ONE WEEK TO GO

It’s clear that someone removed a week in either July or August because, suddenly, there is now only one week remaining in the summer season.  Shame!  Something else to blame on Sandy?

This past weekend was wonderful;  in the sixties at night, and bright, clear skies and northerly winds in the daytime.  But they’re a sign that someone’s bringing the check soon and I’m overdue for posting some summer snapshots.

Pearl and I still have this kind of a scene during early morning coffee on Grampa’s deck.  Near, in the copse on Mordecai Island is the Great Blue Heron which seeks out that spot for the early morning sun.  Awakening, four and a half miles away, is Tuckerton Beach.

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We continued the post-Sandy cleanup.  My son-in-law, Bob, has worked hammer and tong to replace the wallboard in the flooded first floor, and he has done so with a half-height surface of beach-ey beadboard.  Looks nice.  Outside, Sigrid worked to clean the planting beds and prune the Crepe Myrtles.  We were delighted to see them come into bloom.  I had to protect the rambler roses, however, as the sense was that they should be torn out.  They must have heard that because they yielded beautiful blooms.

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Paddle boarding has become popular both off of the beach and, more so, in the bay waters.  I see these groups and singles going by frequently.  Once there was a solo with his dog on the bow of the board.  Here it looks as though the babysitter didn’t show this morning, or is that the babysitter?  Daughter Sigrid has been out a couple times, making the 1.5 mile circumnavigation of Mordecai Island.

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Storms come in summer, some impressive with scary wind and lightning.

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There were rainy days.  The Black Pearl pirate ship sails daily from Beach Haven into the waters of Little Egg Harbor bay.  This was a sad trip, however, as the heavens opened.  Most of the passengers crowded the poop deck for shelter (please, that’s from the French for stern, la poupe) but some seemed to enjoy being at one with the elements.

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This is the once proud Sultan, fisher of all manner of seafood, sailed by two generations of the Cotov family.   Friends of ours here remember going down to the boatyard on Friday nights and buying fresh lobster right from the boat.  Several years ago, the last to sail her, the late Nick Sr., was hard at work caulking and painting her on the scaffold.  I asked him if he planned to launch her.  He answered’ “Yep.  As soon as the ocean comes cross the island she’ll go in. ”  Well, Sandy came and went and I’m really surprised that Sultan didn’t go with her as there was certainly enough water under her.  Here she continues to age amidst her eclectic setting, including many of her lobster traps.

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On the side of the shop at the landing is this salute to Kate, wife of the first Sultan owner, Sam Cotov.   Kate lived for more than a century, passing away only a few years before Nick, Sr.  Young Nicky who makes his living in part from slip rentals and wholesale bait keeps the window box tended.

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Finally, yes, we do have some great sunsets over Mordecai and distant Tuckerton.  I was sitting in my living room recently when I noticed the warm glow of another production sunset coming through a nearby window.   The stained glass panel is one I described in a May post, and can be seen further under the Stained Glass Work tab at the top of the page.  Anyway, it was a serendipitous happening of warm sunset, structured clouds, reflection from the water, and the panel.

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It’s been a good summer for me.  The kids, their three dogs and their cat left last week to restart the off-island life.   That’s always a melancholy event but….some of them are coming back.  Granddaughter Maddy moved back to her second year at Cornell but granddaughter Gretchen doesn’t leave for UCLA until late in September.  So, the family will be back with me in the coming weeks to share the beauty of fall’s arrival.

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HURRICANE SANDY …..THE BEAT GOES ON

Bobby, Sigrid and I got back down to the house the weekend they first allowed us back on to work.  The sights that greeted us were even more upsetting.   Earlier there had been a monstrous pile in front of the Acme.  That had been disposed of but a new pile created in front of the adjacent theatre.

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At the house we opened up the double doors that lead into the storage area which underlies the whole house.  It was like the worst dream of a high school party aftermath.

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I cannot imagine the violence outside let along in this enclosed space.  How terrifying it would have been had we chosen to stay at the property as some friends of ours did.

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We set to work and hauled most to the curb but some to be cleaned up with Bob’s pressure-washer.

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When we had finished for the day we had not lost nearly as much as others.

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My friends and neighbors Nick, Tim and their mother lost almost everything from their home.  It is being picked up in the picture below.  They are also the owners of the boat landing which was heavily damaged as shown in my previous post.  Nick, however, is beginning to feel a little more positive about getting the boat landing ready for summer.  As to the impact on his wholesale bait business he notes philosophically that the bait shops he supplied are out of business anyway.

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Other friends of ours had two boats stored in their under-house enclosure.  They didn’t get away but they were buried in sand when it was over.  One had a boat under their house which was thrown against the breakway siding and the siding … broke away.  A neighbor had a modest pile of trash at the curb such that the destroyed five foot tall wine cooler stood out.  The streets are all a depressing sight but flags fly here and there.

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My October 14th end-of-summer post concluded with this seagull picture.  I wrote that he was sad that I was leaving.  I now wonder if he was sad becase he somehow knew the terrible events to come.

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For some more snapshots of the storm damage CLICK HERE.

