Coronated sun heralds Sandy's arrival; storm beaches lobsters

November 2, 2012
People along Lewes Beach gathered handfuls of baby lobsters and returned them to the bay - hopefully to grow into big lobsters another day. SOURCE EDDIE SHOCKLEY

Last Saturday morning I was on a 50-foot sloop sailing out of the inner harbor of Baltimore, bound for Annapolis. Hurricane Sandy jammed the airwaves. As we approached Key Bridge - over the Patapsco River entrance to the harbor - sundogs appeared on either side of the morning sun. Sundogs serve as a harbinger of incoming wet weather. They soon bloomed into a full rainbowed corona around the sun, an echo of the corona around the moon the night before.

We were well ahead of Sandy as we sailed down the Chesapeake and took advantage of steady east winds to dip our rail and push the sloop to 8.5 knots. On Sunday morning, we wasted little time in returning Sweet Water to the charter outfit. With rumors in the air of a pending shutdown of the Bay Bridge in anticipation of Sandy, and not wanting to be stranded on the Western Shore, we hightailed it out of Annapolis and set our compasses for the Eastern Shore and Delaware.

Sandy lived up to the corona's prediction. We were just very lucky that the storm's path kept her winds hitting us from the north and the northwest. Had we felt the lash of the easterly winds on the top of the storm's counterclockwise spin, she would have driven a tremendously damaging surge into our bays and rivers, causing lots more damage than we realized.

I've always called Delaware's Cape Region the sweet spot of the world's temperate-zone sweet spot. I don't mean to tempt fate, and I'm knocking on wood as I write this, but Hurricane Sandy confirmed once again that we truly do live in a special part of the world.

Windfall of (tiny) lobsters

Eddie Shockley called this week to report a remarkable discovery. “My brother told me there were a bunch of baby lobsters on Lewes Beach in the area around Kentucky Avenue. He seines there a lot and has never seen anything like it. Sure enough, I went there and saw hundreds of the little creatures - all of them still alive - scattered along the high tide line. Some birds were kind of pecking at them but I don't think they quite knew what to make of it all.” Shockley said other people on the beach were gathering up the lobsters and putting them back in the water.

Mid-Atlantic watermen and divers have fished for lobsters for many years in deeper water off the Delaware and Maryland coasts. Maybe Hurricane Sandy stirred up the ocean and sent these little ones ashore. No doubt beachcombers will be finding all kinds of interesting things tossed up on the beach in the days ahead.