Saturday, July 30, 2011

Meanwhile, back on Mirror Lake...

Ed Silvers grew up in Browns Mills, NJ in the 1940s and '50s.  You can see him in the group photo of awards winners from Mirror Lake which I posted earlier.  Ed currently lives in the British Virgin Islands and sent me the following old photos of him sailing his Ventnor Moth, Nr 987, named LENED, a contraction of his and his brother's and mother's first names.   These photos are undated but according to the old Moth Class records, Ed raced this boat from 1948 through the 1951 racing season.  After the 1951 racing season the boat was sold on to new owners who allowed LENED to winter unprotected on the beach.  Ed assumes the boat is long gone but perhaps someone will see these pictures and connect the dots between them and an old Moth Boat sitting in a barn.  Your diarist always hopes for a happy ending.

Here Ed is captured mid-way through a tack from starboard to port.  The iconic Mills Browns town water tank which shows up in many old photos from Mirror Lake can clearly be seen here.  Also note that Ed has the dagger board raised slightly even though he's going upwind. Racing at Mirror Lake rewarded those with "local knowledge" in that there were (probably still are) numerous tree stumps lurking in various places throughout the lake bed!  Back when I bought my Dorr Willey-built Moth BLONDIE from a Browns Mills family I received both the original, full length dagger board which Dorr had made plus a locally produced Mirror Lake "shortie" board which I still have kicking around in the garage--a silent testament to those hidden tree stumps!  Remember to click on the photo to enlarge it for better viewing.
Tack completed, Ed sails way from the photographer.  The wind appears to be in the sub 10 knot range but anyone who has sailed on lakes knows just how fluky the wind can be: drifting one moment, hiking hard the next as one passes between the wind shadows cast by shoreline trees, etc.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A lovely bit of aged Egyptian cotton

William "Buddy" Enos was the owner and chief sailmaker of East Coast Sailmakers back in the 1950s.  Many of the Moth Boat racers at Miami Yacht Club used Buddy's sails.  This particular one was sent to me by Clayton Fuller, the man who shot the 8mm film clip of racing in the early days at MYC that I featured on this blog earlier.
I found this regatta measurer's mark in the tack of the sail.  As you can see it reads "OK BE 7/54"  I wonder if the BE is Buddy Enos.  I assume the date is the World Championship regatta for the year 1954, the year which Warren Bailey won in his boat MACH ONE and Bill Lee sailed my boat MINT to fifth place.  If so, it's interesting that the man who made this sail also approved it as measuring legal!  Those were truly simpler times!
Yes, this sail has some rust stains and small tears but is apart from that is in remarkably good condition for being 57 years old.  I wonder what is the best way to remove the rust stains?  If anyone has suggestions please leave a comment.  Also, does anyone have a good source for 4 or 5 oz Egyptian cotton sail cloth for repairs to small boat sails?
This sail was the one Clayton's brother Charlie used in the 8mm movie.  Modern synthetic sail "cloths" are far better in many ways but they can't beat the creamy beauty of Egyptian cotton.
Buddy's version of the circle-M Moth insignia. Sadly Buddy passed away in July of 2000.  Here's a seed pod to carry around in your pocket:  Will any of your work survive well beyond your death and be worthy of preservation?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Stone Harbor disappoints but the Cape May-Lewes Ferry makes up for it.

After spending most of Saturday morning cleaning house, diaristwoman and I headed down beach to the town of Stone Harbor to visit the local town museum and perhaps catch up with a Moth Boat rumored to be on display.

We rowed the mightly Volvo S60 down the Garden State Parkway against a prodigious armada of weekend traffic and then banged the corner that leads cars over the tidemarsh causeway to the barrier island which Stone harbor shares with the town of Avalon.  These two towns have always had a "tonier" (might be a word)  reputation than the "lesser" beach communities like Brigantine and Sea Isle City but take it from me, that's just talk...

The Museum, located at 325 93rd St., seemed quiet for a busy summer Saturday.  Too quiet...  Obviously your diarist should have phoned ahead but who knew they'd take a holiday on a sunny weekend day when the town was heaving with potential visitors?

Oh Bother!  What's all this then?!

