… we went to visit the SS Kyle, the last of Reid’s famous “Alphabet ships” still in existence.
Today, we are going to visit another one of Reid’s Alphabet ships.
And if you are wondering how that might be possible seeing as I said that there’s only the SS Kyle left, then that’s the SS Ethie just there
Or, at least, all that remains of her, poor thing.
One bad night in 1919 she was running her usual route up and down the Strait of Belle Isle when she found herself in serious difficulty due to hurricane-force winds and ice build-up on the decks.
The weather was far too bad for launching lifeboats so the captain took a calculated risk of running her aground so that at least the passengers and crew might have a chance of saving themselves.
The captain’s decision doubtless saved the lives of many of the people on board, but it spelt the end of the SS Ethie
And here she sits, or rather, what’s left of her does.
98 years she’s been there, being looted and pillaged, tossed about on the waves and smashed to pieces on the rocks by the storms.
It won’t be long before there’s nothing left of her at all.
Part of the Newfoundland folklore has it that a brave dog risked his life to save several passengers from the ship, but that’s never ever been substantiated.
In fact it was not mentioned as part of the story at the time and no eyewitnesses to the rescue remember the dog. It seems to have been something that was tacked on several years later.
Consequently, historians tend to discount it as being nothing more than a journalistic embellishment.
Meanwhile, last night I went to bed fairly early and slept the Sleep Of The Dead.
Not quite so dead that I didn’t go off on one of my nocturnal rambles, but I don’t remember very much at all about it.
I was with some girl and we were waiting in a van in a street that was very narrow but which broadened out quite considerable further down. We were actually outside a dingy hotel which was displaying its price in some kind of illuminated scroll sign like an old bus route display. The price was 29 of whatever the currency was and we knew that it changed to 39 every so often but on this occasion the scroll broke and there was just the light. We knew what happened of course, and we decided to go in for some reason. The bar was crowded and we fought our way to a table but almost immediately decided not to stay so we fought our way out. I was carrying a few bags and knocking people with them and this led to some very sharp words. Outside, I’d lost my partner so I thought that I had better hurry back to the van, but I needed to visit the bathroom. But did I have time? Was it better to go to meet my companion first? Should we get in the van and drive away first?
Of course it was then that I awoke. And no surprises as to where I went.
surprisingly, I actually managed to beat the alarm by 30 seconds too, which was good news. I’m becoming quite lax in my old age.
While porridge was cooking I finished off a few things that needed attention and after breakfast went out to attack the long-promised tidying-up session that I had been promising myself.
But no such luck today. We were engulfed in a torrential downpour the like of which I haven’t seen for quite a while. And to add insult to injury, I left the slow cooker out on the porch last night and the box was just a soggy mass of cardboard.
That’s upset me.
In a brief dry spell, while the clouds had gone back to fetch more supplies, I nipped over to hand back the key.
The verdict on the Lush’s Cabins was that it was pretty expensive for one person, but a family of four, if they could have the same deal, would do well.
It’s old and tired, but everything works like it’s supposed to and that makes a change in a place like this.
You’d need to enjoy each other’s company though, because you aren’t actually spoiled for entertainment in the vicinity.
W’ve travelled down this road on several occasions so there aren’t going to be many photographs.
You’ll need to look for the entries for October 2010, September 2014 and September 2015 to see more of them.
But I didn manage to stop and take one or two, despite the lousy weather.
My route takes me northwards through the Gros Morne National Park, which is certainly one of the most spectacular places on the planet.
In the clouds and mist thought it looks quite unreal and mysterious like something out of one of these Gothic adventure films.
Hinging clouds are not a phenomenon that is unique to the Auvergne after all.
It was here though that I fellin with a yooungcouple whose footsteps were to dog me for most of the day.
I’d stopped here to take a photograph of the view up over the hill in the distance and so had they. And our paths crossed subsequently on several occasions.
But that didn’t explain the overwhelming smell of fish when I stepped out of Strider just here.
The road north hits the coast near the town of Rocky Harbour.
It’s quite a large town – or what passes for a large town around here, And it’s so surprising therefore that I’ve never actually visited it.
One day in the future I’ll have to spend a couple of weeks having a good explore all around the island.
As I was driving by St Paul’s, the beautiful scenery grabbed me … whole attention.
We’ve stopped here once before where I tok a couple of photos of the river and the bridge, but I can’t remember if I took anything of the mountains in the background.
