Some things change, some stay the same. The change this summer is that, after a long, cold spring sail, we are docked in a new place to the west of Toronto. No hills, no bluffs, just park and walking trails and water around us. But the change in weather patterns remains, no matter where we are.
A cool, wet spring and a long transition into summer has meant that water levels are high, even now. The water has been staying about five inches from the point where electricity to the docks would have to be turned off. Which is to say, five inches or so from reaching the transformer that provides electricity. Needless to say we have been watching the water levels with great interest…
All that moisture has had at least one good effect. Every plant in the park around us and beyond is green and growing. The flowers have been blooming in abundance, including lilacs, wild roses and all manner of wildflowers that have been left to grow in patches next to neatly mown areas. Butterflies, bees and small birds love these patches. And perhaps foxes too – the other morning a young fox came out of one, flying across the road in front of us in an attempt to catch a squirrel. He was not quick enough; the squirrel ran out from under his feet. I have never seen a squirrel move so fast!
It also had another, not quite so welcome (to us anyway) effect. The midges came out in abundance, early. The purple martins, however, were (and still are) very happy. They have been swooping and diving as they feast on any and all small flying insects, and the spiders have been doing their part to collect the tiny, annoying winged creatures. At least when and where we let them; a boat full of spider webs is not pleasant to live on. As for us, we closed our mouths and ducked our heads each time we had to walk through a cloud of them and tried to remind ourselves that every creature has its place. Just not in noses or mouths.
The geese laid their eggs early, and the goslings grew rapidly. They took to parading around in groups of adults and goslings, inside the club as well as through the park in general, stopping to feed on nicely mown lawns and leave their calling cards behind with no care about where some foolish human might want to walk. They paid far more attention to dogs and Rusty, the Bengal cat, moving off the grass and docks and into the water rapidly whenever they hove into sight.
Now, though, they have made themselves much scarcer – because the swans have hatched two cygnets, and once that happens they do not tolerate the geese being around. The swans had been swimming around, curved wings lifted just above their backs, reminding me of decorative vintage bowls. It is a display that is both pretty and threatening, telling those who pay attention that this is their territory and we are only tolerated here. We knew that they must have cygnets when we heard and saw them flying low across the water toward some unseen target, necks stretched, heads down, looking large and menacing, in full protective mode. Never mess with a swan.
We have had only one coyote sighting here, not surprising since they are creatures that love the shadows of dusk and dawn. This lone, hungry-looking animal was out before dusk, perhaps in search of the geese we saw grazing happily a little further along the road. Evening often seems to find waterbirds taking to the water to rest, safe from coyotes and other land predators.
Where we are we look out at the park we are in. The spit behind our boat is a favorite place for walkers and runners, families and groups of friends and people walking dogs to visit. Photographers come to take pictures of lake and birds and scenery; people pose themselves and their dogs on the rocks of the breakwater. And we enjoy watching them all.
One of the reasons we moved this spring was because we decided we would be able to finish more races if we were close to where they finished. So far we’ve had two races in the series we’ve been doing for the past couple of years. We finished the first (in sixth place) but not the second. There should actually have been three races, but between the flooding caused by the high water and bad weather plans for the second and third races had to be changed and changed again. So (sigh) our second race was in light winds and our heavy jib flopped uselessly, needing more energy to fill it than there was wind. We limped home after too many hours of drifting.
Limped because, as we discovered, there was a problem with one of our battery banks. That was soon cured, once we had time to take the floor up and see what was happening underneath. And it was a very good thing we took the floor up since we also found out that our bilge pump had blown its fuse and there was water accumulating down there… Fuse replaced and bilge pump having done its job we are now floating a little higher in the water. Maybe that will help us sail faster next time!
Since we were dealing with that we also took the time to do some of those regular maintenance jobs that never go away. Jobs like resealing the chainplates, and tracking down the source of a couple of leaks and fixing those. Then, prompted by a gift of foam from a friend, we thought we might as well redo our bed. Taking the old one apart and creating the new one ended up being a day long task, but we are happy with the improvement. No sags, easier to get out of, and with enough air space underneath to discourage mold. Now what else will we redesign?
Oh yes – and we managed to find and buy an electric car that will suit our needs, to go with the electric motor in our boat.
Now we just have to figure out lighter, newer sails…