We’d made two attempts already to go on an iceberg viewing boat tour. Messages didn’t get relayed in Fogo and two weeks ago, we drove to Twillingate but the Arctic ice had blocked the boats in the harbour.
Third time’s the charm.
I liked and shared a Facebook contest for Canada Day tours but knew my friend Debbie had plans to win it so was very surprised to get a call yesterday from Mrs. Iceberg Man inviting us to join them for a free tour on Canada Day.
We were both awake and eager so were on the road early for the 1:00 boat tour. They’d asked us to arrive 20 minutes before departure so we had an hour to kill.
We made a quick run to Sleepy Cove to check out the potential. It was overcast but quite warm.
No trouble to find icebergs today.
With an early breakfast, we were now ready for lunch at the Crow’s Nest Café.
I wondered why they don’t post iceberg pictures on their Facebook page but realized they don’t need to. The place was busy with eat in, deck and take out lunches and coffees. They make excellent coffee and food. Eating it with an iceberg view just jacks it up another notch.
Fortified, we headed to Iceberg Man HQ, the Iceberg Man Gallery.
In addition to the boat tours, the Stockley family operates this great gallery and gift shop.They have the full range of Twillingate labelled clothes for tourists who are underdressed and they carry Newfoundland crafts, carvings and books. There is even pottery from Labrador.
Captain Cecil Stockley explained safety procedures to us before we boarded the vessel. He’s been operating boat tours for 30 years and warned us there was “some motion to the ocean” today but no wind. Based on the conditions, he would take us to the best places for the day.
His crew also consisted of Dylan, a summer student, recently graduated from high school and Bert Stockley, the captain’s brother.
Dylan is heading to the Marine Institute in the fall and comes from a family of seafaring folk. His grandfather was the captain of the Easter Seal, a hospital boat that served Newfoundland outports. Leo was vaccinated on that vessel as a child. Dylan is going to study nautical sciences with an ambition of being master of a Coast Guard vessel.
Bert, besides being a good hand on the boat, knows how to entertain the guests. At 75 years old, he was” feeling lazy” on this Canada Day so “only mowed 3/4 of an acre of grass” before coming to work. Everything said was delivered with a twinkle in his eye. Dylan just smiled and shook his head. He’s learning from a master.
Just take notes for now, Dylan. Bert took a few years to master that delivery.
As we were steaming out the harbour, Bert showed is some clear iceberg ice. Icebergs are white because they contain tiny bubbles. On some bergs, there are bands of blue ice. This is ice that had melted and released the air, then refroze. The ‘blue’ ice is actually glass-like, unlike the rest of the more crystalized berg. It’s especially prized for keeping drinks cold…
It was interesting to note that three quarters of the passengers on the trip were Newfoundlanders from Gander, Grand Falls and Fogo Island. Great to see people holidaying at home.
The wind changed while we waited for the boat to leave so it was cool and choppy on the water. There is a covered wheelhouse but only a few took shelter. The boat was designed by another Stockley brother who was a naval architect and therefore provided lots of seating for the 19 passengers aboard today as well as easy passage from one area of the boat to another to get good picture angles. As we approached the five icebergs across the harbour near Wild Cove, more icebergs appeared on the horizon or behind or over cliffs. They went on forever.
Leo went up top with Captain Cecil for the better view.
We’ve seen hundreds of icebergs this year. Probably over 600 or close to that number but seeing them from a boat is a whole different experience.
Because he does this three times a day, Captain Stockley knows the best bergs for both access and for the magical shapes that beg to be photographed. He picked certain icebergs to circle so we could see the evolving shapes as we toured around. Others were picked for sheer size or the lines of blue ice as explained by Bert.
This particular berg was massive and had a great blue streak on the right end. I was also lucky enough to get a tiny bit of calving action. Woohoo!
The view from below the Long Point Viewing Platform certainly put the height of the cliffs in perspective. We continued on to the area near Sleepy Cove and saw the bergs “jammed up” as Bert said, not able to move far due to the crowding. It will take some calving or foundering to get things drifting again.
Captain Stockley continued to check in with us all, especially when the water was a bit rough. He reassured one nervous passenger that she shouldn’t look worried unless he looked worried. He reminded her he’s been doing this for 30 years and is very careful.
“We’re all in the same boat.” was also delivered with a twinkling Stockley eye. Must run in the family.
This as an excellent experience. The vessel is comfortable and roomy and the crew were great. They checked in regularly on everyone and offered picture taking tips and took pictures for some people. The two hours flew. We went straight out to the larger bergs and then came back between many others closer to the point and shore. Each iceberg is different from each other but also different from itself if you see it from different angles. I would gladly go out again if we get a chance again this summer. Thank you Iceberg Man tours for the great prize.
We made the mandatory run to the Long Point Lighthouse after the tour was over to see where we had been. Also ran into other passengers who were also checking out that view of the many icebergs around.
Oh, look, there’s bergs in Back Harbour!
A quick stop into Purcell’s Harbour and then the Walter Elliott Causeway between Twillingate and New World Islands to take pictures of yet more icebergs and no, we’re certainly not tired of them yet.