Gliding effortlessly through glassy flat water, with the bow cutting oncoming chop at almost seventeen knots is a surreal feeling that lies somewhere between flying, and weightlessness. Every so often a piece of chop lifts the bow into the air before setting it gently back down, while the soft gurgling under the stern accompanies frothy bubbles that quickly vanish into the distance. These are the conditions that speed sailors search the world for with dreams of setting new speed records, and they are the conditions that instantly create vivid experiences and memories. Over the weekend Dane and I were lucky enough to log almost 50 miles of sailing on Oyster Bay, New York in these conditions.
With brand new 49ers, high caliber coaching, and a fun group of talented sparing partners, this opportunity helped to spike our already steep learning curve. Thanks to everyone who made this possible including the US Sailing Team coaches, our friends and family, and most of all the Oakcliff Sailing Center.
Check out some of our weekend inspiration:
Love Your Ocean: About Oyster Bay and Long Island Sound
Oyster Bay is located on Long Island Sound, and is home to a diverse ecosystem, which helps to create the beautiful clear water that we were lucky enough to sail in. As its name suggests, Oyster Bay hosts abundant populations of oysters and other bivalves such as scallops, and hard clams. These species are filter feeders, consuming many of the organic particles that create murky waters. Unfortunately, over harvesting and repeated algal blooms in Long Island Sound over the last hundred years have contributed to a steep decline in bivalve populations in many bays around the Sound, which in turn has reduced the ability of the ecosystems to regulate the algal blooms. These blooms, more commonly known in the region as, “Brown Tides” are caused by increased nitrates in the atmosphere from pollution in surrounding metropolitan areas.
In some areas including the brackish estuaries around the JFK airport, efforts are being made to replenish oyster populations by introducing hand-raised “spat,” or baby oysters to the ecosystems. Hopefully reintroducing and protecting these species over harvesting will help to reduce algal blooms, keep our ocean beautiful, and ensure that populations of wild shellfish will be available for consumption far into the future.
The ocean is our playground, and to continue to sail in pristine waters like Oyster Bay, we need to educate ourselves on our own roles in the local ecosystems.
For more information about:
- Issues facing the waters of Long Island Sound, click here
- Oyster harvesting in Long Island Sound, click here