Tuesday, August 25th, 2009
Picton Castle had an extended stay in Burgeo, Newfoundland thanks to Hurricane Bill. Not a problem, Burgeo is a great place. We arrived on Thursday and got tied up securely at the wharf at the old fish plant at the head of a long land-locked cove called Short Reach, to a good solid dock with cement on top, a wooden face and big solid steel cleats heavily bolted into concrete. It was important to us to find somewhere secure to tie up the ship during the hurricane. Burgeo offered all of the elements we were looking for including a good dock big enough and with water deep enough that was also available for us to use, a very protected harbour with little chance of swell coming in from the open ocean and, as a big plus, an interesting place to visit to distract ourselves occasionally from the weather.
There were a few other options for ports of refuge that we had looked into, but the place that seemed most likely was Burgeo and it was closest. Even so, we arrived early enough that if the wharf was unsuitable or was full because other vessels were tied up there we would have enough time to carry on to one of the other ports on our list and get moored there. As it happened, apart from a few small boats, we are the only vessel at this wharf and we’ve found it a very good place to be.
By getting in and secured here early enough, the crew have also had a chance to explore and check out the fine town of Burgeo. Burgeo is connected to other towns along the south shore by ferry and also has a road that goes inland and connects to the Trans Canada Highway, 150km away. The fish plant here was abandoned in the 1990s, but there is still a part of it being used by a company processing fish meal. Burgeo seems like a self-sustaining community with its own school, town hall, fire department, post office, museum, hardware stores, pharmacy and grocery store. The majority of the adults we have met here have lived in Burgeo most or all of their lives. The museum was nice and very interestingly showed photographs of small schooners from Denmark and England in the harbour, here on some trade.
The crew have sampled the meals at the three different restaurants in town, made friends with Kenny, who owns the Sea View Lounge, played darts and pool at the Sea View Lounge, visited the museum, walked down to the ferry docks, enjoyed the beaches at the nearby Sand Banks Provincial Park (and did laundry at the coin laundromat there) and walked to the top of the lookout in town. We’ve also been exploring the natural beauty of the area. The landscape is pretty rugged around here, rocky hills covered with spruce, pine and thick under brush. The starboard watch made an expedition in the skiff on Friday, motoring around to check out all the little rocky islands and tiny coves in the area. The town itself is even set among a bunch of meandering small coves. On Saturday the port watch also made an expedition, this one mostly on foot and in the fog to climb a nearby mountain. A few of the crew have rented cars and driven the two and a half hours to Stephenville, the next closest major town by road. It used to be the site of a very large US Air Force base established in the Second World War that closed in the 1960’s, so driving into town past the old airfield and hangars was interesting.
Our 15-foot, built-on-deck, wooden boat MR BONES has made a few sailing trips here in Burgeo. All of the port watch took turns going out for about an hour and a half on Friday. With her two sails, a main and a jib, MR BONES sails quite well and goes to windward very well – her sculling oar is like power steering. After a nice day of enjoying Burgeo in perfect summer weather, without the slightest hint evident that an enormous storm was heading our way, the crew of the Picton Castle set about getting our ship ready for Hurricane Bill off by Bermuda but already promising to be a rough one.