After Two Years: Again “Portable Afloat” from Horaceville

Sunrise from the cove in Horaceville

At the onset of last week, it seemed that Friday would be close to ideal for a leisure sail up-current in the Ottawa River, from Nepean to Pinhey Point (Horaceville).  A bronze plaque at the site (of the Ontario Heritage Foundation) states the following: “Hamnet Kirkes Pinhey 1784 – 1857 – A merchant and ship owner in his native England, Pinhey came to Upper Canada in 1820. For his services as King’s messenger during the Napoleonic Wars, he received a 1000 acres land grant on the Ottawa River…” What prompted the King of England to so dispose of this parcel of Anashinaabe land, remains to be elucidated; nevertheless, Horaceville was the result of such decision and the settlement was later named after Hamnet’s son Horace.

Last time Sassy had anchored overnight in Pinhey’s Point was two years ago, in August 2019:    

The Jeep Liberty RGB got loaded in the morning with everything needed for a few nights (at least one, maybe as many as three) and made it to Dick Bell Park.

Sassy undocked on Saturday around 12:15pm. Wind was from the NE at abt 5 knots. She hoisted sail before reaching the main channel and around 12:45pm she settled in a close reach at 2-3 knots overground. At 13:45 she was abeam of the Aylmer Marina and at 14:15, abeam of Aylmer Island. At 15:05 she tacked. The wind then dropped and at 15:30pm the sail was doused and the Tohatsu took over. One hour later, at 16:30 she was dropping her Bruce anchor inside the cove at a depth of 6-7 feet with a scope of ~7:1 (which in the case of sassy it means mostly chain since the rode sports 40 ft of metal links). She was alone and had the entire cove for herself. However, soon afterwards a Hunter 31 reached deeper inside the cove close to the north shore and soon afterwards a Hunter 36 set anchor SE of Sassy followed afterwards by 3 other boats further away from the mouth of the cove.

GPS tracks from 2021-07-09 and 2021-07-11

Once the boat settled to its swinging on the anchor, I decided it was time to rig the antenna: This time it was the “Par EndFedz® EFT-10/20/40 Trail Friendly”, which was rigged as kind of an inverted “V” using Sassy’s mast as the mid-pole. I am unable to comment on the possible resonant interactions between the antenna and the metal parts of the boat rigging. I just trusted that whichever this would be, it would not totally hinder all transmissions.

The night was quiet with almost no wind. Past midnight a familiar bird call came from the woods: “whoo-hoo-oo-oo”, which I readily identified as that of a Great Horned Owl. The call was repeated with intervals of a about a minute, twice nearby and twice further away. The Passamaquoddy people of Maine and New Brunswick thought this call to be that of a magical love flute calling for the ignition of human passions. However, I can confirm that at least for someone spending the night alone at anchor, this is a total myth…

Sunrise was around 5:30am, but the birds starting signal their presence in the woods much earlier. I have long been a fan of “Merlin”, an app for identifying birds.  Recently, it has added the ability to recognize the song of birds. In the early mornings from the deck of Sassy it was able to identify the song of over twenty-five different species of birds….  And this was in addition to those I was able to spot only visually: A Blue Heron, a Great Eagret, a Common Tern (diving not far from the boat), an Osprey (flying low over the water) and a Double-crested Cormorant making a low pass at the anchorage.

On Saturday morning I was able to log a few 40m contacts in the SKCC WES and a few more in the IARU HF World Championship (in 20, 15 and 10m). The KX3 was powered by the same deep-cycle 48 Whr batteries of the boat. These batteries do not power the boat through the water (the boat’s auxiliary is an outboard with no battery) and are only used for the night-lights, the sounder and the autopilot. These batteries are charged via an 11W flexible portable solar panel on deck. In the past, QSO in which I operated in a similar manner were logged by some as “/MM”. However, not everyone acknowledges such QSOs (operated from a small sailboat at anchor in inland waters) as “Marine Mobile”. Since this is very similar to operating “Portable” (“/P”) from land, I prefer to call that mode of operation “Portable Afloat” (“/PAF” ?)…

The anchorage remains mostly a sailboat anchorage, but it does get get occasional visits by motorboats. Usually, motorboaters are quite considerate and reduced speed and wake when approaching the sailboats or the shore. This did not happen this time, when a large blue Yamaha Wave-Runner decided to show its true self… (yes, if it was you who did it and you who are reading this, you know that I am speaking about you, and yes, I do have the picture with your face facing the camera, the registration number of your boat and the big splash you made to harass Sassy and myself right in front of the docks…). However, this was not the only contravention that I was to witness last Saturday; among them, in spite of warning signs posted all-around the premises, people were walking in the protected point deemed to be a “fragile ecology” and dogs not on a leash freely roamed the parkland (even the very Point!). In spite all that it was nice to see so many people coming to enjoy the parkland in large groups after a very weird year of distancing and seclusion.

Later in the afternoon, Woodpecker arrived (Kirill and Natalya’s P23, with her unique junk-rig and sail and an electric auxiliary). She anchored nearby, amidst the other twenty or so sailboats that had also been arriving throughout Saturday to overnight at the anchor along the Ontario shore SE of Pinhey Point. After a visit by Kirill and Natalya who rafted their kayak to Sassy, a frugal dinner and several sunset pictures, it was time to snug in for the night.

Woodpecker in the morning mist…

On Sunday morning, after the traditionnal breakfast with cereal, coffee and toasts, Kirill and Natalya again came by in their inflatable kayak and we had a very interesting chat on myths and language, which in some way drifted to the idea of property of the land as it evolved (or didn’t) in different cultures. Then it was time for Kirill to try his new drone for aerial photography. Because its positioning in the air depends on it being able to identify a steady point below it, it could only be flown on land. But fly it did and it will be very interesting to see what pictures it was able to take from the high grounds of Pinhey Point. Then, Kirill and Natalya decided to enjoy the rest of the Sunday in the anchorage while Sassy and I thought that it was time for an early return (we wanted to be back on time to watch the UEFA final…).

Sassy weighed anchor at 11:15am, There was almost no wind and she proceeded SE on the Tohatsu. It wasn’t until she was abeam of Aylmer Island, at 12:40pm that she could again hoist sail and shut the engine off and sail on a beam reach to a light S-SW wind. However, the wind dropped again and one hour later (at 13:40pm) she had to rely again on the Tohatsu. At 14:34pm she was again moored at her dock.

Sassy and I dread having many encounters with other boats and boaters inside the access channel and in the harbour, but this time everything went better than expected and the docking was uneventful.

Once at the docks I met a mate-sailor with whom I had had the pleasure of sharing crewing duties on “Constance” (a Bavarian 40 sloop sailing off Vancouver) may moons in the past. He provided for a perfect ending for a superb weekend by inviting me to join him and his lovely family at their table in the terrace of the marina, a terrace that I had longed to visit for almost two years… Thank you Nigel!