1 June, 2000
Thursday June 1, 2000
We arrived back in St. John's yesterday afternoon. After a week out in the ocean, it was great to see land again!
The same pilot boat that led us out of the harbor last week met us as we neared the rocky cliffs. It pulled up alongside the Healy, and the pilot scrambled up a rope ladder onto the Healy's deck. It looked pretty scary, but I guess the pilot is used to it. Every day he guides the large ships in and out of the harbor. He must know every rock in the channel by heart. When we got to Pier 17, the crew used thick ropes called mooring lines to tie the ship to the pier. The ropes have to be strong enough to keep big ships like the Healy from drifting off!
We'll be here for two days. Some of the scientists left the ship to go home, and several new scientists will be joining us. On Saturday we'll fill up the gas tanks before heading north in search of ice.
Port calls (when the ship docks at a pier) are real morale boosters for the Healy's crew. Some of the crew have been out at sea since last October. When the Healy is underway, they work around the clock. The only chance they get to take a break is when the ship is in port.
Susan and I decided to take advantage of this port call to do some sightseeing. We had heard that a large iceberg had grounded in the harbor at Bulls Bay. People had also told us that there were herds of caribou along the highway. So we rented a car with our roommate, Carol, and headed out of St. John's along the southern shore of Newfoundlandís Avalon Peninsula.
The route we followed is known as Irish Loop. It's named for the Irish settlers who came to Newfoundland 400 years ago to fish and farm. Today their descendants still speak with a lilting Irish brogue. I was surprised to hear Irish accents in Newfoundland!
The coast of Newfoundland is very beautiful - rocky cliffs rise right out of the sea. Our first stop was Cape Spear, which is the easternmost point on the North American continent. Someone told us that if we turned our backs to the Atlantic Ocean there, we would be facing every other person in North America! Do you think that's true?
There are two lighthouses at Cape Spear. The older of the two was built in 1836, and is the oldest lighthouse in Newfoundland. It guided fishermen to safety for more than 100 years. A new one was built to replace it in 1955, and it is still in operation. Today the lighthouses are automated, but in the past, people had to keep the lights lit. At lunch we talked to a man whose father had been a lighthouse keeper 70 years ago. They lived on Belle Island off the north coast of Newfoundland with one other family. A ship brought them food twice a year. They had to grow the rest themselves. Can you imagine growing up like that?! I think I would be lonely.
We had a great day touring the island. I bet you're dying to know if we ever found the iceberg and the caribou. You'll have to click on Susan's page to find out!
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