Now you can learn how to sail a boat with us out of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn as well as City Island – the best locations in NYC and the Tri-State Region!
We’ve had a lot going on this spring & early summer. We moved the school down the street on City Island. I wrote a textbook (separate post coming on that). And, we explored opening a satellite branch in Brooklyn. And did it!
Now, we’re at the Gateway to the Sound and the Gateway to the Atlantic! The northern and southern extremes of NYC both offer ideal sailing – and learning – conditions. Your hardest decision might just be which Borough to book.
Our new host is the Miramar Yacht Club. It’s a wonderful cooperative that’s been around since 1905. It’s in Sheepshead Bay, a super protected port that allows sailing straight off the mooring before exploring Rockaway Inlet, Gravesend Bay, the Verrazano Narrows, and even the Atlantic. Have a little time? Head into very large Raritan Bay, with Sandy Hook creating a natural barrier to ocean swells when they occur.
While nearby Jamaica Bay and parts of Rockaway Inlet can have decent currents, most of this area has the mild currents that make for great sailing in general, and learning in particular. Miramar has a sizable fleet of Ensign sloops, and they race on Wednesday nights. A large majority of them never use engines to get out and about, and also back. That was a huge checkmark in the right column for me.
And, Ensigns are what we’ll be sailing on initially (and possibly also their Tartan Ten). Here’s a fleet!..
If Montauk is “The End,” as the bumper stickers say, Breezy Point is “The Beginning.” Clear waters are flushed between Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, with an abundance of fish and birds. How about marine mammals? Dolphins are regular, common visitors.
You can expect to see dolphins.
David Shin, Commodores, Miramar Yacht Club
Whales? They occur too, says David, albeit not as commonly. While all this could be a bad sign from a global warming perspective, at least we can enjoy it while we pursue sailing – something with a low carbon footprint that’s not exactly a guilty pleasure.
How does one get there?
Driving, public transit, or even bicycle. There’s good street parking in the area (sorry, no on-site parking due to limited space for members). Subway? Take the B during the week and the Q on weekends. Bus transfer, or grab a drink from Starbucks and walk. Have a bike? Bring it aboard and shoot over. Or, we can pick you up from the subway.
Speaking of pick-ups, here’s one of the Club’s launches at dusk (I shot this pre-season before it splashed)…
Expect to see an announcement from us about an Open House soon. In the meantime, if you want to explore this exciting new option for learning to sail, just contact us and we’ll discuss scheduling or just a tour!
To see more about our host there, the Miramar YC, follow this link…
That’s Jennifer Connelley’s take on trying to learn how to sail a boat in New York Harbor in preparation for “Top Gun: Maverick.”
We taught David Letterman how to sail back when Late Night was actually Late Morning. A looooong time ago. (This was during Dad’s school; I worked sweeping up for child’s pay.) Of course, when Ted Turner was on Late Night not that long ago, David didn’t work in any Q&A about sailing despite Ted being one of the best. I was disappointed. I half expected him to say, “You know, I took a sailing course. It was on City Island. New York Sailing School, I think it was.” Didn’t happen.
Fast forward to earlier this week, and actress Jennifer Connelly appeared on A Late Show With Stephen Colbert. (We link to that below.) I didn’t realize there was a sailing scene in the flick, but Connelly did and decided to prepare for it. She took sailing lessons in several locations in preparation, as she had no background with it.
IN THAT PIC: JC driving and Tom Cruise bringing up the rear. Apparently, he wasn’t satisfied with the pace of things off San Diego so they did some sailing out of San Francisco- a renowned heavy wind region. This was there.
Being from NYC (Brooklyn), she did a course in NYC and did what too many people do: she did it in NY Harbor, as accessed by the East and Hudson Rivers. Train wreck conditions, but maybe they saved 15′ on their commute!
“I was taking lessons in the Harbor, which was interesting…”
“That’s busy!” (Colbert)
“It’s kinda like learning to drive on the Autobahn, you know? I don’t recommend it as a first way to sail.”
We link to the full clip below. As mentioned above, she took lessons in a variety of areas, so this wasn’t an isolated perspective.
Sailing in NY Harbor and the Rivers is difficult with challenges that are not the good kind…
Currents strong enough to stop a boat in its GPS track;
Lots of random commercial traffic including high-speed ferries, barges, and cruise ships;
Narrow waterways and, where they open up, with large obstructions;
Confused winds with shears from geography and high-rise buildings.
