The Cruising Guide to The Labrador
Updates from the Summers of 2012-2016
The current print edition of the Cruising Guide to the Labrador is dated February 2018.
Fin Perry, the editor of The Cruising Guide to The Labrador, provides this synopsis of the Labrador coast; cruising from Greenland south.
2013 -- Temporary Importation and Retention of Foreign Vessels in Canada by Non-residents: As of the fall of 2013, the Canadian Government begun to enforce limits on how long and under what conditions one may keep a non-Canadian boat in Canada. See home page of website for more information.
Most of the Canadian charts covering north of Port Manvers Run have been replaced with new charts, expanding the 5000 series. A new Canadian Chart Catalog was issued in 2012.
At the very end of this update is a very good discussion "On the Matter of Polar Bears" by Finley Perry, January 2009, in collaboration with Steve Loutrel, who has sailed to and climbed in the Torngat region, and Angus Simpson formerly of Torngat Mountains National Park. It is important reading for anyone who sails Labrador, particularly north of Nain.
2011 – Jack Towle onboard Sisyphus: “Since my last trip to Labrador, in 1998, there are noticeably few boats along this coast, virtually none. In ’98 there were many fishing boats steaming up and down the coast which provide some form of security. Now you are really on your own with no other boat in sight.”
Harrington Harbour A-80
2013 Sandy Weld: The harbor/town has changed little since the last report, same two stores pretty well stocked, particularly just after the ferry arrives, which it does about 0700 on Thursday and stays about 3 hours, on its way to Blanc-Sablon where it turns around for the return trip, arriving in Harrington Hr. Saturday around 0400 on its way west to Natashquan, about 100 miles away, at the end of route 138 which runs all the way along the coast from Quebec City.
The fish plant is active, shipping out lobster, halibut, turbot.
On the north edge of town is the area where boats are pulled out onto the hard. Most of the fishing boats now go to La Tabatiere where there is a new travel lift facility.
The Rowsell House Interpretation Centre is the best place to start your visit. It is located in one of the first houses built on the island of Harrington Harbour. The Center contains models, panels, and local artifacts interpreting traditional activities, fishing, and local history. The Centre also houses original documents and memorabilia relating to Dr. Grenfell, the famous medical missionary who served the region beginning in the late 1800s. The Grenfell Hospital was started here in 1907. The hospital was taken over by the Quebec Government in about 1972 and recently has become an old folks home.
2012 Steve Swanson: We have been to Harrington Harbour twice now, and find the harbormaster and locals very helpful. The ledge on north side is clearly visible at lowish tide and in any rate well away from the wharf; it should not interfere with normal boats maneuvering. The fish plant will sell you anything they are processing fresh, or flash frozen otherwise. We have gotten excellent quality halibut, shrimp, scallops and lobster from them. The grocery store has a purification system for re-filling your water bottles at $1 a gallon. They may or may not let you plug into their internet depending on your need and the cut of your jib so to speak. Basic supplies are available. The second, red grocery store has baked goods too.
Bay de Tabatiere A-50
2013 Sandy Weld: There is a “new” wharf with a travel lift adjacent to the fish plant/ferry wharf. In anything but strong east winds this would be a good place to tie up. In 2013 when we were there (in early August) the fish plant was not operating. We tied up to the travel lift wharf, but the dock master immediately said we were in a dangerous place for strong NE winds – which were predicted. The waves apparently bounce off the face of the new wharf back into the space between it and the old wharf making for very rough and confused conditions. He suggested Seal Bay, only six miles to the north, as the safest harbor around for NE winds.
We investigated Seal Bay. It certainly is well protected from NE winds; however the outer harbor has depths over 100 feet, while the inner harbor has depths to 12 feet - between rocks.
Photo from Canadian Harbour Authority
Ile Du Gros Mecatina 50° 48.7’N, 58° 51.2’W, Chart 4474
We found good anchoring in the northern bay, Havre Gaumont, in the tiny cove that is formed by a small outcropping on the easterly side of the basin. There is a small cabin here and the granite rocks form a smooth, natural wharf for dinghy landing. There was about 30 feet of depth with a mud bottom. This island once had a whaling station, and there are whale bones still lying about near the cabin. This would not be a good anchorage in northerly winds,
but it was a great lunch stop.
Petit Rigolet A-35
2012 Steve Swanson: We found Petit Rigolet as described, the charts for Passage Germain were accurate, but the GPS had boat on the land so use your eyes. In general the charts for harbors where the ferry goes were spot on re GPS/chart-plotter, it is only in the less traveled area where a small error may still exist -- but again use eyes and depth sounder and you'll be fine, even in fog. Great spot, not to be missed.
Anse de L’Argile 51°05.46’N, 58° 45.9’W
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow:
DIRECTIONS: Located north off Petit Rigolet, no obstructions in entrance.
ANCHORAGES OR BERTHS: Beyond the depths on the chart in the right side of the harbor we found depths in the 30 foot range. The left is more shoal. Good holding in mud.
REMARKS: Pretty surroundings. No structures ashore.
Ile Du Petit Rigolet 51° 07.8’N, 58°38.1’W, Chart 4473
2015 Syd and Sandy Dumaresq: We found excellent protection in the unnamed cove on the easterly side of Ile du Petit Rigolet that runs parallel to Petit Rigolet and is reached from Passe Fournier. We anchored at the far end and had over 20 feet of water. We were surrounded by spectacular high hills. There were a few cottages at the entrance from Pass Fournier, and there were no apparent navigational hazards on entering.
Pointe A La Truite 51° 10.9’N, 58°34.1’W, Chart 4473
2015 Syd and Sandy Dumaresq: There is a large, commercial wharf at Trout Point with a modern federal building on it. With permission from the wharfmaster, recreational boats can tie up to the wharf. This dock is used by cargo ships delivering goods to Saint-Augustin and by the Nordik Express, the large passenger ferry that goes from La Tabatiere to Blanc Sablon.
(Note that the ferry does not stop at Ile de la Conserverie as stated in the Guide. It stops at Pointe a la Truite on the mainland.)
The dirt road going north from Trout Point wharf leads to the small airport which is serviced by Air Labrador. This road also goes to the hovercraft ferry that crosses Riviere Saint-Augustin. The hovercraft has scheduled crossings, but they are not frequent during the day.
Saint-Augustin 51° 13.5’N, 58° 39’W, Chart 4473
As noted in the Guide, it is impossible to reach St. Augustine in anything but a motorboat. It is four miles to the town from the wharf at Trout Point while anchoring in Baie des Oies would mean a much longer trip. Even in a small skiff, it is recommended that one follow the buoyed channel. We became stuck a number of times trying to make shortcuts.
The small public wharf is located just to the north of the hovercraft landing in the town. The town has many amenities. Up the hill, on Rue Principal, is the Riverview Inn. This is a modest, tiny hotel, but it has spotless rooms and bathrooms for showers. Attached to the Inn is Depanneur Riverview. This store has three freezers of meat, lots of bread, and the usual groceries as well as wine and liquor and cold beer. There were very few fresh fruit and vegetables when we were there in early August.
There is also a gas station at the back of the Inn, but it only sells gasoline and not diesel. The town has a hardware store, a restaurant, and there is a clinic as well as a nursing home. Many blackfly. The language spoken is English.
2013 Sandy Weld: The ferry now docks on the north side of Pointe a la Truite. A road runs northward to the town on the west side of St. Augustin.
Ile Des Genevriers 51° 13.2’N, 58° 33.7’W, Chart 4473
We rounded the eastern peninsula in Ile Longue and then went north up the channel to the first unnamed cove on the port side on Ile des Genevriers. There is 20 feet of mud all the way up to the head of this cove, and it is well protected from all winds. The entrance is about 4 miles from St-Augustin, and one might prefer to stop here and dinghy to the town rather than leaving from Trout Point.
Passage De Bougainville 51o 15.3’N, 58o 32’W, Chart 4473
Current in Passage de Bougainville
This is a spectacular passage with beautiful high hills. About 3 miles in from the westerly entrance, we decided to check out an unnamed cove that reaches into Ile des Genevriers. The entrance was lined on both sides with semicircles of rocks that formed pools behind them. It is possible that these were man-made and meant to trap fish at high tide.
Because of the high hills, the GPS showed Amasek to be up on the shore in a few places!
As we approached the little island, just before the cove opened up, it became very shallow, particularly on the easterly, starboard shore. We stayed close to the little island and anchored in 22 feet just inside the bulb of the cove. On exiting, we kept close to the island, but just after having passed it, it became exceedingly shallow – less than 4 fee on the sounder. We proceeded towards the easterly shore and the bottom improved again. We would recommend that this cove be entered very cautiously as the soundings on chart 4473 might be accurate, but not as extensive as they might be.
Ile Du Forgeron To Ile Cumberland
51° 15.3’N, 58° 20.1’W
Local knowledge recommended the northeasterly passage over Ile Berthelot when coming from Baie de Kingston. We crossed the easterly end of Passage de L’Ile au Sable, leaving to port the unnamed island that lies between Ile Bayfield and Ile Cumberland.
At the southerly end of this unnamed island, we turned east and headed up to almost the end of this channel. Just before it ended on Ile Cumberland, and after passing two coves on the port, we entered a third cove going to the north.
This cove was very deep, and we did not find holding ground until right up to its head where it was still 35 feet deep. When the wind shifted later, we had to reset the anchor to keep us off the muddy shore. This is a spectacular anchorage with striking bold, rocky hills – and lot and lots of blackfly.
On the chartlet, the rounte Amasdk took is the solid line.
The that was not recommended is the dotted line.
Ile Du Forgeron
We continued along Passe de Bougainville around Ile du Forgeron into Baie du Kingston. The unnamed passage between Ile de Genevriers and Ile du Forgeron looked interesting, but we had been warned that it was only passable at high tide. Our assumption was that that statement applied to the local small boats and that we could not make it through on any tide.
51° 16.1’N, 58° 20’W
There is an excellent anchorage in the northern end of Ile Cumberland in a cove just south of Anse a la Cuillere. One can go right up to the end, and be surrounded by hills on all sides, offering protection from all winds. We found mud bottom there with 35 foot depth.
