I have lived in Pensacola all my life. I turned 21 two years ago and I go to downtown Pensacola frequently.
It can sometimes get boring and repetitive going
to the same places every weekend and seeing the same people. A little over a
year ago I heard Pensacola
was going to open a brewery in the downtown historic district. I was looking
forward to something unique and different. Since it has opened, it has become
one of favorite places to go and is usually my first stop to start my night.
November 19, 2011, Pensacola
Bay Brewery (PBB)
celebrated their one year anniversary. Due to their location in the Pensacola
Historical District, PBB is not allowed to serve just alcohol. Instead they
sell pint glasses and give you the beer for free. They have a flight of all
their beers on tap that you can sample taste if you purchase one of their mugs.
The flight lists the names of the beers underneath the glass so that you know
which beer you are tasting. You can also take home your favorite beer by
purchasing a growler or a bomber. The growler is a one gallon jug and the
bomber is 32 ounce bottle.
PBB has nine beers on tap, eight of which they brew in their facility. The
different beers include an Indian Pale Ale (IPA), amber, a porter, extra pale
ale, wheat, an extra special bitter (ESB), and brown ale. They also have a
vanilla pumpkin porter which is a seasonal beer they brewed for Halloween. The
other beer on tap is Gordon Biersch Czech pils. Gordon Biersch Czech is the
only beer they do not brew. Each beer is uniquely named after the history and
culture of Pensacola.
Sawgrass Wheat, Riptide Amber, and Lighthouse
Porter are just a few examples. My personal favorite is no longer available,
but it is a mixture of the 1845 Pilsner and the Pensacola Bay’s
ESB. It is called the “Triple E,” named after one of the owners who
created it. When the pilsner is not available I prefer either the amber or the
IPA. The PBB also makes their own root beer and cream soda for those who are
not in the mood for beer.
When you walk
into the taproom of the brewery you will notice what I like most about the
place, the atmosphere. There is a nautical theme present with barrels used as
tables, hops hanging from the ceiling, and the taps sitting behind the bar.
They play a good selection of music that is not
too loud and there is always a good crowd occupying the place. The bartenders
are very nice and sociable. They are very knowledgeable about their product and
can give you insight of what you are drinking. Tours of the brewery are available
has spread very quickly about PBB. Several restaurants and bars downtown and
around the Pensacola
area are serving at least one type of beer from the brewery. My friend was in Tallahassee about six
months ago and sent me a text saying he just ordered the Riptide Amber at a
restaurant. He followed it up by saying how crazy it was how fast they had
expanded in such a short amount of time. It did not take long for them to
expand their brewing capacity either.
Approximately eight months after they opened
they were already installing two big tanks in the back to brew more beer!
According to the owner they do have plans in the future to expand even more to
include their own bottling line and canning line.
Whether you’re a guy traveling to Florida for business, heading out on a boys-only weekend
with friends, or taking a two-week vacation with your family, you’ll want to
ensure that you find some great Florida
attractions to visit. From the most obvious places to visit – amusement parks,
beaches, and sporting events – to the lesser known attractions – museums,
battlefields, historical sites and more – there’s lots for a guy to do when
taking trips to Florida.
Of course, these attractions have a broader appeal for both men and women young
and old, so if you’re looking for fun, educational, or unusual Florida attractions,
take a closer look at the following ideas.
like outdoor activities, there are an overwhelming number of Florida attractions for you to enjoy. Both
the Florida Keys and the Panhandle offer a
variety of big game fishing opportunities, which can give you a chance to just
relax in the sunshine and enjoy the water. If you time your trips to Florida right, you may
even be able to watch – or take part in – a tournament. Plus, Palm Beach offers the opportunity to go
diving in a coral reef and explore the beautiful coral and exotic wildlife.
There are also hundreds of beaches throughout Florida on which you can surf, boat, or just
relax. Why spend your trips to Florida
indoors when there’s so much to explore?
of any types of sports, there are many Florida
attractions as well. If you like college football, you can’t miss taking in a
Gators game at the University
of Florida with some of
the most devoted fans in the country. Maybe you are more of a baseball fan
instead? Spring training takes place every year in locations around the state.
For example, you can watch the Los Angeles
Dodgers play on Vero Beach, or visit Port St.
