Friday, 9 December 2011

Ramea and Back

The Ramea Islands

It was throwing it down with rain when we got up and still raining after breakfast when we loaded the canoes onto the van. Today we are taking the ferry over to the Ramea Islands and we are taking the canoes just in case the weather becomes finer later on. We walk through the town to the ferry dock to catch the 11am boat. The ‘Gallipoli’ is waiting for us to board. It’s a one and a half-hour crossing but it’s not exciting as visibility is not very good. Inside the lounge we entertain ourselves by borrowing a short length of rope from the crew and practising our knots. Bill is the best, but then you’d expect that from a former Scout-Master. At least I can still remember how to tie a bow-line, even if I can’t do it one-handed. Thinking about it now I can still remember how the Sheep-shank goes and my Trucker’s Hitch is now perfect.


As we approach the small group of islands we can see that only the one island in the group is inhabited and as we come into the harbour the small village is very much like Burgeo. Carolyn drove the van for 50 yards off the ferry and then parks. We then walked up to Durim’s house. He’s our B&B host back at Burgeo but he was born and raised in Ramea and he’s allowed us to borrow his former family home. It’s a tiny two-up, two-down cottage. It’s easy to imagine how cosy it might have been in a bleak mid-winter but I also imagine that life out here must have been pretty grim. The island population is now about 1600, but it used to be more when the fishing was good.


We have a picnic lunch in the cottage before deciding to circumnavigate the island on the coastal trail. At first we walked through the town, but after stopping at the Cosmetics Store for candy we stepped out onto the path. It was still oscillating between rain and drizzle as we followed the board-walk across the bogs. The cloud was low and visibility was poor as we shuffled around. At the lighthouse we scrambled up the steps in the vain hope of a view. All we got was the loud blasts from a foghorn. The route circled one end of the island before returning to town at a point where several wind-turbines had been erected. I wonder what proportion of the islands electricity they can provide.


After that we passed an outdoor swimming pool - they must be hardy souls here - and a very boggy cemetery. The weather was clearing up a little now and the walk was a bit more pleasant as we meandered around the other end of the island before returning into town where we started. Inside the islands only cafe we had a beer and a massive slice of lemon meringue pie before deciding that the weather was nice enough for a paddle. We still had 90 minutes before the ferry returned to Burgeo.


We launched the canoes from the stoney beach at Sandy Bay which was strewn with the heads and backbones of many fish. Someone must of sat here all morning gutting the catch.


For an hour or so we explored the uninhabited islands opposite the main island and enjoyed the sunshine and the relatively calm waters. We’d heard rumours that these islands were famous for Puffin Colonies but we saw no sign of that.


When we’d finished we loaded everything back onto the van and re-boarded the ferry. This time visibility was great and we could enjoy the views along the coast and the islands as we approached Burgeo. Back in town I walked around again taking photographs in the evening light and after a late supper we crashed out.



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