Monday, July 24, 2023

July 18, 2023 – Little Sodus Bay

The alarm goes off at 3 am. Before opening my eyes I hear heavy rainfall and strong winds rocking the boat. At first I think I’m dreaming as the forecast last night showed no rain, but when I’m fully awake I grab Ana’s phone and check the weather radar to find a small system just passing by us by. By the time Ana and I have prepped the inside of the boat the rain has passed so we get the rest of the departing checklist items done and ready to push off. Ana gives the stern of the boat a shove as I start to reverse, but I have to abandon the procedure when I notice she hasn’t fully made it back on the boat and is hanging by the lifelines ready to drop into the lake. Now Ana’s fallen off the boat in the past while docking, but it’s funny she’s doing it today as she prefers to have a crowd of bystanders to give them a good story. Maybe she’s just practicing for a spectacular mishap on a future docking.

She manages to pull herself back onto the boat before I can get to her to help and then we are on our way. We glide out of the channel and are soon on the lake in a world of black cut by hundreds of sparkling shore lights. There is a slight east wind, in our face, so this is going to again be a power boat ride.

The 6 hour run is effortless and as we are turning into the channel leading into Little Sodus Bay we pass a long barge with a loader scooping up huge buckets full of mud and rock from the lake floor. I am watching depth and charts closely as we move into the bay as it gets quite shallow on the west side. The bay is approximately 2 miles long by a half mile wide and is pretty and quiet. Bayfront cottages and houses populate the shoreline and there are several perfectly protected anchorages here. We travel to the far south end of the bay where the town of Fair Haven is located and pick up one of the available mooring balls, which takes a bit more effort than anticipated, then after doing a bit of research conclude that these moorings are private so we unhook and anchor a short distance away. We all load into the dinghy, motor into the public dock and tie up then start walking.

We find a typical, cute, American summer town with gift shops, coffee shops, a tackle store, a few restaurants and the all-encompassing gas station/grocery store/pizza place/caterer/hardware store which seems to be endemic in these parts. We swing in the playground, browse the gift shops, have a coffee, visit the gas station, and the only real event of note is that at 11am then again at 12 an ear-splitting emergency siren screeches out from the array of sirens mounted atop the fire station. It is so loud that we have to cover our ears. Based on two data points, it would seem this is the town chime at the top of the hour. After the second one we ask a clerk at one of the gift shops of the nature of this siren.

“It’s a call out to the volunteer firefighters. Something bad must have happened,” she says.

“Does something bad happen here at the exact top of every hour?” I ask.

“Nope,” she replies. “Just a coincidence. But it does go off fairly regularly. All the small towns around here have them. In fact my grandfather’s house burned down last week in the small town where I live. The alarm went off for that one.”

Our last stop before returning to the boat is the Fly By Night Cooking Company, a local sweetery, ironically named as we are told it’s been around for decades and the founder had just recently just passed away. In addition to the dozens of jars holding a huge variety of freshly baked cookies is a miniature museum with those tiny houses, tiny people, and tiny everything. It’s kitschy, cool, and Insta-worthy so we take a few photos and buy some cookies before returning to the boat.

The rest of the afternoon is spent chilling out – Stella and I do a circuit of the bay in the dinghy, I go for a swim, some naps are had, we play cards, we sit at the bow of the boat watching the fish surfacing for flies. It’s relaxing, peaceful, and possibly what one may expect of a sailing vacation, however these low action days are truly few and far between, so we enjoy it.

After a nice dinner of refried leftover shepherd’s pie (which could now be better described as a shepherd’s crumble), and some pan tossed broccoli and beans, Daryl and Lydia stop by for drinks and a chat. They arrived earlier in the afternoon and discovered that practically everything in Fair Haven closes at 2pm and the restaurants are mostly closed until Thursday. But they did find one open and had a decent meal.

Tonight’s plan is to do an 11 hour overnight sail to Clayton, New York, so shortly after 9pm we pull anchor and head back up the bay, giving Daryl and Lydia and their dinghy a ride up to their marina and brief night sailing experience. They have been exploring the idea of moving from power to sail as bankrupting themselves every time they have to fill up with gas, not to mention polluting the earth is becoming tiresome for them. But then a largish, modern sailboat these day is going for two hundred grand so it’s not an easy decision. Their plan was to do a slow overnight run with us pretending their power boat is a sailboat but there’s two big problems with doing that today. First, Daryl has a (ugh..) work meeting in the morning he needs to dial into so good internet is required, which you won’t get on the lake. Second, when you have a powerboat capable of doing 22 knots, slowly trawling along at 7 knots is psychologically impossible. It just can’t be done. And let’s face it – power boaters like going fast. They boat fast, they drive fast, they eat fast, they drink fast, they probably have sex fast too because they just can’t wait to get out on the water and up on plane. The only thing they don’t do fast is walking. They prefer not to walk at all because it is not motorized, so you are more likely to find them racing around on an atv, a motorbike, a side by side, a Hummer, an electric scooter, or a high tech jet pack. That’s just the way they roll.

As the hour of 11pm arrives we find ourselves far out into the lake with winds twice as strong as forecasted, miraculously coming from the north at 45 degrees to the boat so we are finally able to roll out the jib, winch it in tight, and do some sailing. Mom and I leave Ana and Stella in the cockpit as we are on second shift so it’s time to get a bit of sleep.

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