Lucie to see the New York
Mets. Check your individual team’s website for the particulars and then plan
your trips to Florida
so you can catch a preseason major league game and watch the players practice.
Or are you
a racing fan looking for Florida
attractions? You can plan your trips to Florida
to include a visit to the famed Daytona International Speedway
on the Central Atlantic Coast.
There, you can take in a race or even sign up for the Richard Petty Driving
Experience, which allows you to drive a race car – alone or with a guide –
several times around the track. The track also offers daily educational tours,
so you can visit even if there’s not a race scheduled.
more sports-oriented Florida
attractions to visit? You can take in a golf game at one of the many golf
courses across the state – either playing or just watching others compete. You
can also check out the golf and beach resorts across the state for all sorts of
fun activities to enjoy on your trips to Florida,
including tennis, sailing, and fishing, all in one place.
If you are
a military history buff, there are many opportunities to visit Florida attractions that
include historical sites or specialized museums. Start your trips to Florida on the Central
where you have Fort Pierce and the Navy Seal
Museum to visit. There,
you can view all sorts of great exhibits on how this elite group trains and
also take some time on the Panhandle to check out Florida
attractions such as the Air
Museum, located just
outside the gates of Eglin Air Force Base, and view an assortment of aircraft,
missiles, and bombs. Your trips to Florida can
also include a stop at the historic battleground of Marianna, as well as the National Museum
of Aviation at the Pensacola
Naval Air Station.
addition, you can check out the American Police Hall of Fame and Museum in Titusville, near Cocoa
Beach, on one of your next trips to Florida. There you can
not only see actual police artifacts but also take a helicopter ride and test
your skill as a marksman on the gun range. A memorial wall for fallen officers
killed in the line of duty is also featured.
Parks and Aquariums
Orlando offers all sorts of fun activities in
which you can take part on your trips to Florida.
The famous theme parks offer Florida attractions such as thrill rides galore
and entertainment that can fill up days and nights, whether you have the kids
with you or not. You can also take time at Sea World to catch one of their
famous killer whale shows. And make sure you look into one of the
behind-the-scenes tours offered at Disney for a real insider look at what goes
on in the hidden tunnels beneath the Magic
For a more
offbeat option to explore during your trips to Florida, visit nearby Kissimmee
and Old Town Park, which offers retro fun for you and the rest of your family,
including classic car shows, a Ferris wheel, and a go-kart track. Outside of Orlando, Florida
attractions of this type include the Gulfarium on Fort Walton Beach, which is full of intricate
exhibits on sea life that you will certainly enjoy.
Florida Attractions That Can’t
are the Florida
attractions that defy categorization. On the North Atlantic
Coast, you can take some
time to tour the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, complete with tastings. The Panhandle
offers the opportunity to go camping and sleep in a Yurt tent or to explore Florida Caverns State Park,
which offers cave tours to the public. You can also visit the Museum of Florida History
to gain a bit of perspective about your trips to Florida. And finally, Fort
Lauderdale hosts the Greater Fort
Lauderdale International Boat Show for both those that
want to buy a boat and those that just want to dream about doing so.
Not everyone has the chance to catch their own shrimp. I caught mine by mistake but I kept them anyway. My son and I were fishing on the old Pensacola Bay Fishing Bridge at Pensacola, Florida. When the old concrete bridge that crossed the bay was replaced by a new and modern structure three miles long, the city made the old one into a recreational fishing bridge.
I understand that one
of the hurricanes of the past few years did her in and there’s nothing left
now. It’s sad because “the bridge” was my favorite night fishing spot
of the area, as it was for hundreds if not thousands of other fishermen.
Almost any warm
evening, especially in summer, fishermen of both sexes would be lined up on the
railing of the bridge with their lines cast as far out into Pensacola Bay
as possible. Every once in a while someone’s rod would jerk; the angler would
pull back and set the hook; then pull in everything from mullet to flounder.
Just about any fish was possible from that bridge.
Each time I fished at
the bridge, there was a festive mood with all that were fishing. Entire
families were there as well as the lone fishermen huddle over a cup of coffee
late in the evening. Fishing rods were lined up like soldiers against the
concrete railing. Everyone had his very own lawn chair, blankets or sleeping
bag. Charcoal grills were set up and the aroma of hamburgers would be swept
along by the ocean breeze from one end of the structure to the other. From time
to time someone would come by selling bait or cold drinks. It was as if every
night was a holiday! Frankly, I never caught many fish from that old bridge,
but I had a lot of fun trying.
