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October 31, 2011

Halloween Boat Burning

Filed under: Events,Food & Drink,Museums,Sand, Sea & Sky by Bill @ 7:45 am

Just a quick post with some pictures from the annual Halloween boat burning at the Long Island Maritime Museum.

band playing music

Live music all night long.

a burning boat, crowd watching

The burning boat is spectacular and keeps everyone warm.

burning boat

This was a 40' sport fisherman.


Huge clouds of smoke filled the air.

Food truck, gazebo

Good food from the truck, and trinkets for sale under the gazebo.

small rowboat

A handsome rowing skiff is the raffle prize.

the band

Kathleen Prokesch, director of special events, announces the lucky raffle winner.

September 19, 2011

Everyone Loves the Beach

Filed under: Sand, Sea & Sky by Bill @ 6:35 am

I took a book down to the Sayville Beach yesterday afternoon to relax a little before starting the grind on Monday morning. I don’t know what it was about yesterday, but it seemed like everyone had the same idea. Maybe we’re all trying to enjoy the last licks of summer before fall starts on Friday.

a beach

Lots of folks on the beach enjoying the late afternoon sun. Behind them is a sailboat and the Robert Moses Bridge.

sailboat and bridge

A look through the zoom lens reveals the Robert Moses Bridge like a giant eye watching over the little boat as it blows around the Great South Bay.

September 1, 2011

Hurricane Irene: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Filed under: Sand, Sea & Sky by Bill @ 7:43 am

What’s good about hurricane Irene? I can’t think of anything good, at least anything good enough to make up for the bad and the ugly side of hurricanes. But there is at least some good and I’ll get to that later, but first the ugly and the bad.

The Ugly… People were killed by this storm. It doesn’t get any uglier than that. When I was a kid I’d look forward to hurricanes, blizzards, hailstorms, all sorts of bad weather. It was exciting and I had no real understanding of the consequences. As an adult I still enjoy a good storm, but now I understand what the word storm really means.

The Bad… The economic damage caused by hurricane Irene is enormous. A lot of people are still without power this morning and have thrown away everything in their refrigerators and freezers. Aside from the cost of physical damage there is an almost immeasurable amount of business lost due to damage, loss of inventory, no electrical power, or lost productivity.

According to an article in Newsday it looks as though the majority of Long Island tourism businesses in wine country, Fire Island, and Montauk Point will be in good shape for Labor Day weekend, but will not recover the losses incurred last weekend. Greenport was one of the first areas to have power restored, so I expect that businesses there will be in very good shape.

The Good… Well aside from neighbor helping neighbor which we see plenty of during disasters like Irene, I discovered one benefit of not having electricity. This is something that very few people would appreciate, but to a geek like me it was pretty cool.

No electricity means no lights and no light pollution. The sky was dark. Dark enough to see the Milky Way.

Unless you live on the east end where the sky is a lot darker than is it here in western Suffolk, this is a rare sight. Maybe it’s hard to appreciate a dark sky when everything in your refrigerator is going bad, but there is an old saying about making lemonade–and it really is a good way to deal with bad things. I wish more folks would look up. Even when we do have electricity and the sky is lit bright by the torches of civilization there is still plenty to see.

Here’s a picture of the Big Dipper hanging low in the north western sky that I took in the dark on Sunday night:

Keep looking up…

July 26, 2010

Summer Squall at the Snapper Inn

Filed under: Sand, Sea & Sky,Summer by Bill @ 6:55 am

If you were on Long Island yesterday afternoon you may have heard about the tornado warning and maybe even witnessed a severe summer squall blowing through your neighborhood.

We were sitting on the dock at the Snapper Inn enjoying cocktails and the shade provided by thick black clouds. They seemed to be north of us, so I figured whatever was coming would pound the north shore and leave us alone. How wrong I was.

At first there were only a few drops, then it started to rain hard enough for us to move from the dock to the tent. And then, within a matter of minutes the sky opened up and the wind started blowing. Really blowing… The winds even knocked down a tree on the grounds that had been toppled and saved 25 years ago in a different storm.

According to the National Weather Service the storm came through at 40 to 50 mph and produced wind gusts up to 60 mph. Based on what I saw I don’t doubt those numbers.

Here are some pictures…

Black clouds. Nothing to worry about...

A little rain.

The rain begins in earnest.

Visibility is reduced and the wind picks up.

Driving rain is blowing inside the tent; customers and staff race to close the panels.

Storm damage: Down for the second time in 25 years, this tree's trunk is now broken and cannot be saved.

Not long after the rain started, the skies cleared and the evening sun cast a golden glow on boats in the river.

June 7, 2010

Dust, Oysters and Venus

Filed under: Food & Drink,Sand, Sea & Sky,Summer by Bill @ 7:22 am

After a long day slaving away at the computer I went out for some dinner at Kingston’s Clam Bar. It was very windy yesterday and along the way I encountered this dust blowing across a soccer field.

blowing dust

There was so much dust in the air my eyes were burning.

