Uncategorized

Beware the Rip

ripcurrent1September is a beautiful time to go down the shore. Cool breezes, warm ocean temps and crystal blue skies lure many off-season visitors to the sand and surf, especially with the promise of a peaceful dip in the sea without having to dodge wayward boogie-boarders. But September is also the peak of hurricane season when hazardous surf conditions can arise, even on sunny blue sky days when danger does not seem apparent. Rip currents are especially threatening to beach-goers at any time of year, but are certainly more prevalent when storms bring strong winds and sea surge. Regardless of when you go in the surf, it is important to arm yourself with knowledge about these dangerous currents so you and your family can avoid being caught in one.

What is a rip current?
A rip current is a narrow, fast-moving channel of water that rushes out to sea from the shoreline, passing through the surf zone and beyond the wave break. When waves crash on the shore they bring with them an enormous amount of water that, under normal circumstances, flows back to sea. But sometimes wind, water or other conditions can cause an overflow of water to come to shore and impede the water’s ability to flow back to sea as it normally does. The water must return to the sea somehow, so pressure builds until the trapped water becomes strong enough to overcome the incoming waves. It will find the path of least resistance by creating a channel of fast-moving water between a lull in wave action or through an opening in a sandbar. This is a rip current, and it can take anything or anyone with it as it rushes back to sea.

What causes rip currents to form?
Rip currents can develop from various conditions such as strong winds and storms that bring in a surge of water to the shoreline. They also form as the result of an obstacle that disrupts the flow of water along the beach, such as jetties, groins or even sandbars.  They form at all times of the year but can be more prevalent during hurricane season and during tropical storms. Even when storms don’t make landfall around us, they can still create very dangerous surf conditions from hundreds of miles away. As a matter of fact, the Ocean City New Jersey Beach Patrol reported that they made 141 rip current rescues on one single day this summer as the result of Tropical Storm Chris which, at the time, was churning far off the Jersey Coast. It’s also important to know that rip currents can – and often do – form on beautiful days when water conditions appear to be perfect.

Why are rip currents dangerous?
Rip currents are cited as the leading danger for beachgoers. Approximately 100 people die in our country each year as the result of these currents. While rips will pull you out to sea, they will not pull you under. The danger of rip currents is their speed – typically they travel at 1-2 feet per second, but they can travel as fast as 8 feet per second. At those speeds even the strongest swimmers are not able to overcome them. The good news is that they do eventually end, often just beyond the wave break. At that point, the strong pull ceases and a person once caught in the current will be able to get out of it and swim back to shore, often with the assistance of the normal wave action. These currents can range in width from 10-200 feet, which means that most people who remain calm and know the rules of getting out of a rip current can “break the grip of the rip” by swimming to one side or another of the channeled current.

How do I recognize a rip current?
ripcurrent14Rip currents can often, but not always, be detected by the naked eye. A rip current may churn up the sand and cause the water to appear to be cloudy, murky or discolored, or white and sudsy. ripcurrent13

Additionally, a rip current can cause a break in the wave line. A general rule of thumb is that if there is a section of water that looks or behaves differently than the rest of the water, it is likely a rip current and should be avoided. But don’t rely solely on observation as they may not be apparent.

ripcurrent16How can I avoid a rip current?
“When in doubt, don’t go out,” the experts say. Simply put, stay out of the water if any of the signals or warnings are present.

Before you head to the beach, pay attention to weather and news reports, especially during hurricane season which generally runs from June 1 – November 1. Remember that even faraway offshore storms can produce dangerous rip tides along the shore.

When you arrive at the beach, it is a good idea to observe the water behavior from a distance, such as from an elevated beach path. You should also look to the life guard stand to see if they are using the flag system – a green flag means low hazard and calm conditions, a yellow flag signals medium hazard with moderate surf or currents and a red flag warns of a high hazard with high surf and strong conditions. If the flag system is not being used, the best thing you can do is ask a lifeguard what is the likelihood of rip currents. They are experts in this area and can tell you if rips tend to develop in that location due to jetties or sand bars, if wind or wave conditions are ripe for the development, or if any have been spotted that day.

While we are on the subject of lifeguards, the best way to avoid getting caught in a rip current (other than staying out of the water) is to swim only in guarded areas, when lifeguards are on duty. The U.S. Lifeguarding Association estimates that 80% of all lifeguard rescues are for rip currents, which means they are not only well-equipped to assist people caught in these currents, but they also spend most of their life-saving resources on them.  It is also important that you swim in front of the lifeguard, and watch your children when they are in the water.

How do I get out of a rip current?
The absolute first rule is to relax. “Keeping calm is what will save your life,” one expert put it. I know this is easier said than done, especially when you are being pulled out to sea. Yes, these currents are mighty and can travel at a high rate speed, but since you can’t outswim the current, you’ll have to outthink it using the information provided in this article.

