It was quite the shock when we sailed into the the busy commercial harbour of St John’s, hosting cruise ships, large commercial fishing vessels and small boat tour operators. I had become so content with the pleasant and simple nature of the smaller fishing communities of Newfoundland that we had come to know. Immediately the the sky scrapers and crowds of people set this island apart from the rest of the province. We tied up alongside an old fishing boat and received clearance into Canada, but only after convincing the custom officers that the outrageous amount of French wine we were carrying, was solely for personal consumption. I stepped foot onto the dock and instantly felt unbalanced as my sea legs had found their form and hadn’t let their guard down. However, this was no longer an issue once Matt and I discovered what the provinces capital is so well known for. Downtown St John’s is home to the smallest and most famous street on the island; George St. Renowned for having the highest concentration of bars and nightclubs per square foot in all of North America, it is bustling with musicians and colourful tapestry in honour of the rich Irish heritage.
Strangers quickly befriended us and opened our eyes to the culture and traditions of Newfoundland that vivaciously prospered through the streets. One particular tradition, “screeched-in’ began in the early stages of European settlement into Newfoundland, and still continues to this day. It is the locals way of welcoming foreign traders and travellers to their land. They will take you to the bar where you are required to drink a shot of rum, kiss a stuffed cod fish and finally eat a piece of Newfie meat, thus officially honouring you as a fellow Newfie (Newfoundlander).
I spent the following day hiking the dramatic coastline to Signal Hill, the easternmost point of North America, where Gugiemo Marconi flew a kite in a gale to receive the first ever transatlantic wireless signal in 1901. It was a significant scientific breakthrough that drastically improved the safety of ships crossing the North Atlantic ocean to and from Europe.
St John’s offered us the opportunity to restock provisions and purchase some warmer gear, however we were ready to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and head further north, to one of the oldest towns in Newfoundland; Boavista.
Departing the harbour in the dusk of the following morning, had us surrounded by dense fog with the sound of the lighthouse foghorn blasting in the distance. The presence of fog is a common navigational hazard in the North Atlantic, the notorious southwesterly winds pick up moisture from the warmer waters of the gulf stream and carry it over the much cooler waters in the Labrador current. The contrasting temperatures being brought together, react and create fog. It becomes disorientating, mysterious and dangerous when navigating through fog in such unpredictable ice ridden waters.