In my own defense, I had no idea there was such a high demand to cross over to Labrador from the Island until I arrived at the ferry terminal in St Barbe. I carry on a very polite and submissive interaction with the attendant at the counter. She is stretched thin, juggling phone calls, radio communications from the marina, doing administrative tasks and dealing with people like me, that show up at the ticket window with no reservations. and expect to just drive right on.
“Yes, Ma’am, thank you so much, I appreciate your effort.” I agree to wait while she makes a phone call. I am hopeful it is to find out if there is any chance of getting on the 1 pm crossing to Blanc Sablon, Que. With my hands folded in front of me, I’m barely breathing, watching the minutes tick away. The ferry will embark in less than one hour. She put the phone down and without a word goes to the computer screen. Looking out the bottom of her glasses she reads what she input on the keyboard. “How many passengers?” she asks, not looking at me. “One,” I reply. “What kind of vehicle?” “Small truck.” “Is it over 20 feet?” She turns her head to look at me over the rim of her glasses. “Ah, I don’t think so.” I definitely feel like I’m from away. She tells me the price, and I respond with “Debit please,” flashing my card. She hands me the machine, then gives me the printed ticket. “Just one moment.” She leans over the desk and hand-writes a number on a yellow sticky-note and hands it out to me, saying, “Put this on your dash.” #22
Staring at it, It appears my odds of getting on board are a longshot. “When all the vehicles with reservations have boarded, they start calling out numbers,” she says. Then she looks at her watch and says, “Go.”
While I watch a line of transport trucks slowly creeping up the ramp, my gut tells me there isn’t much room left. When the last transport rolls on, a lady in a orange vest and hard-hat talking into a two-way radio walks about, looking at the numbers displayed through the windows. Finding the correct one she waves them forward. The majority of vehicles in front of me are compact cars and SUV’s but two camper-vans and a truck with slide-in camper get the hand-wave to go forward. She keeps walking around, double checking numbers and talking into the radio. She walks past an RV and two full-sized-trucks. I can see the ferry is almost filled and I think my luck has run out. All eyes are on her. She speaks once more into the radio then lets it rest at her side. It appears she will be making the final judgement-call – which one will be just the right fit?
There is an SUV towing a four-wheel recreation bike on a trailer, an RV towing a car, a truck towing a boat and me. She walks past others and she comes up to my window and says, “Your turn, love.”
She doesn’t have to tell me twice. I put Old Blue in gear and head up the ramp, following the directions of the man in the orange vest. He signals with his fingers for me to move slowly forward. When both hands fly up in a halt motion, I am safe on board. I can’t believe my luck, I got the last spot. I sit in the truck watching out the side mirror as the ramp door closes up behind me. There is a announcement over the speaker, for passengers to make their way to the upper decks. I take a quick picture of the truck and grab my backpack and head up stairs to grab a seat in the lounge for the hour and forty-five minute crossing.
Blanc Sablon is actually in the province of Quebec, I have to drive several kilometres to the gateway to Labrador, I stop for a picture at the WELCOME TO THE BIG LAND sign.
Another 4 KM up the same road is my next stop, the Point Amour Lighthouse. The tallest lighthouse in Atlantic Canada and the second tallest in Canada, behind Cap-Des-Rosiers, which I photographed in my post Forillon National Park.
A couple I spoke to on the ferry had mentioned that they had planned to camp at the lighthouse in the parking lot. As I drove towards the lighthouse I saw them leveling the wheels of their camper in a flat pull-off right next to the water. “You couldn’t get a better spot,” I said enviously. We chatted for a few moments, and they told me there was free Wi-Fi at the lighthouse but with so many vehicles stopping to see the lighthouse, there was no privacy and they decided to stay here. A much better choice in my opinion. I wished them a good evening and headed up to see the lighthouse.
There is a café and giftshop on site but when I step through the door the lady is visibly closing up the shop. She kindly offers me some suggestions. “The coastal hiking path…” she points out the window towards the shore, and insists I should not miss the plaque marking the wreck of the HMS Raleigh. I thank her and exit the building and head down the path pushing aside the long grasses to make sure I am stepping on solid ground, within minutes I am at the shore. The rocks are slick and I am careful but I find the wreckage.
The HMS Raleigh was a British Cruiser that ran aground in 1922. After four years of being hard aground the wreck was destroyed with explosives in 1926. There is a warning that there is still a possibility for ordnance to wash up on the beach.
Returning to the parking lot, I agree with my fellow campers that there are too many people coming and going from the lighthouse and I head for a little spot I had my eye on. A flat location just off the road with a view out to the Strait of Belle Isle.
As I pull the truck up into the field, a couple of ladies walk up the road. Assuming they are locals from the village I pose a question to them. “Hi, I was wonder if the you know who owns this spot? I was hoping to camp the night and I wanted to ask if it was OK first.” The two turn to each other for an answer and come up with nothing. “Nobody,” the one lady says shaking her head. She thinks it is Crown land “We pick berries here all the time. I would just stay.” I thank them and they head off on their walk and I set up my stove and unfold my lawn chair for a my pre-dinner beer while my rice and beans cook. It is a peaceful place. I contemplate putting my screen tent up, wondering if the bugs will get bad at sunset but with the breeze blowing on shore from the strait, the pest are kept away. After supper I sit out and read till the sun starts to go down. It is brilliant sunset across a very big sky. Tomorrow I am headed to Red Bay, I can’t wait for my next adventure.
Please Join my in Red Bay as I hike and learn about the whalers at the National Historic site. Happy Travels from Maritime Mac
Strait of Belle Isle Ferry St Barbe to Blanc Sablon
fees and schedule vary here is the link;
Point Amour Lighthouse
from Highway 510, turn on L’Anse Amour Road, 10 minutes north of Forteau along the Straits of Belle Isle, Newfoundland and Labrador
Opening end of July 7 days a week – 9:30 – 5:00 pm
Seniors and students $4
youth under 16 free
season pass( provincial Historic sites) $15
Group rates available May to October;
No money was received for this post it was my own experience.
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