Here’s how I knew it was August.  Our local “everything” store at the shore carries housewares to hardware to seasonal clothing.  As the season opens they advertise 20% off on the clothing; with July it becomes 30%, and when I drove by on August 1st, sure enough it was 40%.  So, got to get some summer scenes into a blog post.

The official opening, the summer solstice, offered a grand view of the Black Pearl returning from her evening cruise.  A good start.


Although it was not officially summer at the time I enjoyed a Philadelphia street fair, the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts.  Such fairs are wonderful for me.  I think it’s great to see so many people and families out enjoying the scenes and the activities.  When else would you find a pool and a bubbling fountain in the middle of south Broad Street?  Billy Penn remained sanguine above it all.


Also above it all Yannick Nézet-Séguin, wind blown but unfazed outside of The Kimmel Center urged his players on to ever great glory.  Makes me wish the season had already begun especially since my season tickets arrived last week, another sign of August.


From Broad Street back to the shore.  I photographed a couple of these at twilight.  In better light one was seen to be a yellow crowned night heron and the other, a juvenile heron of some sort.  I liked backing it up with the clouds, and the juxtaposition of the tree branches.


I’ve lived seasonally on, over, or next to the bay (what the forecasters call the back bays) since I was about five.  In the early years that would have been in boat houses on pilings in Ventnor, NJ.  Later in life we enjoyed an Ocean City, NJ bay front condo for about twenty years.  In those years a summer highlight was the Night In Venice boat parade.  For most of its life the tradition was to decorate one’s boat with lights and anything else that fit the theme, and to add music or other entertainment.  I can recall one yacht that featured both the Eagles’ Cheerleaders and the Union League Mens’ Chorus.  Homeowners along the parade route would respond with their own elaborate decorations, and it was a happening.  Then there was a terrible boating accident one night and it was determined that thenceforth the parade would be conducted in daylight.  Safer, yes, but also the “light” was gone.

We were privileged to visit Night In Venice again this year, as guests of old friends.  A small group of other guests comprised grown-up Margaters and Longporters and the nostalgia was pretty thick.  The parade?  Oh, yeah, there was one but, you know, the “light” was gone.  I was, however, pleased with this scene of Miss Night In Venice waving at us as she passed by.  (It wasn’t dark yet;  about 7:30, but shooting into the sun’s reflection caused a high shutter speed and so the appearance of dark.)


Then we and others awaited darkness as fireworks had been promised.  The fireworks barge can be seen anchored at left.


Darkness did arrive and we were enchanted by the show.  Yes, some of the “light” had returned.


From a Night In Venice we segue to a day in Beach Haven.  We’ve just celebrated the annual Downbay Regatta.  This is a summer event at which sailboats from the upper Jersey coast gather for competitive partying and racing at the Little Egg Harbor Yacht club and its adjacent sailing waters.  The classes include A-cats, B-cats, Lightnings, and E-scows.  Saturday was a washout because of the scattered storms.  They all sailed out but were recalled before even one race.  Sunday made up for it as a glorious day.




Even for just watching it was…

“A Beautiful Day in Beach Haven” – Walter Smedley

Sailing enthusiast, Annapolis faculty member, naval architect, Past Commodore (1967) and club stalwart.*


*Corrected:  Walter did not graduate from Annapolis as this post originally stated.  Rather, it was Princeton and he subsequently was commissioned into the U.S. Navy and served on the Annapolis faculty for the duration of W.W. II.





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.


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.


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


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


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!



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.


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



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?


The Downbay Regatta is an annual summer highlight at Beach Haven’s Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club.   A many-yeared tradition, sailboats come “down-bay” from several other yacht clubs on Barnegat Bay to compete in their classes, i.e. A-Cats, B-Cats, E-Scows and Lightnings.  It is always colorful, always a weekend of camaraderie,  of renewing friendships, of hard-fought races, and not a little partying.  Although I had retired as the club photographer, my camera wanted to go take a look; what could I do?

The weekend opened bright, hot, and windy with some question as to whether there might be too much wind.  That was a new concept for a power-boater like me … too much wind to sail?!? Anyway, a great start for the weekend.  Here’s the traditional lineup of the romantic A-Cats, with two more on moorings out in the thorofare.



On the dock were the colorful “marks and pins” which are taken out to the sailing grounds and moored to mark the turning points of the various courses.



The harbor horn sounds … a kind of mount-up signal which triggers all kinds of boarding, and sail raising activity, some of it frenetic.  I heard lots of “Pull that line …. Jack, don’t tie us up … The sail’s caught … Can we get a tow … “



Will somebody let go the bow line?



