829 Southdrive

829 Southdrive

A New Jersey state of mind

Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I may not be much of a presence here, but I still visit all
of my blogging friends quite often.  Merry Christmas and/or
any celebration or observance you may be a part of this season!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dueling Cameras in Chestertown, MD

Roger Prichard, owner and skipper of Gwylan, a lovely 
wooden Herreshoff ketch from Riverton, NJ, snapped
 this photo of Spartina while Huck and I sailed with Steve
up and down, then back and forth, on Chester River, just off
the piers of Chestertown.  We had a perspective of the 
Downrigging Fleet that few other visitors were lucky to have.

Steve Earley, owner and skipper of Spartina, a lovely 
wooden, home-built, gaff-rigged yawl from Chesapeake, VA, 
snapped this photo of Gwylan while Huck and I sailed with Steve
up and down, then back and forth, on Chester River, just off
the piers of Chestertown.  We had a perspective of the 
Downrigging Fleet that few other visitors were lucky to have.

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Winter's Lament

So close to the water, yet so far.  Seems like just yesterday
she was launched for the summer.  Where did the summer go?
The time goes more quickly with each passing year.  When she's
in the water, we take her for granted.  When she's in the yard, the
days and weeks and months go by at a snail's slimy pace. 
At least she's facing the River.  Gotta move to warmer climes.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Wooden Ships: Sultana Downrigging 2014

My brother Huck and I spent the day in Chestertown, MD
last Friday, for the first day of Downrigging festivities
orchestrated by the folks from the Schooner Sultana. The original Sultana was a Boston-built merchant ship that the British Royal Navy used to patrol the coastline of colonial North America, enforcing the Townsend Acts, or "Tea Taxes". In 1997, a replica of that schooner would begin to be built in Chestertown, and our Dad was among the original volunteer shipbuilders, devoting hundreds of hours of his time in re-creating this robust vessel.  

The first order of business was lunch at the Fishwhistle with 
Steve, from Log of Spartina
Steve home-built a 17 foot gaff-rigged yawl, 
Spartina, and has been invited to display her for the last few years.
I've read his blog for as long as I've been writing, and this was the
 perfect opportunity to not only meet him, but to get out on the
water in this gorgeous little sailboat. 

After a few minutes from leaving the dock, I asked the
 inevitable question and, I was sailing Spartina around the
Chester River.  It felt great to have such a lively boat beneath
me again after having sailed a big fat boat for so many years.

Everything about Spartina is immaculate...the spars gleam
of varnish and the cockpit is battleship grey. We sailed back and 
forth, and up and down for about an hour, and got some nice
shots of the ships that land-bound visitors could not.

Kalmar Nyckel was the largest visiting ship

Oyster schooner AJ Meerwald up from Bivalve, NJ.

Rosie Parks is an oystering Skipjack owned by the 
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

The pushboat was originally used to power the skipjacks to the 
oyster beds.  There, the sails were hoisted and dredging took
place under sail only.  Over the decades laws have changed,
and dredging can be done under power only two days a week,
but one of those days cannot be Sunday.  Sadly, these days 
most dredging takes place on power-assisted days only.

Miss Sue, a Hooper Island Draketail, was launched
in 2012, but has a 1930's vintage engine.  

Cargo schooner 'Lady Maryland' with the pink and green hull,
and Baltimore Clipper 'Pride of Baltimore II' inside.

Spellbound, a 1970 ketch from Oxford, MD.

Muriel Eileen

Silver Heel, out of Chestertown, is one of only
20 or so Log Canoes still in existence.  

Photo from Sultana Downrigging Website

Silver Heel with a slight heel.

Double-ended Sharpie Gaff Schooner, EE Moore,
built and owned by John Swain, Sultana's Master shipwright.

