Pilot Press

The Cruising Guide to The Labrador

Updates from the Summers of 2012-2013

The current print edition of the Cruising Guide to the Labrador is dated February 2012.

Miscellaneous Notes:

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 Mountians 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.

New Dock at Tabatierre
Photo from Canadian Harbour Authority  

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.

St Augustin

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.

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.

Anse du Portage A-15

2013 Sandy Weld: In midsummer 2013 there were half a dozen cabins being used.

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.

Blanc-Sablon A-6

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 vistors.  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 acrtic char.  You can not 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 caplin 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 Caplin 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.

Red Bay
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.

American Tickle
American Tickle from Devil's Dingin TAble - M. and H. Moore'

Battle Harbour - B-25

2013 Editor: Battle Harbour Historic Trust continues its revitalization under new management and a new Board of Trustees. A new kitchen and restaurant should be in operation in one of the wharf buildings by summer 2014. New guest accommodations for tourist visitors have been completed, and various other infrastructure up-grades are in the works. The wharfs, though usable, remain a challenge, and visiting yachts should not expect improvement of these for at least another year.

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 will be charged in 2014, which will include showers, laundry, and electricity. That fee is yet to be determined as of this writing (12-1-13), but it is expected to be both reasonable, and well worth the money.

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.

The wharves are indeed deteriorating, however.  The main L-shaped one in particular is alarmingly canted but still usable.  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: The visitors wharf is slowly sagging at the outer edge where the ferry docks. 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. One phone line for the entire island, with a courtesy phone in the General Store. Showers and laundry machines available at the dock.

Fox Harbour (also called St. Lewis) B-35

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Passage West Of Isle Of Ponds - B-135

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.

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.

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

Cartwright – C-15

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

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.

Edwards Harbour C-76

2013 Editor: Definitely favor the east side on entry. 7' draft bumped in 2012 on the west.

Tuchialic Bay - NEW (will be C-101)

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.

Makkovik - D-25

2012 Tom Zydler: Great place to stop as usual. Anchor or wharf.

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

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.

Passage Inside Of Cape Harrigan – Shoal Tickle - D-55

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.

Nain - E-20

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.

PORT MANVERS - E-25

2012 Tom Zydler: The northern entry by Willis Rocks is now correctly charted on the new Canadian metric chart.

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.

Hebron – F-35

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.

SAGLEK – F-45

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.

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.

Parks Canada
P. O. Box 471
Nain, NL
Canada AOP 1L0
Torngats.info@pc.gc.ca
Tel:709 922-1290
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
Nunatsiavut Government
PO Box 70
Nain, NL
Canada A0P 1L0
Tel: 709-922-2942
Fax: 709-922-2931

Contributed by Steve Loutrel - January, '09

Information on handling bears.
  1. Canadian web site - Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve, also Auyuittuk National Park in Baffin
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. Equipment you should have ahead of time.
  5. Pen-launched bear bangers
  6. Pen-launched screamers - launch a projectile which emits a loud screaming whistle.
  7. Flare gun?? I have not seen it recommended but it may be helpful and you have it on board anyway.
  8. Loud horn.
  9. 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.
  10. Consider carrying a legal weapon - heavy walking stick, ice axe, axe, etc. Realize that it may not be effective.

Bear Behavior
  1. Inflatables - for going ashore.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. All firearms which you bring into Canada for more than a month must be registered.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Carrying a firearm ashore - outside the park.
  7. If you are in native lands, you must have a permit to be in the native lands (See Nunatsiavut Government contact information above)
  8. 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.

  1. 375 H&H Magnum would be my preference.
  2. 338 Winchester Magnum is not a bad choice.
  3. Some people use a 30-06 though it is pretty light for stopping an angry polar bear at short range.
  4. 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.
  5. It is important to use hunting ammunition with very controlled expansion so that it will give deep penetration. You want a "big game" cartridge.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.


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