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.

Autumnal Reds

Last week, Perrysburg’s trees were splashed with red as the trees’ internal chemistry saw that the days were getting shorter and it was time to prepare for winter by shutting down chlorophyl production and dropping leafs so winter snow and ice won’t break the branches.


The Fall colors jump out at you as you drive past but are hard to capture with the cell phone camera. At Niagara Falls I shot the same classic Canadian maple tree against the sun, with the sun from the side, and once more with the sun behind me. You decide which lighting is best?

Back home the mystery of the milkweed red bugs deepens. The following sequence of photos covers about 2 months from the time they first appeared, alongside yellow milkweed aphids on the full seed pods of the milkweeds I’d planted to attract monarch butterflies. 

After a month or so I think black ants and ladybugs ate  all the yellow aphids – none are left now.  But the red bugs continually prospered and morphed. First they acquired stronger black dots.

Next two pale colored long, queen bee like variations appeared.

Now there are very regular looking box elder bugs among them. 

All the time they were very conspicuously atop milk weed seed pods and yet no one ate them. Now it’s cooler at night so they hang out under the pods at night for shelter and come up on top looking for sunlight by day.  I really wonder if they are all the same species?

I’ve since left the reds of Perrysburg and have driven south-east through sunset and the last red of the PA mountains.

I’m writing this in warm sunshine at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina where there are only green, storm sculpted low evergreen trees and shrubs among the wind swept sand dunes of the outer banks.

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: