Motoring just offshore along the Newfoundland coast, we make a turn to port and head directly at a 600 foot high wall of granite, partially obscured by fog. Not until we get a hundred yards from what appears to be certain destruction of Roam, do we see the 150-200 foot wide opening that gives way to the Grey River Fiord. Tivoli (a Nordhavn 50 owned by our boat buddies Clayton and Deanna Naeve) enters the fiord first and disappears behind the wall of rock. Where’d they go? Why didn’t they make the right turn and head in to the fiord? A long 2-3 minutes later we see they’ve made the turn and as we enter in to the fiord immediately the wild motion of the ocean gives way to calm waters of the fiord. I relax my white knuckle grip on the wheel and wipe a bead of sweat off my forehead. We’re in Newfoundland!
Scattered along the coast are several “Out Ports” or villages that are only accessible by water. Many have been abandoned but several are hanging on to a way of life that disappeared with Mayberry RFD. A generation ago, hearty fishermen made a good living from Cod fishing along this coast, but overfishing (from foreign fishing fleets) changed all that and the villages that once thrived are barely scratching out a living. Many of the isolated villages have been bought out by the government (it’s cheaper to pay the residents to move in to the city than to provide services to these remote settlements) and yet a half dozen communities have found a way to hang on.
Grey River and Francious are two surviving villages that we’ve visited during our explorations of SW Newfoundland. There are no roads that service these areas. A ferry visits the ports several times a week, bringing supplies. Visitors are rare. We’re told that only about 30 cruising yachts per year find their way in to either port, so our visit is a social event and multiple locals are on hand to help us get docked.
The residents are incredibly friendly and curious. While we’re in port, many make their way to the wharf to say hello and ogle at the strange looking yachts that are our homes. As we walk through their village, everyone stops to talk. Their dialect has an old english flair to it and can be quite difficult to understand, but they are patient and will slow down and repeat until we comprehend. They’re generous to a fault and invite us in to their homes for a short visit or a an extended stay, if we need it. They love having us here, and they don’t expect anything from us. We linger longer than expected.
We’re quickly running out of time here in Newfoundland. The weather will soon force us south and it’s time to begin the preparation for our slow migration back to Florida and the Bahamas for the winter. On this short trip, we got just enough exposure to Newfoundland, it’s Out Port Villages, and it’s People to know that we want to come back to continue our exploration. Next year….