The following article originally appeared as part of a series titled "Down Home" in the Newfoundland Signal (published in Toronto) on August 2, 1976. In those days the author spent her summers on Red Island with her husband Denis and their daughter Krista. Reprinted by permission.

"Noah's Ark" Transports Family Plus All Pets to Small Island

by Lorna M. Ryan

RED ISLAND, Placentia Bay -- "Don't take so much of a load this time!"

Din says the same thing every spring when we're getting ready to leave Placentia for the island, and yet every spring we steam out through the Gut looking like Noah's Ark.

I'm actually pretty good at packing, but there's just so much we have to take with us. In the first place, there are the hens - six of them in their big travelling cage. The poor things are getting to be seasoned sailors by now, but they still don't like it. And then there's the rabbits in their cages, and the dog, and the guinea pig, and whatever other pets Krista has conned us into adopting over the winter.

The cages take up the whole bottom of the punt. Eight or nine boxes of food are fitted in with difficulty and the plastic bags of clothes and bedding are laid on top. At this point, Din frowns and says, "Is that all? There's no more room." I tell him, "There's only a couple more things dear," and begin handing down my plant boxes. He gives me his Martyred Husband look because there's at least ten of these boxes, all filled with little seedling that must be handled carefully and kept covered against the wind. There is also a box of books and writing materials (I can't live without something to read), and at least one box of toys. Krista always wants to take all her favourite dolls, which also happen to be the largest ones she owns, and we have quite a struggle with her about them every year.

By this time a small crowd of idlers has gathered on the wharf, watching, and some old-timer can't resist asking Din where we're going and how long we expect to stay. Din glares at him disgustedly. The boat is riding well down in the water and any fool can see we're obviously leaving on a six-month voyage to the South pole.

Hastily, he lets go the ropes before I can think of anything else to bring, and we get away. Krista and I are crammed into a tiny cubbyhole up forward and Din stands holding the tiller ropes, in the middle pound. We are temporarily no longer on speaking terms, but at least we're finally on our way.

The crossing is fun at first; it's always wonderful to feel the rhythmic rise and fall of the lop again after a long winter on land. But twelve miles later, nearing the harbour, I'm tired and cold and dying for a hot cup of tea.

They see us coming, and five or six fellows come out on the wharf to meet us and give us a hand with the bozes. Tom grins widely and personally takes charge of the case of Blue Star. The house fills up fast, bottles are opened, and the talk turns to lobstering.

"What about Bar Haven, Din? How're Johnny and them doin?"

"B'ye, they sold seven hundert'n forty pound last week, and over eight hundert t'week before. They're cleanin' her."

"Lobsters is getting' scarce here now. We only got 18 this morning, out of 42 pots. Got five undersize and huv away two spawners."

"Shockin' b'ye, nuthin' at all these past t'ree mornin's now."

The talk goes on and on. I cup my hands around my mug of tea and watch Din shove another stick into the stove and then put the lifter down on the grate. It's some good to be home again.