Silent Maid, along with Barnegat, a wooden motorsailer,
made the long trip from Barnegat Bay.  Friday was the only
day of the weekend where there was beautiful sunshine and
moderate wind.  Saturday was cold, blustery and rainy,
basically a washout, and Sunday was dry but cold and windy.
The non-profit attending ships lost a lot of expected  revenue
from the public sails that were to take place those 2 days.
 I just learned that the owner of both Silent Maid and 
Barnegat has pledged to donate money to the ships to 
compensate them for their loss of revenue.

The centerpiece of Downrigging Weekend: Sultana

Huck and I were allowed to get aboard for a few minutes
to sniff around the ship that's held together by the 10,000
trunnels that JW mostly made. Captain Tanya Banks-
Christensen was very accommodating and happily answered
 any questions we had.  She's been with the ship for several
years, first as a mate, and then as Captain.  

Of course I had to check out the galley.
The red bricks used for the oven/grill are from Williamsburg, VA.

Sultana coming back to the pier after a quick jaunt.
In the background to the right lies Barnegat, probably
awaiting a berth assignment.  Spartina is sailing directly behind.

JW sometime during construction of Sultana
in her yard.  He's holding the serving mallet
that was used to wrap the ship's shrouds with
manila hemp.  Action photo here.

Some of his work.

JW during a re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party.
He relished firing any cannon or gun that involved
black powder.  The swivel guns (one below) were favorites of his.

Photo taken on an earlier visit

The red and black leather swivel gun covers were recently
replaced and it was suggested that Huck and I take them
home as mementos.  No-brainer.  I have become, since age
2 or 3, increasingly sentimental with each passing year.
I will find a place for them.

George Albaugh of Mid-Atlantic Musings
snapped this shot of us on the way to Sultana's office to
pick up the old covers. He and his wife made the trip from 
outside Annapolis.  It was fun meeting George and Steve
whose blogs I've followed for years.  Great people.

Home in NJ.  

Oh yeah, we had some oysters on Friday too.
Four times this amount. Big, meaty Chesapeake
oysters with a couple draft beers.  Perfect.

Spartina at dusk.  All wrapped up for the impending foul
weather forecast for Saturday.

This may just be my favorite shot of the day. 

So happy to have finally made it down for Downrigging.
Surprisingly, it was my first in the 10 years since Dad's
been gone.  We could feel him next to us, and he was
thrilled we made the trip.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


For both of my readers (if you're still out there), an oyster
for the ages.  Blue Point, Long Island (NY) oyster, with a
mignonette of shallot, ginger, black pepper, rice vinegar,
red chile, and cilantro.  An orgasmic slurp of oceanic goodness. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Where for art thou, O Docker?

I am chieftain Angelo Bruno,
All the tribes are ruled by me,
Moved in here and held possession,
South of Trenton to the sea.

Here we came to run the action,
Numbers, hookers, other scams,
Caught our fish along the water,
Lotsa moolah, lotsa clams.

Shook down butchers, shook down bakers,
Money rolled in like a bank,
Oft we shot if they resisted,
We paid off cops of any rank.

In the woods we left the bodies,
Dropped them as we drove along;
There my warriors laid in ambush,
In their crews made stout and strong.

Our cadillacs upon these highways,
All about would swiftly glide.
As we built our weekend hideouts
With hidden exits on the side.

My people were content and happy,
We were free from all constraint,
We went to Vegas as a pastime,
Decked with Gucci and Laurent (Yves Saint).

Where are our strongholds, wide and stately,
Where oft I shook down shops of pawn,
The Genovese tribe got to me,
Alas! where are my warriors gone?

Friday, July 18, 2014

My Old Club

And now for another installment of 'I didn't know how good I 
had it until I didn't have it any more'.  This is my old club,
Metedeconk River Yacht Club. I haven't been a member for
thirty-five years, and as always, I wish I realized then how
nice it was to be part of an organization such as this.  Every so
often, I go sniffing around Beaton's Boatyard, and about a quarter of
a mile down Mantoloking Road is MRYC.  Just take a right
onto Tilton Road (memory lane).  I feel very at home on the 
grounds, still, and I can envision the keg of Pa. Dutch
birch beer sitting on the patio for the kids on Labor Day.
I always felt grown-up drawing my own cup of that.

