|Tom Mills of Petley, Random Island is captain of Lois Elaine II. Photo: Scott Martin|
As the Lois Elaine II headed north up the sound, our Captain Tom Mills of Petley captivated us with stories, legends and a colorful insight into the history of such places as Traytown, British Harbour and the community of Irelands Eye itself.
The landscape of Irelands Eye is made up of low rolling hills with shoreline meadows in many shades of green, broken by small coves and harbours.
The Sound and Island is abundant with eagles, osprey ,puffins and whales and if you are very lucky you may catch a glimpse of a leatherback sea turtle feeding on a plentiful supply of jellyfish.
It is a truly nostalgic journey into the past . As we sailed into the community of Irelands Eye on a calm Sunday morning a lone church window still standing seemed to beckon us. The sun bleached piles of old boards and crumbling foundations are the only signs that generations of families worked and worshipped together to make a life for themselves in this beautiful but harsh environment.
The Lois and Elaine II docked in British Harbour giving us the opportunity to explore. Here a restored house stands proudly surrounded by a few cottages.Knarled lilac trees, mounded old vegetable patches and piles of shattered roof slate mark the old homesteads. In British Harbour we walked along overgrown footpaths and marveled at the serenity of this cozy harbour, a photographers paradise.
On the way back to Petley we visited many more small coves and inlets . Captain Mills kept us entertained with his interesting stories and local folklore. Our one day excursion with Captain Tom Mills was one Newfoundland adventure that the staff of NF Interactive recommends as a "must do " on your vacation agenda.
Petley, Random Island, is the gateway to adventure. from here, you can explore abandoned settlements, see whales, eagles, osprey, moose and other wildlife.
Random Island Charter boats is located in Petley, on Smith sound, Trinity Bay. From a comfortable 38 foot custom built vessel, all the treasures of Smith Sound and Random Island await you. The vessel Lois Elaine II is equipped with 2 washrooms and with indoor and outdoor seating for up to 12 passengers. Get a group together and prepare to spend a day exploring the coast of Smith Sound, Random Island and Irelands Eye Island.
Random Island Charter boats also has a full service marina in Petley for boaters exploring Newfoundland on their own. Wharfage, drinking water, electricity, picnic tables, bbqs, spacious clean showers and washrooms, phone fax and photocopier are available. There is also plenty of parking available for your land yachts, if friends and family wish to drive to Petley to meet up with the visiting vessels. There is a large general store in Petley for groceries, camping supplies and gasoline.
Many of Petleys features may also appeal to campers and RVers. Free overnight parking is available, and electricity, showers and laundry services are provided for a small fee. Low Tide Crafts is located on site with the above facilities in Petley. This craft studio specializes in the famous Newfoundland "Codfish Ear" jewelry and shell products from Newfoundland. A number of Newfoundland shells and sea life specimens are on display and some are suitable for purchase by visiting shell collectors. The studio is open year round from 9:30 am to 9:30pm-- If nobody is in the studio, just walk to the gray house behind and Thomas Clenche, the owner, will be glad to open up for you.
Random Island is Newfoundland's largest coastal island. Connected to Newfoundland by a causeway, it offers a scenic drive of over 30 km, all on paved roads. There are 11 settled communities on Random Island. Many more abandoned communities exist also and are accessible only by boat.
History of Petley, Random Island
Petley, is Random Islands second largest community with a population of 170 people. It is often called the most progressive community mainly because of the large number of features found there, Petley has both a community marina and a private marina, a childrens playground, a basketball court, a ball field, and a large general store. Petley is not an old community by Newfoundland standards. Its first settlers date to approximately 1850.
The main industry was logging at the time of settlement. The community was originally two coves, Upper Lance Cove and Aspen cove. The community was renamed Petley in 1915 to honour Rev. H. Petley, a retiring church minister. On Sept. 3, 1917, a forest fire swept down on Petley from the west destroying the church, the school, several buildings and boats and most of the homes. The community was rebuilt and the focus shifted more toward fishing. Today, Petley is a quiet village boasting many modern conveniences including town water supply, weekly garbage collection, Internet access and cable television.