Third generation Little-Egger Sam Flagler was invited to skipper the A-Cat, Ghost. This boat was generously donated last year to the NJ Maritime Museum in Beach Haven.  (A splendid museum, WELL worth a visit.)  The boat is “mothered” by past yacht club commodore John Coyle, an inveterate supporter of lots of good things for Beach Haven and the island and the area (e.g. the Tuckerton Seaport Museum.)  Anyhow, Sam invited my granddaughter, Gretchen, to crew with him.  They’ve been sailing buddies since their learning days in the Junior Sailing program.  Here they are as young teenagers in the 2008 Quill-McCarty race around Mordecai Island.



And, eight years later, boarding Ghost for the races.



Finally, they begin their tow to the sailing grounds.



 Torch decides to sail her way out, dragging her reflection behind her.




Finally, a Lensbaby view of the morning dock and preparation.




The second weekend of August brings the annual invitational Downbay Regatta to the sailing grounds of Little Egg Harbor Bay behind Long Beach Island.  This always exciting premier sailing and social event has been hosted by the Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club for many years.

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Guest clubs are from along the upper Barnegat Bay sailing area, ranging from Island Heights to Bayhead.  There is a social overlay but there’s also a day and a half of hard, competitive sailing amongst four fleets, the large A-cats, the more traditional B-cats, the sleek, racy E-scows, and the supple Lightnings.  Above is a group of E-scows, spinnakers out and rails in the water.  It is an eye-festival of color and motion.

When the scows are approaching their marks it can become dangerously crowded.

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Here is some crude video to give you a sense of the sound and motion of the scene.  Don’t be too harsh on me; I was shooting from my inner tube.


For many the queens of the regatta are the big A-cats.  These are 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.  Here are four of the five that joined us this year, Spy, Spyder,  Torch and Vapor.  They’re dramatic boats under sail, especially when headed downwind.

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A backbone fleet of our club is that of the more traditional catboats, sometimes referred to as B-cats.  They’re smaller but can be handled by one for a pleasant evening sail.  Here, four of them are about to make their turn at the mark.

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Another fleet that was well represented was that of the Lightning class.  Handsome, here, as they race downwind with their colorful spinnakers.

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Our family participated again this year.  Last year granddaughter Gretchen crewed on one of the E-scows.  This year she and granddaughter Maddie sailed a friend’s catboat with their friend and sailing colleague Sam as captain .

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Also, daughter Sigrid got to ride on one of the A-cats, Spyder, captained by a high school friend, Tim. who invited her to fill in on Sunday.  That’s Tim on the bow and Sigrid on the rail at his left.  An interesting series of pictures on the construction of Spyder can be seen by clicking here.

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For some more snapshots of the weekend, click here.



The Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club held its commissioning ceremonies Memorial Day weekend to officially open the season.  I’ve reported on this before (May 2009) as it is an important event for me.  It includes the flag raising and pledge of allegiance, the blessing of the club’s season and of its fleet, the introduction of  past Commodores (twenty-two present, the oldest from forty-five years ago), a moment of remembrance for deceased members, and a cornet solo of the Navy hymn.  This is a celebration that has been going on in one way or another for 99 years at a club house that is only four years younger.  As Tevye would say, “Tradition!!”

But, it’s not all serious; the socializing after the ceremonies (How was your winter?) has been referred to as “Drink your dues night.”

It’s the beginning of a busy season of partying, competitive sailing, tennis, fishing, and even bocce, and the book club, the weekly bridge group, the art group, Happy Hours, a summer art show, various community benefits, a full junior sailing program culminating in the omlette breakfast, and, and …..     All of this is enumerated day by day in the annual club calendar, looked forward to and delivered to members at the club opening.  In addition to the day to day schedules it’s filled with snapshots from the past season, plus formal group shots of the past commodores, the trustees, and the year’s  officers  which I take at the end of the previous season. 

In addition, in my ten years of membership I have been privileged to have my work selected for four calendar covers.  I consider it an honor and I am pleased to make some contribution to the club.  Here are my four covers.

This view was taken as we approached the clubhouse one night after a twilight sail.


Followers of this journal will recognize this image, also captured during a twilight sail a few years ago.



A great waterfront shot of the clubhouse with the wind whipping members’ state’s flags, and a bright puffy-cloud sky to set the tone for the 2006 season.


For the 2005 calendar the editor (an annual task for that year’s vice-commodore) wanted to underscore the sense of tradition which the club honors.  He chose this opening ceremony shot  from 2004.