Thursday, December 31, 2009

Favorite Posts of 2009

fireworks for the New Year!

I guess it is nearly obligatory to recognize your 'best' or 'favorite' posts of the year when wrapping up the year on a blog. I do not want to disappoint. So here goes, the top 10, in no particular order...

10. My First Post. I had high hopes when I first started the blog. Most importantly, I wanted to post most everyday. Although I have missed a handful of days, for the most part I attained that goal. This first post reflects some of the best of the CapeMay internet world, including great photos and CapeMay.Com, the granddaddy and best Cape May site of them all.

9. John Hughes passes away. Most every pop cultural landmark I can think of somehow intersects with Cape May, at least in my memory. This post is a good example of that.

8. History Project. Through the miracle of internet archives, I plan to post old news articles about Cape May from time to time. I've already done it afew times, as you can see in this old post about a NY Times story published in the 1890s. One of my favorite aspects of the blog, but also one of the most time consuming.

7. Presenting...the Ivory Gull! The Ivory Gull took over all Cape May news in early December. This is just one post of many. The excitement over this little visitor from the Arctic was palpable!

6. Other Bloggers. Getting to know other bloggers a little bit has been a fun byproduct of running this site. There are many worth mentioning, but this post from last summer notes a Rutgers paleontologist who also writes about Cape May.

5. The Sinking of the Lady Mary. There were a number of sailors lost this year off Cape May, but the story of the Lady Mary has captured my attention. The story of its sinking is mysterious. I look forward (hopefully) to seeing the mystery unravel over the next year, and plan to post about it whenever the story hits the news. These blog posts also were the most searched-for, iirc.

4. Admiral Memories. The Christian Admiral looms large in my memories of Cape May. I found a blogger who told stories about working at the Admiral during the summer of '71. This blog post of mine is the second of two posts that linked to his blog. If you like human stories, check both this link and the first post where I linked to him, as well. Reverend McIntyre may be gone, but he is certainly not forgotten, as these blog posts attest.

3. Christmas Video. I enjoyed putting this video/slideshow together, which captures many of the blog's photos from over the year. I also learned how to post to youtube as a bonus, in order to get the video to actually work on the blogsite!

2.My Mom. After a courageous battle with ALS, my mom, Maureen Miller, passed away in early Summer. She loved Cape May as much as I did; and she is very missed. Love you, Mom.

1. Cooking with Persnickety Chef Part 2 and Part 1. I have to pick two posts as my favorite of the year, in that both posts were about the same occasion. Having read Cape May Magazine since its inception, and read CapeMay.Com (its precursor) since it began, it was a natural for me to often link to the great stories and photos the editor and writers put together over there. I don't know what motivated me to want to cook with CapeMay.Com's Persnickety Chef, but in these two blogposts I document my family's fun times whipping together a bunch of recipes the Chef has shared with his loyal readers over the years. My wife, children and I had a blast making this food, and even more fun eating it! And at least in terms of the blog, the nicest thing to happen all year was CapeMay.Com actually linked to these posts from there Facebook page, which led to by far the most hits I had all year.

...and there it is. The top posts of the year. Very exciting :-) ... see you in the New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Great News for the New Year!

A few days ago I posted worrisome news that the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts ("MAC") was in financial trouble. Well, today I received great news via email from MAC.. and the email reads,

Dear Friends of MAC:

While living in Europe in 1897, writer Mark Twain discovered that an American newspaper had erroneously reported his death. Responding to that story in his inimitable style, Twain wrote the often-quoted phrase, "Reports of my death are grossly exaggerated."

For those of our friends who read a recent story in the Philadelphia Inquirer, we would say the same thing.

The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) is not in imminent danger of "folding," as the story reported. 2009 has admittedly been a challenging and difficult year for us at MAC, as it has been for countless organizations and individuals around the country. The tourism industry, as well as the arts and history community of which we are a part, has been severely tested by the economy. Budget cuts have had an impact on all of us, as we saw dwindling resources and escalating costs.

The good news, however, is that we have received word that state funding for the arts and history community, frozen in recent months, has been released and all of us can breathe a little easier.

Even before that news, however, we have been doing what countless other businesses and organizations have done to meet these challenges: We have found new ways to continue meeting the needs of our visitors and our community. Despite the economy and coping with cutbacks in staffing, in 2009 MAC not only introduced several new tours and events, but also marked a major historic milestone with the opening of the World War II Tower.

As an organization, MAC and its staff will continue to change and grow. We know that Cape May has a special place in the hearts of the area's residents and visitors, and we will continue to do our best to make your Cape May experience a memorable one. Continuing our role as a leader in historic preservation and cultural tourism will happen, thanks to people like you. We hope we can count on your continued support through your membership, donations, and participation in MAC's tours and events. For more information about how you can help MAC, click here. We look forward to seeing you in Cape May in 2010.


B. Michael Zuckerman, Ph.D.

GREAT NEWS!!! The continued success of MAC is important for the continued vitality of Cape May.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year's Eve Planning...

Looking for something to do on New Year's? If you are near Cape May, then I suggest you check out one of THESE EVENTS... if my wife and I were there, we'd be at Congress Hall, I suspect!

Have a good and quiet work week!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Video (& other news)

I know that the video I posted on Christmas Eve did not work at first; however, it is working now so if you still have not seen it please look at this LINK in order to watch.

In other, more important news...

Mid-Atlantic Center in trouble? Let's hope not!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from your Cape May Blogger

I don't think teenagers appreciate solo piano much, or at least this teenager didn't. But as I walked through the Washington Street Mall with some friends on a mid-1980s July Saturday night, I heard the most beautiful music streaming out the speakers of what I believe was the Whale's Tale. Christmas music, of all things, in July. That did not matter to me -- what mattered was its beauty. Since that night, I've loved George Winston's music, even if my grandfather found it "repetitive." My mother also loved George Winston, after I introduced her to his music later that summer. She had the privilege to see Winston in concert several years ago, a treat I have not yet experienced. Anyway, I could think of no better way to celebrate my first Cape May Blog Christmas than to combine that beautiful Christmas music with many of the amazing photos I've posted or plucked from the wilds of the Internet, all related to Cape May. Merry Christmas to you, and thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cape May (Snowy) Times

Cape May Times, a site I do not visit as often as I should, has more wonderful snowy photos HERE, a collection which includes the photo above. They give a great 'you-are-there' description of Cape May following the snow storm that is a treat to read.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

White Christmas

...photo from the Herald

Capemay.com has some wonderful Cape May under snow photos right HERE.

and the Cape May County Herald has even more wintry photos (from Cape May County as opposed to Cape May proper) right HERE.

Merry Christmas. I hope to have a special post up for Christmas by late tomorrow. We shall see.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mike Crewe, brit bird blogger, shows us a Wintry Cape May

Mike Crewe, a Brit birding blogger in Cape May whom I've linked to before, comes through with many, many photos of Cape May covered with snow. You won't believe how many birds he's pictured, and there's a story behind almost every photo. Check it out! The two photos above are just a couple of the many great shots... thanks, Mike!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow in Cape May

Thank you to Bernie Haas of CapeMay.Com for this wonderful photo of what those of us not in Cape May are missing!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas is Coming

Cape May Christmas photos, and a nice story, at THIS LINK.

If you're like me, then I wish you HAPPY SHOPPING TODAY!

Friday, December 18, 2009

In News from Nearby...

