We were puzzled by two
of the one hundred boats in the Presque Isle State Park Marina. The
two were flying black garbage bags from their masts. Was it some kind of garbage
sailing club, were they pirates?
Later in the day the
answer came in a flash. A flock of thousands of migrating swallows swooped
down over the little harbor, lit in the rigging of the boats and began to
deposit guano. They had obviously been eating the deep purple berries we saw
in the forest. The two boats flying the black bags were the only ones completely
free of the birds. We immediately joined the garbage bag sailing club. Possibly
the bags looked like hawks or owls, we don't know, but they certainly worked.
We went into town for
dinner at Smugglers
watched the ferry
boats. After dinner, we went to see the Brig
Niagara. This is the restored flagship of Commodore Perry
who defeated the British in the Battle of Erie in the War of 1812. This victory
gave the US control of Lake Erie, preserved the Northwest Territory, and raised
the nation's morale. A memorial to Perry stands on the spot where his fleet
was built. It is also the spot where many of his crew were buried in the waters
of a little bay named Misery Bay. The Niagara is now the flagship of State
Presque Isle Bay is an
interesting combination of industrial city complete with a
steel mill, and a beautiful
nature preserve. The 3200 acre
peninsula contains six distinct ecological zones, each with a different plant
and animal community. The extensive wetlands and diverse habitats welcome
migrating birds that travel the Atlantic Flyway. Over 320 species of birds
have been recorded here, including 39 listed as species of special concern.
Other than the swallows, we observed many including four Great Blue Herons.
Early the next morning,
we sailed to Dunkirk, New York. From the marina, we walked to the grocery.
The economy in this area had obvious collapsed some time ago. In the first
two blocks of our walk, we saw a half dozen church and secular aide agencies.
Since a real blow was
forecast for midday, we sailed for Buffalo before dawn. The weather did not
wait for noon, and we experienced over 30 knot winds and very high seas early.
Luckily, we were sailing downwind in our lifevests and harnesses, surfing
down the 12 (and occasional 20) foot breakers well over hull speed. Rana sat
braced facing aft calling out "BIG ONE" and pointing the direction
so that Mike could adjust the wheel to catch the wave just right and avoiding
a broach. Sometimes the call was "REALLY, BIG, BIG ONE!"
We had carefully plotted
the approach up the channel, but it was still uncomfortable charging headlong
into the lee shore. Rana expertly doused the genny as we rounded the breakwater
and we arrived in Buffalo before noon. We had to take three approaches to
the fuel dock because of the strong wind and large swell. Marina staff were
unresponsive to multiple calls but local sailors Mike and Bob came to our
aide and caught our lines. We were placed on the wall in a nasty swell zone
and spent much of the day replacing and upgrading our chafe guards from leather
swatches and plastic tubing we had on board.
We are scheduled to
unstep our masts and head down the canal early next week, so we will relax
and spend a few days exploring Buffalo, New York.