This isn’t a recipe for success. Expert sailors can have a lot of trouble there. Why try to learn how in such an environment? The perception is that it’s close and convenient. It might be quicker; depends where you live, and your actual commute time. (Two schools that sail in NY Harbor are located in New Jersey, including one with Manhattan in its name. There is one in Brooklyn.) More importantly is the education and skillset you get. If you can’t skipper the boat after the course, you didn’t sail in a good location and/or get enough training.
We don’t go there, literally or figuratively. There’s a reason Columbia and Fordham Universities have had their sailing teams practice out of City Island for so long. (Columbia moved recently, but only about a mile or two as the bird flies). There’s a reason why there are 3 ASA sailing schools on City Island, and also three yacht clubs that are almost all sailboats (used to be four before Hurricane Sandy closed one down).
It’s the beginning of Long Island Sound, and the beginning of a proper sailing foundation. And, one never outgrows it!
Here’s the link to the Colbert segment with Jennifer Connelly:
More accurately, I largely re-wrote his textbook on how to sail a boat from the 1970’s but kept the best parts, which inspired the project in the first place.
In a previous Blog Rant, I wrote about how both my Dad and I wrote books for our respective sailing schools. I’d been meaning to resurrect his for awhile, and that post put me over the edge. I gone went and did it!
That’s one of our Beneteau First 21.0 sloops flying along upwind, with Teacher John as he’s known on the transom where he’s known to love perching or propelling himself. Yup; that’s a class in progress.
Dad’s textbook, The Masters Course, was brilliant: pithy, funny, effective. Well illustrated. Nothing is perfect; his wasn’t. In fact, a few of the diagrams on piloting and navigation left a lot to be desired. But, these weren’t important to this level of training. I left them out of the new book.
As well as wanting Dad’s book to be resurrected, I also just wanted a better learn to sail book than ASA was putting out. I disagree with some of the content in their book, completely disagree with the order and emphasis of the material, and can’t deal with a defective diagram in it that’s a very important and which is very fucked up. It’s so bad, that after our first day of instruction, we challenge students to figure out “what’s wrong with this picture.” Some do on the spot after pondering briefly, most take a little longer. A few don’t figure it out. But, to a person, once they see it or are told it, they get it. And, they can’t believe it was allowed to go to print that way.
(Not long ago, I found an error in The Annapolis Book of Seamanship by John Rousmaniere. Now, this is perhaps the best single all-around sailing reference available. I highly recommend it to all beginners and intermediates; most advanced (and some pro) sailors can learn at least a little if not a lot from it. I corresponded with John about it; I don’t think he realized the error was there. “After all these decades, you’re the first person to spot this,” he wrote. I see EVERYTHING. It is known.)
Truth be told, Dad’s book had what I consider to be an error in one of the illustrations. But, I left that one out and used many of the good ones! Almost everyone will eventually err in an explanation or illustration. However, when it’s caught, it ought to be corrected.
My book? It started out as Dad’s book redux, but became more mine than his. I did keep parts of his prose intact. I augmented other parts. I deleted some others. And, of course, I wrote several sections from scratch.
Our new book is going out digitally to people as a PDF. That way, it can be easily corrected, but also searched, viewed on any mobile device, and updated easily. Also, instead of putting painful step-by-step photos of knot illustrations, for example, we can have one good reference photo plus a link to quality step-by-step videos! And the book can easily evolve as photos are added, better ones are found, an idea comes to mind for a better explanation or ordering of content, etc. Of course, if anyone prefers, it can be printed.
What better way to celebrate writing a book on sailing than with sailor drinks? Dark ‘n Stormy: Reed’s ginger beer, Gosling’s Black Seal rum, oversized ice balls and cubes, and a mini-anchor bottle opener. It’s made by Lewmar, and a replica of their Delta Fast-Set anchor. That anchor is on the bow of most charter boats around the world. Why? It holds best in most seabeds. We’re all about the “why’s” of things.
Yes, I wrote about anchoring in the book. I left the illustrations to others; I explained what one is really trying to do when anchoring, and how to get the job done on the water.
We revisit our roots in learning how to sail at City Island’s Consolidated Yachts, New York’s oldest boatyard.
