Aug 22 (day 14)
A somewhat restless sleep in spite of peaceful sound of loons, wine and knowing the hard part of the trip is over. Was it last nights the last minute lesson on how to use a shotgun? Bear bangers? What are these things? Thankfully, no midnight bear scares as the outcome would not likely be in our favour…
I have breakfast is underway by 7:15am when Sprit of the Torngat comes steaming across the bay. It’s Tom and Willie plus passenger Arnold here to pick us up. Hurriedly we eat, tear down the tents and even toss the dirty dishes directly into the waiting dingy. Tom is anxious to get going as there might be time for a quick stop at Hebron. The sea looks calm but not wanting to repeat the hard learned lesson of the north bound journey, I pop two gravel pills as pre-emptive strike.
The mountains are even more impressive that I recall, perhaps I now appreciate the effort it takes to scale those slopes as well as understand a tiny bit about what goes on behind the scenes. Rising straight out of the sea, the sheer headlands are sight to frighten and enthrall every sailor. I’m happy this boat is outfitted with the latest weather, radio and scanner equipment. But the seas are calm and I savour to the fullest the view from the top deck.
I learn more about Hebron…the usual story of religious crusaders assisting wayward souls in seeing the light. The church weather vane has a date of 1835. In 1959, a forced relocation moved the remaining Inuit and Moravians, mostly to Nain. Since then the buildings have been abandoned although Heritage Canada marks this as a national historic site.
The biggest and most impressive building is the combination church and dormitory. I wander the halls, peering past the peeling paint into the vacant rooms. A smell of mold and must permeates throughout, right up to the rafters. Although the structure itself is impressive (cut and numbered beams brought from Europe), the tug of unnamed forces pulls me outside. Paved stone roads part buried by tundra vegetation lead to tumbled down houses, graveyard, overgrown gardens. I wonder about the path from self fulfillment to dependence.
Big excitement when we cross the bay and two polar bears, Mom and cub are spotted walking across a rocky island. Willie cuts the motor to half speed, we circle as they waste no time to get away from us. We circle to the other side and are rewarded with two minute view. How exciting! The best way to see polar bears is from a boat with experienced drivers, guns and calm seas.
The hours quickly wile away as we banter about nothing and everything. Mugford Bay is calm as expected, we drop anchor, fire up the BBQ and eat steak. Darkness falls, the northern lights, faint. I intend to sleep on the top deck of the boat - Willie teases me about polar bears boarding boats, I wonder if there is any truth in this…Stars, soft and fuzzy rotate overhead, mirroring my warm and comfortable bed under the tarp, I fall asleep to the gentle rocking of the boat.