Nfld. & Labrador

High winds? No problem: Labrador man takes travellers across strait speedboat

Blair Roberts has gone back and forth three times in his Silver Dolphin with the Qajaq W tied up.

Blair Roberts has gone back and forth 3 times in his Silver Dolphin with the Qajaq W tied up

Blair Roberts has boated from L'anse au Loup to Sandy Cove this year when the Qajaq W is tied up in port. (Submitted by Blair Roberts)

There was at least one boat crossing the Gulf of St. Lawrence this weekend, and it isn't the one you're thinking about.

It's a 23-foot Silver Dolphin — an all-aluminum boat built to handle rough waters.

Boat owner Blair Roberts' girlfriend, who is the pharmacist in Forteau, N.L., was stuck in St. Barbe, so — with the Qajaq W tied up at the dock in Blanc-Sablon, Que., due to high winds — Roberts took matters in his own hands and decided to navigate the Strait of Belle Isle himself.

"She likes to be back here at 9 a.m. and when the ferry doesn't run late Sunday night it throws a wrench in her plans," Roberts said. 

"That's a lot of the reason that I do go, but each and every time I went down, there hasn't been any issue. It's kind of unbelievable that the ferry doesn't come."

He did the trip for his third time this summer, leaving L'anse au Loup to boat to Sandy Cove. It usually takes him about 30 minutes.

'Conditions were favourable'

Roberts says the conditions on the water were favourable. 

"I'm not sure the sea conditions are 100 per cent the reason that the ferry isn't going.… I'm not doing anything crazy by any means, " Roberts told CBC's Labrador Morning on Tuesday.

Roberts doesn't call himself an expert mariner but he says a lot of people are wondering about the ongoing ship delays with the Qajaq. 

"Nobody knows the underlying conditions. I mean everyone wants to blame the weather, the dock, the boat or the captain, but I think there's a lot of unknowns for the people," said Roberts.

"You can clearly see when the conditions are unfavourable, but when it looks like something you would literally put a kayak in, it makes you question the reason it's not running."

Just don't expect to hire him to make a crossing, he insists.

"I'm not providing a service by any means. I only go when someone I know needs to come across or need a ride," he said.

Asked if he would open up his vessel to passengers other than people he knows, Roberts said he won't be starting a charter service any time soon.

"Obviously if someone I know or anyone needs to come across for any apparent reason, I don't mind going across, and getting anyone, but I won't be starting a charter service by no means." he said, chuckling.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

About the Author

Tyler Mugford

Journalist

Tyler Mugford is a journalist working with CBC in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

With files from Janice Goudie

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