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Sixty-Something: The Brilliance Of Gardiner’s Bay Sunsets Never Gets Old

T.J. Clemente

You don't have to be sixty-something to really enjoy sunsets, you just have to look west. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

The older you get the more you appreciate the simpler things in life. One of those simpler things is taking the time to enjoy a wonderful sunset. No two sunsets are quite the same, with different cloud formations along with varying wind conditions, the new combination of the sunset colors creates a new show every night.

To the west of the Hamptons is Gardiner's Bay. Gardiner's Bay is ten miles long and eight miles wide. I've been sailing in Gardiner's Bay a few times a week, seven months out of the year for the last fourteen years. My specialty is the sunset sail. What I have learned is when the moisture, and cloud formations are just right you can get quite a colors show consisting of oranges, pinks, reds, purple, blues and then watch all of them slowly fade into a dark sky of twinkling stars.

So what causes the colors of sunsets? Science Daily says, "Molecules and small particles in the atmosphere change the direction of light rays,causing them to scatter and resulting in colorful sunsets. ... Because the sun is low on the horizon, sunlight passes through more air at sunset and sunrise than during the day, when the sun is higher in the sky."

Everyone who visits the Hamptons, or who drives home west on Route 27 knows the brilliance of the famous sunsets of the East End of Long Island. I believe the open space and size of Gardiner's Bay only amplifies the magnitude of the sunset's beauty and power. There are many beach locations where the local folks bring their beach chairs small tables and perhaps a favorite bottle of a certain local vintage to sip and enjoy while the sunsets. The power of a sunset eventually draws you in until you just don't talk but watch. It is during those moments I feel a kinship with all the folks over the thousands of years paused to observe the beauty of a Gardiner's Bay sunset. Mind you in late June and early July the sunsets last almost to 10 p.m. whereas in December they expire as early as 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. My last sailing sunset last year was December 21! Yes it was cold.

During both the American Revolution and the War of 1812 the British Navy moored all about Gardiner's Bay with barges and smaller crafts going from ship to shore with both supplies and men. A good percentage of the British Fleet sailed to Gardiner's Bay after leaving Boston Harbor ending that occupation that caused the events that led to American Independence. When I sail I always think of what the bay might have looked like at sunset with hundreds of British tall ships and many of the mightiest sailing fighting vessels ever built anchored all over the bay. The few surviving paintings and lithographs of the British ships all over Gardiner's Bay are amazing.

Then in the early 1800's during the golden days of American Whaling, Sag Harbor was called one the busiest harbors in the world! The only way to and from Sag Harbor to the ocean is Gardiner's Bay. Again during sunsets I sometimes envision whaling ships with whale blubber boiling down below passing by at sunset. But most of the time I sit on the deck of the "Cindi Lou" with my sailboat tiller in hand in awe of something so simple yet so complex and so beautiful that artists since the beginning of time have tried to capture the magic on wall paintings, then canvas, later photo paper and now cellphone shots.

The nightly Gardiner's Bay sunset is just another Hamptons reality that makes living, visiting, and being in the Hamptons so special all year-round. You don't have to be sixty-something to really enjoy sunsets, you just have to look west.

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