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As everyone in Atlantic Canada knows, this has been an unusual fall. It was fairly innocuous and pleasant until Post-tropical Storm Noel hit in November, immediately followed by a mix of rain and snow (I wish it had been a bit less post and a bit more tropical). Then winter hit a “little” early, with frequent flurries and temperatures that rarely made it above -5 C. Then we got this week’s weather. Things started warming up until today it broke plus 10 in places, a fair amount of rain fell, then it cleared up this afternoon and was amazingly sunny, with brisk (to a Newfoundlander) winds and temperatures staying above zero.

The nice thing for me was that the storm gave half decent waves along the Atlantic coast, so I rushed to Peggy’s Cove after work. Except for the wind blowing sea spray directly onto my lens when shooting straight at the waves, it was perfect. I finished around 4:40 pm, then drove back to town. Things had become strangely calm, with very little traffic, almost nothing open (except video stores and movie theatres, of course). The sense of calmness and serenity was wonderful.

I went home, downloaded some of the images from the Cove, and present them as one view of an Atlantic Canadian Christmas. Happy and peaceful holidays, and may your New Year’s resolutions be little ones.

Looking Out the Entrance

Looking Out the Entrance
The Gulls were really active, since the waves had stirred up the ocean.

In the Cove

In the Cove
Bad waves almost never make it into the Cove. Today there were 4-5 metre waves outside the cove and pounding on the entrance.

Crash

Crash
Tip: Don’t shoot directly into the wind, unless you like spray on your lens…I wanted this shot so much I tried it anyway.

Broken rock

Boroken rock
The large flat rock near the centre was broken off the ledge in the foreground. I estimate that it weighs on the order of 120 metric tonnes.

Boom

Boom

Smash

Smash
Best Viewed Large. Note the chunk gouged out of the rock in the foreground. This comes from Noel in November. There was a lot of damage in the Cove.

Sunset

Sunset
Along the Coast

Along the Coast
The entrance to the Cove is just beyond the little red shack. This coast is full of rock ledges and often has a lot of wave activity.

 The Evening Light

The Evening Light
I know it is cliche, but the light was very nice.

Again, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and Happy Quanza, Hannukah, and Chinese New Year (coming soon). Given the recent weather, I’m just as happy with a warm and dry Christmas.

a quickr pickr post

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There were small Blues and Big Blues, Wide Blues and Narrow Blues,

Fast Blues and Slow Blues,

Running Blues, Jogging Blues, Walking Blues and Dancing Blues.

Red Blues, White Blues, Dark Blues and Light Blues,

Happy Blues, Sad Blues, Angry Blues and those with the blues.

Marathon Blues, Half Marathon Blues, 10k Blues and 5k Blues,

and there were even Relay Blues and the Children’s Blues.

I realised that the annual Blue Nose Marathon was taking place today, and for a lark and also because it was pouring rain so that pursuing my normal photographic preferences was out of the question, I decided to have a look. Not wanting to be caught in the crowds near the finish nor the starting lines, I went to the MacDonald Bridge, where the Marathon and 10k runners would cross about halfway through their respective ordeals. There were very few spectators there, and I could walk around at will. It also turned out that the rain let up enough to allow me to take a few photos.

The 10k runners came first, because the marathoners had to circle downtown twice before crossing the bridge. The first few came in fast, and there was at least one woman in the top ten. Then a few minutes later the bridge started rumbling, and a sea of mostly red t-shirts moved towards me. I hid behind the railing, and saw a vast assortment of people walking, running, jogging, Nordic walking, and skipping with jump-ropes come towards me. They ranging in age from 6 months to over 70 years old, from anorexic to those over three hundred pounds, and were wearing (not all at the same time) shorts, at least one skirt, tights, jeans, oilskins, many colors of shirt, and some very strange hats. Most were sopping wet, but all the recreational and some of the competitive runners had grins plastered on their faces.

