1878 – Newfoundland Pilot

Compiled by Staff Commander W. F. Maxwell R.N. 1878


Variation in 1878
Saint-Pierre 28° 20’W
Miquelon 28° 40’ W

ST. PIERRE ISLAND, W. by S. ½ S. 10 miles from May point, is barren in appearance and irregular in its outline, which appears from a distance to be composed of many peaks, the highest of which is 671 feet above high water, and is thus easily distinguished from Langlade or Little Miquelon, the outline of which is nearly horizontal. At the south-east extreme is a conspicuous conical hill joined by a low neck to the mainland, called Galantry head.*

LIGHT.—Galantry head is surmounted by a lighthouse, painted white, from which, at an elevation of 210 feet above high water, is exhibited a flashing light showing a, flash every twenty seconds, the flashes occur in the order of one red and two white. The light is visible 20 miles in clear weather, but on certain bearings is obscured by St. Pierre island.

FOG SIGNAL.—Near Galantry lighthouse, during thick or foggy weather and in snow storms, a steam fog whistle will be sounded in blasts of six seconds duration every minute, with an interval of fifty’-four seconds between each blast; this whistle has been heard from a distance of 7 miles. This fog signal will be in operation from the 15th March to the 1st December ; but from the 1st December to the 15th March only at the time of the expected arrival at St. Pierre of the fortnightly mail from Halifax.

The steam whistle supersedes the gun signals formerly in use, but should the apparatus be out of order at any time the gun signals will be resumed.

* See Admiralty plan:—Miquelon islands with plans of Miquelon road and St. Pierre harbour, No. 303, scale various. Pilote de Terre-Neuve, 1869, Tome 1, pp. 85-101.


These consist of two discharges, with an interval of 3 minutes between each, fired every two hours, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m, and of a return gun for gun to any vessel which fires to ascertain the position, till sunset.

The harbour is situated on the east side of the island between it and Chien island, and may be approached by three channels between the islands.

Cape Noir and Chasseurs island, two islets close to Galantry head, are steep-to on the south and east sides.

Blanche point, nearly a mile to the westward of Chasseurs island, is the rocky termination of a conical peninsula, Little harbour head, 68 feet above high water ; on this point is a conspicuous square rock.

Ravenel bay runs in west of this point, and is the landing place of some telegraphic cables. The south shore is foul, but near the north shore there is a fine, clear, sandy bottom, with 4£ fathoms water and good shelter from off shore winds. Le Diamant, a peaked rock, lies off the west point of this cove.

Savoyard point is the north-west extreme of the island, and is a prolongation of the fall of the high land.

Savoyard shoal, with 3 feet water, lies If cables west of this point, and between it and Diamant point are several shoals, the outer of which, Belier shoal, with 6 feet water, is situated N.W. J W. 7 cables from Diamant point, and 4 cables off shore. The north shore of the island falls steeply to the sea and is bold-to.

Henry point, the north-enst extreme of the island, is a low peninsula under high land. A shoal, with 12 feet water, lies close to the east extreme of the low-water line, and a bank, with 4J fathoms, lies east If cables from the point.

Great Colombier, 492 feet above high water, is bold, dark, and steep, lying off the north-east end of St. Pierre, separated by Henry channel, 3 cables wide.

Little Colombier lies nearly a cable eastward of Great Colombier.

Colombier shoal, with 12 feet water, lies E. by N. ½ N. 3½ cables from Little Colombier.

Galantry lighthouse, open east of cape Aigle and bearing S.W. by S., leads east of this shoal.

Cape Blanc and cape Rouge are so called from the colour of the cliffs. The former is 3½ cables south of Henry point, and half a mile further south is cape Rouge, a ^high red cliff. The coast is bold-to from cape Blanc to cape Rouge.

Cape Aigle is south-west, 4 cables nearly from cape Rouge, and the shore is foul.
Cape Rouge shoals lie off the cape, the eastern of which with 12 feet water is 2 cables distant.

Little St. Pierre, a small islet, steep-to on the east side, lies a quarter of a mile east of cape Aigle, and is 17 feet high. A white stone beacon, 20 feet high, has been erected on this islet. There is no passage between it and the main for ships.

The coast from cape Aigle trends westerly a little more than a mile to the town of St. Pierre, the shoal water gradually increasing its distance from the shore.

Canon point is a reef of rocks, extending eastward from the town, which covers at high water ; at the extremity a lighthouse has been built.

