Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ashore On Fire Island III

Unless television has lied to me, the surest way to make something disappear is to hire an excavator from Ronkonkoma. Yesterday, almost a month after she ran aground, bulldozers and backhoes used brute force to move Le Papillion down the beach and north across the island through a pathway known as the cut.  The hull suffered damage in the process.
I'm not sure what happens next, or how she will be transported off the island.

Thanks to RK8776 at for the photo.
Tugster: Ashore 6
Frank Markus: Removal Gallery

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fleet's Cove Beach

It's an unintentional habit of mine to be out the door much earlier this time of year. I wake-up at the same hour, but the 6 a.m. sunrise and warmer temperatures seem to get me moving much sooner. No need to be reading an upteenth story about Donald Trump, when instead, I could be somewhere such as Fleet's Cove Beach, in the Centerport section of Huntington.
Early mornings in spring bring the usual small group of stereotypes to the beach: there's the retiree with the metal detector; a jogger or two (one looks like he needs the exercise, the other doesn't); the inevitable guy on a cell phone while walking a labrador retriever; and the pouty woman with pricey athletic wear, performing some sort of new-age exercise which I am not familiar with. Housewives of Huntington?

But just beyond the beach, maybe 100 feet from the shoreline, was someone standing with water up to his waist. His back was turned to me so at first it didn't register, but then I saw the waders and rake, and knew he was digging for clams.

He went about his work rather methodically, tossing the stones and smaller shellfish from each dig back in the water, and keeping one or two. His path seemed predetermined, as he would concentrate his digging in particular areas while completely ignoring others altogether. As he made his way westward, I thought about taking a picture before he was out of view, but  decided against it. I didn't want to intrude on his privacy or interfere with his early morning solitude. He looked at peace with his surroundings and his work and who was I to disrupt that?

And besides, Ms Tai Chi Versace Lady might have felt jilted if she discovered someone else receiving more attention than  she.

Fleet's Cove is one of eight beaches operated and maintained by the Town of Huntington. From late May through early September, a permit is required for visitation. Located at the western end of Northport Bay, it provides a panoramic view of both Eatons and Lloyd Neck which extend northward along the massive Huntington Bay.

Lori at Jarvis House has some great photos from a visit this winter.
Town of Huntington: Permits and Fees

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fire Island Schooner Update

I've been unable to make a return visit to Fire Island for an update on the schooner Le Papillon, which has been beached at Saltaire for over three weeks now.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, Tugster, Saltaire38, and Frank Markus have provided some photos of her from last weekend. With each passing day, she looks less like a beached schooner, and more like a shipwreck.

Tugster: Ashore 4
Saltaire 38: After An April Storm
Frank Markus: Photo Gallery

Soundbounder: Ashore On Fire Island

photo credit: Frank Markus, copyrighted (top); Tugster (bottom)

Le Papillon in better days. I received an email last week from Shirley who knows the boat well. She wrote: "I sailed with her in Moorea some years ago & wondered where in the world the schooner was now. I attached one of the photos I took that year."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"East Egg" Estate Demolished

"I spent my Saturday nights in New York, because those gleaming, dazzling parties of his were with me so vividly that I could still hear the music and the laughter, faint and incessant, from his garden, and the cars going up and down his driveway. One night I did hear a material car there, and saw its lights stop at his front steps. But I didn't investigate. Probably it was some final guest who had been away at the end of the earth and didn't know that the party was over."
F.Scott Fitzgerald; The Great Gatsby

Mansions of the Gilded Age: Lands End, Sands Point Demolished
Old Long Island: The End of Lands End
Gothamist: Faux Gatsby Mansion Faces Demolition
photo credit:  Gary Lawrance; Mansions Of The Gilded Age  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Any Day Now

Sagamore Yacht Club, Oyster Bay

Sagamore Yacht Club: website

Friday, April 15, 2011

Oak Street Beach In West Haven

The West Haven shoreline has an impressive network of beaches and parks providing 3.5 miles of  public coastal access. Many of these spaces are linked by a 1.7 mile walkway, or "urban greenway", which extends from Sandy Point to Bradley Point. Once the site of the Savin Rock Amusement Park, the city displayed remarkable foresight by purchasing this land after the park closed in the 1960's.
One of the more popular destinations is Oak Street Beach, which includes a sandy beach, fishing pier, activity building, and bocce court. Connecting the walkway to the beach and pier is a large deck that has become the focus of a local, heated debate.
For two decades, the deck has been the site of evening dances, complete with disc-jockeys and large audiences. In 2009 however, a woman fell, broke her pelvis, and threatened West Haven with a lawsuit.

According to the New Haven Register:
"The city, armed with a letter from its insurance carrier,..... said the city-owned deck wasn’t made for dancing, needs repair and is unsafe".
The city wants "to move the dances to a concrete pad in the nearby Old Grove Park".
"The Parks and Recreation Commission also wants to require the volunteer DJs to pay $100 a year for permits and may require them to buy their own liability insurance."

I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, but when I stopped by in late November, winter was fast approaching and there were no dancers to be found. Instead I spent a snowy day in January trying to brush up on the issue by forcing myself to sit through the directors cut of Footloose and Dirty Dancing. Research can be painfully exhausting sometimes!

I don't know if the dances have continued, been shut down, or moved to another location. Hopefully a compromise can be reached.
There is, however, one happy outcome from this story. I found a YouTube video from a 2008 dance at Oak Street Beach. It was comforting to learn that there are actually people who exist with worse wardrobes and dance skills than yours truly.

