Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Saturday, October 12, 2013: Real bad beach day for me yesterday ... sinkhole crash!


Saturday, October 12, 2013: Real bad beach day for me yesterday. I was doing my daily (and then some) buggying beach-condition check from SB down to North Beach Haven. I decided to exit through Ship Bottom instead of using my usual easy-off in Brant Beach. Catastrophic mistake.

Unbeknownst to me there is now quicksand on some beach areas of Ship Bottom, namely off 25the street and thereabouts; I’m talking covered up sinkholes offering the deceiving look of being fully buggyable but able to suck in even a large GMC truck -- right up to its chassis.

My truck was not only instantly sucked in but the impact jarred the crap out of me. I have to think the truck was close to airbag deployment.  I was saved, bodily, by my seatbelt. I’ll fully admit I seldom have it on when buggying the beach but to that point I hadn’t gotten out of the vehicle. Sans seatbelt, I think there would now be a Mann-sized head dent in my truck’s roof. I base that on the fact that anything loose within the cab went airborne, experiencing weightlessness for about a couple seconds. It was a frightening jolt, though my video camera and a heavy bag of fishing gear thought it was great and immediately asked to do it again. Maybe I did hit my head. (See video below)

In a heartbeat I went from fun drive to effed up beyond repair. The situation was dire. I was mercilessly mired in what was becoming a sand and water pit. What’s more, nearby water marks told me the next high tide would readily reach where I was trapped.  

I consider myself one of the closest things to a bog-down expert so I instinctively cycled through all the given first steps after bog-down, including further airing down and digging out. Even an expert knows when things are hopeless. I wasn’t dealing with everyday sinkingness but a high-breed form of quicksand. I had run headlong into a perfectly concealed sunken lake of sorts. Sand had blown over the watery area, making it look like good-old hard beach sand.

The sandy sink hole was most likely the result of a mechanical plowing recently done in the area on behalf of the borough (by Long Beach Township). Heavy equipment had pushed sand over an odd tidal lake that had formed from the effects of down-drift sands from the Surf City replenishment project. You might have seen photos of the lake, also called a “lagoon.”

The beach “lake” formed when copious amounts of Surf City sand were carried south by currents.  An unnatural berm formed along the beach adjacent to the water. When higher tides overwashed the heightened berms, ocean water got to the lower east side of the beach, filling in low points. The water just stayed there, unable to flow back out to sea. As noted, the lake was plowed under (last week), however, some places held the lakeness but blowing sand from the nor’easter disguised the watery surface. That’s where I came in, being one of the only vehicles driving the beach. It was like one of those roach hotel set-ups, where you check in but sure as hell can’t check out. As is the case with any and all trapped buggyists, I got this instantaneous sense of heart-thumping anxiety, even though I knew I had plenty of low tide to work with.  

A fellow buggyist arrived as I was trying to dig. Not only did his vehicle almost sink in but when he got out of his vehicle to work with me, he literally sank up to his hip in what was, in reality, quicksand. He got his leg out but had to go arm’s length to reach in the leg hole and recover a shoe, which was pulled off by the famed quicksand suction. Hey, I told you, this was a bona fide sand trap.

You don’t know the feeling of dread and despair when fully fretting that your vehicle is on the brink of meeting a horrible end, via drowning  Hey, many of us are quite attached to our vehicles. That attachment is oft rooted in knowing we haven’t got the means to buy a replacement should we lose the current one. As much as Geico has been a recommendable friend to me, I’m not sure how those lizardy folks might take a customer claiming two drowned vehicles in under a year’s time.

I called the Ship Bottom PD just to alert them to the vehicular and personal dangers from sinkage zone. They soon stopped by.

Then came my calls for tow truck assistance. It’s essential to make those calls early on, especially if you’re in way over your dig-out head. It can take time for those tow troops to rally. You never want to race a rising tide. It cheats. You lose.

The first call I made didn’t go so well. I was fully shunned by the tow company, despite issuing one of those “Uh, I’m kinda in a mess here.” The response: “I can’t come out tonight.” Hell, it wasn’t even night, nor did I have my sleeping bag with me. The owner got vocally testy when I persisted.

I was becoming a tad panicked. Truth be told, I felt fully sunk right about then. I envisioned me being sunk there until the tide rose and my newish post-Sandy truck becoming a cover photo in “Drowned Beach Buggies Monthly.” Inexplicably, I pondered doing one of those Curly floor spinning things –right there in the sand. As I said, maybe I did hit my head.

It was the SB cops who helped me with a number for South Shore Towing in West Creek/Cedar Run.

Ah, what a relief it was reaching them by cellphone. The gal there was understanding and said she’d get a truck out there right away. “I love you, ma’am … seriously.”

Feeling somewhat saved, I then made a call to my buddies at Fisherman’s Headquarters, just to explain my predicament and to tell them to warn other buggyists about the pitfalls of driving Ship Bottom. The reaction I got from there was fully unexpected. It was as if I had alerted the frickin’ cavalry. Within seconds, they sent out not one but two trucks with HDQ’ers at the helms.

Arriving in nothing flat, the HDQ guys showed the same urgency I had in mind – with some added energy to boot. I was kinda spent by then, having dug in quicksandish vain for a solid 30 minutes straight, not only losing ground but actually gaining puddles around my rear tires. 

Craftily negotiating around the sinkholes, the boys got one of their trucks close enough to my truck to tie on a tow line. Almost immediately, they had me hooked up and pulled out of what seemed a truly hopeless hole. Unreal.

I can’t thank those guys enough. They’ve also instilled me with the drive to continue helping other bogged down buggyists dig out, as I’ve always done in the past.

I’m also utterly thankful to the South Shore Towing, who, upon the extraction of my truck, I called to advise I no longer needed a tow. However, I’m still sending them a stipend just to show my appreciation. Their phone number is (609) 597-9964.


Here’s a video I took as I impacted the sinkhole in Ship Bottom. No need to watch after impact. Nothing but close-up of truck carpet – and distant sounds of me obscenely panicking. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kot8jHnXXsI&feature=youtu.be


 (Hardy soul I videoed trying to fish in nor’easter: http://youtu.be/Vg7ViiZrKEQ)


Here a little GoPro video I did. Yeah, right? This was done by astounding experts. 

This is insane! Not for the squeamish.


Donation Drive

It’s time for my annual begging session, seeking donations to show support for this site. While I don’t use donations as an indicator of reader appreciation, I sure use the donations to cover the site’s sundry expenses. I accept Paypal at jmann99@hotmail.com. For mail-ins: Jay Mann, 222 18th Street, Ship Bottom, NJ, 08008. 

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