Friday, December 7, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

Manchester High School

October 12-14,2007

When the students from Manchester HS arrived at the Island Beach State Park launch area the wind was gusting to over 40 mph. Rather than risking life, limb and the pontoon boat, Jim decided to do a program on Island Beach that afternoon and then go to Sedge the following morning. Joined by Dr. Stan Hales, Director of the Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program, we spent the afternoon in and around the Forked River Interpretive Center. After a tour of the building we hiked to the beach on the self-guided nature trail. It was chilly in the wind but this experience gave the students a better appreciation of the need to dress properly for the weather conditions.

All the students returned early the following morning and we were on the water in kayaks by 9:30 am (Sedge time.) Because we were a strong paddling group, we were able do our usual full day trip to Barnegat Inlet complete with lunch on the jetty rocks. (Fisherman on the jetty seemed oblivious to the eye shadow war paint on some of the boys’ faces.) We headed back stopping on our way to dig some soft- shelled clams in the water that continues to be in the high 60’s.

Dinner consisted of home made macaroni and cheese and meatballs with some of our usual seafood that we caught like clams and crabs. In addition, we experienced a new first on Sedge Island. We cooked and ate mud snails. Boiled with garlic and lots of spices and then dipped in butter, these snails were (in the opinion of some of the students) “delicious.” Everyone admitted that even though they were tasty, they were a lot of work for so little meat “worse than crabs.” A star lit sky encouraged some of the students to sleep out on the deck. The temperature dipped into the 40’s but some stuck it out for the entire night.

Special thanks to Shang Jen and Jake Raabe for helping out over the weekend. Other than a visit to Sedge with the Rutgers University Outdoor Club, Shang had spent very little time on the island. Sang helped with everything from teaching to cooking and cleaning. Jake, who has been coming to Sedge to since he was nine years old, helped many of the students learn to fish and throw a cast net

AMC Blog

September 21-23,2007

Several members of the Appalachian Mt. Club leaving after work on Friday were caught in a traffic jam on the Parkway that was made worse by an accident. As a result some people arrived after dark and had to be transported by boat to Sedge in the dark. This did nothing to dampen the spirits of the group as they joined the others for a late (and as usual delicious) dinner.

A few of the group are part of the “regular crew” of paddlers but there are always a substantial group of members who are new to the area and in this case, new to touring kayaks. This did not present a problem, as the experienced kayakers gave plenty of assistance and encouragement to those less familiar with the sport. Combined with an intimate tour of the salt marsh in the Sedge Island Marine Conservation Zone this provided plenty to do during the day light hours on Saturday even though it was too windy to do much open water paddling.

Saturday night the wind dropped and we went for a night paddle. Seven people took out the big canoe and one person paddled his kayak. After a quick circumnavigation of Sedge Island the group decided to paddle straight east into the reflected light of the moon on the tranquil water. We paddled among the Buster Islands in water that was so still that we could see the rings left on the water surface from fish feeding in the shallow water. We were on the water for more than an hour.

Sunday remained calm so we headed west out on to more open water. We circled Gull Island where there are still some pelicans hanging out on the sand bars. We continued west to the newest dredge island where we frequently see kite boarders launching and then skimming across the shallows on the south side of the island. No one was around when we got there so we took a hike into the center of the island. We wondered how many gulls must use this island based on the number of bird bones bleaching in the sun. Several people actually got sunburned as the air temperature was in the 80’s allowed us to paddle in t-shirts and shorts.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Southern Regional High School

October 9-11, 2007

Fifteen students and two teachers made up the first group of Southern Regional High School students to ever participate in a three-day program at Sedge. The warm Fall weather continued allowing us to kayak comfortably to Barnegat Inlet and have lunch on the jetty. Several of the girls got to talking to one of the fisherman. After hearing that they were “camping at Sedge Island” he gave them a good-sized black fish to “cook over the camp fire.” We did cook this fish and added it to the other things that we had caught like soft clams, snapper blues, and ribbed mussels [Note: even with tomato sauce they are the only shellfish that I don’t like.) One of the big hits for that night’s dinner was the fresh tuna caught by Mr. Dorris a few days earlier. We ate it blackened, grilled and raw in Tuna Tar Tar.

The warm water allowed four of the students to snorkel comfortably in the thorofare near the house. Several members of the group were very experienced and they managed to catch crabs using short hand tongs. Other students stood by on the dock catching small sea bass with hook and line. Later that evening we lounged on the upper deck to see shooting stars, and lay on the dock to view spectacular bio-luminesence in the water.

Just as we were ready to leave to return home, thunder began to rumble in the distance. Although the full intensity of the storm didn’t hit until everyone was safely on the bus, we did get a bit wet on the crossing to Island Beach State Park.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Montclair Cooperative School

October 3-5,2007

Fourteen 6th graders and five adults arrived at Sedge to find that electricity was in very short supply. As the summer progressed our aging solar system has been delivering less and less power. This has made it necessary for the propane fired electrical generator to come on much more than usual. Finally the entire system went down.

The students and adults were unfazed by lack of electricity. They used flashlights for all their lighting needs. They judiciously used their bottled water for drinking. Knowing that the pump for our well is run by electricity, they even rationed some of their bottled water for a final dish washing after initially cleaning the dishes in the bay. Perhaps it was because they were so careful human generated light that they were treated to two of the most spectacular natural light shows of the year.

On the first night we spent over an hour on the upper deck observing the sky. We were able to observe a number of shooting stars and several satellites. Marie, the MCS science coordinator, did an incredible job of pointing out constellations. She had us pay particular attention to the three stars in the summer triangle. She will continue to observe these when she leaves Sedge Island. She will then join sky watchers all over the world as they email comments on their observations to a special database. This is a one of the initial efforts to monitor the amount of light pollution around the globe.

Not to be out done by light in the sky we also had an incredible light show in the water. Just after dark on the second night, we walked out on the dock. The bioluminescence was incredible. Stirring the water with a hand or crab net resulted in a trail of glowing plankton. Several students held and then jiggled, comb jellies that had ingested plankton. These immediately lit up in their hands. This is real magic!

All this was in addition to the usual kayaking, fishing, crabbing and claming in water that continues to be warm and clear. We wonder how long this Indian summer will continue?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Nutley High School

September, 2007

Indian summer continued with the arrival of the AP Biology class. Due to the low water it was impossible to transport everyone and all the gear to Sedge. As a result, six of the students (several from the Nutley Girls Crew Team) paddled from Island Beach to the island in the big canoe. Soon after the group assembled, we paddled kayaks into the marsh to explore the warm, clear water. The osprey are now gone but two peregrine falcons are still utilizing the new igloo house on the hacking tower.

Taking advantage of the unusually warm water and air, it was peasant to get wet as we paddled to the dike and then hiked to the ocean. AP Biology teacher Mr. Bania, who works in the summer as a Seaside Park life guard, joined most of the students for a dip in the 72 degree surf before lunch on the beach. We stopped to go clamming in one of the creeks on our paddle back to Sedge. Digging by hand in the shallow water, we were rewarded by finding 100 clams of various sizes. Some of these clams were served up for dinner along with crabs and bluefish that we had also caught.

The warm days were complimented by cool nights. Most students slept out under the stars. The only problem was that the moon was so bright it was difficult to pick our constellations. It wasn’t really much of a problem.

NJ Kayak

September 2007

Fall at the Jersey Shore doesn’t get much better than this. The water was warm (72F) and clear (visibility 10’ off the dock.) The air was warm (80F) and clear (bright blue sky with unlimited visibility.) On arrival the group found the tide had blown out so fat that it was impossible to bring the pontoon boat across the sand bar to reach the IBSP dock. Alton used the small jon boat to shuttle the gear to Sedge as the group paddled out. This was just the first paddle in a series of adventures on the water.

On the second day we paddled south along High Bar Harbor to Viking Village in the town of Barnegat Light. We ate lunch at a picnic table in the center of the tourist shops. Later we paddled past the land based shellfish nursery near the public landing area. Before heading across Barnegat Inlet, the group got into a line with Bill at one end and Jim at the other so that we could minimize potential interference with boat traffic. We paddled straight across the inlet to the dike at Island Beach State Park. Several of the paddlers took advantage of the small waves in the inlet to do some kayak surfing.

Slurping raw clams and oysters and then cracking and picking blue crabs preceded Carmen’s delicious dinner (steak and chicken kabobs.) The night was so cool and clear that half the group slept on the front porch. They were rewarded with a spectacular sunrise. Unfortunately the fish were not up so early and no one caught anything. It was a gorgeous morning and after cleaning up the group paddled over to Island Beach. They hiked on the trail near the Forked River Interpretive Center, and then hung out on the beach before returning home. Another perfect weekend “Down the Shore.”