Viking Voyage hampered by strong winds on sailing journey home

Published on August 4, 2014

Charlottetown sailor Geoff Ralling is retracing the sailing route into the Gulf of St. Lawrence that Viking explorers were thought to have travelled a little more than 1,000 years ago.

©Guardian photo by Mary MacKay

More than a week has passed since Geoff Ralling started his sailing journey home from L'Anse aux Meadows on the northwestern tip of Newfoundland.

The Charlottetown mariner has been plagued by strong southwest winds for pretty much the majority of the time.

"For the most part it's been a combination of waiting for lighter winds and then motoring slowly down the coast. Not a very Viking-like way to travel!" Ralling said via email.

"Southwest winds are the most common summer winds along this coast, but this summer they have been unusually strong and persistent. The tourists are delighted with all the fine weather and record warm temperatures; the fishermen and southward bound sailors are not!"

The first two days, during which time Guardian reporter Mary MacKay was onboard filing for her Viking Voyage series, Ralling managed to motor south, first to Cook's Harbour and then Flowers Cove.


He continued on to Port au Choix where he was joined on July 30 by Prince Edward Islanders David and Alex Cairns. The next day they managed to get to Cow Head.

As of press time Monday, the Be Faithful 2 crew was still sitting at the wharf in Cow Head for more favourable sailing weather.

"Like the Vikings though, we have taken the waiting-for-weather time to explore some of the local terrain. David and Alex climbed Gros Morne Mountain, which required an eight-hour hike over some steep and rough trails," Ralling said.

Tuesday the crew was expecting to motor to Cornerbrook.

"I am reluctant to head out into the gulf on strong SW winds. Can be done if it comes to that but it would be hard work on my own. So I'm still hoping for a favourable forecast with some north or east winds," said Ralling.

Ralling will be on his own -- and without a car -- after the Cairns leave him. Ralling says that will give him even more incentive to head to the Iles-de-la-Madeleine.

"It's hard to predict a schedule. I would like to be back on P.E.I. in two weeks, but at this rate of progress, that will be difficult. But a couple of days of favourable conditions would see me get to the Magdalen Islands in a hurry."

MacKay will rejoin Ralling in Iles-de-la-Madeleine for the final day's sail to P.E.I. for the wrap up of the Viking Voyage series.