Archive for August, 2011
Hurricane Irene rolled up the Eastern seaboard causing widespread damage along it’s entire path. The severe flooding, power outages, downed trees and damage to homes was something that has not been seen for a very long time, especially along the New Jersey and southern New York shorelines. I am writing this post from my perspective as a home and boat owner on Long Island and my dealings with Hurricane Irene.
With all the weather computer models pointing to a Long Island landfall during the weekend of 8/27 through 8/28 our preparations for the storm began back on the Tuesday prior. All outside patio and pool furniture was stored away. Shopping for enough supplies to carry us through a week was completed as well. With the house and surrounding property secured to the best of our ability my attention then turned to the boat.
A call to my marina, Seaborn Marina in Bay Shore NY, got me on the schedule to have the boat pulled and blocked in the yard as the forecast called for storm surges of 6-10 ft above normal. Combine this forecast with the fact that we were on a new moon and the expectation was that the Great South Bay waters would rise too high to keep the boat safely in her slip. The boat was securely blocked on Saturday morning in advance of Irene’s arrival. We completed some last minute tasks and then hunkered down and home hoping for the best.
I spent the majority of Saturday night watching several LARGE oak trees in our yard swaying back and forth in the building winds and praying they would stay upright. Thankfully, they did. Hurricane Irene made landfall Sunday morning on the extreme western end of Long Island and was technically labelled a Tropical Storm as she came ashore. Whatever they called it, the conditions were both amazing and fearful at the same time. Our neighborhood managed to maintain electric service through the worst of the storm and televised reports had sustained winds in the upwards of 65 mph across Long Island with locally higher gusts.
Despite all the news agencies advising against venturing out I could not stand thinking about how the boat had fared at the marina so off I went. Driving around trees and downed power lines gave me a chance to second guess this decision but I continued toward the boat. The major highways were wide open and the ride was easy taking it nice and slow with the heavy winds howling against my Dodge 2500 pickup.
Arriving in Bay Shore, the scene was like a tornado with trees down everywhere you looked. While turning into the marina I peeked down the street which ended at the Town marina and it was submerged. I could see folks walking through water up to their thighs. It was this side that had me most worried about how the boat made out.
I was VERY happy to see that while the water in my marina was to the top of the bulkhead, it was not spilling over any further than that. Walking through the maze of boats that had been stored I came to mine and was THRILLED to find her standing on the blocks just as she was left. What a relief this was!!! The howling winds had pretty much stripped the local trees of their leaves and the exterior and cockpit was littered with them but that was the extent my boat experienced. A quick peek around the yard showed every single boat was in great shape, and those that had elected to stay in the water all survived Hurricane Irene as well.
Did some preliminary cleanup on the boat before we headed back home. On the way back to our home we took a detour through our old neighborhood in Oakdale and Sayville and were amazed at how much more damage seemed to have occurred in this area. Sayville was reported to have had the highest recorded wind gust at just over 90 mph and looking around it was hard to debate that fact.
In Sayville village we turned down a few of the more scenic streets that all lead to the Great South Bay and found many of them flooded with deep water from the bay’s surge. I found a dry street and followed to the bay to catch some quick video. The following video was taken several hours after Hurricane Irene had made landfall but it was still apparent just how bad the storm had the bay torn up. On another street we saw one of the LARGE trees in this area had been toppled and cut a home almost in half. Terrible scene!!!
We arrived back home Sunday afternoon only to find the power had now gone out. I guess it was only fair after seeing the damage suffered by so many other Long Island residents. While it was still blowing pretty well we started the cleanup process which would continue for Monday as well.
By lunchtime on Monday we had the yard in decent shape and a call to the marina advised me that the boat was BACK in the water. My wife had some errands to do so I put off the rest of the yard work to take a trip to the boat for a good cleanup of all the debris. Once that was completed I could not resist the urge to take a short cruise to my favorite fishing area, Fire Island Inlet, for a peek at the effect of the storm.
A decent breeze was blowing from the southwest, leading to some infamous Great South Bay chop. Heading through the West Channel I found huge raft of eel-grass bundled up with a LOT of garbage. Garbage that was obviously from LAND. Bottles and plastic bags made up the bulk of it but there was plenty of other stuff that apparently had washed out of the yards and shorelines of the bay. I was happy to find all of the buoys in this stretch exactly where they should be.
