Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Stellar kayaking and icebergs in St. Anthony, Newfoundland

 by Keith and Heather Nicol
Icebergs galore from the tour boat
        At 7:30 am on Sunday, August 13, 2011 I peered out the window at the Hotel North in St. Anthony and the fog was so thick I couldn’t see across the parking lot. “I guess our 9:00 am boat trip is going to be scrubbed” I told my wife Heather.  But a few minutes later she pulled back the curtains and said she could see across the harbour. The fog was lifting rapidly and so we quickly had breakfast and headed just down the road to the Northland Discovery boat tour dock. By now the sun was breaking through the fog and it promised to be a spectacular day. The boat tour was amazing with a tour through icebergs that had been delivered by the score  by the large Petermann “ice island” which had grounded just off St. Anthony. Not only did we see icebergs up close but also many humpbacks and white beaked dolphins too. Paul Alcock, the owner of the Northland Discovery boat tour ( said that he had never been so busy and was turning away people for many tours so if you plan to see this “once in a lifetime” spectacle you better book ahead. 
Next we decided to check out nearby St. Carols where the icebergs had jammed into the harbour.  We thought it would be a great place to put in our sea kayaks to get another perspective on these varied ice sculptures in the ocean. Indeed the harbour was full and we had the experience of a lifetime winding our way between the icebergs. We gave them a wide berth since we often heard sounds like thunder and could see large pieces of ice topple off an iceberg. Paddling into the iceberg debris you could hear the snap, crackle, pop of ancient air bubbles in the ice being released. My wife said “This has to be my pinnacle sea kayaking experience” and I had to agree. 
We gave the bergs a large berth since they were melting rapidly in the sun

Fine dining at the Norseman Restaurant
    From there we headed north by car to see what other surprises lay around the corner. As we checked into the very comfortable Southwest Pond Cabins (1-709-623-2342) in St. Lunaire-Griquet we were told that there was another boat tour operation in the area so we phoned Tobias Hillier (709-623-2112) for a spot on his morning tour the next day. We also scoped out the St. Lunaire harbour and were pleased to see many icebergs dotting the harbour with an easy place to offload our kayaks. That evening we enjoyed a superb meal in what we think maybe the best dining in Western Newfoundland-The Norseman Restaurant ( in L ’anse aux Meadows. And the view of the setting sun over the harbour had many patrons out on the deck snapping photos. As we left the owner of the Norseman Restaurant , Gina Noordhof, mentioned to check out the Newfoundland music at Skipper Hots Lounge.  There we heard good music and even got in some dancing. All in all it was a stellar day!

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