ISLE HAUTE CONLIN EXPEDITION JUNE 2004
While growing up just outside of Margaretsville, our farm bordered on the Bay of Fundy,
which overlooked the Isle Haute, and now so does our cottage. I always wondered what it would
be like out there.
And come to find out, my Saturday running buddy Roy Logan has been spending a week-end a year
on it camping. After turning down previous year invites, Linda & I decided this year to take
him up on it. Dan Conlin, a curator of marine history @ the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,
heads up the event each summer.
DAY 1 Saturday June 26th: Venture Across to Isle Haute
We had to catch the high tide at Harbourville at 4:30am Saturday morning. The Kenneally's
fishing boat, the "Fundy Breeze", powered by an 855 Cummins Diesel was our transportation to &
from the island. The 12 mile trip, across takes an hour and a half. This year there were 26
of us going plus all our gear, and there was lots of gear, let me tell you. We parked our
cars up from Harbourville, at Dan's mother's cottage, at Turner's Brook. Just as daylight
was approaching, we boarded the boat and off we embarked out into the foggy Bay of Fundy.
Then the rain started, and did not stop until 24 hrs later. The majority of the group were
wearing rain jackets, along with PFD's
The Kenneallys placed a dory up side down over our gear. Unfortunately, it did not cover
everyone's from the rain. One of those back packs was mine, which was just on the edge of the
dory therefore it absorbed all the rain running down the sides of the dory.
After about an hour and a quarter of seeing nothing in front of us except dense fog,
the island jumped right out of the fog at us like a hovering space craft sitting just above
the water. This led to our first reaction of the weekend as, Wow!
The fishing boat drops you off on the far south-eastern side of the island. The boat has
to circle around a long rock ridge, referred to as the spit that jots out into the bay a
few hundred feet. The fishing boat takes you in very close to shore, before halting up shy
of the beach rocks. Then the dory is shoved over the edge of the boat, with a rope attached
to both ends. In goes some gear along with one of the fishermen, who rows to shore, then the
dory is pulled back for it's second load of gear and people. The fisherman on shore now pulls
the dory across to the beach. It takes them less than 25 minutes to unload all of us with our
gear, and then they're gone.
Campers now start to lug gear up to the tent site, which sits just above the beach level, on
a small plateau next to the island cliff. People scurry to select a good tent site to their
liking. Two tents had to travel down next to the lagoon to set up, as the main camp site could
not handle the entire crew. We set up across from Jackie & Roy Logan. No sooner had everyone
had their tents laid out on the ground, when it started to rain the hardest. Well it was
impossible not to get the floor wet, before you got the fly on your tent. So now setting up
in the heavy rain you start to cut corners, which would cost you dearly later that night.
Linda and I did not use the fly pole that goes across the top to hold the fly up away from
the tent. Also I hammered in the tent stakes straight down, later that night Roy advised me
that was a no, no. So in everybody's rush, not very many tents got set up properly. This tent
site area is the only one available close to the beach where you embark, and accommodates only
about 7 comfortably . We pitched 12 there, looking from one end to the other it reminded you
of an Afghan refugee camp. The walk way up through the middle, was a maze of tent pegs to maneuver
Roy brought along an extra tarp, so we pitched it up under the trees, alongside the spring,
while Jackie & Linda dried the floor of our tents.
We sat down in our camping chairs, boiled a pot of hot water for coffee, and proceeded
to look at each other for the rest of the long afternoon. Conversation centered around, how
wet through we were, and what we had left that was dry. After about 2 more kettle's of Roy's
coffee, it was time to visit the latrine. It was situated at the far end of the upper north
east camp just out of sight around a slight bend. A rag tied to the end of a pole, indicated
unoccupied if it was up, and occupied, if it was down. It was wide open for viewing the Bay
Our camp split into two different groups, One, group built a fire at the upper end of the
camp, while we settled in at the lower end of camp. Jackie took charge of getting the fire going,
Roy and I moved the tarp, chairs & coolers down next to the fire, and set up our kitchen
under it. We were joined by Dan & his wife Pat, along with single campers Clare Diggins & Bruce.
Jackie's persistence in sticking with getting the fire going with wet wood finally paid off,
and soon it was ablaze.
With supper over, and dishes washed, we individually retired to our tents as the rain and
darkness overtook us. Before climbing into our sleeping bags, Linda cracked a light stick, and
hung it up in the attic of our tent. Our tent towered over the rest like a giraffe over its
young. Before falling off to sleep, I made a mental note of what you did not need to pack for
a future year, short sleeve t-shirts, shorts, sandals, sunglasses, binoculars, and ice for
No sooner had we settled in for the night, when it really started to rain. Our day rain had
nothing on this. The longer it rained the harder it rained. There was just no giving up to
it. Uncertain about how much rain this tent could take, before it began to leak, I asked
Linda, "how much did you pay for this tent"? She wouldn't answer.
The sound of the Saturday afternoon trickling spring just up from us, now sounded like a
raging brook. I could only think of whom the poor soul was that pitched their tent just
directly below it. The rain started to ease up a bit, only to be offset by the wind
starting to pick up. When you are almost camped on the beach in the middle of the Bay
of Fundy, there is absolutely nothing to slow the wind down. In no time at all it was
roaring down upon us with no mercy at all. Disadvantage of having a tall tent, is that
there is no place to hide in a wind storm. That tent configured into every position
available, all sides buckling in around us, the top poles twisted every which way possible
Soon I heard this vicious slapping outside, concerned this might be our tent so fearing
the worst I unzipped the fly, and stuck my head outside. Well, all I could see were tents
flapping in an out, like accordions. It was impossible to do anything, out there now, so I
pulled my head back inside.
