After staying on my small sailboat in St. Anthony for more than three months (awaiting a new transmission) and two months on the wharf in Englee at the start of the summer, I hope you'll allow me to express through your excellent newspaper my heartfelt thanks to so many people who made the prolonged visit to the peninsula so interesting and enjoyable.
I launched in June with the intention of sailing down the Labrador into Ungava Bay to retrace a little known voyage made by an Inuk sailor called Jonathan who, in 1811, took his wife Sybilla and their family and two Moravian missionaries from Okkak (north of Nain) through the McLelan Strait and south to what is now Kuujjuaq. This will be the subject of my next book. Instead, I hung on the wharfs through fog, calms, sunshine and storms, met many great people and discovered a whole lot more about the province and especially St. Anthony.
The highlight was definitely zipping north to Quirpon with Nelson Pilgrim in his boat one August day amid the hundreds of icebergs. (Quirpon is where the founder of the Moravian mission Jens Haven first met Inuit from Labrador.) He also towed my boat several times, introduced me to the pleasures of jigging for cod and eating seal, turrs and jigg's dinners, and opened his shed and helped with all sorts of projects for the boat. Hard to imagine a more enjoyable, helpful and generous friend in all the many weeks of delays.
His amazing mother, Ann Pilgrim, taught me to darn, made a wonderful alteration to my favourite sweater and donated a pair of warm knitted wool gloves. She also fed Nelson and I many times while we repaired his shed roof.
The harbourmaster Malcom Campbell was patient with all the delays in my departure and generous in his eventually successful efforts to raise my steel boat "Kuan Yin" out of the water and store her over the winter. When I first arrived in the boat in St. Anthony in 2010 I was amazed that there was no facility to haul out. It's much needed and may also encourage other sailboats to come down north. Congratulations to Englee on their successful Come Home Year and my thanks to Jeffrey Randell for letting me sit by the wharf for so long. My thanks to Ralph Simms, Bob Simms and Bill Ward in St. Anthony for their mechanical assistance.
Many people both in Englee and St. Anthony came to the boat and sometimes brought firewood (for the tiny wood stove) and fish, moose and partridgeberry jam. During the awful storm in October in St. Anthony, one kind man helped me tighten lines to try to keep "Kuan Yin" from crashing into the wharf. Many people in businesses in Englee, St. Anthony and Rocky Harbour were ever helpful, as were staff at the Curtis Hospital. My heartfelt thanks to them all.
My one disappointment over the summer was that I did not discover how delicious bakeapples are until after the season was over! When I mentioned this to Jocelyn Elliott at the St. Anthony library, she immediately gave me two jars. I will pass them on to others who have never tasted bakeapples and of course encourage them to visit Newfoundland for themselves. Access to the resources of the library was a welcome privilege and I was very happy to donate two books I have written.
This was a bumper year for berries and with all the delays I did have time to go partridgeberry picking three times and to make about 10 litres of jam on the boat. The jam's already getting rave reviews from friends in Ontario.
All in all, though plans to retrace the amazing voyage of 1811 did not work out, the many months of delays were saved from disaster by the pleasure of spending a lot more time on the peninsula. Thank you to everyone. See you next year.