One of my favorite rides in the background, 3 of my 4 favorite children in the foreground!

Yes, yes, I know it's not Cape May, but no trip to Cape May is complete without one visit to the second best boardwalk at the Jersey shore. I look forward to seeing what the Morey brothers have in store for us on Mariner's Landing! Check out the AC Press link for more information... Morey's Piers keeping new attraction a mystery - pressofAtlanticCity.com : Cape May County

Posted using ShareThis

Thursday, December 17, 2009

new TV show

I know several Jersey Shore bloggers -- like Jen Miller -- don't like the new TV show, "The Jersey Shore," or whatever it's called. I haven't seen it, doubt I will. Nevertheless, in reading this New York Times article about the show, I admit I laughed. Here's a funny snippet:

• Cologne, Application of Cologne should be applied with a minimum of four squirts, though up to eight is acceptable. Each wrist receives a full squirt while the chest area and neck can sustain four to five equally spaced squirts.

I knew many people like the young people described in this article when I spent summers in Cape May as a teen. Was every Italian like this? Of course not! But I loved the ones who were. Perhaps if I saw the show I'd be outraged, but I doubt it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pastor Rudy Nails It Again

Pastor Rudy Sheptock of the Lighthouse Church of Cape May has a great Christmas message at the Cape May County Herald for most everyone. Since the links are not working, I'll share the piece with you here:

Speaking in the Light - 12-9

By Pastor Rudy

The fastest growing religion in the world is not Christianity or Islam. The symbol of this rising faith is not the Star, the Crescent, or the Cross, but the dollar sign. This expanding belief system is called Radical Consumerism.

It promises transcendence, power, pleasure and fulfillment even as it demands complete devotion. But unfortunately, I do not believe that it delivers upon that which it promises and leaves too many of its followers dying broke.

Now before you say that I am not fully knowledgeable about that of which I am talking about, let me ask a simple question. Where is your heart today? For whether a person craves prestige, wealth, security or amusement, or whether a person lives for God, country, science or plunder, that person is demonstrating a faith and showing confidence in something.

Find out what an individual gives his or her deepest loyalty to and you have found their religion. It matters not so much what people may say with their mouths as much as it depends upon what they do with their actions.

Take a look at the world that we presently live in. What does the soul of our society seem most deeply committed to? And the sad reality is that I don’t think that most individuals are even aware that their deepest commitments are to stuff that could never return the attention they receive. Loving inanimate objects is a lousy way to invest a heart. If what you presently love can’t love you back, then it is truly time for you to reinvest your most valuable asset.

Let me ask you another question. What is it that you really want out of Christmas? Christmas can still be a world-changing- heart renewing event if we keep our focus upon what happened in Bethlehem and ignore what is happening on Madison Avenue. Do you know that every year some 450 billion dollars are spent on Christmas alone?

Sixteen billion dollars are forked over just on decorations. And every citizen of the good old USA spends on average of about $850 dollars for gifts. And when it is all said and done, too many are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off and the empty feeling that somewhere along the way we missed arriving at the real destination.

When did a holy day that is supposed to celebrate the birth of a Savior become a time of anxiety, crowds, headaches, lists and impossible expectations? What if most of the Americans who presently profess to be believers in Jesus actually traded in their season of stress for a season of celebration and unbelievable memories with those that they love?

For consumerism to be successful, its customer must be dissatisfied. While a salesman sometimes spouts off to you that “this will be the last item you will ever need to buy,” we should know better. There will always be just “one more thing,” that we need to be successful or happy or complete. I don’t think the problem is that we necessarily want more, it is just that what we want, we can’t buy, but we try anyway.

According to the Scriptures, Christians believe that the most important gifts in this world are not the things that we can see or touch. What if this Christmas, instead of pursuing the latest gadgets and most comfortable lifestyles, we became pilgrims like the Magi? What if we were willing to leave behind our ease in order to witness and worship something infinitely better?

In our hearts we know that consumerism is not the way to honor the birth of Jesus. Could opting out of our cultural Christmas give us the chance to worship fully and love like we were created to do so? Might it be that the King of kings is more powerful and more worthy of our devotion and attention than the idols of consumerism? Are we willing to spend less, and give so that we may actually receive more of all that matters most?

God’s greatest gift to us was not a gift card to the mall! He actually offered to us Himself. He sacrificed His very best to offer us a relationship built upon the foundation of everlasting love. So, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is why we are drawn at this time of the year to love our friends and family in the most memorable ways possible.

Time is the real treasure of Christmas. It can’t be found in a store catalogue or at a midnight price buster extravaganza. It is found in being not doing. What gift of yourself could you give that could turn into the next family heirloom?

Is it time to write Mom or Dad a letter? Is it time to go play football with your kids out on the lawn and not in front of a simulated video screen? Is it time to visit a nursing home to bake really good cookies or sing really bad Christmas carols?
If you want to reclaim Christmas this year, then you must make your love visible through relational giving.

It will result in something a whole lot better than a sweater you will never wear anyway. When Jesus loved, He loved in ways never imagined before. Though He was rich, He became poor to love the poor and forgotten to remember those who were still special and He noticed the overlooked and comforted the sick.

By spending less at Christmas on ourselves to buy that which we don’t really need, it gives us the chance to be used in providing resources to help those who need it the most! By buying one less gift so you could invest yourself in being God’s instrument to meet a real need may sound insignificant, but I believe it puts you more in tune with the One whose birthday it is that we truly celebrate. And just like Jesus, we can offer light in the darkness and hope in the midst of despair.

Can Christmas still change the world? I believe it can if we are willing to drop everything that we have been stuffing in our arms so that we can be open to what God wants to do in our hearts. For I have learned that when God changes one heart, everyone around them benefits from that transformation too. I invite you to enter the story of Advent this season with an overwhelming passion to run to the manger and leave the mall behind!

As always, Rudy, thank you for the great thoughts.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Worth Watching

This video about the Fall 2009 migration through Cape May is well worth watching. Take five minutes out of your day when you need a break and drink it in.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ivory Gull: LIVE!

The funny thing about this video (or one of the funny things) is that it confirms for me something I had wondered: if I had seen this amazing Ivory Gull while spending some time in Cape May, would I have figured it was just another sea gull?

This video makes me realize the answer to that question is definitely, YES!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hello? Anyone Home?

Exit Zero reported a few weeks ago that the state Department of Environmental Protection (D.E.P.) has put a roadblock up for the new Convention Hall. In order to make the D.E.P. happy, the City plans to move Convention Hall closer to Beach Drive and then route the boardwalk around the Hall, jutting the boardwalk out into Beach Drive....

Hel-lo? Anyone home up there in Cape May County? Why isn't this making news in Cape May beyond a small mention in Exit Zero?????

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cape May at Christmas

The bloggers at the John F. Craig House invite you to spend some Christmas-time with them. Sounds like a good idea to me! Wish I wasn't 18 hours away!

As the Beach Theatre Turns

Jack Fichter at the Cape May County Herald gives us a very interesting update on the soap opera that is the Beach Theatre:

HPC to Rehear Demolition Application for Beach Theatre

By Jack Fichter

CAPE MAY — The city’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) will rehear an application for demolition of the Beach Theatre by its owners, Frank Theatres in January.

