Little Harbour to Fair Haven Trip Report
Placentia Bay

By Paul Delaney & Co.

Date of Trip: October 24th, 2004

Participants: Brian Duffett, Sue Duffett, Peter Armitage, Alison Dyer, Paul Delaney

Conditions: Light northeast winds, probably lighter than predicted. Overcast at start, full blown sunshine after noon. No lop or swell. Temperature at Argentia reached 9.4 degrees Celsius, a lovely paddling temperature. Change of tide, rising just before noon .

Trip Length: Approximately 24 km hitting most all nooks and crannies.

Pull out areas: Several good to decent beaches, noted mostly as possible camp sites.

Topographic Map: NTS 1N/12 Dildo

Magnetic Declination: 21 degrees 9 minutes West

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Plate 1: Trip route and details, Little Harbour East to Fair Haven, Placentia Bay (thumbnail - click on image to enlarge)

This trip was conceived based on the predicted winds. Forecasts were for moderate winds from the northeast throughout the area and cool temperatures. The temperatures were great for some manual labour and with winds from the northeast it meant looking for an interesting area on the lun or lee side with interesting looking coastline. This area looked to fit quite well and not being too far from town made for a doable day trip.

Five of us met at the Irving at Whitbourne at 9am and decided we’d drop a truck at Fair Haven and launch out of Little Harbour East (usually the East is dropped as Little Harbour West has been long resettled), further north. It’s an approximately 1 hour drive from town to the Irving . By the time we had gotten to Little Harbour, readied ourselves, we were on the water about 11am , thus 3 hours after leaving St. John’s .

Leaving the small town of Little Harbour there was no wind and no sea. It was cloudy but soon the sun started to break through over the bay. The view out towards the large islands in the centre of the bay was great (see reports on the Merasheen area). Near the harbour a few raised beaches offered potential for camping.


 Plate 2: Little Harbour East (Delaney)


Plate 3: Coast near Little Harbour (Delaney)


Plate 4: Coast near Little Harbour (Dyer)         


Plate 5: View towards Long Island (Dyer)


Plate 6: Nearing Brennan Pt (Delaney)

Rounding Brennan Point we headed into Pumbly Cove with two beaches, one nearest Brennan Point probably named Brennan Cove. There looked to be some camping possibilities and definitely great amounts of driftwood for beach fires. The availability of driftwood was excellent throughout the area. The pond in back of the beach didn’t look good to Peter who jumped out to have a look around. The east side of the cove had a nice cliff face to paddle under.


Plate 7: Brennan Cove (Delaney)


Plate 8: Sue in Brennan Cove (Dyer)


Plate 9: Beach nearing Pinchgut Point (Delaney)


Plate 10: Cliff Shore near Pinchgut Point (Delaney)

Heading into Great Pinchgut there were lots of rocks and small islands near the shore to maneuver in and around. The water all day was amazingly clear and looking at the dense bottom foliage and undersea relief was a highlight all day. The squeeze through at Pinchgut Point at the low tide level was done with some scrapes and hands on the kelp-laden rocks, hence the name! Some locals we met later told us that Pinchgut Point could be an awful place when the wind blows up the bay from the south or southwest. But not the day we paddled.


Plate 11: Squeezing through at Pinchgut Point (Dyer)


Plate 12: Undercut bedrock and clear water (Delaney)


Plate 13: Small sea stack west side of Great Pinchgut (Delaney)

Plate 14: Notch in shoreline, Great Pinchgut (Delaney)


Plate 15: Underwater shot of large jellyfish (Delaney)


Plate 16: Large jellyfish from kayak (Delaney)

We decided to stop for lunch at a place unnamed on the map but locally known as Mine Point Cove. A cobble beach with lots of flotsam and driftwood was a good landing site. Raised above the beach was a perfect camp spot with room for quite a few tents. Dry and grassy and pretty level, you really couldn’t get much better, but it would be terribly exposed to winds from the southern quarters. A vigorous brook runs into the cove draining a picturesque pond 150m back of the shoreline. Two moose were spotted on the north side of the pond amongst the barrens. The view across the pond is great. Another view that was incredible was from the grassy platform at the beach. It was a grand look out the bay with the lumpy islands and coastline and with the sun glittering off the calm sea. It was a great spot for lunch. With almost telepathic simultaneity we wondered what the rest of the world could possibly be doing on such a great day at such a great spot. After a good meal and a cup of tea we headed on.


Plate 17: Heading into Mine Point Cove (Delaney)


Plate 18: Beached kayaks, Mine Point Cove (S.Duffett)


Plate 19: View towards Pinchgut Point from Mine Point Cove camp area (S.Duffett)


Plate 20: Camping area, Mine Point Cove (S.Duffett)


Plate 21: Brook at edge of camp area, Mine Point Cove (S.Duffett)


Plate 22: To Mine Point Cove Pond (S.Duffett)

Plate 23: Crew, minus Sue, at Mine Point Cove Pond (S.Duffett)


Plate 24: Moose at Mine Point Cove Pond (S.Duffett)


Plate 25: Mine Point Cove Pond (S.Duffett)


Plate 26: Brian returning from Mine Point Cove Pond (S.Duffett)


Plate 27: Paul at Mine Point Cove (Dyer)


Plate 28: View and kayaks at Mine Point Cove (Dyer)


Plate 29: Grassy platform at Mine Cove Point (Dyer)


Plate 30: Lunch and pouring tea from Kelly Kettle (Dyer)

Just to the east in Murphy Cove a tiny gravel beach would allow a landing and camping looked possible above. A cabin sits in Hollis Cove on the west side. We met a few local fishermen there and had a chat as they prepared to drag a propane BBQ and Shopvac up to the cabin.


