My Trip to Sable Island (Pt1)

Earlier this month a spent a week on Sable Island. I volunteered to assist with the construction of some fencing as part of a research project being undertaken by Parks Canada and the Sable island Institute. While i was on the Island i tweeted various photos and observations. This series of posts will rehash alot of that content, and hopefully provide some more context to it.

Sable island is located about 150nm off the Nova Scotia coast. it is made entirely of sand deposited by the leading edge of a glacier when it receded during the last ice age. There are no rocks on the island, but there is fresh water. Due to its position, the island is often windy, but even in winter seldom drops below -5C. My week on the island featured uncharacteristically good weather, with sun most days and temps in the high teens and low twenties. (there were some rain showers one afternoon, and we did have a day with 40knot winds)

The island is largely vegetated, with a combination of grasses and heath. There are introduced plants – Cranberry, roses, and a lone sad pine tree.

Aerial View of sable island, Main Station at the top Right, West light in the centre.

Currently you can visit sable island. the island is only open for day visits, and thee is no public accommodation on the island, and camping is not permitted. To Fly, Sable Aviation, Vision Air, and Breton Aviation all offer flights. Our ride to the island was via Vision Air’s S-76a. We landed at the main station helipad

vision air’s S-76A

Sable Aviation provided are ride home. They operate a Britten-Normander Islander Aircraft, and use the beach near main station as a runway. wind had blown loose sand drifts across the landing area which is why the helicopter was needed.

Main Station is the hub of habitation on the island. It was originally maintained by the Meteorological Service of Canada, but was taken over by parks Canada in 2013.

the long building is the Garage/maintenance shop/and generator building. There is also the Staff House (now known is the VQ, or Visitors Quarters), and the OIC House. the two distant buildings are the hydrogen building, used by MSC to launch weather balloons, and MSC’s lab. the dome contained instruments to track the balloons.

ex MSC Facilities, hydrogen shed, and lab building.

(above)Staff House (Below) my room. In non covid times, the house can sleep around 20 people. there are a couple of rooms outfitted for single use, others meant to be shared. due to covid, it was one to a room. there is a Large Kitchen, and a lounge space.

The front sunroom area was reserved for day use visitors.

Transportation on the island was primarily via Jeep Rubicon with balloon tires. Gators, a Polaris, and ATV’s were also in use. (the drive belt on the Polaris broke, and we needed to tow it back to main station.)

one last thing about sable. being a relatively flat bit of land in the middle of the ocean, tsunamis are a concern. Main Station features two 7 person lifeboats should a large wave be detected heading towards the island.

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