Bruce Frank, president and CEO of Frank Theatres, told the Herald a new application has been filed. He said he hoped that HPC would follow the law and “discharge their obligations in an unbiased manner.”
A contract was issued for asbestos removal from the Beach Theatre, said Frank. He said the theater will not reopen.

“I would hope that the vision from the city and from the members of the HPC would be outside the scope of personal emotions and deal with what will look good there 20 years from now,” said Frank.

HPC and the Beach Theatre have a complicated history that includes refusing a demolition certificate in 4-3 vote in May 2007 and then voting again and issuing a certificate in July 2007 when an issue was raised that HPC Chairperson Mary Ann Gaffney’s husband was part of the Save the Beach Theatre Foundation. She recused herself from the second vote and alternate Commissioner Wayne Copeland cast a “yes” vote for demolition.

That certificate was good for one year.
It appeared to have been extended until July 1, 2010 when Gov. Jon Corzine created the Permit Extension Act (PEA) of 2008.
City Solicitor Tony Monzo confirmed resident Jean Powick’s discovery last month that a certificate extension through PEA did not apply to the City of Cape May because it is classified by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as an environmentally sensitive area which is exempt from PEA.
That left Frank Theatres with an expired certificate.

A new approval for demolition may be an uphill climb for Frank Theatres. Since the first certificate for demolition was approved both the city’s HPC and Planning Board have deemed the Beach Theatre as a key historic structure. City Council has the option of confirming it as such and passing an ordinance which would make a new approval from HPC for demolition unlikely.

In June 2007, HPC voted 4-1 not to reopen a hearing on the matter that would have examined a report by preservationist Joan Berkey indicating the Beach Theatre may be eligible for the state and national registers of historic places.
The existence of Berkey’s report was not known to the HPC when it voted to issue a demolition permit in May 2007.

Before the demolition certificate was declared expired by the city, demolition was scheduled to begin last month.
Frank said while the Jersey coast has a tremendous amount of history, it also has a tremendous amount of progress. He said there are numerous locations where an older structure once was located.

He said foresight is needed to look beyond this year or the next and look ahead 20 years. Frank questioned if the city wanted people to point to the Beach Theatre in the future and remark that it has been closed for 20 years.

If a demolition certificate is issued, Frank said he would spend 2010 in the permit process and start construction in mid 2011 with the project completed by 2013.
The project received preliminary site plan approval from Cape May’s Planning Board to build six, three-bedroom condominiums above nine existing retail stores fronting on Beach Avenue.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different

Now here's an idea that never once even occurred to me:

Earl Stauffer was exhausted as he swam steadily toward Cape Henlopen. He had been in the water for over 12 hours, and his goal was in sight; but Stauffer's strength was failing him. Reluctantly, he gave up and signaled his handlers to pull him out of the water. Stauffer's third attempt to swim from Cape May to Cape Henlopen had ended in failure. Stauffer wanted to be the first to complete the marathon swim across the mouth of the Delaware Bay; but he was two decades too late.

In the early years of the 20th century, America was learning how to swim. In Philadelphia, New York and other big cities, swim clubs were established to teach the latest strokes; and neophyte swimmers flocked to Rehoboth and other coastal resorts to test their aquatic skills in Atlantic surf. In addition, long distance swimming became a spectator sport. As cheering onlookers urged them on, long-distance swimmers tested their skill and stamina by swimming for miles in the waters near Philadelphia, New York and Boston. In addition to the cash prizes that were sometimes offered to the winners of the long distance contests, swimmers looked for notable waterways to conquer that would add to their prestige. In June 1912, Charles R. Durborow arrived in Cape May, where he planned to swim across the mouth of Delaware Bay to Cape Henlopen.

Durborow was a 29-year old Philadelphia bank clerk who was considered one of the best of the long distance swimmers. Durborow had mastered the trudgeon stroke, which was also known as the racing or East Indian stroke. While doing the trudgeon stroke, the swimmer combined the overhand movement of the arms with a scissors kick and rhythmic breathing. Using the trudgeon stroke required the swimmer to keep his head in the water most of the time; and in the early 20th century, this radical practice made the trudgeon one of the most difficult strokes to learn. Those, like Durborow who had perfected this stroke, were able to swim for hours before they were exhausted.

Durborow would need all of his strength to swim across the mouth of the bay. Although the distance was about a dozen miles or so, the tide-generated currents would be equal to an estimated 20 miles in still water. Captain F. R. Brewer of the Lewes, Delaware Maritime Exchange, had written to Durborow to warn him that many believed that the swift tides that a swimmer would encounter made the swim impossible. Brewer, however, advised Durborow that if he started when the tide was ebbing and avoided the Cape May shoals, he might be successful.

Before arriving at Cape May, Durborow had spent a week training at Atlantic City; and at daybreak on Sunday, June 30, the Philadelphia bank clerk entered the water near Cape May. As he left the New Jersey shore, Durborow was accompanied by a large power launch that carried his coach, a doctor, a sportswriter and a number of supporters.

Using the trudgeon stroke, Durborow kept his body low in the water and steadily made his way across the bay. As steamers and sailing vessels passed by, the swimmer doggedly edged closer to the Delaware shore. After over 14 hours in the water, Durborow finally reached the sandy beach of Cape Henlopen.

For Durborow, the swim across the mouth of the Delaware Bay crowned a stellar athletic career; and he decided to retire.

As with many athletes, Durborow did not stay retired. The next year, the New York Times reported: "Charles Durborow, the Philadelphia swimmer, who has to his credit the greatest feat of endurance in the water ever performed in America -- 43 miles across Delaware Bay in 14 hours and 35 minutes -- is willing to accept the statement of Samuel Richards of Boston that he is an amateur and wants to meet him in order to settle the question of national supremacy in distance swimming."

Although Durborow and others would continue their long distance swimming, the start of World War I in 1914 lessened the public's interest in such events. Following the war, the Roaring '20s brought a building boom to the Delaware coast; and by 1931, when Earl Stauffer began his third attempt to swim across the mouth of the bay, the accomplishment by Durborow had been forgotten by the people of the Cape region.

In reporting on Stauffer's failed effort, the Delaware Coast News published a somewhat garbled account of Durborow's feat: "According to reports in Lewes and Rehoboth there are no official records of Charles Durborow, of Philadelphia, making the swim in the year 1927 in the alleged time of 14 hours and 35 minutes. Several newspaper write-ups of this swim give Mr. Durborow credit for this time. The only recollection in the minds of the citizens of Lewes and Rehoboth of any man making the swim was about 40 years ago when a man landed near the Cedars at Lewes and claimed that he had taken off from the Jersey shore to be the first man to make the swim.

Margaret Montet writes about Cape May

Margaret Montet, who I've linked to BEFORE, has posted some short reviews of some of her favorite

Cape May-area restaurants. Although most are familiar, there are a few I'll bet you didn't know.

Besides this nice new post, I had missed another Cape May-related post of hers from LAST MONTH, full of beautiful photos like the one above.

Thanks, Margaret!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

All Ivory, All the Time!

Some intrepid birding bloggers have documented there trips to Cape May to see the Ivory Gull, and everyone appears to be successful in seeing him! Click HERE and also THERE and also OVER HERE, and for that matter, HERE TOO to read about how far some people have driven to see the celebrity bird, or how special the day the gull showed up actually was to those who lived it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

More attention than Hollywood Stars!

The Cape May Ivory Gull-- photographed more than Tiger Woods and Angelina Jolie!