We’re back! Or, will be very shortly. We’re moving down the street to Consolidated Yachts on the southeast end of City island.
We’ve been there before. Twice. (Third time’s the charm?)
Round One: Dad did it for awhile back in the 1970’s. My first job as a kid was sweeping up the floor of the classroom and workshop for $1/hour. Remember when David Letterman started out as Late Morning With David Letterman? Before he was really, really famous with Late Night. Well, he was a student at dad’s New York Sailing School! I remember him walking back in from one of the sailing sessions all decked out in his yellow foul weather gear and a smile on his face. Later in life, I was disappointed when Letterman had Ted Turner on the show, who is a world class sailor (Olympics; America’s Cup; etc). Sailing didn’t come up once, much less New York Sailing School.
Dad lost his lease due to construction on the property’s border with a vacant lot that became a retirement community (still there now).
Round Two: I moved my school there in 2007 and we ran it there for 3 years. There was too much going on at the yard and it didn’t work out at that time, with several sub-tenants competing for space and resources. Chief culprit was an auto-body shop. At one point, they were going to publicize a bikini car wash and basically shut down our ability to operate. Eye candy not withstanding, we moved the school more or less to where we’re now going to be in the yard, but it was the beginning of the end of Round Two back then.
Consolidated is simpler now and better suits our needs than in the past. It remains the oldest continually operated boat yard in the State of New York, dating back to the late 1800’s if memory serves. No location is perfect, but here we’ll be getting a few key benefits…
Large slip for docking our skiff (launch) and sometimes our cruising boats, and also the smaller ones for ‘pit-stop’ maintenance. Also good for docking practice for cruising courses!
Large waterside area for classroom sessions, meet & greet, and just hanging out for lunch, breaks, or nothing at all except watching the birds and boats go by. It’s under an elevated storage shed so we have sun and rain protection. Plus, when you want sun, you got it- the patio extends out beyond toward the water.
Indoor storage of life jackets and other gear, plus enough room to use as a ‘foul weather’ classroom. In fact, this used to BE the classroom. Yup; where DL did his course with us.
Super-quick access to Western Long Island Sound, and also Eastchester Bay which is now literally around the corner. This increases our flexibility to adapt to different wind and weather conditions, and also makes it easier for our Sailing Club members to take advantage of the area’s inherent versatility.
Large, full-service boatyard that can handle anything we can’t for maintenance, including two Travelifts (marine hoists) to get boats in and out of the water.
Quick access to great breakfast, lunch and dinner options.
Classroom sessions, field-trip style: walk to the end of the pier above. Use real-time examples of sailboats doing stuff wrong… and right. And, right in front of your face. Available 7 days a week.
When we walk back from that, the view looks like this…
Consolidated looks a little bare in those pictures, right? It’s because we weren’t shooting the boatyard, and the slips are empty-ish in the off season. Here’s one shot of how dense the yard itself can be with pleasure boats and yachts, and smaller commercial vessels…
And, here’s some serious gear – anchor and chain rode for something huge…
How soon do we start up then? Very soon. We’re splashing our 23′ Carolina Skiff next week and it will be at the slip you can see in the pic above whose ramp to the pier is already in place. From there, we prep the two boats we already have in the water (our two Pearsons), and also the first Beneteau 21 to be launched ASAP. Moorings will be moved just off Consolidated. We can give you the tour of the boats and the digs almost on demand, but please do make an appointment with us so you don’t just show up to a locked gate or no signs of life.
This ain’t no 9 to 5!
Welcome aboard the new home of the Sailing Center! Please come visit soon. Hit us up through our contact page (in main menu here on this and every post and page of the site).
Dad and I both wrote textbooks for our sailing schools over the decades. What better way to help teach people how to sail or navigate a boat than to write your own rather than rent?
I followed in my father’s footsteps. He’d be like, “rolling over in my grave!” But, also, I’d like to think, proud all the same.
Above: his, not mine. Circa 1978, this was the text book students received when they signed up for The Master’s Course. This was the learn to sail/refresher course offered by New York Sailing School, which my dad founded in 1968 we believe. (It could have been ’70, but more likely ’68.) I was either 4 or 6 at the time!
The photo above was sent to me recently from a graduate of that program who is getting back into sailing after an absence. He learned to sail from my dad, and will continue on with me. We get this all the time; it’s one of the best feelings about being in the sport and the industry.