For dinner I had clams and oysters on the half shell followed by a plate of fried calamari, and all washed down with a couple of pints of Paulaner hefe-weizen, a summertime favorite beer.  (Sorry no pictures of dinner.)

After dinner I noticed the planet Venus shining brilliantly in the western sky. The picture just doesn’t do the scene justice, but I hope you get the idea of how beautiful it was.

planet venus

Venus is the very bright “star” in the picture above. You can see the yellow glow of Kingston’s dining room to the right.

February 14, 2010

Low Pass Filter on the Great South Bay

Filed under: Sand, Sea & Sky by Bill @ 5:09 pm

I love the Great South Bay. Not only is it a source of fun and fish (Bay Scallops, Dogfish), but if you hang out here on a regular basis you can observe some pretty interesting natural phenomena too.

A while back I posted about temperature inversions and sun pillars, and this morning I saw a naturally occurring low pass filter on the water’s surface.

Most folks wouldn’t have noticed, or cared even if they did notice, but as an engineer I find things like this fascinating. So what is a low pass filter and what’s it doing on the bay?

Okay, it’s simple. Think about when you talk to someone through a door. Their voice sounds muffled because the door blocks the high notes (high frequency sounds) and only lets the low notes (low frequency sounds) through. Because the door only passes low frequency sounds it’s acting as a low pass filter.

In music low pass filters are used to reduce hiss in recordings. In your car the shock/spring assembly at each wheel act as low pass filters to smooth out all the small bumps in the roadway.

Back to the bay… The wind had blown a lot of slush into a small cove near the Long Island Maritime Museum. In the pictures below you’ll notice that the slush is wavy, but has no ripples on its surface.

The slush, being thicker than water, can’t move as fast as water does. It’ll let long, slow waves pass through it, but doesn’t move fast enough for small, closely spaced waves. So instead of rippling like the water’s surface the slush gently undulates as waves pass through it. In effect, the slush is a low pass filter preventing high frequency waves from reaching the shore.

Only ripple free waves reach shoreline.

Ripples are gone as soon as they hit the slush. 3 to 4 smooth waves are clearly visible toward the center right. (Click for large.)

Ripple free wave crashing on shore. (click for large.)

And there you have it. What a beautiful winter scene looks like through the eyes of an engineer. Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day.

November 2, 2009

Boat Burning at the Long Island Maritime Museum

Filed under: Sand, Sea & Sky by Bill @ 7:04 am

Every year on the Friday before Halloween the Long Island Maritime Museum burns a boat. The boats are unrestorable, have no historical significance, and they are huge.

This year’s boat was a 60ish foot party boat that had partially burned earlier in the season. Repairs proved too expensive, so the owner stripped out engines and other valuable equipment, and donated the hull for this year’s Halloween boat burning.

Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the burning itself, but I do have before and after pictures to share. If anyone has pictures of the fire itself, contact me and I’ll add them here.

You’ll note in the following pictures that the superstructure is gone. That’s the part that burned when a fire broke out on board earlier this year.





September 24, 2009

Fall Sunrise

Filed under: Fall,Photo's,Sand, Sea & Sky by Bill @ 9:26 am

I got up early on the first day of fall to see what the dawn of a new season looks like. It was quite beautiful…

A lone gull at the end of the pier (click pic for full size)

Hmmm. Could this be the same guy from last year’s fall sunrise?

September 13, 2009

Hummingbirds on Long Island

Filed under: Sand, Sea & Sky by Bill @ 7:23 am

I saw a hummingbird in the garden on Friday and then again on Saturday. Luckily, I had the camera handy and snapped a few pictures before it flew away.

From what I’ve read this is either a juvenile male or female ruby throated hummingbird. Ruby throated hummingbirds are the only kind we see here on Long Island, and at this time of year they are migrating south to Mexico.

Incredibly, to reach their final destination they fly right over the Gulf of Mexico, a trip that takes 18 to 20 hours of non-stop flight. By mid-September (now) there will be very few of these guys left on Long Island, so I must have seen one of the last to leave.

I shot these pictures in a panic (Quick, get the camera!) and was shooting through a window, hence the lack of clarity. Maybe, when it opens again next summer, I’ll visit the Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary and take some better pictures.





August 24, 2009

Hurricane Bill at Robert Moses

Filed under: Photo's,Sand, Sea & Sky by Bill @ 7:17 am

I love a good storm, so as soon as the beaches were open I drove down to Robert Moses State Park to see what the surf was doing and if there was any damage to the beach.

I wanted to climb the Fire Island Lighthouse for a bird’s eye view, but unfortunately that part of the beach was still closed. I ended up at field 2.

It was apparent that the surf came all the way up to the dunes. I am not familiar with this part of the beach so I couldn’t really tell how much sand was lost.

Here are some pictures.










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