JUST CLICK HERE to see what I'm talking about... the dude's a celebrity!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

More About the Ivory Gull

From the Atlantic City Press:

LOWER TOWNSHIP — Business is slow at Wayne Forsythe’s plumbing business in Hendersonville, N.C., which gives him more time lately for his hobby — birding.
While scouring the Internet for recent sightings, an ivory gull caught his attention.
Click here to view the photo gallery
Ivory gulls have a population of 24,000 worldwide, according to the National Audubon Society. But they are rarely seen, spending virtually their entire lives in the Arctic or following polar bears on pack ice in the Bering and Labrador seas.
This one — first seen Nov. 27 — was begging fish scraps at a Cape May County marina.
Forsythe did a mental cost-benefit analysis about closing shop and chasing the bird, which would be No. 666 on his list of lifetime species seen.
“Probably, the bird would be gone the next day. But when I got no calls for work, I said to hell with it,” he said.
At 4:08 a.m. Wednesday, he headed north. He figured he could call New Jersey Audubon a few hours later when its observatory opened and see if the bird was still there. If not, he could go home, wasting only a few dollars in gas.
But the bird was not gone. And at 3:20 p.m., after driving 11 hours, Forsythe pulled into the Bree-Zee-Lee Yacht Basin in Lower Township.
He and a handful of other birders watched sport fishermen filet enormous striped bass at the marina’s cleaning station while other gulls clamored for scraps. After a few moments, Forsythe spotted a distinctive snow-white bird with flecks of black.
The gull circled overhead and landed just a few yards away.
The ivory gull has generated enormous interest from birders across the region. On a freezing, rain-soaked Saturday, the Norwood Center at New Jersey Audubon was packed with out-of-state birders who were stocking up on new tripods, optics and bird guides.
“We’ve had people from Oklahoma, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland,” store manager Gail Wilson said. “All because of the ivory gull.”
The bird was a good tiding for the local economy as birders took advantage of nearby restaurants and hotels.
Birding friends Noah Kahn, of Silver Spring, Md., and Kari Cohen, of Washington, D.C., had lunch at George’s Place in Cape May before making the slog back to Maryland.
Cohen last year flew to Providence, R.I., and drove a rental car up to Plymouth, Mass., last year in search of an ivory gull, but missed that bird by a day. He was luckier Saturday.
Local hotels such as the Blue Fish Inn in Cape May reported seeing more guests with binoculars and cameras.
“I believe (the bird) has helped the local economy,” Blue Fish Manager Natale Chew said. “We don’t see that many rare birds this late in the season. Having so many birders here in December is a rarity.”
Birders spend an estimated $10 million per year in Cape May County alone, Freiday said. This is part of the estimated $12 billion American birders spend each year, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
For many birders, this pigeon-sized gull with black doll eyes was a “life bird,” seen once and probably for the last time.
“This bird is like a drug. It is incredibly beautiful,” said Don Freiday, director of bird programs for New Jersey Audubon.
The sighting is the first ever recorded in Cape May County and the first ivory gull to be seen in New Jersey in 23 years, he said.
On Wednesday, Freiday estimated that 1,000 birders had come to see it.
Freiday said he shivered one frigid morning while watching the bird, too afraid to leave it to grab a coat from his car. The bird is especially meaningful because of its uncertain future. Climate change could spell disaster for Arctic species, he said.
“I said to my children, ‘This is the last one you’ll see in your lifetime,’” he said.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Interesting Art Work

The blog Barking Bird has unusual paintings of the ocean at Cape May for sale. Above and below you may find some examples. Check his site out!

P.S., as I thought, I had linked to this artist before: Click Here for another example of his artwork. ...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jack Fichter is one of my favorite Cape May writers today. He covers Cape May like nobody else; almost every article he writes for the Cape May County Herald addresses the community in a way that I think shows how special Cape May is. Today's article (click for the link) about a storm last night in Cape May is no different. The story includes the photo above -- and you can't expect much more than a photo of an insanely gorgeous Poverty Beach sunrise on the very day the sun rose in that photo (probably no more than two hours ago)!

Thank you, Jack!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ivory Gull Rocks Cape May-o-sphere

More on the Ivory Gull visitor to Cape May HERE.

Cape May Used to Demonstrate Global Warming?

This photo (said to be "near Cape May") is used at THIS LINK (scroll down a bit after clicking) to support the hypothesis that man is creating global warming which threatens our coastlines. Anyone know where this photo was taken? Perhaps on the Delaware side of the Ferry's course? It doesn't look like the Cape May side to me, although I could be wrong. Interesting.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Ivory Gull

There is much blog chatter, for example HERE and HERE, about a very rare bird sighting in Cape May over the last week. Here is a BLURB about this most interesting Cape May visitor:

The Ivory Gull Pagophila eburnea is a small gull, the only species in its genus. It breeds in the high arctic and has a circumpolar distribution through Greenland, northernmost North America, and Eurasia.

It migrates only short distances south in autumn, most of the population wintering in northern latitudes at the edge of the pack ice, although some birds reach more temperate areas.

This species is easy to identify. At 43 cm (17 in), it has a different, more pigeon-like shape than the Larus gulls, but the adult has completely white plumage, lacking the grey back of other gulls. The thick bill is blue with a yellow tip, and the legs are black. Its cry is a harsh eeeer. Young birds have a dusky face and variable amounts of black flecking in the wings and tail. The juveniles take two years to attain full adult plumage.

Ivory Gull breeds on Arctic coasts and cliffs, laying one to three olive eggs in a ground nest lined with moss, lichens, or seaweed. It takes fish and crustaceans, rodents, eggs and small chicks but is also an opportunist scavenger, often found on seal or porpoise corpses. It has been known to follow polar bears and other predators to feed on the remains of their kills.

Thank you to birding blogger Phil Jeffrey for the great photo of the Ivory Gull in Cape May you see above.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Storm Birds by the Suttons

Clay and Pat Sutton, two nationally renowned birders, have a very nice Sunday column you can catch up on HERE. The reason they drew my attention was their very nice Storm Birds column, including the photo above and many others. They write about the recent Nor'Easter, and the article is worth a CLICK.

Washington Street Mall: Contest!

I'm not sure when this was announced, but the Washington Street Mall is having a CONTEST! The prize is two nights in Cape May at the Carrol Villa, breakfast at the Mad Batter, dinner at the Pilot House, and a Washington Street Mall shopping spree! Click the word CONTEST and you can go register to win; the contest ends December 29th and the drawing is December 30th. But I would register now to be sure you get in!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Al Alberts (1922-2009)

Al Alberts with the Four Aces (Al is in the bottom row, center)

Of course you know the song On the Way to Cape May but did you know Al Alberts, the song's writer and most-famous singer? Al Alberts was much more than just that song; he sang Three Coins in a Fountain, and Love is a Many Splendored Thing, among many others. Sadly, he passed away on Friday... he had moved to Southwest Florida later in life, and I have read reports that said he passed in either Port Charlotte or Arcadia. You will find a good obituary HERE and a very nice blogger's reminiscence remembrance HERE. Godspeed, Mr. Alberts.

