Summer Slips South

The Autumnal Equinox means the end of summer for me. This week the sun arose due East and set due West giving everyone on planet Earth exactly 12 hours of light and 12 of dark.








Ford Rd. Looking West at Sunset                                            Ford Rd. Looking East at Sunrise

Ford Road in Perrysburg is aligned exactly East-West. The rising sun was blinding and almost impossible to drive into.  And likewise going the other direction 12 hours later as the sun set. 11th Avenue (or other parallel avenues if the trees are too dense) in Vancouver, Market Street in Rhinebeck, NY and Tillary, Myrtle or Dekalb in Brooklyn should all have the same phenomenon.

A very dear blog fan anonymously asked a very perceptive equinox question: What happens if you live on the equator? One could naively think that because for all the rest of us living outside the tropics, the sun is highest on the June 21 Solstice and the days are longest – after that they shorten.  For those Equatorial Equinoxers the midday sun is right overhead and after that not so high, so one would be excused for imagining the days might shorten, both after Spring and Autumnal Equinox, but…  Shine a flashight on a globe or a ball to see what really happens!

The 45 Great White Egrets on the summer Maumee got the message when the first longer night and cooler day arrived. Most stretched their wings and went South, back to Florida, this week.

And from nowhere there arrived masses of the native “White Snake Root”, happily flowering in deep shade where I can get nothing else to open up.








 Honey Bee gathering pollen                                             Imposter (name?) on Snake Root
from White Snake Root. See small
off-white pollen sac on bee’s leg.

 This is a very distinctive native plant whose leaves mysteriously poisoned the cow’s milk for the early settlers. Abraham Lincoln’s mother died from their poison milk.  Sadly, it is recorded that a Shawnee woman told a female nurse about it in the 1800’s but it was not until 1920 that a ‘man’ found the poison and was listened to. The bees are quite comfortable with it and my Bee Club says it is not a problem for bee or honey as I watch them returning with its white pollen:

Hopefully it’s only the green leaf which is poisonous?

The nectar native flower of choice right now is the Showey Goldenrod which is irresistable for this year’s great swarm of bumble bees. 

My little bees are just barely tolerated on it and are allowed to bring home some golden pollen.

They have to use their new small winter door designed to keep heat in and mice out. The occupants of the new hive complained furiously while I installed it.

‘Peter Rabbit’ has been sleeping in the grass in front of the new hive for weeks now. I give him carrots and ask in return, with some success, that he stop eating my native plants.









 He is too tame – I’ve not seen him since the Equinox. It would be nice to think he went South with the Egrets for the winter! 

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: