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Around the Harbor: Yacht Clubs Perform Memorial Day Salute

Twenty-one gun salutes are a naval tradition that date back to the age of sail, when a salute was fired by a man-of-war entering a foreign harbor to show that its guns were not loaded and, thus, was entering on friendly terms. It later evolved into a 21-gun salute for dignitaries and heads of state that were visiting naval vessels. After the Civil War, both Army and Naval installations equipped with cannon would fire 21-gun salutes on two National Holidays—on Memorial Day and July 4th. Today, Naval installations and ships equipped with saluting batteries fire a 21 minute-gun salute on Memorial Day, with the first shot commencing at precisely noon, and the last shot ending at 12:20 p.m. The Navy fires an additional 21-gun salute on George Washington’s birthday.

In the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks, Rich Reynolds, club historian for the Glen Cove Yacht Club, suggested to some of his club officers that they conduct a 21 minute-gun salute on Memorial Day, 2002 to honor both the Nation’s war dead and those that perished on 9/11. The plan for the salute subsequently evolved into enlisting the participation of two neighboring yacht clubs – Sea Cliff Yacht Club and Hempstead Harbour Club. After all, all three clubs had 10-gauge signal cannons and this would be a fine way to make use of them. Reynolds contacted the Commodores of both yacht clubs to see if they would be interested in participating in a synchronized 21-minute gun salute and was met with an enthusiastic reply from both of them. The plan was for all three yacht clubs to use the time display on a hand-held GPS receiver to synchronize their shots, with the first shot commencing at noon, and with successive shots every minute thereafter until 12:20 p.m. After the 21st shot, the National Ensign would be raised from half to full staff at each yacht club. The only thing unaccounted for was the weather. Memorial Day, 2002 was wet and rainy, with a stiff easterly wind. Undaunted, the gun crews were up for the task and the first synchronized 21 minute-gun salute in Hempstead Harbor went off without a single misfire. Reynolds says that “Gun salutes are all about proper timing, and all three yacht clubs were right on the mark with their cannon shots that year. The echoing of cannon shots around the harbor was very impressive.”

This past Memorial Day officers and members of the Glen Cove Yacht Club, Hempstead Harbour Club, and Sea Cliff Yacht Club conducted their 9th annual synchronized 21 minute-gun salute to honor our Nation’s war dead. This solemn salute was conducted using black powder signal cannons at all three clubs, and is intended as a tribute to those who paid the ultimate price for defending our country, and especially for those who have died in the present conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Accurate timing of the cannon shots was again accomplished through the use of hand-held GPS receivers, whose time display is provided by the atomic clock at the US Naval Observatory in Washington, DC.

Reynolds hopes the idea will catch on with other yacht clubs in the area. Since yacht clubs, in general, observe many of the same traditional ceremonies that are used in the naval service, the execution of this salute on Memorial Day is a well-regarded naval tradition that most yacht clubs can readily perform. The common availability of cartridge-loaded signal cannons at yacht clubs makes organizing the salute relatively easy. Coordination of cannon shots with neighboring yacht clubs is accomplished by observing the “official” Naval Observatory time display on any handheld GPS receiver. For more information on conducting your own salute contact Rich Reynolds at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Sea Cliff and

TOB Beaches Open

The Sea Cliff Beach and concession stand are now open on weekends. Tappen and all TOB beaches are open for the season.


Sea Cliff Sailing Club

Holding Registration

Registration on June 16 at Sea Cliff Village Hall at 7:30 p.m.

Reopening of

Shellfishing Areas

Last year the Record Pilot attended an event at Morgan Park on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day that was celebrating a major milestone in the harbor effort. A collection of civic leaders and outdoor enthusiasts gathered on the shore in Glen Cove’s Morgan Park to recognize how far things have come in improving the water. Now, citing the positive results of sanitary surveys, water quality monitoring and shellfish tissue testing, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced the reopening of shellfish harvesting areas in approximately 2,500 acres of outer Hempstead Harbor.

“The announcement of the reopening of 2,500 acres of shellfishing lands in Hempstead Harbor for the first time in more than 40 years is a major achievement for the environment and the people of Long Island,” said Commissioner Martens. “It’s also a testament to the power of a commitment to partnership over decades between the state and local governments who, with strong community support, were able to improve water quality in historic Hempstead Harbor and restore a way of life that has been part of Long Island’s heritage and economy for hundreds of years.”

Testing of water samples conducted over more than five years showed levels of fecal bacteria in approximately 2,500 acres of outer Hempstead Harbor and Long Island Sound are meeting the stringent state and federal standards for a certified (open) shellfishing area. Additionally, hard clam samples from the area were tested for the presence of various metals, PCBs, dioxins, furans, pesticides, and radioactive elements. The data as reviewed by the New York State Health Department concluded that the potential exposure from eating shellfish from the newly certified waters was not a health concern.

 “The shellfish opening is perhaps the greatest milestone yet in our efforts to restore Hempstead Harbor. Not only will shellfishing create jobs and provide increased recreational opportunities for the residents but this very tangible achievement provides clear proof that far-off visions can become reality when governments come together around a problem and work closely with citizens and others toward those goals,” said Bill Clemency, chair of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee.

The Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee is Long Island’s first inter-municipal watershed-based collaborative effort. It consists of nine local governments – the County of Nassau, the Towns of Oyster Bay and North Hempstead, the City of Glen Cove and the Villages of Sea Cliff, Roslyn Harbor, Roslyn, Flower Hill and Sands Point. It was formed in 1995 and is funded through municipal contributions and grants.

DEC will continue monitoring the water quality of these reclassified areas and other certified and seasonally certified areas, comprising nearly 1 million acres in New York’s marine district, as part of its participation in the National Shellfish Sanitation Program. As conditions warrant, DEC will make changes to the classification of shellfish lands to protect the health of shellfish consumers and provide additional harvesting opportunities for commercial and recreational shellfishing.


Long Island Regatta Dates

The Sea Cliff Yacht Club has announced the dates of the 35th Annual Around Long Island Regatta.

The race will begin on Thursday, July 28, in the waters off Rockaway Point and will conclude by Sunday, July 31, near the Sea Cliff Yacht Club in Hempstead Harbor. The course is a spectacular 190-mile run east to Montauk, New York and around the twin forks of Long Island, into Block Island Sound past Orient Point and west the length of Long Island Sound.

This summer classic attracts sailors from New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and beyond, drawn by the exhilarating challenge of a distance race that combines ocean racing and coastal cruising. Last year’s race was acclaimed for near-perfect conditions and a blistering course record.

Divisions include IRC, PHRF spinnaker and non-spinnaker, multi-hull, collegiate, juniors, and teams. For more information and to register, go to www.alir.org.

Edited by Matthew A. Piacentini – email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it