My arrival at the Fire Island Inlet had my mouth opened as first thing I noticed were the red 8 and 10 buoys from the inlet way back up inside, well off station. Cruising past the Sore Thumb I was surprised to see just how well what is left of it had weathered the storm. Just west of the rocks on the Thumb I noticed a large cut in the beach a couple of feet deep. The beach appeared to have been breached by the over-wash running up behind the dunes and then feeding back to the ocean through a low spot in the beach.
I continued outside the inlet to the point where the red 6 buoy would normally be but it was NOT there. It had been dragged a 1/4 mile or so to the west ending up just off the Town of Bablyon Overlook beach. I also noticed the red 4 buoy was dragged north of it’s chart location and ending up almost where the 6 buoy should have been. I could not get close enough to the West Bar due to the large breakers still rolling across the inlet but it was very easy to see another two buoys up on the shoal with wave breaking over them. What a navigational mess for the Coast Guard.
I headed back to the marina an EXTREMELY happy boater. It was the day after the nastiest storm to hit Long Island in 26 years, the sun was out and I was on the water with the knowledge that my family all weathered the storm safely and our home was safe and sound.
In closing I would like to say that I read a lot on the online forums, Facebook and Twitter regarding people stating that this storm was an over-hyped, overblown media fiasco. It’s almost like they are disappointed we did not get hit with a storm in the class of Katrina. These folks should keep in mind the families who were not so lucky with THIS storm. Last I heard there were 11 deaths associated to Irene along the coast. Many homes were completely damaged to the point of being uninhabitable. I find it VERY hard to believe that those families who lost a loved one or a home are feeling that this storm was a OVERBLOWN fiasco. To them this storm was the MOST devasting storm ever!!!!!! Please REMEMBER THAT!!!!!
On Saturday morning (8/20/11) the plan of attack was a pre-dawn excursion in hopes of finding some better sized weakfish on live baits. Earlier in the week I managed to find some of the smaller variety on plastics and hoped to find some better specimens on live peanut bunker.
Backed out of the slip at 4:30am Saturday morning and slid the boat up the creek under the cover of darkness. Did not have to search for long before finding the “peanut” bunker and with two casts of the net the livewell had plenty of “candies”.
Dropped the first bait down just as it was getting light and it was not long before the first taker appeared. Turned out a small bluefish bit the bait in half. The next “volunteer” went over the side and resulted in a quick take. Set the hook and had a weakfish of 17-18 inches come to the surface before dropping it at boatside.
Idled back into position for another drift and was slammed again, this time a pretty nice fluke came to the net but in the end it turned up a 1/4 inch short of the New York 20.5 inch limit. Tough luck!! The rest of the day was more of the same with some small bluefish pitching in to help empty my livewell.
Beautiful day on the water.
On Monday, 8/22/11, I had Dan and Eric who were vacationing over in Ocean Beach on Fire Island out for a half day fluke trip. They left their wives to the beach and brought their children, Alexa, Jordin and Jackson out for a day of Great South Bay fluke fishing.
We fished several locations inside the bay and had some fish on each drop. The strong northwest breeze made for less than ideal conditions but everyone managed to catch a bunch of fish. The unfortunate fact was that, once again, ALL the fish were short of the legal size limit. The kids did manage to catch quite a few different inhabitants as fluke, sea bass, sea robins and lizardfish were all brought aboard.
Had a great time on the water with wonderful company. Alexa, Jordin and Jackson were a lot of fun to have aboard.
Our plan was to leave for Pennsylvania early on Friday morning which would have me off the water for the entire weekend. Well, we couldn’t have that now could we?? I quickly put a plan to fish the Great South Bay Thursday evening into action with the goal of continuing my search for the elusive summer time weakfish.
I got on the water by 5:30pm Thursday afternoon but with only a couple of hours to fish I decided to fore-go devoting time to gathering live baits and opted instead for the artificial route. I fished bubble-gum pink Bassassins on 3/4 ounce lead-heads a several of my favorite pieces with no success before making a move deeper into the back bay areas.
