After our adventure in St. Anthony, Newfoundland, Canada, the previous day, we had sped 425 kms across the province to the city of Twillingate in an attempt to get out on the ocean and get up close and personal with icebergs in Twillingate.
Driving from Rocky Harbour to Twillingate
The drive from Rocky Harbour to Twillingate was a long, but easy jaunt along the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1), and after leaving Rocky Harbour and Gros Morne, National Park the scenery definitely took a turn for the average. This all changed, however, in the last 100 km of our journey. We left Highway 1 and drove on Route 340 N towards the Road to the Isles and the final stretch towards Twillingate. This section of the journey was breathtaking. The highway snaked between quaint fishing towns, skipped across the ocean from island to island covering many bridges and causeways. The weather, which had been brilliant throughout our trip, was continuing to co-operate. The sun shone brightly over the glistening bays.
As our backs began to stiffen from the drive, we all cried out in joy as we rounded the bend towards Twillingate and caught sight of Prime Berth Fishing Museum, the home of Captain Dave’s Boat tours.
Chasing Icebergs in Twillingate with Capt. Dave’s Boat Tours
Captain Dave, a longtime fisherman, teacher, and boat operator in Twillingate was our first choice for an Iceberg Tour. In researching tours in the area, he was one of the few smaller operators and his passion for the region, it’s ice-cold weather, and yearly visitors was evident in everything he wrote online. Christina and I had been following the Newfoundland Iceberg Reports Facebook page closely, and Capt. Dave was a regular contributor each day, showing off all the beautiful bergs he had witnessed that day, and describing each location and detail in earnest.
Capt. Dave tracked down some kid-sized life jackets for C & D and we loaded into his motorboat and headed out to Main Tickle. I was a little nervous about how the boys would handle being in a small boat again after our disaster in Bermuda, but C ran straight to the front of the boat and was all smiles with the wind in his hair. D took a little longer to warm up to the idea, choosing to stay in my lap for the first while until he found his sea legs, but once he got used to being on the water, we couldn’t keep him still!
It wasn’t long before we were catching glimpses of bergy bits (bits of ice that have calved off of larger icebergs) floating around us, and soon we had reached a large wedge berg surrounded by a sea filled with bergy bits. Capt. Dave was nice enough to let me pull my drone out for some video and we got some great shots, much to the thrill of everyone else in the boat.
Tip: The largest iceberg ever reported was over 50 m. in height and over 6,500 m. sq!
It was awe-inspiring being so close to one of these icebergs, and this one, at about 15 metres tall and 60 metres long was actually fairly small when you consider that they can reach sizes of over 50 metres in height and a diameter of well over 1000 metres sq! We circled around and found a very cool looking pinnacle berg so we buzzed over to get up close and personal with it. The brilliant blues of the pure ice seemed to glow from the depths of the ice. On Capt. Dave’s next outing, the beautiful berg below calved and fell to pieces into the ocean. This must have been such a thrill for him and his passengers to see!
Tip: Icebergs are known to roll and calve. Rolling means the iceberg flips over suddenly, while calving means that the iceberg breaks apart into pieces creating bergy bits. It’s important to keep your distance from icebergs for this reason.
Heading through the Tickles
After getting up close and personal with icebergs in Twillingate, Capt. Dave turned us around and took a long route through some Newfoundland tickles. Heading through these narrow rock splits gave us an intimate view of the local fishing culture. The coast was dotted with quaint fishing sheds and boats lined up and ready now that the ice was receding. The area is often full of birds, including gulls, terns, gannets, and puffins. Seals also can often be seen basking in the sun. We were lucky to catch a glimpse of one seal, but unfortunately, the cute little guy wouldn’t stay still long enough for a photo, so here’s another cute guy instead!
TIP: A Tickle is a Newfoundland term is a point between two rocks which you can get a boat through.
I must say that Capt. Dave was absolutely amazing with the kids. He was attentive and helpful with C’s constant, curious questioning, made sure that the boys each got opportunities to take in some of the close-up views, and even let C take a turn at being Captain. I learned that he used to be a teacher, and that was added to a long history of jobs within Newfoundland, including fisherman, tour guide and museum curator.
Checking the Lobster Traps
On our way back from exploring the tickles, we stopped in to check on some of Capt. Dave’s lobster traps. As we pulled up alongside the lines, the boys eagerly ran to the edge of the boat to catch the action. Maggie a super-cool traveler from Kingston, who had joined the tour was tasked with pulling up the traps and checking the lobsters. It was great watching how the traps are manually hauled up onto the boat, and each lobster is checked for size to see whether it is an option for that night’s dinner. C inspected them both closely while Maggie held them and they both agreed that one, which was covered in eggs, should be thrown back, while the other was too small, and should be left to grow into a more mature lobster. The pair were lowered back into the water and left to go on their way, while we pointed our nose towards the Prime Berth Fishing Museum.
Prime Berth Fishing Museum
Capt. Dave and his wife curate the Prime Berth Fishing Museum where his tours launch from. This place is a unique mix of cool, antique fishing gear, old fishing sheds, some of which were hauled from their original locations across the water to the museum, and quirky and hilarious mannequins offering examples of the different aspects of a fishers life and work. The place has amazing character and the boys were fascinated by the displays of whales baleen plates, shark jaws and most especially, the skeleton of a Sai Whale. The whale had been found beached on the shores of Newfoundland and was towed by Capt. Dave to the museum for display. The kids had a great time literally climbing inside a great whale!
Auk Island Winery
After saying goodbye to Capt. Dave and the Prime Berth Fishing Musem, we headed towards the town of Twillingate to explore this beautiful village. Like pretty much every town in Newfoundland, fishing is at the heart of Twillingate, but at the peak of the Main st in the town lies something unique. The Auk Island Winery is the only winery in Newfoundland. Since Newfoundland is not a province that is friendly to grapes, though, the Auk Island winery makes its wines entirely with local varieties of fruit. While fruit wine isn’t common, it’s far from unique. What makes Auk Island Winery so special is the water that they use within many of their best wines.
Greenland’s glaciers are date back over 10,000 years, making the ice that has arrived in Newfoundland and Labrador some of the purest water available. The Auk Island Winery harvests these icebergs and uses the pure, clean water as the base for many of their delicious wines.
Dinner at Doyle Sansome & Sons Lobster Pool
After tasting some delicious wine, we headed towards nearby Hillgrade for some dinner. The area is home to a small fishing pier where many of the crab and lobster fishers embark early in the morning before bringing the day’s catch back to the pier, and dropping the best of the bunch into the Lobsters pool at Doyle Sansome & Sons Lobster Pool.
D had passed out hard after our boat adventure, luckily for us, my amazing Mom, who had joined us on our Newfoundland adventure, needed a break herself and opted to wait with the D-man in the car while we checked out the pier and the famous lobster pool. C was fascinated by the pool full of lobsters that were separated by sizes and was quick to point out the largest ones he could find. The staff at the restaurant were incredible, even taking the time to pull out a lobster and teach C a little about the anatomy and feeding styles of these cool crustaceans.
Because of the beautiful weather, we opted to sit on the patio, where we had a great look at a small iceberg that had become wedged on the shores across the tickle. The clear waters let us watch the hundreds of fish that swam in the shallows below the patio, and across the water was a group of crab fishermen preparing their boat for the next day’s outing. All in all, it was a perfect way to spend the end of our day.
My Mom and D joined us just as dinner arrived. We shared a lobster, who I had ensured C did not name, and some amazing crab spring rolls that you need to have if you visit Doyle Sansome & Sons Lobster Pool!
The food was incredible and was the perfect way to cap an amazing four days in beautiful Newfoundland.
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This province captured a piece of our heart, and as we drove toward Deer Lake for our flight home the next day, we were already laying out the groundwork for our next visit. Newfoundlands
Newfoundlands Iceberg Alley has a number of incredible places to view Icebergs beyond Twillingate and St. Anthony. Our friend and fellow traveler Chris Rudder from Rudderless visited Fogo Island and between the amazing inn and the incredible food, shows a whole different perspective on exploring these amazing features.
With the birth of their two boys, Kevin and Christina have made it their mission to show others that travelling with children isn't as scary as it sounds and that kids can benefit from experiencing the world outside of their front door and beyond.