Doubling Down on Lady Luck Print E-mail

Long Island Boating World

October 2016

Feeling lucky? Pompano Beach, Fla. officials sure are. They’re betting a recently sunken former New York City tanker will become a scuba diving hot spot as well as providing a much needed boost to south Florida’s fragile coral reefs.LadyLuck 2

Formerly known as Newtown Creek, the 324-foot vessel was scuttled on July 23 about a mile and a half east of the Pompano Beach Fishing Pier. Holes were strategically cut into the wreck and prefilled with water so the ship would only need a minimal amount of water to sink.

The rechristened “Lady Luck” is the centerpiece of Shipwreck Park, a series of 16 other ships-turned-reefs, brimming with an array of marine life. With whimsical pieces of art on its deck, Lady Luck is expected to be one of the most popular and accessible major dive sites in the country. Free to divers with their own boats, Lady Luck is projected to attract 35,000 participants each year.

The 2,557-ton Newtown Creek’s propellers-- at seven feet in diameter-- were powered by twin 1,500 horsepower diesel engines. It has fine lines and a sharp bow with a beam of 49.6 feet. The lovely grey hulled coastal tanker traversed New York Harbor’s waters for close to a half century hauling sludge.

Marvelous Monhegan Island Print E-mail

 Florida Today

August 22, 2016

We're queuing up on the docks of the village of Port Clyde ready to climb aboard a 65-foot vessel, the Elizabeth Ann. With the passengers, mail and freight loaded, we steam out of the harbor past Marshall Point lighthouse and a series of pine and spruce-clad islands before reaching the open sea to ply our way toward Monhegan Island.Monhegan 12

Navigating among the schooners and other boats that traverse the Gulf of Maine, Capt. John Haines points out puffins winging across the water on their northern migratory route. We get up-close views of porpoises, and families of brown seals frolicking in the sea or basking in the sun on Seal Rock. Hundreds of buoys mark lobster traps, each marker color coded to identify its owner. Lobstermen are allowed a maximum of 475 traps during the season that stretches from November through May.

After an hour ferry ride, my wife Jane and I step off onto Monhegan and hike up past the Island Inn that sports an American flag whipping atop its cupola. The tidy village boasts impossibly quaint houses surrounded by colorful flowers. There are no cars, and no paved roads, just narrow lanes and footpaths. A handful of tailgate-less work trucks haul pallets of building materials, propane, produce and food, beer, wine and other cargo from the docks to businesses operating on the island.

Barely a square mile in area, Monhegan is a down to earth and hard working culture, where fishing and lobstering families still live and work by the tide clock. The summer resident population hovers around 200, but day-trippers can add another 600 or 700 to the mix. Winter is a quiet and lonely time; the island shrinks to its bedrock population of 65.

Off and Running at Saratoga Springs Print E-mail

 Florida Today

July 17, 2016

Like the mythical Scottish village of Brigadoon, Saratoga Springs comes to life each magical summer.Saratoga 3

Legions of fans will watch and wager on many of the world’s fastest and finest racehorses during the six week season beginning July 22 . With its steeply raked roof, lazily spinning ceiling fans and Victorian grandstand, Saratoga Race Course salutes a bygone era.

Already a summer destination for the well-heeled in the mid-19th century, Saratoga was celebrated for its brilliant architecture and its mineral springs' curative powers. John ("Old Smoke") Morrissey was the kingpin. A gambler, former boxing champion, and casino owner, Morrissey organized Saratoga's first thoroughbred four-day meet. It drew thousands of locals and tourists a month after the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.

Today, big crowds, big payouts and top-flight racing are hallmarks of the "Spa" summer meet. Fans and bettors fill the hotels to capacity ready to "go racing," turning up for such storied races as the Coaching Club American Oaks, the Sword Dancer, the Alabama, the Whitney, and the Woodward stakes races. The highlight is the 147th running of the $1.25 million Travers Stakes, a pivotal race for three-year olds at a mile and a quarter on August 27.

Kennedy Space Center Delivers An Epic Journey Print E-mail

 Long Island Boating World

August 2016

Here's a question: why are rockets launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida?KSC 7

Set on the Atlantic Ocean and relatively nearer the equator compared to other U.S. locations, Cape Canaveral is a prime spot because rockets traveling eastward get a boost from the earth's natural spin. So, they save on fuel as well as rocket power. The rate of spin is at its highest on the equator and slowest at the poles. Cape Canaveral's southern latitude of just 28 degrees above the equator is a nice fit.

In the early 1960s the area around Cape Canaveral was a rural beach within a short driving distance of both Navy and Army bases. Since infrastructure was in place for transportation and there was a fair amount of reasonable privacy and isolation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) established its command post here.

The Kennedy Space Center (KSC) became the gateway to the cosmos. Today, KSC's landscape is dotted with towering launch pads and support facilities filled with massive buildings and high-tech hardware and gear. But the space launch complex has a wild side.

Residing roughly midway between Jacksonville and Miami, the space center shares a boundary with the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1962 and operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it provides a protected habitat for migratory birds and endangered and threatened species. It's a strange marriage of colossal technology and exquisite natural beauty that has co-existed for more than 50 years.

Easy Going New Smyrna Beach Print E-mail

 Long Island Boating World

May 2016

Did New Smyrna Beach get the jump on St. Augustine?

NSB 1Historians have long debated whether the seaside town is the actually the original St. Augustine-- the Spanish-colonized spot known as the nations‘ oldest city. Why? Overlooking the Intracoastal waterway stands a stunning 40 x 80 foot coquina ruin. A limestone consisting almost entirely of shelly fossils, coquina was the only material resembling stone on Florida's sandy coast that explorers used to build structures in the late 1600s. Coquina is the primary building material of the famed masonry fort Castillo de San Marcus in St. Augustine. Still, other historians give credit for the structure to a Scottish physician named Andrew Turnbull who colonized the area for England in 1768. 

Today, the ruins are part of the larger Old Fort Park. Nestled among the moss-draped trees along the shores of the scenic Indian Rive, New Smyrna Beach is surrounded totally by bodies of water. The Atlantic Ocean lies to the east, the Intracoastal Waterway to the west and Mosquito Lagoon is between the two.

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