One particular evening
in early July around midnight, we’d gotten bored with the lack of activity from
our rods and reels, so we cut up one of the smaller fish into two pieces to be
used for bait. We’d brought along two crab traps, so we baited them with the
fish and lowered them over the side of the bridge until they touched bottom.
Then we let nature take its course. It was time to catch some Blue Crabs for
dinner the next evening!
A half hour later we
pulled up one of the traps to see if we had any crabs. There wasn’t even one!
There were however five large shrimp in the basket. We lost one when it fell
out of the trap on the way up to the top of the bridge. We scooped the other
four up and put them in our bait bucket for later use.
The second trap
changed our minds about using the shrimp for bait when we pulled it up. We had
an even dozen large shrimp in this basket. That settled it; we had to keep
fishing for shrimp until we had enough for a meal! There were very few small
shrimp in the baskets; most of them were large or jumbo; just the kind to cook
on a charcoal grill!
The next couple of
hauls were very poor, only one shrimp between the two baskets. We checked our
bait and dropped the traps into the water about 15 feet below. While we were
waiting for the shrimp to come to the traps, we continued to fish with our rods
and reels. My son and I each caught a nice flounder. By the time we put them in
the cooler; it was time to check the crab traps again.
This time there were
about twenty each in our baskets. After seeing that we were catching shrimp,
folks up and down the bridge had dug out their crab traps and were having good
success also! I have no idea why the shrimp were so plentiful under that bridge
that night. I’ve caught a lot of crabs there but that was the only time the
shrimp were that plentiful. We lost a lot of shrimp due to them falling out of
the basket as we hauled them up, but we finished the night with about 8 pounds
Folks have told me
that the city is going to build another fishing structure to replace the old
bridge in Pensacola.
I hope they do, but it won’t be the same. I know you can’t live in the past but
if I could, I would stake my claim on a spot about two hundred yards from the
southern shore on that old bay bridge and throw out my traps
We don’t know where they are going just yet, but a Chipotle external
communications representative confirmed to the News Journal that the revered
fast casual Tex Mex chain plans to
open two Pensacola
locations this fall. For all service of chipotles for delivery and
chipotles delivery and all chipotles menu meats to be chipotles near me at all
The company was unable to provide any
But both Chipotle and the vice president
of the commercial real estate agency that developed Tiger Point stomped on our
dreams when they set the record straight.
“Someone must have taped that logo on
there,” said Beck Partners VP Stacy Taylor to the News Journal in
July of 2018.
“Just confirmed with the real estate
team that there are no plans for a Gulf Breeze location and they’re not in
communication with the developer,” a Chipotle’s PR rep added around the
same time.”They’re looking into the signage as we speak.”
To say Pensacola
has desperately desired a Chipotle for quite some time would be
understating it. A Facebook group page of the chain restaurant, aptly named “Bring
a Chipotle to Pensacola,” was created in 2011 and has remained
very active since.
For the better part of a decade,
members have shared insider info, rumors and stories in which they have
personally messaged the company in hopes of getting the good news they’ve
craved for so long.
The News Journal will track the progress of the two confirmed Chipotles as the winter rolls on. Stay tuned.
The proximity of Orange Beach
real estate to cities and airports is a convenience that increases its value
for investors. It is about an hour’s drive from Pensacola,
Florida, and Mobile, Alabama
airports. Most of the cities in the southeast are also quite close bay.
Beach real estate offers a lot of single family homes, mainly on the
waterfront, and condominiums for sale. Some fully furnished properties rentals
are also easily available. To invest in real estate here you just have to
choose a property management firm and leave the rest to them. In the
waterfronts luxurious beach houses provide the ultimate in living. Many of
these even provide a boat slip and dock.
