Tuesday, January 19, 2021

What You Don't See Can Hurt You!

This is a typical low-country creek at low tide, viewed from the causeway onto Callawassie Island
Those mounds of "pluff mud" are covered with oysters, and their shells are sharp! If you 
hit one at speed and get ejected, there will be blood.

Our tidal creeks are beautiful and full of hazards. The swirling currents of our 6 to 9-foot tides create deep holes down to 50 feet or more--here--and oyster reefs just under the surface there. With no rhyme or reason beyond fluid dynamics, these hazards are everywhere. When a rising tide covers them with a few inches of water, they are hidden.

Mike Neal owns Bull River Cruises and gave me my start in the tour business.  He is involved with movie production and took me up Groves Creek near Priest Landing last year. He was showing me where boat scenes from Gemini Man were filmed.  We were there on a flooding tide and at idle speed. 

Mike passed on a good strategy for exploring uncharted creeks. "If you want to go exploring a creek, go in shortly after a low tide, with more water becoming available shortly to float you off if you get stuck. You can better see the layout of the bottom then. Go slow!"

I would recommend a neap-low versus a spring-low so that you have some water available shortly after the low tide, but can still see the bars, mounds, and oyster-reefs or rakes.

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Having someone along to draw a picture of the creek (with the hazards noted) and the route to follow, or just to take pictures, will help you on future trips. You will want your motor trimmed up part-way, but with more up-trim available should you need to stop and back off of a rising bottom. Go as slowly as you can while maintaining control. A lookout posted in the bow can help you spot hazards before you hit them--and be mindful that oysters will destroy your fiberglass finish if you run across them. Water leaving a creek near low tide will form a deeper channel. It may be in the middle, or it may hug one bank or the other. It probably won't follow a straight line but will wind back and forth across the width of the flood area. The outside of a curve is usually deeper, but not always. 

At high tide, the creek pictured above has enough water to go where you want, but clearly, the hazards become a problem as the tide falls. You don't want to get stuck in any creek on a falling tide unless you have hours to spare. 

Since you can't see where the hazards lie at high tide, that's not really the best time to go in somewhere new. And there might be a bar or rake high enough to stop you even on a high tide. Plotting a safe course (if one exists) on a rising tide is your best bet. 

Take care, and enjoy the scenery!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Saga of Sea Island Cotton in Savannah...

It's downright fascinating how the threads of history get woven together This is never more true than when studying Savannah's history. The twists, turns, and intersections never disappoint the curious mind or the wandering eye.

My son Corey Foulds came to visit us over Christmas, and of course, we had to go riding on boats every day he was here. During one of these rides, Corey mentioned that he had flown over Mallorca (or "Majorca") an island in the Mediterranian Sea, and wanted to go there.

His comment triggered some memories I have of reading about Majorca and it's smaller island-neighbor, Minorca. Minorca figures in our family history as one of my sisters married a Minorcan man whom she met near St. Augustine, Florida during my childhood. I had heard bits and pieces of the story of how people from Minorca came to be in Florida, and today the picture became much clearer. And of course, there's a connection to Savannah's islands and her rivers.

While reading my research books (Once Upon An Island, Elizabeth Carpenter Piechocinski / A Georgia Tidewater Companion, Buddy Sullivan / Tidecraft, Rusty Fleetwood) I have come across remarks about "a letter" several times. The letter was written to the newspaper by a local plantation owner, Nicholas Turnbull, protesting published claims made by, or on behalf of, another plantation owner, Francis Levett, Jr, to have been the first person to grow black seed "Sea Island" cotton on the Georgia Coast.

I didn't know why the question of who was first was important, as in good time all of the planters became wealthy (thanks mainly to the efforts of the slaves they all owned.) Bragging rights? Prestige? Money?

I decided to read more about the history of Minorcans, and the area that they were initially brought to, which was named "New Smyrna," in Florida. Here's a link

This project was the brainchild of Nicholas Turnbull's father Andrew, a Scottish physician and consul to Smyrna, part of what was then the Ottoman Empire on the coast of the Mediterranian. The name "New Smyrna" was in honor of Andrew Turnbull's wife, who was from that area. Turnbull set out to recruit immigrants from many locales around the Mediterranian, ending up with over 1400 souls, most of whom were from Minorca. The proposed colony failed in fairly short order, and many of the Minorcan's relocated to the area around St. Augustine. This makes sense as St. Augustine was founded by Spaniards, and Minorca is near Spain. After the demise of the project, Andrew Turnbull relocated to Georgia.