Plate 31: Sue at small cave, Murphy cove, east of Mine Point Cove (Delaney)


Plate 32: Hollis Cove, Great Pinchgut (Delaney)

We didn’t go right into the bottom of Little Pinchgut. There was one cabin and it was an obviously easy and beautiful place to camp. Many, many tents would be possible in two main areas. Protection from most all winds would be good here. Little Pinchgut is a resettled community, referred to in census only as Pinchgut and included with Fair Haven.


Plate 33: Sue squeezing into Little Pinchgut (Dyer)


Plate 34: Brian in Little Pinchgut (Delaney)

A strongly flowing brook, which could be seen from Pinchgut Point as an apparent waterfall, spilled off the steep shore out into the sea between Little Pinchgut and Shag Roost. This was the best spot to witness the effect of fresh water riding over salt. The previously perfectly clear water was distorted by the different water layers like not putting your glasses on in the morning. It was just a bit out of focus, but still wonderfully clear. A quick stop was made at a cove at Burnt Head and you could probably manage to camp here with a good brook for fresh water, but the beach is rough and there are better places.


Plate 35: Brian below rushing river (Delaney)


Plate 36: Alison in front of brook (Dyer)


Plate 37: Paul at Brook (Dyer)


Plate 38: Shag Roost (Dyer)

As we paddled into the setting sun if you looked back you had a great scenic view over Great Pinchgut with the variably sun adorned, rugged, rocky hills. Paddling north from Fair Haven would provide a very nice setting to approach, especially with a setting late season sun. Looking to the south, the various, distinct islands of the Brine and Iona Islands, the latter including the locally well known and prominent “Rams” just outside of Long Harbour presents itself as another potential paddle.

Plate 39: View north of Great Pinchgut (Delaney)


Plate 40: Cove at Burnt Head (Dyer)


Plate 41: Peter in Burnt Head area (Delaney)


Plate 42: Peter with Fair Haven Island on right (Delaney)

With the low sun in the southern sky blaring into our faces and a few without sunglasses we pushed on over the final leg and into Fair Haven. After rounding Fair Haven Point we got a light, rather cool, refreshing breeze in our faces as we did the final run in. A quick shuttle and off to town, arriving about 7:30pm .


Plate 43: Heading into Fair Haven (Dyer)

This was a quite enjoyable paddle on a beautiful day. You really want to have winds from the northeast as we had and probably this is the better time of the year to find them. There were lots of rocks and cracks you could weave about, but for many places… only in gentle weather. The water was reasonably warm, probably 10 degrees Celsius or better. Although we took out well inside the harbour at Fair Haven, there are some heavily kelp-laden slipways at the end of the road on the south side.

Fair Haven as well as Pinchgut were settled by west country English in the early 1800s, originally named Famishgut or Famish Gut as were the island just off the harbour and the point on the north side of the entrance to the inlet. Admiralty charts still refer to Famish Gut. Little Harbour East is believed to also have been settled in the early 1800s by people from the islands out in Placentia Bay, and more recently by people resettled from elsewhere in the bay during the infamous resettlement program of the 60s and 70s.

Wildlife observed consisted of two moose on the barrens behind Mine Point Cove, one mink on the shore who watched us curiously and warily as he crept amongst the large boulders, five eagles, some grebes, a loon, gulls and crows, a couple of extra large jellyfish with the bloody red centre (called squid squall in some parts of the island) and a couple of billion sea lice. As mentioned, peering through the amazingly clear water was a constant delight with a wonderful assortment of undersea life clinging to the generally gentle dipping sedimentary beds and large boulders fallen off the cliffs.

The geology along the coast, while not exactly mapped in detail, consists of roughly 600 million year old, gently dipping and locally folded, red and green sediments of the Connecting Point Group, and lava flows and pillow breccias of the Bull Arm Volcanics closer to Fair Haven.

A good option for this trip would be to overnight in either Little Pinchgut or Mine Point Cove. Thus a later departure from town and you can paddle, set up camp, enjoy an evening and a bonfire, and finish the following day at your leisure. Other potential campsites are noted but the two above are decidedly the best.

And now just to add a few assorted shots from other areas:


Plate 44: Barry Oates fishing from a Seaknife in Salmonier Arm. Another good use. (Delaney)


Plate 45: Dan Miller surfing, south end Pinchgut Island , St. Mary’s Bay (Delaney)


Plate 46: Brian Duffett getting out of the curl, south end Pinchgut Island , St. Mary’s Bay (Delaney)

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