Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Oyster Creek Inn, Leeds Point, NJ

Feeling peckish?
Let's say you're cruising along the piney back roads of southern New Jersey just a tad north of the town of Absecon when suddenly your stomach starts to rumble.  If you're in the mood for sea food then you're in luck.  The Oyster Creek Inn, a collection of cedar shacks which have been stitched together over the years, is an unpretentious place to get a good meal once you get to the end of Oyster Creek Road as it threads its way through the marsh.  I started going to Oyster Creek back in the mid-1970s after I got out of the Coast Guard and moved back home from Boston.  Every summer the Brigantine Yacht Club would organize an "Oyster Creek Night" on the evening of a favorable high tide and members with power boats would take boat loads of club members across the back bays for dinner and then a nice moon light cruise home across those same, but now darkened waters. In those days going by boat was for the best because the roads were poor and Oyster Creek Inn was not air conditioned. In July and August the Inn was a fly blown hot box and it was often better to escape the sticky interior with it's unshaded circular florescent lights by getting your dinner in a box and then hopping back on the boat!  But while the atmosphere was primitive the food was always good and continues to be good to this day.  The only disappointing meal I've ever been served at Oyster Creek was one occasion when I came late on a very busy holiday and most of the food had been sold out hours before.  Not bad for a joint that got its start offering sandwiches, bait and diesel fuel to local watermen.

Here's a look at the landward side of the Oyster Creek Inn.  Now days, we come by car.  Over the years the Inn has been slowly upgraded and now features air conditioning and other comforts while retaining the rustic "charm" of its early days.

The main bar is off from the dining rooms.  It was built from the port side of an old fishing boat called the "Rock & Rye".  In the fall the bar is very popular during football season.  Sorry Baydog, they're mostly Eagles fans (with a sprinkling of Steelers fans) down here.  I never mention the Skins or Caps...

This is the type of boat the watermen and clammers now use.  This boat is tied up just a couple of docks away from the Inn.  The Inn gets most of its fish fresh off these boats.  Note the large Herring Gull roosting on the cabin roof of the boat.

No, this isn't a statue of an insect.  It's the Jersey Devil.  Oyster Creek is very close to Leeds' Point.  The Leeds family name goes back to the earliest days of European settlement in this neck of the woods.  Old Mother Leeds' house is still standing a couple miles from the creek.  More information about the Jersey Devil, or Leeds Devil as it's sometimes called can be found here.
That wooden devil didn't get in the way of a good meal.  The sea scallops, crab cakes and seafood pie were as tasty as ever.

Views up and down Oyster Creek from the Inn's dock.  The shacks belong to local watermen.

Zooming in across the tide marsh one sees the village of Mystic Islands.  This started out as a collection of  summer bungalows, each with a finger pier out the back door.  Today many of the original modest houses have been torn down and replaced by bigger ones.  I've been told that's called "progress".

Looking/zooming to the right, across Great Bay, one sees the Rutgers University Marine Field Station.  This complex of buildings started life in 1937 as a Coast Guard lifeboat station.  This building is miles away but can be seen form Oyster Creek by eye.

Another satisfied customer!  This is a Laughing Gull, also known as a Summer Gull.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2012 Wooden Boat Regatta; Part Three.

Let's see if blogger will let me finish this story...

This is one of several dory-type boats which were entered in this year's Wooden Boat Regatta.

I think that this very pretty Blue Jay also sailed last year.

One of the CLC "Pocketship" kit boats.

Here is the sailing canoe, shown earlier on the beach, under sail.

This dory has the skinniest lee boards I've ever seen!  Sunday's wind was a good bit stronger.  I wonder how he made out?

This International 210 came over from Gibson Island.  At just a whisker under 30 feet she dwarfed most of the other boats.

Dudley Dix in Paper Jet has a lot to keep track of once the asymmetric chute is flying.

The Hampton One Designs proved quite competitive against the Lightnings and Thistles even without the benefit of a spinnaker.  One wonders how this shook out in Sunday's higher breeze?  I couldn't attend on Sunday.  Hopefully someone will leave a comment.

