It may only be 70 miles, but crossing the Cabot Straits felt like we had crossed into a different continent.
We started the journey from Port aux Basques in the tail end of a 40 knot gale, clad in full thermal suits and foul weather. As we sailed into Ingonish Harbour on Cape Breton Island we were stripped down to shorts and t-shirts, the sea temperature was a full 7C warmer and the air temperature about 15C warmer.
The change was not just climatic. Cape Breton Island has a completely different feel and atmosphere to it. When in Newfoundland you don't really feel that you are in North America. The typically wooden Newfoundland houses have a functional rugged beauty about them and look like they would be equally at home in arctic Norway or windswept Patagonia. In contrast the palatial North American style mansions that line the shores of Cape Breton Island look more like something out of the Great Gatesby, with their perfectly manicured lawns stretching down to the waterfront and tidy little jettys which might take a small speedboat, but would crumble to so much matchwood if a fishing trawler dared come alongside!
Likewise turn on the radio in Newfoundland or go into a pub with live music, and you are just as likely to hear Irish folk music and ballads as anything else. The first thing we heard on turning on the radio in Cape Breton was good ol' country and western.
Even the yachts seem different in Cape Breton. We only came across a small handful of yachts in Newfoundland and if they hadn't crossed an ocean to get there, they at leastall looked like they would be more than capable capable of doing so. The yachts we have seen since arriving in Cape Breton Island are altogether different. They look like they are owned by people who still go sailing as a hobby, and not as a masochistic passion!!
Maybe we have crossed back into North America proper, and maybe Newfoundland was a rather harsh and unforgiving environment in which to go sailing, but one thing is certain. We have fallen in love with both Newfoundland and the friendliness of its people. We may be heading south for a much needed refit after 1 Atlantic crossing and 2 seasons of hard cruising in the Arctic, but we will be back soon. Newfoundland hasn't seen the last of us.