The channel on the northeast side of Ile Cumberland between Baie de Jacques Cartier and Anse a la Cuillere is not recommended. The narrow entrance leading from Baie Robin in Baie de Jacques Cartier has only a couple of feet of depth, and the tide rushes through at great speed.
Anse du Portage A-15
51° 14.1’N, 58° 17.8’W (inner cove), Chart 4472
2015 Syd and Sandy Dumaresq: From our anchorage in Ile Cumberland, we headed southerly, crossing Havre Cumberland, and out to sea. The passage through the rocky channels was beautiful and not difficult. Following the coast northeasterly, we turned into Anse du Portage.
In the main part of the Cove, there are 17 summer cottages, and 5 cottages in the inner cove. As there is no fishery any longer, the cottages are used mostly on weekends. The summer residents come from St. Augustin and are very friendly. Anchor, as suggested in the Guide, behind the small unnamed island. There is good bake-apple picking in the hills on the westerly side of the cove.
2013 Sandy Weld: In midsummer 2013 there were half a dozen cabins being used.
Baie de Jacques Cartier A-15
2013 Sandy Weld: About 3 nm up the bay from the entrance is a delightful anchorage, at 51° 18.7’N x 58° 17.2’W. When entering this arm stay west of center when near the 2.3 depth mark and to the eastward at the inner end of the narrow section, where the 3 is on the chart. Then anchor in 10-15 ft in mud as one sees fit, except the 1.4 depth is a ledge. Beautiful spot, particularly after all the fog we had seen.
Located just to the east of the small peninsular (51° 18.7’N x 58° 15.0’W) to the east of the above described anchorage is the land base for a scallop operation. The fisheries had closed the farm the day before for a week to measure the quality of the water! There wasn’t a sole around and no gear was in the water.
Riviere St. Paul A–10
2013 Sandy Weld: A road now runs to St. Paul’s River from Blanc-Sablon, so the boardwalks as currently described in the guide are no longer around. They have dirt and paved roads. The road continues to the westward for another 10 miles to Vieux Fort, where it ends. The Whiteley Museum has reopened with a new building in 2013. William Whitely’s “invention”, the cod trap, allowed him to set up a large-scale fishing and processing facility on Bonne Esperance Island, near the mouth of the St. Paul’s River. The museum has a model of the cod trap and the fishing station at its peak in the late 19th century.
The anchorage described in the guide for St. Paul’s River is accurate, with good holding in mud. A green buoy is located in the “middle” of the harbor, stay to the east of it.
Another anchorage, down river from St. Paul’s River is Anse McCallum. It is easy to
enter and appears to be clear of hidden obstacles. We anchored in the SW section with good holding in mud.
Havre des Belles Amours A–7
2013 Sandy Weld: This is a handy anchorage with an easy entrance and good protection from any winds. In 2013 the mussel operation was busy, but it allowed easier passage past the aquaculture operation (passing to the southeast of it) than was described in 2005. The area to the west and north of Pte. Marc was filled with buoys, but there was lots of space to the south of all this.
As the chart shows there is a possible anchorage to the NE of Pte au Havre, perhaps only to be used with NE winds, or to purchase mussels. With the exposed rock off Pte au Havre lined up on your stern, steer a course of 90° for the red house on the far shore, located below the road. At half tide we carried no less than 20 feet over the bar. Then, if one so desires, turn to port and basically stay half way between the shore on your starboard and the pile of rocks on your port. One should carry 15 feet in past those rocks. Do not proceed too far after that and if you go by dinghy be aware of what the tide is doing, the area by the building at the head of the cove dries out. In the building they sell mussels and lobsters.
2013 Sandy Weld: Perroquets Island, located just northwest of Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon, has a large puffin nesting colony.
L’Anse au Clair A-4
2013 Sandy Weld: The “sea buoy” is now a red bell off the SE point. Dockage – No fishing boats use this harbor now, only four fishermen are left in town and they use dories, which are tied out of the way. So the wharfs are likely to be empty. Fresh water is available near the crane on the main wharf. Electricity is available from the silver ‘box” located in the corner of the “L” in the breakwater. The white building with blue trim on the edge of the wharf makes ice, which is distributed to fish processing facilities along the coast.
The Northern Light is a modern hotel/restaurant just up the hill from the harbor. If you need anything ask for Brad or Chuck, they manage the hotel and know everyone in the area. The hardware store is still in town as are a couple of small general stores.
L’anse Au Loup A-3
2013 Sandy Weld: There is no wharf in Schooner Cove.
The breakwater protected harbor in the northwest corner of L’Anse au Loup appears to be what the guide was describing as in Schooner Cove. It is substantial, new with huge tires and would be wet in strong SE winds, but well protected otherwise.
2012 Steve Swanson: We always stop at L'Anse au Loup, Bay of the Wolf, and tie to the large, well maintained wood wharf at south west end of harbour. It is much better than Anse au Clair. Only the inside of the wharf is useable, the outside is a heavy rock breakwater. The wharf has deep water, probably 15 to 20 feet on the long arm. A small boat harbour with 4.5 feet is inside against the shore. The Harbormaster is Nelson Belben, and he always looks after visitors. There are washrooms and a shower behind the Harbormasters office. There are coin laundry machines, rather new, inside where Nelson's office is located. The washrooms are generally open; you have to ask Nelson to unlock to use laundry. There is an excellent fish plant, the life blood of the community, where we also buy halibut, shrimp and scallops, and sometimes smoked arctic char. You cannot land at their wharf. .
Internet can be found at town office. A small grocery and a liquor store are in town. Fuel is available, but you may have to haul in cans.
Hazards -During capelin season several nets are in the harbor, both in front of the fish plant wharf and along the south side of the harbor. They are well marked with red balls and the small boats are usually attending them. There is also one in entrance to Schooner Cove. They are removed at end of Capelin season, this year early August.
Red Bay A-1
2013 Michael and Hannah Moore: It blew NE 25. The northern part of the wharf is wider than the southern part so the southerly end is a great place to lie with that wind direction.
Red Bay is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Population now 170. 2013 tourism numbers best ever.
2013 Sandy Weld: Thistle Rk is now marked with a black and yellow cardinal buoy. Scab Rk. is marked by a red lighted buoy, and a green buoy is located at 51° 42’N x 56° 26’W to the southeast of Western Pt. If approaching the entrance to Red Bay from this green buoy, head for the left hand building on Saddle Is. or the radio tower on the distant hill for the light structure on Saddle Island is difficult to identify.
We found 10 feet along the shore side of the public wharf and 7 feet along the floating dock. There is not much maneuvering room in this space. The red building on the northern end of the public wharf is for greeting passengers from cruise ships.
Alternative anchorage: As suggested somewhere, which I cannot find now, in a northerly we moved from just north of Saddle Is. to the western end of Western Arm and lay quietly in 25 knot winds, good holding on a sand bottom, with some angle weed.
To get the most out of the exhibits it is suggested one starts by viewing the film at the Parks Canada Building up the hill, plus one has to go there to pay to enter any of the exhibits.
2012 Steve Swanson: We anchored in Red Bay just off the small wharf on Saddle Island. The holding is good there and it’s an easy trip to land at the island for a hike. The Park Service does not mind as long as you stay on the trails, most of which are now boardwalks. We were entertained by several whales fishing in the harbor. The wind was strong but the harbor is sheltered, and the fog stayed outside.
2012 Tom Zydler: The owner of the gas station will deliver fuel in jerry cans (yours and his – he owns several) to the floating dock on the inside of the main wharf. From there you can dinghy it to your boat. Otherwise the big wharf can be too exposed to use by an average sailing yacht.
View looking east over Red Bay and Saddle Island - Janet Stanley 2013
Chateau Bay B-5
2013 Michael and Hannah Moore: Henley Harbour - The wharf on Stage Island is no longer useable on its N face.
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow: Pitts Harbour - Rocky bottom but no problem holding. Newbold Smith was correct. When a SW gale and fog were outside in the Strait of Belle Isle, we had sunshine and very little wind.
American Tickle from Devil's Dingin TAble - M. and H. Moore
Battle Harbour - B-25
DOCKAGE: Docking during 2018 will be severely restricted while a new wharf is constructed. This important $ 2.7 million (cn) improvement is scheduled for completion in one season. Guide users should follow the progress of this work through our on-line updates or the Battle Harbour website.
2016 Tom Templeton: I think that Battle Harbour is well worth the splurge, if only for one night, it is such an amazing, surreal place. In combination with Red Bay, one gets a sense of the history of the region. We stopped at Battle Harbour on both the north- and southbound journeys. The store, and lounge above, are nice. Wifi sketchy but present.
2015 Editor: Battle Harbour Historic Trust continues its revitalization under new management and a new Board of Trustees. A new kitchen and restaurant is now in operation in one of the wharf buildings.. New guest accommodations for tourist visitors have been completed, and various other infrastructure up-grades are in the works. The wharves, though usable, remain a challenge. The large “L” shaped northerly wharf has now deteriorated completely, and has been removed. The southerly wharves have been beefed up and remain usable.
Half museum and half private community, Battle Harbour survives as both thanks to its unique combination of rich history, strategic location, and wild beauty. It is located a half-hour boat ride sea-ward from Mary’s Harbour , a community connected by road to the Saint Barbe – Blanc Sablon ferry, and 90 minutes north of Red Bay, newly designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – all of which makes Battle Harbour a potentially (if not already) popular destination for “adventure tourists” both individually and by the bus-load. Lest this discourage the visiting yachtsman, one would do well to consider that even a “bus load” is a small number of individuals dispersed over the full acreage of this community, and that it requires a certain level of imagination and intellect for “tourists” to make their way to this end of the earth – indeed, a level of imagination and intellect which can lead to most interesting conversations around the dining room – especially for the crew of a small boat having exhausted all topical relevance with fellow crew.
As in the past, a wharfage fee is charged ($ 2.00 per foot in 2014), which includes showers, laundry, and electricity. Phone and WIFI are both reported to be significantly up-graded as of fall 2015.