A few days lost

I apologize for the dearth of posts these past few days. I am back in blog in a few minutes, beginning with a memory of a great fan of Cape May who recently left our Earth for sunnier Shores...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanks for Cape May

Cut and paste this link - http://www.capemaytimes.com/janekelly/november.htm - into your browser for a nice column by Jane Kelly about what Cape May lovers have to thankful for. i am posting via blackberry and have much to learn about how to successfully post with the 'berry, but that address should get you where you want to be... Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

From the AC Press, an update on the Nuns' tax dispute in Cape May Point I wrote about several months ago:

CAPE MAY POINT — A Pennsylvania-based order of nuns has been coming to this sleepy waterfront borough for 100 years.

Under the shadow of the Cape May Lighthouse, the St. Mary-by-the-Sea retreat sits on a peaceful corner of Lehigh Avenue, overlooking the vegetation-covered dunes and the ocean beating against the rock jetties.

This year, the Sisters of St. Joseph, who run the retreat, did something different — fought their taxes.

To some degree, their prayers may have been answered.

The sisters will receive a partial tax exemption — about a $10,000 reduction for the main portion of the three-building complex — in 2010 because of the organization’s efforts to transform the use from a vacation spot to a place serving religious purposes, said Michael Donohue, an attorney who represents Cape May Point.

The $6.3 million St. Mary-by-the-Sea retreat paid nearly $31,000 last year in property taxes. The group lost a tax appeal earlier this year, but borough officials said the order had a point.

“(We) said, ‘Look, we understand what you’re trying to do, and you may be entitled to something, but you haven’t really demonstrated that yet,’” Donohue said.

Sister Barbara Winnals and attorney Louis Dwyer, who represented the order in the tax appeal, did not return calls seeking comment.

Cape May Point has a mere $1.6 million budget, and most of its properties are single-family vacation homes. There are 223 year-round residents, according to census figures.

The partial tax exemption did not sit well with some homeowners in the borough, including Cape Avenue resident Joe Jordan.

“I have very strong feelings they should not have been granted any tax exemption. They’re an institution that is really turning into a hotel under the guise of a religious organization,” Jordan said.

Neighbors in the area have complained of parking problems exacerbated by the large facilities. Nuns used to take the train to the seashore before the train stopped running decades ago, and now most have cars.

Jordan and his wife, Sarah, live near another tax-exempt summer religious retreat — the Society of Marianists.

In the late 1990s, the Jordans entered mediation with the society regarding noise from their neighbors, she said.

“It is a conflict between what they believe their mission is and what they believe the zoning and the personality of Cape May Point is. It’s a single-family residential community,” said Sarah Jordan, whose sister was a Catholic nun.

“The whole issue of freedom from taxation from religious organizations is a much bigger issue that has never been well solved in this country, not just locally but nationally,” Joe Jordan said.

In Harvey Cedars, Ocean County, the Maris Stella Sisters of Charity received a tax exemption in 2005 when they opened the facility for other public uses.

The Maris Stella retreat center at 7202 Long Beach Blvd. is assessed at nearly $4.8 million.

Cape May Point is a postcard-pretty seaside town that boasts a home once owned by Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker and St. Peter’s By The Sea, an Episcopal church dubbed “the gingerbread church.”

The Chestnut Hill, Pa.-based Sisters of St. Joseph, which bought the St. Mary-by-the-Sea retreat in 1909, sought a tax exemption earlier this year, saying the use of the building as a summer vacation home had changed several years ago and it now hosts religious retreats open to other denominations and lay people.

Donohue said the order — like others facing shrinking ranks — has faced challenges recently.

“They are being innovative in how they continue the order and religious purposes the order fulfills,” Donohue said. “I think traditionally they’ve had some religious aspect to their vacations, but it’s been understood for decades they’ve used it for vacationing.”

Making the places into a tax-exempt retreat means continuing to do some things the sisters have already been doing — developing a curriculum, having a permanent retreat director on site and providing more documentation of their efforts, Donohue said.

The facility consists of three buildings, including a 139-room, U-shaped building overlooking the ocean and two smaller houses across the street with another 21 bedrooms.

In a June hearing before the Cape May County Tax Board, Dwyer said that in 2004 the building started hosting religious retreats open to other denominations and lay people and that there are plans to expand the retreats into the fall.

“A retreat is a time for an individual person to come to a place that is quiet and look into their own life, reflecting on their own life to be a better person,” Winnals told the tax board in June.

In 2009, the Sisters of St. Joseph requested that Cape May Point exempt its convent and two residential properties across the street from taxes. Those requests were denied by the borough and the Cape May County Tax Board, Donohue said.

A 2009 tax reduction was off the table, but officials decided the sisters should have a 50 percent reduction on the convent part of the property — the largest and highest-valued beachfront property owned by the order, Donohue said.

Meanwhile, the two properties across the street remain on the tax rolls.

The sisters agreed not to apply for an exemption for those properties until after three years, when officials will review it again, Donohue said.

“It was a very amicable discussion, and the sisters have been a very good neighbor for 100 years. Everybody came up with what we thought was a very reasonable way to move forward,” he said.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nature Blogs Never Get Old

Cape May Boat Tours is a fairly self-explanatory name for a blog, a blog I've linked to before. The photo above is one of many bald eagle photos the blog posted recently, taken during the excursions of the MV Osprey and its Captain David Githens. Click the LINK for some more fantastic photos.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cape May's Blind Side

The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock, looks pretty good -- and since I have never liked a Sandra Bullock movie, I can't believe I just wrote that! Anyway, Tim McGraw plays a major role in the movie, and he was interviewed by NJ.Com about the movie... it turns out that Tim (son of Tug) has a connection to Cape May. You can read the whole interview HERE, and here's a selection from it:

Q. When I saw you perform at the PNC Arts Center in 1999, your dad came out and sang with you.

A. He loved doing that. He was a ham. When I got to know him, in my early 20s, we spent a lot of time in Cape May. He had a place down there and that was one of my first experiences in the Northeast, driving around Cape May in a ’69 convertible Mercedes that he bought when the Mets won the World Series. I have that car now. Cruising around Cape May, that was my introduction to the good life.

Cape May = "the good life" -- yeah, I'd say that's about right!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I've linked to Mike Crewe's birding blog twice previously. He hits it out of the park with his BLOG POST ABOUT REA'S FARM. The photos on the page are unbelievable, one of which you can see above. I highly recommend checking out his post to see parts of Cape May you may never have seen before (I haven't). Definitely going on the to-do list for the next visit! Thanks, Mike!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How soon we forget

I have linked to a few Cape May discussion boards in the past, and if you like that kind of thing click this OLD POST to find links to some of the better ones.

Strangely enough, I've been doing this blog for almost six months now yet I forgot about an oldie but goodie discussion board: NJ.COM's CAPE MAY COUNTY Board. I can remember way back in the internet's good old days, like say '99 or 2000, when this board began. NJ.Com started a bunch of discussion boards for every community in NJ back then. I had forgotten about that board but you can still find good places to eat, etc., on the board, as well as a bunch of idiots arguing over idiocy. Nevertheless, when desperate for a morsel of Cape May information, you could do worse than look at the NJ.Com board.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Life on a Boat visits Cape May

Colleen and Jeremy have been living on their sailboat since January 1, 2009. You can READ HERE about their days in Cape May. They may be new to Cape May, but they checked out some of the most important spots, like the Lemon Tree, the Ugly Mug, and Dellas. What an interesting adventure for them!

