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April 30, 2011     Post 25
Birds and Boats On The Edge

Spring bird migrations along the lake shore can be spectacular. This year April was unusually wet and overcast and when the hawks finally got a good day they really poured over the garden and the boat yard. The Derby Hill hawk counters at the lake's southeast end recorded 2198 birds last Saturday, probably most of them in a few hours when the sun came out and a south wind came up late in the day. That day literally hundreds of birds every few minutes would aggregate in silent circling flight over my garden or the yard. After 20 or 30 had collected, they 'broke out' by ones and twos and went gliding off to the east. A young eagle swooped low over my neighbor's roof and a kestrel flashed down the driveway. That along with an Osprey's call signaled me to look aloft. The raptors just kept coming, and collecting over the garden. There seemed to be a persistent updraft right over our yard where they collected, circled and headed on. One bird would find it, then others would join him or her swirling about for several minutes to gain altitude.

Wednesday Derby Hill's count hit 6319 birds. That day a gusty southerly was pushing them up near the lake where they didn't want to go. I saw many of them 'tacking' inland against the wind. When they turned to go on a reach along the shore they were scooting- making steamboat time this day. I would imagine with the right conditions they could clip along for a couple hundred miles on a good day.

When it's really windy the hawks and eagles and buzzards seem to go fast and low at tree top level over the yard and boat barn. Thursday the wind got really brisk and I watched a juvenile eagle come down and land in a big tree by the driveway. He had his gear down and came in low over the garden. Once he landed he was getting buffeted around up on his perch pretty good.

Perhaps the most striking thing about these passages of hundreds of hawks and buzzards is their utter silence as they soar overhead. There is something spiritual about looking up into the blue heaven's vault and seeing those powerful graceful fliers moving silently always journeying to the east. Just a few days ago perhaps they were in Florida. Before that maybe Cuba or Brazil. What have they seen? Where are they headed? Wonder what will become of them all.

Below is an excerpt from Living On The Edge With Sara B

Living on the Edge with Sara B, 132 page paperback, illustrated, is currently available only by direct order from the author or from www.chimneybluff.com at a cost of 12.50$ plus 1.50$ for shipping

As another budget boater once wrote just because it can be done, doesn't mean it should be done. But when an unexpected inheritance lands in the author's mailbox and is spent on eBay for an elderly small schooner, a journey ensues.

Join Sara B's crew as they explore green water on the edge while keeping a watchful eye on the bilge pump indicator light, and meet a few of the folk who sailed there with her. Edge dwellers all, they are hardy, adaptable, creative, and resilient. Not always practical, but frequently amazingly ingenious, their actions will amuse and entertain you in this tribute to the little schooner who didn't sink and to a fast vanishing boating life style.

Excerpt Below;
It had been at least five years since I had seen my Uncle Fred, so I wondered why a letter from Blair, Nebraska was in my upstate NY mailbox one gray March afternoon. As I trudged back up the hill through the late winter mud, a seed of suspicion took root. We weren't exactly estranged. But neither were we close. I'd last visited my uncle in his home in eastern Nebraska during a cross country road trip about five years before. Then close to ninety, he was nearly blind and living alone, but his small town neighbors and his stepdaughter were doing their best to look after him. It was a brief, awkward, dutiful visit and a bleak reminder of how unkind old age can be. My suspicion was that he had died.

In the kitchen, I opened the letter and found my suspicion confirmed. I also found to my disbelief that Uncle Fred, a small town lawyer, had apparently died without a will, and under Nebraska state law I was entitled to 13,000 dollars from his estate. Sign these forms and your money will be along shortly with an additional as yet to be determined payment next fall. Wow. What a weird world. A lawyer without a will? Sure enough later that spring the money was parked in my passbook account, and plans were being made for its disposition. Let's buy a boat suggested my spouse.

I have been a sailor of considerable conviction, if no particular distinction, since age 15. My husband, Chris, and I met through a common interest in tired old wooden day sailors and

fell in love after joining forces with a neighbor to purchase a bargain 32 foot fiberglass sloop. At first, we considered our joint ownership of a perfectly functional plastic boat somewhat of a miracle. She was a big step up for the owners of a 23 foot woodie, a plywood sharpie ketch that had spent the previous summer under water at her dock, and a derelict 26 foot sloop whose owner had spent a year repairing. Though our thirty year old boat, herself the unwanted step child of an ugly divorce, cost us less than a set of self tailing sheet winches for a comparable sized new sailboat, she was a genuine 'yacht'. We financed our three way ownership with a couple of rather meager charge card credit balances and 1700 dollars cash. Even the uncertain incomes of three self employed yachties when combined, were ample to cover her yearly dockage and winter storage costs.

But is there a boat owner out there who has not at least once or maybe twice thought about buying a bigger boat? A year after our 32 foot partner-ship became a love boat, we bought out the third party and sailed the boat as a couple. But the co-op idea would not die. An ad hoc committee consisting of ourselves and the ex-partner was formed to acquire another (bigger) co-op boat. My spouse suggested we look for a schooner...

For the rest of the story of how we ended up acquiring one and what happened to her after that check out Living On The Edge With Sara B at www.chimneybluff.com

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