Walked to their Pier 6 kiosk behind The Keg restaurant from the nearby Delta Hotel in late May but it was always closed. Finally, on June 1st it was open at 1:00 PM and there was already a lineup to board the small vessel which looked like a two-level tugboat. Yes, the woman said, there was room but the cost was $67.50 and no, she did not take credit cards. So I forked over the cash and we chugged out of the harbour, past Cabot Tower on Signal Hill then, out The Narrows and onto the open ocean. Tours are weather dependent but this day was sunny and cold with mostly smooth seas. Still, a few people who had a full lunch before jumping on board became queasy with the pitch and roll of the boat. Crew were prepared with plastic bags containing crumpled newspaper. Luckily nobody needed them. There was not a full load of passengers so we could spread out with some staying up top while others hung onto the side rails or stayed inside the large windows on the main level where it was warmer. The captain provided commentary as crew sold refreshments inside. This was a great iceberg season and we had seen bergs off Signal Hill and Cape Spear on a land tour a few days before. Now we were up close and circling the large one with a central arch off Cape Spear. All digital cameras on board were in full operational mode. The color variations in the ice were amazing as were the hissing and sloshing sounds. We sailed on past Cape Spear (the easternmost point in North American according to the captain) then returned to the big berg. In our absence huge chunks had fallen off the arch and the surrounding waters were now full of many smaller bergy bits and clear ice called growlers. We carefully made our way through then started the return trip past some cliffs where birds were nesting although we did not see any. The crew then held a Screech-In ceremony where mainlanders could become Honorary Newfoundlanders by downing a shot of Screech (potent rum), reciting a tongue-twisting verse and kissing a cod. However, because of the moratorium on North Atlantic cod fishing (and the high ‘ick’ factor), they substituted a plush toy puffin called Peter for the dead fish. None of the ten inductees, who had each paid $10 for the experience, objected to the change. Back at the dock they received their official certificate of Newfie citizenship. We did not see any whales because, we were told, they come for the small fish called capelin and it was too early in the season. A good reason for a return trip! As we headed to the dock in St. John’s after about a three-hour cruise, the captain made this final poetic statement: “wind and waves may tip the boat but only you can tip the crew!” Sure, it was a lot of fun.
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