So just in case, I poked the camera into the gloom of the torrential downpour that was still going on.
Just a few miles north at Daniel’s Harbour there are a couple of waterfalls that come cascading out of the mountains into the glaciated valley.
Having a play around with the depth-of-field on the new camera, now that I’ve found out how it works, I’ve managed to produce this photograph.
It’s come out just as I wanted it to and I’m quite pleased with this.
But what struck memore than anything else is the amount of gardening taking place.
When we’ve been around here before, we’ve seen the odd plot or two growing some sad speciments of plant life, but today, there are plots everywhere.
A great deal of fertiliser has been used by the looks of things, and the plant growth is certainly luxuriant
Just down there is the small town or village of Bellburns.
This was where I stopped forlunch – did a small amount of tidying up inside the cab of Strider and threw away my tomatoes by mistake so I had to go and rescue them.
It’s the kind of thing that I do when I’m not paying enough attention.
You probably noticed in the previous photograph the small river that ran through the edge of town.
Just here, there’s an excellent example of coastal drift in miniature.
The shingle beach is being carried northwards by the currents and winds and this has diverted the mouth of the river towards the north from its original course
Back on the road, I turn off the main road and head into Port Saunders.
First thing that I see is a ship repair yard so I call by to see if there is anything exciting happening.
There are a few people loitering around in the vicinity but nothing of any great importance seems to be happening today.
But from the previous photograph you can tell exactly what kind of town it is.
That’s right. You can’t move for fishing boats around here.
Like most places, fishing is the be-all and end-all of life on the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador. And how these places were hit by the 1992 cod moratorium.
And so like most places, the fishermen who used to visit the Grand Banks have had to diversify.
What we have here are rowsand rows of lobster pots. And everywhere, in everyone’s garden in the vicinity, there were lobster pots far too numberous to count.
And that’s one thing that puzzles me. It must take loads of patience to train a lobster to go on one of those.
Outside the town on the way to Port-au-Choix (we’re looking back to Port Saunders right now) there were some really nice beaches if only the sun would shine.
And much to my surprise, considering that we have the Labrador Current flowing down here direct from the Arctic, the water was … errr … not too unpleasantly cold.
Too cold for me to go swimming, but then I’m nesh as we all know. Other people might be pleasantly surprised.
But Port-au-Choix is the place to be in this part of the world.
There’s a big “Foodland” supermarket on the edge of town, bigger than I’ve seen in many places
And not only that, there’s a Chinese restaurant here too, and isn’t that a novelty for North-East Newfoundland?
But then, maybe it isn’t so surprising.
In the controversial resettlement programmes under which people were “encouraged” to leave the outlying settlements and settle in approved “points of growth”, Port-au-Choix was one of the places that was approved.
Quite obviously, if you are selling the idea of “resetlement” to people on the grounds that there will be better facilities in these “points of growth”, then you need to make sure that the facilities are there.
One of the things that Port-au-Choix had going for it was a big natural, sheltered harbour.
That kind of thing is very important in a maritime community and so naturally there’s a busy port here and even a modern fish-processing plant.
No sense in encouraging “resettlement” if the people still have to travel a distance to take their fish to the processing plant. They may as well go to live there.
There was a rumour at one time that the MV Apollo – the ship that works the ferry between Newfoundland and Southern Labrador – would be replaced by a more modern ship (she is about 50 years old now) and that the new ferry service might sail out of here.
I duly went to the local Government Marine Patrol offices to find out what they knew, but they were … err … rather dismissive of my enquiry.
Wasting my time in fact.
But I can’t leave Port-au-Choix without drawing your attention to this oblect.
It’s some kind of barge or passenger ferry of some description, and by the looks of it, it’s been burnt out. And quite a while ago too, so it seems.
But I wonder what it was andhow it came to be here. And there was no-one around to ask.
I did think about asking the guy in the Marine Patrol office, but he had the air of having far more important things to attend to than to talk to me.
Going at full steam down the highway I overshot my motel and had to turn around. I upset everyone by going in the private entrance, which is always a good start.
My room looks like something out of the 1950s but the bathroom is modern and tidy. But first things first – before the shower I chuck some pasta, vegetable soup and tomato sauce in the slow cooker.
As for the internet – another night without it. You can’t expect too much here which is just as well, because that’s what I’m getting – not too much.
As long as the bed is comfortable, that’s all that I care about tonight.