Predators and Prey, Hatteras, NC and Perrysburg, Ohio, October 2013

This fall the Ocean-side waves were too threatening for sailing or swimming all week long. Hatteras is aptly called “The Graveyard of the Atlantic”.

Hatteras Ocean Wave

Hatteras Ocean Wave

Even the skies seem appropriately threatening.

Cirrus Clouds

Cirrus Clouds

When the sun shone it all looked much more inviting.

Ocean Side Sun and Waves

Ocean Side Sun and Waves

A small shark washed up on the beach.

Beached Shark

Beached Shark

Marcus found that it had died from a fish lure lodged deep in its throat.

Marcos

Marcos

By day, you see many small holes in the sand.

Crab

Crab

By night the crab occupants come out, but they are still not easy to catch.

Night time crab

Night time crab

Caught Crab

Caught Crab

I wonder who eats them?

In the sand dunes this moth has evolved great camouflage to blend with the colors to avoid being eaten.

Butterfly needing ID?

Butterfly needing ID?

While this wild flower needs all the color it can muster to attract scarce pollinators.

Red Flower in Dunes - Needs ID?

Red Flower in Dunes – Needs ID?

On the sound side of the dunes (where we windsurf) the scene seems more peaceful,

Sound-Side Sunset

Sound-Side Sunset

This luminous green fly is a good contender for the Best Dressed Bug contest.

Green Fly

Green Fly

I don’t know if it is eaten by this magnificent large spider we found living in the reeds.

Black and Yellow Argiope

Black and Yellow Argiope

The female “Black and Yellow Argiope” (thanks Carol for ID) is 1 ½” (35 mm) long. She (not Carol!) eats her web (plus contents I presume) every night, and next morning spins a new one.

This one cormorant stopped for preening and was close enough for a photo.

Cormorant

Cormorant

Many, many thousands of these birds stream by every day, low over the water, sometimes diving en masse for fish, while flying south to some unknown destination which must be unimaginably crowded if they all congregate there together. (I now read that deep diving cormorants, mergansers and loons are dying in Lakes Michigan and Huron from a Type E botulism which they may be eating from the lake bottom)

On the water were kite boards and windsurfers.  Jim’s amazing GoPro waterproof, high resolution cameras attached to the end of my windsurf boom reveal some of the tensions and subtleties involved when you try to connect with foot straps and harness, while riding the wind and the waves.  At first it seems the foot straps are never where my feet are, but then later I find the straps actually are perfectly located.  The harness is another matter: hooking in and out should be effortless, provided it’s properly adjusted – and you must always avoid accidentally hooking in when you should be out!


Footstraps and Harness (not stabilized).



The road back to Ohio goes past Kitty Hawk, where you can appropriately pay homage to the Wright brothers by taking hang glide lessons – very tempting. It would be good to try it one day with a GoPro.

Hang Glide_8696

Back home in Perrysburg this bug landed on my Prodigy board and showed me it has evolved a pretty good helmet to protect at least its shoulders from being eaten.  I see now it is called a “Wheel bug” (Arilus cristatus). Very good to have in your garden as it devours aphids and others who’d eat your flowers and vegetables. But beware, while not easily provoked, it does have a very nasty bite. It injects digestive enzymes into its prey so it can more easily suck out the nutritious innards. Perhaps that’s what makes it so painful for humans.

Buzz Saw Head Bug

Wheel Bug

And in the honey bees’ hive I found some of these tiny ants on the comb. Presumably their giant stinger gives them some protection from the much larger bees.

Small Ant with Big Stinger

Small Ant with Big Stinger

Sandy Storm Stories

Hurricane Sandy sank the replica of HMS Bounty on her way south as she tried to squeeze between Cape Hatteras and the storm which had been tracking NNE but then suddenly backed 90 degrees, headed to NJ and NY, and fatally closed the gap.  The week before all had been tranquil at Cape Hatteras, NC.The light winds and calm sea only showed shore breaking swells (too high to go out int0) from very distant actions, but a reminder of the Cape’s ferocity.

The sand dunes do show how past winds have scoured out the sand. Here I’d say a good meter (3 ft.) depth of beach has been lost.