I can’t find a copy in our family’s stuff! I have the following cover from a slightly newer version of the same book…
Before I continue, I’m calling on anyone who has a copy of this text book, regardless of which cover is on it, to get in touch with us! I have a scan of the contents but I want to get an original hard copy for sentimental reasons.
And, now, back to the Blog…
The textbook was low-tech and photocopied. It was either stapled together or 3-hole punched and bound. But, it worked: students found it simple, effective, fun, and a great resource. He wrote it because, well… he was a writer amongst other things. He did a lot of advertising copy-wrighting as part of his first career, becoming a Creative VP in several boutique firms from the Mad Men era (does the name Benton & Bowles ring a bell?). Eventually, his side hustle in sailing became all consuming and he launched New York Sailing School after more modest beginnings with rentals and what was perhaps the country’s earliest seasonal time-share/fractional sailing plan: Sail-A-Season.
He also wrote it as it was needed. The American Sailing Association (ASA) didn’t come around until 1983. That year, both my Glenn and I became ASA instructors: I’m # 830701, for those who get how those numbers work. US Sailing didn’t add a adult sailing school/instruction arm until 1993. So, there wasn’t an industry association text book series available. Yes, Colgate’s Basic Sailing Theory (Steve Colgate, Offshore Sailing School) existed. It was rather expensive and also written by the competition. And, I don’t think dad liked it on it’s merits, honestly.
Fast forward to 1986/87. Dad sold the school that winter while I was in college. He remained an advisor to them for a few years and I helped out with that. Gradually, they edited and changed the book until it wasn’t the Sh*t My Dad Wrote. End of era. Just after that, I wrote this, which I include not just to pat myself on the back but in the context of the geo-political climate of the times…
Dad passed of lung cancer in the summer of 1995.
Skip forward a few years to late summer of 1997. For various reasons, I started a new sailing school. I actually went into direct competition with the former family business. I had taken back management and operation of dad’s New York Sailing Center & Yacht Club the year before, which at the time was simply a small marina with mooring storage and launch service. When dad sold the sailing school, he didn’t see the marina. I simply added a sailing school to it. I started off by affiliating with US Sailing that year, and in the spring of ’98, also affiliated with ASA. New York Sailing Center & Yacht Club was one of only a handful of schools in the country to certify students through both organizations. Later, it came to be that no school could be an affiliate of both ASA and US Sailing for other boring reasons. (Schools can be affiliates of ASA and also organizational members of US Sailing, as we have been, but no school can offer both systems of certification.)
Early on in the new school’s development, we started offering Start Navigating,SM the ASA 105 Coastal Navigation course. We had a consistent volume year round, offering it typically once a week for a month, 1x monthly. While ASA’s original textbook was excellent in many ways, it was missing material covered on the exam and also badly out of date on tech (RDF/Loran versus GPS). So, Captain Card (a/k/a Me, Myself and I) wrote a few short supplements to fill in those gaps. It was fun, but more needed to be done.
So, headphones on to the tune of “I, me, my” by The Beatles, he set to work one winter. During trips to Vermont for Thanksgiving and Christmas, he started drafting a comprehensive book. It sort of flowed organically, and it was fun, and it was good. So, whether it would ultimately be completed and used or not didn’t matter at the time. Over time, it became clear that ASA’s book wasn’t going to be revised anytime soon, despite them saying they’d send a draft of it soon.
Long story short: I finished my book and have used it for our Coastal Navigation course, Start Navigating,SM ever since. It’s had some minor updates over the years, but is essentially as written back in 2002. One topic needed revision when I stumbled in stages on something no one else did. The conventional wisdom about applying magnetic variation when plotting courses is misunderstood. It assumes something that isn’t true. I updated my book accordingly.
ASA? Nah. I was working with another ASA school owner on revising the answer key for the 105 exam. We agreed on the true courses for all the plotting problems, with one exception. After we both revisited this one, he ultimately agreed with my solution for it. However, we didn’t agree on the variation and therefore the magnetic course to use. (We address all this in the Start Navigating course, of course.) Upshot: I updated my book and he swept it under the rug.
In the meantime, ASA didn’t revise the first book. They introduced an entirely new one, to much self-generated fanfare. Later, they did in fact add a revised version of their first book. For awhile at least they continued to sell both. I never looked back. Neither did one of the authors, who didn’t update his book with the mathematical truth concerning magnetic variation. Not my problem; not my students’ either.