The first thing is to realize that while a rip current can pull you quickly away from shore, it will not pull you under. People drown in rip currents not because of the current itself, but because they wear themselves out trying to swim against the current. The internet contains a plethora of videos showing lifeguards and other volunteers purposely putting themselves into rip currents so that they may demonstrate how to get out of one. And that means that rip currents on their own won’t kill you – otherwise, these experts would not willingly put themselves in one. However, panicking and trying to fight the current may result in physical exhaustion which is what defeats those who are caught in a current. You should summon someone, preferably a lifeguard, by waving your hands above your head – but again, trying to keep calm. Letting them know as soon as you realize you are in danger may make a difference.

Second, remember that rip currents are generally narrow, and the water just outside the current will behave with a predictable flow towards the shore. If you can either swim to the left or the right of the current, parallel to the shore, you may pretty quickly get out of its grip. Another option is to float on your back until you feel you are out of the current, again summoning someone on shore to let them know you need assistance. Floating your way out may be advised if you are not a strong swimmer or are already exhausted from being in the water to begin with – the point here is that you cannot afford to tire yourself out any more than you already may be. Once out, experts advise that you swim at an angle back to shore, allowing the wave action to guide you in. If you are not able to swim, continue to summon a lifeguard or someone on shore by waving your arms above your head so that they can come to your rescue. Again, this is why it is crucial to swim at a guarded beach at all times, directly in front of a lifeguard.

Finally, it is advised that if you observe someone who is caught in a rip current, you should summon help by alerting a lifeguard or calling 911 and do not try to go in to save them yourself. Many people die from trying to save someone else – who ultimately survives.

So heed the warnings and don’t go in if you believe from what you’ve learned here that rip currents could be possible. If you do go in and get caught in one, remain calm and rely on this information to think your way out. Doing so will save your life.

For more information on rip currents, consult the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium, the U.S. Lifesaving Association or the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

 

 

 

Special Events, Stone Harbor, Uncategorized

Free Weekly Summer Events in Stone Harbor

Ever summer, Stone Harbor hosts free weekly events as listed below.

Monday
Stone Harbor Family Night (7:00 – 7:45 p.m., Stone Harbor Firehouse). Fun entertainment for families including magic shows, puppet theater, animal adventures, story time and more.

Tuesday
Tuesdays at the Tower Concert Series (7:00 pm – 8:00 pm, 95th Street Water Tower Plaza). Features live bands and a Beer and Wine Garden, sponsored by the Stone Harbor Chamber of Commerce. Snacks are provided by the Stone Harbor Museum.

Wednesday
Cornhole Nights (7:00 pm – 8:30 pm, Stone Harbor Elementary School Field). A fun family night of cornhole games, free for all ages and skill levels.

Thursday
Thursdays on the Lawn (7:30 pm – 9:00 pm, Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church). Bring your beach chair and enjoy a live band on the lawn. Refreshments and cookies provided.

Saturday
Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary Tours (10:00 am, Egret Espy Trail entrance at 114th Street and 2nd Avenue). Experienced docents lead guided tours and teach visitors about the natural history and wildlife of the Bird Sanctuary. Tours are one hour long.

Sunday
Stone Harbor Farmer’s Market (8:00 am – 12:30 pm, 95th Street Water Tower Plaza). Weekly farmer’s market features fresh produce, organic coffee and tea, crepes, gourmet foods, flowers and much more.

Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary Tours (10:00 am, Egret Espy Trail entrance at 114th Street and 2nd Avenue). Experienced docents lead guided tours and teach visitors about the natural history and wildlife of the Bird Sanctuary. Tours are one hour long.

To learn more Stone Harbor, please follow the links below:

Find out why Stone Harbor is “The Seashore At Its Best”
History of Stone Harbor
Stone Harbor Beach Information
Where to Stay in Stone Harbor
Where to Eat in Stone Harbor
Upcoming Events in Stone Harbor – Fall/Winter 2018

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Sea Isle City, Special Events, Uncategorized

Free Weekly Summer Events in Sea Isle City

Every summer, Sea Isle City hosts free weekly events as listed below.

Monday
Free Classic Movies Under the Stars (Dusk, Excursion Park, JFK Boulevard and Landis Avenue). Bring your beach chairs and blankets and go back in time with a classic movie by the sea. Visit visitsicnj.com for more information about the movie lineup.

Tuesday
Farmer’s Market (8:00 am – 1:00 pm, Excursion Park, JFK Boulevard and Landis Avenue). Features a variety of fresh produce, local artisan crafts and gourmet foods. Visit seaislechamber.com for more information.