– The Best Investments
Orange Beach real estate provides
condos in different sizes and in various price ranges. Luxury beach front
properties with boat docks, panoramic views and security are readily available
for a price. For those with a budget, complexes at very affordable prices with
amenities such as hardwood floors are available in condos. Other condominiums
and single family houses with golf courses at the back are also available at
Entertainment and Shopping
beach offers a variety of entertainment. An amphitheater which features regular
live concerts encourages the locals, especially the students to showcase their
talents. Golf courses are also there to allow the amateur golfer to improve on
A marina, a private beach club, fishing
outfitters, and pools, are other forms o entertainment available here. If you
take some time to stroll down the seaside you will come across many shops which
cater to your daily needs. You can also treat yourself to a meal of exotic
seafood at one of the many cafes and restaurants.
hall also provides entertainment if you want a change of scene. Parks with
various forms of entertainment like ferris wheels are also evident at Orange beach. Art lovers can visit the OB Art Center
at the Orange Beach Hotel and view the works of local artists. Dolphin Cruises
and fishing expeditions are also organized in this beach which houses the
largest Charter fishing fleet on the Gulf of Mexico.
OB also celebrates many festivals like the
famous annual Mardi-Gras Parade.
beach is famous for its artificial reef which was created by sinking the 888 ft
USS Oriskany Aircraft Carrier and this draws scuba divers from all over the
world generating considerable revenue.
culinary offerings in this area are legendary, especially the seafood. This is
a local specialty that can compete with the very best in the country. There are
restaurants to satisfy everybody. You can enjoy an a la carte meal at any of
the luxurious restaurants or you could snatch a quick bite at a beach pub. You
could also choose an open air restaurant for a refreshing outdoor meal.
Orange beach real estate has really got a
lot to offer to all. You could be a one time tourist enjoying the beautiful
seaside with its fabulous weather or you could be a permanent settler, the
place has it all.
Pensacola Beach hotels offer everything needed
for families, business travelers, golfers, and other vacationers in Pensacola Beach. This area is one of the
affordable tourist spots in Florida with
numerous attractions including sandy beaches, emerald green waters, zoos,
amusement parks, race tracks, miniature golf courses, and Marine Park.
can find a choice selection of hotels within the city limits to make their stay
more comfortable and enjoyable. The accommodation options include inexpensive
hotels, luxury hotels, and business hotels. You can also find everything from
motels, condos, inns, suites, resorts, condominiums, lodges, and vacation
rentals catering to the varying tastes of the guests. Generally, room rates of
hotels range from under $60 to over $200.
Beach hotels house some of the finest restaurants, serving every type of world
Western Resort, Clarion Beachfront Suites, RMI Vacations, Holiday Inn Express,
Paradise Inn, Comfort Inn, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, and Springhill
Suites by Marriott are some major Pensacola Beach hotels perfect for families
Beach hotels are at a convenient distance from popular city attractions such as
Bonifay Water Sports, Reel Eazy Charters, Pensacola Beach Air Show, Island
Palms Miniature Golf, and Tiki Island Golf and Games. To engage you during your
stay, these hotels arrange a wide variety of outdoor adventures and golf
Beach hotels are
furnished with stylish amenities and facilities that ensure a pleasant
vacation. Guests can also experience a wonderful variety of shopping, water
sports, and recreation and entertainment activities. Those wishing for a change
of scenery can plan visits to nearby area attractions.
booking can be made through travel agents, who can help you to get the perfect
room for your vacation with family or friends. Online reservation facilities
are provided by most of these hotels. Group discounts and special vacation
packages are provided to attract more guests.
When it comes to spring break, Florida is still the most common spot to
The hot spots in Florida
for spring break primarily include Pensacola
Beach, Miami and the Florida Keys. These destinations provide a variety of
beaches, days filled with plenty of sunshine, plenty of frosty beverages and
tons of spring breakers who love to play in the sand, surf the ocean waves and
drink gallons of adult cocktails.
Florida Keys offers several places to shop and eat as well as learn more about
the state of Florida.
Most people though just go there during spring break simply for the refreshing
and relaxing atmosphere.
enjoyable pastime is walking along the miles of beach, looking at the different
sized seashells and sand dollars that are washed onto the shores from the
endless waves of the mighty ocean. You can also look out into the horizon of
the ocean and see shrimp boats and sail boats in various locations.
another fun thing to do, if you know how. You could rent a boat for a full day
and head out onto the ocean for yet another point of view of Florida.
