Thursday 28 June 2012

Haulin' Bass on Opening Day

             "Bait your hook and keep on trying..."
                                      -The Marvelettes

     Bass season opened on Saturday, and I realized I have been remiss in  covering the fishing action on the Dock.  Speedboaters and sailors get the spotlight week after week, but the anglers?

   ...Not so much.

   This shall change.

   Starting now.

  And not just because I was bribed with free fish.  More on that later.

   Just for giggles, I counted the number of boats on our dock with fishing gear installed.  My informal and unscientific poll revealed that more than half the boats on the Dock could be considered, construed or confused with fishing boats.

   More than half.  That's a lot of boats and boaters. And I haven't given them their due.

   Sorry folks.  I'm gonna try to make up for lost time here.

   Saturday was the opening day of Bass Season, although some were confused about whether it was, indeed, Opening Day.  See, for some strange reason, the government body which oversees fish stuff doesn't say "Bass Season begins on Saturday June 23";  instead they declare the season to open on "the fourth Saturday in June."
  Which is the last Saturday in June, right?
 Nuh-uh.  Not this year.  It was last Saturday, which is not the last Saturday.  Got it?
  This is apparently an intelligence test for anglers.
   At least one fisherman on the dock found himself scrambling to get down to his boat and catch some fish after doing the math over his morning coffee.  Or being reminded by his wife.

Rick from The 20th Hole had caught his limit by 9 am.  Gordon and Glennis decided to just let their beautiful Campion Quidi Vidi run and not worry about dropping lines in the lake.

    Hunter and his wingman Ben, from Slip 105, filled their stringer after a tough afternoon of tubing:

      Ivan brought home the fillets on the fin as well.

      While bass were the stars of the show over the weekend, perch season is open year round, and Other Rick and his wife and his dad Grant landed some beauties.

    On Saturday, 20th Hole Rick told me he'd catch me a couple of fish on Sunday.  I chuckled at his cockiness.  "Sure," I told him, "I'll fry 'em up for breakfast!"
 Sunday morning, 7:30, Finn and I stroll down the Dock, heading for the shore so Finn can do what dogs do.   There's Rick, pole in hand, casting off the Dock. Playing his line, he nods toward a five gallon bucket sitting beside him.
  "Take those two," he says, "And bring the bucket back later."
 Biggest badass bass I have ever seen.

  They went home to Stately Jones Manor and now reside in our freezer, awaiting a date with a frying pan, some butter, lemon and a bed of asparagus, I think.
Thanks again Rick!

  SWMBO and I have been talking. We've got hand-me-down rods and inherited tackle that have been gathering dust for the last couple of years,  Maybe it's time for us to give this fishing stuff a try.

"Talk the Dock!"

Monday 25 June 2012

The Ships Come Sailing In

     "You're from the other side..."
               -Crosby, Stills and Nash

    Sunday saw the arrival of the participants in this year's running of the Lake Erie Interclub Cruise ,a week-long race/rally around Eastern Lake Erie. Saturday they race in Erie, Sunday cross to Port Dover, Monday race on Long Point Bay, Tuesday race to Port Colborne, Wednesday race from Port Colborne to the Buffalo Canoe Club, (which is not actually in Buffalo, but on the Canadian Shore, in Point Albino.)

We rubbernecked the boats, so you don't have to.
You're welcome.
Boats filled the transient slips in the marina...

 ... and slipped alongside the fish tugs in the commercial harbour.

 Dreamer, an Alden ketch, is just plain sexy, with a great backstory .

  Fair winds to all of the participants in this years Cruise!

"Talk the Dock"

Dock Wildlife, Not To be Confused with Wild Dock Life.

     "We wanna go where we go, where we go..."
                                           -Talking Heads

Saturday was HOT.  Real hot.  Damn hot.  So hot, this barn is unhappy because he cannot float around on a boat on the Bay.

     The dock is home to a wide variety of fish.  Perch, carp, bass sunfish, koi....


   And incredibly pernicious, prolific, prop slowing, outboard killing invasive grasses.  A regular task on the Dock is harvesting the growth.

Remember the tractor tire ?  It has been washed about 20 slips closer to shore, and serves as a turtle lounge.

  Look at that face.

SWMBO has dubbed this bird "Rasta Duck."

Ducklings float in formation.  You can never have too many cute duckling pictures.

     "Talk the Dock!"

Friday Night Race... er... Cruise... er...Race!