Monday, November 16, 2009

10 Things that ARE My Jersey

Jen Miller, proprietor of the great blog Down the Shore with Jen, has an interesting survey up: 10 Things that ARE My Jersey

... I have to agree with her that sunsets at Sunset Beach, and the rocking chairs at Congress Hall, "ARE" New Jersey to me. And one of her commenters mentioned High Point, NJ -- have to agree with that one too. I don't know if I could come up with 10, but I would add the Wildwood Boardwalk on a July Saturday night, as well.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Nor'easter 2009

If you're looking to see what the storm did in Cape May, this may be your best live web cam location: Surfer Cam of Cove.

It's hard for me to tell what damage was done exactly, but the activity at the Cove makes me think that the damage was significant.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Veteran's Day

A beautiful article about Michael Scusa, American Hero... read below or CLICK HERE.

LOWER TOWNSHIP — Michael Scusa’s two silver dog tags dangled from his mother’s neck as a 21-gun salute broke through a rainy silence outside Lower Cape May Regional High School.

Cynthia Woodard sobbed gently as she and others planted a tree in her son’s memory on Wednesday morning — Veterans Day — on a grassy patch in front of the auditorium.

Army Sgt. Scusa, a 2005 graduate and former Villas resident, was one of eight soldiers killed Oct. 3 in Kamdesh, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked their outpost.

“Michael was very well-liked. It’s an honor he made this kind of an impact,” Woodard said.

Scusa, who was posthumously promoted from the rank of specialist, left behind his wife, Alyssa, and 1-year-old son, Connor, in Colorado, where he was stationed.

Woodard said she is keeping clips in a memory book for Connor, who shares a striking resemblance to his father and seems to display his mannerisms, too.

Scusa was killed on his second tour overseas. During his first tour, which was 15 months in Iraq and before his son was born, his vehicle ran over a triple-decker explosive device that for some reason never detonated, Woodard said.

“I think it was because he was supposed to have Connor, he was supposed to have his legacy,” she said.

She added, “He’s my only link left to Michael.”

Woodard had stayed in touch with her son over the Internet. His last message to her was on a Friday, shortly before he died.

“He said he was just getting ready to go on duty,” she said. He signed off like he always did: “Love you, mamma. Bye 4 Now.”

“I didn’t get him long enough,” said his mom, wiping away tears. “I wanted him longer.”

Scusa’s high school held the tree ceremony for Scusa and his family.

A school choir sang the Star Spangled Banner, and a bugler from the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, which also sent the honor guard, played taps beneath a flag flying at half-staff.

Principal Joseph Castellucci told the students gathered around him Wednesday that Scusa was like them — a student who walked the halls of the school.

“Those of us who knew Michael knew all too well about his dreams to become a soldier,” Castellucci said. “We share the loss with all of us who knew Mike.”

Castellucci said the tree planted in Scusa’s memory could be used as shade from the sun, as place to stop for a moment or as a place to remember.

“This tree will grow and flourish long after most of us are no longer a part of this school,” he said, adding, “It will always serve as a reminder to those who pass it, that this is Mike’s tree.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Abandoned Cape May?

Interesting shots of what the blogger calls "abandoned" Cape May locations can be found if you CLICK HERE... my posting this link does not mean I endorse the thought that these sites are abandoned!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

beautifully-told story of the meaning of Cape May

THIS STORY of the meaning of Cape May comes from a writer's website. Short but very touching, it's not surprising it came from a writer.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates...

Search for something about Cape May and you never know what you're gonna get!

"Stakes High for all in Lady Mary Probe" -- AC Press

Today's follow-up on the Lady Mary investigation, from the Atlantic City Press:

CAPE MAY - The U.S. Coast Guard has subjected the March 24 sinking of the Lady Mary to months of intense scrutiny in its quest to find out what sank the Cape May scalloper.

The stakes are high both for family members who lost loved ones as well as the commercial fishing industry, which could face tighter regulation over drug testing, navigational equipment and boat stability.

"We're just trying to determine to the best of our ability what happened so we can prevent it from happening again," Coast Guard Cmdr. Kyle McAvoy said.

McAvoy is heading up the Coast Guard Board of Investigation into the maritime disaster. The hearings were suspended Thursday and will resume once the panel has the results of lab tests on the stricken boat's rudder and stability.

McAvoy and his panel have the authority to recommend prosecution if it finds criminal culpability in an accident at sea.

But prosecution is extremely rare. The panel said it has not forwarded any of its conclusions to the U.S. Attorney's Office in more than 10 years.

Six people died in the accident, including brothers Royal "Bobo" Smith and Timothy "Timbo" Smith; their uncle, Tarzon Smith, and a Smith cousin, Frankie Credle, who lived on the boat. Crew members Frank Reyes and Jorge Arteaga also perished. Mexico native Jose Luis Arias was the sole survivor after he was plucked from the frigid ocean by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter.

For the boat's dockside manager, Royal "Fuzzy" Smith, who lost his sons, brother and cousin, there are financial implications as well. Smith's lawyer, Steve Weeks, said he thinks evidence will prove that a collision at sea sunk the Lady Mary.

"The best-case scenario is we determine which boat struck it. The families of the decedents can pursue legal remedies in court," Weeks said.

And for the fishing industry, the inquiry could lead to more oversight.

Dan Cohen, a Port of Cape May seafood dealer who owns scallop boats, said he has been following the progress of the investigation.

"Whenever an accident of this nature happens, especially of this magnitude with six men dying, it's important for the Coast Guard to determine what went wrong so we can all learn from that experience and minimize accidents in the future," Cohen said.

Depending on the findings of the Coast Guard, these hearings could result in stricter regulations in a number of areas, including:

Drug testing

Forensic exams on the bodies of two crew members found marijuana in their systems. McAvoy said the investigation found a broader incidence of drug use among commercial fisherman.

"Is it an area of concern there is drug use amongst vessel operators? Absolutely," McAvoy said.

Boat stability

When the Lady Mary was reconfigured with a new wheelhouse from a shrimp boat to a scalloper, the boat did not have to undergo stability tests. Federal law exempts boats 79 feet or smaller from these tests. The Lady Mary is 71 feet long and did not undergo stability testing.


Weeks said he thinks the Lady Mary hearing could prompt changes in international law requiring commercial fishing boats to install collision-avoidance systems called Automatic Identification Systems. These systems alert nearby boats about a vessel's location, speed and heading and are already mandatory for large passenger ships or international shipping.

On April 14, the Dictator, a fishing boat the same size as the Lady Mary, was struck from behind by the 965-foot container ship Florida. The Dictator survived the collision but required Coast Guard assistance to return to port in Cape May.

Weeks said he expects to subpoena witnesses in that accident.

Stacy Greene, of Middle Township, who lost her longtime boyfriend, Royal Smith, Jr., the father of her three boys, said the findings will not salve her pain.

"It won't bring them back. It won't replace my love," Greene said.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Painter of the Day Ken Frye

Painter of the Day Ken Frye "has been a consistent part of the Cape May, New Jersey artistic community for over 35 years, creating lasting images of Victorian architecture, beach scenes, and private homes. His works can be found throughout the town in Bed and Breakfasts, galleries, and gift shops." Check out his on-line store if you're interested in purchasing his work... note that the first link (THIS ONE) takes you to several of his Cape May paintings, including the one pictured above.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

More on the Lady Mary

More on the Lady Mary hearing HERE, or read below from the County Herald:

CAPE MAY — This phase of the Coast Guard’s Marine Board of Investigations hearing into the sinking of the fishing boat Lady Mary closed Thursday Nov. 5 leaving more questions than answers as to whether the boat was unstable or was hit by a large ship.

