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Published: July 18th 2013
"I'm trying to protect what I keep inside
All the reasons why I live my life"
We did not drive today, so no iPod choice, but given the miles we have covered I thought that Crossroads by Tracy Chapman would be good for starting music.
Today mostly consisted of a little shopping sandwiched around a fantastic cruise outside the harbor to see puffins and whales.
St. John's was founded in 1583 when Sir Humphrey Gilbert landed on this "new found lande" and claimed it for the queen (Elizabeth I), thus founding the British overseas empire. It is thus the oldest seaport in North America. It also lays claim to the title of the oldest settlement in North America to be incorporated as a city. The main Street, Water Street, is the oldest street, laid out in the 1540's. St. John's took an economic beating when the centuries old cod fishing industry collapsed due to overfishing. It is in a resurgence now due to its proximity to nearby oil and gas fields.
After a leisurely awakening and breakfast, we headed downtown to have a glass of wine and then board the
boat for the cruise. The cruise lasted a little over two hours, and was nothing short of fantastic. It started out cruising past ocean going tugs and salvage vessels, and then exiting the constricted entrance to the harbor (The Narrows) which makes the harbor so well protected, and cruised along the shoreline with sheer cliffs and rock spires virtually coated with bird guano from the thousands of sea birds nesting there. This is known as the sea bird capital of North America, and it is easy to see why. The rocks and skies are alive with gannets, shearwaters, murres, gulls, and of course puffins, the iconic birds of the area.
While doing some birdwatching, the captain spotted some whale activity, and we went out to investigate. I have spent many hours on dive boats and whale watching boats in Hawaii, and have seen some spectacular humpback sights, but never have I gotten as close to whales as I did today. There were no breaches, but we saw them lolling on the surface, slapping their pectoral fins and tails, diving with tails aloft, lying on their backs and slapping both fins on the water surface. We were close enough that
we could hear them blowing as they surfaced. This area has the largest concentration of humpback whales in the Atlantic at this time of year. After months of not feeding while migrating to the Silver Banks area off the Dominical Republic for breeding and calving, they return to these rich waters to feed on at least a ton of fish etc per day. I wish I could have gotten in the water with them. Those who know me best know that I am heart a blue water sailor. I love being in deep blue water on a rolling vessel. Wish I could have seen more.
I am going to paste in a link to a video of the whales, but it is a 78 MB file so probably best to see it on a computer rather than phone or iPad.
One note: Newfoundland was once an independent country, and they set themselves up with a time zone that is 1/2 hour off based on the fact that it is entirely within the eastern half of the Atlantic time zone. It is very confusing. I think this is proof positive that very small independent countries
should not be allowed to make important laws without adult supervision.
Tomorrow: tour some sites south of here, then head to Argentia to catch overnight ferry to Sydney NS again to begin our journey south for a return home on Sunday.
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