The Sea Journey

Between dream and reality…

By dint of contemplating the sea, one day you end up taking it.

As you know, I had to cross from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia and I managed to do it by sailboat…

Wow, the dream!  A dream that I had been dreaming about for at least fifteen years.  And now the opportunity to live this mini experience (at least that’s what I thought) of sailing presents itself.

While waiting to join the sailboat of my dreams, I am well settled in McCallum on the high ground and I have a spectacular view.

My camp perched on the hill at McCallum.
The view from my camp.

McCallum is a small village accessible only by boat, to get around here well it’s on foot or 4 wheels for some.
It used to be a village of 300 people and now there are only 25 permanent residents.

Panoramic view of McCallum.

There’s not much to do, but I take the opportunity to relax, cook, read and do some hiking, watching the sea…
The cellular network is intermittent. We have arranged to meet here or in Francois (spelled without an ‘ç’ and pronounced ‘Fransway’) which is a village about 25 nautical miles away and the ferry to get me there will be in a few days.

On a beautiful Tuesday afternoon, I receive a text message!…  “Julie we are almost at McCallum!… The winds were very good, we’ll be there by 5:30!

After uncorking a good bottle of wine while cooking, I jump for joy!  So I prepare a dinner for three!  I am sitting in front of the ocean, looking at the distance, because I know very well that I will see the sails very soon !
THERE THEY ARE…!!!  I see this magnificent sailboat with two fantastic humans on board and Minette, this faithful cat, they are there very close…
But an intense sound comes to disturb this moment of pure happiness!
A helicopter!?  My attention turns to this machine which is usually used in case of emergency !??  But finally they are only rich tourists who came to see this village which according to them will not exist any more soon… Bah…  I talk a bit with these people, don’t care about them and run instead to the harbour at the bottom of the hill…

The reunion is very pleasant!  I am greatly welcomed on this sailboat by a captain in whom I trust.
After a good supper, I stay in my tent at the top of the hill and fall asleep dreaming of what awaits me on the boat…

Day 1: McCallum to Richard’s Harbour.
The next day, the moment of truth has arrived, the bike is dismantled and well stored in the boat.  Before crossing over to Nova Scotia, we will ride along the south coast of Newfoundland.  There are still so many beautiful places to visit.  We motor out to Richard’s Bay, which is not far away. The sea is calm, we move without wind to the bottom of the bay.  The landscapes are breathtaking… The silence is soft.  No waves, the sea is like a mirror… Ah!  How good it will be to sleep in the dark and the silence!  The sailboat hardly moves… I am looking forward to the next day, wishing for a lot of wind to satisfy my desire for sailing… Obviously I know nothing about it, but I am excited and open to learn everything.

Day 2: Departure to Francois.
The sea becomes a bit rougher… I have a happy feeling… The sails are up and suddenly I fall asleep terribly…  I try to stay awake, but I fight… I close my eyes and let myself be carried… Luckily I am not the captain!  The waves, the wind, I sleep… I learn, when we arrive at the small village of Francois, and with my feet firmly on the ground, that falling asleep is a form of seasickness… Well… A little disappointed with my great performance, we go for a walk and a swim in a small lake… Nature is generous with these small fruits and the sea provides us with a memorable dinner that our dear captain cooks for us while we, the mermaids, are having a good time !  What a great evening we had with plenty of water!  I was very happy and wished for good wind to hoist the sails towards these so magic horizons!

Days 3 & 4: from Francois to Grey River and Ramea.
This morning I woke up enthusiastic and happy!  I feel great!  The winds are good and favourable!  We leave the bay of Francois. The sea is rough, the waves are going in all directions… I am still happy and so excited about the sea.  I watch every movement of the captain and his co-captain… I soak up all the information, I try to retain it all and then… impossible to continue listening and observing!?  I can’t concentrate anymore… My head is spinning, but not like usual, not like with my head trauma… It happens so suddenly!  I ask for a boiler!  I, who have never been ill in this way, am very surprised.  Of course I’ll spare you the details!  Five hours at sea trying to find a certain well-being… Well… it’s confirmed: I’m seasick… It’s a pity, I like this mode of transport so much… We’ll stop over in a quiet little bay.

The next day, phew… the sea is calm, very calm.  It will be a day of sailing with the motor to leave Grey River and head for Ramea Island.  I feel better, even better and we take advantage of this moment to fish and look at the foggy horizon…  How quiet it is!

We arrive at the port of Ramea Island without having left the mist.


Days 5 & 6: Crossing to Nova Scotia.
We have 130 nautical miles to go.

Ramea.  In the middle of the afternoon, the fog is still with us.
The wind is forecast to be favourable for this 24 to 30 hour crossing.
We set off, propelled by the motor of the yacht.
I’m a bit nervous… I really don’t want to be sick for all those hours… I prepared myself physically and morally.  There is this thick fog that envelops us.  It’s a good thing GPS and charts exist.  We are sailing at 5 or 6 knots.  So far my body is adapting to the sea and I’m fine.

As our captain had calculated, off the coast the fog is fading and we are starting to see some sunshine.  It looks good.  We have a peaceful dinner and before sunset the sails are hoisted, as the wind finally starts to pick up.  The wind usually eases off at sunset.  And then we are off… The boat heels a lot on its side and moving around requires a lot of balance.  The wind carries us so strongly… It’s exhilarating!  I feel a very strong emotion taking hold of me and tears are running down my cheeks… I feel an indescribable happiness.  It is out of the ordinary for the brain.  Night falls and I go to lie down.  HaHaHa!… I still managed to keep my food and move around without getting too dizzy.  All night long I want to get up to see the sea and the stars, but I can’t.
In the morning, I get out of bed!  I eat a little, enjoy the horizon, the sea, the wind before saying goodbye to this dream.
Because already at the end of the day we arrive in Port Morien in Nova Scotia!

I believe that before turning this dream into reality, it is important to get used to the sea, to tame it, to breathe it and especially to learn to sail.  I don’t despair, because I know a very good sailor who is seasick.  He always has to take a week at sea to get used to it and then it’s over.

When we arrived on land at Port Morien near Sydney, it was time to leave and my friends accompanied me and rode a good 20 km with me on their folding bikes!  This makes me very happy.

Thank you very much to you, two beautiful people, for this beautiful experience… We will meet again!  I must add that the captain took very good care of me when I was ill. THANK YOU!

Thank you too for having been patient during my crossing!
You will understand that the crossing was much quicker than expected…
Instead of the few weeks I had planned, it only took a few days, but intense days!

Arrived near Sidney in Nova Scotia, I plan to do Cape Breton Island and the famous Cabot Trail.

Right place, right time!

Arrival at the right place.  To leave again…

“The boat that is held in port does not learn to sail.”

My last few days on Newfoundland and its coasts were quite an epic!  Rejected on the mainland by the big commercial ferries, I had to find another way to leave the wonderful island to reach another one.  And that opportunity came from Friendship!  A couple of friends offered me to cross to Nova Scotia on their sailboat!  But I still had to get to their anchorage… which must be ‘Francois’, a small coastal village somewhere in the south.

My ‘peregrinations’ continued through roads, boats, other roads and other boats…  This allowed me to discover an even more beautiful Newfoundland!  A bit like when I did the North coast from Kegaska to Blanc-Sablon by boat, I discovered old small villages that are only accessible by sea, enclosed in bays, overlooked by magnificent mountains!  At times it was as beautiful as New Zealand!  Newfoundland is an island.  And discovering it by sailing is quite different from pedaling!

I leave you this photo story to better judge this very beautiful stage of my last days in Newfoundland…