It’s great to be back on Seguin. Today the fog rolled in and so the foghorn is blowing. I made a curried apple and acorn squash soup and worked forever to replace a broken window pane. All’s cozy now.
The weather report said we had “uncharacteristically high astronomical tides” today. Something must be up with the moon and the sun.
After a six hour drive to Popham Beach, ME, our stuff still had a long way to go. Naturally we arrived at dead low tide and we had to lower everything by boat hook, including two cats, off the fixed pier to the Seguin Ferry below. On the other hand, low tide exposed the beach so offloading was easy – with the help of friends.
Our Aldo Leopold bench continues to stand watch over glorious sunsets.
The road crew returned, put a few more boards and supports down and announced the bridge is unofficially open. With a running start we may make it over the hump.
I took advantage and went shopping to buy some of the heavy items we’ll need on Seguin Island next week. Time to plan for a couple of weeks’ provisions. I just have to take the Deal Island, Tasmania list, convert it from kilos to pounds and divide by six. Maybe I can just divide by 3 and call it even.
We are poised to leave Deal island on the 15th of March. The Parks manager arrived with the new caretakers today and we are officially off duty. And the weather couldn’t be better. It’s warm, like summer. It was calm this morning for their trip out. We’ll see how we fare in two days. We’ve spent the past couple of days cleaning and getting everything in order. Now we’ve moved over to the visitor’s house and are visitors. Yesterday we walked to the lighthouse and had fun looking at our shadows.
At the end of the day, I had a home brewed stout, which had a creamy foam.
Today, I put the work gloves away. It’s official.
Today we headed up a hill in the middle of the island to look for a cairn reportedly there.. It literally was a bush bash. We walked through shrubs, trees and tussocks. We got to the height of land and couldn’t find a cairn. I kept thinking it might have blown down because we found open spaces with rocks but no pile. We had a nice lunch but were a little discouraged. Before heading back down, I looked around and saw an area a little higher than where we were. There was a panoramic view and we were able to see the lighthouse and both the south and north entrances to Murray Passage. Tim went over there to explore and sure enough, there was another cairn!! Our day was complete.
This is how the grass was. You can just about make out Tim. We follow wallaby tracks but they hop and we have to plod through the clumps of grass.
We saw Deal Island from a new perspective yesterday. A luxury yacht anchored in the cove the night before and called us and said they wanted to see a little of the island. They didn’t have a lot of time but checked out the museum and Barn Hill, which has some spectacular views of Murray Passage. Then they asked us if we wanted to come with them to Erith Island before they left. You betcha!
It was strange because it was our first time off the island for three months. Sort of a practice run for this weekend. The passage between Erith and Deal Islands is much more open then it seems from up at the caretaker cottage. We got to look back at the island and the compound from the water and then from Erith.
While we were anchoring, we saw our first sea eagle on the rocks of Erith.
We walked the tracks to explore the shack and campsites we knew were there. Then on the way back, we were joined by dolphins.
When we got back we walked to the lighthouse which was shrouded in fog. Quite a day.
We awakened yesterday to the smell of smoke. Not a good thing when you are trying to protect an island. There wasn’t lightening the night before so we thought if it was here, it would be from an open fire on one of the beaches. So we hopped in the ute and checked Winter Cove, where the campground is (and our recent sign, “No Open Fires”). No smoke or flames. We returned home but then as the day progressed, it got smokier and smokier. We went to the north beach, Garden Cove, where we doubted any boats were anchored because of the wind direction, no smoke or flames. Then we heard on the radio, there was a bush fire in Victoria. The smoke kept getting thicker and thicker here until our view of Erith island was obscured. The fire was 100 miles away but with a wind from the north and the pure air here, we smelled it like it was in our own backyard.
Next we were involved in a search and rescue. There was a boat here, which left a few days ago, who asked us to report their position to the local coast guard. They never checked in at their home port. The coast guard called us and asked if we knew anything more. We could only add that they were headed home since we knew they had run out of food and only hope they forget to check in when they arrived.
