Great Blue Heron, Punta Gorda
After an early departure, it was a 272-mile dash to Joe and Ruth Kliment’s home in Punta Gorda Isles. After some time to visit and catch up on the long time since we had seen each other last, Joe and Ruth took me out to scout out some launch sites for my next day’s paddle. We stopped at the Peace River Wildlife Center, a bird rescue and sanctuary. Some of the injured birds are treated and released back into the wild, but some, because of their permanent injuries, become permanent residents.
Their two eagles are a good example. The female, on the left, was scavenging in a landfill when she picked up and punctured an aerosol can. The explosion tore off her left wing. When she was found, the can was still impaled on her beak and clearly told the tale of what had happened. The male eagle was with his sibling in a nest that their parents had built on a branch not strong enough to hold the weight of an eagle nest, which can reach 2,000 pounds. The branch gave way and dumped the nest. The sibling died from its injuries, and this bird sustained such severe multiple fractures that, while they were able to save his life, he will never be able to fly.
Another new experience was coming upon a handicapped sailing regatta. The event has become so successful, that handicapped sail racing has become an Olympic event. We spoke to one team from Washington State and another from Nova Scotia. Trials are underway for the World Cup, with matches in Miami, Melbourne, Canada, Great Britain, Palma de Majorca, France, Netherlands, Germany, and elsewhere. This is serious stuff, and includes classes in centerboard, keelboats, multihulls, and windsurfing. The boats we saw had two centerline seats. The forward one was convex so level is attained by simply sliding across the convex curve. The after seat was contoured for the more seriously disabled. Two handlebars erected across the seat moved fore and aft to control the twin rudders, and a toggle on the left handle rotated the seat mechanically so the boater always sat level. They were between races, so we didn't get a chance to see them sail, but it's great to see such a program. Because of an accident, or because of the injuries soldiers bring back after serving our country, it is wonderful to see there is a way for them to pursue what may have been their passion before their disability.
Tomorrow will be a paddling day.
Yellow Crested Night Heron