Sunday -- July 31, 2016
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5 Water Temperature: 85
It's those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, and Sycamore Island is the place to enjoy them! It's been another predictably hot and steamy July down here in Island land, but it's been a lot of fun as well! The river level dropped below three feet, making it easy to run the ferry, and the clear water makes the river so inviting for swimming. Some people complained that the water was too warm, but I don't mind the 90 degree water, too warm is better than too cold if you ask me. The warm clear water seems to be helping the fishing too, and I finally caught my first bass of the year from the Island.
Speaking of fish, there was a very large blue catfish caught from the captain's float this month. It happened so effortlessly that it was almost as if it had been staged. One of our new waitlist members had heard at his orientation that it was possible to catch catfish off of the dock on the Island. So, on his first visit to the Island, he tossed in his fishing line and just like that, he caught a twenty-pound catfish. We aim to please.
It's been great seeing many of our new waitlist members coming down recently. They really seem to be enjoying the Island experience and I'm glad to see them all getting familiar with the Club, and this great river. Sometimes July can be a relatively slow month, with many people going out of town on vacations, but not so much this year. Despite the fact that it feel like a tropical jungle down here, Sycamore Island is now becoming the favorite destination for many of our members, from teens and youngsters enjoying their freedom from school, to older folks having a "staycation."
Not to go against the trend here but I took a vacation AWAY from the Island this month and I went to the beach. Mary and I are not big on sitting on the beach so it's been years since we took a vacation to the shore in July. It was hot, windy and sandy but it was a blast hanging out on the beach with most of my 12 siblings, parents, kids, in-laws and nieces and nephews. It was funny, even though I was all the way over in Delaware, I couldn't escape Sycamore Island. When I was walking out of the water in Dewey Beach one day, I ran into Club member Carl Kosok and his daughter and son in-law. Then later, after I got back on the Island, another member, Garth Ross, said he saw my van, with canoes on top, cruising through Bethany Beach on Rt 1. So funny.
The warm weather hasn't kept us from our chores and it's been a full-time job keeping the grass cut and the walking trails clear. I also had to rebuild part of the kayak rack and I had to build a new bench for the ferry, the old one wore out and people were asking about it. When I first installed a bench on the ferry it seemed like such a luxury item, but now everyone is so used to it that they can't imagine the ferry without it.
I had to do some river dredging as well. Every year the sediment builds up at the ferry dock and every year when the river gets this low I have to stand out in the river and dig out the sediment. This year was especially bad and I was afraid that we might have to extend the dock a few feet in order for the ferry to reach the Island, but then we got three inches of rain and the problem went away.
July is also the time for thunderstorms, and near the end of the month we got some doozies. The storms are a welcome relief from the humidity but they make the river all muddy and the high water makes it more difficult to run the ferry. One storm had so much rain that it over burdened my gutters and soaked my floors. Another storm caused a giant branch to break and fall directly onto our ferry cable and snapped the back-up cable that holds the ferry. It's never a good thing to wake up after a storm and see that the river is dirty brown and full of litter and that your ferry cable is dangling in the water.
It was a little nerve wracking to use the ferry without any back-up chains attached, but with the help of Gerry Barton, I was able to fix the broken cable and reattach it to the utility pole on the mainland.
Gerry also single-handedly tracked down an official from the Army Corp of Engineers and brought him down to the Island. He was concerned that the warning signs for the dam had fallen into such disrepair that anyone floating past the Island would not realize that there was a dangerous dam ahead. The Army Corp guy agreed with Gerry and it looks like we may get a few new warning buoys in the river and some new warning signs along the banks. Thanks Gerry!
July may be hot but the forest canopy is at it's fullest, the summer flowers are at their peak, and the cicadas and katydids are comforting us with their night time choruses. It's hard to imagine now, but soon the signs of Autumn will be trickling in and another summer will be behind us.