While reading the story about Andrew Turnbull, the name of one of his partners in the New Smyrna venture caught my attention; that of Francis Levett. I had seen that name somewhere else. Indeed!

"I conceive Mr. Levett is not entitled to any merit, as previous to that time the quantity was made in this state and shipped to (England) by the Savannah merchants, and the character firmly established; I do not suppose the trouble was great to Mr. Levett, or cost him anything, and which any anyone could have done as well as himself...The state is not the least indebted to Mr. Levett...( Nicholas Turnbull letter to Georgia Gazette, (Savannah), November 28, 1799, via "A Georgia Tidewater Companion.)

Now when you read that passage, it sounds like a story from today. Anger, jealousy, bitterness? All there.

And I'd bet it had everything to do with the economic relationship between the two fathers that was begun in 1769 with the work at New Smyrna thirty years prior. A relationship that went south just before the two men came north to Georgia.

If you are wondering what all this had to do with our creeks, rivers, and islands, well here's what an anonymous contributor wrote in the Columbia Museum and Savannah Advertiser in the fall of 1799--this is an excerpt of the letter that sparked Nicholas Turnbull's angry response a few weeks later...

"(Growers of) Sea Island Cotton (from the Caribbean Islands) gave the early planters ... a supply of that article from their own country, and completely foiled the making of indigo in the United States; but thanks to our climate, though the planters were compelled to turn their attention to something else, they recollected that cotton could be cultivated on lands that produced indigo, and included their thoughts to that article, and to this most were encouraged by a crop of black seed cotton from seed procured for Major Barnard on Wilmington Island which was raised on the island of Skidaway, 10,000 lbs. of which crop was shipped to England in the spring of 1791 by Messrs. Johnston and Robertson on account of Francis Levett, Esq. which established the character of Georgia sea island cotton; being the first shipment of any consequence; and to him (Levett) the state is indebted... (Companion, pg 98)

From a further reading of both full letters on the Jstor site (where you can enjoy the first-ever Georgia Historical Quarterly,) I can see that Josiah Tattnall (of Bonaventure Plantation) gave Nicholas Turnbull (of Deptford Hill Plantation) one-quart container of cotton seed that he had obtained in Carolina. That seed was planted on Whitemarsh Island. It was taken there by Turner's Creek or Richardson's Creek. The rest is, as they say, history.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Now, About That Scrap Iron...

If you visit Daufuskie Island, you will surely come across the "Scrap Iron" drink made and sold at Freeport Marina's Old Daufuskie Crab Company. 

It's a delicious and seemingly harmless concoction. But if you have two or more, you may find that your gyros have come uncaged when you stand up from the bar. 

The Scrap Iron has a legend that will now be included any time we are telling Stories from the Creek. It seems that the government stopped the oyster industry on Daufuskie due to pollution from the Savannah River spreading to the Daufuskie oyster grounds. This put the Daufuskie islanders out of work, so they improvised and made 'shine in stills hidden in the Daufuskie woods. They moved this product by bateau to Savannah's clubs and bars, hidden under piles of scrap iron that they were purportedly selling here. Great "cover" story, aye?

We came across another reference to "Scrap Iron" while reading "Once Upon An Island." by Elizabeth Carpenter Piechocinski. This reference, quoted from Walter "Cork" Shaaf," connects the dots between moonshine made in illicit stills by black men on Daufuskie and a little joint here on Whitemarsh Island where black men went to socialize and enjoy a cold drink. These black men would have been the sons and grandsons of slaves freed when Sherman came to town. After the civil war and into the early 1900s, they made up a large part of the island's population, having been given these lands by Special Field Order #15, and then having had it taken away from them again after President Lincoln's assassination. 

From the book..."(Walter)Shaaf went on to say that there was a man named Johnny Gray who lived near the marshes, near the bridge to Oatland Island. Close by, the blacks had a nightclub they called 'Dad's Place,' and it was there they would go to drink the Scrap Iron." (emphasis added). 

Now there is a Gray's Creek and Gray's subdivision on Whitemarsh, and I'd bet there's a connection there.

Here's another connection. If you remember the film "The Legend Of Bagger Vance" that was made here about twenty years ago, you know that it was a story about a Savannah area Golf Course and Club that fell on hard times with the stock-market crash of 1929. That story parallels the history of the old General Oglethorpe Hotel and Resort which fell on hard times in real life during that time. 