Guided Beachcombing (10:00 am – 11:00 am, 29th Street Beach and Promenade). Learn all about our beaches and the creatures that dwell in and around them from beachcombing guides, and then explore the beach for your own treasures. $1 cost includes a free beachcombing bucket.

Free Family Dance Party (7:30 pm – 9:00 pm, Excursion Park, JFK Boulevard and Landis Avenue). A DJ spins popular tunes to allow families and friends to dance and have fun.

Wednesday
Acoustic Open Mic Night (Ages 14-20) (9:00 pm – 11:00 pm, Excursion Park, JFK Boulevard and Landis Avenue). This night not only offers entertainers an opportunity to perform for cheering fans, it also allows teens and young adults to gather for a night of fun including Xbox video game truck and cornhole tournaments.

Thursday
Guided Beachcombing (10:00 am – 11:00 am, 94th Street Beach). Learn all about our beaches and the creatures that dwell in and around them from beachcombing guides, and then explore the beach for your own treasures. $1 cost includes a free beachcombing bucket.

Free Music in the Park (7:30 pm – 9:00 pm, Excursion Park, JFK Boulevard and Landis Avenue). Live music featuring artists from pop, rock, R&B, country and dance genres.

Friday
Free Family Movies Under the Stars (Dusk, Excursion Park). Bring your beach chairs and blankets and enjoy a family-friendly movie by the sea.

Saturday
Free Concerts Under the Stars (7:30 pm – 9:00 pm, Excursion Park, JFK Boulevard and Landis Avenue). Travel through decades of popular music with tribute bands that are sure to get everyone singing and dancing.

For more information about Sea Isle City, please follow the links below:

“Smile! You’re in Sea Isle!” – All About Sea Isle City
History of Sea Isle City
Sea Isle City Beach Information
Where to Stay in Sea Isle City
Where to Eat in Sea Isle City
Upcoming Events in Sea Isle City – Fall/Winter 2018

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Ocean City, Special Events, Uncategorized

Free Weekly Summer Events in Ocean City

Every summer, Ocean City hosts free weekly events as listed below.

Tuesday
Funtastic Tuesdays (10:00 am – 1:00 pm on Asbury Avenue). Each Tuesday, visitors will find entertainment, face painters, balloon sculptors, pony rides and much more.

Mummer’s Night (7:00 pm – 9:00 pm on the boardwalk, 6th – 14th Streets. Mummers strut on the boardwalk every Tuesday night. Sponsored by: Shirt Shack, Preps, Ocean Treasures, Henry’s Fine Jewelry

Wednesday
Farmer’s Market (8:00 am – 1:00 pm, Tabernacle Grounds). Find fresh produce and much more, including crafters at 6th & Asbury Avenue.

Wacky Wednesdays (10:30 am, Music Pier, Moorlyn Terrace and the Boardwalk). Weekly event includes offer “wacky, but not tacky” fun events and contests for the entire family.

Thursday
Market Days (10:00 am – 1:00 pm, Asbury Avenue). Each Thursday, visitors will find entertainment, face painters, balloon sculptors, pony rides and much more!

Family Nights on the Boardwalk (7:30 pm – 9:30 pm, Boardwalk between 6th – 14th Streets). Entertainment is sponsored by: Shriver’s, Playland Castaway Cove, and Johnson’s Popcorn

To learn more Ocean City, please follow the links below:

Find out why Ocean City is “America’s Greatest Family Resort”
History of Ocean City
Ocean City Beach Information
Where to Stay in Ocean City
Where to Eat in Ocean City
Upcoming Events in Ocean City – Fall/Winter 2018

Back to The Shore Blog Home Page

 

Cape May, Special Events, Uncategorized

Free Weekly Summer Events in Cape May

Every summer, Cape May hosts free weekly events as listed below.

Monday
Dancing to the Fred Hall Orchestra (7:30 for children, 9:00 for adults, Cape May Convention Hall). Children’s dance goes from 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm and the adult ballroom dancing goes from 9:00 pm – 10:30 pm.

Tuesday
Farmers Market (3:00 pm – 7:30 pm, West Cape May Municipal Complex at the Backyard Park).

Free Family Magic Show (7:00 pm, Cape May Convention Hall).

Thursday
Free Movies on the Beach (8:00 pm, Stockton Beach next to Convention Hall). Live Music & Children’s Activities begin at 8:00 pm and the featured movie begins at 8:30 pm.

Friday
Dancing to the Fred Hall Orchestra (7:30 for children, 9:00 for adults, Cape May Convention Hall). Children’s dance goes from 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm and the adult ballroom dancing goes from 9:00 pm – 10:30 pm.

Saturday
Dancing to the Fred Hall Orchestra (7:30 for children, 9:00 for adults, Cape May Convention Hall). Children’s dance goes from 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm and the adult ballroom dancing goes from 9:00 pm – 10:30 pm.

