My first kayaking trip of the 2006 season brought me to Halls Bay, in Notre Dame Bay, on the northeast coast of Newfoundland. The surrounding area is known as the Beothuk Trail. It was home to Newfoundland's native Beothuk Indians which were killed of near the turn of the century. The area also features a great mix of different geology, ecology, and wildlife areas.
We reached our put in point at Goodyear's Cove at the head of Halls Bay just after noon, in the midst of a huge downpour. By the time we had suited up and loaded our boats we were three hours behind schedule. To make matters worse the tailwind we had expected from the prevailing SW wind had reversed into a steady NE headwind that slowed our progress considerably. It was easy to forget those negative elements once we were on the water. The picturesque coast and its contrasting green hills cut through the grey like a beacon.
An hour or so into our paddle, we received the welcome company of a pair of Bald Eagles. We watched them for a while, circling just above us, searching for food. One of the great things about paddling around Newfoundland is that you can be in sight of civilization and still experience pristine natural beauty. This is very evident in Halls Bay, where native peoples and white settlers have co-existed with the land for centuries preserving the richest resource they had.
Along the shore we observed the contrast of granite cliffs and large deposits of volcanic pillow basalts that form the very unique coastline. Several waterfalls run into the sea along the southern coast of the bay and lots of other birdlife can be observed. The headwind gave us a little wave action when rounding the numerous heads and points but nothing serious. We paddled lightly to conserve our muscles for the next day, as we all had spent the winter out of our boats and did not want to risk burning out too quickly.
Around 6pm we rounded Mansfield Head and into beautiful Mansfield Cove to set up camp for the night. The cove was very sheltered and there was a very nice cabin on the southern end that is only accessible by boat. We pitched our tents and had a hardy meal before setting out to explore the surrounding area. There were many small trails along the north shore and after following one for a few minutes I came upon the remnants of an old fishing cabin which had long since collapsed into rubble. We capped off our first night with a nice beach fire.
We were up early the next day, but we were delayed by a strong headwind coming in the bay accompanied by a light drizzle. Nothing lets you know you are on a kayaking trip like wet neoprene in the morning, I can tell you that. We ate some breakfast and studied our maps until we finally were able to break out. After volunteering to paddle the huge tandem safety boat on day 1, it took me a few minutes to adjust to my very agile Capella in the waves. But after a couple minutes and some peddle adjustments I was on my way. It didn't take long until we had made our way past scenic Boot Harbour which was once a thriving fishing community, and were well on our way to the shelter of Sunday Cove Island. After rounding the next point we came upon a pair of Osprey, or Fish Hawk's as they are known locally, and their huge nest atop a small sea stack. They followed us for about a kilometer before doubling back to their nest.
We stopped for a quick lunch at Burnt Head before entering Shoal Arm on the south coast of Sunday Cove Island, and out of the wind. There were several cabins along the shore, including one very peculiar looking old building that was set right on the tip of Shoal Arm Point. We then entered Woodford's Arm, which contains one of the largest mussel farms in the province. We reached Nippers Harbour and decided to camp next to a small river at the north end of the harbour. There were mussels everywhere along the shore, so we picked a pot full, and enjoyed supper compliments of the sea. The steady rain finally slackened long enough for us to make camp and hang our wet gear, but it came back with a vengeance just before we crawled in our tents for the night.
The next day we were delighted to be able to break camp without the rain. It was still overcast but the water was as flat and as clear as glass. We paddled into Sunday Cove and followed the seashore and its amazing living habitat that could easily be seen beneath the clear green water. We made great time paddling the 6km to Hayward's Head where we stopped for a quick break before beginning our 3km crossing to the town of Pilley's Island. We landed on the western shore of the island and went into town for a fresh coffee and a good hot meal. After exploring the scenic town which was once a major economic center in Notre Dame Bay, we set out for our final destination of Robert's Arm. We crossed the 2km gap to Hayward's Gull Island, before paddling past scenic Hammer Cove and its small surrounding islands. No kayaking trip would be complete with out a water fight with our bail pumps, making sure we all got wet before finally paddling into the harbour at Robert's Arm.
We were greeted by sunshine for the first time in three days as we loaded the trailer and headed home, satisfied, but still hungry for more. This was a beautiful trip that I would recommend to any level of paddler. It is easily accessible and offers some great challenges and rewards. My one regret is that we didn't have more time to explore the many islands within Notre Dame Bay, but I guess that will have to be a trip for another day.
(a) Click Wiki Edit This Page to get placed in edit mode
(b) When finished, your update is available to view as draft (click wiki update pending in trail to see draft)
* note: editors are notified and must approve the change