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Ballard Sailor

Barnegat Bay, Toms River & Lavallette

Rating: 13 votes, 5.00 average.

After our long walk at Island Beach State Park we found our way back to where Libra was anchored. With the winds already at 15 knots and the forecast for it to rise overnight, we decided it was prudent to pull our anchor and sail to the Northwest into Toms River for a more protected anchorage for the night. And thank goodness we did because soon the winds were pushing us along at 8 knots and the bay chop had us rolling around on our approach into Toms River. We found a good anchorage near a mooring field and boat ramp for shore access, and then settled in for the night. On the way into the bay we passed the wierdest thing on the southern shore near the point. It looked like an immense telephone pole farm throughout the marshes. We couldn’t see any wires strung between them, and no pattern to the poles, just a ton of old telephone poles. Very odd.


So it’s now Tuesday morning and the winds are blowing hard with a front expected to come through tonight and tomorrow bringing 2 to 3 inches of rain. Maybe it’s time to find a dock for a night or two... We called around and found only a few marinas that could take us. With the winds forecast to have some westerly component in it, the depth at the head of Toms River, where most of the marinas are, tends to drop a foot or two as the wind pushes the water East towards the mouth making a slip normally deep enough for us a muddy hole. We did find one yacht club that offered us moorage at $2/ft and since this was the same price as the marinas we felt supporting the yacht club and checking it out would be the best call - and we couldn’t have been happier about that choice!


We left our anchorage and motored the short distance to the Toms River Yacht Club and found our pier slip and worked our way into it with some daft fending off, dinghy work and random ropes ran at various angles to combat the side winds and chop. Finally in and secured, Jennifer visited the yacht club to get the details and found the past commodore Bill Warner in the office with the most welcoming office staff we had met yet. Turns out the reciprocal privileges here come with the first night free and the 2nd night $2/ft - bonus! Bill then gave Jennifer the lowdown on the town, where the store was, where the West Marine was, where the local cheap beer and burger place was and then even went so far as to drive Jennifer to the West Marine and back to get fuel for our stove! Very thoughtful.

When she returned, she explained to me what Bill had told her about the Telephone pole farm. It turns out it was an old Ship to Shore radio station with antennae strung between the poles to enhance reception. For those of you that may not be old enough to remember what a Ship to Shore radio call was, let me explain. Years ago they’re what was known as a Marine Operator. A sailor would pick up his VHF radio and turn it to the proper frequency and ask the Marine operator to make a phone call for him or her so they could talk with someone at the other end. Very handy when offshore and making a late arrival and with the busy offshore east coast delivery lanes I’m guessing this was a very busy ship to shore radio network. Mystery solved!

As it wasn’t raining yet, windy and cloudy, but no rain, we decided to put on our foulie jackets and do the long walk to the bar to meet up with Bill, his son Bill, and his son-in-law Willie for a burger and beer. A wonderful and dry walk through the residential section of Toms River brought us to dinner and eventually karaoke entertainment before we walked back to the yacht club, just barely ahead of the rain. And then it rained, rained all night, rained all morning and didn’t let up until late Wednesday afternoon. Once again, this wasn’t a nice PNW rain that foulie gear easily keeps out, this was torrential, easily 3 inches in 18 hours - absolutely soaking you after a short walk to the head at the clubhouse. By evening we were drying out and come Thursday morning we said goodbye to the Toms River Yacht Club and moved up waterway and out East to the town of Lavallette on the barrier island and the very welcoming Lavallette Yacht Club.


A windy, sunny day with strong puffs out of the West pushed us fast into the locally marked channel to the town of Lavallette. Somewhat nerve racking as the winds tried to push us out of the very narrow and shallow channel but with some focused navigating and slow maneuvers we managed to make it into the Yacht Club marina, find a dock spot and were happily welcomed by club members Marty and Del.


We were immediately given a tour of the clubhouse and an enjoyable history of the club, its’ facility and grounds and its’ fleets of sailboats. It was obvious these two truly enjoyed their club with their enthusiasm showing strong in their descriptions. So welcoming were these two that we presented our first Sloop Tavern Yacht Club burgee to them after walking around their clubhouse and seeing Seattle Yacht Club, St. Francis Yacht Club, Portland Yacht Club and the Royal Cape Yacht Club hanging amongst the many East Coast clubs. We figured they must need a Sloop Tavern Burgee and with much pomp and circumstance we presented them with a burgee that they immediately found a spot for and proudly hung with the throngs of Yacht club burgees lining their bar walls.


Del and Marty went on with their description of the area’s racing association to tell us about a man by the name of Kellogg that is single handily supporting the local sailing scene by reinvigorating the older fleets and supporting the Race Committees in some very ingenious ways. Now, in our tax system charitable donations help out on our yearly payment to the man, the more you have the more you can donate and reduce your payment. Well Mr. Kellogg is putting donations into sailing. First, he reinvigorated the old A-cat fleet. This is a 30 foot open catboat with a 50’ mast, 36 foot boom and a centerboard. A shallow water speedster with some very classic lines, sharp narrow entry, wide flat transom. This thing looks like it would smoke in flat water. Enjoying his success here, he went on to create some enthusiasm in an old One Design class known as a Duckboat. These little things look like a small A scow or Glen L 10, they look like a lot of fun. He got things going again by telling all the yacht clubs that anyone that picked up an old one of these and fixed it up to race shape and started sailing it would have $1000 donated to his or her yacht club. Soon there were no old boats to fix up and new boats began being built. The original builder wore himself out and sold his jigs to a new builder whose at it still today. This simple technique of charitable donations, something Mr. Kellogg would be doing no matter what avenue he chose, has created a fleet of well over 30 duckboats come race day, Brilliant! He has gone on to buy mark boats for all the yacht clubs in the Barnegat Bay Racing Association amongst I’m sure a ton of support I know nothing about. How do we get one of these Kellogg's in the Pacific Northwest? Great ideas.



After this enthusiastic welcome, we headed off to town to walk a bit and see what we could see. We found the Ocean side boardwalk and strolled the 2 miles south to its’ end and then worked our way back through town where we found what surely must be the worlds largest clam, if nothing else the worlds best paint job on a clam...


Then continued on until Jennifer spied an open ice cream store and just had to stop for a cone even though I told her it would ruin her dinner - she said “So.” Well with ice cream cones in hand we finished our walk back to the now empty club to watch the sunset before turning in for the night, tomorrow we leave the Banegat Bay and prepare for the short trip up to New York.

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East Coast Cruise for 2012

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