Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Sailing adventures with friends and dogs ... and first catch of the season!

After years of barely seeing each other, Ted, my childhood friend (well, more like another brother) has inherited part of the family house in Falmouth, right on the water (available if anyone wants to rent it!). Cynthia and I have enjoyed visiting with him and his wife Daniella and daughter Hailey, helping with the house, enjoying dinner there, sailing twice on our Rhodes 19. I think we've spent more time together this summer than our total over the last few decades.

On our most recent sailing trip we fought in incoming tide to sail along the salt marsh south of Strong Island. The wind cooperated enough that we sailed into the first large marsh creek, watching for crabs and anything else that falls under the heading of "cool!"
.... a small bright fish about a foot long caught some eyes and another. After a couple hundred yards, we ran aground, hopped out, and I pulled the boat back to open water. As we walked, we found clams with our feet and by sight and the dogs stood on deck to make sure we stayed nearby.

Once out of the creek, we climbed back aboard and sailed along the marsh. Cynthia cast a lure, hoping to catch a bluefish... and something struck her first cast. On her second cast, she set the hook and pulled it aboard. Given the legal size limit of 28", she released this little striped bass, but had one heck of a grin.

Once we left the island, we headed for the cut into the open ocean, the fair wind giving us some headway against the tide. Once outside the bay, we found a large dark area in the water... FISH! The entire dark cloud, perhaps a half-acre to an acre, was fish, perhaps 12" to 18" long, so tightly packed that we could see no space between them. Cynthia cast her line and could feel it bump into the fish, but none bit it and the hooks were too dull to snag any. Still, none of us had seen such a school before: probably shad.

Fearing that the tide was slackening and knowing that we could not fight an out-rushing tide, we sailed back into the bay, back to Strong Island, and up another marsh creek. No fish sightings, but lots of crabs and weed. We pulled ashore and explored some salt ponds for clams and critters, then sailed out and headed for the seals, then on to a large salt marsh to the north.

We explored,
got wet and muddy seeking clams

found crabs and quahogs and sea cucumbers, then headed back, Ted at the helm with Daniella beside him.

I dropped everyone and gear at the beach, put the boat to bed on its mooring, and rowed ashore to find them still chatting. Haley caught one of the multitude of baby toads from the yard, held it for a few photos, and released it into the flower garden.

Another day seized!

And the dogs loved it too, alternating between exploring marshes, standing on deck, sitting in laps,

and enjoying a nice safe place to relax.
They always seem to come home happy and exhausted and mostly sleep for an entire day after one of these trips.

Skipper Skip?

I finally passed my captain's license exam! My head feels fuller, perhaps from the newly recruited neurons. Now all I need to do is get my first aid/CPR certification, get certified on the radio, get various clearances and certifications and drug tests and and and... and I'll be a legal captain and may charge for services.

Nothing is entirely smooth, of course: this morning I signed up for my first aid/cpr, a course that is partly online and finishes up this Saturday with an hour in class. I then spent a couple hours attempting to access the online portion through two computers and five supported browsers, but with no success. The information sent to me says

" We suggest you complete the online portion at least two days prior to attending the inperson classroom skills session."

while the helpful person I reached at 800-red-cross told me that the online portion is not available until 2 to 3 days before the classroom portion.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sailing adventures with friends.

Friends were here the in the beginning of July: David, Jill, Ruthie, and Tom. We try to get out for an adventure or two each year. Cynthia and I took them out for their first sail on our Rhodes 19.

Step one: sail for the seals. Every year, the local gray seal population increases. I would say the current number inside this shallow bay is about 3k, kind of like a city of 10k humans. Ugh. They attract great white sharks, eat huge amts of fish...and they STINK! On the plus side, these critters are cute, curious, noisy, and entertaining and the tourism and sightseeing brings in a decent living for some folks... and they attract great white sharks (another tourism draw). I like the individuals and would wish no ill to them, but as a mass.... well, I just heard an orca was sighted near Chatham and I cheered.

So we sailed past the hunting packs of seals
Some would flip their tails, some open their nostrils wide to catch the scent of dogs or humans, some would chase the boat under the water, checking it out or just playing with the turbulence from the rudder, then pop to the surface and peer at us. I love watching them swim and roll and play below the water and imagine what that freedom would feel like, perhaps like swimming in the Virgin Islands with mask, snorkel, nice fins, and a good lungful of air? Great fun.

We sailed on. We found great shoals of blue mussels and some softshell clams while exploring on Strong Island
Walked down the beach, past a cliff loaded with very active cliff swallows
then headed back, I dropped everyone and gear at the beach, we hugged them goodbye, and sent them off with clams and mussels.

Another day seized!