Fortune Bay, South Coast

Why go to this place? Why do this alone?

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I didn't actually plan to come to Newfoundland. I was going to be sensible and go to Nova Scotia, central East coast, nice area of islands, invite some friends to join me. No more of this foolish solo tripping. The usual suspects couldn't make it - John had a new baby to care for, Phil and Lorrie had gone to Wales and Bay of Fundy, and Mark's business wouldn't let him get away. I asked a few friends I hadn't done trips with before, but either they couldn't or didn't want to. I was left to my own devices.

Right around that time, Tony Roestenberg from Newfoundland posted a trip report from Fortune Bay. Tony and I first met up (virtually) when he used my last Newfoundland trip report (circumnav of New World Island) to help him plan his own circumnav trip in the opposite direction, and then sent me a link to his report. So we had this communication going.

The south coast of Newfoundland is a fearsome stretch of ocean. There aren't any roads for most of it, just small outposts linked by ferry. The coastline is cliff, deeply indented with fjords which funnel the wind. In the summer, it's a fog machine, and the prevailing southwesterlies send swell crashing into the cliffs. Phil and Lorrie did a trip there a year ago, and their stories convinced me it was beyond me. I'm 62 and past the point, if ever there was one, where I'm willing to take on the North Atlantic single-handed. I don't like kayaking in fear, so I just figured I'd never see this area from the water.

And then Tony posted his report, and I took a look at the map and realized that Fortune Bay - specifically the west side of the Bay - was the exception on that coast. That west side was protected from the dominant southwesterly wind direction, and should be calmer, with less fog, especially in September.  (I like how the map below says "Go")

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From his photos, I could see this was a beautiful place. There was a ferry that ran through the area, stopping midway, which could be one way out if things went awry. And his info about campsites would be helpful - on the past 2 trips to NL, finding a flat dry place to camp was always an issue. The more I thought and researched, the more I was sure this was what I wanted to do.  Once it reaches that point, there's nothing for it but to go.  

I once had a dialogue with Doug Lowry about the importance of being able to roll. I maintained that it was the premier skill and that I wouldn't do a trip with a kayaker who couldn't roll to self-rescue. But he changed my mind, putting forth the suggestion that the real premier skill was that of good judgment. Make good judgment calls, and you won't need to roll. I can roll my boat, but I should not be putting myself into a position where this is necessary. If it's necessary once, it may be necessary five minutes later, given the same conditions. So I wanted to make good judgment calls about this trip, and one of them was to enjoy a trip where the big ocean swell would likely be far away. I was sure it would still have its challenges, but perhaps raw fear would not be one of them. Thanks, Doug!

 Getting  There