A Sail to Aylmer Island and the Mystery of the Eroded Promontory

North corner of Aylmer Island

Yesterday (Monday 31, 2020) was Sassy’s 8th upriver outing of the season. She undocked past noon time, under blue skies, a bright sun and no wind. She hoisted sail early (at the KN6 buoy) motoring NE only against her own apparent wind. After half an hour of drifting in the lulls, a light wind started to riddle the waters from the SW and she was able to sustain a heading close to 300ºT inching her way upriver in a single broad-reach for the entire length of Lac Deschênes. She covered the 3.5 NM up to the island at an average speed over ground of 1.4 Knots turning around past the island at 15:30. Then, at 17:00, after a few long tacks in light and shifting winds, she decided it was time to douse sail and let the Tohatsu try its magic and she approached the marina via Crystal Bay. At 17:45 she abruptly and momentarily changed course to starboard and aimed her bow aft the stern of a large Catalina majestically sailing NE in a possible collision course. Salutations and thanks were exchanged between both cockpits as Sassy motored ahead crossing the wake of the Catalina (see the “notch” in Sassy’s return track in the picture below). A few minutes later Sassy was again moored to her slip at the marina:

During this daysail upriver, over a dozen Monarch butterflies were seen crossing the river from Quebec to Ontario, in their mutigenerational migration south, towards the woods in the Yucatan Peninsula.

While sailing past Aylmer Island, a picture was taken of the North corner of the island (see picture at the top). This image depicts a heavily eroded promontory revealing some of its stratigraphic structure, something that was not visible in previous years. Such abrupt and extensive erosion seems unlikely to have happened naturally as the result of a landslide, forcing the possibility of human intervention, likely in search of the human remains that are known to have been long buried there when the island was used as a burial ground by the original Algonquin inhabitants of the Ottawa Valley: https://www.historymuseum.ca/cmc/exhibitions/archeo/sowter/lighthouseisle.html. The following composite picture shows images of the promontory in the North corner of the island taken at the indicated times.

The picture in the first panel is from the above link, and is reported to have been taken by T.W Edwin Sowter himself on the expedition he made to the island on June 24, 1899 (see the link above). The next three panels show pictures of the same promontory taken during Sassy’s visits to the island on August 30, 2015, June 3, 2016 and August 31 2020. If this sudden change in the island’s landscape was indeed the outcome of some kind of human intervention, it is hoped that it could have resulted from a careful archeological dig conducted by experts in full knowledge of all parties involved.