In the film, Bagger Vance, played by Will Smith, came to help a World-War-One combat-vet plagued with PTSD. This veteran was played by Matt Damon, and he struggled with his golf game and his drinking. There's a scene in the film in which Damon is drinking with some black men in an establishment...

Okay, this would have been during Prohibition, which lasted from January 17th, 1920 until December 5th, 1933. So any liquor joint would have been illegal and "undercover." (But they were everywhere!)
And the story is clearly about the General Oglethorpe's golf course. And there was a nightclub on Whitemarsh called Dad's Place where black men went to drink!

Are you feeling me?

Last night, I told all of this to Robin McMahon, co-owner of the Flying Fish here on Wilmington Island. She loved the connections and told me that she is going to concoct a Flying Fish version of the Scrap Iron and sell it to customers coming off our tour boat. 

Let's drink to that!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Oatland Island's Storied Past is a Story Worth Telling...

Image courtesy Oatland Island

 Who knew? 

Oatland Island, which can be viewed from Richardson Creek on an Island Shuttle Boat Tour, has a long and fascinating history. In the 1700s and 1800s, it was a plantation, undoubtedly worked by slaves. In 1927, it was the location of a home for retired Railroad Conductors. (In "Once Upon an Island" by Elizabeth Carpenter Piechocinski,  Walter "Cork" Shaaf recounts those old conductors fixing nets and fishing rigs for him and the other children living on the island.) In 1941, it became a home and research facility for women and children with syphilis and other STDs. In 1945, penicillin eliminated the need for that function, and the old building became a component of what we now call the CDC. 

And it was there that the No Pest Strip (marketed by Shell if memory serves) and the flea collar for pets was invented! After the CDC consolidated facilities in Atlanta, the property was deemed excess and was given to the local school system. School children have enjoyed learning about the natural world there since the early 1970s, and I have picked up groups at their dock on Richardson Creek with Michael Neal and Bull River Cruises in conjunction with Kelly Tours. 

As I wind through these backwater creeks, I learn more and more that every place you see has a story. Chasing those stories down, and sharing them, is great fun!

Click here to learn more...

Shrimping Life...

During the middle decades of the 1900s, an entire fishing industry grew up in our region. Hundreds of shrimping trawlers were built and put into service--many of them from the DESCO boat company in St. Augustine Florida--and thousands of men were provided employment as they brought food to the nation's table. Our favorite Captain, Clyde Carrell "Buddy" Lee spent about twenty years of his working life aboard these vessels and tells of legendary characters who plied the waters and lived the life. Here's another account of that life, from another "Buddy,"
"In summers, I had the opportunity to accompany Hugh Burrows out on the Pinta for all-day shrimping in the offshore Atlantic waters. These excursions were always memorable, but we worked hard. Bobo was not into providing pleasure cruises, if you went fishing with him, you earned it.
We helped with the nets, headed shrimp, hosed down the deck between catches, and cleaned the galley. During the drags, we took cat naps on the bow in the warm sunshine. The long extended double outriggers towed the nets, and the vessel's powerful Caterpillar Diesel engine towed the accumulating bags and catch along the seafloor.

Image courtesy U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries
The "Try Net" in the middle is pulled in mid-drag to see if there are shrimp present.

These trips were always made enjoyable by the food. The local shrimpers definitely knew how to eat. Usually, the striker prepared breakfast just as dawn broke and the sun rose over the horizon. With the first drag of the morning begun and a two-hour lull before hauling in the nets, there would be strong steaming coffee served up in thick crockery mugs with sugar and canned milk, hot grits with butter, and scrambled eggs with ham or bacon.
Lunch came in the early afternoon. It was often shrimp creole, prepared with shrimp that had been in the ocean an hour earlier, simmered in a thick-and-spicy, made-from-scratch, perfectly-seasoned tomato sauce, with onion, bell pepper, and a dash or two of oregano. This blend was served over real white rice, with sweet iced tea to wash it down. It was a grand, almost romantic life..."(from "A Georgia Tidewater Companion" by Buddy Sullivan)

Today; over-fishing, high fuel-prices, and pond-scum-shrimp imported from China have pretty much ruined this once proud and prolific industry. I could gross you out telling you what those pond-owners feed those shrimp they are raising, but let's just say that you can't make chicken salad out of what they eat.

Although the fleet is much smaller now, Georgia does still have reminders of what once was.
Image courtesy Josephine Johnson taken at Townsend GA.

