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Along the Lakeshore: March 20

Canada geese, Sedg Smith, sailboats

The major presence in many places on our lake this week has been Canada geese. They arrived in Bentley Cove around 10 p.m. Sunday and Monday nights. They honked all night and then vanished right around 7 a.m., but it was quite dark and I was unable to count them. I estimated that there were between 75 and 150 geese. Since then there have been groups hanging around, spending time on the ground feeding or snoozing. I noticed a large group of 25 to 30 standing around the lakeshore near the curve that needs a center line on the renovated West Lake Street.

There is a slip or ramp to the lake there that I assume was crafted when the stone walls were built as a 1930s government project. I think it was constructed to facilitate the launching of various rowboats, canoes, and sailing craft of the Smith contingent that lived across the street at the time.

Sedg Smith used to float his sloop, Seal, onto his trailer and have a tractor or truck-pull it up out of the water. He had a tree man install a block (pulley) in a tree with a line in order to get a purchase to lift the rather long and heavy wooden mast out so it could be refinished each winter and all its parts could be inspected.

Sedg was a science teacher at Skaneateles High School and the perennial hockey coach. The slip provided easy access to the ice for shoveling and maintenance of the ice surface. We used to get a good solid ice in the cove early and for most of the winter.

Sedg’s boat was about 24 feet long and had a substantial keel and a small cabin. It was certainly the largest boat sailing on the lake in the ‘40s and ‘50s. He always towed a small dinghy which we kids all assumed was to be used as an escape if the craft got a bad leak, as it would surely have sunk due to the heavy keel. I think he towed it because it was easier than tying it off and picking it up later. He often sailed alone and snatching a mooring buoy when solo sailing is reasonably difficult in some conditions.

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