National Geographic : 1957 Sep
ington hard by the Chesapeake, a great nat ural producer of oysters. Since it is August, we find no oysters on the Montauk Yacht Club menu, and Nomad this fine morning dances to the tune of the hurrying tide, seemingly determined to chafe her dock lines through if we do not soon cast them off. We oblige. The breeze is light but out of a quarter that lets us lay N by W. We coast the north east shore of wooded Gardiners Island, five and a half miles long and of irregular width. It looks like the feudal domain it is. For well over three centuries the Gardiner family has owned the island. Captain Kidd paid them a visit one June day in 1699 and buried a treasure in "Kidd Valley." The hoard was recovered and turned over to the Crown, while the Gardiners continued to live quietly on their wooded retreat. They gave the Nation one of their most beautiful daughters as First Lady when Julia Gardiner became the bride of President John Tyler. The island is now a game preserve abound ing in deer and waterfowl. Through field glasses we saw many ospreys. Fisherman John, trolling unsuccessfully as usual, groaned with envy when he saw one dive into the water and come up with a good-sized fish in its claws. Between Gardiners Point and the island itself lurks a mile-and-a-half-long reef that likely was land until erosion sank it. On the point the crumbling ruin of an ancient fortification lies partly awash in the sea. The United States Coast Pilot notes the point as an airplane bombing target. Several planes circled in the general vicinity, so we left enough water between us and the ruins to allow for those "near misses" mentioned in the war communiques. Pogy Boats Crowd Greenport Harbor We started sheets and paid off into Gardi ners Bay, bound for Greenport, where we were to pick up the final member of the crew, Col. William H. Speidel, USA (Ret.), the highest brass Nomad ever had for a cook. Gardiners Bay, within the forks of the fish's tail, is still not Long Island Sound proper, but sound cruising grounds. Green port, on the north fork, survives as one of the few old-fashioned commercial fishing ports left on the island. The big white powerboats that filled nearly every slip in the harbor, we learned, were menhaden, or pogy, boats, which seek at sea the same kind of fish that John caught by accident two days ago. With nets they sur round vast schools of menhaden, also called mossbunkers, and dip them into their holds by the millions. Menhaden oil is used, among other things, for paints; the residue becomes fertilizer. The fishery ranks as the largest in the United States with respect to weight of catch. With malice aforethought, the girls badly undermined what little reputation the yacht ing fraternity had among Greenporters. Whenever two or three salty characters gath ered to look Nomad over, Priscilla and Betty Jane would start referring to the cockpit as the back porch and to the dinghy as the station wagon.