(The previous post should have come after this one!)
Francois (pronounced – and even spelled – Fransway by the locals), has been our favorite spot in Newfoundland so far.
We left Ramea at 6:30am and headed east. There was no wind and we ended up motoring the entire way – nearly 30 miles. The pretty sunrise quickly gave way to grey skies so it turned cold – but as the morning wore on, the cloud dissipated and by the time we arrived close to Francois, we were being treated to marvelous views of the dramatic rocky coastline with glacial valleys tumbling out to the sea. The arrival is dramatic – a narrow entrance with lighthouse overlooking, which from the sea gives you just a glimpse of the Outport within. Steep sides plunge down into the sea but after just a mile or so, there you are in a basin with the little Francois community clinging to its sides.
A visiting yacht dock is well placed and we were able to easily tie up on the starboard side with an Aluminum boat ‘Malekula’ already resting on the port side. Janice from Malekula’ was there to greet us and hand our lines – hardly necessary in the well protected bay, but appreciated nonetheless.
What stunning views! The massive rock face (The Friar) at the head of the bay, towering over Toodle-oo!, a waterfall burbling in the center of the village supplied by the lake on top which represents their drinking water supply.
We quickly secured the boat and went exploring – taking advantage of the beautiful day.
Francois is completely isolated, with the only access via boat and a ferry provides a daily service to Burgeo and Grey River. The town feels similar to LaPoile, but the people are younger and more outgoing. We were stopped by Eric and Sharon as we passed their house, who enquired about the likely outcome of the US election! We chatted with them for a while, learning that
there’s a boardwalk up in the hills which takes you to a lookout point high above the fjord. So, after walking around town a little, we made our way up to the top – following the very steep boardwalk past the cemetery (tough to get coffins up there!) and out onto the tundra. A large pond at the top is fed by a large cascading waterfall which in turn tumbles down a cascade towards the village.
The boardwalk to the top was easily visible, so up we went – what a magnificent view at the top!
If the weather holds tomorrow, we’re going to attempt to get to the top of The Friar but the described path is difficult to pick out in the overgrown vegetation.
We spent an enjoyable evening with our neighbors Janice and Jim – the first sailboat we’ve had contact with since arriving in Newfoundland. Managed to convince them to join the OCC – so done my part there!
The following day was wet. We used it to do some boat chores and Laurie is still battling to get us some medical insurance – all made rather difficult with the weakest internet signal imaginable…and requiring one to sit outside the Francois Museum (not open as far as we could tell)!
Day three was rather better so we made an attempt to get to the top of the Friar. We followed the boardwalk up to the pond and scanned for a viable path. In the end we decided to make our own route – which ended up with us clambering up granite rocks and boulders and really getting more into mountaineering than hiking! All rather scary as there was a definite possibility of stepping on something and breaking through between rocks and breaking a leg! However, we managed to scramble to the top of the first bluff only to realize that our path to the Friar now required a descent and re-ascent through thick undergrowth! We opted to go the other way and ended up going over to the top lake and watching the marvelous cascade down to the lower lake. Fortunately, there was an overgrown path to follow down, so our trip back was easier.
We had a new neighbor now – a 40ft trawler owned by a local that maintains a house in Francois, but flies helicopters. He was quite interesting as he not only flies transmission lines, he’s also flown President George Bush Snr. Up to Francois a couple of times and has flown for the Extreme Sports Cable network! Interesting fellow!
We left Francois in glorious sunshine – a really picture perfect location – at least during the summer months – and headed towards Hare Bay/Morgans Arm – supposedly another magical spot with large waterfalls and uninhabited. It was a good job that Hare Bay is close, as the wind did not come up and it was a nasty ride with a big swell. However, as we doused the main (which had been up just to limit the rocking action), the wind came up and we ended up motoring up Hare Bay with 25 knots gusting to 35 right on the nose! This is not what we were hoping for. We managed to get to the head of the bay and anchored in 20ft and 25knots – fortunately, our set was rock solid, we never budged an inch.
We were indeed in a pretty bay with 3 large waterfalls, but because of the weather, we weren’t really able to enjoy it all properly. We left the following morning quite early – headed for France! Actually a couple of French Islands just 70 miles south – St. Pierre and Miquelon… We had a fantastic sailing day the entire way!
As you will have read, St. Pierre can be windy too!