Aug 30, 2008

Small Reach Regatta

This photo of Hog Island courtesy of Douglas Oeller.

Sponsored by Wooden Boat Magazine, and organized by senior editor Tom Jackson, the third annual Small Reach (as it is affectionately known) was a huge success! Not really a regatta at all, but closer in spirit to the European raids, this year's event attracted over fifty traditionally inspired and mostly hand-built small craft. Attendance is by application only, and we (myself, my crab skiff Cricket, and crew Holly) were happy to have been included. Situated on a beautiful old former dairy farm in Maine, Wooden Boat's spectacular property includes a floating dock and several hundred feet of waterfront, plus a large mooring field on Eggemoggin Reach, approximately east of Deer Isle, and southwest of Mt. Desert Island. Camping was generously provided free of charge in the old pasture and apple orchard overlooking the reach.

A traditionally built Alfjords Faering owned by Ben Fuller.

Each morning in the pole barn, Tom Jackson would lay out the day's course and give us an idea of what sort of conditions we might expect. It is up to each skipper to familiarize him or herself with the course, and the prudent mariner will plot a few quick compass bearings and make a note of distances to be covered. Navigation is all line of sight... until the fog rolls in! It is amazing how quickly that can happen in Maine, and how short the field of view can become.

All boats were required to have a vhf radio, the appropriate charts, a compass, and a fog horn. We on Cricket were happy that we complied.

A typical course might take us around several islands, landing on one for a rendezvous and lunch (photo op), then to another location before turning home.

A beautiful Washington County (Maine) Peapod.

There were several outboard powered escort vessels in constant radio contact with the fleet, ready to lend a hand if the need should arise. In the evening, most of us chose to anchor our boats out in the mooring field to avoid having to haul and re-launch from the steep ramp. I learned several things about Cricket over the weekend. For one thing, she rows beautifully. I was afraid that all of those double-ended beachboats and peapods would leave us behind if we were forced to row, but not so! We rowed several miles all told, maintaining a very easy 2 mph speed, and stayed in position with the fleet.

Cricket, with Holly at the helm.

Also, she rode to her anchor quite well. She has been known to sail around it, but with plenty of scope, she sat happy as a duck. Some folks made fun of my extra heavy anchor and chain, but I slept well at night. Launch service was provided by the saltiest outboard semi-dory I've ever seen, complete with bow pudding and yard dog. John, the operator of Fetch, was an amazing boat handler, and atypically, not grumpy or taciturn at all (and neither was the dog)!

John, with Fetch and Yard Dog.

For a complete story and more pictures, visit my own blog here.

Aug 29, 2008

Water Quality Improves this Summer

This is the chart for last summer:
from May 26, 2007 till Sept.1,2007.
Note that on July 21 the Bacteria Count
was 123 parts per 100 mL, thus closing
Gerritsen Beach and other Beaches in Brooklyn
for that week.
Also look at Aug. 25. the count was 99 per 100 mL, also causing a beach closing. These are days that make the water quite ugly.

This is the chart for the water for Summer 2008.
Note that only once did the bacteria count go to 99,
May 31. That was a day the Brooklyn beaches
closed due to high bacteria count.
If the weather continues to be rain free, we can expect
clean water for the rest of the summer. Things are

What these numbers mean:

Enterococci levels determine beach water quality. Studies conducted by EPA demonstrate that for marine waters, enterococci are best suited for predicting the presence of pathogens that cause illness. Bathing beach water quality must be in accordance with the following water quality standard for marine water beaches: Enterococci geometric mean shall not exceed 35 per 100 ml for a series of five or more samples collected during a 30-day period. The geometric mean of 35 per 100 ml is used to determine the long-term safety of a recreational beach for swimming, with an associated risk level of 1.9% (e.g., 19 illnesses per 1000 swimmers). Single Day Enterococcus Results are obtained during one sampling day. A health risk may be present when Single Day Enterococcus Results are greater than 104 per 100ml.

(This information is from the NYC Dept. of Health and can be seen at the following website:click here)

Aug 27, 2008

Aug 20, 2008

Aug 18, 2008

American Pelecinid, and other North Fork highlights!

Just one of the interesting sights of a long weekend on Long Island's North Fork. If you ever see her or one like her, don't worry, she's harmless (unless you're a grub)!

