Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Quinte Bay Cottage - Trent Refuge - Bluffers' Park Home Again

view from visitors' dock

Five days at Quinte Bay Yacht Club made Yondering feel more like a cozy waterfront cottage than a sailboat.

The weather was not favourable. In fact, downright nasty. Either way too windy, or raining, or high waves. So we stayed put for five days in Belleville. The window of our departure narrowing, and narrowing, and then almost disappearing. One option was to leave the boat and return to work, coming back the following weekend to sail home.

So... A week at the "cottage" to relax and unwind. We watched the entire Season 1 of Game of Thrones and the Shackleton DVDs. I tore through several novels.

calm before the storm on the Murray Canal
Luckily, for several of those days we had good company. Kaarina and Mike were there with Medina for three of the days and Mike fixed Medina's engine. And on Friday night, Lyn and Mike showed up on Sunglimmer. Great dinners were had.

Since Kaarina had her car, we were able to drive into Picton one day. At that point, I realized I hadn't used a credit card for 2+ weeks. I think that must be some kind of record. A situation that soon reversed when we visited a few shops.

Saturday morning Medina and Yondering set sail early. Or rather, we started our motors. The idea was to get through the Murray Canal before the next storm hit, tie up and overnight in relative safety, and then bite the bullet for a very long push back to Toronto. Hoping for favourable conditions.

This time, we stuck to the sail plan. Saturday night we weathered the storm with Medina also tied to the wall. Lots of fenders, lots of wind, lots of rocking. Sunday morning we woke first light and started our motor at 7:15 a.m., shutting it off about 9:45 pm in our own dock. Sunrise. Sunset.

15+ hours coming home to Bluffers
Weather on Sunday was a bit of everything. Fog. Sun. Cloud. No favourable winds for sailing, although we did try to catch a breeze.

Luckily the lake was fairly flat for most of the trip, but bouncy around Pres'quille. The wind shifted directions from North, North West, North East. I think we even had a whisper of a south wind.  But it wasn't too strong, so we were able to make progress at 5 knots.

A few records were set with our Summer 2014 cruise of Lake Ontario.

Longest time in recent memory not using a credit card; longest time on a visitors' dock; and longest day motoring on the lake.

Stories for a winter's day.

Another 1.45 hours to go before tying up in our BPYC slip

What have you been reading?

Sailing and reading go together.  Okay, well maybe not actually reading while at the helm and taking and jibing, but on those long days motoring or staying in your cabin on rainy days. While I've been catching up on my reading, so have my sister BPYC Book Babes.

We got together last night to share some of our favourite titles of the summer. Now, of course, my reading list is even longer!

Here is a sampling of some of the books we talked about last night…
The saga of an American father and daughter who in July 1933 suddenly found themselves, and the rest of their family, transported to the heart of Hitler's Berlin. The father was William E. Dodd, a mild-mannered history professor from Chicago who, much to his surprise and everyone else's, was chosen by Roosevelt to be America's first ambassador to Nazi Germany; Dodd's daughter, Martha, was 24 years old and came along for the adventure, and to escape a dead marriage. At first this new world seemed full of energy and goodwill, nothing like what newspapers back home had portrayed. But slowly a pall of intrigue and terror fell over the family--until the cataclysmic weekend that changed them all forever.
Favourite reading chair this summer!
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
The Goldfinch is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.  Read Stephen King’s glowing review in the New York Times here
Unsinkable is Silken Laumann’s memoir
But there was a massive barrier in her path that she has never before spoken about, a hidden story much darker than the tale of her accident. Now, Silken bravely shines a spotlight on all the obstacles she has encountered—and overcome—in Unsinkable, a memoir that reveals not only new insights into her athletic success and triumph over physical adversity, but also the intense personal challenges of her past and the fierce determination she applies to living a bold, loving and successful life today.
Time after time, this courageous champion has proven to be unsinkable. Silken’s extraordinary story offers us an intimate look at the complicated woman behind the Olympic hero, showing how perseverance and optimism can allow anyone to embrace the incredible opportunities that often go hand in hand with adversity.

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
Marriage can be a real killer.    One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.    On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 

Ann M.
The Frozen Thames, by Helen Humphries
In its long history, the river Thames has frozen solid forty times. These are the stories of that frozen river.
So begins this breathtaking and original work, which contains forty vignettes based on events that actually took place each time the historic Thames froze solid. Spanning more than seven centuries—from 1142 to 1895—and illustrated with stunning full-color period art, The Frozen Thames is an achingly beautiful feat of the imagination…a work of fiction that transports us back through history to cast us as intimate observers of unforgettable moments in time.

Whether we’re viewing the magnificent spectacle of King Henry VIII riding across the ice highway (while plotting to rid himself of his second wife) or participating in a joyous Frost Fair on the ice, joining lovers meeting on the frozen river during the plague years or coming upon the sight of a massive ship frozen into the Thames…these unforgettable stories are a triumph of the imagination as well as a moving meditation on love, loss, and the transformative powers of nature.

Cane River, by Lalita Tademy
The "New York Times" bestseller and Oprah's Book Club Pick.
Lalita Tademy is a former vice-president of Sun Microsystems who left the corporate world to immerse herself in tracing her family's history and writing her first historical novel, CANE RIVER. Cane River is based on the lives of four generations of colored Creole slave women in Louisiana, women from whom she descended. Oprah Winfrey selected Cane River as her summer book group pick in 2001.