Then we saw a tinny (metal dinghy) with lines out fishing in Murray Passage. We radioed them and informed them they were in a no take zone and they headed out.
After dinner, we walked down to the new bench to get internet reception, view the stars, which were finally visible again and watch and listen to the fairy penguins come home.
It has been a good caretaking day.
During the run of bad weather, we kept busy working in the shop. We found lumber, nuts, bolts and screws and, using only hand tools because we’re not allowed to have power tools, made a bench. Not bad eh?
It may look a little crooked but it works for its location. There’s a corner on the road from the jetty to the compound, which usually has good cell phone reception for Telstra phones and laptops. It is fondly referred to as Telstra corner. If you do a Google search for Telstra Corner and Deal Island, there it is. The trouble is it’s on a hill with slopes in at least two directions.
We made a similar bench for Seguin Island but it was sited on level ground. This was on a slope that went downhill and forward. I got a headache just thinking about the angles. But it worked! Then we hemmed and hawed about putting a sign on the bench. Telstra corner seemed too commercial so we came up with the universal reception signals instead. And it will remain on Telstra corner because it won’t sit anyplace else.
The wind settled down overnight after four days of 30 knots with gusts to 70. The garden survived. After the first night of strong winds, I barricaded the small seedlings as best I could from the wind. They had been spinning around in circles while the wind blew. A large group of tomato plants took a nose dive. Today I removed the wind screens and resupported my fallen tomatoes.
I noticed one of the beet seedlings missing just like in the cartoons. It was dug out of the bed and there was a small pile of dirt nearby. I smelled a rat. I knew there was a reason there were a hundred rat traps lying around the garden when we arrived. They’ve moved back up to the garden. I thought I noticed some of the tomatoes had small bites taken out of them but I think I suppressed it. So I got out the peanut butter and set a few traps. This is war! So far it’s two points for the Home team and 0 for the visitors. Or should they be the home team and we the visitors? I’ve been coddling these seedlings along for two months. During this last gale, even after it rained, I had to go out and water the garden to wash the sea spray, which blew in from Little Squally Cove, 1/4 mile away, off the leaves. Just like “Jaws”, “First the shark, then the rogue wave, then the tomatoes falling overboard!”
During a walk yesterday, I saw some strange vegetation. Glowing, bright red fungus, Eucalyptus trees that bleed and shed their bark instead of their leaves. Some sort of berry or parasite that grows on the leaves not from the stems. And of course more rocks where I found half a man but is he lying down or sitting up?
We took it easy yesterday because the day before we worked on clearing the jetty road of sand that washed down during our day of record rainfall. Now I know. Record rainfall means more roads to clear. We’ve yet to get back to unearth one of the the culverts on the lighthouse track. I know I won’t get any sympathy from anyone in the northeastern United States who have spent all winter digging themselves out from under record snowfalls. The fact that a record is set is exciting for about a moment until the reality of it sets in.
We are working on a project for the island, building a bench from reclaimed materials: old wood, bolts and and nuts. I think even the hand saws were reclaimed. We’re not allowed to have power tools. No fun evacuating a lighthouse caretaker because they cut off a finger with the power saw. So we saw the old fashioned way. Well Tim saws and I sit on the wood to keep it steady and spin my drop spindle. Reclaimed means we find a bolt in one box in the workshop, then have to sort through all the nuts to find its mate.
Sometimes we have to shoo skinks off the wood.
While we were in the workshop, a fog settled over the island and it became totally still. At one point, I went outside and couldn’t see beyond the solar panels, which probably means they weren’t doing much for us that day.
The weather changed and after dinner there was an incredible sunset and the sky was an iridescent orange and pink. Then I caught the moon as it was setting across the water over the swashway. Now it’s back to work clearing tracks.