The hearing this week concentrated on the condition and stability of the Lady Mary, a 77-foot former shrimp boat modified to become a scallop dredge boat.

Board Chairman CMDR Kyle McAvoy questioned Royal Smith, the Lady Mary’s shore manager Thursday on a number of details on the vessel such as why he installed a chaffing bar on a stay cable for the port boom, why a port flat bar had scrape marks on it and if the boat carried an anchor. Smith said the boat carried an anchor but never used it.

Bill Semrau, program manager of the Northeast Monitoring System of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) testified at an earlier hearing in May. At that time he brought charts that tracked the movement of the Lady Mary and 22 other fishing boats that were nearby when it sunk.
The Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) tracks the movement of commercial fishing vessels by sending a signal to satellites every 30 minutes. The system is used to make sure boats follow federal regulations of where and when they can fish in restricted areas.

The Lady Mary was equipped with a Boatracs VMS system. Testifying by phone Nov. 5, Semrau said he examined data showing other vessels in the vicinity of the Lady Mary two hours before its final reported position from VMS March 24 at 5:10 a.m.

From 11:05 p.m. March 23 to 1:05 a.m. March 24, several vessels were in the area of the Lady Mary with the closest boat one and a half miles away. Semrau said he went back two hours earlier in time to from 9:10 p.m. to 11:10 p.m. March 23 and looked at the track of a boat he referred to as Vessel Y.
Vessel Y was moving at less than 2 knots while the Lady Mary was running at 2.5 knots, said Semrau. He said he estimated at 9:48 p.m. March 23 they came as close as 120 yards to each other although there is an error rate on VMS equipment of about 300 meters or less.

Stevenson Weeks, attorney for Royal Smith told the Herald the Lady Mary had too much damage to have been caused by another fishing boat. The Lady Mary sank about 5 a.m. on March 24. He told the Herald the Lady Mary has damage underneath as if it was struck by a large ship with a bulbous bow.

Semrau reviewed scallop catch reports from the Lady Mary transmitted to NMFS on March 22 and 23 that showed no catch on those two days. He said it seemed unusual not to catch any scallops for 48 hours unless there was equipment or weather-related problems.
Weeks told the Herald the two days where no scallops were reported to have been caught must have been a data glitch since Royal Smith Jr. reported to his father by satellite phone they had brought in 2,500 pounds on those two days. The Lady Mary was preparing to return to port the day she sank with 12,500 pounds of scallops on board, said Weeks.

LTJG Matthew Glazewski, a commissioned NOAA officer and meteorologist with the Ocean Prediction Center, offered a PowerPoint presentation looking at weather forecasts for the area where the Lady Mary sank from March 21 to March 24.
The forecast at 8 a.m. on March 23 called for winds from the north-northwest at 20 to 30 knots with seas of six to 10 feet, he said. On March 24, the weather was being influenced by high pressure over Quebec and a low pressure storm system off the Canadian Maritimes. A pressure gradient between the two weather systems was influencing wind and wave height where the Lady Mary was located, said Glazewski.

At 2 a.m. March 24, seas were 6 to 9 feet with winds 20-25 knots from the north-northwest. Those conditions were also present at 8 a.m.

Jorge Arroyo, a program and management analyst at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington D.C. explained Automatic Identification Systems (AIS), collision avoidance and coastal surveillance system carried by large commercial ships over 300 gross tons. He said AIS gives the ship’s position, speed, heading and rate of turn.

Fishing boats are not required to carry AIS, said Arroyo. He said it broadcasts the data over VHF radio signal with a range of 40 to 50 miles. Coast Guard Cape May’s radio tower was on the fringe of receiving a signal from the area where the Lady Mary went down.

Brian Curtis, a National Transportation Safety Board Investigator, asked if the AIS could be turned off by someone on a ship. Arroyo said while it is required to remain on, it could be shut off by turning off the unit or pulling its power plug.

Arroyo displayed tracking information for the cargo ship Cap Beatrice which is believed to have passed within a mile of the Lady Mary near the time of its sinking.Cap Beatrice's AIS signal was not available for six hours after the time the Lady Mary sank.

McAvoy said the hearing would resume at future date perhaps by conference phone calls. He said the National Transportation Safety Board was examining the Lady’s Mary’s rudder and working up a computer model to test the stability of the Lady Mary.

Weeks said he has renewed his request to subpoena the owner, captain and mate of the fishing vessel, the Dictator which was struck 22 days after the Lady Mary by the Marine Floridian, a large commercial ship. The Dictator suffering very similar damage to the Lady Mary.

A volunteer dive team that shot video and photos of the fishing boat 210 feet below the ocean’s surface has also gone on record as believing the Lady Mary was struck by large freighter, possibly the Cap Beatrice.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lady Mary Daily Update

Lady Mary passed close by a vessel in the night - pressofAtlanticCity.com : Cape May County

CAPE MAY - The doomed scallop boat Lady Mary came as close as five boat lengths to another vessel hours before it sank March 24, according to testimony Thursday at a U.S. Coast Guard hearing.

William Semrau, manager of the vessel-monitoring system of the National Marine Fisheries Service, examined the global-positioning satellite tracks of the Lady Mary and another commercial fishing boat, identified at the hearing only as "Vessel Y."

Correcting for the margin of error in the beacons, Semrau estimated the two boats came as close as 120 yards of one another at about 9:30 p.m. the night before the fatal sinking.

"Vessel Y and the Lady Mary would have been operating very close to each other," he said.

Six people died aboard the Lady Mary, including brothers Royal Smith Jr. and Tim Smith. Their father, dockside manager, Royal "Fuzzy" Smith, has insisted a boat collision was to blame.

Smith's lawyer, Steve Weeks, said the close encounter March 23 was not the one that sank the Lady Mary. He suspects a collision with a cargo ship or other large vessel March 24 was to blame.

The U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation suspended its probe Thursday until it gets lab results back on the Lady Mary's rudder and a computer model examining the boat's stability.

Semrau said it was odd the Lady Mary reported catching no scallops for 48 hours during its weeklong trip. The boat reported hauling 4,400 pounds of its 18,000-pound quota of shucked scallops but reported none prior to the sinking.

"It seems unusual they didn't harvest a single scallop in a two-day period. Maybe there were weather issues or maybe there were equipment issues," Semrau said.

Weeks said the agency's catch totals were not accurate. Earlier testimony suggested the Lady Mary had nearly made its quota and was preparing to return to port the day of the sinking. Divers found a dredge loaded with scallops on the deck of the stricken boat at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

The U.S. Coast Guard also considered Thursday how stormy seas might have contributed to the accident.

The closest weather buoy to the Lady Mary was in the mouth of the Delaware Bay 48 miles away.

A weather expert testified the 71-foot Lady Mary would have been subjected to 30-knot northwest winds and seas with at least 9-foot waves the morning of the sinking.

This corroborates testimony from boat captains who were fishing in the vicinity of the Lady Mary when it sank 60 miles off Cape May in a scalloping canyon known by local fishermen as the Elephant Trunk because of its shape on topographic maps.

Lt. Matthew Glazewski with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration said the developing storm had been forecast for days.

Meanwhile, the panel examined how collision-avoidance systems might have prevented the accident.

