May 29: finally, a first sail upriver! Almost no wind, hence only a few maneuvers to test the rig and the rest of the equipment (including a pair of old knees and everything else around them): a pin was found to be getting loose in the IdaSail Rudder and the reefing lines were too short (will have to change them but I doubt I would ever need them). After a few tacks and gybes and different points of sail as wind permitted, I decided to motor to Aylmer Island just to give the Tohatsu a good workout. The motor stalled a couple of times, but this was before I realized that the fuel cock that selects between the internal and the external gas tank was in the wrong position: it was open (vertical) instead of close (horizontal), or was it the other way around? Oh well, one of those… either way, it was clearly in the wrong position because when I switched from one to the other, the stalling ceased. The river water level was still one meter above vertical datum; hence the island had a reduced beach and outline. Anchoring SE of it was flawless with the Belgian Bruce and 50 feet of its rode in a depth of 8 feet (a scope of 4.5:1, estimating a freeboard at the bow of 3 feet). Docking once back in port was less than perfect, but this is expected at the onset of the season…
The lilacs in the Club grounds are in full bloom with so many flowers that it is difficult to see their leaves and twigs, and the migratory purple martins are happily nesting in the two “apartment-buildings” hoisted up two masts within the Club premises. Here is one of them:
But something was missing in these bucolic surroundings, something that one used to hear before seeing but that it was impossible to miss even if taken for granted: not a single bee was in the lilacs, not a single dragonfly flew over the water. Not even flies, or blackflies, or anything remotely “insect” in nature. Not in the air, not even in the large webs left between spars or docking lines by the hopeful orb-weavers that knitted them the previous night. Is it possibly still too early in the season? or have the insects finally succumbed to the many ways in which for so long we have tried to eliminate them from our proximity? In a long term this could be an immense tragedy of unfathomable proportions. In the short run this may breed trouble for the Purple Martins, strict insectivores as they are and in need of all the energy they can store for their long trans-equatorial journey back to the Atlantic shores of South America.
Hope for some bees, bumblebees and dragonflies at the next visit to the marina… (even some mosquitos may be welcome…).