2012 Philip Koch: This summer was our fifth visit, so we've had a chance to see it over the years. We were pleased to see things in as good condition as they ever have been, with the exception of the wharves (below). The staff is upbeat. We remain concerned about their balance sheet and sustainability, but our over-all impression was positive. They do a wonderful job interpreting an important part of the history of Labrador, and provide a unique opportunity to get a feeling for life in an outport community. The staff goes out of their way to help. Hot showers and laundry machines. The meals are a delight: prepared with skill, featuring local ingredients where possible, reasonably priced, and served with warmth. We highly recommend a stop in Battle Harbor.
Grendel was berthed at a wharf south of the L-shaped one, with plenty of room for her 44' LOA and 6.5' depth. Visiting sailboats need not be concerned about lack of suitable berths, at least for now.
2012 Brian Stewart and Jane Witherspoon: There is a limited amount of room available without rafting. The winds funnel through the harbor and can make entry and exit a bit tricky.
Facilities: 120 V / 15 amp power at the dock or from one of the display buildings. Long extension cables are required. Water on the wharf, but boil water advisory in effect in 2011.
Mary’s Harbour B-30
2016 Bill Cook: Large pier at fish plant, forming an enclosed basin. Fuel from a long hose to any location on the pier. Water has shorter hose, which reaches the inside face.
Fox Harbour (also called St. Lewis) B-35
2016 Bill Cook: Water if fish plant is open. Fuel from truck.
2016 Tom Templeton: Fish plant is closed, hence no laundry or showers.
School closed in summer, hence no wifi.
Three grocery stores, one with red roof on hill south of the wharf.
Diesel at grocery store in town.
Cafe is closed.
Wifi by chatting up grocery store manager, or same at the clinic by the airport.
Wharf is in excellent condition.
2012 Tom Zydler: The fish plant was closed but the wharf is in excellent shape. Water from the plant building. Fuel delivered to the wharf. Three groceries. One, the Mangrove’s is a red roofed one right above the wharves. Pool’s (Shirley and Gerald Pools) store - in town. If anchored you can put the dinghy at a traditional looking landing owned by Warrick Chubbs who, by the way, is restoring this area to the old glory of cod fishing days – a miniature Battle Harbour.
This town has the best organized and maintained and the longest trail in coastal Labrador over the hills to the coast, to Deepwater Creek and Cape Lewis – leads through typical Labrador forest, hills, by lakes etc – highly recommended.
2012 Brian Stewart and Jane Witherspoon: Tied up at the Fishing Wharf since the facility had closed down mid July. When the facility is open (May 1 – mid-July) there is water, power, showers and laundry facilities, but there also may not be any space on the wharf.
Remarks: Lots of black flies when it was sunny. All establishments close from 12-1 and from 5-6 for lunch / dinner. Hours are not posted; it is assumed anyone needing the post office, clinic or stores will know the hours.
Facilities: No power or water (showers, laundry) are available when the plant is shutdown. There is a clinic in St. Lewis. No public phone. There is a Post Office. There are 3 stores that sell basically the same stuff except one of the two in town sells fuel. A left turn from the Wharf takes you into town and past 2 stores. At the far end of the road is the school and library with internet (WiFi). A right turn from the wharf takes you to another store (red roof), the trail to the old Pinetree Line base and at the end of the road a lookout across the harbor. There are 2 WiFi signals available at the wharf that are open. They may work for you but I had limited success even with an amplified antenna. The school has WiFi.
Kerry Cove in St. Francis Harbour Bight – B-65
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow: Good shelter from south to west winds. Rocky bottom, but no problem holding.
Occasional Harbour – B-76
2012 Brian Stewart and Jane Witherspoon: Anchored in Arch Cove on stone and mud I think. There was a lot of chain dragging over bare rock noise and the bottom is very uneven (20 – 45 feet). CQR came up clean so I’m not sure what we set on. Wind was less than 15 knots, so the ground tackle was not tested.
There were some bugs and very small fish. A small fish net across the mouth of the bay does not prevent access or use of as much scope as required. One of the most picturesque anchorages we have been in. Settlement on north shore near French Cove. No evidence of local residents, but some of the dwellings were in good condition. There were a few dwellings on the south side of the fjord as well. Facilities: None.
Charlottetown - NEW (will be B-81)
2012 Tom Zydler: Located in White Bear Arm, 52º 46’N x 056º 07’ W is very busy summers with a large fish processing plant and the wharf packed with fishing vessels. Approaches from the north: south of Lewis Is., through Shoal Tickle (at the NW corner of Square Is.) is very well marked. The approach from the east along the south shore of Narrows Is. is also very well marked. We anchored just SW off the red buoy NM12 which marks the approach to an inner basin. This basin, filled with smaller locally owned boats, has a deep channel (apparently over 15 feet) and it’s possible to raft to one of the vessels. Deep water is at the outer end of that wharf. Floating docks on the starboard hand on entering the basin have very shallow water.
Fuels are sold at the Powell’s Grocery and they will deliver jerry jugs if you are anchored off. Clinic in town and a small busy airport. Very welcoming people especially Powell family members who also own the grocery and some efficiencies.
Ship Harbour – B-75
2016 Bill Cook: Ship Harbour: The bar extends west from the inner point, and has a least depth of less than 6’ LW. We carried 6’ by staying about 100’ off the point.
"Cloverleaf Cove" or Duck Harbour B- 98 52°58’N, 055°50’W
2015 Trevor Robinson: This part of Stony Island has been resurveyed and the new Canadian chart has changed place names and added new ones. What was formerly Duck Harbour has become Wild Bight and the name Duck Harbour moved to the next bay N that is informally called ‘Clover Leaf Cove’ in the CCA Labrador Guide. There are now two Wild Bights on Stony Island; the other Wild Bight is on the E side of this small island. All names used here conform to the new usage.
Duck Harbour is an attractive anchorage, well protected and of easy access with good walks, a convenient watering stream, and for those of with more primitive heating systems, plenty of firewood. Something, probably coyotes, yipped and howled around the anchorage at night. There were also black bears, but no ducks.
Approach: The outer approaches from either N or S of Stony I is straightforward. All dangers are apparent and the channels leading to the protected waters behind Stony I have a least width of 0.3nm.
The final approach to Duck Harbour is equally straightforward. Gull Rock, a low rocky islet in the approaches to Duck Harbour, has a drying rock about 100m to its E, both of which are left to port (N) on entry. On entering duck Harbour, favor the Jims I (starboard) side of the channel to avoid an underwater rock (minimum depth1.5m) off the N shore - see sketch chart. The entry channel has a least depth of 3.1m, the minimum depth being E the S end of Jims Island.
Anchorage: Once past Jims I, turn S and anchor as convenient in 12-17m, soft mud requiring the anchor to be set gently, but good holding once set and ample swinging room.
All depths reduced to approximately chart datum using tidal data from Comfort Bight and Square Island Harbour.
2013 Trevor Robinson: The holding is patchy and it took IRON BARK a couple of tries to find good holding about 100m NW of the drying rock, in mud, shells and a few stones. The drying rock covers 0.5m at HWS and is then difficult to see with an overcast sky. There is no good watering stream in Eagle Cove.
Hawke Harbour - B-105
2012 Brian Stewart and Jane Witherspoon: We anchored in the small pool by the rusted-out beached whalers. Black mud with a great hold in 30 feet. Lots of bugs especially in the early evening. No evidence of habitation, although a few dwellings were in good condition.
Eagle Cove B-106
2016 Bill Cook: Depths N of rock about 15ft; S of rock around 40ft.
Squasho Run - B-108
2013 Trevor Robinson: No difficulties as all dangers are now buoyed, including those in the northern approaches.
2012 Tom Zydler: Good anchorage in the indentation on the west shore just west of rocks marked by buoy NE3. Black bear country here.
2012 Brian Stewart and Jane Witherspoon: A great motor or sail down a picturesque channel.
All depths reduced to approximately chart datum
using tidal data for Comfort Bight.
Penny Harbour looking northeast.
Penny Harbour B-115 53°09’N, 055°46’W
2015 Trevor Robinson: Penny Harbour is well protected and of easy access. It has three cabins in habitable condition and in 2015 was used as a summer base for at least one fishing boat that docks on the largest stage on Burke Island.
From the NE, pass between The Sugarloaf and Bobby Rocks thence across Comfort Bight to Owl Head. This approach is possible in thick fog using GPS alone. In good weather it is possible to approach from the SW between Mad Moll and Black Rock, but there are several shoals to avoid that would break in even a moderate swell. This route is unsafe in fog.
From Owl Head, keep to the N side of the channel to avoid a rock off the N shore of Burke I. The rock has a drying height of 0.9m and is about 60m N of the NW corner of Burke I. Keep to the Owl Head shore, which is steep-to, until the W shore of Burke I is open before turning S. After turning S along the W shore of Burke I, a mid channel course is safe until near the S end of Burke I then favour the Burke I side of the channel to avoid rocks that extend into the channel from the mainland shore. These rocks extend out from the small headland on the mainland shore opposite the S rocky islet at the SW corner of Burke I (see sketch chart).
Anchor where convenient in the basin SW of Burke I. The basin is 3.8 to 4.8m deep with an even bottom of very soft mud with a little kelp. Set the anchor gently so it can penetrate deeply enough into the mud to find good holding. There is ample swinging room
American Tickle B-120
American Tickle from Devil's Dining Table - M. and H. Moore
Passage West Of Isle Of Ponds - B-135
2016 Tom and Nancy Zydler: This passage between Rocky Bay and Porcupine Bay saves miles as well as the need to go offshore east of Black Tickle and through Domino Run.
The N entry begins between Chair Head on Isle of Ponds and Eagle Island to NE. From there steer to 53º 28.0'N, 056º 00.0'W. Next go to 53º 27.6'N, 056º 00.4'W. Then to 53º 27.2'N, 056º 00.0'W at which point depths decreases so make a short change to 53º 27.17'N, 055º 59.9'W. As the depth improves swing to 53º 27.0'N, 055º 59.9'W. Then to 53º 26.9'N, 055º 59.9’W where the depth begins to increase.