LIGHTS.—To indicate the best water through South Channel, there have been erected two lighthouses, which kept in line N.W., will lead in mid-channel.
From the lighthouse at the extreme of Canon point, a fixed white light is exhibited at an elevation of 36 feet above high water, and in clear weather should be visible 6 miles. N.W. 4 cables from the outer lighthouse is another lighthouse, from which & fixed red light is shown, at an elevation of 64 feet above high water, and should be visible 3 miles in clear weather.

Bertrand rocks are situated half a mile south of Canon point, and consist of low rocks extending 1¾ cables from the main. Between them is the inner harbour of St. Pierre, shoal and narrowed by Moules island, a third of the distance from Canon point.

Beacon.—A black and white beacon, 13 feet high, has been erected on the eastern of the Bertrand rocks.

St. Louis bank, with 4 feet water, lies N. W. cables from the beacon on Bertrand rocks. The lighthouses in line N.W., lead north and east of this bank.

Chien island is low, separated by South channel, 2½ cables wide, from Bertrand rocks, and is easily distinguished by a church recently erected, and a lighthouse. The east, south, and north shores are foul.

LIGHT.—On Leconte point, the west extreme of Chien island, is situated a lighthouse, from which is exhibited a fixed light at an elevation of 62 feet above high water. The light shows white between the bearings of N.W. ¾ N. and N. ¼ E.; red from N. ¼ E. round by east to S.E. ½ E.; and in clear weather should be seen from a distance of 7 miles.

Massacre island is a low islet 1½ cables off the north-west end of Chien island.

Vainqueur island lies east of Chien island, and is separated by Fletans channel, nearly 3 cables wide. Cape Chevre, a mound 102 feet high, is situated at the north-east end of this island, off which, distant nearly a cable, lies Plat rock, ] 3 feet above high water. Black rock, 20 feet above high water, lies E. by S. ¼ S. 4 cables from the same cape; at the south end of Vainqueur island is Pelee island, joined to it at low water.

Pigeon island, north 1 ½ cables from Vainqueur island, is wedge shaped, the highest part, 90 feet above high water, being over the north-east end. From this end some islets, Les Canailles or point aux Dots, extend l ½ cables, and are steep-to on east and north sides.

Haché rock, 16 feet high, lies 1 ½ cables off the south-east point of Pigeon island.
Gros-nez, a conspicuous rock, 27 feet high, lies in Fletans channel between Chien island and Vainqueur island.

From Black rock to Diamant point the coast is bordered by rocks and shoals, some of which are nearly a mile from the shore. The following are the most dangerous.

Enfant perdu, a small rock, 3 feet above high water, is situated S.E. £ S. 6 cables nearly from Pelee island.

Little shoal, with 10 feet water on it, is 2 cables beyond in the same direction.

Great shoal lies E. 1/3 N. 3 1/3 cables from Enfant perdu, and has 5 feet water on it.

Les Cailloux de terre is a large bank, with 3 ¾ fathoms least water, W.S.W. nearly half a mile from Enfant perdu.

Bataille bank, with 3 ¼ fathoms water, lies S.E. ½ S. 6 ¾ cables from the lighthouse on Chien island.

Gelin shoal, with 6 fathoms water, lies East 1-i-1^ miles, and Caillou au Chat, with 8 fathoms, E. ¼ S. 8 ½ cables from Chasseurs island.

CLEARING MARKS.—Henry point, the north-east extreme of St. Pierre, open north of les Canailles, N.N.W. ¾ W., leads north and east of all shoals. Blanche point, open south of Chasseurs island, W. I N., leads south of these dangers.

Les Grappinots, with 7 fathoms water, lies S.E. ½ S., 3 cables nearly from Chasseurs island.

Grappin shoal, with 4 ¼ fathoms water, lies South three-quarters of a mile nearly from Chasseurs island. The lighthouse on Chien island, open east of cape Noir N. by E. ¼ E., clears east, and Savoyard point, open south of Blanche point N.W. ½ W., leads south of this shoal.

Tournioure shoals are two in number, the eastern of which and shoaler, has 10 feet water, and is situated W. by S. a little more than half a mile from Blanche point. Galantry lighthouse open south of Blanche point, and bearing E. by N. ¼ N., leads south of these shoals.

Bonniere shoal, with 6 fathoms water, lies S.W. by W. ¾ W. 1 ¼ miles nearly from Blanche point.

