Thursday, 18 August 2011

Close Encounters with Icebergs in St. Lunaire and Quirpon Island, Newfoundland

Keith and Heather Nicol

     Monday, August 15 dawned sunny and a light southwest breeze indicated that we had again been lucky with weather. Tobias Hillier, the owner of White Island Boat Tours, gave a great tour through a maze of icebergs that the Petermann “ice island” had been calving off over the past few days. He told us this was the best sailing day of the summer and he brought us close to countless icebergs. We also saw a couple of minke whales but even more impressive were the soaring gannets that would plunge like a spear into the water to catch fish. White Island Boat Tours is based in St. Lunaire-Griquet and he gives 3 tours a day at 10:00 am, 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm (ph. 709-623-2112 for information).

Paddling at St. Lunaire, Newfoundland
 After lunch we headed to the wharf at St. Lunaire where we had seen many icebergs the day before and launched out kayaks. These bergs were not jammed together like the previous day at the community of St. Carols and we spent a great 2 hours paddling around several icebergs in the harbour. Again we gave them a wide berth since we heard frequent cracks of ice breaking. On one occasion we saw a large piece of ice calve off of an iceberg which sent out a small wave in our direction which we easily rode out. From here we loaded up our kayaks and headed for our final adventure for this trip. We planned to stay at Quirpon Lighthouse Inn ( which is located about as far north as you can go on the island of Newfoundland. Simply getting there is quite a production as 5 of us (plus the driver) boarded a speed boat to take us to a dock at the far end of the island. From the dock we walked to the Inn and had a welcome cup of tea and a snack. We spent the late afternoon exploring some hiking trails, sighting humpback whales and a watching a family of foxes! That evening the full moon rose as several icebergs paraded in front of the Inn. It was a great end to an amazing day of icebergs and wildlife on the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland. 

Quirpon Lighthouse Inn has an amazing setting

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