This will give you an idea of how good my cousins and I had it:
looking NE from the patio you can see 829 South Drive.  Locate
the white water tower in Bay Head and the second house to the 
left was where Wagners' was.  Almost every original house on
that shoreline is gone and replaced with much larger ones with
much less personality.  A trip to the club was a quick hop across
 the river; to drive there took at least 20 minutes

The junior sailing center, built a bunch of years back, is a great
place for the 150 or so junior sailing participants to leave their 
crap strewn all over the place, not unlike any other yacht club 
anywhere on earth.  That number is very impressive, and 
supposedly the largest group of participants among the 13
 BBYRA clubs. I was told that by a member this day of my 
visit, so I know this to be the truth. 

Nice to see an E scow at the club.  Never more than 2 or 3 
at one time, I think there's been a pretty long stretch of 0
until recently.  


I cannot imagine ever being small enough to sail in an Opti.
It is truly an exceptional boat for instructional purposes
and easy to transport for away regattas.  I know a guy who
used to sell them and Lasers too.

Nice shallow water and a sandy bottom make for easy launching.

The main goal of my visit was to pay homage to my Dad's 3 
championship banners hanging upstairs in the club. Bad news....
the banners were not there. Good news...Metedeconk sailors have 
been successful enough over the years that they actually had to 
retire a good deal of the older ones to make room for the more
recent ones. 

I'm happy to report that Metedeconk River Yacht Club is alive
and well, and their junior program will ensure future 
enthusiasm for the sport of sailing on Barnegat Bay.  I felt a
sense of belonging when I walked into this clubhouse, which
may have been an omen.  Some day I may be a regular here, again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chasing Roosters: My Fleeting Blip on the Radar Screen of the BBYRA

'Chasing Roosters' celebrates one hundred years of sailing
in the Barnegat Bay Yacht Racing Association.  Spearheaded
by arguably Barnegat Bay's most celebrated sailor, Gary Jobson,
this project along with an accompanying video was a few years
in the making, and it was well worth the wait.

I think the main focus of the book and video is the close-knit
community of clubs on the Bay, and the uniqueness that each
club brings to the table.  Some clubs have pools, some have 
tennis courts, some have both, some have neither.  Most have
bars, some have snack bars.  Some have lawns, most have 
gravel.  Some have beaches, some have bulkheads. Some 
used Duckboats for their junior programs, some used Diamonds,
some used Prams, some used Sunfish.  What they all have in 
common is a genuine love of sailing boats.  When the BBYRA 
season is in full swing, it is a true fraternity; regardless of which 
club you are a member, you are welcome anywhere, with open 
arms.  Their club grounds are yours.  Your money is good at their 
bars.  Their hoist waits for you.  Their members will patiently
wait for you to get out of their showers.  If you drink too much 
and need to leave your boat....and car in their lot overnight,
then Sunday it is.  We're sailors after all.

You know when people say that you don't appreciate something
until it's gone?  There are few things in my life that I miss more 
than summer Saturdays spent racing on Barnegat Bay.  But as a
child, and then as a teenager, it was more or less expected of me to
 sail down bay on Saturdays.  Whether I was crewing for
someone or sailing my Laser, I knew I'd be gone for the day.
It was something I had unknowingly always taken for granted.

Any given Saturday at Wagners'.  Another photo from this roll made it into the Metedeconk chapter of 'Chasing Roosters'

It's a drag getting up at 6 a.m.  But if you're gonna get to
registration in time you'd better make it there while there
are still donuts available.  That was my carrot on the end of the 
stick. Saturdays were long days when we sailed in morning and 
afternoon classes. My nickname 'Baydog' came from my 
cousin Cahil because I was always down bay. That eventually
 morphed into Bayhog, but that's another story (food-related). 