To a lot
of students, and the parents of the younger students who take their children on
vacation for spring break, Florida
is like paradise. There are so many adventures and activities there, that there
never seems to be enough hours in the day to see and do it all. When nighttime
rolls around, these active families usually can’t wait to hit their hotel room
and fall asleep, resting up for the next day’s adventure.
comes to the typical college students on spring break though, the real fun
starts when the sun goes down. This is when the night clubs, restaurants and
bars start to open up and the wild and crazy nightlife begins. These night time
activities are probably what spring break is most famous for. It is the focus
of many TV shows and movies.All in all, college students from across the
nation tend to flock to Florida
for spring break as there seems to be a little something for everyone. It can
be a relaxing getaway or a wild blow off of stress to clear the mind before
returning to the books on campus. Also, by traveling in groups the students can
help keep their travel expenses to a minimum by sharing rooms, gas, rentals and
other related costs.
Pensacola, located in the panhandle of Florida,
is a favorite vacation spot for many outdoor enthusiasts. The weather is mild
to warm most of the year with some cold spots added from time to time. The
people are friendly and nice to be around. It is the county seat of Escambia County
and one of the very earliest US
settlements. It has a rich history that you can enjoy through visits to local
ever been saltwater fishing in Pensacola?
Have any luck? Well, I do pretty well when I go. Having lived there all my life
I’ve been fortunate to do a wide variety of fishing, both salt and fresh water.
One of the best Pensacola
attractions is the fishing; personally I prefer the salt since the fish are
generally bigger. I will talk about some of my past experiences and the time of
year they happened.
summer months the water is calm for the most part. Except for the afternoon
thunderstorms you will have smooth waters. My favorite pattern at this time is
trolling. I mostly go for the king mackerel but all fish strikes are great.
Before the trip I head down to the local bait store and pick up a few packs of
rigged Ballyhoo. Keep them on ice until needed. Get your gear in good shape by
checking for any damage to rods, reels, and line. Keep the gaff in a convenient
put a snap swivel on the end of the line for quicker bait hook-up. Head out of Pensacola pass to about 2
miles distance and get the gear out and in the holders. Open the Ballyhoo,
break off the bill, and snap them on. Put the boat in gear and rev it up ’til
you start getting white prop wash. Put the baits in the water back about 20 –
30 yards. Set the drag and put on the clicker. If you are operating the boat, I
find it easy to keep the lines from tangling by keeping an eye on just one
line. Keep it straight behind the boat and you will have no trouble.
trolling isn’t for you, there is always drift fishing. Pick up your bait; I
like cigar minnows, from the bait shop. Head out into the gulf and find a spot
you like. I would stay out of the channel since there is lots of boat traffic
there. Turn off the engine but don’t anchor, take the bait without weight or
bobber, put it on the hook, cast out and let the tide have it. I have taken
kids out fishing and this trick works great. Some days you can get a good
workout. I have gotten some nice Bonita this way, and some King Mackerel as
Since I’m on the summer months, let me talk
about something known as June Grass. Out in the gulf you may see large patches
of grass floating about. These are very productive fishing spots. They not only
provide shade from the sun but are home to a variety of life, such as small
crabs. Upon spotting these I have had good luck trolling and casting to them.
One of the fish I have caught has been Dolphin. You could put on some large
diving plugs and troll around the edges. Vary the distance behind the boat; I
have caught fish on plugs with the plug in the prop wash.
months can be productive as well but I tend to stay closer to shore due to the
In the winter the water is general choppy in the
gulf. Fishing around the pass in the winter can be fun. The pass is some 60 –
70 feet deep with current from the tides. I have trolled plugs here and caught
some nice Blue Fish. Bottom fishing can turn up some good catches of a variety.
Speckled and White Trout can be caught in the shallower areas, say 4 – 10 feet.
