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2014-08-03

Frenchmen not in evidence

Now with 30% less running aground
UPDATED 14.08.05 with pictorial splendour:  I am sitting in front of Frenchman's Bay Yacht Club, some 20 NM east of my 33 footer's customary tie-up. I am en famille, and expect Mrs. Alchemy and the Cabin Boy to manifest shortly after a rather prolonged walk to something called "a splash pad". Being relatively close to home, I had not visited here before, nor had we to Ashbridge's Bay YC, a very busy spot which, hosting a LYRA event, supplied us with their very last available visitors' slip.
Dusk at the stuffed ABYC: Dragonfly or slow shutter speed? You decide.
Perhaps ironically, I saw more National Yacht Club members there in their racing finery than I usually see at the club, arriving and leaving at odd, non-racing times, as one does when refitting.
Mrs. Alchemy in repose contemplating how the proximity to a sewage treatment plant (and the evening Parade of the Brown Trouts) may have kept the ABYC's rent low enough for them to have such a nice facility.

The Cabin Boy delves into obscure '80s science fiction and ice tea in an attempt to ignore LYRA-based revelries.

We just wanted to get away for the weekend on the boat, and threw together some food and T-shirts in a hurry. As for sailing, there has been very little wind, but the continuous motoring has provided plenty of juice to play with OpenCPN, a free and pretty decent nav program I am running on the rather basic netbook on which I'm typing this post. Even with the old version I'm running, the response is fast with a GPS "puck" and I got here without incident or worry, save for the vast field of waterlogged branches and tree trunks we had to dodge in the otherwise untroubled-by-wind waters.
Observed: One of many tree trunks and branches washed into the lake. This sort of thing went on for about three miles and was considered notable enough to report to the Coast Guard, who promptly issued a "Notice to Mariners".
On the other hand, the calm before the storms (see below) supplied plenty of interesting sights, among them a distant boat that appeared to be hovering well above the water. I would suggest such a feature would clearly affect their rating.
Blurry, but amusing. Talk about a tactical advantage.

By the time we got to FBYC by steering for the massive tokenism of engineering, a 380-foot tall wind turbine behind the Pickering nuclear power plant, the wind must have been blowing a stern three knots. I was rather surprised to see that the entrance to Frenchman's Bay looked, well, like a French bay, well-constructed, obstacle-free and heavily issued with shiny aids to navigation.

More benign and welcoming moles than a first edition of Wind in the Willows

This rather charming YC used to be hard to get to in a shallow and silty bay with a dodgy entrance. Someone has paid to lift the submerged seawalls above the level of the waves, and has carefully buoyed and presumably dredged out everything between the spars to what would appear to be seven feet of depth. May they profit from their efforts, as it's a nice quiet spot that is tidy and well worth a visit, so it seemed to me. Last time I was here, around 1999 looking at a Grampian 34, the place seemed to be more or less a swamp with a water feature. But it is now a doddle to reach; a nice beach is a short walk away, and three new Weber barbeques and a reasonably priced YC bar ($4.75 pints!) offer comfort to the wandering crew. They seem afflicted by the general malaise among Lake Ontario yacht clubs of an aging and therefore inevitably declining membership, so if any of my readers (assuming there are some) in the east end of Toronto or the west end of Oshawa/Whitby are looking for a good place to tie up, consider this a rare endorsement.
Not seen: The other two squalls through which we had already driven.

Not unusual for a warm day in August, we were squalled upon a few times, but clearly, others had it worse.

The return to Toronto the following day featured a couple of hours of actual sailing, despite the automated drone of the weather frequency informing us "GRIMSBY BUOY, 2 KNOTS, GUSTING 2 KNOTS", which is at best discouraging.  The only problem was that the 10-knot breeze in question was coming directly from the end of the Leslie Street Spit extending into the lake, and which we had to round to get back into Toronto Harbour.
We heard a few MAYDAYS on the VHF and saw a few boats coming out of clubs under full sail, only to tack about and head back to the dock when it became clear it wasn't a great day for sailing.

So there were many longish tacks until the skies darkened and we decided that motoring was the better part of valour. We kept the jib doused and secured on deck and the main up in a token attempt to perhaps resume sailing, but if the threatening stormy bits around us truly roused themselves, I wanted to be motoring in the direction of the end of the Spit and directly into the wave train, which were essentially the same bearing.
 Toronto, Mordor's summer getaway.

As seems to be a recurring theme in my sailing career, the last squall to hit was the strongest, and naturally came not from the day's prevailing SW direction, but from the N-NE. The limitations of the direct-drive Atomic 4 engine with a smallish folding prop were soon made apparent.


Just before what I judge 30-35 knots hit. It was very similar to last fall's Brittany squall and lasted about the same 10 minutes.

After pushing our way around the corner into the Eastern Gap of Toronto's Inner Harbour, things quieted down very quickly as the extensive waterfront development can block a lot of gusting winds...or the squall line simply moved on to drench other regions. This gave us the chance to notice our surroundings, which included the oddest damn rainbow we had collectively ever seen:
The black smudges are cormorants. The pinkish thing is a blob, not a bow, of rainbow.

Best viewed with the Hallelujah Chorus playing in the next room.

A slightly less worse shot showing the patchy, non-radiused aspects of the "rainblotch".
As it was about 1700h, I would have thought the sun too high in the western sky (and occluded by clouds at sea level) to make the angle necessary to produce a rainbow. Nature had, clearly, other ideas.
Two colourful blobs of rainbow-like phenomenon for your enjoyment.
The lower blob brightened before vanishing.
Pretty, weird and pretty weird. Like a sundog celebrating Pride Week.

So if anyone has any ideas (ice crystals?), I would love to be educated on the topic of "blobs of rainbows". And yes, I realize the camerawork is poor, but it was not the weather nor in line with the helmsman's duties to be busting out the prosumer-grade lenses. My shorts are even now not entirely dried off.

2 comments:

The Ceol Mors said...

Wow has cabin boy grown up! Such a beautiful kid.

Rhys said...

Thanks, guys. His tan is from sailing school. He knows more about spinnakers and trapezes than I do, because I've never sailed dinghies like he is doing.