To be on the safe side I plan to enter the shortcut on the rising tide, for example about 3 hours before HW at Cartwright hopefully giving me about 3 extra feet of depth. Usually I had about 12 feet on the bar but on one occasion we read 10.9 feet. Bear in mind that tide calculations in that area are pretty much approximate as well as variable as a result of prolonged wind direction.
2012 Tom Zydler We went that way twice and the shallow spot at the southeastern part of the passage had 9 – 10 feet at 1 hour 30 min. before High Water at Cartwright.
Porcupine Bay B-135
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow: It shoaled gradually when we went beyond the soundings in the SW cove. Sheltered for all wind directions except NE. Very sticky mud, excellent holding but a large harbor that did not feel snug.
Narrow Arm - NEW (will be B-136)
2012 Tom Zydler: Enter between Eagle Rocks and Duck Rocks. We anchored along the south shore of Narrow Island at 53º 29.9’N x 056º 06’W and explored farther west with the dinghy – low tundra terrain, small pools with ducks in the fall.
Sandy Bay - B 139
2012 Brian Stewart and Jane Witherspoon: – Poor holding in the places mentioned in the guide with either CQR or Danforth. Sand with kelp in water less than 25 feet. We finally got a set further west in Sandy Bay, but with wind gusts of 30 knots from the NW and severe chop made this location uncomfortable.
Bateau Harbour - B-140
2013 Trevor Robinson: Good holding with little weed. Eleven cabins are kept in repair and used as weekenders by people from Cartwright. The red buoy in Toole Rock was in position in July 2013
2012 Brian Stewart and Jane Witherspoon: On the outside – the CQR set Immediately with 30 knots from NW in 25 feet. When wind backed to South, we still held, but the waves made the location uncomfortable. A local resident suggested we move into the inner harbor. Good holding in 14 feet, mud bottom. Very little chop in the inner harbor, even with 25 knots of wind from the south.
Remarks: 4 fishermen still occupy 4 houses on the site, but are probably summer residents. Good background reading: Our Life on Lear's Room, Labrador by Greta Hussey. Greta tells her story of growing up spending the summers in Bateau Harbour and the trip to and from her winter home in Newfoundland.
Facilities: None. Wharf is unusable.
Black Tickle (Salmon Bight) B-141
2016 Tom Templeton: The fish plant closed in 2011 or so. The wharf now has a new second L, to make a nice basin with an entrance and a lot of room. The grocery store is well stocked. Diesel available adjacent the wharf.
North Harbour – NEW (will be C-6)
2012 Tom Zydler: good anchorage off a white house at 53º 41.9’N, 056º 33.2’W
Curlew Harbour and Southeast Cove - C12 & 13
2012 Brian Stewart and Jane Witherspoon: Anchored in Curlew Harbour in rock and mud, depth 34 feet. 160 feet of chain out. Holding not as secure as indicated in guide, but less than 15 knots of wind, so not a good test of the holding. Then we tried to gain access to Southeast Cove, but we found a 10 foot ledge at the entrance instead of the 18 feet mentioned on the chart and we were at high water. One dwelling, no facilities
Indian Tickle B-165
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow: Found calm anchoring in strong SE wind in Warren Cove.
Grady Harbour C-10
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow: We hooked something on our anchor at the south part of the anchorage when the wind changed but did get it clear. Recommend considering buoying anchor.
Cartwright – C-15
2016 Tom Templeton: Free showers and laundry at the fish plant.
Wifi at pub and library, which has irregular hours.
The gallery and kayak rental is still open, but is a long walk.
Diesel at convenience store by the public wharf.
2012 Brian Stewart and Jane Witherspoon: Anchor in mud between the red navigation aid and moored boats. There is little current in the harbour even with a 2-3 knot current in the entry channel.
Public wharf may be unusable due to high commercial traffic. Marine centre is no longer active but the south face has one small ladder that makes getting on and off difficult. This area is also used by commercial traffic. One space in the U shaped fishing boat wharf has reasonable ladder access.
Facilities: Public phone in the Northern Market. It also has boxed, frozen, and canned goods of all descriptions. Poor selection of fresh foods. All forms of alcohol with a reasonable wine selection. They will deliver to the wharf. A real hardware store. Hotel/Bar opens at 7pm and has WiFi that can also be accessed from the picnic table by the door. Restaurant is closed but plans to reopen under new management. Fuel is available at the road end of the old Marine centre wharf.
Internet/WiFi available at the School library and the local pub
2012 Tom Zydler: As usual very friendly. Diesel delivered to the plant wharf. Internet in the bar or, when it’s closed, on the bench outside it. You can have your own propane bottles filled in the gas station across from Cartwright Hotel. Very good grocery near the wharf. Water from the fish plant. Laundry and shower courtesy of the plant.
Pasasage West Of Huntingdon Island – C-25
2012 Tom Zydler: The latest charts are quite accurate and the passage is wide – we never had less than 2 fathoms at Low Tide.
Ice Tickle Island – C-70
2015 Trevor Robinson: not nearly as well protected as Edwards Harbour, which is only 1nm away.
2012 Tom Zydler: good anchorage in a large bay in its east side. This is north of the anchorage marked farther south in the passage between Ice Tickle Isl. and Mundy Island.
All depths reduced to approximately chart datum
using tidal data for Icy Tickle
Edwards Harbour entrance channel looking east from the
highest point on the west side with the rocks outlined in red.
Edwards Harbour C-76
2013 Editor: Definitely favor the east side on entry. 7' draft bumped in 2012 on the west.
2015 Trevor Robinson: Edwards Harbour is a landlocked basin adjacent to Icy Tickle completely sheltered from any sea with good holding. Its entrance is narrow and constricted by a mid-channel rocky reef but once beyond this there is ample room for several yachts to anchor in 3-4m depths. Edwards Harbour is a pretty spot but has no good watering stream or firewood.
The entrance channel is 100m wide with its inner part partially obstructed by a rock ledge. This rock lies nearly in the centre of the channel and has a least depth of 0.6m at LWS. The rockz is shallowest and widest at its N (inside) end. There is a narrow, slightly serpentine channel deep enough for yachts on either side of the rock. The channel on the eastern (starboard on entry) side is the easier of the two, being slightly wider, straighter and deeper. Tide streams in the entrance channel are weak.
Entry by E side channel:
Enter between the two rocky points forming the entrance to the harbour keeping mid channel until the SE point is abeam then steer towards the E (stbd) shore. Follow the shore keeping 12-15m from it until the highest points on each shore are abeam with the vessel on a line between the two peaks. There are two peaks on the E shore, the highest one and the one referred to here, is the more northerly of the two. The E shore is NOT steep-to; keep a minimum of 12m off it. The passage between the mid channel rock and the rocks extending out from the shore has a least width of 8-10m and least depth of 3.1m below chart datum, so at low tide will generally have 3.5m or more. Once past the center rock, edge towards the middle of the channel to avoid a rock ledge that extend 20-30 m out from the corner where the shore turns to the E.
Entry by the W side channel:
Similar to the E side – After entering midway between the entrance points, alter course to keep 12m off the W shore. This channel is narrower than the E channel and although it is possible to carry 3.0m below chart datum through this channel, this requires a sinuous course to avoid shallower sections. A more likely minimum is 2.1m. Once past the center rock alter course to mid channel to avoid an isolated (0.8m) rock off the small headland on the W shore.
There is a single rock near the middle of the harbour. It dries 1.3m (i.e. is awash on a 1.3m tide in Icy Tickle) and when covered shows as a light patch if the light is good. The main part of Edwards Harbour has an even bottom 3 to 4m deep composed of mud and a thin covering of weed, with 7.5m hole in the northern part. Anchor where convenient, the obvious place being on the 3 to 4m flat N of the drying rock. The low hills around the harbour are treeless and do little to block the wind, but the anchorage is protected from any seas with good holding and ample swinging room.
Smokey Tickle C-85
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow: The government wharf was still in OK condition for tying up in 2013. Choose a spot with vertical covering boards still intact.
Tuchialic Bay - NEW (will be C-101)
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow: We went west of wreck in entrance and had no problems. Well sheltered from all wind directions. It opens to the NE but that direction is somewhat sheltered by Bear Island. It is a large harbor that is deep in the center but anchorages can be found around the perimeter depending on wind direction. We had SE wind and anchored off the interesting looking plane wreck on SE side. A bit off the beaten track but better shelter than Webeck if you have just rounded or are waiting to round Cape Harrison. At the south end of the harbor is a landing area for unloading supplies for the nearby radar tower.
2012 Tom Zydler: In case Webeck Harbour is too rough for comfort the approach to Tuchialic Bay is well charted. The Bay itself is pretty deep around 10 fathoms to 7 fathoms. The chart shows a wreck in the middle of the entrance so favor the west side.
Double Island - NEW (will be C-101)
54º 051’N x 58º 23’W
2012 Tom Zydler: a very good anchorage, easy dinghy landing in the east part of the bay, good walks ashore.
All depths reduced to approximately chart datum
using tidal data for Makkovik.
Meshers Harbour D-5 54°56’N, 058°59’W
2015 Trevor Robinson: Meshers Harbour is a well-protected anchorage in Adlavik Bay. The shores are well wooded and there is a clear stream at the head of the bay. As might be expected from its orientation, Meshers Harbour is an excellent place to ride out a gale from the N sector especially as there are enough trees on the hillsides to damp down the gusts. Meshers Harbour is a lovely spot to spend a day or two.
There is an isolated drying rock 0.4nm off North Point that is difficult to see when covered.
Drying rocks extend a short distance W from the westernmost island off the entrance to Meshers Harbour. As the channel across the bar in the harbour entrance is well to the NE, a vessel approaching Meshers Harbour has no reason to come close to these rocks.
The entrance to Meshers Harbour is partly obstructed by a rocky bar extending N from the very small rocky islet on the S side of the entrance. There is a channel with a minimum of 4m below chart datum close to the N shore. On entry, follow the N (starboard) shore around keeping 10-15m off the low rocky bluff then the same distance off the low grassy rock flat beyond the bluff. Watch the depth sounder and if the water gets uncomfortably shallow, edge closer to the N shore as it is steep-to. Once over the bar, depths increase quickly to 12-14m and a mid-channel course can be followed.