You can fish with shrimp, cut bait, or sting ray grubs. On warmer days you can
get strikes from Speckled Trout on top water plugs around grassy spots.
more adventurous there is the Desoto
Canyon. It is a bit of a
ride from Pensacola
Pass, some 25 miles or
so, but usually well worth it. Go out the pass and follow the channel markers
to the very last one, the sea buoy. Make your heading 168 degrees and travel
about 25 miles out. On your depth sounder you will notice the bottom start to
chop up. You are there. Look for some good bottom contour, put on the weights,
and hook on some bait for some bottom fishing. You can get some Snapper, Mingo,
Grouper, Trigger, and maybe some Amberjack.
you go, always file a float plan with someone ashore. Check the weather
beforehand. Check your license and be aware of any catch restrictions. Have a
safe and productive fishing trip to Pensacola,
Pensacola is indeed the most
renowned fishing grounds ever. An exotic holiday destination in Florida this spot is
more famous for its fishing than anything else. Pensacola fishing is really one of the most
enjoyable activities of this area. This convenient location in the Gulf of
Mexico has started gaining on tourist traffic especially for the Pensacola Charter fishing.
Charter fishing is indeed a fishing experience
of its kind. It is not only enjoyable but also safe to the highest degree. Pensacola fishing charter
companies give out water transport which is absolutely safe and lets you enjoy
your experience without any glitches. If you are thinking the service is bound
to be very costly think again coz the service is as reasonable as could be. It
is indeed not a very heavy pinch on your pocket. However before you actually
hire a boat you should find out all you need to know to go out fishing in Pensacola. The companies
will also need to be informed as to where and with how many people you will go
fishing. There are guides to help you choose a spot if you don’t have an idea
about it. Following are a few of the Pensacola
deep sea and saltwater fishing companies. Read on to find more about the
fishing experience in Pensacola.
Alabama Deep Sea Fishing: The strategic location
of this is near the orange beach, Alabama
which is towards the north in the Gulf of Mexico.
This is an 11 year old company and has been renowned for giving out excellent
facilities to its customers. The guides this company provides are very
knowledgeable about fishing in this region.
Getaway Gulf Fishing: If you are
looking for a notch higher in comfort here you go. This company specializes in
giving you luxury air conditioned boats on rent. The boats are rented out on
hourly basis. This is company is very particular about the safety of its
customers and boats and hence never allows to go fishing in rough conditions.
This company too provides excellent anglers and guides to help out with an
amazing fishing experience.
Good Times Charter Fishing: Located again in
Orange Beach, Alabama
they are also one of the best fishing companies on shore. They offer very reasonable
rates for renting boats and even accept credit cards for payment. IT has been a
known name in fishing for many a year now. They again provide anglers and
specialist guides for helping out with your fishing in this region.
Fishing Cotton Services: This is a company which
ensures that its customers do find some fish to catch; it’s not only renowned
for its efficient boats but also for finding the best of fishing grounds in the
whole of Pensacola. The company’s reputation dates back to years now and they
are known to be specialists in deep sea fishing. Their guides are indeed
amongst the best available in Pensacola.
We advise you to do some research on all your
requirements, fishing companies, and costs involved before you plan a trip to Pensacola.
Despite what may be Long Island residents’ roots
set in sedentary cement, there is nothing like a cruise on the Great South Bay
to offer an aquatic alternative to their view and enable them to briefly adopt
a tourist’s perspective of the area they call home. It was this philosophy that
lured me from land to sea on the “Moon Chaser” excursion boat from Captree State Park on a recent mid-July day.
“Captree State Park (itself) is located at
the eastern tip of the narrow beach known as Jones Beach Island,” according
to its self description. “This ideal location, at the intersection of the
Fire Island inlet and the State Boat Channel, places it within easy access of
some of the finest bay and ocean fishing grounds on the East Coast and provides
for an extremely scenic view of the Great South Bay and the western end of Fire
Island, including the Fire Island Lighthouse, the Fire Island Coast Guard
Station, the Robert Moses State Park Water Tower, and the Inlet Span
The park offers a snack bar, a nautically-themed,
full-service restaurant, a bait and tackle shop, and two fishing piers for
The area on this dry, flawlessly blue, 80-degree
day said summer on Long Island. The air was
suffused with the sound of seagulls, which flapped, flocked, and flew, and the
scent of the sea. The parking lot on the concrete side yielded to the one on
the aquatic side, as a line of mostly fishing boats–Long Island’s largest
fleet of them, in fact–bowed into the dock, including the “Capt. Eddie B.
III,” the “Spectrum,” the “North Star II,” and the
“Bay Princess II.”
Water lapped at the deck. The seagulls sang. And
fishing rods projected from everyone, as if they constituted their third arms.
