The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

A Cruiser’s Way Stop Gets Hammered

Phyllis and I were fortunate. Being in the safe semicircle and well away from the centre of Hurricane Fiona, we had only gale force winds with gusts to around 50 knots.

Our power was out for just 36 hours and even our internet came back on today.

We were lucky, others were not. We are thinking of Atlantic Canadians to the east of us who had a far rougher time of it, and particularly of the residents of Channel-Port aux Basques, a town we have visited countless times over the last 30 years, either on our boat or when taking the ferry to and from Newfoundland.

You can search Google to see videos of significant wave height seas of 14 metres, which means there were probably waves of at least 25 metres, crashing in and sweeping parts of the town away. Truly terrifying.

The harbour, with its many sheltered wharves, friendly people, and good provisioning, as well as fun and interesting walks, has often been both a way stop and refuge from heavy weather for us and many other cruisers. We know it well.

A welcome haven after the tough beat south along the west coast of Newfoundland, or a crossing of Cabot Strait.

To remember the town in better times, here are a few photos I took over the years. (Click on each to see them bigger.) The wedding appearing out of the fog is my favourite and says the most to me about good people living in a tough place and making it home. They will fix their town.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Marc Dacey

We hung on our mooring (lines doubled) for Fiona down in Deep Cove. We did this because a) it’s a hurricane hole, and b) we wanted to monitor our chafe gear and react had the mooring dragged (unlikely as it’s one tonne of concrete sunken into the bottom) or the lines had parted. We took the usual precautions of clearing decks, stripping the sails, etc.

It wasn’t so bad until about 3 AM. There is, realistically, only about a five-degree “slot” for the wind coming in from Mahone Bay to affect our mooring, about 313-318 degrees T. There is, however, scope for winds coming down the surrounding slopes, and these sounded to me close to 60 knots for about 90 minutes. We veered about the mooring perhaps 30 degrees or so through 1.5 metre swells of irregular period, and had to crawl forward to check the chafe situation, which we fine as far as we could tell. We considered, but didn’t bother, starting the motor. And I started to wonder if we’d made a mistake staying aboard.

By 4:30 AM, the drama had decreased as the Fiona system moved east to put the wind more or less behind Deep Cove Mountain, but viewing glimpses of the mostly calm water to our west, we were reminded that a hurricane hole, even a notable one, may have some problematic vectors.

We were saddened to here about Port-aux-Basques as we spent a few days there in August during a cruise to there from Sydney and further to see a few south shore outports and St. Pierre et Miquelon. What a beautiful, if sometimes challenging, cruising ground! The harbourmaster at PaB is called Nikita; she gave me a tour of some of the houses that are now gone on the west side.

Marc Dacey

Thanks, John. Food for thought. Realistically, as we hope to leave this spring, it’s a modification I can defer for now, but upon our return, we expect to build a place nearby, and will make our mooring at Deep Cove our usual perch.

The mooring was created by a local lobsterman. I would have thought that if he could have sold me a bigger block and heavier chain, he would have.

I guess our “live monitoring” during Fiona’s glancing blow wasn’t entirely crazy in light of your words.