After the mob had moved through for their loop around Dartmouth, the marathoners started coming through. The leaders were 4-5 men, most of whom were in the 40+ age range. Then there were three women, followed by some more men. I heard later that when they crossed back over the bridge the women were still doing very well. This may be further evidence that women can approach or exceed male performance in the logest endurance events. The fact that about 7500 people participated may make this a statistically significant sample. Good on ya!

Newfoundlanders placed fairly high in the middle distance events. In the 10k run Aubrey Sanders from Corner Brook came in fourth behind three Nova Scotians led by Tyler Germani of Cape Breton with a 3:44 pace, and in the half marathon William Fitzgerald of Carbonear came in second behind Shawn Brady of Toronto with a 3:40 pace. But in the full marathon the highest placing from Newfoundland was Stephen Hunt from St. John’s in 32nd place, and Monica Kidd from the same town in 56th place.
Anyway, here are some shots taken by me with my wet camera, in low light of people moving fast (and slow). They had fun running, and I had just as much fun standing there and watching them run. It almost makes me want to switch from swimming and cycling to running. Almost!

Incoming

Incoming

Something worth chasing?

Something worth chasing?

Flying High

Flying High

Chauffeured

Chauffeured
“I love exercise. I could watch it all day.”-Russell

“I love my dad. He takes me and my little brother on a 10 km trip so I can see all these people sweating and staggering and turning all these strange and interesting colors…”

Thumbs Up!

Thumbs Up!

Cool Runnings

Cool Runnings

He just hadda wear shades…

Reeling Home

Reeling Home

Perfect Cadence

Perfect Cadence

Determination

Determination
He was doing the 10 km version of the race, and he was passing some of the other runners.

Second last climb

Second last climb

Soxy Sox

Soxy Sox

Some people dare to be different, and some have a lot of fun doing it.

Latin Beat

Latin Beat

I guess the maracas helped to keep the beat?

Friendly and Happy

Friendly and Happy

“Come on, Mom! We’re almost there!”

“….yes, dear….”

“Pardon me, Miss.”

He wasn’t the oldest person there by any stretch of the imagination.

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There were some hopeful tidbits in the news this afternoon. As a result of the recent progress and the recent weather, Captain Brian Penney of the Coast Guard said that if the winds hold steady for the rest of the week, the entire fleet could be freed (Canadian Press). Here are some highlights.

  • The heavy icebreaker CCGS Terry Fox is currently west of Stephenville and will make its way through the Strait of Belle Isle, then will scoot down the areas clearing on the west side of the Northeast Coast so as to help out between the Baie Verte Peninsula and Notre Dame Bay. She’ll be the largest icebreaker on site and should be a great help, as until recently the ice has been so thick that icebreakers had to team up at times to make progress.
  • The CCGS Henry Larsen and the George R. Pearkes were able to open up a passage for stranded boats about to be driven onshore with the ice (CBC).
  • Last week there were 100 vessels stranded. As of today there are
    • 43 virtually locked up solid
    • 21 able to manoeuevre to varying degrees
    • about 10 have sustained ice damaged and may need assistance returning to port. There may be more damage and other ships affected as the situation develops (CBC NL)
    • about 5 have been abandoned
    • about 50-60 non-essential crewmembers have been evacuated
    • emergency provisions have been dropped via helicopter to 22 boats so far

There are a couple of good things guaranteed to happen. Areas open to the east, and the east sides of the Northern Peninsula, the Bay Verte Peninsula, and Southern Labrador will start clearing out, as will the western portions of Bonavista Bay, the northwest part of Trinity Bay, some of the Labrador coastal part of the Strait of Belle Isle, etc. As the main field moves further away from the shore parts of it may start breaking up, making it easier for the icebreakers to escort the longliners through it. Some longliners may be able to scirt the pack to make it to port. The weather for much of Wednesday to Friday won’t be severe, with moderate to strong westerlies throughout (with some southwesterlies and northwesterlies mixed in).

The news is sounding more hopeful.

