THE PANDEMIC SUMMER AT THE YACHT CLUB

Our summer yacht club social and sports life was sharply curtailed because of the covid threat. Members, as usual, pitched in to do what could be done but the effort was driven by our Commodore (sometimes referred to as the Covidore) Laura Darling. Both the May opening and the September annual meeting were conducted via Zoom. One benefit was that at an in-person opening the bars at the club don’t open until the ceremonies are completed. Watching on line from home I noted that our bar was open.

A covid committee was established to review and plan activities compliant with state mandates. Even they met via Zoom, and the frequent trustee and committee meetings were also Zoomed. Our Friday Night Happy Hours were reduced to social distancing with masks under the open air pavilion. Monthly dinner dances were a thing of the past. The junior sailing program went forward under tight controls as did senior sailing and bocce. For pickle ball and tennis the players are already social distanced. Occasional gatherings for drinks or dinners among small groups were also severely limited and the emphasis was on gathering at home.

Please do not misunderstand me; I know that people were terribly sick and dying. Knowing that was a possibility I think we tried to make the best of what we were fortunate to have. With gallows humor I envisioned our summer sinking away. It didn’t.

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Some of our traditional opening ceremonies had been video taped earlier for inclusion in the Zoom telecast. These included, for example, the raising of the flag to the bugler’s call-to-the-colors. As an addition to the ceremonies, however, the Commodore delivered a wreath which was then cast upon our sailing waters in memory of those we lost in the past year. This included two dear friends, past Commodores Phil Flagler and “Tommy’ Thomas, and to add to the stress of the year, Laura’s mother, Audie, long active at the club.

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The annual meeting is always held on Labor Day and includes committee reports, special awards and the election and transfer of flags to incoming officers. Below is a screen shot from the Zoomed annual meeting. Usually there are probably a hundred or more people in this room but it was empty except for these principals and Zoom support.

You’ve read my comments here in the past about the history that pervades this one hundred and eight year old club, and the sense of traditions and continuity but in looking at this image I was struck again by the connections to the past.

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On the left is Commodore Darling whose father, Bill Haig, was commodore in 1973. On the right is Vice-Commodore Caroline Flagler whose father, Bruce Rosborough, was commodore in 1992, and whose father-in-law, Phil Flagler, was commodore in 1974. In between are the succeeding commodore, Bob Kiep and his wife, my daughter, Sigrid Kiep.

Those cases in the back of the room contain several sailing trophies bearing granddaughters’ Gretchen and Madeline’s names so we’ve also started to build the family connection. Elsewhere in this “Commodores Room” along the walls there are framed portraits of past Commodores. Many of them are a part of my contribution to maintaining the history of the club either from making the original photos or restoring water damaged earlier versions.

For the pre-taped conclusion of the annual meeting the flag officer burgees and the American Flag were lowered, attended by several past commodores.

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After the meeting it has been customary to have a receiving line in which members thank the officers for their years of service and wish the new ones well. With covid it wasn’t going to happen because members had been asked not to come inside. So, Sigrid Kiep and Caroline Flagler came up with inviting everyone to the club house for a salute to Laura as she left the building. I am indebted to granddaughter, Maddy Kiep, for capturing this scene which I have titled Laura’s Laudation. The event was moving, especially as Laura’s grandchildren ran to join her. (Sound on?)


Our club has been sustained as has our sense of its history. It’s just going to be remembered as a little different. 

SUMMER ON THE WANE

What? Summer just started. True but I hear my morning coffee guy, Gregg Whiteside at WRTI tell us each day there are a few seconds less daylight.  We hit the Summer Solstice but as soon as that happened and because of the way we revolve around the sun the days began to shorten.  Enjoy the rest of summer.

Before spring ended we had our annual opening of the Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club.  For the first time in its 108 year history, however, it was held on-line via Zoom to all members.  It was a moving event which included casting a wreath upon the waters in memory of members we lost in the past year.

Sadly that included two friends from my shore life and from Medford Leas, both past Commodores, Phil Flagler, 1974, and Tommy Thomas, 1987.  I was asked if I could find Phil and Tom in my archives and I was able to pull them from group photos of a few years ago and to fuzz out the backgrounds.  I wish Photoshop could bring them back.

 

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A symbol of our annual opening has always been our season calendar which is a big-deal production that includes ALL events to be held  i.e. every race, every Happy Hour, every meeting, every gathering of special interest groups such as the book club or the art group, every dance….and it also includes tons of snapshots from last year’s events.  Ahhh, Covid…no events, club closed, what to do.

