The dredge is right off the beach in Sagaponack now. As if the ocean wasn’t enough, this project is a spectacle and draws people here—people who haven’t been to this beach in years come for a visit. Coastal nourishment has temporarily turned the serene beach into the ultimate sandbox. Huge machines do what the Tonka toy generations did, hand on yellow bulldozer, back and forth. No, we cannot play, but we stand mesmerized by those who do.I know the dredge was and will be inevitable, and in my opinion it is preferable to the messy work they do of dredging our ponds and trucking it back in front of the big houses. The average house is said to lose 30 truckloads of sand a year.
I put off going down until last Saturday night. I have a friend with beach property, and so we climbed his dune and at its crest have stadium seating. We could see directly down on the activity. Sand is flowing, moving with a lot of water through a pipe from the “borrowing” site offshore to the beachfront for at least $600 a linear foot. Massive spotlights illuminate the theater.
Three bulldozers are building the beach with blades that gleam from use in the sand. Two of the dozers are alternately cranking into the breakers, pushing sand, grooming and shaping. Their work is almost imperceptible, given the scale of our efforts versus the environment. For now, they push the retreating ocean seaward, and for a while we will have a wider beach. A payloader, with a giant claw, was handily grappling lengths of pipe. It is slow work.
Someone brought a little something to drink. It was windy but not too cold. Every now and then, I see a bird fly past; it is momentarily cast as silver against the dark water. Nothing fancier than a gull, but as a bird lover and one of the Tonka truck generation, this contrast counts as a memorable night in Sagaponack.