Towards the head of the harbour in 9-10m, mud and a few stones, good holding with ample swinging room, or anywhere else that suites. The trees break the force of any wind from the N quadrants, making Meshers Harbour a comfortable place to wait out any gale from W through N to E.
Strawberry Harbour from the south.
Strawberry Harbour D-20 55°09’N, 059°04’W
2015 Trevor Robinson: Strawberry Harbour is at the entrance to Makkovik Bay, about 6nm to seaward of Makkovik. Strawberry Harbour is well protected, of easy access and has a good watering stream. Ashore the last remaining cabin was collapsing in 2015. There is a good watering stream at the head of the harbour and good walks ashore.
Strawberry Harbour is tucked behind a low rocky island with a drying rock off its W side. This rock dries 1.8m and barely covers at HWS and is probably always marked by breakers. A small ledge on the SE side of the entrance channel extends a few meters out from the shore. Least depth in the approach channel is 8m, least width about 100m.
Anchor in the widest part of the cove in 6-8m, sandy mud, good holding with adequate swinging room for most conditions. In heavy weather a second anchor or a line ashore to limit the swinging arc is advisable. The hills behind Strawberry Cove send strong gusts down the harbour in a SE gale.
Makkovik - D-25
2016 Bill Cook: Fuel by truck. Water by hose – go to inner face. Free laundry and WiFi at the plant.
2015 Editor: Experience has shown Makkovik may be a more reliable airport for crew changes than Nain – less closure due to low ceiling.
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow: The grocery store in the blue corrugated building is now a Big Land. Fruit and vegetable deliveries are “usually” on Thursday. The phone number for the oil company is wrong in the guide. It is 709-923-2117 (not 924). The direct line to the oil truck is 709-923-2328. You can walk up the hill from the fish plant to the gas station to arrange a fuel delivery. Fresh water is at the head of the fish dock and they will loan you a hose if yours isn’t long enough. Free washer and dryer at the fish plant. Free wifi upstairs at the fish plant.
The travel-lift here is the only one in Labrador now that the Cartwright lift has been moved to Quebec.
2012 Tom Zydler: Great place to stop as usual. Anchor or wharf.
Bay Of Islands 55°13’N, 059°35’W
2015 Trevor Robinson: Iron Bark crossed the parts of the unsurveyed section of the Bay of Islands without encountering any dangerous shoals until close to Tommys Rocks, but the bottom is uneven suggesting there were unseen dangers close to her course. Visibility was poor, increasing the likelihood that she passed close to a shoal without seeing it. I have not included a chart showing Iron Bark’s course and soundings as it would be misleading to suggest there were no dangers close to it.
Iron Bark passed within 400m of the reported position of the uncharted rock at approximately 55°13’N, 59°31’W near the line of sounding on chart 5046 without seeing anything. This is said not to doubt the rock’s existence but to emphasise the difficulty of seeing it.
The entrance to Rattlers Bight between Tommys Rocks and Drunken Harbour is shoal. There is probably a channel through to Rattlers Bight but finding it will require sounding ahead with a dinghy. Condition were unsuitable for doing this when I was there so I turned back from close east of Tommys Rocks where the depth decreased to 6m with shoal water visible close ahead.
All depths reduced to approximately chart datum
using tidal data for Makkovik and Hopedale.
Rose Island anchorage looking north.
Rose Island Anchorage D-43 55°16’N, 059°44’W
2015 Trevor Robinson: Roses Island anchorage is conveniently situated for an overnight stop when bound to or from Hopedale. The anchorage provides good protection except from the north in moderate depths with good holding in pleasant surroundings. There is a bight 1nm NW of the anchorage that looks from the chart as if it might provide protection from a N wind but it is less protected than the chart would suggest and the bottom is irregular and rocky, suggesting poor holding and the prospect of a fouled anchor. Blind Mugford Tickle, 3.5 nm to the N, is a better berth in a north wind.
APPROACH FROM THE NORTH: Follow the line of soundings south from Tikkerarsuksekkinerlik Point, but note the shoals that extends further east into Tickle Arichat than charted – see sketch chart.
APPROACH FROM THE SOUTH: Follow the line of soundings through Lillian Island Tickle but beware of the shoal at the N end of the tickle as it extends much further W than charted. This shoal terminates in an uncharted rock, awash at half tide and very close to the 17m sounding on the line of soundings on chart 5046. Pass W of this rock, where there is deep water. A shoal extending E of this rock towards an easily visible rock charted as drying 1.7m, about 300m to the E. At high water do not confuse this 1.7m drying rock with the half-tide rock. See sketch chart.
The short E-W channel south of Roses Island that connects Lillian Island Tickle to the Roses Island anchorage has rocky islets and shoals on its N side; keep to the S side of the channel to avoid them. This channel has a rocky bar across it with a least depth of 3.6m. It is disconcerting to watch depths decrease abruptly from 12m to 3.6m but there is adequate water for a yacht at any state of the tide. This bar might break in a heavy W or NW swell, in which case it is possible to go around the N end of Roses Island and approach the anchorage from the N.
ANCHORAGE: Anchor in the E arm in 7 to 10m, mud and stones, good holding, protected from all except the N. The shores are steep-to except for a drying rock close off the point below the cabin. Swinging room is slightly restricted but adequate. Use Blind Mugford Tickle anchorage in N winds
All depths reduced to approximately chart datum
using tidal data for Makkovik and Hopedale.
Blind Mugford Tickle D-44 55°20’N, 059°45’W
2015 Trevor Robinson: Blind Mugford Tickle is on the SW side of Winsor Harbour Island and provides good protection in any wind from the N quadrants in rather bleak surroundings. In all winds except those between NW and NE, Roses Island anchorage 4nm to the S, is a better berth in more scenic surroundings.
If approaching via Arichat Tickle, note there are several uncharted rocks on the W side of that tickle (see sketch chart). The charted rock at the S end of Arichat Tickle dries about 1.8m and is generally visible. The passage between Winsor Harbour Island and Hares Island may be disturbed by tidal eddies.
Drying rocks extend up to 300m out from the E shore of Winsor Harbour I. These rocks only cover on extremely high tides and some part of them usually shows. Keep to the W side of the tickle to avoid them.
There are two possible anchorages:
The first is in the main part of the tickle just before it narrows is in 7m, muddy sand and stones, good holding with ample swinging room. A vessel anchored here is in the tidal stream and may be tide rode in light winds.
The other possible anchorage is in the pool in front of the two cabins. Anchor in 4m, muddy sand and weed, good holding but restricted swinging room. This anchorage is out of the tidal stream and slightly better protected than the one in the main part of the tickle. Beware of a 1m patch about 50m off the headland that forms the N side of the pool (see sketch chart). Do not attempt to get in close to the cabins as the water shoals quickly in that direction.
Granny’s Boot – D-45
2012 Tom Zydler: WARNING. The south cove, the “heel of granny’s boot” – the entrance is only 4 feet deep at low tide and very narrow.
Hopedale - D-50
2016 Tom Templeton: Hopedale town wharf OK, don't need fender boards. Inside L is all weather. No water or diesel at wharf. Wifi at motel cafe. Diesel at shop near freighter wharf. Two grocery stores. Wharf rats, beware.
2012 Tom Zydler: Good grocery, restaurant in the hotel near the wharf, fuels across harbor from the wooden town wharf. No problem leaving dinghies at the wharf. Friendly people.
Tooktoosner Bay – D-51
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow: This cove is very inaccurately charted with depths much greater than shown on the north shore and much less than shown at the SE corner. A good sized area with about 25’ is available for anchoring with good holding.
Passage Inside Of Cape Harrigan – Shoal Tickle - D-55
2015 Trevor Robinson: The options for rounding Cape Harrigan are either inside Nunaksaluk Island via Shoal Tickle or outside it around Cape Harrigan. The outside route is in deep water but can be very rough due to back-reflected waves from the rocky coast, compounded by current effects.
The inside route is in calm water and considerably shorter, but requires traversing a broad, relatively shallow flat. Although there is a least charted depth of 1.6m in Shoal Tickle, it is passable to a yacht with a draft of 2.1 or 2.2m at any state of the tide provided a few rocks and rocky areas are avoided. A deeper-draft vessel will need to consult the tide tables before traversing Shoal Tickle. The tide floods west through Shoal Tickle, but the stream probably never exceeds 1-1/2 knots.
Passage from west to east:
Tikigakjuk Point to 55°47.10’N, 060°24.10’W (WP1). There are several rocks and islets to avoid but they are well charted, water depths are greater than 5m and the channel has a least width of 0.4nm. This section could be safely traversed in fog relying on GPS alone.
55°47.10’N, 060°24.10’W (WP1) to 55°47.30’N, 060°22.50’W (WP2). This section is a broad sand flat with a few scattered boulders standing as much as 0.5m above the general level. A course that clears the points on the south side of the tickle by 200m works. When the low islet at the E end of Shoal Tickle is visible, steer towards a point about 1/3 the way from its north end and the point to the northwest of the islet. The least depth at LWS along this section is likely to be about 3m or perhaps a little less over the largest boulders. In good light the boulders are visible and can be avoided.
55°47.30’N, 060°22.50’W (WP2). A rocky spit extends from the point on the south side of the tickle almost to this waypoint. The spit is difficult to see in poor light. Tom Zydler reports grounding lightly on it in position 55º 47.27’N, 060º 22.49’W. The waypoint of 55°47.30’N, 060°22.50’W clears it. There may be deeper water further north; I did not investigate there. Certainly it is shoal immediately to the south of this waypoint. This spit is probably the cause of most problems for vessels traversing Shoal Tickle.
Once 50m past the point with the rocky spit, turn SE (to starboard) leaving the islet to port. Pass half way between the rocky islet and the mainland shore then steer a mid-channel course once deep water is reached. This section is a sand flat about 2.5-3.0m below chart datum with a few boulders rising 0.3m above the general level. This short section is the shallowest part of the channel, but should not be a problem except to a deep-draft yacht, and then only at LWS.
All depths reduced to approximately chart datum using tidal data for Shoal Tickle.
