As the daughter and granddaughter of fishermen, I’ve long loved the ocean. There’s something about the wind and the waves that simply inspire the soul and refresh the mind.
While it’s been a few years since I’ve hauled a pot in over the side of a tipped-into-the ocean and near-swamped dory or helped hook a glass-bauble net to check it for shimmering cod fish, I still get that same excited and connected to our nautical roots feeling anytime I climb aboard a vessel headed out to sea.
As the first long weekend of Come Home Year 2022 drew to a close, a last minute invite by The Navigator’s Arthur O’Brien saw myself and my long weekend tag-alongs venturing on-board the Capo de Espera with Captain Barry Rogers at the wheel. Sailing out of St. John’s Harbour, there’s something special about leaving that historical port as O’Brien performed the moving Theresa Maria.
Scanning the Sea
“Out through the Narrows, we’ll sail for wide ocean, leaving the harbour for forces unseen…” O’Brien sang, making those clutching a cold one feel – just a little – as if we were laying trust in the gods of sailor’s past that we’d all return safely back to shore instead of simply heading out for a touristy tryst.
Scanning the sea – when one could pull their eyes away from O’Brien’s brilliant and compelling performance either with guitar or fiddle – there were birds galore and coast lines to scan and explore.
As the fiddle played backdrop to the most glorious nautical setting, a dolphin danced in the waves ahead and, a few knots later, a minke whale kept time to the tunes, gorging after a long winter’s famine. As O’Brien’s latest musical creation played tribute to the brilliance of a life lived in the 709 area code and time zone, come from aways and those returning for a wee island visit used their best sea legs to scuff out a jig on the deck as Jams Jams were stuffed into sea-spray soaked jowls by those hungry for a sweet taste of ‘ome.
From Rattlin’ Bog, The Islander and Pullin’ Oil From the Sand to O’Brien’s tip of the hat to brother Con’s Irish Descendants moving tune Catch the Wind, the sail was made all the more enchanting by a fitting musical score to accompany us usual land lubbers as we revisited our heritage – or wannabe heritage – at sea.
Yes, there was the typical Screech-In ceremony and many at-sea selfies with Cape Spear as the backdrop, but there was also the feeling of reconnecting to who we were as Newfoundlanders, and even those visiting for the first time got it. As the sea’s waves rocked a few babies to sleep, there was a sense of peace as the cool Iceberg Quest-friendly open ocean breeze turned warm again as we sailed back into the safety of the harbour.
A Glorious Return
“Sail on Teresa Maria, Bring home the sailors and the catch in your holds. Trust in the hands there to guide you. Hold up your end now, and cut through the sea. I’ve faith in the captain and thee,” O’Brien crooned fittingly.
The closer we got to the harbour, the more lively the tunes, and some Iceberg Quest staff broke out an accordion and a fiddle to accompany O’Brien – a feet stompin’, hand clappin’ glorious return to shore thanks to our at sea musical score.