During our rushed trip along this coast 13 years ago, we rode out a gale laced into the snug anchorage at Piccaire, Hermitage Bay. While waiting for the gale to pass, we hiked across the small peninsula that separates Piccaire, the site of a long ago community, and Gaultois. The trail was hard to find back then, but after casting about for a while, John managed to locate it and we hiked on over. We didn’t stay long, just wandered around the outport for a few minutes, bought a few things at the store, and then turned back for the boat.
This time we decide to go alongside at the fishplant dock in Gaultois itself, not an easy task given the widely spaced timbers pocked by protruding bolts. Though the fishplant is closed, most of the dock is in constant use by boats loading up with pallets of food for the fish farms found all over this area. The aquaculture industry has taken over Hermitage Bay, along with neighbouring Bay d’Espoir, to mixed reviews by the locals.
However, on the positive side, this is another industry, along with the merchant marine (see my post on Francois), that just might help keep Gaultois and McCallum, the outports in Hermitage Bay, alive.
Gaultois, population 160, lies only 2-nm from Hermitage, the road-served community that is the end point of the ferry for the more easterly outports (Gaultois, McCallum, Francois). It has an all-ages school (24 pupils), medical center and helipad, like Francois, but it only has one small store, compared to the two in Francois. Though most people use ATVs, the roads, except for a few walkways, are wide enough for automobiles and there are some trucks around.
Interestingly, a number of people drop by to check out the boat, unlike in Francois, due probably to the fact that fewer yachts stop here—most go directly from Francois or McCallum to the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, and then make their Newfoundland return landfall in Fortune, further to the east.
But, like all the outports we’ve visited so far, Gaultois has trails with red and white painted boardwalks and bridges (probably a government incentive to encourage fitness for outport inhabitants), including on the trail to Piccaire. Short on time—the wind is due to back into the southeast later in the day, which will blow us onto the boltheads on the crumbling dock—we decide not to relive our walk of 13 years ago (besides which my quads are still not quite up to par after our last fit of nostalgic hiking!) and so we take a short but lovely walk to a grassy area overlooking the harbour. After spending a few minutes sitting at a red-painted picnic table, soaking up the sun, enjoying the slight breeze that serves to keep the bugs at bay, we retrace our steps to the boat to get ready for our next big voyage: the two miles across the bay to Hermitage.
You know you’ve been ‘out there’ for a while when a lack of clean clothes determines your next port of call!