We left Gros Morne at 3 AM, hoping to make a weather window down the Newfoundland coast and across the Cabot Strait to Cape Breton. The gambit worked out — no really bad wind, sometimes favorable, a few rainstorms but also some clear skies and stars at night. After two long days and one overnight (40 hours) we made it to Ingonish on the Cape Breton coast. It was a bouncy ride across Cabot Strait, but a safe one. Winds were never over 20 knots. It is tiring to constantly brace oneself against being thrown against the boat first one way and then the other. Sleeping while sloshing is hard. So I was delighted to be out of heavy seas, and my seasoned colleagues admited to that also.
We anchored next to a rugged looking steel-hulled sailing vessel named Iron Bark. Tim knows the owner well. His idea of a good time is to find a remote bay in Greenland, freeze the boat in, and spend the winter on it. He’s done this twice, and once more in Antarctica! Whatever floats your boat. Still I can’t help but be respectful. I’d think it would be rather colder than an igloo, though I understand it (the igloo) is a cozy place once you get used to it. One thing that struck Finley when visiting the remote Inuit settlements in northern Hudson Bay is that for us it’s a dramatic adventure to go north, but for them it’s home. They like it and they want to be there and they know how to be comfortable.
A full day of easy sailing brought us home to Baddeck. And Finley is relieved to have made a safe and very successful journey. Even though I made only half the trip, it felt as if I’d done the whole two months when “home port” came into view. What was it like for whalers returning after two years?
The vegetative coating of Cape Breton is real trees, both broad-leaf and evergreen. As impressive as that seems, the organic soil is still just a thin coating, a foot or so thick at most. This is utterly clear at the cliff faces, where the soil/tree layer is dwarfed by the rock below. So it’s not so different from tundra — a few feet instead of a few centimeters, but still just a skim coat, and not very old. I love the idea of all that vegetative material coming from the air in the form of transformed CO2. Again, the tundra makes it obvious: the 4-inch mat of lichens, mosses, and miniature plants spread across the arctic rock world can’t have come from anywhere except the air.
What an interconnected planet! The air connects everything, the oceans connect everything.
What a fascinating planet! By visiting other ecosystems I realize how much more carefully I could notice my own.
On that note, signing off. Voyage over. Home to the wife and kids and grandkids and Concord Consortium.