Whales and Icebergs

Departure from Port aux Choix on July 1st was another early one, the monkeys were still asleep when we shook our lines free of the wharf at 0500. Happy Canada Day! The seas were calm and we were able to sail about half of the 72 nautical miles to Red Bay, Labrador. We were full of excitement for three reasons; we were on our way to Labrador for the first time, we were hoping to see whales and we were desperate to see an iceberg. This excitement had us wildly scanning the horizon with our binoculars peeled.

And the whales, they came.

First in the form of little puffs of water far off on the horizon. Then fins moving gently and slowly up and down through the waves. And then, as we watched the fins one of the whales gave us a huge breach. Still glowing from the sight we fixed our gazes back on the horizon only to be treated to a whale ballet as two humpbacks gracefully waved their enormous flippers back and forth in a lovely dance. In total we counted 22 whales, loosely identified as minkes and humpbacks using our limited classification skills.

And just 12 nautical miles from Red Bay, as we began to accept that we would have to wait to see icebergs another day, we saw a patch of bright white in the distance. There is still low lying snow along the coast that could easily be mistaken for ice but this white was a brighter, bluey, shiny white. As we approached we estimated that it was not an iceberg but a ‘bergy bit’ (officially height above sea level 1-5 m, length 5-15 meters). The surface was glistening and bright white, with aquamarine fault lines through it, dimpled on one side and smooth on the other with a sort of bowl in the middle full of glowing green water. The surface looked too bright to be real.

Incredible that nature can produce such a fascinating sculpture.

From here we entered a wonderful art gallery with giant sculpture installations spaced about 1,5 nautical miles apart. The largest one was a medium iceberg (height above sea level 16-45m, length 61-120m) and from one side looked like a viking ship, from another like a wonderful sculpted asymmetrical bowl with decorative overhangs and from another you could see craggy faces carved into the surface. Our own faces were bursting with smiles, tears of joy and whoops of excitement and our bodies were filled with shivers of awe. As we floated among them we fished a small ‘growler’ (height above sea level <1m, length <5m) out of the water and Seb and I shared a glass of whiskey cooled with 25,000 year old ice.

Exhausted, but beaming and grateful, we pulled into Red Bay and tied up to the government dock with the help of local fisherman Melvin and Eric.

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  1. Deborah 02/07/2018

    Sounds magical! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Beth Paynter 03/07/2018

    What an amazing treat for your family on Canada Day! I so enjoyed your vivid descriptions and the photos.

  3. Lynn Addleman 03/07/2018

    I’m so happy that you were able to experience this magic! Thank you for sharing these wonders with us.

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