Back in Neddy Harbour, Newfoundland

“Morgan’s Cloud” at Neddy Harbour (middle ground), Bonne Bay, Newfoundland.

[Originally Written July 21st]

I’m writing this while anchored at Neddy Harbour, Bonne Bay, Newfoundland. The last time we anchored here was in 2011, on the return leg of a voyage to Greenland and Baffin Island.

A lot has happened since then:

On November 1st, 2012, John smashed his femur in a hiking accident, resulting in a long rehabilitation and no sailing in 2013.

In July 2014 (the earliest John was able to handle the boat), we sailed Morgan’s Cloud from Billings Marine (Stonington, Maine) to our Base Camp in Nova Scotia, followed by a short fall cruise on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore.

In the summer of 2015 we cruised Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. During that cruise John started to feel ill, and over the winter he got worse, to the point that we were considering selling Morgan’s Cloud.

But John focused his formidable problem-solving skills on figuring out what was wrong and how to rectify it (he’s nothing if not tenacious), and managed to get himself back to rights by late summer 2016, in time for a short fall cruise of Nova Scotia’s southwestern shore.

And now, six years later, here we are, back in Neddy Harbour and very thankful to be here.

We’re also feeling a bit tentative after the events of the last few years—there’s just no knowing how long this reprieve will last (but, really, that’s always the case, isn’t it?). So we are committed to savouring each and every day that we are able to be out here.

One other thing. To all of you who make AAC viable by being members: a big thank you. During those two prolonged shore leaves, the site provided us with intellectual stimulation, a connection to the sailing community, and hope that we’d be out there sailing again.

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Meet the Author


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 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

17 comments… add one
  • Dick Stevenson Aug 19, 2017, 3:45 pm

    Hi Phyllis,
    Nice sentiments. Thanks for your thoughts.
    And timely as we just anchored in NFL (and Canada for that matter) for the first time this morning in St. Anthony. Neddy Harbor sounds delightful and I look forward to examining yours and John’s past writings on this area of Canada as we are looking at another month or so this season and all next season in the Canadian Maritimes.
    My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

    • John Aug 24, 2017, 5:03 pm

      Hi Dick,

      Great to hear that you are safely across and will be spending time in Atlantic Canada. Hopefully our paths will cross next season.

  • richard s Aug 20, 2017, 4:56 am

    interesting post phyllis…i thought i was the only one who runs into life-daunting situations…guess not judging fm this bit of insight into m cloud’s last few years…owner advancing years don’t help for sure…so John’s problem solving skills corrected his recent feelings of illness…this is interesting…wish you would elaborate on this please as in a bit more on what was the problem and how engineering logic applies to curing health concerns as, for btr ir worse (usually worse) most of us tend to rely on the medical profession for relief fm these matters…i for one can use a bit more insight into john’s approach with this pls…richard s (s v lakota)

    • Colin Speedie Aug 22, 2017, 2:16 pm

      Hi Richard
      I’m sure John or Phyllis will be able to expand on this later when they’re back in the land of the internet. But I think John applied his logic to the medical information he had been given to self diagnose very effectively. When we were with them a couple of weeks ago he was looking relaxed and in rude health, so it obviously worked well!
      Best wishes

    • John Aug 28, 2017, 4:03 pm

      Hi Richard,

      I should be clear that I had lots of help in my recovery from health professionals, both traditional and alternative. I guess Phyllis is referring to my ability to make said professionals lives a misery until I got a result I was happy with!

  • Doug B Aug 20, 2017, 10:29 am

    Tenacity is a PC word for stubborn. Since I suffer from the same affliction (?), I can say it hopefully with impunity. Good on you guys for pushing the limits. Neddy Harbour is an all-time favorite; many friends there. Happy memories.

  • Dave Hopkins Aug 20, 2017, 11:45 pm

    Hi Phyllis, I was an intensive care paramedic for 27 years in the Ambulance Service of New South Wales Australia. For 14 of those years I was attached to the rescue helicopter as a flight paramedic. A compound (bone protruding from the flesh) fractured femur is an extremely serious traumatic injury, as you would well know.
    Obviously a young person will heal quicker than an older person. However geriatric trauma is defined as commencing in a person aged 40 years and over. Poor patient outcomes regarding mortality and impaired mobility increase dramatically after this age. For example after 70 years of age, statistically 50% of patients will die within 12 months of the injury. So for John to recover to the extent that he has the level of mobility to handle a 56 foot boat is quite a feat. He has recovered not only physically but mentally and spiritually to accomplish this.
    He is a very resilient tough man.
    Yours in good health,
    Dave and Ruth Hopkins
    “Black Dog” Swanson 42 Newcastle Australia

    • Colin Speedie Aug 22, 2017, 2:18 pm

      Hi Dave
      see my comment to Richard above – your diagnosis is quite correct – John is a very resilient, tough (determined) man. He has therefore been able to cope with a really bad injury and is in great shape today.
      Best wishes

  • Jim Ferguson Aug 22, 2017, 6:58 am

    Great content, goals and achievements are so special. As for tenacity, I guess that’s why we don’t have power boats. In 2008 when we came out the St Lawrence, we debated the East side of NFL or stay north towards Labrador. Neddy Harbour was definitely something we struggle about missing. It looked so inviting, but we enjoyed our Labrador as well. We just had one of those moments when we sailed Maggie into Lisbon for 2nd time 19 yrs latter.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Jim Ferguson
    s/v Maggie

  • Reed Erskine Aug 26, 2017, 11:56 am

    In year 5 of a Mediterranean cruise on our 42 ft. sloop, Cayenne, my wife (age at the time 73) had a bicycle accident in Messolonghi, Greece, similar to John’s, crushing the trochanter, which connects the femur to the ball joint. It required an emergency hip replacement at the local hospital, which was completed within 18 hours of the accident. Greece was in the grip of financial collapse, and the facilities were rudimentary by modern standards, but the surgeon, trained in hip replacement at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery, was superb. Having crashed in May and recuperated through the long hot summer, we sailed across the Aegean to Turkey in October. The bill for surgery and a week in the hospital was $1,600 USD, which would have cost about $30,000 in the US. The sailing life may be fraught with hazard, but but benefits by the occasional miracle. We did get hit with a 2400 Euro fine for overstaying our visa, but regard it as a contribution toward the care so generously and effectively rendered by the Greek healthcare system.

