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Labrador - car hire & MV Northern Ranger

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My wife and I (from UK) are planning a couple of trips to Canada for 2009 and 2010. We're at a very early stage at present but would welcome some advice on general principles on this particular trip .

We hope to spend a few weeks in Newfoundland with a hire car which seems reasonably straightforward, but we also want to get across into Labrador. In Labrador we hope to drive north then do a round trip on MV Northern Ranger to Nain and perhaps fly out, presumably from Goose Bay.

This leads to a number of specific questions.

1) I'm assuming it would be best to have two car hires, one for Newfoundland and one for Labrador. Is that right?

2) I understand there is now a reasonable gravel road to Cartwright which is being extended to Goose Bay. Is that correct, and when will Goose Bay be reached?

3a) What would be the cost penalty/practical implications of a one way hire to/from Cartwright/Goose Bay? Or would we have to bring the car back ourselves after it had stood idle for a week?

3b) Similarly are there likely to be any particular issues about a one way hire St John's/St Barbe?

4) On the Northern Ranger service how much time is actually spent in exposed waters? (I suppose I'm really saying how rough might it be?)

5) Does anyone have experience of Northern Ranger?

6) I understand that in some years Northern Ranger sailings may not begin until July due to ice, which suggests that it would be imprudent to aim to come too early. Would it be better to do Newfoundland before (longer days) or after Labrador? Are there any other particular considerations as to when to come, eg flies or weather?

Thanks.

Michael

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