August is getting ready to follow July; I can feel it.  Aside from Irene it was a pleasant time.  Even though I expected Irene to slam us we escaped with minimal damage.  The eye touched Jersey about five miles from my house.  My damage?  One half of a shingle; no water on my utilities/storage floor with its elevation of 4.7 feet.  I live as far from the beach as I did when a 140 mph hurricane (life was simpler then; no storm names) brushed Margate in 1944.  During that storm I watched room-sized sections of boardwalk float by the house and became a believer.

Anyway, August is heading out.  The morning light is warmer on the spartina grass, emphasizing its fall shades of amber-brown.  This year’s flock of almost 200 Purple Martins left about three weeks ago and Nick’s son, Nicky, lowered the houses before Irene. 


 Below is the annual August round-Mordecai-Island trophy race for kids.  We see this and we sigh, “Summer’s almost over.”  I’ve enjoyed seeing more and more paddle-boarders out this summer.  I missed one earlier this month who was out there with his dog on the board!?!

Sorry ladies. Those hulls are not allowed in this race.

Of course we had a couple other routine August storms.  It’s nice sitting on the deck under the rotunda roof and hearing the rain patter above.  Even nicer to see the promise that sometimes shows up.

Tomorrow's coming.

There was sadness in August, as well.  I lost my friend, Nick Cotov, a second generation fisherman.  He operated the boat landing at the foot of my street where we’ve kept our boats since we moved here.  He and his father had commercially lobstered from here and also brought in other fresh fish from off shore.   Our friends speak of going there on a Friday night in the 50’s and buying fresh lobsters.

Cotov's Boat Landing

For Nick in retirement it was a place to come to be back by the water, to build stuff, to work on the restoration of Sultan, the family fishing boat, to inspect for tenants at the Osprey rack across the thorofare from his place, or just to get away from it all. 

Rack for rent. Nick's phone number on the sign.

Nick was a solid citizen, a great guy, and a genuine local.  His father had become known as Captain Bly and Nick cheerfully adopted the title.  My first exposure to his style was our first New Year’s Eve here.  As night descended I saw the Sultan emerge all gussied up for Christmas.

Sultan at Christmas

Nick deserves more coverage than this post can provide.  There are some great stories.  I’m sad that there’s an empty chair there now.

An empty chair.


August brings the annual Downbay Regatta on Little Egg Harbor bay.  Dozens of sail boats from clubs along the middle and north Jersey coast as far as Bay Head arrive to participate in what is the most exciting club weekend of the summer.

Downbay Dawn

Participating hulls include cat boats, lightnings, E-scows and M-scows but the annual stars of the show are the handsome A-Cats.  Seven of the thirteen on Barnegat Bay were towed in for this year’s event.

A catboat is a characterized by a single mast carried well forward in the bow of the boat, a centerboard, a long boom  providing plenty of sail, a wide beam approximately half the length of the boat, a single sail, and a “barndoor” rudder.  Evolving in the late 19th century they were used for fishing and transport in the coastal waters around Cape Cod, Narragansett Bay, New York and New Jersey.  Their shallow draft was particularly good for Barnegat Bay waters and, with their wide hulls providing lots of carriage space,  they proved to be a great work and transportation boat. The A designation was created in 1923 for a larger recreational boat design that would carry five to ten people during racing.

Best not be in the way!

They are a formidable sight headed downwind.

But the weekend is noted also for the variety of design classes, all racing simultaneously within their class on the broad sailing grounds of Litte Egg Harbor Bay.  It’s amazing that there aren’t more collisions.

Who's got the right of way?


A Cats and E Scows

 They’re also great for peaceful twilight sails.

For some more pictures of the races click here.


July and I had been getting along pretty well.  Oh I know there were the occasional thunder storms and a couple days of fog and some stinky hot days.  But all in all we had a lot of good days together.  I don’t know what I said or did that upset things.  I thought we had pretty well bonded.  Then the next thing I know, July snuck out of town late last night without saying goodbye to anyone.  Oh, well, I’m told it’ll be back next year.  Meanwhile it left some pleasant memories.

The last fishing pier piling.

In my ten years in Beach Haven there have always been three pilings here on the beach, left over from the 1896 fishing pier that was destroyed in the 1944 hurricane.  They were a nice setting around which to photograph family groups.  We just have to photograph smaller families now.

Interclub Races

Last week, kids from other sailing clubs on the island gathered at our club for interclub competitions.  Boats included Optis, Lasers, 420’s and a scattering of sunfish.  Talk about herding cats.

Elvis summers at Beach Haven

The weekend before we had a party on the dock to raise funds for the preservation of nearby Mordecai Island which protects about a third of Beach Haven.  Elvis showed up  to entertain the crowd, and he did a good job.

Sailing behind Mordecai Island.

 A typical July twilight blessing. 

I’ll miss July.