Another attractive boat was this Windmill.  Rock Hall Yacht Club had a Windmill, complete with a rusty trailer, on the lawn for sale, $250 or best offer!

This is Utilis.  At 29' 6" she was the second largest boat in the regatta.  I believe that she is a Bolger Whalewatcher design.  If she had a few rows of oars she'd look like a modern day Greek trireme!

A bow shot of the Whalewatcher.  Very unique.

If one grows tired of boats, views of the surrounding farms can give rest to the eyes.
Meanwhile, the Moths were keeping things close.  Over the two days, John Z. prevailed in the Mistral.

Here's a shot of the Crowninshield cat boat under sail.

Crowninshield bow shot.  Very pretty.

And finally a few shots of that $250 Windmill.

Carl Cramer was sorely tempted!

I've seen worse ways to spend $250.  Just remember one of the most expensive phrases in the English language is "Cheap Boat For Sale"! 

Did she find a new home?

2012 Wooden Boat Regatta; Part Two.

On the way to the racing area one occasionally sees very nice homes along the banks of the river.

When was the last time you saw a Lightning with a three digit sail number?  This boat probably dates to the late 1930s and is well preserved.

On the way out to the starting line the Thistles explore the possibility of flying spinnakers.  The wind was from the Northwest and hence very light and fluky all day.

Charlie McCoy, slowly sailing his Hampton One-Design "Calamity Jane" to the start.

Last year Classic Moth Boats were the most numerous class at this regatta.  This year we managed to muster three boats:  Victor Stango in his Paul Lindenberg design, Bob Patterson in the Shelley and John Zseleczky in the Mistral.  I'll be back on the water next year!

The Lindenberg design is a single chine shape with a gentle V-bottom.

The Shelley Moth has a flatter run aft of the centerboard trunk than the Lindenberg.  She is essentially a scaled down version of John Shelley's successful International-14 from the early 1960s.

The Mistral design is a sharp stem, round bilge shape with very narrow waterlines.  Both the Mistral and the Duflos Moths are VERY challenging to sail!

 The blogspot is getting wonky so I will stop this post here and pick up the story in Part 3.  Stay tuned.

Monday, May 21, 2012

2012 Wooden Boat Regatta; Part One.

Last weekend was the second year that Wooden Boat Magazine sponsored a two day regatta for smallish wooden boats.  Once again, Rock Hall Yacht Club hosted the event.  Although I got out of my cast two days before the event, my arm isn't anywhere strong enough to safely handle a boat so I was strictly limited to spectator mode this year and MINT stayed in the boat house.  But this is not all bad news.  Carl Cramer, the publisher of Wooden Boat Magazine kindly invited me aboard the launch "Lady Lancaster" for a day of up close spectating out on the two race courses.

Things are a bit agricultural in this neck of of the woods, but at least one knows which road to follow to the yacht club!  The car in front is John Zseleczky.  The boat is a Mistral design Classic Moth.

Bob Patterson brought two Moths.  This is his Duflos design boat.  Derek Chester's Mistral design is a successful attempt to capture Benoit Duflos' elegant but difficult to built shape in a stitch and glue format which can be built from flat ply panels.

However for this event Bob wanted to sail his McCutcheon-built Shelley design Moth.
This curious cloth skin over wood frames sliding seat canoe was unfortunately a no-show out on the water.  Perhaps he broke something during Friday's practice.
Last year there was only a single representative of the Hampton One-Design class.  This year there were several Hampton ODs attending.  I guess the word got around the fleet that this was a good regatta!
There were also several Lightnings at this year's event.

Several Thistle Class dinghies made an appearance.

This sailing canoe and several dory type boats were rigging up on the launching beach.

Larger boats included this B.B. Crowninshield designed cat boat.

Tattoo was one of three Chesapeake Light Craft "Pocketships" competing in the cruising class.

This very odd boat was also in the cruising class.  I'll have more photos of "Utilis" later in the post.

Shortly after the skipper's meeting the mark boats and committee boats headed out to the racing area.

I boarded the open launch "Lady Lancaster" and we were soon in hot pursuit.  I'll post the on the water pix in the next post.