2012 Tom Zydler: We went that way twice favoring the southern side. Ist time we went through at 45 minutes before High Water in Nain and had minimum 11 feet. 2nd time we went through at 1 hour 30 min AFTER LW in Nain and bumped slightly (our draft is 7 feet) at 55º 47.27’N x 060º 22.49’W.
Cape Harrigan Harbour D-56
Correct coordinates should be 55°50’N, 60°22’W
Tikigatsiak Bay E-6
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow: Thick mud, no weed
Tom Gears Run E-6 56°04’N, 061°14’W
2015 Trevor Robinson: Tom Gears Run is protected from anything except local wind chop and wide enough to tack up against a headwind. Its southern end is partially obstructed by a moraine bar but the channel across this is unlikely to be a problem even before the buoys are in place. Tide streams in Tom Gears Run are generally weak but there are eddies around some shoals. Buoys in Tom Gears Run may not be in place until the end of July, but navigation is not difficult in their absence.
Tom Gears Run has several excellent anchorages. The best yacht anchorage is Tikigatsiak Cove, unsurveyed but of easy access using the sketch chart. It is completely protected and has good holding in moderate depths. Tikigatsiak Cove lacks a watering stream and in 2015 there were several black bears browsing on the foreshore, which restricts the opportunities for walking ashore. These bears have reportedly been resident since at least 2013 so it would be wise to assume they will be around for some time.
Kangekluktanna Bay, opposite Tikigatsiak Cove, is open to the W. The water is deep unless anchored very close to shore with restricted swinging room. Anchoring that close to shore also gives the bugs easy access to the boat. The bay is a pretty spot with a watering stream.
An unnamed cove opposite the entrance to Shoal Tickle on the Tunungayualok Island side of Tom Gears Run a better anchorage than Kangekluktanna Bay, though not as scenic. Like Kangekluktanna Bay, it is open to the W. The bottom is even and clean, the anchorage is in 16m, stiff mud and shells, good holding and ample swinging room. Water can be had from a large lake, not shown on chart 5049 but only 100m from the head of the bay. There are many trout in this lake. It is possible to anchor far enough offshore to discourage some of the bugs.
Nuvudluktok Bay, the almost landlocked bay on the NW side of Tunungayualok Island is an interesting destination in its own right. There is a moraine bar across the bay’s entrance with a channel across it deep enough for most yachts to cross at any state of the tide. The bay has two excellent all-weather anchorages. See sketch chart and separate notes.
Shoal Tickle connects Tom Gears Run to Zoar Bay. As its name suggests, it is shallow, but with a least depth of 2m is navigable to most yachts except at extremely low tides. The shallowest section of Shoal Tickle has a rubble bottom with no large boulders standing above the general level.
Takpanayok Bay is unsurveyed but the northern part appears to be deep and clear of dangers. This part of the bay is generally too deep for a yacht to anchor. On the northwest side of Takpanayok Bay is a short section of sand beach where it would a yacht could be careened for repairs, a rarity in Labrador. Depths are moderate in the southern part of Takpanayok Bay and it is possible to anchor anywhere around its shores depending on wind direction. The bay W of the site of the former Moravian Mission at Zoar is probably the best anchorage, protected from all except strong W winds. See sketch chart.
NUVUDLUKTOK BAY, TANUNGAYUALOK ISLAND 56°06’N, 061°11’W
2015 Trevor Robinson: Nuvudluktok Bay is a large bay, almost land-locked lagoon indenting Tanungayualok Island. There are two entrances to Nuvudluktok Bay. The E entrance is very narrow and was not examined. The W entrance is across a moraine bar with a channel deep enough for most small craft on its SW side. This channel has a least depth side of approx 3.4m at LWS. Once across the bar, depths increase rapidly. The bay is totally protected with interesting scenery and two all-weather anchorages and several fair weather anchorages around its shores. There are numerous harbour seals in the bay.
ENTRY: On entry stay to SW side (starboard side) of the channel keeping 80m to 120m off the shore. The bottom is moraine rubble and small boulders, least depth 3.4m below chart datum, so except at low water springs, the depth should be greater than 4m. Depths decrease to 2.5m or 3m close E of the best water so it might be a prudent for a deep draft yacht to send a dinghy to sound ahead if crossing the bar near low water springs. The NW side of the entrance is shoal. Tidal streams in the entrance are weak.
ANCHORAGES: There are several possible fair weather anchorages and two protected from all winds. The two most protected anchorages are:
1. The best anchorage in Nuvudluktok Bay is in the slot between the two islands in the centre of the bay and the peninsula to their north. The approach from the W is clean with mid-channel depths shoaling gradually from 30m at the entrance to 8m at the anchorage. Anchor in 8-9m in the middle of the bight just short of where the channel narrows, protected from all directions except a narrow arc to the WSW. Alternatively anchor a little further into the small bay forming the N side of the bight in 5m sheltered from all directions but with more bugs. Both anchorages have a clean bottom of sandy mud with good holding and ample swinging room. The channel to the E of the anchorage is narrow and shallow, with a least depth of about 1.5m at LWS and a clear width of about 30m. It is navigable with a reasonable margin of safety by a yacht of average draft at half tide or greater. The bottom in this channel is moraine rubble with a few small boulders rising 0.3m above the general level.
2. There is a good anchorage in the first bay to the W (starboard) of the entrance in 7m sandy mud, good holding, but open to the E with a fetch of 1.2 miles. Alternatively anchor a few hundred metres further S behind the three small rocky islets in the S part of this bay in 3-4m, sandy mud, very good holding, protected from all directions but with restricted swinging room. A vessel over 15m using the inner anchorage may need to run a stern line ashore or moor. The approach to the outer anchorage is clean. The entrance to the inner anchorage is narrow but clean with a sandy mud bottom, least depth 4m.
All depths reduced to approximately chart datum using tidal data from Davis and Nain.
All depths reduced to approximately chart datum
using tidal data from Davis and Nain.
Zoar and Takpanayok Bay 56°07’N, 61°24’W
2015 Trevor Robinson: The long-abandoned site of the Zoar Moravian Mission is at the head of Zoar Bay. Ashore there is a fenced area where the remains of some of the former inhabitants, having been removed in 1924 presumably as souvenirs, were reburied in 2011. Apart from a few pottery shards, there is little sign of the former settlement.
Shoal Tickle connects Tom Gears Run with Zoar Bay. The tickle has a least depth of 2m at LWS so is deep enough for most yachts except at extremely low tides. The shallow section of Shoal Tickle has a clean, even bottom. The tide ebbs W in Shoal Tickle but the stream does not appear to be very strong.
Boat Harbour and Zoar Bay are indifferent anchorages, being deep and poorly protected.
The narrow channel W of Gibraltar Island that joins Boat Harbour and Zoar Bay has a least depth of 4.5m. The best water is slightly W of the centre of the channel. The wide channel E of Gibraltar Island has depths of over 30m and adds less than a mile to the distance between Boat Harbour and Tapanayok Bay.
Takpanayok Bay is deep and clean as far S as the narrows near Zoar. There is a short section of boulder-free sand beach on the NW shore of Takpanayok Bay where a yacht could be beached for repairs, a rarity in Labrador and worth noting.
The bight forming the S end of Takpanayok Bay is clean except for shoals on the N and E side of the cove on the east shore, near the site of Zoar. Depths throughout the bight are moderate, making it is possible to anchor where convenient. There is a good anchorage on the S side of the cove opposite the site of Zoar in 8 metres, mud, clean bottom with ample swinging room and good holding. This cove has an extensive shallow sand bank on its N side and its head (E end) is shoal with boulder banks. This anchorage is a little open to the W but moving less than a mile W across the bay gives shelter from a strong W wind.
Tasiuyak Bay is connected to Boat Harbour by a narrows of unknown depth through which the tide boils. The speed and turbulence of the ebb through the narrows precluded me from sounding it from the dinghy. The ebb appears to be reinforced by river outflow. If the narrows are ever navigable, it will probably be at slack water or at the beginning of the flood.
Wyatt Harbour looking northeast.
Wyatt Harbour E-10 56°20’N, 061°17’W
2015 Trevor Robinson: Wyatt Harbour is on the south side of Nukasusutok Island and is advertised in the Canadian Pilot as being one of the best harbours on the mid-Labrador coast. The main part of the harbour is too deep for a small vessel to anchor and too small for a large one. The anchorage is in West Cove, which is accessed by either of two narrow channels. It is well protected but has restricted swinging room.
There are two above water rocky islets in the harbour. They are steep-to and may be passed on either side provided they are given a clearance of 10-20m. The anchorage in West Cove is connected to the main part of the harbour by three narrow channels. The southern and middle channels each have 3.5m at LWS and the northern channel is shoal. The middle channel provides the easiest access to West Cove. It is very narrow, but wider than the south channel. When entering via the middle channel at LW, steer a mid-channel course. The ledge extending out from the S side of the channel covers at HW. If entering at HW and this ledge cannot be seen, favor the N side of the channel.
Anchor in the main part of the cove in 18m, mud good holding with barely adequate swinging room. Alternatively anchor in the NW end of West Cove in 12m with a line ashore as there is not enough room to swing there.
All depths reduced to approximately chart datum using tidal data from Nain.
(Note: Lat. Should read 56° 20.51N))
Ten Mile Bay E-16 56° 30’N, 61° 36’W
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow: In NW wind the "protective cove" on the north side had considerable chop wrapping into it. Nearby Kauk Harbour is a much better choice.
Kauk Harbour E-17 56°30’N, 061°43’W
2015 Trevor Robinson: Kauk Harbour is 3nm S of Nain, 6nm by sea. It is a well-protected harbour of easy access in attractive surrounding with good walking ashore, but watch for black bears. The harbour is uninhabited but a derelict cabin and several stone tent rings show it to have been occupied at least temporarily in the past. There is a fine, clear watering stream on the N side of the inner bight and abundant firewood around the shores. A path leading to Nain begins close E of the watering stream. The path is boggy in places making rubber boots the best footwear for this one to two hour walk.