CT Coastal Access Guide: Oak Street Beach

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Riptide Is Ready

Tomorrow marks the opening day for many party fishing boats on Long Island Sound. While some boats head south for the winter, or fish offshore for cod on a limited schedule, the majority of them close down from December through March.
The Riptide, based out of City Island in the Bronx, will be making daily trips for blackfish (tautog), starting Friday. When I stopped by Jorgensen's Landing two weeks ago, the captain and crew were getting her ready for another season of fishing on the Sound.

Riptide III: website
New York: Saltwater Fishing Regulations
Connecticut: Saltwater Fishing Regulations
Soundbounder: Directory of Party Boats Located on Long Island Sound

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gulf Beach Pier

Gulf Beach Pier, Milford; with Charles Island in the distance.

CT Coastal Access Guide: Gulf Beach

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ashore On Fire Island

Tuesday morning, Will from Tugster and I ventured out to Fire Island to get a close-up view of Le Papillion, beached upon the sands of Saltaire. The 48' LOD Colvin "Pinky" schooner had run aground last Thursday while sailing from Baltimore to Harrington, Maine. We had hoped to witness an attempt to pull her free, but the high winds, rough seas, and poor visibility had other plans.

We parked at Robert Moses Beach and made the one-mile hike, east of the lighthouse to where she was beached. Fire Island is an interesting place: the 30-odd mile, barrier beach includes a national seashore, and many stretches are car-free from May through September. A handful of park rangers and off-season contractors were our only interruptions along the sandy service road.

Reaching the hamlet of Kismet, we cut over to the surf and continued east. Even without a grounded schooner, the beach had an inhospitable feel about it. Aside from the cold, windy, and wet conditions, visibility was poor, and Le Papillon did not come into view until we were nearly upon her. High tide and heavy seas kept us far back from the water; her green steel hull shrouded in fog and sea foam, was getting pounded by the surf.

As a teenager, did you ever take your parents' car while they were out of town? Me neither, but I've seen plenty of John Hughes movies. If you replace sports car with schooner, that seems to be what happened in this case. There is a lot of rumor and misinformation floating around, but it appears that while the owner of the vessel was in South America, his 19 year-old son and two friends decided to sail the boat north to Maine.   They narrowly avoided disaster from a light grounding at Absecon Inlet, New Jersey, before landing hard on Fire Island days later. There was no one keeping watch!

Le Papillon has sailed over 80,000 nautical miles, including a circumnavigation, and three passages to Europe.
There is no insurance coverage for this incident*.
As each day passes, her chances of being saved  grow dimmer.

Wikipedia: Fire Island
Tugster: Ashore
Tugster: Ashore 2

* I am not sure whether the boat is uninsured, or if the policy did not cover this particular voyage.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Greenwich Boat Show

The 4th Annual Greenwich In-Water Boat Show is taking place this weekend at Beacon Point Marina in Cos Cob. This is a powerboat show consisting of nine regional dealers and the 16 boat manufacturers they represent. With the sun shining brightly early this morning, I decided to give summer a jump start by paying a visit.
While most shows in the region are held in the fall or winter, this one hopes to capitalize on the spring-fever  boat buyers have this time of year. There are no tents with booths selling electronics and fishing gear; it is the boats themselves that are the main attraction. Billing itself as a "show for serious buyers", the models are available to sea trial throughout the weekend. I know of no other show which offers this.

The show occupies three docks at Beacon Point, so I spent the morning hours kicking the tires (okay, fenders) and trying to familiarize myself with many of the new models. No matter how many boats you may  know about, there are always new ones you discover, and familiar ones which have been changed.
Getting acquainted with a boat, however, can take on many forms. For many of the visitors, sitting aboard seemed to be an important test. Steve Shabet of Darien, along with his son Matthew and daughter Sarah, felt  especially comfortable aboard a Grady White, while others aboard a Chris Craft seemed to already be thinking about summer days afloat.

While most boats at the show are in the 20-32 foot range, there were a few larger ones. I had a nice talk with Paul and Sharon Barton of Portland Boat Works aboard  a 36-foot Tiara they have for sale. This is their first year at the show and I made sure to take a tour of the cabin. Very nice!

Another boat that caught my eye was a World Cat 32. This is a catamaran with twin 300 hp outboards offered by Twin Hull Boats of Black Rock, CT. When an opening became available for a sea trial, I couldn't resist. We cast the lines, made our way down the Mianus River, underneath the bridge, and out into the Sound. Once past the Riverside Yacht Club, we opened her up! Stable and dry, this was the perfect boat for an early April excursion.

The Greenwich Boat Show runs through Sunday, April 3. Admission is free.
Greenwich Boat Show: website

Friday, April 1, 2011

Norwalk River Rowing

Spring comes early for the Norwalk River Rowing Association. Since the second week of March, the team has been practicing on the Norwalk River for their upcoming season which kicks off with the Greenwich Invitational on April 9.
Meanwhile, across the Sound, the first high school sailing regatta of the season was held in Port Jefferson last Saturday.
Yes, I know there is freezing rain in the forecast today, but spring is in the air. You just need to look in the right places.

Shelter Island Reporter: Cold Conditions for First Spring Regatta
Norwalk River Rowing Association: Website
Greenwich Time: Himes, Frantz to Faceoff at Greenwich Invitational
Maritime Rowing Club: Website