Usually, for up-bay races, we'd base operations out of 
Mantoloking, due to their decent amount of room at the hoist
 and the lawn for folding sails. For the same reasons, 
Toms River YC was usually our down-bay launch site.  We could 
quickly drive over to Island Heights or Beachwood to register 
and be back with donuts in time to head out to the racecourse.

We would always launch from Seaside on the final Saturday.
They had a long strip of beach along the road with lots of dried
eelgrass upon which you could nestle your Penguin and Laser.
Their parking lot and hoist patio were always jammed, but you
had to be there for the beer and trophy presentations following
the last day of racing.  I along with a lot of kids from Metedeconk
usually ended up on Jim Carson's 'Schnitzelboomer', where any
kid was eligible to drink as much beer as could be found on board.
It probably continues to this day..........

Seaside Saturdays were notoriously 'get home late' days.
Legend has it that my Dad's Mom, Mary 'Nana' Wagner,
the matriarch of South Drive, called the Coast Guard on more
than one BBYRA final Saturday, pissed that the summer squash
that she put on the stove at 3:00 that afternoon was overdone,
and 'where the hell could they be?'

A foggy Sunday down South Drive

Sundays were usually for kicking around 829 South Drive
in Metedeconk...sailing in the MCYC Sunday races, 
hosing off sails on the gravel, crabbing off the dock, floating 
in tire tubes under that same dock, eating...........................

..............and eating.  Dave looks hungry.

Dad won the Seaside race in 1977, but Penguin 7731 won the Bay

When one wins a Bay race, he or she receives the class Rooster
flag to keep for one week.  Write your sail number and race date
on the flag before returning it the next Saturday.  Some sailors like
 to see their name as well. Hmmmm........On the last Saturday of
the summer, the winner keeps the Rooster.  Obviously, it's
more important to bring the flag home as many times as
possible during that season.  

 Penguin 7731

Assorted flags.  Each week, pennants go to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd
place boats, with the host club's initials.  The BBYRA insignia,
the Barnegat Lighthouse, adorns the qualifying banner.  Dad's first
full season appears to be 1953, sailing the family Lightning at 18.

Jim, Dot, Jon, and Bob - MC 1

My parents, Jim and Dot, crewed for Bob Armstrong on the only 
Metedeconk E-scow at the time.  Dad was jibman, Mom on boards,
and Jon Eisberg on backstays.  Mom was black and blue all summer
long; in those days the bilgeboards were not flush on the deck, 
but rather stuck out of their trunks and were great for sitting on.  

Seaside Park, September 1978. No rooster for JW this day, but the championship banner and hardware were his.

My blip on the radar screen occured between the late sixties
through the seventies, with only occasional crewing
appearances in the eighties and early nineties. Those early
years, however, planted a seed for the passion that exists today.
  I follow the race results every Sunday and try to keep abreast
of what's going on.  I participate vicariously through BBYRA.org.
I recognize names in the standings that I knew decades ago,
and many of them are the children, and even some are the
grandchildren of those against whom I raced. 

I didn't spend decades or a lifetime on the Bay racing
like so many of those still involved.  I do, though, feel
a sense of legacy and belonging to this organization.  I never
 did particularly well in my Laser on the Bay.
 I did manage to get to a windward mark ahead of Peter
Commette in my Laser once, for what it's worth.
 In spite of that, I had many good years as a crew, always
 managing to surround myself with (okay, I was lucky
enough to have) talented skippers and mentors. All of that
imparted wisdom has accumulated over the years and made
me the confident sailor I feel I am today.  

In 1978, I got my first restaurant summer job at Jack Baker's
Wharfside in Point Pleasant Beach.  It was a good fit for
me, considering how much I loved cooking food and eating it.
It turned into a lifelong career, and it's been very good to me.
As many people know though, in the restaurant business,
you're normally expected to be at work on weekends.
This alone makes it impossible to sail in the BBYRA.

Who knows, maybe one day I'll put down the knife, and my
 wife and I will join a BBYRA club and resume this wonderful
summer ritual that at one time I didn't realize how
much I truly appreciated.