I felt most alive... please take that FWIW.

After my initial aborted attempt to leave the sheltered area of Bell Island I realized if I paddled at right angles to the wind and waves I'd end up much further north than I wanted to be so I started (for want of a better word) 'crabbing' my way back to where I put in. This amounted to me making roughly 50 to 1 paddle strokes with my left side relative to my right side and was pretty much successful - I was drifting north but not nearly as much as if I'd paddled at right angles - until I got about 1/2 way back.

You can see what happened by studying the track.
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Seriousness is not a virtue.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton
bargee
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Re: Newfoundland July 15-19 2013

Postby bargee » 18 May 2014 21:01

I was doing OK until either a wave or a gust of wind turned me at right angles to both and I didn't have the strength to turn myself back more parallel. Have I mentioned rudders?

So I continued heading east as quickly as I could; even though I was being blown further north than I wanted I knew I had two fallbacks: a portable VHF marine radio and Portugal Cove as a landing spot. I did OK until about 5/6 of the way (you can see the little jag in the gps track just under the A where I spent a few moments pondering the meaning of life) when a wave (for reasons which remain incomprehensible to me) broke large enough to dump a few gallons into the boat (sprayskirts, anyone?) and some small amount in my right ear :shock: causing genuine consternation. Still, as the Yukon is pretty much unsinkable I didn't panic or quit although I did revise my thinking - it would be very nice to get out of the boat and empty the water out and catch my breath and gather my wits (such as they are... sigh).

I saw an opening (named MAYDAY for dramatic effect :mrgreen: ) and paddled with about as much might as I thought I had... it was enough although I DO wonder how much more I REALLY could muster (Freya I needed you then - thanks for being there, virtually) and managed to sneak into a roughly 4' opening on the far south side which you can't see and jump out of the boat and drag it up onto the rocks.

Whew.

This video is my favorite of the trip: you can experience a bit the power of the sea although I don't know why 5' waves 30 yards from the camera look like gentle surf... go figure. I like the way the waves made indents in the flat rock in the left foreground - wonder how long that took - and at ~ 48 seconds you can see the ferry returning to Bell Island: just a speck at that distance. My biggest regret was not swinging the camera behind me to show that the only way out was with climbing gear.
56 seconds
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I rested up for about 30 minutes until I started to get cold not doing much then timed my exit to avoid the larger waves and headed south for St. Philips, extremely confident I could finish the trip. I paddled a bit south of where I exited the harbor then turned and rode the wind and waves back to the gap; the waves weren't breaking but you can still see the swell.
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You can see how much water I picked up after having emptied the boat. I will go to my grave insisting my legs look like that due to foreshortening. :evil:
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And that, pretty much, is that.
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I went to the Dirty Laundry (free wifi and a cute proprietor ;) ) laundry mat to clean things up and the next day headed home. Drying out a bit at the airport.
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All That In That!
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My last view of the NE corner of Bell Island; see the swell.
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Everybody that goes to sea comes back a changed person. It doesn't matter what you do, how far the trip is... everyone that goes to sea changes somehow. Abby Sunderland, age 16


Thanks for reading.

Go while you can.
Seriousness is not a virtue.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton
bargee
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Posts: 29
Joined: 21 Sep 2013 10:48


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