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Today the Sir Wilfred Grenfell was freed and went back to work, helping to rescue the fishermen or to free stranded ships in the pack, in the tradition of the good doctor. 99 years ago Dr. Grenfell also continued his mission of mercy after being rescued. By some strange quirk of fate, another ship named after a famous rescuer, the CCGS Ann Harvey, became stuck today and to my knowledge is still in difficulties. This  Newfoundland hero, from Iles aux Morts,  together with her father, her 12 year old brother, and their Newfoundland Dog Hairy Man, helped to save about 160 people from the ship Despatch in 1828. As expressed for the Grenfell yesterday, I hope the Harvey is freed soon, and that she lives up to the legacy of her namesake. She’s a much more capable ship than the Grenfell in the ice, and is vital for the current rescue efforts. She also can carry two helicopters at a time.

I was working on the marine weather forecast for Newfoundland again today, and currently conditions don’t look good. The ice pack is solid against the coast, and while ice pressure is slowly easing, there is little sign of a good westerly wind to push the field offshore until Sunday; a low approaching from the Labrador Sea will give strong to gale force westerlies, but only for a day or so. But the field is so solid that it might take days of good west to southwesterlies to really break up the field and open up safe leads that the fishing boats can penetrate to reach the shore. There are two other problems associated with Sunday. First, those boats in the clear east of the ice pack may have to go around the field to the south if it moves significantly offshore; for boats up by St. Anthony this may involve steaming south to the East Coast in order to get west of the field and then have clear sailing for home. Second, those boats in the field who have been damaged and are being held up by the ice may start sinking or exhibit other problems when the pressure eases and they are able to float freely.

At his point, according to some of the news, the situation is as follows. There are about 100 ships in trouble, with between 400-600 crew. There are at least three CCG ships involved in rescue operations; the Sir Wilfred Grenfell, the Ann Harvey, and the icebreaker Henry Larsen. The Grenfell is weakest in the ice, with the Harvey and the Larsen being fairly good. In addition CCG helicopters are transorting food and supplies to those vessels with the greatest need, and rescuing those willing to leave their boats. There are also SAR Cormorant helicopters standing by to help in case of urgent emergencies. In addition to the problems mentioned above, many boats of the sealing fleet have been at sea for up to 12 days already; they are running out of fuel, water, and food. To my knowledge at least one vessel is a derelict, more than a dozen are heavily damaged, and crewmembers have been rescued from at least 10 longliners. When the ice loosens enough to let the damaged boats float freely, the Coast Guard and Search and Rescue may have to move very fast to prevent a disaster. A lot will depend on how level-headed and realistic the fisherman will be; with so few rescuers and so many longliners a lapse in judgment would be a bad idea.

I’ll be working again tomorrow and next week. My best guess is that Sunday’s storm may only help a little, and that the best bet is a major low pressure system forecast to approach from Labrador for Tuesday and Wednesday, which may give enough southwest winds to open things up. There may also be a weaker system on Friday and Saturday next week to help. However, extended forecasts like this are highly uncertain.

If people don’t panic, are willing to sacrifice their ships if necessary, and to help each other as sealers have always done on the ice, they may come through okay.

Yesterday I said my hopes go out to those on the ice; today it will be my hopes and prayers.

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Here are some random images from the area around Peggy’s Cove taken in the last few weeks. It is pretty similar to home, and I like wandering around. Occasionally there are some half decent waves, as well.

Happy Birthday,  Heather!
I found this on the barrens east of Peggy’s Cove. It was an iron sculpture in the shape of a flame standing exposed on a large erratic. I have no idea who made it, why it was made, or when it was made. It is a solid orange-red with rust.

Frosting on the Cake

Egyptian Tuckamore

On Castors
This Erratic had the most rocks and pepples supporting it.

Peggy's Cove From the East

Shed in Gold

Dawn Light on the Light

The Mirrormere

Jade and Whitewater
Still plunging, but with a nice wall of spray generated. Some of the water is being accelerated at 10-100 times the force of gravity as it is bounced upwards.

href=”http://flickr.com/photos/rexton/sets/72157600018333462/show/”>slideshow.

