Travel Tips: What To Bring:

Northern Destinations

Boreal typically refers to the ecosystem located in the Northern hemisphere overlying formerly glaciated areas and areas of patchy permafrost . A "boreal forest", also known as the taiga, is the forest ecosystem that can survive in northern, specifically sub arctic, regions. Boreal summers in Labrador typically afford pleasant mild temperatures. However, crisp, cool sunny conditions can swiftly shift to storms with very cold winds and even snow flurries. Travellers must be prepared for rapid weather changes.

Also characteristic of the boreal forest are innumerable water bodies: bogs, fens, marshes, shallow lakes, rivers and wetlands. Muskegs are low lying, water filled depressions or bogs are common throughout the boreal forest, occurring in poorly drained, glacial depressions.

Comfortable and casual clothing is the best choice and layers ensure warmth. Two of the most essential pieces of clothing required for a northern voyage are a pair of rubber boots and a roomy, waterproof parka or a shell over heavy fleece or thick wool sweater. A light weight rain jacket and pants can a lot of the guesswork out of selecting cold weather attire. With layered clothing, and by utilising rainwear as a windbreak, northern adventurers can get by in summertime without having to purchase expensive outer clothing.

Passport

Entry to Canada is not as simple as in the past. All travellers to Canada & France must carry a valid passport.

Visa

Non U.S. and Canadian travellers should check with local consulates for the countries that we visit to determine whether they will need an entry visa.

Travel Insurance

We require that travellers to the remote northern regions are covered by travel insurance that will reimburse them for emergency medical services and evacuation, because our northern voyages travel to remote locations far from medical care facilities. Our small ship is equipped with basic emergency supplies.

Luggage Requirements

Luggage should be limited to soft bags such as duffel bags for the ship. No rigid-frames or bags with metals wheels please. For air travel, baggage is limited to no more than and 60 lbs. per participant. and no single bag should exceed 45 lbs.

List of essential gear for Newfoundland & Labrador expeditions:

  • Gloves (Quick-dry Gloves are Helpful)
  • Hats (one tuque for warmth and one ball cap for sun)
  • Scarf or Bandana (for wind and warmth)
  • Wind & Waterproof Parka or Shell
  • Waterproof Pants or Trousers (The rain pants should be loose enough in fit to enable you to wear them over a regular pair of trousers. Consider purchasing a size or two larger than you would normally wear. Rain pants are also helpful to keep you warm and dry while riding in the small boats)
  • Technical Pants or other Warm Trousers (1 or 2 pairs of warm trousers to wear underneath your waterproof rain pants and as a layer over your long underwear. More than one pair is recommended in case one pair gets wet. Wool, corduroy or blue jeans are recommended and hiking pants with zip off legs are helpful for the very warm days)
  • Long Underwear (1 full set of thermal long underwear, which will provide warmth without bulk - silk or polypropylene type recommended as they are fast drying)
  • Warm Long Wool or Wool Blend Socks for Layering (2 pairs are recommended in case one pair gets wet)
  • Thin Silk or Polypropylene Socks for Layering (Quick-dry socks are most helpful)
  • Rubber Boots and/or Waterproof Hiking Boots (You will be wading in cold waters during small boat landings. Make sure you try on your boots in advance to ensure enough room for heavyweight socks)
  • Turtleneck & Warm, Long-Sleeved Shirt (wool and/or flannel suggested for wear ashore and on board ship)
  • Warm Heavy Wool Sweater & Thick Fleece Jacket (larger sizes for layering & two sweaters for very cold days)
  • Waterproof light backpack or fanny pack (for carrying your items ashore and keeping your arms free for embarking/disembarking)
  • Sunglasses with UV protection.
  • Rubber Boots (They are not essential but extremely helpful in exploring the remote Newfoundland coast. Moving between the skiff and shore often means stepping into shallow water. Should you choose to travel with just just hiking boots, you can also wade with watershoes or sport sandals and change into your boots once you are on shore. As an alternative to Rubber Boots, some guests use NEOS Overshoes. These can be worn over regular shoes or hiking boots and are much lighter and easier to pack.)
  • Day pack or fanny pack for hiking.
  • Personal toilet items: (No. 15+ sun block, skin cream, spf chapstick, and Dramamine or similar if needed. Reflected glare from sun, water & ice, can be intense.)
  • Heavy-duty zip-close plastic bags for storing film, camera & binoculars in your backpack.
  • A good pair of binoculars will enhance your trip in many ways, particularly in viewing birds and other wildlife.
  • A camera (with extra batteries and twice the film or memory chip you think you will need).
  • Heat-treated foot warming insoles and/or hand warmers.
  • Comfy Slippers with rubber soles, sport sandals with wool socks, or light shoes (i.e. deck shoes) with non-slip soles for the ship.
  • Water bottle – a 16-ounce bottle recommended, suitable for carrying in your day pack.
  • A swimsuit, beach towel & sport sandals should there be an opportunity to “bathe” in the mountain waters of a Newfoundland fjord or for a polar plunge in the sub-Arctic waters of Labrador.
  • Musical Instruments & Song Book
  • Knitting, Needlework or Sketch Book & Reading Material
  • Some stargazers enjoy sleeping on deck- they bring a sleeping bag.
  • Alcoholic beverages of your choice.

