There is something mystical about touching a place. Located at the Northeast corner of North America, Newfoundland is a place that I have dreamt of touching almost from the moment I first dipped a kayak paddle into the ocean. Newfoundland’s remoteness and unique location near the confluence of the Gulfstream and Labrador Current offer the perfect challenge for my second big expedition. In June of 2013, I will slide my sea kayak into these waters that call to me and touch Newfoundland in a way that is only possible in a human powered craft.
Before this blog gets too new age, I should mention that this trip is a serious undertaking. Newfoundland has over 5,000 NM of coastline. My circumnavigation will cover approximately 1500 NM, about twice the distance of my 2010 Vancouver Island circumnavigation. Newfoundland has some of the highest winds of any Canadian province. The East Coast is exposed to the North Atlantic. Icebergs form off the coast of Greenland and are carried south along the coast by the Labrador Current. Dense fog forms on the South Coast and the strong winds do little to clear it. The steep cliffs and rock strewn shoreline limit landing potential and long open water crossings increase the risk. As a solo paddler, I’ll be on my own in responding to these challenges. This challenge is part of the appeal for the trip, but the island offers so much more.
I anticipate amazing wildlife. Krill carried by the Labrador Current brings whales including humpback and minke whales. Top of the food chain orcas may make an appearance as well. Newfoundland is also known for its sea birds. Caribou and black bear may make an appearance too.
Perhaps the biggest draw for me is the island’s history and a rich seafaring tradition. Native paddlers explored these waters long before Europeans. Medieval Vikings sailed these waters from Greenland and archeological evidence confirms L’Anse aux Meadows as a Viking settlement. John Cabot, under a charter from Henry VII explored these waters in 1497. My imagination stirs at the thought of my paddling my kayak onto the same beaches touched by these brave explorers. I want to touch this amazing place.