My Trip to Paradise (Sable Island)

I had the good fortune of being invited to go to Sable Island during the summer of 2009.  I traveled there with 2 photographers and my friend Dr. Claudia Notzke who studies wild horses around the world.  We were approved to go to Sable from Monday, Aug. 3 through Monday, Aug. 10th.  However, being approved doesn’t mean you will get there.  Sable Island is known as the foggiest place in Nova Scotia and the fog dictates if and when the plane will land.
We were delayed 5 out of our 7 days and were still sitting in Halifax (on pins and needles) waiting for the fog to break long enough for the plane to fly in.  On Saturday morning we finally got the “go ahead” and although that left us with only 2 days, we had come too far not to follow through (a visit cannot be extended or changed due to weather).  So it was with great jubilation that we finally loaded the plane and took off!
Sable from the air

Sable from the air, our first view…

Endless sand, surf and sky . . . absolutely breathtaking

Sable Island is approx. 180 km off the coast of Nova Scotia, is 42 km long and about 1 1/2 km across at its widest.

Sable Island is protected, so public access to the island has to be granted by the Canadian Coast Guard; visitors then have to make their own transportation arrangements to and from the island as well as bring their own supplies.

"The Airport on Sable Island"

The Airport on Sable Island

It  took us almost 2 hours to fly there from Halifax. As the day was clear, our pilot offered to fly over the northern tip of Sable Island.

Maritime Air, the air charter company who flies to Sable Island, uses a Britten-Norman Islander.  The “islander” is a special plane designed for short landing and take off.

Welcoming Committee

Welcoming Committee

The horses on the island have no natural predators, so they have no fear of people…they’re cautious, but usually their curiosity overcomes them and on our first day there we had a welcoming committee come over and check us out.

Cautious but curious

Cautious but curious

Downtown Sable Island is comprised of 2 residences (one for station manager Gerry Forbes and the other for visitors and island maintenance staff), the weather office and service buildings.

Downtown Sable Island

Downtown Sable Island

My first evening on the island has left an indelible memory – Just imagine being alone (well almost) on an island far from anywhere, on a warm summer evening. There’s nothing around you except the horses, seals, the sound of the wind and surf…it was absolutely heaven.

This particular moment in time will stay with me for the rest of my life.   I can still feel the serenity wash over me.

First night on Sable Island…sea, wind, horses and seals

7 Responses to My Trip to Paradise (Sable Island)

  1. What a wonderful place to be able to visit. The beaches look wonderful but I imagine the winters are very bad. Lucky you to be able to meet all those horses. Your work is very beautiful.

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  3. Elaine Reynaud says:

    I saw firsthand Joan’s paintings of the Sable Island horses and they are breathtaking. I
    can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to be there with them in their secluded
    world. I’d fill my house with the originals if I could!!! Thanks Joan for bringing them “to us”
    in this way.

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  5. Yves Martin says:

    Sable Island is a beautiful place. I had the chance to work there for a year (Dec 89-Dec 90) as a surface and upper air weather observer. Gerry Forbes was the OIC of the Island back then. Would definitely like to go back for a day or two.

    • Joan Larson says:

      Its an amazing place isn’t it! I had the pleasure of meeting Gerry on my first trip to Sable Island in 2009 and thought he was an excellent OIC. He took lots of time with us and made us feel welcome on the island.

  6. Euphemism says:

    Such a beautiful place. I hope to go there one day.

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