The approach is clean except for a drying rock on the S side of the entrance channel. The rock is in the mouth of a small bight on the S side of the channel and is 0.9m above chart datum. It is a danger to a yacht of average draft at most states of the tide but can be hard to see as it only dries for 2 hours either side of low water on spring tides and not at all on neaps. Favour the N side of the channel when passing the rock as the rocky bluff on that shore is steep-to.
Anchor in the inner bight in 12-15m, mud, good holding and completely protected.
All depths reduced to approximately chart datum using tidal data from Nain.
Kauk Harbour. The drying rock in the approach channel is outlined in red.
Nain - E-20
2016 Bill Cook: Much more prosperous since the Nunatsiavut provincial government began operating in 2005; more people employed, buildings better maintained, fewer kids running wild. Fuel by truck, water by hose for a small fee. Showers, laundry and WiFi at the hotel.
2012 Tom Zydler: We anchored close south of the southern wharf in about 10 fathoms – good holding. We were clear there from the approach that the Northern Ranger and the ship of Woodward Oil Ltd take arriving in Nain. Because of some warnings we didn’t leave the dinghy at the wharf but one of us would do the ferrying back and forth. However, kids on the wharf seemed quite nice and mostly interested in fishing for char. The Atsanik Lodge let us use their e-mail in their lobby as well as laundry. We filled jerry jugs with diesel by dinghy - at high water it was easy to land the dinghy right by the filling station at the conspicuous blue tanks, located near shore off where we anchored. For larger quantity of fuel the truck will deliver it to the wharf. Water’s a problem. Fish plant this year was opened only for a couple of weeks and they have the only water faucet near the wharf. However, we kept our tanks filled from streams in many anchorages and never had any problems drinking that water even unboiled.
Nain has a very busy airport – in fact we had one of friends join us there and another leave from there on the way south. We met a lot of very friendly people there.
St. John’s Harbour NEW
56 º 45’N x 61 º 22’W Chart # 5054
2013 Wolf Slanic reports St. John’s Harbour to be an excellent anchorage off the outer passage north or south in the Nain Archipelago.
Base Island 56°38.5N, 061°33.5W
2015 Trevor Robinson: About 5 miles north of Nain is a bay indenting Base Island that looks as if it should provide good shelter. Unfortunately the narrows at the entrance to this bay (56°38.2N, 61°33.6W) has only 0.5m at LWS so is only accessible to a yacht of average draft near high water. The tide stream is considerable in the narrows. The area is of no particular scenic distinction. Kauk Harbour, 9nm further S, is much better berth in more pleasant surroundings.
Port Manvers Run, Challenger Cove E-25a 56°44’N, 61°37.4’W (not Challenger Point below)
2016 Bill Cook: plenty of room in the inner cove – about 900ft wide and 25ft depth.
Manvers Run, Challenger Point E-25.3 56°56.5’N, 61°31.1’W
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow: There was a strong northerly outside, but Challenger Point anchorage was very calm. The wind is deflected away somehow. Very little weed.
2008 Fin Perry: I’ve used this anchorage twice very successfully. Second time, though, we hooked something on the bottom with our 25KG Bruce-type anchor and had a difficult time getting free. Consider a trip line?
PORT MANVERS - E-25
2012 Tom Zydler: The northern entry by Willis Rocks is now correctly charted on the new Canadian metric chart.
Kiglapait Harbour 57º 09.5'N, 061º 34.5'W
2015 Tom and Nancy Zydler: About 4 M west from Perry's Gulch. Quite spectacular high mountains overlooking it could possibly send down some gusts in certain wind direction. Swell could maybe bring some surge from the ocean but we had very kind conditions when visiting the place.
Tasiuyak Bay - NEW (will be E-27)
57º 13’N x 061º 59’W Chart #5055
2012 Philip Koch: There is an excellent anchorage at the mouth of Angutausugerik Brook in Tasiuyak Bay. Good holding behind the spit near the 3.7m sounding on chart 5055, in 20' mud and clay with good swinging room and protection. There are some cabins a mile or two to the East, but the anchorage is pristine and beautiful, with plentiful signs of wildlife including bears, seals, and char. We approached from Okak Bay by passing to the West of Iglusuaktalialuk Island, following the northern line of soundings in Arakutak Bay, and departed following the southern line of soundings along the shore of Tikkigaksuak Peninsula. There apparently is a bar extending across Arakutak Bay, running roughly ESE from the SE tip of Tikkigatsiagak Island. The minimum depth we found along the north track was 14', and 29' in the southern track. Recommended.
Cut Throat Harbour E-50
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow: Moderate weed. Latitude should be 57°28 N not 57°238N.
Hebron – F-35
2016 Bill Cook: Best depths and holding ground at north end of cove. Small dock and float in shallow water near the buildings.
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow: In strong NW wind we anchored in the NW head of the harbor beyond the village. We found the heaviest weed of all our Labrador anchorages, but after dragging a little our Bruce held.
Restoration on the main building in nearly complete.
2012 Tom Zydler: The main building now has rebuilt outer walls. During summer time Buddy and Jenny Merkuratsuk and their 2 young sons Simeonie and Julius, all from Nain, work as Hebron wardens. Usually there are also anthropological and biologist researchers staying there.
Jerusalem Bight F-36
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow: Moderate weed.
SAGLEK – F-45
Bill Cook 2016: St. John's Harbour - They will deliver fuel to the dock, or can even bring it out to a boat by small barge, but it is very expensive (over $5 per liter!). Meals are available at their dining hall; $75 for dinner. You can join one of their boat tours, or arrange one for yourself; these, too, are expensive.
2012 Tom Zydler: the Torngat Mountains National Park base in St.John’s Harbor has grown substantially. They even have enough diesel (stove oil) and gas to sell to visiting yachts. Advice from longliner skippers – add some lub oil to stove oil (2q for a 55 gal drum) to improve lubricity. Showers. Restaurant with good food – one can buy meals there. Also possible to fly crew out of there although it’s considerably more expensive than flying via Nain.
Anchor off the eastern shore at the end of the bay – 58º 27.2’ N, 062º 47.6’ W. is a good spot. Avoid the western side – bottom is bad holding with a lot of hardware dumped there when the US base was closing. When the wind comes from the North move to the Big Island area.
Saglek Fiord, end of North Arm
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow: Anchored in 55ft of water at high tide. Plenty of swinging room. No weed. Fabulous views and hiking. We had good weather and this ranks as one of our most spectacular anchorages ever.
Kangalasiorvik Island (Saglek) F-50
2016 Bill Cook: Don’t be deterred by Chart 5059; the anchor shown on Annie Hill’s sketch has about 15 ft, even though it is shown as drying on the chart.
Eclipse Channel G-15
2013 Tom and Dorothy Wadlow:
French Bight – light to moderate weed, mostly angel hair. Good hiking with great views to the North.
NW of Miller Peninsula - SE gale force wind in the rigging but calm water, excellent holding in mud, almost no weed.
Razorback Harbour G- NEW
59 º 11’N x 63 º 27’W Chart #4771
2013 Editor: Razorback is a particularly lovely anchorage, large and open with a gently sloping bottom and excellent holding in spectacular surroundings. It has excellent protection from all but NNE.
Murry Head to Home Island G-20
2013 Phil Koch: Tunnissugjuak Inlet - Stone Man Harbour - I suggest that future editions of the Labrador guide should give Stoneman more prominence, perhaps its own page. The current edition mentions it only as the “un-named cove” (60º16.5'N 064º30.5'W) a few miles west of Clark Harbour on the north side of Tunnissugjuak Inlet. I think Stoneman may be the best all-weather harbor in northern Labrador. It is well protected, with reasonable depths for anchoring and swinging room. It is rather less austere and exposed than Clark. Weedy, but good holding otherwise in reasonable depths (25' +/-). We anchored behind the spit on the left as you enter. Like O'Brien and Bowdoin it may also be subject to severe gusts, but I'm not aware of any reports of such.
On the Matter of Polar Bears
By Finley Perry January 2009
In collaboration with Steve Loutrel, who has sailed to and climbed in the Torngat region,
and Angus Simpson at the Torngat Mountians National Park
The subject of bear viewing and personal protection is a complex one. To begin with, the wilderness is not a zoo. Animal sightings are not predictable, and can occur unexpectedly. Bears are numerous north of Nain, and one will see them - both polar bear and black bear. It makes sense to prepare for an encounter.
If not "endangered", polar bears have at best a challenging existence. They are adapted to the far north of frozen seas, hunting seals on the sea ice for much of the year, and living on whatever can be scrounged ashore in the warmer months. They live where food is scarce. Anything that looks like a meal is worth investigating. For whatever reason, polar bear populations on the Labrador and Baffin coasts are reported to be increasing in recent years. It could be that the populations are growing, or, perversely, it might be that changes in the extent of sea ice, or other environmental factors, have stranded concentrated static or even shrinking populations in certain areas, making these populations appear to be increasing.
Polar bears are meat eaters. Their primary diet is seals taken on the sea ice. They are opportunistic predators. They may kill and eat when they find food regardless of hunger. In summer they will scavenge as evidenced by berries in their scat, and it is safe to assume that along the Labrador coast in the summer and fall before freeze-up, they are generally always hungry. They will attack when an opportunity appears favorable. For example, "opportunity" might exist if potential prey appears weaker or slower than the hunter, or separated from a protective group. A single scared tourist hiking across the landscape might constitute such opportunity. A pack or group of "prey" keeping close together would appear more troublesome.
Black bears on the other hand are omnivorous and in fact most of their diet is vegetation. It varies, but 20 or 30% of their diet may be meat. Black bears may not be as predatory as polar bears, but they make up for it in unpredictability. Keep in mind, as you look around at the north Labrador landscape, that there is not a lot to eat in this place.
The native Inuit will not go into the country without a rifle. At the Parks Canada Saglek base camp, those venturing out of camp for research or recreation are accompanied by an armed "Bear Monitor". On the other hand, in Canadian national parks, no visitors may carry firearms. In the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve a special agreement allows the carrying or use of firearms only by native Inuit.