The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea - enacted after the Titanic sank in 1912 and subsequently amended - requires container ships and large cargo ships to use Automatic Identification Systems. These devices continuously transmit the ship's position, heading and speed to other nearby boats, which do likewise.

But fishing boats such as the Lady Mary are exempt from this requirement. The Lady Mary did not have this collision-avoidance system.

Peter Genovese on Pizza

Peter Genovese is a writer for the Star-Ledger and also an author. I recommend his book The Jersey Shore Uncovered, which is a member of my Cape May Library and a book I need to review sometime soon. Anyway, by clicking HERE you can read his new review of some of the south Jersey pizza joints, including Sam's, Blue Moon, and Lucky Bones (the last one more than just a pizza joint, of course!). And if you don't want to click the link, here is the article:

Pizza Patrol hits the Jersey Shore: Good plain pies, sausage resembling 'hamster pellets'
By Peter J. Genovese
November 06, 2009, 5:30AM

The Pizza Patrol would rather brave evil seagulls than eat some of the sausage toppings we found on our Cape May County trip.An unseasonably warm day, blue skies, brilliant sunshine and the prospect of spending most of the day at a gloriously quiet Jersey Shore.

Sounds like the makings of a great Pizza Patrol trip.

Uh, not quite.

The Munchmobile driver temporarily misplacing his notebook may have been the first omen. Or maybe it was the flock of seagulls, which hovered over us, malice in their beady little eyes, on the Ocean City boardwalk.

“What are you writing down?” the owner of Three Brothers from Italy asked as we awaited our pizzas at the Ocean City boardwalk stand.

It was that kind of day. The “World’s Largest Pizza” made another appearance (three pizzerias have made the claim, so far), and so did some of the most inedible sausage on this or any other planet. When the sausage looks like hamster food, it’s time to ask yourself some basic questions, like “Why are we eating this stuff?”

Because we have a job to do, and, by golly, we’re going to finish it, murderous-looking seagulls or not.

“I hope this sausage doesn’t spread out of South Jersey,” team member Scott Weiner said at one point. “It’s a plague.”

The Pizza Patrol — down two members, one busy with a brand-new baby, the other using the lame excuse of work — did find quality pizza, even if it took several hundred twisty miles of driving to do so. Ocean City to Wildwood to Cape May to Vineland to Carmel — all in a day’s work. Carmel? Isn’t that in California? No, it’s in Pizza Jersey.

Step away from the sausage, it’s time to get down to business.

Cape May county

Mack & Manco PIzza (920 Boardwalk, Ocean City; 609-399-2548) is one of the heavy hitters on the Jersey pizza boardwalk scene, and the pizzeria, with three locations (one open year-round) on the Ocean City boardwalk, did not disappoint.

The plain pie is oily/greasy-good, with Weiner admiring the “creamy cheese” and the “great bite” to the crust. “A wonderful boardwalk pie,” Marty Schneider raved. The sausage? Skip it. “Tastes like IHop,” Weiner said, and we agreed.

But the white pie, shimmering with olive oil, is a winner. “Awesome, simple, elegant,” Weiner said admiringly. Schneider called it “a nothing cheese sandwich.” You’re wrong on this one, Marty.

Talk about incentive — or a sure-fire way to guarantee agita. If you eat a whole pie at 3 Brothers from Italy Pizza (944 Boardwalk, Ocean City; 609-398-6767) in one hour, you win 10 free pizzas. If you eat one pie in 45 minutes, you win 25 pies. One pie in 15 minutes? One hundred free pies. This is the “world’s largest pizza” — 26 inches in diameter — so have the Pepto-Bismol ready.

Hype and hoopla aside, the plain is a good pie, on or off the boardwalk. “Nice and crunchy,” according to Weiner. The sausage is better than Mack & Manco’s. Decent ricotta pie; nothing special.

Hopes were high as we parked across the street from Mario’s Pizzeria & Restaurant (1510 Bay Ave., Ocean City; 609-398-0490). Pizza Patrol Headquarters had received enthusiastic e-mails about the place.

But one glance at the pellet-like sausage was a foreshadowing of the mediocre meat ahead. ”Inadequate,” Schneider said. “It’s so far from sausage,” Weiner added. He did like the “nice fluffy crust” on the pie, though. Better: the tomato/onion pizza. An intriguing combination, and it works.

“Voted No. 1 in all of South Jersey” is the pitch at Walt’s Original Primo Pizza (3 Shore Road, Somers Point; 609-927-4464). Whatever. The plain is recommended — “greasy enough for the Shore, tasty enough for a second bite,” according to Weiner. Avoid the sausage at all costs. The Sicilian? No. 1 in Somers Point — maybe.

“Celebrating half a century of excellence” is the slogan at Sam’s Pizza Palace (2600 Boardwalk, Wildwood; 609-522-6017). The boardwalk legend makes a good plain; it’s oily/slippery, but there are signs of saucy life. Excellent crust. The sausage tasted like bland breakfast meat of some kind.

The white pie divided the crew. The Munchmobile driver liked its peppery tone. Weiner called the “dusting” of seasoning “great.” Schneider? “Redolent of bad garlic pie,” the grumpy one grumbled.

Another greasy plain pie at Carini’s Ristorante & Pizzeria (9854 Pacific Ave., Wildwood Crest; 609-522-7304). Weiner likened the crust to “cardboard” but said he was “fine with the sausage.” The Sicilian is undercooked, undersauced and underwhelming. But Schneider called it “a solid pie with a nice six-pack.”

Cape May is a lot of things: Victorian jewel, great beach town, home of the legendary Hot Dog Tommy’s. Pizza destination it is not, judging by our next four stops, in and around Cape May.

Loved the pleasantly grungy outer dining room with Naugahyde booths and faded
curtains at Tony’s Pizzeria & Restaurant (Route 109, Lower Township; 609-884-2020). The plain pie boasted a nice Italian breadlike crunch, but the sausage — of the pellet variety — is a mistake. The meatballs on the homemade meatball pie tasted as if they were made in someone’s backyard, not the house. Yuck.

”The best pizza in town!” heralds the menu at Louie’s Pizza (Gurney Street and Beach Avenue, Cape May; 609-884-0305). Seriously puffy crust on the plain — only Romeo’s in Orange rivals it — but there is a vein of uncooked dough in the crust. Not good. More unappetizing pellet sausage. The margherita is cooked but pretty much tasteless.

Apparently, the same distributor provides the sausage to this end of Jersey Shore, as we encountered more of the same sorry stuff at Blue Moon Pizza (301 Beach Ave., Cape May; 609-884-3033). The plain pie is just that, and eminently forgettable. The Grandma Sicilian looked impressive, with its raised browned crust and swirls of cheese, but mark it down as another undercooked pie. “A lot of thought went into the production,” Weiner noted.

Lucky Bones Backwater Grille (1200 Route 9, Lower Township; 609-884-2663) does creative personal-type pies, including the Skipjack, with arugula, prosciutto and mozzarella. The margherita featured a tasty tart sauce, but the sausage is inferior.

The Sofia pie, with shrimp, mozzarella, roasted garlic and olive oil, both disappointed and delighted. The shrimp tasted slightly off, but the rest of the ingredients worked. “If it was a white pie, it would be great,” Weiner noted.

em>Next week: Another South Jersey trip, including an encounter with a pizzeria owner with serious acting cred. E-mail pgenovese@starledger.com or call the Munchmobile Hotline at (973) 392-1765.