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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SUMMER SCENES

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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

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

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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.

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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.*

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*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.

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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?

DOWNBAY 2016

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.

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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.

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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 … “

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Will somebody let go the bow line?

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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.

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

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Finally, they begin their tow to the sailing grounds.

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

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

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DOWNBAY REGATTA 2013

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.

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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.

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CALENDAR ART

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.