The party on the banks of Fort Pond Bay in Montauk Sunday celebrated the rescue of John Aldridge after his surviving 12 hours at sea over 30 miles offshore with the help of buoyant rubber boots. He was known as Johnny Load, a nickname with undefined coinage. He is now known as Johnny Boots.
Anna Mary, the lobster boat he fell from on July 24, supplied what seemed like an endless supply of lobsters for the party. She was anchored just offshore and her back deck provided the stage for music by the band Jettycoon. Members of the Montauk community chipped in for the barbecue pig, beer, hot dogs, burgers, salad, etc. The sun that dramatically reappeared after a violent, rain-filled squall seemed a fitting conclusion to a week and a half full of both fear and great joy.
The joy in Montauk Harbor was short-lived. Word came yesterday morning that Capt. Fred E. Bird has passed over the bar. A complete obituary will appear in an upcoming edition of The Star. Captain Bird, at the helm of the Flying Cloud party boat for decades, was a gentleman and a jazz aficionado. His customers were treated to the sounds of big-band swing music while they fished. He will be sorely missed.
Weakfish continue to be caught by surfcasters along Ditch Plain Beach in Montauk, as well as striped bass on both bait and lures. There are so many sand eels in the area that swimmers are seeing them in the surf. This could bode well for the fall surfcasting season.
“Hey, I think that’s a seal looking at us,” Ken Rafferty, a fly-fishing and light-tackle guide, said yesterday morning from an undisclosed location in Gardiner’s Bay where his clients were busy catching small striped bass.
“The weird part is we’ve had a month of being able to catch and release a hundred bluefish, but now I don’t know where they’ve gone. The west wind has made the water murky,” he said, murky but full of bait including sand eels and something that looks like bay anchovies. “Also a lot of seals, which maybe explains the lack of bluefish,” Rafferty said.
In the sailing department, Sail Montauk is holding Tuesday night regattas. The organization has four Catalina 22s with three crew positions on each boat. No experience is necessary and each boat has a licensed skipper aboard. Supporters can watch the races from the October Rose, Montauk’s water taxi. The cost is $95 per person.
The first launch leaves the Montauk Yacht Club at 6 p.m. Reservations can be made by calling 522-5183. The Montauk Chamber of Commerce is offering the second season of its Take a Kid Fishing program. The harbor’s captains and mates are prepared to take kids ages 6 to 16 offshore to learn how to bait, hook, and clean their catch. Fishing equipment, bait, and life jackets are provided. Kids on a boat for the first time will fish for free. Their accompanying adults are charged $10.
The expeditions will take place on various dates this month starting on Monday. Reservations are being accepted on Monday afternoon at the chamber office on Main Street, Montauk, or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.