17 August 2012 | L. Ontario
Erieau, Ont. Is the little town associated with Rondeaux Bay and the marina. We stayed four days due to bad weather, mainly threats of thunderstorms and waterspouts!! We met some folks on a sailboat from Port Stanley, forty some miles away. We had thought we might bypass PS and go overnight to Long Point where we would hope to anchor. But we got discreet information on how to anchor inside the breakwater at PS and where not to anchor. So we scotched plans for the overnight to Long Pointand headed to PS.
Our friend’s boat has only a four foot draft. He said he could nose all the way into the NE corner of the breakwater and still find six feet of water, we were not so bold and dropped the anchor in 12 feet with protection from winds with any component of W plus N to NE and plenty of swinging room. What our new friend did not know was that the SW swell curves in from the entrance and rolls on down to where we were sitting. With a light west wind orienting Meta Fog east and west, the swell caught us broadside and initiated a strong rolling. We have anchored in many rolly spots before. This one was no worse, but for the uninitiated, here is what happens. The boat begins to roll in synch with the swells increasing in amplitude until it gets just off synch. Then the roll of the boat works against the swell and damps the motion to almost nothing until it starts all over again. Needless to say, it is not easy to sleep even though the rolling is perfectly safe. Fortunately, a N breeze picked up some time after midnight, swung the boat around so that she lay perpendicular to the swell. We still bobbed up and down and hobby horsed some, but slept more comfortably.
The breeze also eventually damped the swell totally. So when we left for Long Point at 6am, we had very flat seas. Unfortunately, the wind died almost immediately upon departure, so we turned on the engine and boogied until a SW came up and we could set sail. A very local rainstorm slowly passing across our path toward the north all morning continued to grow in strength. It amplified the SW breeze which increased to 15 plus kts and gave us a very fast sail for several hours until the six footer swells visited us again. The big black cloud rained itself out sometime in the afternoon. Suddenly, it seemed, the black cloud disappeared and so did the wind and waves.
When we got to Long Point itself, the swells on the south side and a new NW wind on the north precluded our plan to anchor so we motor-sailed to Port Dover. Altogether, we made 70 miles in 13 hours, very fast for us. In 2000 we arrived here after dark and just tied up to the wharf in town. Then, we would have dared them to kick us off. This time we could again see the signs that said, “No Docking” (meaning overnight) and retreated to the marina. Another instance of our losing our nerve, I guess. Or maybe just not so brash anymore.
We passed literally thousands of terns, in the air, on the water, everywhere. In one scene, we saw hundreds circling in air and diving for whatever they eat with several hundred cormorants flying fast to get to the same patch of water. The break wall at Port Stanley was totally covered in terns. Every once in a while, several hundred birds would rise en masse and form a rotating circle in the air. Over a half-hour, some of these birds would detach to form another competing circle a few hundred feet away. By the end of an hour, most of the birds had left all of the flying circles, but a few diehards remained.
We are finally out of L. Erie. We did everything right (no storms while sailing, etc.) and still found the Lake a disappointment. Port Colborne is the gateway to the Welland Canal. We had arranged for a package of stuff from Defender to be delivered there. The marina people lost it somehow and only found it after we left. I had a big fight on the phone with the marina manager who kept trying to make the problem mine and not hers. Finally, she agreed to have someone bring it to us today at the Dalhousie marina where we retreated after passing through the Welland’s 8 locks and 7 bridges. We went through with two other sailboats, one of which is heading for Newfoundland (!). The Welland managers put us straight through with no stopping. We only had to move over for three big upbound ships to pass. Still it is a long 12 hour day. Despite the boredom of it all, you have to be attentive and focused continually.
We are tired of marinas and will skip Toronto. We leave later today for Wilson, Ny, where we can anchor in lovely surroundings. We have fond memories of the place from 2000.
Our sailboat is 30 feet long and called Meta Fog. Our dinghy is a little over 5 feet and named Unter Fog. We have had both boats since 1984. Unter Fog is made of wood with poly “hinges” and folds up to put in a canvas “envelope” that can be stored on deck. Most of the time, Unter Fog is being towed behind Meta Fog. Wherever we go people are intrigued with this little boat and come to inquire. We have used our little dinghy to explore streams, mussel beds and the waters of the Bahamas. It has transported bags of laundry, bags of groceries, containers of water and grandchildren. Mostly we use the oars but have had a variety of funky motors.
Over the years, we have had to replace some of the plywood components, reinforce the poly, glue the gunnel , etc. Last winter we took all the loose parts home and put on 10 coats of varnish. This summer, we varnished the hull. We wanted Unter Fog to last as long as we did. Now we are facing the reality of not being able to rely on our little craft. As Jim says the wood is punky and won’t hold screws. So now, we have to let her go.
When we took a bike ride on Pelee Island, we bought some special wine. It is only fitting that we shed some tears, drink some wine and celebrate Unter Fog.