Considering that the carrying or use of firearms outside the Park requires, at best, a cumbersome permitting procedure for non-Canadians as well as Canadian citizens, and, if used less than expertly, a gun could well make an otherwise innocuous bear encounter truly dangerous…then what other protective measures can be employed?
- When going ashore, go in groups and keep close together. Keep a very close watch for bears, always scan the surroundings, be aware of where you are most likely to find a bear. You don't want to surprise a bear or be surprised by a bear.
- Before going ashore, scan the landscape carefully for signs of animals. If you see a bear, chances are he has seen you and curiosity will bring him to the shore giving both parties a good look at each other. Do not go ashore where you see bears. Either move to another harbor or simply stay on board.
- If using an inflatable dinghy, consider taking along a second inexpensive inflatable "raft" to enable a safe return to your vessel in the event a curious bear "playfully" punctures your primary transportation while you are away walking. See Steve Loutrel's notes below.
- Don't leave trash and garbage ashore. Avoid things that will attract bears when ashore -- for example, cleaning fish or game. Avoid cooking if possible.
- Look for signs of animal presence - tracks, scat, fresh kill.
- If you find a fresh kill, stay away from it. Don't get between a bear and its food.
- Try not to surprise any wildlife. Make noise. Use care when approaching blind corners.
- In the same vein, be aware of wind direction. If you spot an animal, and he sees you, try to stay upwind of him to give him notice of your presence and a scent of what you are.
- Carry noise-makers, "bear bangers" - perhaps a flare pistol - to frighten off an animal that comes too close. See Steve Loutrel's notes below.
- If you encounter a bear, keep your movements slow (relatively) and deliberate. Do not run.
- Don't get between a mother and cubs. A mother with her cub is especially dangerous. If she sees you as a risk to her cub you are in an extremely dangerous situation.
- Do not encourage an attack by making eye contact. Move off slowly. Speak assertively.
- Pay constant attention to your surroundings. If a bear appears interested and / or approaches you, try to scare him away as early as possible. You do not want to observe him up close!!!!
Those who make camp ashore will sooner or later have a bear encounter in camp. For this reason, Parks Canada discourages kayaking along the coast without a mother ship for sleeping. Camping on the beaches, particularly in the northern part of the Torngat Park is dangerous. The issue is not that "you might have a bear encounter, but you will have a polar bear encounter". Those who cruise the coast in a yacht will find bears along the shore or swimming off a beach, but it would be most unusual to hear of one coming aboard or attempting to board (see point on opportunity above). If your plans include extensive activity ashore, consider enlisting the services of a native guide / bear monitor. There is much to be learned of the country, customs, and wildlife from these individuals in addition to the peace of mind they provide.
One must do everything one can to avoid confrontations with polar bears. This includes studying and understanding polar bear behavior as much as possible. If you are forced to kill a polar bear, it should be considered a personal defeat - you did not do your job in avoiding a confrontation or scaring the bear away. You must report the event to the authorities. There will be an investigation to ensure that the circumstances were unavoidable and that it was in self defense. If there is strong evidence that the actions were unnecessary and irresponsible, then charges may be laid.
For a further excellent discussion on eastern Canadian Arctic wildlife in general and bear encounters in particular download the Parks Canada visitor information on polar bear encounters for Auyuittuk National Park in Baffin which you can find using the Parks Canada website http://www.pc.gc.ca.
Use http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/nl/torngats/visit/secur_e.asp to access extensive and useful information on the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve.
Finally, make note of bear and other wildlife sightings (time, location, lat/lon, gender, behavior, weather, etc), and report them to Parks Canada in Nain.
P. O. Box 471
Canada AOP 1L0
Toll Free: 1-888-922-1290
Also a reminder that anyone planning to cruise along the coast of the Park and land in the Park must register with the Parks Canada office. And further, permits from the Nunatsiavut Government (NG) are required for landing on Inuit owned land. Contact the NG before arriving to determine applicability to your itinerary and to obtain a permit. The address is below.
Department of Lands and Resources
PO Box 70
Canada A0P 1L0
Contributed by Steve Loutrel - January, '09
Information on handling bears.
- Canadian web site - Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve, also Auyuittuk National Park in Baffin
- An excellent DVD is available from Park Headquarters in Nain (address above). We viewed it and discussed handling polar bears with Angus Simpson, Resource Conservation Supervisor at Park headquarters. We learned much more about Polar Bears than we had learned in our seven previous expeditions to this coast. It was good timing, since with the dramatic increase in polar bears in Northern Labrador, we had our first two close experiences with bears in the summer of 2008. We were able to recognize the bears' behavior and scare them away using tactics given in the DVD. I would suggest that every member of the crew view this DVD. Multiple viewings are helpful.
- Tactics for scaring bears away. (This is covered in the DVD) If a bear seems to be interested in you, you should scare him away when he is as far away as possible - don't wait for him to get close. The more comfortable he gets with you and the more time he is in contact, the more chance he has to become predatory. If he becomes predatory, he will attack with the intention of having you for dinner. The advice from the park information is that if you are attacked "fight back". Without a firearm, this is a daunting situation! Start by throwing large stones. As climbers, we carried our ice axes - even if we didn't need them for the climb. I believe a group of people, all armed with ice axes against one bear does have a chance - do not consider it hopeless and give up! There is a (reasonable ?) chance that a predatory bear, feeling the results of well aimed blows with an ice axe may decide it is not worth it and depart. Clearly, the goal is to avoid encounters and to never let the situation get to this point!
- Equipment you should have ahead of time.
- Pen-launched bear bangers
- Pen-launched screamers - launch a projectile which emits a loud screaming whistle.
- Flare gun?? I have not seen it recommended but it may be helpful and you have it on board anyway.
- Loud horn.
- Bear repellent - pepper spray. This must be declared at customs. They should let you through though there have been problems with them not allowing the spray through. It is important to note that you are going to a wilderness area and that the pepper spray is for repelling bears. The container must say that it is a bear repellent. Pepper spray for protection against people is illegal. We are told by the park personnel that it is not clear whether pepper spray is effective against polar bears. There are documented cases where spray was deployed effectively, BUT IT MUST BE STRESSED THAT BEAR SPRAY IS A VERY LAST RESORT AFTER ALL ELSE HAS FAILED. BEAR SPRAY IN AN OF ITSELF SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED ADEQUATE PROTECTION AGAINST POLAR BEARS.
- Consider carrying a legal weapon - heavy walking stick, ice axe, axe, etc. Realize that it may not be effective.
- Inflatables - for going ashore.
- Bears seem to find inflatables interesting - perhaps they remind them of seals. Several yachts have had inflatables which were tied astern destroyed by polar bears.
- speeds of approximately 5 knots for significant distances. This means they can easily overtake a rowed inflatable. You would be very vulnerable while rowing in an inflatable.
- I have heard of observations of bears swimming at When we leave the inflatable on the beach for any time, we deflate it, roll it up, and if we are going to be gone long, bury it under a pile of rocks. A second method of getting back to the boat is a good idea. Perhaps a dry suit? Check carefully for bears before setting out for the boat in a dry suit!!
Bringing a firearm into Canada -- You can go on the Canadian Firearms Regulations site and study the requirements and regulations. Keep in mind that laws and regulations are enforced as best understood by those charged with that responsibility. Interpretation can vary despite the best of intentions to follow the letter of the law or regulation. In dealing with authorities and firearms one does not always get the same answer, but as best I understand it:
- For Canadian Residents - a Possession / Acquisition Firearms License card is required. This is also true for non-residents - e.g. US Citizens coming into Canada with a firearm for more than a month.A US resident can obtain such a license if he has no criminal record.
- You must take the Canadian Firearms Safety course and pass the final exam. There seem to be no exceptions to this. The course is given in various places in Canada.
- All firearms which you bring into Canada for more than a month must be registered.
- If you are staying for less than a month, you may be able to get a 1 month permit and register the firearm at the border. I do not know what other requirements there may be and you should contact the Canadian firearms and border authorities before you arrive at the border.
- Carrying a firearm on board. I believe this is legal if you declare it at the border and they allow you to bring it into the country. It is very important to declare it.
- Carrying a firearm ashore - outside the park.
- If you are in native lands, you must have a permit to be in the native lands (See Nunatsiavut Government contact information above)
- You must have a Polar Bear/Black Bear Protection Permit. For this you must apply to the Government of Newfoundland & Labrador Department of Natural Resources.
What firearm to carry if you decide to carry one and can deal with the permits, etc? -- The authorities recommend a pump action shot gun - with no choke.
It can be handled quickly for close-in shooting - which is likely to be the case. if you only have one shotgun, it is recommended that you load the magazine with slugs, keep the chamber empty and learn how to top load the gun with deterrents such as bangers, screamers, plastic slugs and beanbags. Do not mix the ammunition in the magazine. If you have to shoot a charging bear you want every shot to count. Ideally you could have 2 shotguns. 1 with slugs and 1 with deterrents. Buckshot can be problematic, and is not recommended. If you prefer a rifle, it should be a big-game caliber.
- 375 H&H Magnum would be my preference.
- 338 Winchester Magnum is not a bad choice.
- Some people use a 30-06 though it is pretty light for stopping an angry polar bear at short range.
- The Inuit frequently carry a 243 Winchester but this is very light unless you are an expert Inuit hunter. The shot must be extremely well placed to do anything other than make the bear very mad.
- It is important to use hunting ammunition with very controlled expansion so that it will give deep penetration. You want a "big game" cartridge.
- The big game calibers generally only carry 3 rounds in the magazine. You should keep the chamber clear unless you are about to shoot so you will only have 3 shots before you reload. If you fire a warning shot you will only have 2 left.
- Sights should be useable for short range shooting.
You should be very experienced with the firearm. If you do need to use it, there won't be much time to figure it out! If you do have a firearm with you (outside the National Park), you should use it only as the last resort. The bear protection permit requires you to carry other non-lethal methods for scaring bears away. You must do everything you can to avoid confrontations with polar bears. This includes studying and understanding bear behavior as much as possible. Again, If you are forced to kill a polar bear, you should consider it a personal defeat - you did not do your job in avoiding a confrontation or scaring the bear away. You are the guest in this country. It will pay to find your place in harmony with the land and animals you encounter.