Jade and Foam
2/3rds through the plunge

href=”http://flickr.com/photos/rexton/sets/72157600018333462/show/”>slideshow.

About to Plunge
This is called a plunging breaker (the ones surfers like). This and the following picture were taken with identical settings.

There were some nice waves breaking on the coast on Sunday. I’ll be putting up some images for the next while; I took more nice ones than I had thought.

Plunging
The front edge is accelerating downwards very fast. The shutter speed was okay for the previous shot, but the edge is moving too fast here. I still liked the effect too throw this out.

There were some nice waves breaking on the coast on Sunday. I’ll be putting up some images for the next while; I took more nice ones than I had thought.

Breakwater
I was driving along the coast and the wall of whitewater rising over the breakwater caught my eye. It was 20-30 feet high, judging by the 15 foot high breakwater.

Prospect's  Sunrise
Looking from Peggy’s Cove towards Prospect. ‘Prospect’s Sunrise’ On Black

Fisheye

Steel Dawn

A Minor Reflection
‘A Minor Reflection’ On Black

Gold Headlands
‘Gold Headlands’ On Black

Tending the Nets
‘Tending the Nets’ On Black
Fishermen from Peggy’s Cove heading around the point to tend a net. They put one person in each of the skiffs around the net to help handle it. They really stood out against the lowering horizon.

Reflections on the Weather
‘Reflections on the Weather’ On Black
There was a storm approaching, and I thought there was a bare chance of catching the sunrise before it clouded over. I did make it, but within half an hour it was dismal and intermittent showers started.

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I was updating a previous post about famous ships of Newfoundland and Labrador and noted that many of these ships sank or were lost in storms. There are many aspects to these events and to how they shaped our history, from the Independence Hurricane of 1775 to the deaths of the sealers from the ships Newfoundland and Southern Cross in late March of 1914 (which killed 251 men, as compared to the 255 who died, and the 91 who went missing, at Beaumont Hamel two years later). First, the 1775 hurricane killed about 4000 people, destroyed the French fishing boats and crews at St. Pierre et Miquelon, destroyed a British fishing fleet on the Grand Banks, and devastated many of the outports. The resultant loss of British fisherman available for Navy service hurt the British response to the American Independence movement, and may be part of the reason that this storm is called the Independence Hurricane in the U.S. The sealers on the Newfoundland and Southern Cross were demonstratively young and adventurous, since sealing was inherently dangerous; hopping around on ice pans and living on often rickety boats during March storms is not for the faint-hearted. Many of these men would probably have volunteered for the war, and their deaths also contributed to the lack of young men at the end of the war. There were about 1200 Newfoundland soldiers who died during the war, and the 251 sealers lost on March 31, 1914 amounts to over 20% of the Newfoundland war dead through the entire conflict.

This will be a roughly chronological list of notable marine disasters and ship losses from discovery to modern times either in our waters or significant to our history. There will also be comments on obvious impacts on Newfoundland, Labrador, and the rest of the world. If anyone wants to comment or to contribute new information, I’d really appreciate it.

Our course through history:

  • 1498: John Cabot’s second expedition to North America. One source indicates that the expedition was lost at sea.
  • 1501: Gaspar Corte-Real, who vanished in 1501 on a voyage to Newfoundland.
  • 1565?: Basque whaler in Red Bay, Labrador, which may be the San Juan.
  • 1696: HMS Sapphire : Trapped in Bay Bulls Harbour by a French attacking force, she was scuttled to prevent capture. She is a Provincial Historic Site and has produced much archaeological insight into naval life of the times. This was during one of the main periods of French-English conflict in Newfoundland.
  • 1775: Independence Hurricane mentioned above. It hit the South Coast and passed near Conception Bay on September 9. It is also the most deadly hurricane to hit Canada or Newfoundland in recorded history. (see introduction).
  • 1810-1870: Sealing Deaths. It is estimated that between 1810 and 1870 the Newfoundland seal fishery lost some 400 vessels and 1000 men in the ice floes.
  • 1828: Despatch: Ann Harvey of Isle aux Morts, her father, herbrother,  and the Newfoundland Dog named Hairyman saved over 180 Irish immigrants from the wreck of the brig Despatch. The Royal Humane Society issued a special medal for heroism for Ann. In 1938, she and her father also saved a number of people from the Rankin, wrecked at the same spot as the Despatch. Isle aux Morts was so dangerous to shipping that throughout her life she and the other settlers were burying bodies that washed ashore.In 1987, the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Ann Harvey was commisioned.
  • 1847: Hurricane hits Newfoundland, kills 300.
  • 1875: Waterwitch : Wrecked near Pouch Cove. When the ship went aground in a storm with 25 people on board, Alfred Moores, a resident, performed a daring rescue which saved 11 people. He allowed himself to be lowered to the ship by a rope from an overhanging cliff so that he could carry the people to safety.
  • 1898: Greenland Disaster: A sealing steamer. 48 men from her died on the ice in 1898 when a major storm blew in. The ice closed up and prevented the Greenland from closing on the sealers on the ice, while at the same time an interior lead of water kept the sealers from approaching the ship. There was also some discussion of the behaviour of Captain Abram Kean, who was in the area commanding another sealing vessel. Kean later became infamous for his role in the Newfoundland Disaster sixteen years later.
  • 1912: Titanic: Sank April 14-15, 1914 after hitting an iceberg 400 miles from St. John’s. The main Newfoundland link to the disaster is the wireless station at Cape Race, which received and relayed the distress messages from the ship. Also, two years after the International Ice Patrol was founded to track icebergs and ship safety regulations were beefed up
  • 1914: Newfoundland Disaster: The sealing disaster in March, 1914 where 78 sealers died and 11 were permanently disabled. It is poignantly described in Cassie Brown’s Death on the Ice. (see introduction)
  • 1914: Southern Cross Disaster: This is the one that many people (including myself) forget. She was lost with all hands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence during the same storm that caught the sealers from the Newfoundland on the ice at night. She was last sighted by the SS Portia near Cape Pine, and was never seen again. This counts as the single largest loss of life in the history of the seal hunt, with 173 souls being lost. Combined with the 78 deaths from the Newfoundland, at least 251 people died from the same storm. If you compare that to the casualties from Beaumont Hamel, it adds a new perspective to the dangers involved in sealing. On July 1, 1916, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment bravely attempted a frontal assault on the German front in what is considered the worst military disaster in the history of Newfoundland. 255 were killed, 386 were wounded, and 91 were listed as missing in action and presumed dead.
  • 1918: Florizel : the well-known steamer owned by the Bowring Brothers Ltd. went aground at Horn Head near Cappahayden on the Southern Shore of Newfoundland . The SOS was received at the Admiralty wireless station. Ninety-three crew and passengers perished, while 44 were miraculously rescued after 27 hours spent braving punishing seas and bitter cold. The Peter Pan Statue in Bowring Park is in honour and memory of a little girl who died on board.
  • 1919:Ethie : On November 17 this coastal steamer, commanded by Captain Edward English, went aground during a gale at Martins Point on the West Coast near Bonne Bay. Local fisherman were able to get line to the ship and to rescue most or all of the passengers and crew. There were also reports of a Newfoundland dog towing a rescue line out to the boat, and this became part of a children’s book by Hilary Hyland.