Video courtesy of The Shrimp Alliance. Click here to visit their site
The boat-haul rails and winching-machinery at the old Sasser docks on Wilmington Island are now rusty relics. There are no boats to haul out. The shrimp-boats are going away. Many of them are abandoned, burnt, or sunk.
Image courtesy Diesel Engine Sales Company (DESCO)

You can still see a few shrimpers at work, and Nelson's Shrimp Company in Thunderbolt still sells Wild Georgia Shrimp caught right here (and the best shrimp to have for a Low Country Boil). Scuba Steve pulls nets from a small boat and sells them right here on Wilmington Island, at his store next to the Flying Fish Bar and Grill (which is, by the way, a great place to eat shrimp!)

Situated on Highway 80 just east of the Bull River Bridge, The Flying Fish has great seafood and a great atmosphere to match. The newly covered deck and big outdoor bar, complete with 85 inches of big-screen sports action, make for a memorable visit.
Please tell them you were sent by www.SavannahBoater.com!

Image via My Georgia Coast

There are glimmers of hope, but Georgia's shrimping industry is not what it used to be. Don't despair about this sad development. Life has taught me that the tides of fortune go out, and then they come in again. Sooner or later our shrimping industry will recover fully as people learn the truth about imported shrimp.

Image may contain: sky, ocean, cloud, outdoor, water and nature

Monday, December 21, 2020

Island Shuttle Boat Tours is Open For Business!


Freedom Boat Club's "Freedom Five" is now in service as 
Shuttle One. This boat will be placed at the Savannah Boathouse
Marina upon its opening and is available for trips now.

Here is the first boat placed in service with Island Shuttle Boat Tours, a veteran-owned small business. This vessel will transport up to six passengers on eco, dolphin, history, and port tours, and will also take groups to and from Daufuskie Island's County Dock or Freeport Marina. Sharktooth Island is close by and we can take you there!

Voyagers who bring a dog aboard receive a 5% discount.
We love dogs, and dogs love boat rides.

Rates and Rides:
The boat is available for tours and charters at $100 per hour for up to 4 people. For extra passengers up to 6, add $25 per person per hour. We can accommodate larger groups on Bull River Cruises' vessels which we crew. Call for details. 912 657-5222.
Savannah-Daufuskie Round Trip, Daylight Hours, County Dock to County Dock: $50 per person up to 6 passengers with a minimum charge of $200.00. We drop off and pick up on your schedule.

A small boat is able to explore creeks and cuts that a larger
vessel can't. Freedom Creek, Tom Thumb Creek, Richardson Creek,
Jack's Cut, New Cut, and The Mosquito Ditch-- just to name a few--are fascinating places
to immerse yourself in the estuarine environment and see this 
place as the original inhabitants did.

For a trip to and from Freeport, which is further north on the Intracoastal waterway, add $10 per person.

Golf cart rentals (delivered to the County Dock) are available at Tour Daufuskie 843 842-9449, they also offer a two-hour guided tour of the island on golf carts. , Carts are also available at the Freeport Marina Store at 843 342-8687. Please tell them we sent you.
Night returns from Daufuskie County Dock: $100 per person with a minimum charge of $300. Service to Turner's Creek Public Dock. These trips must be arranged and paid for by 5PM each day.
Call 912 657-5222. In the interest of safety, passengers who are severely impaired/intoxicated will not be allowed on board.

A 2-hour loop tour (with no backtracking) including sights and history of Turner's Creek, Turner's Rock, Modena, Dutch Island, Thunderbolt, Causton's Bluff, Bonaventure Cemetery, Oatland Island, and Saint Augustine Creek: $200 for up to four people. Additional $50 for additional passengers up to 6.
A 2-hour trip through Savannah history including the story of slavery in Savannah. Travel through the world-famous "Freedom Creek" near the Isle of Hope and see Wormsloe from the water. Hear the story of Young's Marina, the only African-American owned marina in our area, and how it relates to the tragedy at Ebeneezer Creek and William T. Sherman's Special Field Order number 15. We also discuss the role that Savannah's waterways played during prohibition. This trip must be scheduled to coincide with high tide.
A 3-hour big-loop tour of Turner's Creek, Wilmington River, Wassaw Sound, Tybee Cut (dependent on the tide), and the Bull River. See the original path of the "Inland Passage" and hear the story of how the Army Corps of Engineers was forced to move it towards Wassaw Island for a steamboat line. $300 for up to 4 passengers. Additional passengers up to 6: $75 per person.

