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Sunday, February 27, 2011

RV Celtic Explorer Newfoundland & Labrador Fishery Survey: DAY 28

Date 26/02/2011 Time: 23:00 hrs (UTC)

Position:   48 27.61 N   53 54.66 W

Winds 30-40 Knots   Location: Clode Sound, Bonavista Bay, NE coast of Newfoundland

The winds were picking up fast today and the Celtic Explorer is now tucked safely away from those heavy winds and high seas and is inside the shelter of Bonavista Bay. Bonavista is the anglicized version of one of the romance languages – take your choice, but there is a story that John Cabot or Giovani Caboto, viewed this landfall in 1497 and cried out ‘O Buon Vista’ – the rest being history. On early maps with Basque or Portuguese notations, Bonavista Bay is referred to as the ‘Bay of Flowers’. Whatever its origins, Bonavista town and Salvage became the furthest north English settlements in the 1700s, and saw more than their share of violent NW Atlantic storms, fisheries struggles, and pirates.

The first English adventurer to enter these waters was Sir Richard Whitbourne, who not only wrote the first book (pamphlet) bestowing the virtues of Newfoundland, but found time to fight against the Spanish Armada between visits to Newfoundland. Sir Richard held the first court in the new world at Trinity in nearby Trinity Bay in 1612, and was held hostage by noted pirate Peter Easton sometime after. The Newfoundland town of Whitbourne is named in his honour.


The town of Bonavista, Newfoundland.

Of note today, a fishing set into the depths of Bonavista Bay brought up some old bones and a clay pipe which is likely hundreds of years old and of English origin. Did the bones belong to some ancient pirate? Did he take his pipe with him to Davy Jones locker? We cannot say for sure, as the bones may be from a seal, but the pipe will be taken to experts at Memorial University and the old bones subject to further analyses. We are not aware that seals smoke pipes. Perhaps we have found the grave of the famous Blackbeard himself. There are many mysteries in the depths of this part of the world.

A piece of clay pipe that came up in the fishing set today in Bonavista Bay and is suspected to be an 18th Century English Clay pipe (photo: Ed Stern)


Back to the science lab, the retreat from the storm has allowed us to do some acoustic experimentation on large schools of herring found in the sounds of Bonavista Bay. We will hold position over these schools overnight to record their target strengths and observe their migratory behaviour.

A few snow crabs were caught in the research nets today, and as a treat were given to the crew for a taste of a local delicacy.

Micheline, Damien and Steve tucking into some local Snow Crab .. it appears that they like it
(Photo: Kate Barley)

Damien McCallig enjoying the local feast (Photo: Kate Barley)


Kate Barley in the salon with an unidentified subject … (photo: Pat Codd)

Life at sea includes many more mundane activities, and even a bit of fun. Over the past few days, rumours had spread quickly around the ship that I could cut hair, and with some of the men feeling a bit shaggy after a month at sea … some did end up in a make shift salon, no names mentioned!  I did draw the line at requests for perms and hair dye! 

Meanwhile, we all wait for the weather to break once again for one last venture to the North Cape of the Grand Bank and the end of the survey … Perhaps tomorrow will bring fair winds …


Blog by Kate Barley with local colour by Dr. George Rose.

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