Marne shoal, with 15 feet water, is situated S.W. by S. a little more than a mile from Diamant point. Galantry lighthouse, open south of Blanche point, leads south of this shoal.

DIRECTIONS POR ST. PIERRE HARBOUR.-North Channel, between Pigeon and St. Pierre islands, is wide and easy for working to windward ; it is the only one that should be taken by large vessels.

From the eastward, after clearing the Great shoal, the islets off Vainqueur and Pigeon islands may be approached close to. When standing in east of Little St. Pierre, that islet must be kept open north of the battery on the north point of Chien island, S.S.W. ¾ W. to clear cape Rouge shook.

At night the red light, near the town of St. Pierre, open of cape Aigle clears these shoals. When working along the coast of Chien island the’ lighthouse on Canon point should be kept open of the north point of Massacre island, in order to clear the shoals off the north shore of Chien island.

In working to windward, care should be taken to guard against the squalls that sweep down from the high land between Great Colombier and cape Diable on the north and cape Aigle on the south side.

Anchorage.—Large vessels may anchor as convenient, between a line running north of the battery on Chien island, and a line north of the east point of Massacre island, in which space there are 7 to 15 fathoms water in mid-channel. The most dangerous winds are from ENE whereby the heaviest sea is-produced, and to guard against which vessels should moor.

Vessels should not proceed west of this anchorage without local knowledge or without a pilot.

PILOTS.-The employment of a pilot to enter this port is compulsory, and the payment will be enforced if a properly distinguished pilot offe his services, whether accepted or not.

DIRECTIONS POR PLATANS CHANNEL. -If wishing t0 enter St. Pierre harbour by this channel which lies between Chien island and Vainqueur island, steer N.W. for the south part of Chien island, and when cape Bawdry, the east extreme of Chien island, comes in line with Gros-nez rock, bearing N. by E. ½ E., that mark should be kept on until within a cable of Gros-nez rock passing between the shoals off Chien and Vainqueur islands. Gros-nez should be left to the westward half a cable and a course thence steered to pass a cable east of cape Bawdry, when the anchorage may be steered for.

DIRECTIONS POR SOUTH CHANNEL.-This channel lies between Bertrand rocks and Chien island, and has 12 feet least water.

The lighthouse on Leconte point should be brought to bear between N.W. ¾ N. and N. ¼ E. and steered for between those bearings, until the lighthouse at Canon point comes in line with the lighthouse at St. Pierre, bearing N.W. Keep this mark on, until two beacons on the main island, eastward of the town, come in line. The higher is on top of a large white stone at the brow of the hill, and the lower just above the road. These beacons must be kept in line N. by W. ¾ W., until Vigie d’Aigremont, a beacon on a hillock 86 feet high, south of the town, is in line with the . lighthouse on Canon point S.W. by W. ¼ W. nearly. This mark will lead to the anchorage.

At night.—Keep within the white sector of light shown from the lighthouse on Leconte point, and steer for it until Canon point light and the light in the town are in line, then alter course for them, and when Leconte point light bears East, steer half a cable to the northward and anchor in 4| fathoms.

DIRECTIONS IN FOGGY WEATHER.—In a steam vessel, when tolerably sure of the position, an endeavour should be made to sight land in the vicinity of cape Coupe on the south coast of Langlade island, and then steer across for the west side of St. Pierre ; coast that island to the northward and pass through Henry channel, close south of Great Colombier, to its east point, whence steer S. by E. for 1 ½ miles, and W. ½ S. one mile, to the anchorage. This should not be attempted by a steam vessel, unless Langlade island has been seen before the fog came down, and bearings taken of it, and above all in moderate weather.

Barachois de St. Pierre, or the inner harbour, is available for vessels drawing 11 feet, at high water only. The holding ground is indifferent, but there is little sea, and vessels that ground are rarely damaged. A number of schooners lay up there for the winter.
Tides.—It is high water full and change at St. Pierre at 8h. 33m.; springs rise 6 ½ feet, neaps 4 ¼ feet.

The flood stream flows to the northward through South and Fletans channels, and out to the eastward through North channel. This regularity is only found near the shore. At a short distance seaward, the current runs almost constantly to the northward, and is very little influenced by the feeble tidal stream of these localities. In the anchorage, the tidal stream is sometimes of sufficient force to swing ships against a strong breeze. The ebb flows in the opposite direction to the flood.

