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DAN'S PAPERS, September 25, 2009 Page 18

Here Today

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the East Coast during July and August. Whale-watching expeditions were organized and participants had great success in photographing and watching this phenomenon. Then in mid-August, an enormous hurricane named Bill swung up the coast, following the path of the Gulf Stream and passing less than 70 miles off Montauk. The result was still more record high surf with some waves rising up 20 feet to pound down on the already compromised sand. This was great for surfers and beachgoers who camped out by the thousands to watch the display along our ocean shoreline, but it also washed out still even more sand. It was also about that time that this author wrote a story suggesting that tourists go down to Far Rockaway and Jones Beach and put a little sand in a baggie to bring out to the East End. I was particularly concerned for the Montauk Lighthouse, which was built 296 feet from the edge of the cliff, but is now only 62 feet from the edge. Bring out the sand. Dump it there, I wrote. It was meant as an amusement, but I am told that some people did just that. In the third week of August, somebody gave me a clipping from The New York Times that described some sturm und drang along the Mexican coastline of Cancun, where this lunar and solar stuff had also taken much of the sand away. The owner of the Gran Caribe Real Cancun, an oceanfront resort with much of its sand gone, ordered a night commando raid on the sand in front of a string of nearby

hotels at a neighboring beach. For his troubles, the owner of the hotel, Fernando Garcia Zalvidea, is now under arrest in Mexico City for stealing public property without a license while Marines in camouflage uniforms stand along his beach with submachine guns behind yellow crime-scene tape to keep the hotel-goers away until this thing is sorted out. This resulted in lots of tourists posing in bathing suits next to the Marines while their mates snapped happily away. The director of the Mexican version of the Environmental Protection Agency explained the arrest and the arrival of the Marines. “They were robbing sand, which is a property of the nation,” said Raziel Villegas Nunez, director of Environmental Impact and Terrestrial Marine Federal Zone. “We wanted to make it very clear the beach was closed.” “This was an emergency measure to save the beach,” hotel owner Zalvidea said while in a courthouse waiting to be charged. “These tourists want sun and beach, and if they don’t have it, they get angry.” Now it is September and things seem to have settled down a bit—here on the East End, anyway. This month, at a time when the sand usually begins to wash out to sea, it’s doing just the opposite. The beaches are broadening again. The reason is that the sand did leave the coastline in June, July and August, but essentially just gathered itself along the ocean bottom just offshore a short distance, and now that the coast is clear and

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all the natural phenomenon seems to have reversed themselves, we are getting the sand onshore in September that was waiting to show up in June. In November, the beaches will certainly reverse again and, in some Nor’easter, get all washed off into the sea for the rest of the winter. This final, late-autumn phenomenon will, as it is every year, be of staggering proportions—literally billions of tons of sand will be torn out from the earth’s bedrock along our coastline and hurled out to sea to head westward with the littoral drift of the surf toward Far Rockaway and Jones Beach. There, perhaps once again next year, I will ask that it be gathered up in baggies and sprinkled when nobody’s looking out at the Montauk Lighthouse. We’ve got to save that silly thing from falling into the sea. Just keep an eye peeled for the Mexican Marines. * * * This article is written to honor the sun’s perigee, which takes place on September 22 every year. At that time, it passed the halfway point between when it is high in the sky in June and low in the sky in December, a phenomenon caused by the tilt of the earth’s axis as it circles the sun like a top, at one point of the year displaying more of the earth’s surface in the northern hemisphere, and in another point displaying less of it. As it turns out, our solar system is not quite as accurate as it might be in lining things up. But that is another story entirely.

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Dan's Papers Sept. 25, 2009  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...

Dan's Papers Sept. 25, 2009  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...