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Enjoying the Boat

Since we got a late start on the boating season this year we have been making up for lost time. Repairing the elbow took longer than expected, and we have had plenty of hot days mixed with lots of rain. So we have been taking every chance we get to enjoy some quality time on the water. Plenty of little trips out, some swimming (the bay has been super clean and warm) and even bird watching. Where we anchor on the Peconic Bay gives us plenty of time to observe the many birds that call it home, even if just for a short time. Taking our friends out for lunch or an early dinner gives us time to relax while at anchor. I do like to spot the birds, and I love to see the osprey hover and then dive into the water. Many times they come up empty, but every once in a while they manage to come out of the water carrying a meal fit for .... an osprey or two. Birds of prey are fairly easy to spot. The osprey are almost always the biggest birds out there. Most of the time they are gliding while looking for a meal, using the smallest amount of energy they can. Throughout the season we can see them nest, raise the young and watch the young fledge. You get so you can tell them from a good distance. So it took me by surprise the other day, as we sat off our favorite shore, about 200 yards off the beach when I became aware of two birds coming into focus that did not look normal. They were flying low, making it hard for me to judge their shape and size. As they neared the shoreline they flared upward, landing about 10 feet apart on thick branches in a large tree. I noticed the coloring of each; I had just witnessed my first pair of bald eagles on Long Island. I was speechless. I muttered the words “Bald Eagle” to my wife and our guests, keeping my eyes on the tree while moving forward into the cabin to find our pair of binoculars. I had to go down into the cabin losing sight of these beautiful birds. It did not matter, when I came out on deck they were still roosting, posing if you like for all to see. The binoculars, a very old pair that belonged to my father- in- law, showed the eagle’s features very clearly. With their brown bodies and white head and tails, they were magnificent, preening themselves as boats passed by without disturbing them. We sat there talking and watching them waiting to see what they would do. I took my eyes off of them for just a minute, and when I looked back one was gone! I had missed it leaving. Minutes later it was returning, having flown north over the bay. It landed, but in another minute the other flew off, heading south. Soon after, the second flew south also. I watched the leader heading south, but it got lower and soon I could not find it. No worries though, within a minute or two it was back in sight and heading back towards us. The second one was also trailing it, right back to the same tree. As I watched through the binoculars, I could see the leader was carrying a fish in its talons. This was no small fish though. When it landed in the tree, on the same branch again, it draped the fish over the branch. It appeared to be a good size bluefish! A meal befitting our national symbol. As they sat in the branches, they started making noise. Within a few minutes a third eagle, this one an immature bald eagle without the white head and tail joined them! We watched for a half an hour or so until we had to leave as they began feasting on the fish. We have been boating on the Peconic for about 21 years, this was the first time ever seeing bald eagles. Awesome! In the meantime, I have been using the new electronics and studying how best to set them up. I can set up the display in many ways, from having one window to as many as four at the same time. I like being able to see all the different displays, and if needed I can go to one view giving a much larger picture. Much better than having four different units mounted in the small dash. While this is going on, we are still involved in our own hunt. We did make an offer on a boat in Ohio, but there are some moisture issues in the hull. So I rescinded our offer after going up and inspecting the boat. By chance, I was on the dock untying our boat for a trip when the owner of our marina happened by. He asked me how our planned trip was coming along and if we had found a boat for it. I told him about the boat and what we found. He mentioned that they had just repaired a boat with the same issues, and it was not a hard job to do if caught early. I love the layout of that boat, thinking it would be a great boat for our plans. With that in mind, I made a new offer, adjusted down to cover the cost of repairs. I am now waiting to see what will come of that offer. I have since started planning the trip. Figuring out logistics, routes, and even where to eat, fuel and stay overnight while working out the timing of travel in the Erie Canal. This trip will take place next summer if all works out. But for now, fall is here and so is some great boating weather!

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