The incoming current was moving along nicely on the back bay spots and hopes were high. It did not take long to finally connect with the first weakfish of my 2011 season. A small spike of about 14 inches but it was a weakfish nonetheless. I managed to land 2 more that went to 17 inches and dropped a couple of others before calling it a night. Headed home with a smile as the weakfish hunt was a success.
We were in Lancaster Pennsylvania by 9:30am on Friday and this time the favorite locations we hit were my wife’s favorite SHOPPING spots. Downtown Lancaster, some craft shops and a large local Flea Market type place called the Green Dragon which is only open on Fridays. We checked into our hotel and relaxed by the pool for a bit before dinner.
Following dinner it was time to feed some of the local animals and fish. The hotel we stayed at has a petting area with horses and goats as well as a large farm pond chocked FULL of Koi goldfish and carp. A small dock on the lake is the popular spot for feeding the fish as just dropping a piece of bread in the water has the goldfish and carp blitzing the surface in a fashion that would put our Long Island bluefish to shame.
Saturday was THE DAY. The Lititz Country fair. The entire town shuts down for this event as all of the main roads through it are converted into the largest street fair I have ever seen or heard of. I don’t have an exact number but suffice to say that hundreds of vendors were displaying their wares. We arrived at the Fair at 8am and spent the next 6 hours strolling up and down vendor lined streets.
Following the craft fair marathon we set sights on the Cabelas store in Hamburg Pennsylvania which is about 45 minutes from Lititz. My wife and I spent another 3 hours walking through aisle after aisle of outdoor related gear as well as the beautiful fish tanks and ponds right in the store. Large muskie, northern pike, largemouths, bluegill and huge trout all swim around in these tanks and ponds. I really have more tackle than I could ever use but it seems I can never escape without buying some fishing related items. This year was no exception as I added a new LARGE landing net, some braided line on sale and a new bait well net.
We departed Lancaster on Sunday morning for the ride back to Long Island and ran right into the biblical rainstorms the entire ride home. Long Island residents all know the legendary nasty conditions of a stretch of road know as the Belt Parkway under normal weather patterns. The flooding on this stretch was to the point where I was looking for the No Wake signs instead of the Speed Limit ones. Where it usually takes 3 1/2 hours to get home this day it was to take almost 6 hours. It did not matter though as we had a great time and the weather during our stay was amazing. Nice relaxing weekend and we are already looking forward to next year.
Weekends such as this past weekend on Long Island are what boat ownership is all about. The weather was just spectacular for both days, light winds had the Great South Bay and Fire Island Inlet flat calm. Add in the chance to spend both days with GREAT company and it just could not get any better.
On Saturday I had Julio and his beautiful daughter Andrea aboard for a half day fluke fishing trip in the Fire Island area. This was to be Andrea’s first boat trip and I was very excited to be a part of it. We departed the marina at 11am and soon were on the grounds. Andrea had brought along her very own light spinning rod and it did not take long before it was bending to the struggles of a 14inch fluke.
We fished inside the bay on various pieces before it became obvious the moon tides and storms of the day before had the water stirred up. We could not present the baits for long without fouling with weed. A move was in order.
We moved just outside the Fire Island Inlet and drifted the cleaner waters picking off more short fluke with some HUGE sea-robins added to the mix. Andrea got a kick out of the ‘robins “barking” at us to let them go.
Later in the trip I spied birds diving to our west and we motored over to investigate and found cocktail bluefish crashing small whitebait. We broke out the light spinning tackle and picked away at 2-3lb bluefish. Andrea got into the mix as well and managed to best her first bluefish. What an experience it was for me to see this little cutie completely enjoying the boat and fish. Thank you Andrea!!! And THANK YOU to Andrea’s Dad Julio for making the trip from New Jersey to fish with me.
On Sunday my wife and I were back in our favorite anchorage, the cove behind the Sore Thumb in Fire Island Inlet. We joined up with my fishing buddy Capt Bob and his girlfriend Jill once again. And, just like last week, Jill was very kind in letting us “rent” her kayak for some paddling around the cove. We really NEED to get one of these things!!
The amazing weather had boats out in droves and there was plenty of people taking full advantage of the great times to be had on the water. Fishing, swimming, diving, kayaking and all sorts of other beach activities were in full swing and it was a GREAT TIME!!!