      "Two cool shorts standing side by side..."
                             -The Beach Boys

        After depositing their catch safely on shore,  Jack and Melanie again headed out into the Bay, joined by Jim and Marianne in their Sirius, with Whiskeyjack and her tardy crew lagging well behind.

     ...But not for long.

 It is axiomatic that if two or more saillboats are travelling at least vaguely in the same direction, a race will inevitably break out.

 We are nothing if not axiomatic.

As we pass buoy ED6, we throttle back and unfurl the sails, still lagging behind  the others.

... But not for long.

     Whiskeyjack and her crack(ed) crew quickly moved ahead....

....  and took advantage of the light but steady breeze to widen our lead.

   Within minutes,  we were but a largish speck on the horizon, at least as seen from the cockpit of Jack's Bluenose.

... But not for long.

  With grim determination, Jack and Melanie and Bas rallied all their resources to overtake our galleon.

       Seeing the Bluenose grow larger in our wake, the intrepid crew pulled this rope, and that line, and eased this sheet and tightened that halyard, and poured fresh drinks and...

... watched helplessly as the lighter, faster, aguably better sailed bluenose did what we knew it was going to do...

    As the Bluenose's lead grew, we scanned the Bay for a nearby vessel that Whiskeyjack may be able to beat.

     Found one!

  While Melanie continued to snap shots...

... Jack and Bas recovered from the effort of blowing our sails off.

   Competition out of the way, we all sailed into the sunset.

"Talk the Dock!"

Saturday 23 June 2012

This Has To Sting.

     "But I really think it's better this way..."
                                     -The Offspring

  On Friday night the Dock Six Sail Rescue Squad  (And Rum Drinking Society) sailed into action again.

As we were uncovering the mainsail, Jack and Melanie and Bas  passed our slip in Jack's latest Bluenose, on their way out to enjoy the 8-10 knot breeze.

As we were untying the lines, Jack and Melanie and Bas were returning...  with the catch of the day.

     I had to feel sorry for the Sea-Doo pilot as he endured the Sailpast of Shame.

     A little bit.

    "Talk the Dock!"

Monday 18 June 2012

It's Anything Can Happen Day! Apparently.

                      "Bring hell from above!"
                                        -Billy Idol

          From the "WTF?" Files, I bring you our Saturday sail.  Yes, folks, it is Weirder Than Fiction.

         Saturday was shaping up to be a less-than-thrilling sailing day, but an absolutely spectacular day to be on the water- hot, hazy, humid.   .   Walking Finn down the Dock to take care of business, we spotted the first ducklings of the season, less than a week old:

After a leisurely brunch, we lit the iron spinnaker and SWMBO, Finn and I departed the Dock.  As we exited the harbour, we saw an ominous dark cloud on shore:

     Turns out it was a fire on a potato farm in Nixon, over 10 miles away.  A drive shed full of plastic potato bins went up in flames.  No one was injured, and it was extinguished within an hour, but it sure produced an impressive plume of smoke.

    Our timing was right to catch the noon bridge opening, and the wind was less than lacklustre, so we decided to cruise up the river to see what we could see.  The water level is lower than this time last season.  Anybody with a draft deeper than 6 feet is going to have a tough time getting much farther upstream than the Bridge Yachts yard.

     We turned around for the trip back just downstream of a docked Nonsuch.  Our depth was reading at 4',and  I was pretty sure Whiskeyjack drew less than the Nonsuch upstream, but I was feeling prudent.  I didn't want to come to an unplanned halt in front of an audience, and there were brunchers sitting at patio tables on both sides of the river.

    As we slowly returned downstream toward the lift bridge, we realized we were going to be a few minutes early for the next bridge opening.  The decision was made to cut back speed and just loaf with the current.   With speed reduced to about 2 knots, and the river narrowing, courtesy dictated that we move toward shore to allow faster mastless vessels passage.  The individual on the helm, who shall remain nameless, decided to give a fatbacked SeaRay a wider berth and moved closer to shore...

    ...and hit a tree.

   A live one.


    Remember that part about being prudent, and unplanned halts in front of an audience?  Yep, we did it.  Just downstream of the Port Dover Yacht Club.

Before easing closer to shore we checked the depth , and the shoreline for obstructions and deadheads, but didn't bother to look UP to see if there was any overhead obstruction.

Which there was.

By my on scene instantaneous estimation at least 77% , possibly as much as 93% if we calculate total square footage of foliage,of a shore-rooted tree hung out over the channel, right where we planned to be.
Right now.