Harvest, by Tess Gerritsen
Boston’s Bayside Hospital is a long way from Dr. Abby DiMatteo’s humble roots, and she’s elated when their elite cardiac transplant team taps her as a potential recruit. But an anguished, life-and-death decision soon jeopardizes her entire career. She and chief resident Vivian Chao boldly direct a crash victim’s harvested heart to a dying seventeen-year-old boy-instead of the wealthy forty-six-year-old woman to whom the hospital had cross-matched it. The repercussions cost Dr. Chao her job, and leave Abby shaken.
Then a new heart suddenly appears, the woman’s transplant is completed, and Abby makes a terrible discovery. The donor records have been falsified-the new heart has not come through the proper channels. Defying Bayside Hospital’s demands for silence, Abby and Vivian plunge into an investigation that reveals a lethal unthinkable conspiracy. Every move Abby makes spawns a vicious backlash…and on a ship anchored in the waters of Boston Harbor, a final, grisly discovery lies waiting.

Unthink, by Eric Wahl
In the tradition of A Whole New Mind and First, Break All the Rules, graffiti artist and corporate thought leader, Erik Wahl explores the power of creativity to achieve superior performance.
Somehow we’ve come to believe that creativity is reserved for the chosen few, the poets, the painters… the writers.
The truth is creativity is in all of us. It is about re-discovering the keys to unlock your fullest potential. UNthink is a book that pushes us beyond our traditional thought patterns. UNTHINK is a book to inspire everyone to rediscover that we are capable of so much more than we have pre-conditioned for. Because creativity is not in one special place – and it is not in one special person…
Creativity is everywhere and in everyone who has the courage to unleash their creative genius. 
The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion
An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Quinte Bay Yacht Club

There is not much to do in Belleville itself, but the Quinte Bay Yacht Club is a very comfy port. The club itself was established in 1876. This is our first time here in our ten years of reciprocals on the lake. Docks are first come first serve, and calls to QBYC on the radio always went unanswered, so we never really ventured past the town marina, but here we are. An easy bike ride to provisions, a farmers' market Tuesdays and Thursdays, and we are well-stocked on board with other essentials, like DVDs, books, and wine.

This will be our fourth night dockside at QBYC. The weather has been a bit iffy for long days sailing on the lake. I'm trying to reframe the last few days as using Yondering as a cottage getaway to catch up on my reading and watching DVDs.

We are watching the Shackleton DVD right now, the British television production starring Kenneth Branagh. Talk about sailing in nasty weather! The expedition to the South Pole on Endurance was a century ago. In fact, they set sail August 8, 1914, so it is the official month of the 100th anniversary.

Right now the scenes from Shackleton are showing a very treacherous stretch through icebergs. I know things are only going to get worse for Shackleton and his crew as they carve their way. They still have enough provisions at this point to toast with whisky on Christmas Eve and enjoy a full holiday feast. And this adventure in the days before radar and radio. What a story! Not just man against nature, but man against man, and ultimately man against himself.

Now Endurance is stuck in the ice. Shackleton has directed his crew to grab a pic or shovel and hack a path to open the ice. It's futile. They're still not budging. Now he's getting the crew to run starboard to port in the hopes of widening the path, and experimenting with getting the men to jump up and down to use the weight of Endurance to bounce their way out. Shackleton has reached the realization they are stuck for the winter. They will not operate as a ship's crew anymore but as a base station. Shackleton's challenge has now intensified exponentially.

His journey was remarkable not only for taking place when and how it did, but for the fact that despite it all, he didn't lose a single crew member. Some original shots and footage are intermixed here in this Restore It History clip on You Tube. A hundred years ago and still inspiring. I've been to more than one management training course that examines the incredible leadership Shackleton displayed.

As always there is more than one way to look at being stuck in Belleville. I could continue to curse the fact we're stranded and wonder why we even bother setting out in the first place, with everything that could potentially go wrong, and often  does. Howling wind. No wind. Torrential rain. Broken motors. These slight inconveniences in no way compare with the scale of adventures faced by intrepid explorers now and in the past.

Browsing Facebook today someone posted the quote, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." (A bit of trivia, this is NOT a Mark Twain quote after all, but H Jackson Brown's mother...)

I would really rather that we had cast our bow lines a few days ago, and tried our luck at Gosport or Calf Pasture for a change of scene. At least we set out in the first place. As with anything in life, when you are sailing things don't always go as planned.

And besides, when the winds are right and conditions are fair, life is very very good indeed.

Hoping for a bit of that for the coming trip home.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Shore Birds

Green heron

It seems there are more herons around this year. I hope it's not my imagination. On our sailing trip we've seen herons almost every day, even in Belleville in the nasty weather when we were tied up, one was standing on the dock. Mostly blue, but we also spotted a few green, one of the few birds known to use bait to catch their fish dinner.

Kingfisher sightings were not uncommon. Saw one in Olcott, another in Pultneyville.

Majestic osprey overhead in Waupoos, Little Sodus and Olcott. And we think we saw an eagle in Waupoos, fighting the osprey for territory. It actually maneuvered itself upside down and raised its talons in the air to defend itself against attack.

Mute swans, Canada Geese, merganzers, mallards. They spend so much time bobbing in the water. I find it a bit hilarious when they raise their back ends to the sky while they scrounge a bite.

Cormorants, spreading their wings and ruffling their feathers. As long as they aren't too numerous, I enjoy watching them strut and slap their wings against the water on take-off and landing.

Red winged blackbirds and bluejays are not really shorebirds, but I see so many lakeside they should be classed as honourary members.

And hours and hours of entertainment watching swallows' acrobatics in the air and their tightrope dances on dock lines. Loop de'loops. They were especially abundant in Pultneyville.

Ever present are the laughing gulls and elegant terns. Standing sentry. Diving into the water. Sadly, we watched one gull breathe its last on the dock at Fair Haven, after a fight to the death. It looked so soft but broken and twisted at the same time. Gulls are such scrappy, tough old birds. Although some of the rough weather grounded them, they bounced on top of the lake with the ducks. 

Waupoos gull