My book hasn’t been formally published. It did get its foot in the door at a major publishing house awhile ago: one of our former students was a literary agent and pitched it to an acquisition editor there. He caught it and re-pitched at an editorial meeting. They thought the book was worthy but not the sales projections and passed on it. So it goes…
But, Dad’s will be resurrected. I’m going to add things he didn’t include that now need to be there, and use it from that point forward for our Start Sailing course (ASA 101, learn-to-sail/Basic Keelboat).
They’re clever at Killington! They’re copying our swagger: the longest sailing season in the northeast where you can learn how to sail a boat or do a rental year round. Almost.
Killington Resort, in Rutland Vermont, has the longest ski/ride season in the Eastern US. The place is pretty large… they call it The Beast (of the East). Lots of acres; lots of lodges & lifts; lots of trails. Decent amount of snow (most in the lower half of Vermont, anyway). And, they throw snow. Big time. As recently as… ? Late March, this time!
And, they just announced that they’re going for a 52-week ski/ride season. Sure, if they want to build one of those indoor snow sliding contraptions. They’re talking about a multi-sport facility at the base of their Superstar lift, which is where the guns don’t stop blowing in the spring until it’s just too warm to make snow. This trail is one of the earliest to get snow blown in the fall, and always the last in the spring. Skiing and riding go on into May in most years, and on rare occasions, into June.
How about sailing, then? Well, we don’t operate much up here in the winter. Too temperamental. But, we often have one or two boats in the water all winter and it’s occasionally available to members. We’re not into frostbiting, or racing once a week in the winter unless it’s just too freaking cold or windy. Or, frozen over. Been there; done that. A long time ago. When I moved next door to a yacht club in Connecticut at one point that did frostbiting, I almost pulled the trigger on getting back into it. Before I could, I decided to take a snowboarding lesson. BAM. Done. I knew I’d never have time to do frostbiting. I snowboard in the winter and I sail in the other seasons. And I’ve been back in the Big Apple for awhile now.
As for Killington, here’s a link to their YouTube clip with the announcement…
As we get ready for the season, we paint bottoms, replace washers and flange bushing bearings, dry out bilges, wax topsides, check engine fluids and impellers, etc, etc. If you want some experience with that sort of thing, hit us up! Start Bareboating (ASA 104 Bareboat Cruising) kicks off the season, followed by Start Sailing (learn to sail/ASA 101) and Start Cruising (ASA 103, Basic Coastal Cruising). Live 105 Coastal navigation continues on Zoom.
And, of course, Killington is still open with over 100 trails for skiing and snowboarding. Truth.
This has been a very distressing and distracting time. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to be in Ukraine right now under attack and siege.
I was somewhat embarrassed at first as I have some Russian roots, but soon realized that Ukrainian citizens probably don’t hold the average Russian accountable, and there are some close ties between cultures and individual families.
What’s a sailor to do? How does one help?
One thing going around goes like this: book a room on AirBnB, and then immediately inform the host that you’re not actually coming but just getting some dollars to someone there. Not sure how I feel about this.
Another? Buying digital art, etc on Etsy. What I like about that is supporting creators, and also the ability to share that art to expand awareness.
Giving to recognized, highly vetted charitable organizations is still probably the best way to go for donations. Make sure you pick something listed by an unconnected, highly credible source, such as a prominent media outlet you already trust (regardless of whether you agree/disagree with some or all of its policy views or biases). Two that we’ve seen in several lists and which have withstood the test of time: UNICEF and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). We link to them below. There are others, of course.
Giving is one thing; doing is another. If you can think of something grass roots you can do to influence others to give or do something, your efforts might have a multiplier effect. Perhaps you simply post on social media and come up with a call to action, asking or challenging your peeps to give or do. Perhaps you come up with something more.
We’ve seen some businesses start to donate portions of some or all of their sales. Magic Mountain, our favorite little hill in Vermont (with the toughest terrain in SoVo as well as easy and moderate trails), did two things we know of.
They dumped all their Stoli, etc, in a great show on social media.
They donated a portion of their ticket sales from last weekend to the cause, and publicized the intent in advance to get people out. It worked. They were busy! And, they painted the Ukrainian flag on the slopes.