    • Marc Dacey Aug 26, 2017, 3:26 pm

      Interesting. Under the circumstances, like you I would have happily paid that fine. Maybe twice.

    • Dick Stevenson Aug 27, 2017, 7:50 am

      Hi Reed,
      So glad that your ordeal sounds like it only ended up with monetary damages and a lost season. At our ages so much more is at stake.
      As one who has spent a lot of time in the Med as well as Northern Europe, I get asked a lot about Schengen visa rules and their execution. I have known many hundreds of boats/crews under these rules, but you are the first to have actually been fined (a few were warned, while one—in clear violation– was asked to leave the country, no fine). Interestingly, similar to you, we were kept from getting out of Schengen the first summer in the Med by a medical issue. We wended in Greece in clear violation by 6 weeks. The officials in Rhodes clearly were sympathetic and their only concern about letting us go (which they did finally with no fine), was for them to getting themselves into trouble by being too lenient. Things are likely different now with Greece’s financial problems depending on the year your issue happened.
      Could you answer?
      What year was this?
      Was the fine 1200 euro per person?
      Were there other sanctions? Some rumors have it that there may be a black list or some sort of persona non grata list/status. Was there any talk of this?
      After paying the fine, could you have stayed in Greek waters, or did you have to exit immediately?
      After a winter in Turkey (we were in Kemer for 3 winters) were you able to return to EU countries with a fresh slate?
      Thanks for your input.
      Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

      • Reed Erskine Aug 27, 2017, 9:11 am

        Greece and Schengen enforcement are complicated and variable. We were fined 1200 Euros each in October 2015, payable upon our eventual return to Greece. If we don’t return no fine. We were not given any indication of blacklisting for other countries in the Schengen zone. Having experienced very relaxed Schengen enforcement in the previous five years and countries in the western Med, I naively assumed that the authorities would be sympathetic to our overstay, which was more than 90 days. Shorter overstays reduce the fine by halves in two levels.
        Extending visas in Greece is hard, but medical emergency is one of the few circumstances under which visa extension is granted. The extension itself is quite expensive (not exactly sure of the cost at this point. Could be in the 900 Euro range). I should definitely have applied at the local police station for an extension, but my general aversion to police stations, and distraction with post accident care and recovery made me oblivious to the risk. My other mistakes included checking out from Rhodes (Simi would have been better), also I used an agent in Rhodes. It might have been better to deal face to face with the authorities. The agent told us, no problem, you just lose your passport (with the red stamp of shame), get a new passport with clean pages, and when you return to Greece, no problem. It’s hard to believe this would work in this computerized age.
        The other wild card is that Greek officialdom seems to function with some degree creative and personal discretion. Previously we had an issue with the paperwork for placing the boat in bond for winter storage. The port police in Lefkada sent us over to the tax office to pay a big fine, but the nice man at the tax office took pity on us and fixed the whole thing for 20 Euros. At some point we’ll have to leave Turkey and head back east through Greece again, so we’ll have to see what happens. To be continued.

        • Marc Dacey Aug 27, 2017, 1:50 pm

          Quite a saga. Thank you for sharing it.

    • John Aug 28, 2017, 4:00 pm

      Hi Reed,

      That’s a truly scary story: a nasty injury and being in a country other than your own. At least we were in Canada when I broke my leg.

      And I really like your positive attitude to the fine, good on you.

  • Dick Stevenson Aug 27, 2017, 4:58 pm

    Hi Reed,
    Thanks for the additional details.
    That is wild, a deferred fine. I have never heard of that. We also were nailed in Rhodes and they only talked of fines that would need paying prior to leaving the harbor on which they eventually relented. Hard to leave Turkey without going to Greece. Hard not to go to Greece as we experienced it as such fabulous cruising.
    Could you say more about the red stamp of shame? I am not sure what you are referring to.
    And I very much agree that the understanding of Schengen and its enforcement is quite variable and idiosyncratic, particularly in the Med, less so in Northern Europe. Greece was not alone in this regard in my experience.
    My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

    • Reed Erskine Aug 28, 2017, 9:18 am

      The “red stamp of shame” is just a little 7mm rectangle in red ink with barely legible tiny Greek text in the middle. The stamp was placed next to the typical Eurozone exit stamp, the small rectangle in black ink with the outline of a ship and an arrow pointing toward the outside edge of the rectangle. The deferred fine might have been one of those creative bureaucratic flourishes that allows officialdom to wield the punitive lash without inflicting any immediate pain. The Rhodes immigration office, out on the cruise ship dock, is a high volume, high profile, high visibility post, not a plum posting. The officers want to avoid scrutiny from Athens, hope to curry favor with superiors by amassing some cash from fines and violations, and most of all to qualify for timely reassignment to a more peaceful post closer to home.

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