   We stopped dead, with branches and leaves and bark and twigs and bugs and stuff raining down from the limbs entangled in the rigging.  The unnamed helmsperson calmly asked what to do and the unnamed person who was not on the helm  powered up the mighty single cylinder diesel and harnessed all 9 horsepower to drag us shamefacedly out of the tree we were hung up in...

... while the unnamed helmsperson swung the wheel hard to port to take us back upstream.

...  "What the hell, you want us to take another run at it?!!?", the unhelmed unnamed person asked.

   Within seconds we had Whiskeyjack sorted and back on course,albeit with forestry-evading deviation now calculated, and we could see the trail of arborial carnage left behind, as foliage dropped from the decks, rig and canvas into the water. A quick cursory inspection did not reveal any damage and no evidence of the incident remained aboard..

   Well, mostly.

   We  left the river , raised the main, unfurled the jib and loafed in the light air while laughing about our experience, and debriefing on how to ensure we don't repeat it.

    Upon returning to the Dock, I inspected the rig more closely for damage.  We got off easy.  Some leaves rermain stubbornly attached to the masthead:

  And our windex is now on a new angle.

   It hangs up on the VHF antenna slightly, but I'm not sure it is a big enough issue to worry about before winter haul-out.

   "Talk the Dock!"

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Shakedown Weekend

     "Break down, take down... you're busted."
                                       -Bob Seger


     Judging by the fairway traffic, last weekend was the first real weekend for many of the boaters in the marina.  Saturday dawned overcast and rainy, but cleared in the afternoon, and Sunday started hot and sunny and stayed that way, perfect for the Long Point Bay Yacht Club sail past.

    (The Marina hosts not one, but TWO, official yacht clubs- LPBYC and the Cliffside Yacht Club.  Both are good clubs with nice folks, and we appreciate the fact that both clubs are courting Docksters this season, advertising their events at the head of the Dock, for example.)

     Hundreds of boats left the marina on the weekend, many for the first time this season, which meant that not all of those hundreds returned under their own power.

     Friday night, James and I engaged in our usual good-natured "stinkpotter vs. blowboater" insult-a-thon.  He doesn't get the attraction of sailing.

That's okay.

I don't get the attraction of four-digit fuel bills.

That's okay.

 We always agree to disagree and continue to share beers and tools and advice.

    Saturday evening, SWMBO and I dinghied over to dock 2 to check out Gavin and Sylvia's new ride (more on that later).  While enjoying the sunset, I notice, out of the corner of my eye, a big -tired Ford truck quietly slinking out of the marina.  Shortly after, SWMBO and I return to the dock and notice that a) James' truck is gone and b) his boat is not in it's slip.

 This requires further investigation.  I grab my camera and walk down the Dock, and look across the basin toward the launch ramp.

    Hmmm, that looks like...



 "Stupid boat!"

   ...and The Instigator returns to Dock 6, albeit on the wrong end of the Dock...

     ... at which point, we get the story.

Travis and Candace and James and Brooke roared over to the beach in their pair of Thundercrafts...

...   and only one roared back.

      As the sun was setting James throttled up and the engine purred, but the prop was still.  The smell of burnt rubber filled the air, and the diagnosis was quick- a destroyed coupler.  The Instigator was dead in the water.

     A quick phone call to Travis summoned his prompt return, and The Instigator endured the tow of shame back into the marina.

     James is nothing if not resourceful.  As he was being tugged back in by a quietly gloating Travis (enjoying the fact that he is the tower not the towee this time), James was working the phone, lining up shop space, getting parts ordered, and planning a quick turnaround.

    We commiserated, we felt his pain, and I helpfully suggested that if he had a mast and sails he wouldn't have needed a tow.

     I am going to pay for that.

    Sunday afternoon SWMBO and Finn and I headed out into the light breeze.  Leaving Port Dover in our chuckling vestige of a wake, we headed East..

... passing the US Steel works and the Nanticoke Generating Station.

  Lousy day for passage making, but a nice day for baking and bobbing with no particular place to go.

and reading...

...and snoozing.

   Then turning for home as the sun started to set and the wind died.

  Yeah, the sails are dirty, and the brightwork needs work, but we've got lots of time.

   As we were returning to the marina we were stunned by a second rare event of the weekend.  First, James under tow, now, what is this?

Rick and 20th Hole have actually left the Dock!  And the marina!    And then returned!  Unassisted!

   This is like the Transit of Venus, Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster all rolled into one!
     "Talk the Dock!" Lin us, follow us, or just tell your friends.