Between St. Pierre and Langlade the flood stream runs E.N.E. in the direction of the channel, and turns one or 1 ½ hours after high water, but often continues to run in the same direction all through the ebb, at a reduced rate. The currents and tides are however veiy irregular, and no dependence can be placed on any particular direction or rate.

Cod Fishery. — This industry is principally prosecuted by vessels equipped at the northern ports of France, averaging from 120 to 200 tons each, and which leave on 1st March; some proceed at’ once to the Newfoundland banks, but the greater number go first to St. Pierre for herring, and they all return to St. Pierre for a second supply of bait in June. The method adopted is for the ships to anchor on the banks, while bultows are laid out in large undecked boats, sometimes as far as 6 miles from the vessel. This system is attended by frequent loss of life, the boats being unable at times to return to the vessels, and the latter occasionally go down at their anchors.

On the west coast of Newfoundland the vessels follow the fish from south to north till the caplin have disappeared, when they repair to the several ports at which the catch is to be cured, and after the vessels are moored, the crews fish with bultows off their respective anchorages till the end of the season.

On the north-east coast of Newfoundland vessels have a position assigned to each for a term of 5 years, and they proceed direct from France to these posts where they are moored. The crew then fish with seine, hook and line, or bultows.

Green island, E. by N. ¾ N. 4 ½ miles from the east point of Great Colombier, is half a mile long, 154 feet above high water, and is so called from the colour. S.W. 7 cabfes from it are some islets the outer of which, Enfant perdu, is S.W. by S. l 1/6 miles distant from Green island.

A rock, that covers at two-thirds flood, is the eastern of these rocks, and is situated South 5 ½ cables from the south point of Green island. There is a good passage between Green island and the islets off it, and the water is deep all round this group.

LITTLE MIQUELON or LANGLADE ISLAND, 3 miles west of St. Pierre island, is steep-to, the sides are cliffy except at the north-east part.


The summit, nearly flat, has an elevation of 656 feet. The general appearance is flat, but when seen from the westward, some hummocks show out at the north-east end. Both portions of Miquelon island lie in a north and south (true) direction. From the south extreme of Little Miquelon to the south end of the sandy neck joining it to Great Miquelon is 7-½ miles ; the sandy neck is 5½ miles long, and from its north extremity to the north point of Great Miquelon is 8½ miles. At the north extreme of the shingle beach is a large pond called Great Barachois, to which small schooners find access at high water, entering from the east side of the beach.

La Baie, as the passage between St. Pierre and Little Miquelon is called by the inhabitants, is deep and the shores forming it are bold.

GREAT MIQUELON ISLAND is very irregular in outline, with hills ranging from 656 to 820 feet in height. From the north extreme a tongue of land extends in nearly a semicircle, forming Miquelon road. On this tongue arc several conspicuous hills and a large settlement with a prominent church. The north-east extreme, cape Miquelon, is a steep cliff, bold-to.*

A shoal stretches off the south side of Miquelon road, half a mile from a point a little more than half a mile north of Chapeau de Miquelon, a conical hill, 360 feet high, on the north shore of Great Miquelon.

Anchorage.—Shelter may be had with winds from N.N.E. round by north and west to S.S.W. in 6 fathoms water off the settlement, with failholding ground.

LIGHT.—From the church steeple is shown a fixed white light, to enable boats to enter the road.

Anchorage may also be obtained on the east side of the long shingle beach which joins Great Miquelon aud Little Miquelon islands, but it i* exposed. The best place is off the north-east shore of Little Miquelon in 6 fathoms, near a cove just south of the gens d’armes station.

Seal rocks (Les veaux marins) are two groups of dangerous rocks, half a mile from each other, the highest 18 feet above high water, situated W. by S. ½ S. 7½ miles from the north extreme of Great Miquelon, and steep-to all round.

Miquelon rocks are a group of rocks jutting out from Soldier point, 5 miles to the southward of Miquelon road. The eastern and highest is 1T4T miles from the point, about 10 feet above high water, and steep-to on the east side.

Miquelon bank, off the north-east end of Great Miquelon, extends N.E. ¼ N. and S.W. ¼ S. 3 miles. The north-eastern and shoalest patch, called Outer Miquelon rock, with 10 feet on it, lies N.E. by E. ½ E. 2 ¾ miles from the eastern of the Miquelon rocks, and Landry bank, the south-west end, has 4½ fathoms water on it.

* H.M.S. Niobe, in May 1874, was wrecked on the rocks extending seaward from cape Blanc, about 3½ miles south-westward of cape Miquelon.

Grand Colombier

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