Well there’s still a calendar but it’s on-line and events are cancelled as necessary.  In lieu of a calendar cover the officer who was responsible for it this year (a little nepotism: my son-in-law, Bob Kiep) asked me if I could come up with something that would fit his vision.  His vision was that of the sun rising once again over our club notwithstanding the pandemic … as it has for so many years .  Well, I’ve been privileged to have done a lot of covers over the years and I had retired but “once again unto the breach.”  Here’s what I eventually produced after submitting several ideas for review.  This was the result of overlaying an older club image on a Beach Haven sunrise.  Details for my colleagues can be seen by visiting “How Was It Done.

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THE LAST OF OUR SPRING ROAD TRIPS

Barb and I took two more road trips to mark the end of spring.  For that final Saturday my fantasy was to drive out onto Sandy Hook and gaze at Sandy Hook Bay and the Verrazano Narrows entrance to the Hudson River and Manhattan.  This would be revisiting waters I cruised a couple of times headed up the Hudson or up the East River and out into Long Island Sound and on to Nantucket.   BUT,  it  was  not  meant  to  be  !!!

I forgot that a lot of people live in North Jersey and that they were anxious to get to the beach.  The roads were parking lots.  So we turned around and headed south along the beach to Seabright and that, too, was a parking lot.  We pulled off briefly to park on the bay side to eat our lunch as boats motored by.  But we were then politely reminded that it was a no-parking-either-side street so we threw in the towel and left.  Over the ten weeks we did these weekends this was our only failure.  Had  I taken any pictures they would simply have shown cars.

Anxious to make up for it and to celebrate our last trip before summer and our shore life we took off again on Sunday for Fortesque.  (I hear the excited intakes of breath.)  The village is located on the Delaware Bay , southwest of Millville and well to the other end of the state from Sandy Hook.  As far as being crowded we won; the year round population is only some 400 souls.

A crowded day at Fortesque.

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We parked at the beach’s edge and enjoyed our sandwiches and people watching.  It was all pretty much social distancing.

If you know south Jersey you’ll spot the white plume beyond the distant horizon and recognize it as the discharge from the cooling tower at the Salem nuclear generating station.

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THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER

The day after the solstice was Father’s Day and I qualify for that so we joined the family for the weekend.  It was a delight to be with everyone including my granddaughters and their “others” ( I don’t know what to call them but they’re nice guys.)  Later that night we enjoyed scenes from the front deck.   The first is a neighbor’s Father’s Day gathering; the second is when friends sailed by later on their way back to their dock after a sunset sail.

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A few days later Sigrid and Gretchen swooped in to the Old Folks Farm and in 45 minutes packed all the stuff I had spent days staging and writing on lists.

The next thing I knew I was back on Grampa’s deck for morning coffee.

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Yes, all of the sun room plants also came down and they, like me, are

VERY HAPPY TO BE HERE!

 

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THE SEASON BEGINS

It begins with all that’s involved.  Onto the island (Long Beach) and I am slowed by the reactivated traffic lights. In all innocence I pull into the Acme to pick up some milk.  The checkout line is half the width of the wide store.  But folks are in a good mood and there is a guide moving us quickly to the next available register.

Eventually at the house, fully de-winterized by Sigrid and Bob and freshly cleaned.  I greet my beloved marshes and bay.

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Saturday brings some ticket punching …. bagels from the Bagel Shack, hello-ing on the deck in front of the club house, check out the logo shirts from the Ship’s Store and even buy one, and what-did-you-forget from Murphy’s Market.

Saturday night is to be the annual club opening ceremony and there is anxiety about the thunderstorm forecast.  The wind is whipping around and the clouds are thickening.  The flag and burgees for the opening ceremony are secured, ready to go.

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The flag officers make a command decision: order the tent, a budget-breaker but prudent.

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The members and guests arrive to greet each other and catch up and renew friendships and revel in the camaraderie.  The weather holds and the ceremonies go forth in sunlight while the rest of us are tent-protected just in case.  Trustees and officers lined up, Fleet Captain Tom Masterson welcomes us to

The ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTH Season !!!

Fleet Chaplain Bob Stevens gives the invocation; the bugler plays the call to colors….

 

and that goes well.

and then he plays the poignant, moving Navy Hymn,

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep,
Its own appointed limits keep.

Oh hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

 

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Commodore Van Saun makes welcome and interesting comments and the lineup of past Commodores is introduced — twenty-five present tonight representing all those years of dedication and service to the club.

They stand according to year of service, the oldest in service here being Commodore John Walton who presided in 1976, forty-two years ago.

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The Chaplain prays a blessing for the fleet and the season … apparently a good prayer as it kept the storm at bay.

 

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The next day, a warm feeling about the evening.  Good, because the day deteriorated to more of a traditional, chilly, overcast Memorial Day.  By afternoon the fog had descended and the island seemed to have drifted away and the gas logs were lit.

A great inaugural weekend.  Now, when does summer begin?