Other highlights - the Bug Lighthouse (sorry, no pix!), a Shelter Island circumnavigation, breakfast at that notorious Harley hangout, Bruce's Cheese Emporium just enough time playing in the standing waves at Orient Point to make me reallyreallyreally want to go back for a longer session. And farm stands. I have to congratulate the farm stand operators of the North Fork on their perfection of reverse-ATM force field technology - it is amazing the way the money magically flies from urban pockets when confronted with all that lucious produce!

Oh, and great company. Photo trip report in process - this is but a teaser!

Aug 4, 2008

Trip Report, Mid-July open paddle with Don Riepe

Here are some more pictures from my Sebago weekend a couple of weekends ago. These were from one of our Open Paddles – I mostly don’t lead these because I work hard, I can get insomnia when I’m stressed (and this has been a stressful year in a couple of ways), and I’m generally not a morning person. Absence of alarm clock noise is a key feature in my personal concept of “relaxing weekend”. However, Sebago does 2 of these every week, and we’ve got a stalwart member who does the thankless task of making sure each & every one has a sufficient number of qualified leaders. This particular weekend, we were getting pretty close to the day, B’s pleas were getting more plaintive, and for once I had no excuse other than pure laziness so I finally said I’d do it – but I also mentioned that I’d need some good help because I haven’t done this this year.

Who I got was Minh (our fleet captain, knows the boats better than just about anybody, I breathed a huge sigh of relief when he volunteered, a big part of making a beginner trip go well is getting the right people in the right boats, and when you’ve got the fleet captain on your team, well, that’s suddenly not such a worry!) and Prof. M. – a very nice team & a good one to work with, I may have been the official trip leader but it felt like a cooperating team of equals.

This was a fun one, we had Don Riepe, the founder of our regional branch of the American Littoral Society & the society’s official Jamaica Bay Guardian as our guest speaker. He knows an amazing amount about the ecology of the bay.

We had calm conditions & a pretty evenly-matched group & I think everyone had a pleasant day. We took the group to the nearby salt marsh, a nice destination for a beginner group & a good spot for a talk about salt marshes, shellfish, bird life & any number of other items.

Don told us lots (here, he’s talking about oysters & clams).

Birder Prof. M identified a number of birds for us, as well. That's her behind the field glasses. I think she's looking for the marsh wren she heard singing.

Entertaining moment in the salt marsh – Prof M. & I were standing next to the little outlet channel of the marsh, looking at the clear flowing water. She said “If I were a kid, I’d have to jump in & float that”. I, of course, had been looking at the water & thinking “Gee, it’s hot, I want to jump in & float that”, so that was just the extra impetus I needed. In I went, classic feet-first moving water float down ‘til I ran aground. Felt GOOD. A number of people followed my lead!

This went on for a little while. Nice activity for a hot day!

We call this area the "Horse Beach" because it's frequented by people out of a nearby stable. I would love to do this sometime (it is open to the public), but I've heard the people there aren't very nice, and they have, in the past, tried to tell kayakers they aren't allowed to land here. But it still looks like fun.

The leader told the group "Keep their heads up, don't let them roll!" Wonder if they ever bring them out bareback when it's hot & let them have a good cool-down...

All in all, an awfully nice way to spend a hot morning, even if it did involve an alarm clock going off.

The nap in the hammock made up for that, too

Like to join one of these open paddles? No experience required, just check out the basic instructions on the Sebago Canoe Club website!

Oh, hey, and for those for whom Canarsie is a trek - how about free paddling in the Brooklyn Bridge Park? Not through Sebago, this was one of those random reroutes of a train of thought, but seems like a spectacular location to try things out (just don't go chasing waterfalls, OK ;D).

cross-posted at Frogma

Aug 2, 2008

Is the Water Actually Fine?

Quotes from NY Times article:

“Storm water is actually the largest cause of beach closings and advisories in the United States,” said Nancy Stoner, director of the council’s clean water project. “After a heavy rainfall, if the pipes are discharging on the beach, you could be swimming in all kinds of contaminants and pollutants that are not good for you in the long run.”

THERE is also a push to develop a newer testing standard, since the current one hasn’t been updated in 20 years, as well as for studies to determine how often beachgoers actually get sick from contaminated water.

“It’s not an exact science,” Mr. Grumbles said of monitoring the health effects of polluted beach water. But he cited gastrointestinal problems, rashes, and ear, nose and throat infections as some of the illnesses that can result.

for the full article, click here