The shiny green topsides and raking masts shined flawlessly in an otherwise dull morning as Windjammer took to its name as a “floating curiosity”. Despite the long journey and early arrival from the opposite side of the world, I climbed out of the zodiac with great anticipation. The familiar sense of homeliness flushed through me as I set foot on the deck of the traditional gaff rigged schooner. And so, as Windjammer eagerly awaited departure from Sydney, Nova Scotia, my next chapter begins; Crossing the North Atlantic Ocean.
Our crew comprise of six salty sea dogs of whom are well accustomed to sailing on Windjammer. Ashley & Cathie are the captain and wife who set sail from Australia six years ago, Matt crossed part of the pacific with them and Murray, Nick and myself were apart of their adventure to Antarctica.
Our journey begins on the west coast of North America where we will sail through Newfoundland as far as Labrador before crossing the Davis straight to Greenland. We will continue to sail north on the western coast of Greenland to enter the arctic circle then return to round the south tip of Greenland and cross the Denmark straight to Iceland. From there, I will sadly say farewell and return to Australia, while the crew continue to circumnavigate Iceland and then sail to Norway.
Newfoundland is like a little lost piece of the world that people seem to forget exists. The communities are small, the words are few but the fiddle always plays its tune. Our first night aboard was an overnight passage to the Ramea Islands where we pulled into the small fishing village in the town of Ramea. The town is home to around 150 people, two small grocery stores and one restaurant that closes for months at a time. We tied up alongside a fishing boat and watched as the men sung sea shanties and guzzled beers mid morning while offloading thousands of live scallops. We learnt the trade of shucking scallops and indulged in the rewards of our hard work for dinner that evening. We continued to explored the northwest arm of Grey River and landed at Deadman’s cove where we hiked a 350m high mountain with smooth rock faces overlooking a spectacular fjord carved by glaciers.
The next stop was Francois, a small fishing village on the banks of a sheltered inlet on the mainland. With no local pub in town, the ‘Newfie’ locals make do with a shed on the waterfront. We were invited to join them while they played music, drank and danced to their hearts desire. Although we may have not been able to fully comprehend the speech through the thick Newfoundlander accent, their welcoming nature and love of music won us over.
The weather has been charming us by showing off its glorious sun beaming through clear blue skies and not a breath of wind to disrupt the crystal glass water surrounding us. We have been watching dolphins play in picturesque sunsets and whales skimming the surface. Yet the crew would not be the sailors they are if they were not craving wind to pull the lines that would have the big white sails gloriously billowing in a steady breeze.