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30th September, 2015

St. John’s, Newfoundland

The four days at sea up from the Azores to Newfoundland were a restful interlude. I managed to gain the best of the sea conditions by weather routing first directly to the west. It was, however, a delight to see the eastern cliffs of the Avalon Peninsular looking almost golden from the first rays of the rising sun as we approached the narrow entrance of St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland.

Being the most eastern port of North America, this natural harbour must have been a very welcome sight to many a mariner in days gone by. Now it seems to be pretty full of oil supply vessels and also a base for the Canadian Coastguard ships. The waterfront of St. John’s is a busy place while just one block back is Water Street and the centre of town. But it is the countryside that should be seen to really enjoy the call and all our tours went off in varying directions. The weather was very favourable, sunshine and light winds and on the first day temperatures in excess of 70 degrees were reached.

We managed to take a tour on the second morning, a pleasant ride on the coastal road to Petty Harbour, a small fishing community where time seems to have stood still. Numerous painted wooden houses were scattered around a small bay and numerous boats of varying sizes lay in various states of preparation. The ‘Mini Aquarium’ was opened up for our tour and the enthusiastic Director took out all sorts of small sea mammals from their tanks to show the folks, some not as attractive as others, including a rather large and slimy slug like ‘thing’. Mrs R and I took a short walk to where we had seen a local chap displaying an odd variety of handicrafts he had made, including a ‘Newfie Doorbell’. Hopefully one of the attached photos will explain (it’s a mouse trap in the middle)

Perhaps the highlight for me though was being awarded a certificate by the mayor which, amongst other flowery text stated, ‘The City of St. John’s confers upon the Captain of the ‘Saga Sapphire’, ‘Freedom of the Seaport’ as Admiral of the Fleet with the right in perpetuity to sail through the Narrows of the port city, etc, etc.’ Before getting too excited about this great honour though, I had to point out to my wife that the next paragraph read, ‘However, the City withholds the Admiral’s traditional right of having unruly citizens or visitors hanged on Gibbet Hill, Signal Hill’. All then a great piece of tongue in cheek, for which the Newfoundlanders are apparently well known.

Captain Philip Rentell

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