Free Evening Concerts at the Rotary Park Bandstand (7:00 pm, Rotary Park, 400 Lafayette Street).

Sunday
Communion at the Grove (8:00 am, Sunset Pavilion at Beach & 2nd Avenues).

Free Family Nature and Wildlife Show (7:30 pm, Cape May Convention Hall).

Free Evening Concerts at the Rotary Park Bandstand (7:00 pm, Rotary Park, 400 Lafayette Street).

For more information about Cape May, please follow the links below:

Find out why Cape May is “The Nation’s Oldest Seaside Resort”
History of Cape May
Cape May Beach Information
Where to Stay in Cape May
Where to Eat in Cape May
Upcoming Events in Cape May – Fall/Winter 2018

Back to The Shore Blog Home Page

Uncategorized

Little Free Libraries – Bringing Communities Together Over Books

IMG_1343As I drove down a quaint side-street in Cape May last weekend, I noticed a tiny house on someone’s lawn. This was not an HGTV-inspired Tiny House, but a lilliputian structure sitting atop a post, like a dollhouse on stilts.

My curiosity was piqued. Was it a mailbox? A birdhouse? I wasn’t sure, until I got closer and saw that it was filled, but not with miniature furniture or birdseed.

It was filled with books. Lots of them, considering its size.

A hand-painted sign nailed to the post read, “Free Little Library – Take a Book, Return a Book”.

I opened the glass door of the little house to find a note, welcoming visitors. Inside were books of every type, size and genre – novels, young adult reads, children’s books, cook books, self-help manuals, you name it. A book for every type of reader, free for the taking as long as the reader agrees to return the same book or bring a different one from home. Or both.

I enjoyed checking out all the different books, including a small notebook with a pen attached where previous visitors had taken the time to write thank you notes or provide short reviews of the books they had read. Some had even drawn pictures.

Later, I would learn that in 2009, visionary Tom H. Bol was recycling a garage door and built a small school house structure in honor of his late mother. He placed it on the lawn of his Wisconsin home and stocked it with books for his neighbors to borrow. This simple act was the beginning of his non-profit organization, “Little Free Library”, a neighborhood book exchange where community members are invited to take or leave a book for other readers’ enjoyment. The goal of the organization is to inspire reading and build community interaction.

“Stewards”, or community members who wish to start their own library, can either build their own structure and register it with the organization, or they can purchase a kit or a pre-made library. Stewards are asked to maintain the structure and ensure a healthy supply of books. Most importantly, they are to act as their name suggests – as stewards of the movement – inspiring other community members to read, share and interact with one another. The Little Free Library organization provides building instructions, online resources and support, as well as access to free or discounted books through the organization’s partners and an online store offering library kits and supplies.

Within a few short years, Bol’s vision became a global project. Today, there are over 50,000 registered Little Free Library book exchanges in all 50 states and over 70 countries around the world. Millions of books are exchanged each year through this community-based project. The organization maintains a world map of registered Little Free Libraries to help people find and share books in their own communities or, like me, a community they are visiting. Some Little Free Library kits are donated to communities in need of increased access to books, where such access can have a big impact on children’s literacy efforts.

A new program called “Kids, Community & Cops” provides a connection between law enforcement and the community to foster positive interactions with youth. Police Departments interested in becoming involved in this program are invited to apply to receive one of 50 Little Free Library book exchanges or 50 mobile libraries (yes, they also encourage taking your library on the road!).

I lost myself for a few minutes at that little library on South Broadway. I enjoyed reading the titles and checking out the notebook to see what people had written. There were a lot of notes, not only from neighbors but from visitors like me. One message in particular grabbed my attention – it was from a high school student.

“Dear Mr. Derby, thank you for sharing your Little Free Library with us and including a book about the Civil War. It really helped me on my History paper – I got an A!”

On the following page was a picture drawn by Sophie, age 3. It was as simple stick figure rendition of herself and her mom reading a book. Both had huge smiles on their faces.

The next message was from Darlene. “Hi Marianne – hope you had fun at the wedding! You have to try the recipe on page 29 of the Mediterranean Cookbook – I know you are trying to find a way to use up all the tomatoes you grew this summer, and this dish calls for lots of them!”

As I closed the door to the tiny building, I smiled. It seemed this Free Little Library had succeeded in reaching its goal of bringing communities together over books.

Author’s Note: There are, at the time of this publication, several Little Free Libraries down the shore. There is one in Ocean City (317 Wesley Avenue), one in Stone Harbor (317 110th Street), one in Wildwood (8901 Pacific Avenue), and four in Cape May (104 South Broadway in Cape May; 297 Fifth Avenue in West Cape May; 415 Green Street in West Cape May; and 104 Old Mill Drive (in North Cape May.