A dead sea turtle, with damaged shell perhaps from a propellor, washed in on the waves.

In the grasses a wild color mushroom hinted of other thrills. Nobody touched it.

The house architecture does show prepardness for floods to sweep across the sand banks. Note the front door 1 1/2 floors above ground level.  So tall that they noticeable shake in the wind.

On the sound side of the outer banks the windsurfing was gentle. In the far distance there was a line of many thousands of cormorants flying south day after day.


The barometer fell briefly, bringing one night of wind and lightning (Thanks to Glen Gardner for catching the brief flash).  The colored lights are from light sticks attached to windsurf sails braving the dark in search of good wind.


but for the most part we watched in vain for the Green Flash of sunsets. I can’t explain the circular sun even though it is half below the horizon.


One single mosquito held still for its final photo:

before I left for Washington DC to accidentally catch up on the latest in young men’s fashions: 
Considering that a day pass on the metro (subway) costs $12 these stylish young men could hardly be considered poor.

Looking for storm signs in the sky there were perhaps some hints of something as we drove home.

When Sandy proper arrived the satelite photos showed that in Perrysburg, Ohio we were on the very outer edge of the huge cloud swirl – little wind but scary red sunsets.

A week later back in New Jersey I saw the remains of the early snow storm damage that added to the hurricane problems.


And in Manhattan the Flatiron Building at 23 rd. and 3 rd. Avenue, looked like the bow of the Titanic.

Nearby is an outstanding new Italian food market called “Eataly” – not to be missed if you are near by.

Finns Forty Four Years Futher On

The Finn class Olympic one-man sail boat is an old classic: 

Chris in KC 59, Tom in KC 49

Originally designed to be sat on for balance when sailing up-wind, Paul Elvstr0m found that he could win many Olympic gold medals (3 in the Finn plus one in the Firefly) by lengthening the foot straps and hanging much further out over the side.

Sailing downwind was actually even less stable. The boom is very low and easily catches your back in a gybe, or trips you up in the water if the boat heels a bit; so the aphorism for not capsizing is: “Keep the mast upright”. The boat actually sails much faster if you do that too.

I learnt to race Finns in Toronto and Lake Ontario 44 years ago but weighing only 145 lb (66 kg) at that time I had much practice in self-rescue after capsizing many times.

That lesson is still being learned by the junior sailors in Toronto Harbor. Here two Optimist girls are practicing their righting skills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last weekend Tom Johannsen and friends ran a brilliantly conceived and executed revival of the old Finn group (OFF) from 40+ years ago. We had 2 days racing at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto Harbor. You get there on the Kwasind or Hiawatha (reportedly the oldest boat in Lloyds Register still operating):

The Club is over 150 years old.

 

Inside are cases full of ancient orginal, silver, brass and hardwood perpetual trophies, too valuable to be let out. More than a few have great family memories for me of events won as my kids and I all grew up learning to race in many different boats:

  

 

 We had six races in the Club’s set of eight Ideal 18s. They were truly ‘ideal’ for those older knees and backs.

 (Credit: Racing photos by Alycia Hendry – many thanks)Not that any of the OFFs have forgotten the luffing rights and rules where the downwind boat can turn sharply up to protect her wind and the upwind boat must keep clear.

A superb banquet on Saturday night was followed by speeches and stories of wind and waves, races won and lost, and toasts to absent friends: including Dr. John Clarke who was the creative and driving force behind the Toronto Island Finn fleet back then, Terry Neilson who medalled in the Olympics and Norm Freeman who hosted great races on Ithaca’s Finger Lake Cayuga in NY.

Four more races were run on Sunday, still swapping skippers and boats. The final results, with no drop race, showed just how close most were. Only 7 points separated the 6 places from 3rd to 9th.

In the end almost everyone won as Charlie Moses (sadly not in attendance) donated a case of Henkell Trocken for the award ceremony.

This chance photo catches the internationally known “Pope” of sailing, Paul Henderson, giving the farewell benediction to all the OFFs who had such an splendid and unforgettable time.

Race results: