Lumsden Days

The Zartman family enjoys great sailing and a bounty of berries as they continue their summer cruise of the Canadian Maritimes.

Zartman- girls

Building a beach bonfire—heap on the drift wood and watch her go. Danielle Zartman

Ganymede likes what every sailboat does; give her a wind just forward of the beam, a little more sail out than feels prudent, and she’ll put her lee side down and go. Danielle likes that also, and will sit at the helm for hours just loving everything while Ganymede makes 6 ½ knots and spray crashes over the foredeck and tries to wash my halyards out the scuppers. I on the other hand, who has to go forward to fiddle with sails or try and navigate below, like it a little less. It’s wonderful, of course, to be going that fast, but I’m a timid sailor at heart, and trying to feed the children or tidy up everything that leaps to the cabin sole when the boat is mostly sideways takes the edge off my enjoyment. Not that it matters: around here, it behooves you to go if the wind is fair, even if there’s rather more of it than you want; otherwise it’ll be no wind at all, or more than you can handle from straight ahead.

So the wind being fair we crossed Bonavista Bay, and it was pretty grand to get across so fast, even if we were double-reefed and well splashed when we arrived at the other side. Our destination was Pork Island, accessed by going between Brown Fox Island and, interestingly, another named ‘Beef’. As we entered the sheltered waters next to Beef Island the wind redoubled its already considerable efforts, and we were glad enough to motor into the anchorage on Pork Island and find a perfect haven, nearly as gorgeous as Ireland’s Eye, and with mud to anchor in instead of kelp.

It was early enough to launch the dinghy and go explore, even after waiting for a couple of rain showers to pass. The cottages here, though all empty, were in good repair. The ground was covered in deep mosses and springy plants, which were softer than the deepest carpets, and the girls sank past their ankles as they walked. There were no paths, and there would have been very little to do if there hadn’t been blueberries and raspberries by the hundred. We’d found a few in St. John’s, and a couple more in Trinity, but here the bushes were just bursting with them. Danielle borrowed the dinghy baler and she and Antigone filled it and their mouths while Emily, Damaris and I found tiny starfish on the shore.


The next day, after picking berries on the opposite shore, we motored out and around to Puddingbag Cove. Not because we thought it would be better or prettier than Pork Island, but because it would put us 10 miles closer to Cape Freels, the next big cape to get around, and we wanted to get to it as early as possible when we did go. What wind there is always seems to increase as the day goes on, so early mornings are the best time to do the ticklish work. Puddingbag, though having one of the narrowest entrances we’ve ever put Ganymede through, proved well worthwhile. The hills were low, but carpeted in the same spongy groundcover as Pork, and the berries were even more abundant and easier to get to. Though we had nothing to roast or toast, we made a bonfire on the shore, just because fires are such jolly fun, and kept the smaller girls entertained while Danielle picked berries.

Capes of all sorts have a well-deserved reputation for being ugly and dangerous. Even innocuous-looking ones like Point Judith in Rhode Island, or Cape May in New Jersey seem to generate their own nasty weather conditions, be it never so quiet elsewhere. Cape Freels was no different. Even though it had been flat calm for a whole day before we rounded it, there seemed to be three biggish swells running from different directions, and the many outlying rocks and reefs Ganymede was wending her way through were breaking spectacularly. The light breeze changed direction and constancy several times as we came around the final of the cape’s three heads, and then we were around and the swell miraculously disappeared , the breeze steadied out, and we could see our destination in the distance. As we approached Lumsden, we were glad to have gotten an early start, since the breeze that built would have been most uncomfortable around the cape.

Little fishing cabins built along a creek on Pork Island.


Another advantage of our early start was that we got to Lumsden with plenty of time for the girls to enjoy the first sandy beach we’ve seen in Newfoundland. If it wasn’t for the coolness of the air, it could be any beach along the Jersey shore—all fine gray sand and sparkling blue water. Coolness notwithstading, the girls couldn’t resist and went swimming while I went in search of a grocery store. Lumsden, it appeared, is less of a seafaring town—the harbor is relatively new—and more of a redneck vacation paradise.

The sandy trails along the beach are crawling with ATVs, the ground is littered with shotgun shells and broken glass, and the occasional sagging travel trailer sits abandoned in a meadow where cows and horses graze behind rough pole fences. I even learned a new redneck unit of measurement when I asked directions to the grocery store. “Just make a left at the stop sign,” the lady at the post office said, “and it’s just a gunshot away.” Now, I had no idea how far a gunshot is, but it turned out (if you’re curious) to be no more than a furlong.

We were held up by weather in Lumsden longer than we wanted, but that’s part of the price to pay for cruising. Though we’d rather be in a new port every other night or so, often we’ve had to wait a week and more for a chance to escape some harbor or other. It’s a little frustrating here, because all we need, and are not getting, is a few quiet hours to make it to Musgrave. Which really, in passagemaking terms, is barely a gunshot away.


A little taste of the cold Labrador Current.

We are the Zartman family: Ben & Danielle, and our three girls, Antigone, Emily and Damaris. We created this blog to chronicle our sailing adventures on Ganymede, a home-finished 31-foot gaff-rigged cutter, which has been our home since 2009, when we sailed from San Francisco, California, to the Sea of Cortez, then down along the Central American coast. Currently in Newport, Rhode Island, we plan to sail to Canada, the U.K., and beyond this summer.