Visiting Sharktooth Island is great fun, but when one of these behemoths
passes by, the boat must be well in hand and off the beach. Think "Sunami"
If we take you to Shark Tooth, the captain will remain offshore but in sight.

A 3-hour Waterside Port tour. See the ships and facilities that make Savannah's port world-class. Learn about the history of our port. $300 for up to 4 passengers. For additional passengers up to 6, add $75 per passenger.

As Savannah's port and river are prepared and maintained for 
Post-Panamax ships, dredging operations are ongoing. In this picture,
you can see the large electric motors that turn the dredge-head.

A 4-hour circumnavigation of Skidaway Island via Turner's Creek, Wilmington River, New Cut, Oddingsells Creek, Wassaw Sound, and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. (Restroom break at Delegal Creek marina on the south end of Skidaway Island) See the sights and hear the stories of the Inland Passage, Skidaway Island, Wilmington Island, Skidaway Narrows, PinPoint, Isle of Hope, Modena, and Turner's Rock. This trip is dependent on passing through New Cut at high tide and must be scheduled as such.
$400 for up to 4 passengers. Additional passengers up to 6, add $100 per passenger.
Baggage/cargo capacity limited depending on the number and size of passengers. In cooler months or inclement weather, appropriate clothing is recommended. It's cooler on the water than it is on land.

Freeport Marina is a popular gathering spot with food, drinks, and frequent live music shows. A general store is there as well, and lodgings are available.

Children 12 and under must wear a Type 2 or Type 3 life preserver at all times while aboard. Life preservers are available for wear by all passengers.
Savannah's waterways are rich with a fascinating history. Come experience it all with Island Shuttle Boat Tours! Want to get to know us? Come enjoy a 90-minute sunset tour for only $150 for up to four passengers. For Extra passengers up to 6, add $35 per person.
Cash, Venmo, and Square payments accepted.
Dan Foulds is a USCG licensed Captain and Master. He is a retired Army Chinook pilot and flew Medevac helicopters in civilian life for 17 years, including 4 years at Memorial Hospital's LifeStar program.

Jeanne in another life; pictured at work in a medevac helicopter.
Jeanne celebrating the USCG Auxiliary's "Kids Don't Float" campaign. The gent in the middle is none other than the late Kent Shockey; friend, hero, veteran-of-the-year.

Island Shuttle Boat Tours' First mate, Jeanne Foulds, is a retired LifeStar-Savannah flight nurse who spent many years in the St. Joseph's Hospital Emergency Dept. We also use Captain Buddy Lee for our trips as Buddy is the guy who trained Dan to operate the Bull River Cruises boats over the last five years. Dan and Jeanne continue to work with Mike Neal on the Bull River Cruises boats and will do everything possible to make your trip perfect.

We aim to please!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Avoiding Things That Go Bump In The Night...

The Fovea centralis is responsible for your night blind spot.
This can be somewhat compensated for by scanning.
The optic nerve entering the back of the eyeballs is responsible for your
day blind spot, which is overcome by using both eyes to view an
object in your field of view. 

 Within the last week or so, a 28-foot twin-engined boat ran into an unlit aid-to-navigation in the Intracoastal Waterway near Causton's Bluff. Both the ATON and the boat were significantly damaged. And it's just plain dumb-luck that the operator wasn't killed or injured. If you are going to operate a boat at night, you need to learn about the hazards involved, and your own capabilities and limitations...

When I was 13, I lived in Marathon and ran a small skiff at night. While speeding along in the darkness toward the opening in the breakwater that protected our dock, I learned to roll off the throttle as soon as I had the first hint of seeing rocks in front of me. You are much closer to an object at night than you think you are, and you might not see it at all until you are on top of it. That's what happened to PT-109 and a young John F. Kennedy.

While beginning the "Nighthawk" phase of the Army's helicopter flight-training, (without night vision goggles) I was making an approach to land at a stage-field and I was startled when the landing skids touched down on the runway well before I thought they would. I knew I was near the ground because of the dim glow from our position lights, but my distance estimation and depth perception were off. 

Way off. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was conducting training on a boat for a married couple and their son, and the time change and shortened period of daylight had us still on the water as it got dark. Now, if you had asked me, "are all aids to navigation lit?" I would of course have told you "No." 

But learning occurs on 4 levels, (rote, understanding, application, and correlation) and it's one thing to know something and something else entirely to apply what you know to your behavior. As we got ready to accelerate to planing speed, the youngest person on the boat, who, thankfully, had listened to my pre-departure safety briefing asking everyone to keep an eye out for hazards, asked if we saw the unlit daymark on its pole in front of the boat. 