  • 1929: Tsunami on November 18. A 5 metre tsunami was generated by an underwater landslide south od Newfoundland, triggered by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on the continental slope. Twenty-seven people died, and boats, houses, and stages were swept away. While this is the only significant earthquake recorded in Atlantic Canada, it is also the most deadly such event recorded in Canada or Newfoundland. The underwater landslide also cut numerous underwater telegraph and telephone lines, and the timing of when each line cut out allowed scientists to estimate the speed and severity of the landslide. However, it also cut the community off from the rest of civilisation during cold and miserable weather. Three days later the coastal vessel SS Portia arrived, and immediately sent an SOS to St. John’s.
  • 1931: Viking Disaster: The Viking (a wooden ship built in 1881), exploded while shooting footage for the sealing film The Viking . Film producer Varrick Frissel and 26 others died in the explosion. A number of sealers made it to Horse Islands. However, there were insufficient supplies, shelter or medical equipment to keep the men alive for long. Rescue ships, including the salvage tug Foundation Franklin and the Reid coastal steamer Sagona took on supplies and medical personnel and raced to the area. However they were delayed both by a raging gale and by the ice, which had driven in around the island. Here is a transcript of documents from the time of the disaster. This was the first, but by no means the last, time Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders were involved with the Franklin.
  • 1932: Neptune II: Schooner that was commanded by Captain Joe Barbour of Newtown on the Northeast Coast. While not really a wreck, the ship was driven by several successive storms from Newfoundland to Scotland, with the crew of 11 being tossed and turned for 48 days, as described in this book.
  • 1942: Bell Island’s U-boat casualties (Saganaga,Lord Strathcona, P.L.M. 27, Rose Castle): these were bulk iron ore carriers sunk at or near Lance Cove on Bell Island in Conception Bay. Bell Island has the dubious distinction of being the site of the only artillery fired in defense of North America in the Second World War, due to these attacks.
  • 1942: World War Two Submarines: At least 3 U-boats and one British submarine sank within 250 nm of St. John’s. The type IX U-656 sank about 25 miles from Cape Race, and the British P-514 was rammed by a merchant vessel near Cape St. Mary’s.
  • 1942: CaribouDisaster: One of the most famous of the ferries running between Newfoundland and Canada. It was torpedoed by U-boat U-69 on October 14, 1942, during the critical period of the Battle of the Atlantic. 147 passengers and crew lost their lives. The skipper Ben Taverner and his two sons went down with the ship. The coastal boat Taverner was named after him.
  • 1942: USS Truxton and Pollux: (much of this is a direct quote from SkylarkD, and this entry is due to her kind suggestion) These two U.S. Navy ships ran aground near St. Laurence, Newfoundland on February 18th, 1942. 203 sailors died; 185 were saved. Well, it turns out that there was only one African American survivor of the U.S.S. Truxton, named Lanier Philips, and he says that it was the hospitality he received from the people of Newfoundland after the disaster which led him to become a civil rights leader for equality for all races in the U.S. military.
  • 1977: William Carson: An Icebreaking passenger/car ferry. Commissioned in 1955, it was a huge ferry for its time. For the first two years it couldn’t dock at Port aux Basques, and used Argentia until docking facilities were expanded. In 1977 she was struck by a small Iceberg near Battle Harbour, Labrador, and sank with no hands aboard (no one died). Joan Morrissey wrote a fairly funny song about he Carson and its importance to the province.
  • 1982: Ocean Ranger: At the time the largest semi-submersible oil rig in the world. On February 15, 1982 she sank with all hands. The supply vessel Seaforth Highlander was almost able to rescue some, but they failed by mere feet. As a result of this disaster the offshore oil industry has been changed, with changes in rig design, operational procedures, safety equipment, and extensive emergency and lifeboat training.

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I just finished my night shift, and coming across the bridge I saw the rolling clouds to the east start to glow purple, then pink, then gold followed by yellow. Then the light changed to an overcast morning. From my front door I can see the Citadel Fortress on the hill, and it looked like it was under siege and about to fall. Night shifts have some positive points, I guess.

Here are a few snapshots I took before I went to bed. Good night.

Daybreak Over the Fortress
The Citadel is a fortress of the nineteenth century. That means that most of it is recessed in the earth to protect it from direct artillery fire. You can see a few buildings sticking up from the ground.

Dawn in Flames
This was taken a little earlier, when the colours were deeper.
Citadel's Fall at Dawn
The fortress is in flames with the smoke and steam rising behind it. The Acadians are about to take back L’Acadie!


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