We huffed off a bit disappointed (as least some of us) and drifted over the main shopping district a couple blocks away for a bit of "shopping therapy".  Diaristwoman restrained her purchases to a few scones at a bakery and after a brief look-see in the pricy clothing shops we headed back to the car.  We got on the road and after a quick peek at the time realized that we might catch the 4:30 boat to Lewes, Delaware instead of driving back north to the Delaware Memorial Bridge at Wilmington, our more usual way back to Maryland.  Stone Harbor isn't that far from the Cape May-Lewes Ferry terminal.  When we came to this decision the clock read 4:12 and the boat was a dozen miles away and so enticingly within reach if we put a stick to our steed.  Nothing like a challenge says I.  We went for it and I figured we had things well in hand since it was only 4:20 or so by the time we got to the Parkway exit for the ferry dock.  The last few miles proved to be a nail-biter as we hit absolutely every red traffic light between the Parkway and the dock and in between those crawled behind ponderous camper-caravans moving at what seemed a snail's pace!  We pulled into the pay booth just as the ferry hooted its horn to back down the slip but Mr. Toll Taker radioed over and held the boat a minute or so while money was hastily exchanged for tickets and we and one more car JUST got on board as the gangway was pulled away!

We were the next to last car to catch this boat!

Our boat was the MV (Motor Vessel) New Jersey, one of several boats which ply the 17 miles across Delaware Bay between Cape May, NJ and Lewes, DE.  On a good day the trip across takes an hour and ten minutes.  Info about the fleet of boats and the history of the CMLF can be found here:

As we were leaving the MV Delaware was making her approach.
One of the last sights as one leaves the New Jersey shore is Cape May Lighthouse.  The 157 foot tower is still used as an aid to navigation.
A half dozen ships on the horizon--a U-boat skipper's dream.  Click on the photo for a better look.
All too soon we passed the first of two breakwater towers that mark the Delaware side of the bay.  This white one is still functional. Click for a better look.
The red breakwater tower was restored back in the '90s but is no longer in use.
We passed this sandy strand just before the Captain called for drivers to return to their cars.
The tan colored tower to the right of this photo is a WW II look-out and gunnery fire control tower.  There were over a dozen of these towers built on the Delaware side and at least one on the Cape May side of the bay to keep watch for U-boats.  The towers were designed to last for about 20 years.  The survivors are now over 65 years old--they built 'em good back then!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Beach Walk to the south end jetty.

Today I'm alternating between watching the Tour de France on tv and sanding down the decks on a Moth boat.  Neither activity is all that photogenic.  So instead of speculating on whether or not Thor Hushovd will retain the yellow jersey until the first big mountain stage this coming Thursday, or whether or not my impending varnish job will turn out OK we'll take a little walk to the rock jetty at the very south end of the island of Brigantine.

From my house in the middle of the island to the south end is a walk of about two and half miles, so our walk down and back will be around five miles.  A nice distance that calls for a beer as a reward.
The tide was coming in and the life guards were busy moving their surf boats to higher ground.
 I encountered this American Oystercatcher (Haemaptopus palliatus).  These birds range from New England to north Florida but this is the first one I've spotted in several years of walking this beach.  Click on the photo to enlarge the image.
The Atlantic City skyline from 2.5 miles away.  AC is across Absecon inlet from Brigantine.  Atlantic City shares Absecon Island with the cities of Ventnor, Margate and Longport.  Brigantine on the other hand is the only town on our barrier island.  It's a little hazy today, but that's OK--it keeps the heat down.
I'm a fast walker.  We're here at the jetty.  People like to fish off this pile of rocks.  There must be thousands of hooks and bits of fishing tackle  snagged on the submerged rocks which are just off the jetty and hidden from view.  Looking out to sea, the next bit of land is Portugal.
This dredge is one of two currently working to remove sandbars that were created by storms last winter.  The bridge in the background is the causeway bridge that spans Absecon Inlet which separates AC and Brigantine.  When I was growing up, the bridge was a low, draw bridge.  The high, fixed bridge seen here replaced the old one in the mid-1970s.  The bay just to the west of the bridge is called Man Killer Bay.  Why "Man Killer Bay"?  The current that sweeps into this inlet moves at over six knots during full flood.  Many have tried to swim against the tide and many have failed.
Here's the dredge working the ocean side of the inlet.
This tug was busy taking workers to and from the dredges.
Looking back at Brigantine.  If you click on this pix you can just about see the Brigantine Hotel way up beach.  The Hotel is one of the surviving buildings from the Island Development Company's 1927 attempt to make a killing selling lots on the island.  They spent a ton of money building the hotel, a country club, and cluster of fancy houses and laid out the main roads and streets, just two years before the great depression, in an attempt to lurk people from Philadelphia and New York City to invest in island property.  I've been told that during the depression, which started in 1929, one could have purchased just about any lot on the island for the back taxes--which in those days were only $7.00 per year, but people still defaulted.  How things have changed...

Zooming in a bit.  There were a fair number of surfers this day.