Designed and constructed by the Blount Marine
Corporation, of Warren, Rhode Island, and launched in 1982, the blue-and-white
“Moon Chaser” vessel intended for my own nautical excursion,
stretched 65 feet, accommodated up to 220 on two decks, and was tied to the
furthest pier from the restaurant complex.
A short line in front of its mobile ticket
booth, as occurred every Wednesday and Thursday afternoon in the summer,
indicated a complement of about 25 on its trip today.
A laborious engine grind signaled its 13:00
departure and a brief backward jolt preceded a 180-degree turn and trace
through the buoy-lined channel, as the Captree Boat
Basin receded in the
Mimicking the “Moon Chaser’s” course,
two other, fishing excursion destined boats trailed it, riding its wake, while
two inbound vessels, the “Laura Lee” and the “Captree
Princess,” made their approaches.
Settling into a gentle sway, the “Moon
Chaser” itself glided over the sun-glinted blue bay, paralleling Fire Island National Seashore.
One of the proverbial bread slices, along with
Long Island itself, it ensured that the 45-mile-long Great South Bay remained
sandwiched between landmasses and thus protected from the Atlantic, whose
access was provided by the inlet between Jones
eastern and Fire Island’s western ends.
Native to the area were the Meroke Tribes, but
the earliest settlers were those from Europe, who encountered them in the 17th
century, eventually establishing a succession of south shore bay towns, based
upon boating and fishing, including Lindenhurst, Babylon, Islip, Oakdale,
Sayville, Bayport, Blue Point, Patchogue, Bellport, Shirley, and Mastic Beach.
Managing to pierce the otherwise bright day, the
lens atop the black-and-white towered Fire Island
Lighthouse blinked at the boat as it inched toward it, abreast of the sand and
scrub shoreline off the starboard side.
Appearing like an uninterrupted pattern of
projected fishing poles wrapped around its deck, the “Island
Princess,” anchored a short distance away, passed off to port.
Established on September 11, 1964, when Congress
designated 26 miles of Fire Island as a national seashore, that narrow tract of
land today encompasses 17 residential communities, New York’s only federally deemed wilderness,
marine and upland habitat, wildlife, beaches, recreational facilities, and
several historic sights.
Toting itself, it invites the visitor to
“immerse yourself in an enchanting collage of coastal life and history.
Rhythmic waves, high dunes, ancient maritime forests, historic landmarks, and
glimpses of wildlife, Fire Island has been a
special place for diverse plants, animals, and people for centuries. Far from
the pressure of big city life, dynamic barrier island beaches offer both
solitude and camaraderie, and spiritual renewal.”
While the Statue of Liberty
was the symbolic entry to New York Harbor, the Fire Island Lighthouse was the actual one
since the 19th century, guiding transatlantic ships and those transporting the
millions of European immigrants from the Old World
to the new.
The initial, 74-foot-high structure serving this
purpose, a cream colored octagonal pyramid of Connecticut River blue split
stone constructed in 1826 at the island’s end, certainly marked the inlet, but
did not necessarily serve the purpose. Too short, in fact, to do so, it was
dismantled when Congress appropriated $40,000 in 1857 for a 168-foot, creamy
yellow replacement that sported a red brick tower and was first lit on November
1 of the following year, although stone from the original was incorporated in
Reflecting technological advancement, it
employed several methods, including whale oil, land oil, mineral oil, kerosene,
and, finally, electricity, as of September 20, 1938, to fuel its four
concentric Funk lamps housed in its First Order Fresnel lens to produce
one-minute interval flashes.
Like many devices in history, however, it
entered a period that would later see it coming full cycle.
Decommissioned as a navigation aid on December
31, 1973, it was replaced by an inadequate facsimile-a small flash tube optic
installed on top of the Robert
Park Water Tower. But its singular,
seaward-direction shine failed to serve any purpose for Great South Bay plying
vessels, and private citizen support, gaining momentum during the second half
of the 1970s, led to the formation of the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation
Society in 1982.
After significant fund collections facilitated
its restoration to its 1939 appearance, it was placed on the National Register
of Historic Places in 1984 and, completing its cycle, was reinstated as an
official navigation aid two years later, on Memorial Day, casting its guiding
light onto the bay when it was relit.
