I Looked Out My Window in Bonavista Newfoundland and Saw an Amazing Sight
One day I looked out my bedroom window and saw the most amazing site ever. No t’is not a flying saucer and no t’is not a neighbor in the buff. Stay awhile and I’ll tell you true of what is magical living here in this town called Bonavista- a small fishing outpost village.
It was a dark day with the wind gusting up to 60-80 km/hr. Not a day to be doing anything useful with its soupy thick fog hanging heavy over the shore for hours now. There was rain wanting to be snow and snow wanting to be rain. The wind was blowin’ the waves backwards out to sea. A miserable day she was making me wanting to hide under the covers like a wee lass. Looking out any of my windows t’is hard to see Moses Point. Now don’t be getting any ideas that the bible Moses was here. Our history includes thieving pirates that came to hide their gold but no Moses. Moses Point sits right across the bay starting with a long lazy sandy beach ending in the point with ocean between us.
Moses Point t’is a lover’s lane, a lonely car with a person usually just sitting a spell thinking about how it use to be. It’s a place where two cars go sit as cops do, tail to front to chat awhile. T’is a place for folks to eating their lunch or take-out of fish/chicken n’chips and of course a place just to sit in a warm car and just be.
Well, I stood watching out my office window – couldn’t help me self. I could see a bit of the point where the cars sit and then where the ocean should be there was this massive thick fog where there is a drop down to the ocean. It looked like two fighters with their fists up both holding their own the likes of which you rarely see. It was 3:00 pm and there was something that made me continue to stare – something was up. This time I see headlights one facing me – one facing the ocean. Next time I looked out I see four cars all lined up facing out to the ocean. Tis dark boy, and there is more cars, trucks lining all the way along the point- all with their high beams on. I look out to the ocean and see only that thick dark fog so I am wondering what all the fuss t’is about?
T’is closer to 4 and quite silent as if time is standing still waiting for something or someone to come along. There are more trucks and cars – two rows of them – all lined up staggered like so all the car lights get their turn. Now I’m a curious soul with not much time for just looking until I realize if all cars are pointing out to the ocean there must be a ship stranded out there somewhere. These fishers here are the tightest group you’ll ever come across and once word is out that one of their own is in trouble – well they’ll be all out to the point long before a word of it passes off the lips of any gossiper.
T’s darker now, the wind sounds like a freight train hitting the house. Can’t see past the fog and still don’t see anything happening. So I decide to go where I know everyone but me will know what’s going on in this town. So off I am in me car to the coffee shop and t’is a few minutes later that I hold coffee in hand listening to all the folks talking. Well it seems there’s a boat that lost it’s running lights with damage done to it by a huge storm 50 miles out and was limping home. They had no way to find the coast – no way to see the rocks before getting right on top of them – no way to survive. The boys were keeping her afloat but there were a few injured. The ocean was batting the ship and crew alike around so she was taking in water. I was back from the coffee shop with a few more friends and saw the need for more lights so we drove right over to lend some extra lights to the now growing crowd of trucks and cars.
Suddenly right out of the dark fog there she was – all the car lights lit up a huge white fishing ship – lopsided and having trouble keeping the wind from blow her over. She had no lights shining from her deck but- my – son – you should have seen her – what a feeling with all our lights like some real lighthouse sitting still – waiting for her. Oh the relief and hope that we all felt and boy she would be feeling that way too – the cap and his crew – soaking wet n cold
Then the far sided trucks/cars started moving so keep the light steady along the shoreline – all the cars knew what to do even without their drivers – keep the light showing the ship where not to go – and the procession was a site to fit all – we followed along the shoreline lights a blazing while the ship choking and sputtering, slipping and sliding with the powerful wind pushing the waves to land the ship ashore – breaking it in pieces.
Ahh… but a good skipper will fight her all the way down. Fishers born and raised here don’t need anyone telling them what they need to be doing. Their prayers, with the swearing and calling out to their mates – “keep her away from shore boys” – would be the constant lament. The procession continued with all the lights shining brighter than the moon and stars – shining brighter than the eyes of all of them fishers and shining brighter than all the hearts beating- holding their collective breath until she lands tied up on the pier.
T’is a long way to the docks and moving so to keep the lights facing the ocean was a long learned skill and we all just followed the ones that knew how. Oh, what a site when we neared the docks. All the lights a blazing as far as the eyes could see. Cars/trucks everywhere with their high beams and high hopes doing what needed to be done to get her home and safe. Mothers and fathers of the crew boys and all the mothers and fathers sons and daughters were out for anyone in trouble. She was finally tied up to the line and everyone surrounded them boys doing what needed to be done to make sure everyone was looked after. Then this sound was growing louder – hard to hear the words. Ah yes I know it now…
“Come to the pub boys” – we’re all here now – more slapping and laughing than one could ever think there was energy left for. But up to the pub we all went – singing the old songs about ships crashing and fighting the waves – the ones who were saved and the ones who are still out there quiet like resting peaceful like. “But not tonight for us boys” – not for us tonight – tonight will drink to me ship mates and we drink to yours with the lights of God on the shore and we’ll drink to the Missus boys and will drink and drink to…” T’is only in all the minds of the boys’ silently thinking to themselves – “God please help me ease the terror Lord, help me sort me nerves out Lord. Cause I know we got to go out again in the morn boys – we all got to go out again and again and again boys…”
Well I got back home singing and laughing to me self – and then I caught myself thinking about those ships in the real old days – had not runner lights, no lighthouses, no motors, no life jackets, no one to show them to the right way – no one to help them- no one who’ll save them.
A few years later I walked quiet like to a small abandoned area where a fishing community use to be before government led out-migration. T’is not far from where I live and I simply had to go there. It was the day after another storm and another ship – as there always is, only this time the ending t’s different. I stand at the top of the cliff looking down – ach – there’s one lone yellow survival suit that the boy never had time to get himself into before the ship hit the rocks – another time another bad storm only it was in a part of land where there is no one to pass word– no lights to help – no procession to guide them in. I look in the water and see some curved blue boards broken from the ship and a few tell tale pieces of wreckage on the tiny short shore.
The sun shines her brightest and I wonder why then and where are the boys to now?
Only Made in Newfoundland… by ej