Then I began to hear voices coming from the other tents, I thought to myself they must
be having problems too. Now Linda and I began to feel a wet sensation hitting our faces.
Looking up, we could see via the light stick, a sheet of rain being filtered through the
top of the tent. Now we had to get outside, and find out what happened to the fly. Outside
we found the fly laying on the ground in front of the tent, held only by one peg. I rushed
across to Roy's tent, and hollered for him to get up and help us. Well, Jackie said Roy
bolted up out of his sleeping bag like a shot out of a cannon.
Luckily for us, Roy had some extra pegs, for the ones that were holding down our fly,
were probably now a 100 feet out in the Bay. Finally in the wind & rain the three of us
got the fly secured again. Turning to get back into the tent, we could now see for the
first time the lights of Advocate, assuming the storm must be pretty well blown over, we
went back to bed. No sooner had we got back in our soggy sleeping bags when the heavens
open up again. Starting to get a little unnerved, I said to Linda, "you know we could
possibly well die hear tonight" she replied, "don't be so damn silly, it's only a storm.
Getting no symphony from that side of the tent, I turned over, rumbled through my backpack,
took out a sleeping pill, and that was the last I heard of the wind & rain.
DAY 2 - SUNDAY'S HIKE ACROSS THE ISLAND.
I awoke to voices outside our tent, claiming you only had less in 5 minutes, if you wanted
to witness the sunrise. Did I hear correctly? We were about to see the sun.
Once out and about, a parade of campers starting lugging wet items out of their tent to lie
on the beach rocks to dry in the sun. Hiking boots, socks, back packs, sleeping bags,
air mattress, PFD's and various types of clothing lined the beach in hopes of a quick dry.
The latrine was presently shut down, due to a lobster boat just off shore pulling traps.
Next came breakfast, then prepare for Dan's hike across the island. Only five, Dan, Roy,
Pat Conlin, Clare Diggins & myself joined in the first of many Sunday hikes up the cliff trail
to the top of the island. Dan filled us in on the history, and the many points of interest
along the way. Hiking pass an old storm fort, hay fields, and then on to the current lighthouse.
Here stands the third light house on the island. The first one burnt down in 1956 along with
the lighthouse keeper's home. They then constructed the second one from iron, which eventually
all rusted, and fell down. This one is now made of galvanized aluminum, and run by solar panel.
Roy & climbed to the top, about 60 ft. to take in the surrounding views of NB. Advocate &
the western NS coast line.
We headed on toward our destination, first coming upon a drop off cliff, where in a previous
year, a hiker's dog went over the edge. The Kenneallys had to lower his owner down with lobster
trap rope to rescue him. Then we ventured across a short land bridge that connects the far tip
of the island to the main section. The cliff sloped down some 300ft on both sides of us to the
Finally the western end tip, and a clear view of 8 to 10 seals basking below on the
sun-drenched rocks. On the return trip back to our campsite, we stopped to inspect the Frog Pond,
which was inhabited this year to a dozen or more bull frogs, and numerous tadpoles. Upon
returning to camp, Roy and I sat back in our camp chairs and enjoyed a cold one in the
afternoon sun. After socializing the rest of the afternoon with the other campers, it was
soon time to gather fire wood for tonight's supper. This time Jackie would have dry fire
wood to light, and soon an assortment of food was ready for consumption.
When the sun started to fade over the horizon, so did the temperature. After enjoying 70
degree temperature, we now had to put up with 50 degree one. One thing noticeable about the
Isle Haute is that the weather can catch you off guard at a moments notice.
After supper Dan entertained us to a King's County murder mystery story about the Robinson's.
As darkness began to settle down upon us, campers begun to leave behind the comfort of the warm
evening fire, and strike off to bed.
DAY 3 -- MONDAY-THE BOAT TRIP HOME.
At 6am. Dan woke everyone, with the words, "the boat will be here @ 8 am sharp."
A mass evacuation began to take shape, tents dropped like flies in a gas chamber. Slowly,
an assortment of equipment began to assemble along the beach departure area.
An off in the distance in the warm morning sun, you could make out the "Fundy Breeze" coming
to pick us up and whisk us away to civilization. With a few minutes to spare before docking,
Roy rustled up a hot pot of coffee for us to enjoy.
Just like clock work the "Fundy Breeze" pulled up just off shore, and over the side goes the
dory. Trip after trip from the beach to the boat, campers & equipment rounded up the dory
to begin descending from the island.
People were pulled upon the fishing boat in every way matter of fashion to stay on schedule
and make the high tide back at Harbourville. In less then 25 minutes, 26 campers & equipment
Captain Kevin Kenneally gave us an extra treat, by circling the island before heading across
the bay to Harbourville. The wind on the bay was freezing cold for the trip across.
Dan was kind enough to point out Margaretsville to me, fairly visible at all.
By 9:30am we were pulling up alongside the wharf at Harbourville. On cue, the process
of heaving up the camping gear to the ones standing on the wharf began to take shape. Once
completed we were off to get our cars at Turners Brook, then return and load our gear in
the trunk, pose for a group picture, and then everyone said their good bys and one by one
we departed the little fishing village along the Fundy shore.
Top marks have to go out to Jackie and Roy for being excellent hosts, and to Dan for
putting together a great wilderness week-end, among one of Nova Scotia's many treasures.
See you next year. The End.