Saturday, October 30, 2010
About this time last year, I spent a day wandering around Long Island's North Fork. I had no real agenda or destination, so when I stumbled across something interesting I would stop and explore further. One of the highlights of my day was Inlet Pond Preserve on the outskirts of Greenport.
Consisting of approximately 50 acres, Inlet Pond is a county preserve maintained in cooperation with the North Fork Audubon Society. There are a network of trails that wind their way around the property; I followed the Blue Trail which circles the pond and leads to the adjacent beach.
Despite the name, there is no inlet connecting Long Island Sound to the pond. My first guess was that an inlet once existed, but had been sealed shut from some long forgotten storm. Several websites however, claim the pond is freshwater. If I were a better investigative reporter, I would have verified the salinity myself. Shoulda, coulda, woulda!
After combing the beach and circling the pond, I arrived at an observation deck which provided a nice overview of the land I had just walked. On one side, the pond was protected by a few short bluffs that were quickly losing their autumn color. And on the other, just a thin spit of sand was all that separated it from that "domesticated body of water"* known as Long Island Sound.
North Fork Audubon
From The North Fork
Gail's Trails: Inlet Pond (map)
*quote: F Scott Fitzgerald; The Great Gatsby
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes — a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning .....
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
F. Scott Fitzgerald; The Great Gatsby; 1925
Great Neck Parks District: Sailing & Kayaking Programs
New York Times: Eyeing The Unreal Of Gatsby Esq.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
The only thing I love more than an old sailing ship is an old tug. So when the tugboat Pegasus visited Mystic Seaport this Columbus Day weekend, I made sure to stop by. Built in 1907 for the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, she was known as a "battleship tug" because of her size and power. When purchased by McAllistar in 1953, she was converted from steam to diesel power, and served the ports of Boston, New York, and Norfolk. She retired in 1997 after a 90 year career, and is now being restored by the Pegasus Preservation Project.
When I arrived, Captain Pamela Hepburn and her crew were just finishing up their third and final day of providing tours aboard the Pegasus. This may sound like easy work, but it can also be demanding. The sunny weather brought large crowds to the Seaport this holiday weekend, and standing for 9 hours in an engine room answering the same questions repeatedly is tiring work. Congratulations to the volunteer crew for a job well done.
As luck would have it, I was invited to join them for some food and grog at a nearby restaurant. Though tired, the crew was great company, and I enjoyed having the opportunity to meet them and share a few laughs. There was a wealth of maritime knowledge sitting at that table, and I promised to keep in touch as I said goodbye and wished them well on their trip back to New York Harbor the following morning.
Tug Pegasus Preservation Project
Tugster: Mystic Weekend
Tugster: A New York Harbor Waterblog
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The 947 foot Crown Princess returned to New London this past Saturday for a seven hour visit. Entering the harbor before dawn, she was greeted by the tugboat Patricia Ann which escorted the cruise ship to her berth at the State Pier. Despite the early arrival time, a good number of people turned out to witness this. Viewers lined the waterfront at City Pier and Fort Trumbull as the large ship made a 180-degree turn to prepare for dockage.
Although the Crown Princess had previously visited in September, her return was still a noteworthy event. For a moment, it seemed as if everyone in town stopped what they were doing and looked towards the harbor. Shopkeepers stood in their doorways and taxi drivers got out of their cabs as the ship passed by. Volunteers were on hand to assist the visitors, and music from the Nutmeg Fife & Drum filled the air. New London is a busy port, with ferries, submarines, tallships, and Coast Guard vessels all plying the waters regularly. It is not everyday however, that a 947 foot cruise ship comes to town.
Departing Brooklyn, the 3,000 passenger ship is touring New England and the Canadian Maritimes, with stops that will include Newport, Boston, Portland, St John, and Halifax.
Princess Cruises: Destinations
New London Day: A Princess Stops By
Soundbounder: Arrival Of The Crown Princess
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
She was several miles west of me when I first spotted her masts breaking the horizon near Race Rock Lighthouse. With nothing but a thin silhouette to identify her, I knew instantly this was a ship I had not seen before. It was late in the day, with just a few hours left of daylight, but I decided to follow her in hope of getting a better view.
I was only gaining on her by a small amount, and if she continued to sail westward down Long Island Sound, it would be long after dark before I caught up with her. My guess however, was that she would drop anchor in New London for the evening, rather than face the 30 knot winds forecasted for the following morning. But when she passed the entrance to New London Harbor without changing her course, I debated whether to give up and sail home.
Sometime while I was busy arguing with myself over whether or not to continue on, the ship began to head north and enter Niantic Bay. This seemed like an odd destination for a ship of this size, but I was not about to complain. I fired up the diesel and motored on, fully confident that I would reach her before sundown.
Drawing closer, it became apparent to me that this was the Half Moon, a replica of the Dutch ship sailed by Henry Hudson in 1609. Launched in 1989, she was built at the Snow Shipyard in Albany, and has sailed much of the east coast and Great Lakes.
She dropped anchor in the lee of Black Point, while her crew tended to some rigging work. I circled her several times, making small talk with the crew. I learned she will be in New London this weekend, and there are plans to travel the Connecticut River this month. I joked about how I had been following them for several miles and was so happy to catch up and get a close-up view.
"Happens all the time" one of them shouted back.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
The Saugatuck Rowing Club has become such a fixture in Westport that it is easy to forget they have been around for just twenty years. A former Fordham University coach and oarsman with the Garda Siochana Rowing Club in Dublin, Ireland, James Mangan founded the club by converting an abandoned rail freight station into a boathouse on the banks of the Saugatuck River. His goal was to introduce rowing to people of all ages and make the sport easily accessible.
I think it is safe to assume his goal has been accomplished. The "boathouse" is now an impressive 15,000 square-foot building with a fitness center, restaurant, locker rooms, as well as a large boat storage facility. The property and grounds are equally attractive.
With three straight days of blustery, damp conditions, I didn't expect to see much activity here on a Tuesday afternoon in October. I could not have been more wrong however, as the club was as busy as a sunny day in June. Young rowers made their way up and down the river, followed by a coach in a small motorboat. Viewers like myself, stood in the foggy drizzle and watched the action from atop the bank. I know very little about crewing; my closest experience was drinking beer at the Head Of The Charles Regatta in 1986. But I do know that I enjoy watching it, and apparently, many other people do too. The dreary weather made for poor photography, but the atmosphere was bright and fun.
One other thing I like about the Saugatuck Rowing Club is the handful of spaces along the south end of the lot reserved for "public parking". It is a nice touch from a club that has found amazing success, but hasn't forgotten its roots and original intent.
Soundbounder: Orchard Beach Lagoon