Bell Island

August 1, 2019

Thursday was my first full day in St. John’s and I had a list of “touristy” things to see and do.  On that list was taking a ferry out to Bell Island, west of the upper right portion of the Avalon Peninsula where St. John’s is located.  From where I was staying in Torbay it was only a short drive to the ferry.  Many things downtown didn’t open until 10am or later so I decided to go out to the island first.  When I got to the ferry dock I could see that the island was socked in with fog.

I turned around and headed downtown to walk around until things there started to open, then up to Signal Hill, then out to Cape Spear (see separate posts for all three) and came back to give the island another try mid-afternoon.  By then it was clear and gorgeous so I took the 20 minute ride over on the ferry named Legionnaire.


Legionnaire was different than the other ferries I had ridden so far, kind of a Mama Bear in that it was larger than the 12 and 18 open vehicle ferries I had ridden various places yet much smaller than the huge ferry I had taken from Nova Scotia up to Newfoundland (which had three parking levels, plus several passenger levels, thank you very much).  This one even had a platform that raised up in the air once cars were loaded on it so they could fit more underneath!


Despite the relatively calm appearance of the water the ferry rocked back and forth from side to side during the trip, which I found rather unsettling. You’ll see evidence of that shortly.  Fortunately it was only a 20 minute ride.

This was as the ship was turning around after backing away from the dock (where it parks head-on for vehicles to drive on through the nose.  It then backs in to the dock on the other side and we drive off the back.)


This is where we were going:


And this is where we were coming from:


Once I got out to the island I became very frustrated very quickly.  I hadn’t done much homework about the small island (my bad) other than knowing than that there was a lighthouse I wanted to see and a road that made an oval around the island.  I thought there might be good photo ops of the mainland as well.

There was no sign indicating where to go once I got off the ferry and I stopped at the Post Office to ask if there was somewhere I could get a map. The woman working there gave me the choice of two nearby places, one of which was closed (guess they weren’t selling many #2 Mine tours THAT day!) and the other was a dumpy little gift shop type place that wanted 2 bucks for a map of what was quickly, in my mind, becoming their silly little island.  I had already spent $10 for the ferry and paying more money for a map didn’t go over real well with me in this tourism driven area where things like that are generally free, so I stormed off in a huff and drove right back to the ferry dock to go back to the mainland.

I rode a different ferry back (two different ships go in opposite directions every half hour or so to allow time for loading and unloading) so going back east I was able to see Legionnaire in action.

Here were the waves hitting our ship almost sideways, causing it to rock back and forth. Note how the larger and more top-heavy Legionnaire is listing one way in the first photo and the other way in the second one.




At least it was a nice day to be out on the water!



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