This is the second in a series of posts describing our first expedition cruise adventure. We opted to go with One Ocean, a Canadian expedition cruise company and to explore a new-to-us part of Canada: Newfoundland & Labrador, including the Torngat Mountains. We boarded the RCGS Resolute in Sydney, NS, after a half-day excursion to the Fortress of Louisbourg.
We ended up on a true expedition cruise. For reasons I’ll get into in a future post, we had two Zodiac excursions and a day at sea that were not on the published trip itinerary, including our first Zodiac excursion, at Placentia Bay.
Following breakfast our first full day at sea, we donned our expedition parkas and some of the cold weather gear we’d packed and headed up to the top observation deck to take a look at Placentia Bay.
It was windy and chilly, so Mr. GeoK was glad he’d packed his fleece-lined, wind-blocking ear warmer headband from MEC. I opted to cover my ears with a fleece buff purchased at Costco, since it was long enough to keep my long hair from blowing into the frame of my photos!
Here’s a stretch of shoreline in Placentia Bay, as viewed from the observation deck.
This was our first Zodiac excursion. A small crane offloaded the inflated Zodiacs from the rear upper deck. The Zodiacs were all empty when we watched, but we still don’t know how the first expedition guide gets into the first offloaded Zodiac when this operation gets underway. Perhaps we’ll solve that mystery through close observation during our next expedition cruise!
While Zodiacs were being offloaded on the starboard side, the North Atlantic Kairos fuel tanker ship approached the RGCS Resolute‘s port side. Our deck was the last called to board Zodiacs; we had a good vantage point from the top deck forward observation area as the pilot/captain of the North Atlantic Kairos skillfully maneuvered alongside.
Based on what some of the expedition guides said, we figure that passengers rarely have the chance to see an at-sea bunkering. So we took lots of photos, beginning with the tanker’s slow approach at an angle.
We know both ships have all kinds of navigational aids aboard, most likely including collision avoidance gear, but it was still comforting to see actual people at the bow of the approaching tanker.
Bow of the North Atlantic Kairos drawing very close to the stern of RCGS Resolute.
Another comforting sight? The large rubber bumpers near the bow and stern of the North Atlantic Kairos. We were confident these would prevent any accidental ship-to-ship contact.
Yes, the pilot/captain of the North Atlantic Kairos really was that close to where we were watching the process from atop Deck 7 of the RCGS Resolute. He paid us no attention and focused entirely on the close approach of his vessel to ours.
Once the bow of the North Atlantic Kairos was about even with the stern of the RCGS Resolute, the pilot/captain of the Kairos slowly brought his vessel parallel to ours. We noticed several the expedition guides came around to watch after boarding their offloaded Zodiacs on the starboard side. It was a unique operations for them to observe, too.
Once the two ships were fully parallel, the pilot/captain of the North Atlantic Kairos used sideways thrust to inch up alongside. Notice even more expedition guides aboard Zodiacs were watching at this point.
There was just a gentle nudge when the big rubber bumper made contact with the RCGS Resolute. From our vantage point on the upper deck, it looked like the two vessels were just fingers-width apart.
As the ships’ crews were making the two vessels fast, we noticed the Lego-like colours on the North Atlantic Kairos.
In this photo taken by Adeline Heymann, One Ocean expedition photographer, crew on the North Atlantic Kairos are waiting to attach fuel hoses to begin the bunker fuel transfer operation, which took several hours to complete. It’s at this point we were finally called to board our Zodiac.
We saw quite a few Zodiacs, loaded with passengers bundled in their red expedition parkas, head off to explore Placentia Bay before we were called to the Zodiac boarding gangway.
We’re aboard this Zodiac, with expedition guide Mark at the motor (photo by Adeline Heymann, One Ocean expedition photographer). Since it was the first Zodiac excursion of the trip, before we headed towards Fox Harbour, we had a safety briefing that included a detailed rundown of man overboard procedures.
Fox Harbour is a pretty, little fishing town.
One resident waved to us from his balcony, so Mark took us close to shore and we had about a 10 minute chat with a fellow who grew up in Fox Harbour, moved away for a few decades and now is back living in the home where he grew up as one of eleven kids! We learned a bit about the history of the town, including the origin of its name, before pushing off and heading off to motor alongside the shoreline of Placentia Bay.
There’s another Zodiac at the base of the rock bluff, to give a sense of how steeply the land rises from the sea.
All too soon, we had to return to ship, where the at-sea bunkering operation was wrapping up. From this perspective, we also had a good view of the former U.S. Naval Station Argentia, now a construction site for an offshore drilling platform for Husky’s White Rose location.
As one of the last Zodiacs to depart, we were also one of the last Zodiacs to return to ship. Here we see several empty Zodiacs hanging around waiting for crane operations to get underway, plus one Zodiac approaching the starboard gangway.
Former US Naval Station Argentia
Back on board our expedition ship, we headed back up to the observation take to take a few more photographs of the floating drilling platform under construction at the former naval base. The cranes and gantries were absolutely enormous!
A bit further along the shore from the construction activity we spotted a line of low-lying infrastructure extending out into Placentia Bay. Perhaps this is where US navy ships tied up in decades past.
As the sun went down, RCGS Resolute started burning some of the fuel brought on board earlier in the day, and sailed through the night along the southern coast of Newfoundland, making steady progress towards Gros Morne National Park, about 36 hours away.