He was the only one aboard who saw it, and we could have been startled or worse, but for him. Lesson learned? At night, everyone is a lookout, and you shouldn't overdrive your ability to see objects in front of you.

During the day, we use binocular vision for distance estimation and depth perception, and to help us see things in our path.  At night we are using monocular vision, and we need other skills to help with distance estimation and depth perception. With practice, we can use monocular visual cues to greatly increase our ability to "see" at night. 

Our eyeballs have limitations that we need to understand, or we can tear up our boat or hurt someone. In the collision mentioned above, a local boater collided with a "daymark," a lateral aid to navigation with no light; the crash damaged the mark and pretty much destroyed the boat. Those daymarks, the ones with the green rectangles and red triangles on top,  are essentially signs on telephone poles, and what you don't see CAN hurt you.

About your eyeballs: You have an area on the inside of your eyeballs--your retinas-- with a large concentration of cone cells. This is the fovea centralis and this area is why you can see colors during the day. It takes a relatively large amount of light to stimulate these cells. 

As it grows dark at night, you lose the ability to see colors, and your "night blind spot" becomes a factor in you seeing an obstacle in your path. Luckily for you, there is an area around the fovea centralis called the parafovea that is populated with rod cells. Rod cells do not see color, and provide less precise vision than cone cells, BUT they are about 1000 times more light sensitive. Night vision is monochromatic, or grayscale and this is why there are shapes on those lateral aids--the triangles and rectangles.

If you look directly at a dimly lit object in the dark (like an unlit daymark on a pole) it will disappear, because your lenses are then focusing the image on your cone cells. The ones that don't work at night.

The answer? Scanning and off-center viewing. When you are running on the water at night, you need to divide your "field of view" into 10 degree slices, or zones of the horizon,  and move your eyes progressively across those zones. Only look at each area for a few seconds before moving your scan. You should also move your scan up and down the vertical field, scanning both near and far sections of the water to your front. You may find yourself acquiring an object in the distance, off to one side or the other of where you are looking. And when you look at it, it disappears. That's normal, there's something there. Don't hit it. 

Night visual scanning takes discipline and is hard work. Don't be flirting or fooling around while running a boat at night. Post every available lookout. Slowing down helps too. 

Remember the Titanic.

Brian McCarthy told me this story when we talked about running at night. "I was returning to Savannah after having dinner and enjoying the sunset with my wife and friends at Cafe Loco on Tybee. We had to run out to the ship channel and come back up the river due to the tides. As we cruised up the river under the stars, in dark night conditions, I noticed an area in front of us with no stars at all. The area above the horizon was pitch black in front of us. Nothing but a shadow."

As Brian was telling me this, I was reminded of a lesson from my night helicopter flight training at Fort Rucker. "Treat all shadows as solid obstacles" Brian's six-sense, the nagging feeling that something wasn't right, saved his life and the lives of his passengers.

"I turned the helm as hard and fast as I could, and we missed getting run over by a huge cargo ship with only a few feet to spare. I learned something that night!"

I was explaining all this night-vision stuff to a student-captain yesterday and he exclaimed to his wife, "that's why the comet we were looking at the other night kept disappearing! We'd see it while scanning and lose it when we looked at it!" He then added that during his service aboard a Nuclear Attack Submarine, he was assigned watch duty while on the surface at night, and the Navy never taught him about the features of the human eye. Score one for Army Aviation.

If you would like to experience this phenomenon for yourself some night, step outside in the dark and observe a jetliner crossing the sky at high altitude. When you look right at it, you will probably see the colored nav lights and a white strobe or two. As you slide your eyes off of the aircraft to one side or the other, the colors will disappear and the strobes will flash noticeably brighter. That's your rod cells on the job.

You can enhance your night vision by eating well (vitamin A), and protecting your levels of visual purple or rhodopsin with good sunglasses. When running at night dim your GPS and instrument lights to the lowest level at which you can still read them. And speaking of your GPS, those unlit daymarks are on that display. Take note of where they are as you cruise along. As you pass by each one, note where the next one ahead is plotted, and choose a heading to avoid it. 

Don't get bumped in the night.

What You Don't See Can Hurt You!

This is a typical low-country creek at low tide, viewed from the causeway onto Callawassie Island Those mounds of "pluff mud" are ...