“I knew very little about St. John’s before arriving here by sail boat in mid-September,” says First-mate Natasha of the ever-sailing family ship, Messenger.

Natasha is the mother of a family of five, who met the ship’s captain Jay as he sailed through Central America. “I meet this handsome, though shoeless, sailor in my home country of Costa Rica, where I lived in a booming beach town in the North Pacific raising my two daughters, Sol and Luna, as a single mother.”

“Upon falling in love with each other and with Jay’s life on the sea, my daughters and I became permanent stowaways. It’s been six years since we have made a boat our home and sailed throughout the Caribbean Sea.”

After having a child together, named Caribe, they decided to go north, with a goal to sail up the Atlantic to North America, and eventually, Iceland.

“Naturally, the furthest North-Eastern point for us jump off of to sail to Iceland was St. John’s in Newfoundland.”

But they had another reason to want to see this place – the voice of another famous outsider who once called this place home. “When departing Newport, Rhode Island, Jay was given an old book by a friend, which I was immediately drawn to by the fabulous old and good quality of its printing, and by the beautiful wood-carved prints filling its pages.”

The book was Rockwell Kent’s North by East. Kent was a German-born artist who fell in love with Newfoundland and lived in Brigus, until war-time tensions led to his legendary banishing from the island.

“Throughout our journey from Rhode Island to St. John’s – with a stop in Lunenburg Nova Scotia and another in the island of Saint Pierre et Miquelon – I read the book and finished it as soon as we arrived in St. John’s.”

She jokes she wasn’t even sure how Newfoundland was supposes to be pronounced before arriving, whether it was New-found-land or New-fin-land.

“All I knew about St. John’s was that it was a big industrial port, somewhat newly built due to some disaster that burned down about 90% of the city in 1892.”

“In the short time that we have been here we have discovered its unique qualities, eccentric and young downtown area, and the friendly nature of the Newfoundlander.”

In a strange twist of chance, they found themselves at The Rooms, where, to their surprise, they stumbled on an exhibition of Rockwell’s work.

“We found the same book, North by East, in the same original print as we had, behind a Plexiglas box as part of the exhibition. Quickly feeling a connection to the city due to the coincidence and good-timing.”

The family were docked at the Public Wharf off of Harbour Side Park on Water Street until this past weekend.

“It might lack the mariners’ facilities we are accustom to finding at most ports, such as showers, electricity, and water, but have found great compromises.”

One of which was a favourite local haunt, Broken Books and Fixed Coffee, which Natasha called “two great places to spend the afternoon with a good cup of coffee and internet service to check the weather and plan the next leg of our journey.”

“We befriended Matt, owner of Broken Books, he represents the Newfoundlander, an educated, successful, and content young and friendly person, which sums up everyone we met and spoke to.”

Getting back to The Rooms Natasha says the place is “spectacular for all ages,” and she adds that “the architecture of the building alone is worth the walk up the steep streets, and the view of the harbour from there was grand.”

The Rockwell coincidence stuck with the parents from Messenger, but the kids were taken with the Provincial Museum room’s native animal display. “A polar bear, caribou, and giant squid were among their favorite.”

Their walk up Signal Hill was most memorable though, “The view of The Narrows, as you walk on very well built wooden boardwalks, along steep cliffs hugging the hill, is a must see.”

“It is unfortunate we don’t have more time to explore the whole of Newfoundland, it is getting late in the season and we must make our way north. As Rockwell Kent said, ‘If minds can become magnetized, mine was: its compass needle pointed north.’ The crew of sailing vessel Messenger can say the same.”