By Capt. Ed Gifford
While the sailing wasn’t smooth, of course, Capt. Ed Gifford, shown above with the 74-foot sloop Coro Coro before it set out recently from Portsmouth, R.I., for Saint Maarten — the first leg of a voyage to Tahiti — said he and his shipmates fetched the 1,550-mile-distant Saint Maarten in nine days, all on a port tack.
With the new year, Capt. Ed Gifford and his shipmates thanked Coro Coro for having protected them thus far, and drank a toast to those who help themselves in this world. Capt. Ed Gifford
It’s a dry mountainous place with cacti, salt ponds, and a preponderance of wild goats, terrestrial turtles, and lizards, all of it surrounded by blue Caribbean sea
At La Select, dockside in Gustavia, St. Barth, patrons have a front-row seat for a parade of yacht denizens and other well-heeled visitors to the island. Russell Drumm

This year’s New Year’s Day polar bear plunge at East Hampton’s Main Beach had raised more than $12,000 for the food pantries in East Hampton, Wainscott, Amagansett, and Springs
Some of the roughly 200 New Year’s Day polar bear plungers at East Hampton Village’s Main Beach. Craig Macnaughton
Julia BrierleyJack Graves
Plungers headed for the Seafood Shop after plunging at Wainscott’s Beach Lane road-end. Morgan McGivern
Carolann Sandoval, Bill Becker, and Aida Turturro, the actress, were among the 70 plungers at Gurney’s Inn in Montauk. Eileen Murphy

The gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is a member of the rodent family

It’s been a quiet year, 2013, but expect a tumultuous change and another Big One come 2014
The Star’s nature columnist predicts that in 2014 the local red fox population will almost reach its peak before succumbing to the mange that thinned its population to near zero in the late 1990s. Dell Cullum

We know from 17th-century eyewitness accounts that the local Indians fished from canoes, even chased whales with them

These Christmas counts were an alternative to hunting birds with guns and began in the very first years of the 20th century in New York City
Among the 110 bird species spotted during the annual Christmas Count was the white-breasted nuthatch. Victoria Bustamante Photos
The black-capped chickadee also showed up on counters’ lists.

Whatever its purpose, build it and they will come
The fishing is not bad at the popular town pier on Fort Pond Bay, which draws a crowd in warmer months, but it could be better. Russell Drumm

The habitat, except for the houses and yards, is occupied by a panoply of different plant associations dominated by two primary ones, chaparral and pine-oak woodlands.

My memories — some really good ones — were there, but the geography, the mansion’s global position, now belonged to the briny.
The surf was exceptionally good at Turtle Cove, just west of the Montauk Lighthouse, on Sunday. Russell Drumm