Today, two 1,000-watt, counter-clockwise
rotating bulbs provide flashes every 7.5 seconds and are visible up to 24 miles
Separate from, but complementary to, the United
States Lighthouse Service, the Lifesaving Service established its own station,
which was constructed in 1848 on the island’s west end, not far from the
location of the original lighthouse itself. Both were created to patrol the
coastline for watercraft stormed, stranded, or stuck, and facilitate rescues,
the latter by mostly volunteer baymen and farmers between October and May.
Seven such stations eventually lined Fire Island by 1854.
Their value was not to be underestimated,
however: between 1871 and 1915, more than 7,000 people were rescued from 721
Dipping deeper into the now darker blue surface,
the “Moon Chaser” spit foamy white reactions from its sides each time
its bow plunged into the water for a gulp. A wisp of thin cloud, like whipped
cream, hung across the eastern sky.
Continuing to parallel Fire
Island, the boat cruised past its communities, as if they were
notches that silently ticked by. From Robert
Park, it moved past Kismet, Saltair, and Fair Harbor.
Those wishing to have lunch on board had several
options, including doing so before sailing at Captree’s lower snack bar; upper
level, nautically-themed restaurant, the Captree Cove; having either prepare
something to be taken away; or bringing a box lunch of the passenger’s own.
Choosing the latter and maintaining the cruise’s natural sea-and-air theme, I
took a vegetarian approach, enjoying cream cheese on date nut bread, honey
roasted almonds, and cheese puffs at one of the main deck tables. Chips, soft
drinks, and alcoholic beverages were purchasable from the bar, located on the
same level, although many elected to take them to the upper canopied sun deck.
The Fire Island communities continued to slip by
off the starboard side: Ocean Beach, Seaview, Ocean Bay Park.
Envisioned as a community for retired New York City police- and
firemen, the latter pursued a divergent path when World War II-necessitated gas
rationing and international travel restrictions prompted residents to seek
“area-backyard” alternatives-in this case, Point O’ Woods domestic
servants planted the first seeds of this eventual vacation resort when they
used it as an after-work gathering place.
Partly employing its already established
foundation, the community transformed the existing Coast Guard stations into
the present-day Fire Island Hotel and Flynn’s Restaurant, re-purposing them and
reflecting its accurate self-description.
“The architecture of Ocean Bay Park tends
to be modest, but with character,” it says.
All its residential streets were named after
Considering its compact, 350-home encompassment,
it is particularly rich in services, including a grocery store, a bicycle shop,
a tennis court, two hotels, and several restaurants. Flynn’s, of the latter
type, has its own 50-slip marine and is the destination of the “Moon
Chaser” on select weekday evenings for a package that includes a lobster
Again according to its own description, “Ocean Bay
Park is a small town with
a big personality. Largely populated by share houses, it knows how to throw a
beach barbecue blowout. The riotous weekend warrior reputation is reinforced by
the serious drinking and all-night dancing at Flynn’s, Schooner, and The Inn Between. The town’s laid back, nonrestrictive
lifestyle is especially appreciated by the waves of young renters seeking a
beach party environment. However, Ocean
also has its share of longtime seasonal residents.”
Serving as the halfway point, it marked the
“Moon Chaser’s” 180-degree arc to port, swaying, like a seesaw, as it
negotiated the wake of passing speedboats. A Bay Shore originating ferry passed
astern and tucked itself into its Ocean
Maintaining a westerly heading and leaving its
own white and dark green churn behind its stern, it inched toward the erector
set resembling Robert
that spanned the bay and now loomed in the distance. Subjected to nature’s
silent tug-of-war, upper deck passengers witnessed the hot sun’s competition
with the breeze’s cooling cut.
Gliding over the dull blue, glass-resembling
surface, the “Moon Chaser” passed to the left of East and West Fire
islands, before reducing speed and entering the buoy-lined channel, abreast of
the intensely green, seemingly floating patches of shellfish dependent
Now down to only a few knots per hour, it
initiated its left arc into the basin and made contact with the Captree dock
from which it had departed an hour and a half before.
Stepping off the boat, I had, in many ways, been
refreshed by the air, the sun, the sea, the breeze, and the view-especially the
view-by rediscovering, as a temporary tourist, a lifetime resident’s own
backyard during a season that defined it-summer on the Long Island’s Great