Shop for Gear at the Ship’s Store

Many items are available through our Ship’s Store in Belfast:

  • Medium Weight Polar Fleece Jackets with Logo
  • Waffle Weave Thermal Shirts with Logo (Good for Layering)
  • Watch Caps with Logo
  • Ladies Polar Fleece Vests with Logo (Good for Layering)
  • Ladies Cotton Stretch Jerseys with Logo (Good for Layering)
  • Lined Warm Jackets with Logo
  • Baseball Caps with Logo (for keeping the sun out of your eyes)
  • Canvas or Denim Sun Hats (for Boating)
  • Canvas Book Bags with Logo
  • Drinking Water Bottle with Logo
  • Destination Specific Guides and Books

Items can be ordered directly from our Store in Belfast, Maine
by calling 1-866-SEA-BIRD or 1-207-338-3088

Other Frequently Asked Questions:

Do we get off the ship?

Of course! The best way to experience the north is by walking the tagia and hiking along the edges of the fjords. Weather permitting, we do get off the ship once a day. However, all of our northern voyages will have at least one full day at sea. We may visit Inuit and/or remote fishing communities, “go exploring” in our skiffs to look for wildlife, or hike where quite possibly no one has ever been before.

What temperatures should I expect?

In July and August, the average temperature in Newfoundland and Labrador is an average 50 F. It is also common to have beautiful sunny days with temperatures reaching the high 60’s to 70 F, with sudden dramatic changes and even snow flurries in the most Northern destinations. When you are on land hiking it usually gets quite warm and people tend to take off layers. On the other hand, skiff rides can be quite chilly. We measured water temperatures along the Labrador coast averaging 38-44 F during the month of August. Dressing in layers of warm clothes will ensure you are always comfortable. For example, a turtleneck, sweater and waterproof jacket, gloves, hat and small backpack are a good idea, as you may wish to leave layers of clothing on the beach with your rubber boots once you have stepped out of the small boat.

Do I need to bring rubber boots or rubber rain pants?

They are not essential but extremely helpful in exploring the remote Newfoundland and Labrador coasts. Moving between the skiff and shore often means stepping into shallow water. Should you choose to travel with just just hiking boots, you can also wade with watershoes or sport sandals and change into your boots once you are on shore. As an alternative to Rubber Boots, some guests use NEOS Overshoes. These can be worn over regular shoes or hiking boots and are much lighter and easier to pack. Another good alternative to the above are the L.L. Bean or Sorel-type (rubber lower, leather-upper "Field-Pac") for walking on wet tundra. Water-resistant leather boots will suffice, but may not keep you as dry as the "Field-Pac" boots. If you enjoy distance hiking, regular hiking boots are preferable. Boots must be broken in. Running shoes are unacceptable for out-of-hamlet hikes. Water resistant type or rubber pants can also be helpful while travelling in the skiffs. Inexpensive rubber boots and pants can usually be purchased at discount store, or a sporting goods store with a fishing department.

Does the ship sell wine, soda or bottled water?

As we travel to multiple countries with varying import laws, we not not carry wine or alcohol for sale. We carry plenty of fresh drinking water and the ship uses desalinators to make our own water. While aboard we offer lemonade, iced tea, coffee, tea & hot cocoa. Should you wish to have other beverages such as alcohol, wine, beer, sodas, milk, soy milk, or bottled waters, you are welcome to bring these items along.

Will we encounter rough seas?

The seas in the northern regions are usually calm during the summer months, though rough weather can be experienced at any time. There are many remedies to control the rare case of seasickness. Please ask your physician for advise on seasickness medicine or patches. We recommend seasickness bands that work by pressure point, crystallised ginger & an non-drowsy motion sickness medicine.

Will we encounter mosquitos?

Mosquitos and black flies are common along the Maine Coast, the Maritimes and along the Labrador Coast – more numerous in July than August. However, it takes only a slight wind to keep them clear and fortunately, the great majority of our time will be spent along the coast – exposed to breezes, and away from the marshy breeding grounds. Insect repellents such as Cutters or Muskol are recommended. If you are particular irritated by or allergic to mosquitoes, a head-net is recommended for hikes ashore.

Can I take a hot shower anytime or as often as I would like?

We suggest that you keep your showers to a minimum as is comfortable for you while on the ten or twelve day Expedition Voyages. Though the Wanderbird carries ample fresh water and has its own desalinater, it is suggested that participants use water sparingly particularly when showering. We have very hot water while our engines are running so this is always the best time to shower.

Can I buy local art, handicrafts or jewellery?

Fine handicrafts from local artists are available for purchase in some of the communities we visit. Canadian currency is best for these purchases in remote locations. There are customs restrictions on importing certain items into other countries, so choose your purchases carefully. We also carry Inuit art & carvings, as well as jewellery, sculpture and finer handicrafts made by locals from the places where we travel at our Ship’s Store in Belfast, Maine. This is part of our program for responsible and sustainable tourism.