Doctor and White Bear, Newfoundland—Two South Coast Fjords

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A sense of déjà vu hangs over Morgan’s Cloud as we once again steam out of a harbour, right into thick fog and swell. John’s daughter and son-in-law, who have reverted to drug mode, are stretched out on the cockpit seats, this time draped with the camouflage-decorated tarp from our hiking emergency kit to protect them from the constant fog-fueled condensation dripping off the boom above them.

The next leg of our trip is 35 miles long and they sleep through most of it. Both of them manage to hang onto their meals—proof of the efficacy of the drugs—though they don’t contribute much to the conversation. And, as there’s not a lot to see inside our fogbank, they aren’t missing much. The ever-present swell changes its effect on the boat as we alter course, finally coming from aft as we enter the short fjord that houses Doctor Harbour at its head. The young people wake up and together we look at the waves breaking against the cliffs at the narrow entrance to the anchorage and keep our assorted fingers crossed that they’ll wear themselves out there and not drive swell into the cove.

And, thankfully, that’s just what does happen and we are soon anchored in a beautiful tree-surrounded bowl, with birds chirping away all around us. The fog comes and goes but it releases us at sunset, so we spend a few minutes in the cockpit enjoying our surroundings.

By morning, the gray blanket is back in its place as we steam around the corner to White Bear Bay. This eight-mile long, cliff-lined, waterfall-streamered fjord is renowned for its scenery. For sailors it’s also known for the sheltered anchorage behind a hook almost to where the fjord segues into a river (or does the river segue into the fjord?). Anyway, we nip around the spit and drop the hook in a small pool, within the large shallow estuary, that is just deep enough to carry our 2 m (6.5’) draft. Strangely, the fjord shallows up in the middle, with a small deeper channel along the shore just where we are anchored. We’ve come as far up White Bear Bay as it is possible to go in a keel boat. Again we spend the evening popping into the cockpit when the fog retreats and diving below again when it reappears.

The next day we steam out of the fjord under an overcast sky but with no fog in sight. Through the fjord entrance we can see the open sea and the island community of Ramea, our next destination, 10-nm ahead, bathed in sunshine. Finally!

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Phyllis has sailed over 40,000 offshore miles with John on their McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, most of it in the high latitudes, and has crossed the Atlantic three times. As a woman who came to sailing as an adult, she brings a fresh perspective to cruising, which has helped her communicate what they do in an approachable way, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 18 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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I’ve so enjoyed this series of posts. We hope to start our cruising from Chicago, go through the Great Lakes and out the St. Lawrence and down the coast past Nova Scotia. It’s been a real treat to read of your travels there.


S/V Kintala

richard s.

just reviewing your list of the main concerns on board such as keel down and mast up…shouldn’t we add knowing at least our approximate whereabouts ?

richard s. (m/v cavu’s skipper, formerly s/v sidra’s skipper)

John Harries

Hi Richard,

Sure, that would make sense.