What are we doing?
For now, we are incentivizing you to donate $50 to a legit charitable. How? By then deducting $50 from your tuition for our Start NavigatingSM courses (ASA 105, Coastal Nav).
Details: if you’re giving to UNICEF and/or Médecins Sans Frontières, just do it and send the proof. If you want to give to another organization, clear it with us first to be sure we’ll deduct the donation from your tuition (as we’ll have to check it out). Then, send the proof. Either way, we’ll then email you an invoice showing $50 off the tuition. You can choose an existing schedule, or just buy the course and schedule later. We’re always adding new schedules, and usually choosing dates based on your availability.
To further incentivize donating, we’re putting a deadline on this: you must purchase by the end of March. However, you don’t need to schedule the course by then. You have until the end of 2022 to take it. We schedule most of our navigation courses from October through April.
To check out the course and/or send us proof of donation, go here…
Here are links to Médecins Sans Frontières and UNICEF:
“Glory to Ukraine!” (Ukrainian: Слава Україні!, romanized: Slava Ukraini!, IPA: [ˈslɑʋɐ ʊkrɐˈjin⁽ʲ⁾i] (listen)) is a Ukrainian national salute or farewell that can be used at the end of speeches, known as a symbol of Ukrainian sovereignty and resistance and as the official salute of the Armed Forces of Ukraine since 2018. It is often accompanied by the response “Glory to the heroes!” (Ukrainian: Героям слава!, romanized: Heroiam slava!). Paragraph above copied from Wikipedia by searching “Glory to Ukraine.” Photo: February 27 in NYC, on that page on Wikipedia (no photo credit posted).
More about the spate of attacks at Cape Cod and other New England spots over the last decade. No, no sailing or cruising or yacht or such involved here. It’s just something we predicted awhile ago.
A student of ours from quite awhile ago, Tyler Hicks, did the still photography for the article we link to here, coincidentally. We hope he’s kept up with his sailing!
Why am I writing about shark attacks on a Sailing Club/School site? Because I can. This is our Blog Rant section and I do what I want. But, there’s relevance and it’s more than the fact that one of our students took some photos. Everywhere we travel for our destination Sailing Vacation courses, we snorkel and/or swim. And, anywhere people choose to swim, there can be sharks.
First thing to know: it’s safe! True, every year around the world there are a number of shark attacks and a few fatalities. But compared to the number of times humans enter the water each year, it’s a ridiculously rare occurrence for anyone to be bitten, far less killed. Even in the places that statistically have more attacks than others, it’s extremely rare. That’s why people continue to go surfing, snorkeling and diving in those areas. In fact, most people who survive shark attacks (the overwhelming majority do) get back on the horse, so to speak. They go back in the water.
“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…”
the crap they used to hype JAWS 2
Another reason I choose to write about it here is it’s something I know something about. I’ve been fascinated with sharks since I was a little boy. One day, my father took me to the South Street Seaport. When we were done exploring the waterfront and vessels, we ducked into the gift shop. I wound up walkIng out with a book called “Shark: Unpredictable Killer of the Sea.” Author: Thomas Helm. I read it. I watched documentaries. I read other books and articles. I read statistics via the International Shark Attack File. I went fishing… sometimes for sharks. I snorkeled a lot. On rare occasions, I would see a shark.
And, yes – I saw sharks on our trips! They weren’t “man-eaters” on the prowl to eat anything they saw, or tear up hapless swimmers for sport and then spit them out so they could chomp more chumps. They were minding their own business, and had no business with us.
Now, about those great whites on Cape Cod…
They’ve been there for awhile. They started showing up near shore and even in the surf. As the article discusses, the sharks were almost certainly responding to increased stocks of gray seals that were migrating seasonally to the Cape. Fish follow food, as do marine mammals. All this was a sign of a healthy ecosystem that had been recovering from overfishing and pollution. Well before there was any discussion of great white sharks near swimmers and surfers on the Cape, light tackle sport fishing enthusiasts (another hat I’ve worn on and off most of my life) became aware of striped bass and bluefish coming in closer to shore more consistently in the summer and fall on the flats of the Cape, and sight-feeding. One photo in the article shows a great white with a striped bass in its mouth.
