Friendly “Eh?”

Friday September 26, 2014 (45o 20’N   6050’W):  East Coast of Nova Scotia

It is probably an old joke, but new to me. It goes by some variation of “How do you get 20 Canadians out of your living room?”   The answer is simply to say “Please leave.”  

I’m not sure if everyone will appreciated the above humor in the same way as does the crew of the Lillian B., but if you can imagine trying to get 20 party goers from the US to leave your house, you’ll understand that the point of the anecdote  is that, as a group,  Canadians are exceptionally polite and eager to please. 

Starting with our first arrival in Nova Scotia back in July, that stereotype has held true. Tied up alongside the entrance to the St. Peter’s Locks, we were approached by a couple who, hearing of our plans, brought over fresh croissants for  breakfast, and a bottle of wine to be opened upon crossing the arctic circle. Thus was  our introduction to Canadian hospitality. 

In our travels in the Arctic, the indigenous Inuits and those from other regions were all openly friendly and helpful. I would like to say a special thanks to the woman in the Park Service in Pond Inlet who let me sneak on to one of the  park computers to download  critical weather software needed for us to read weather charts, an invaluable resource as we prepare to head out to sea.  And those serving in the Canadian Coast Guard were both professional and friendly.  The two Canadian Customs Officers who first checked us into Nova Scotia were courteous beyond the call of duty, actually filling out paper work on our behalf, something I can’t imagine happening with US Customs. (Perhaps they had seen my handwriting.) 

Far north in Erebus and Terror Bay, the Coast Guard  ice breaker the Pierre Radisson extended an invitation to the crews of the three sailboats in the bay to come on board for a tour and visit the canteen. In Arctic Bay, members of the Coast Guard  crew twice came over twice in their launch to the Lillian B, to see if everything was going well. On the way down the coast of Labrador, the crew of a Coast Guard helicopter relayed our radio transmissions as we sought information on safe harbors.  (We later met them in the hotel restaurant in Hopedale, as we waited out the storm.) And in Lark harbor, Ray, the Captain at the Coast Guard station,  not only let us use their dock to shelter from a storm, but also provided access to their facility for weather information. As we debated whether the storm had broken, Kevin from the station drove me up to a bluff overlooking our route so I  could determine if the waves had calmed down sufficiently to let us continue southward. As we backed away from the dock, he helped us cast off  our lines. 

By virtual of being on a boat, our contact with those on land is inherently limited. But when we did go ashore, the reception was always warm and nowhere more so than during our stay in Lark Harbor, Newfoundland. We arrived at the harbor in typical style: weary, unwashed and unshaven. The morning after our midnight arrival, Pete walked into town to scout out the essentials, which as usual included the internet, laundry, and showers. In well-populated and traveled regions these can be found in a marina or recreation facility. In remote areas, one or the other is often not available.  Lark Harbour is one such remote location, not set-up to cater to visiting yachts. None-the-less Pete returned from town to announce that Allison, the owner of the local grocery, had arranged  so we could take showers at the home of  her friend, Tim. You would have thought that we were out of town relatives, come to visit. Tim opened his home to us, letting us take showers and offering laundry. He spent a morning with me driving me around for a  sightseeing tour of the local area.  Allison let us sit in the back of her store, connecting to her wireless network. And on Sunday, we were invited to join Tim, Allison and her relatives for a turkey dinner that would do justice to a full-fledged Thanksgiving feast. They asked nothing in return. Tim would repeat, “ If there is anything you need, just ask , eh.  You’re not being a bother, so don’t worry. We’re glad to help.” It was a memorable experience. Allison’s sister runs a Bed and Breakfast, the Captain Cook* and   I hope to make it back with wife Kay someday (via land). Lark is one of the most picturesque harbors we visited and the people couldn’t be friendlier. 

And Tim and Allison, you’re welcome to “hang out” in our living room any time. No need to leave. 

*Captain Cook, Bed and Breakfast Cottages, 1 -877-681-2906, 69 York Harbour, P.O. Box 87, York Harbour, NL A0L 1L0

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