My First StormApril 11 2016

From The Log of “Moderation”

Gil Newton S.

One of the advantages of having a retractable keel on a sail boat is that you can explore areas where larger boats are unable to access. Moderation was loaded down with a week’s supply of groceries and various lotions to handle the elements such as bug repellant, sun screen, etc... I had checked the long range forecast for the week and it showed lots of ideal sailing weather. I was to spend this week by myself and looked forward to the peace and quiet, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday living.

My first couple of days were uneventful but totally relaxing, which is why I enjoy sailing so much. The only sounds you hear are those of the wind on your sails and sea gulls off in the distance. The third day into my adventure I found ideal anchorage near the lighthouse at the tip of Long Point. The area was somewhat protected by bull rushes, so I had to retract the keel and pull Moderation through the swamp- like area and into open water. The area had a sandy beach and good bass fishing. The place was so beautiful I thought I must be in the Bahamas; no place in Ontario has water this warm and clear.

After dropping anchor in about one meter of water, I decided to take a walk along the sandy beach, and do some exploring at the same time. During my walk I could hear sounds coming from the interior. I went back to the boat to get the field glasses to do some further investigating. I climbed the small embankment to see where the strange haunting sounds were coming from and scanned the horizon with the binoculars. Unable to see anything, I remembered reading about the large deer population on Long Point and figured they must be making these weird sounds. I was amazed by the beauty of the interior, with small ponds and a family of Canadian Geese enjoying one of the land locked water holes. Everything was so peaceful in this tranquil setting and yet I could still hear these strange noises coming from a distance. The thought of getting bitten by an insect carrying Lyme disease prevented me from venturing further into interior.

I spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying my surroundings and doing some fishing. As evening approached I enjoyed a meal that my thoughtful wife had prepared and had so nicely packed. I had developed a habit of checking the weather reports on the V.H.F radio while eating supper each evening. The radio reported that a thunder and lightning storm with heavy rains and high winds was quickly developing in the western end of Lake Ontario and eastern end of Lake Erie. Although I felt secure in my protected area, I decided to drop a second anchor just to be on the safe side. It seems when you are in the fresh air all day and away from the pollution of the city sleep comes very easy. So by nightfall I was ready to tuck-in. The sunset that evening was stunning. As a matter of fact I took about eight photos of Moderation with the glowing sun as a back drop. It felt great to be alive and to see something as beautiful as this sunset.

At approximately 0100 hours I was aroused by the rocking of the boat. As I awakened the rain was coming down hard and the wind had blown open the canopy over the companionway. I hurriedly got out of my sleeping bag before the boat became flooded and had to hold the canopy closed or else the wind would blow it open. The storm became more violent so I decided to put on a life jacket just to be safe. This was no easy task with one hand on the canopy and the other to do up the life jacket! I had no sooner put the PFD on when the boat swung around 180 degrees. One of the anchors had pulled loose. By this time I was afraid of being washed up on shore. I couldn’t see the shoreline because of the condensation on the port holes, caused by my heavy breathing and intense praying. I wiped the starboard porthole and peered out only to see a long line of lights(?). This was impossible because I was the only one in this area and I couldn’t have drifted that far!

I took a closer look to try and see my bearing, and I realized that the long line of lights was actually a long line of deer eyes. Their eyes were luminous in the dark night. The deer were coming down to the water’s edge then disappearing over the embankment. The odd haunting sounds that I had heard during the day accompanied by this sight that I was viewing sent a cold sensation down my spine. The storm relented after an hour and a half, the winds died down and the rain became a gentle mist. I slid back the canopy for further evaluation and to see if the “lights” were still present. The deer had disappeared as mysteriously as they had appeared and Moderation had moved only a short distance from her original anchorage. As I was counting my blessing and my good fortune that no damage had been done, the wind began to pick up speed and the rain started to come down hard again. However I considered myself an old pro at this stage and knew Moderation could handle the most severe situation.

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