When the sharks become public knowledge, and attacks began, a cottage industry sprung up with shark paraphernalia and such. Also, the parks department put someone in charge of trying to ensure some balance of public safety awareness and preparedness on the one hand, and allowing people to continue getting in the water on the other. That’s been evolving, especially after something that I’d predicted for years finally happened: someone was killed by a shark in the Cape Cod surf.
As people were continuing to swim and surf, and the sharks were arriving in more numbers, as well as slowly growing as they returned season after season, it was inevitable. If nothing changes, then inevitably there will be the occasional attack and possibly a fatality. But, what would change? Can’t kill the sharks. Can’t kill their food supply. Can’t stop the sharks from swimming where they will. Can we stop people from going in the water? Cue up the scene from the original Jaws, which became a popular meme during the pandemic:
Some residents in Cape Cod think that locals should be able to decide if and how much to cull the seal and shark population to protect those who play in the water and therefore the economy. Others think that’s ‘playing god.’ My takeaway? I’ve never been attacked by a shark, nor known anyone who has. However, those who survive attacks – and those who survive those taken from us by shark attacks – mostly, if not vastly, side with the sharks. They believe that we’re entering sharks’ territory, at our own slight risk, and that sharks are just doing their thing: going about their simple lives surviving. Therefore, leave them alone.
I happen to agree.
“We’re dressing up like their food, and swimming among their food, and we still hardly ever fool them. People will drive down to the beach while they are texting and then they worry about getting bit by a shark?”
Chris Fischer, founder of the non-profit research organization OCEARCH.
So, what happened on the Cape? I’ll let you read the article as it’s a good one. It covers attacks on the Cape, as well as one along the coast in the Bay and one up in Maine in 2020. Two out of the five encounters were fatal. Strangely, despite referencing “Jaws” appropriately on several occasions, the article doesn’t point out that the book by Peter Benchley and the subsequent movie (and sequels) were inspired by real events. What were they?
“12 Days of Terror,” according to one author. In the summer of 1916, there were five shark attacks in New Jersey in the span of 12 days. All but one were fatal. Three of them happened basically back to back in the same one small body of water, Raritan Creek. The other two, which preceded these, were separate attacks at different beaches along the NJ coast. There’s been a lot of conjecture over the century since those attacks about what happened. However, one fact remains: a juvenile great white shark of around 7.5 feet was caught in Raritan Bay shortly after the last attack, and it had human remains in it’s digestive tract, including some positively identified as belonging to one of the attack victims.
After it was caught, the attacks stopped.
Two of those attacks were likely survivable had proper 1st aid been administered and if infrastructure and logistics existed for rapid transport to a trauma facility. Two were not. The fifth and final attack was when a group of kids swimming were warned that there had been an attack further down the creek, and they all scrambled out. The last boy climbing out was struck on the leg by a shark and badly wounded. It’s not clear whether his leg was amputated to save his life; reports conflict. But, he survived.
What about drones?
Obviously, the cover shot for the Times piece is spectacular and the work of a drone. As the piece discusses, drones might be the future of preventative measures along beaches. My takeaway? We’re seeing more and more images like this, where people are in the water blissfully unaware that sharks are quite close by. In many if not most cases, this peaceful coexistence had always been the case. Now, drones are letting us see it for ourselves. That’s not the case on the Cape, where the increase in shark numbers is well documented. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if we keep seeing pics and clips from drones that show how often people are in close proximity to “man-eating” great whites that clearly know the people are there – and clearly don’t care. Until they do, of course, but the drones might very well get people out of the water in advance and reduce the already very slight risk that a shark might bite someone in the water.
And, finally… here’s a link to the entire and very worthwhile article!..
Our third trip to the country and second to Campania for bareboat sailing vacation courses did not disappoint.
Not much, anyway! Winds were kinda light. By light, I mean sometimes nonexistent, often very light, and sometimes sailable. But, we sailed. And we toured. We swam. And we wined and dined like the Medeci.
This trip was booked for last September, but by that April, we called it for obvious reasons. We eventually rebooked and kept a close eye on things, and it all worked out with the exception of some missing luggage for one couple. (I avoid checking bags, especially for boat trips.)
We first did this itinerary in 2010. It was a private trip booked by three friends (a fourth had to drop out). This time around, it was the same deal but with addition instead of subtraction, so five passengers plus yours truly. The ‘ringleader,’ Jay, had taken our Start Sailing course years before and had also been on BVI and Croatia trips with us.
Sailing out of the Naples area gives a few options:
The islands off the Golfo di Napoli (Bay of Naples). These are Procida, Ischia, and Capri. Procida is the start of it all for Sunsail/Moorings charters.
The Pontine Islands, further west. These are Ponza and Ventotene. Next to Ventotene is Santo Stefano but it’s off limits.
The Sorrentine Peninsula, with Sorrento on top near the western tip, and the entire Amalfi Coast and “Amalfi Drive” leading to Salerno to the east.
It’s not hard to do some of each in a 1-week charter, especially if, when the wind is light, one is willing to turn on the engine to get there. On our first trip 10 years ago, we seldom had to motor to a destination. On this one, we seldom got to sail all the way to one. That meant sailing when there was wind, and motoring when there wasn’t. Simple. When there wasn’t, we could cover much of the distance to a destination and allow potential back-end sailing time as we got closer.
Not everyone spoke English well. But, who cares? We’re in THEIR country. And they were all very helpful and nice. That’s 3 for 3 with our Italy trips. We were always able to communicate. On our trip to the Isole Eolie dal Sicilia (Aeolians), we were lucky enough to have a fluent speaker aboard so we had an edge. The point is, you don’t need it.
Foodie? Sommelier? You’d like this trip. It was hard to get a bad dish or a bad glass of wine. We managed with wine once. On our second night at Procida, we tried the house wine. It was pretty bad. Everything else was excellent however. We did dare to try the house wine at another joint: on our last night on Procida, albeit at another restaurant. This one was fine.
We had a few foodies on the trip, and they scoured Google and Trip Advisor reviews to find our dinner spots. They did their jobs well: back-to-back Michelin rated restaurants on Amalfi, for example! One had a standard menu format and the other was strictly tasting menu options. Dishes at both ranged from solid to amazing. For the tasting menu, we opted for wine pairings with each course. That cost. But, it was worth it.
The water was absolutely delicious for swimming. Warm; clean and clear; smelled good enough to taste, although we passed on it. We had the same experience in the Eolie off Sicily. Something about that clean, super salty water. Seldom anything to see by snorkeling, as it’s not a coral-reef kinda place, but we leave that for the Caribbean anyway. Ventotene is a diving hot-spot, but it’s less suitable for snorkeling. On our prior trip, the gang was invited along last minute to go along with some divers and they had a good time with it. One can also just snorkel from the beach and if not a snob about it, it’s decent.
Our itinerary for this trip: it evolved as it evolved. We didn’t show up with a pre-set plan, but rather some general ideas about what we wanted to do that would be dictated by weather and logistics. The first logistic was… Lufthansa. They lost some of our luggage. It never got to the boat or the base, until the day after we returned to New York. But, it was supposed to arrive by courier the next morning, so of course we didn’t head off to Capri or Ventotene or anything. We simply did a day sail on the first full day and returned to the base at Procida.
That was almost a blessing in disguise, as it allowed for some exploration that we would’t otherwise have gotten. What a stunningly beautiful little island! Very good, and very local, food too – including spaghetto with sea urchins. Yes, I spelled it with an “o.” That’s what the local restaurant did, and not just for that dish.
Our Director is the guest expert on choosing where to learn how to sail for Iconic Alternatives’ summer series
I’ve been a Bond fan since I was a boy. My folks had all the original print books by Ian Fleming, and they took me to a double feature of Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice when I was too young to be knowing anything about Pussy Galore. @parenting!
Fast forward to this summer. Iconic Alternatives, a lifestyle site themed largely around certain screen actors (including the major players in the Bond market), is doing a summer series on relevant activities, and how to best get started in them. They chose our Director, Captain Stephen Glenn Card (yup, me), as their Expert for learning how to sail. Fair.
Might not be fair to put my image on the same web page as Daniel Craig as Bond, but he was driving a boat and had a smug, confident look on his face. So did I…
More importantly, this series is worth taking a look at if you’re contemplating taking up any of those actvities. The first two: learning to sail, and SCUBA diving.
My family has owned and operated two sailing schools over the course of about 52 years. I know a thing or two; not my first rodeo. I was more than happy to share some thoughts about choosing a sailing school.
Rather than be redundant, I’ll link you to the feature on Iconic Alternatives’ site…