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SANDY AT THE BEACH

Sustained winds of 60 mph, gusts to 89 mph, a storm surge of 12′ to 15′, a direct onslaught on the beach coupled with a nor’easter.  Picture after picture of devastation; house trailers scattered up against each other; beach front homes on stilts or knocked from their pilings; cars embedded in sand piles; boats on the streets; sand dunes moved from the beach into the borough, a 4′ watermark seen in a picture of a neighbor’s house; gas, electric, sewer and water shut off; guards with AK-47s.  What would we find?

With urgency and anxiety Bobby and I set off at 6AM Monday morning.  We reached the backup at 7, ten miles from the island.

The wait begins.

The orders were clear:  No one on the island without proof of ownership.  Bob and I speculated that they would give way in the face of such a backup and they finally did.  Still, it was 10 AM before we reached the house, and that only after getting through another armed roadblock.

At the house  the 4′ waterline, someone’s trash can box, some 6″x6″ timbers that held up the corner of a neighbor’s garden, a 12′ wooden boat which, if not claimed, will become a landscaping highlight in front of our house.  The plants are all destroyed and there is a layer of dried gray mud over everything.

I struggle to open the back door; the door lock is filled with mud.  Opened, there is then  the profound comfort of light.  The electricity has returned to beat back the physical and psychological darkness.  But it unveils the chaos from four feet of turbulent, rushing water in the ground level enclosure, a storage and hang-out area:  The sofa and chairs intended for the kids’ TV area; the shelving; the odd pieces of wood; the tools; the Hollytone and the cat litter; the bicycles stored for the winter.

The elevator pit is 8″ below grade and we could see that it was filled with water.  We raised the elevator to the next floor and heard the water running from it down into the pit.  But, it rose. 

We then began a room by room, window by window inspection and found that we had been blessed with no breaches.  A final trip to the roof deck revealed no shingles missing.  I was fortunate; most others weren’t.  On my street there are now homeless families.  There is yet no water to wash away the scum; there is no gas with which to heat away the dampness and the mold; there is no balm for the loss of a lifetime of accumulation. 

As well, the destruction of a means of making a living is daunting.  The old boat landing at the end of our street has been heavily damaged.  They have looked to the slip rentals to help cover its costs, and Nick, Jr. uses it as a base for his bait collection business.  Barely breakeven before the storm, what is its future?

Amongst those who flock here for the summer, the Purple Martins may also find less housing next season.

Bob was able to find his boat, still strapped to its trailer, just in another part of the boatyard where the surge had carried it, trailer and all. 

The destruction is overwhelming just in the parts of the island which we saw: Holgate, next to us and the last community south, was still closed because the damage made it too dangerous to enter.  Driving up and down the main boulevard I saw house after house with their possessions stacked at the curb like some island-wide garage sale.  Here and there is the occasional boat sitting on someone’s lawn, no doubt chagrined to be there.

Finally, I had to go look at my beach, home of so many pleasant days (and naps).  We had to cross the yellow caution tape but the walkway was still there as were the stairs. 

Though much of the dunes had been taken the beach will be there to draw us back again. 

I have posted earlier about the 100 years of the local yacht club and I have said to others that this hundred-year flood did not wash away those hundred years of pleasant summers.  I am greatly saddened by the losses and stress of my friends and the community and for their future burdens.  Today another great storm threatens us, this time without many of the dunes to protect us against another surge.   Again even the warnings batter us … coastal flooding … wind … storm surge … rain, and as if we hadn’t had enough, now snow and ice.

But, the sun rose after Sandy and it will rise again Friday and, with great difficulty,  life will resume.

SUMMER SNAPSHOTS II

Thunder, lightning and rain for wakeup coffee on Grampa’s deck.  One stroke so close that I became even more bald.  Imagine!

 

But, of course, most of summer’s memories are, fortunately,  like this one.

Last Sunday there was the annual Omelette Breakfast served by the kids.  This is always followed by races of the kids’ boats with their mothers at the helm, followed by a fathers’ race.  The parents usually overflow the kid-sized Opti Prams.  It always makes me think of that man from Boston who had a little Austin….

A week ago we hosted the annual Downbay Regatta in which boats from several clubs along the Jersey shore come down here to compete.  Here’s a Little Egg E-sloop,  LE37,  approaching the mark to turn.  Granddaughter Gretchen seen here giving me the Hi was crewing for the owner and lovin’ it.

A SUMMER STORM

It came on quickly last evening.  It came from the west across the bay at about 7:30, this huge, fearsome, roiling mass of cloud, boiling over us and finally unleashing a drenching downpour.

Afterward, a calming, warming beauty.  Oh, it’s so good to be back on the water again.

HURRICANE EARL

The skies were heavily overcast as Earl proceeded up the coast south of us.  The September arrival Sanderlings were skittering about, enjoying whatever particles each wave washed up and deposited on the beach.

Then the wind and the sea became more aggressive, more serious.

And the waves darker, bigger, more frequent.

By twilight, although a 20 knot wind continued, the clouds in the west had broken apart to unveil the promise of tomorrow’s sun.  Click on the picture for a panoramic view.

 

And, indeed, the following morning was beautiful.