Zooming across the inlet we can see the old lighthouse at the north end of AC, now dwarfed by high rise apartments and casinos.  Believe it or not, Absecon lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey and third tallest in the nation.  It was built in 1857.
The Water Club is a new hotel that is located next to the Borgata Casino.  The houses in the foreground are part of the "Bungalow Park" area of Atlantic City.  The camera's zoom makes both the Water Club and the windmills seem closer than they actually are.
As I turned to walk back for that refreshing beer, the excursion boat "Cruisin' 1" departed for a cruise along the ocean front of Brigantine and AC.  This is a popular activity for day trippers who have tired of the casinos.
Walking back I encountered this lady with three fish poles deployed.  Nothing was biting.

This guy had better luck--he apparently found this truck!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuckerton Seaport

The town of Tuckerton is roughly a half hour's ride up route 9 from Brigantine.  Tuckerton was originally called Clamtown.  Tuckerton/Clamtown is the home of the Tuckerton Seaport and Baymen's Museum.  Twenty odd years ago, the Baymen's Museum occupied a small cedar shack on the opposite side of route 9 from where the "Seaport" is currently located.  You can read more  here:

Although initially funded with a grant from the state of New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, money has appeared to have dried up with the current down turn of both the economy in general and the Atlantic City casino industry in particular.  I noticed that many displays had an air of neglect.  This included a donated Moth Boat which I hoped had been restored and put on display since my last visit a few years ago.  Instead, sadly I found the Moth, a Fletcher-Cates Florida design laying out in the weather.  I told the Museum director that the boat really needed to be returned to covered storage soon or else it would be fit only for the dump.  He quickly agreed and said that in the heady days when cash was flowing the Museum had taken in many more wooden boats (70) than they could restore and take care of.  He hoped that planned fund raising will permit the construction of a shed large enough to shelter the collection of boats until Museum staff and volunteers can properly restored them.  The Museum is currently not accepting any more wooden boats unless they come with an endowment to provide for the boat's upkeep.  Having said all this, and although disappointed about the state of the Classic Moth, the Seaport is always worth a visit.  Let's take a little walk.

This building is a replica of the old Tucker's Island Lighthouse which fell into the sea when the island sank beneath the waves.  The replica building is used for displays.  In the fall after the trees drop their leaves, one can see where Tuckerton Creek joins the bay from the top of the lighthouse.

The Sneakbox is primarily a gunning boat originally developed in New Jersey.  This one dates to very beginnings of the design in the mid 1800s. 

This Sneakbox is camouflaged with marsh grass as many are during duck hunting season.  Remember to click on the photos to enlarge them.

Many fine models are sprinkled though out the lighthouse.  This one is a Garvey clam boat.  The Garvey is another work boat design which is endemic to south Jersey.

Here is a model of a Coast Guard W 125 patrol boat.

The Life Car was developed in New Jersey and used in many beach rescues up and down the east coast.  The US Lifesaving Service was eventually incorporated into the Coast Guard.

 There are many other interesting artifacts in the lighthouse but we'll move along to some of the other buildings.

This building recreates Perrine's boat shop.  The Museum staff repair and construct boats here.
This nice 1928 Model A roadster pick-up was parked outside the boat shop.  In the background one sees the working sawmill.  The Museum mills cedar logs into planks for some of the restoration work.
Here is a Sneakbox under construction with the frame of another hoisted up as a display.
This baby Garvey was also under construction.  The shop was fragrant with the smell of cedar.

A vintage 3 hp Johnson for the baby Garvey.
In its heyday, Perrine's build both work boat type Garveys and Sneakboxs and also a racing version of the Sneakbox which several of the Long Beach Island Yacht Clubs raced instead of Moths.  Several of these racing Sneakboxes have been donated and hopefully will be properly displayed as funds permit.
The Museum also holds extensive collections of duck decoys and bird carvings.  Hurley Conklin was a well know local carver.  This small shop recreates his carving shack.
Other buildings display many of the tools of watermen such as clam rakes.

Here is a set of caulking irons and a caulking mallet.
Here is one of the boats in need of lots of TLC.

I remember when the Melody II used to fish out of Oyster Creek.  She's dried out now and needs a new stem.

PINEY is Lightening Nr 235.  She was built in the 1930s.  Will she get her turn in the shop or will she wind up enriching the earth?
Here lies poor old Moth Nr 2662.  She was built by Blair Fletcher in the mid-1960s.  I helped the Museum director find the centerboard and mast for this little boat.  I looked in vain for the boom, rudder and other equipment.  She's just savable but another winter out by the reeds and she'll be gone.

The annual duck and decoy show is one of the Museum's fund raiser events.  Hopefully some of the boats shown above will benefit from the proceeds of this fall's show.
Finally, here is a Cheetah Cat, mercifully in relatively good repair.  The Cheetah Cat was designed by Robt Harris.  This particular example was built by Edme Deschamps, down in Stone Harbor, and was one of a group which raced at that yacht club until recently.  More about this design can be read here: