The 2004 votes have been tallied. Thanks to our readers for showing us the best of the coast yet again.

By Katie Finley
July 23, 2004

Each year, we at Coastal Living sit down, take deep breaths, and begin themonumental task of wading through the thousands of entries wereceive for the "Capture the Coast" photo contest.

Along the way, we have learned much: that on the coasts ourreaders frequent, the water is turquoise and azure and cerulean andcobalt and indigo and sapphire-but always blue. That when "burying"Dad or Uncle Joe in the sand, the fine powder of North Florida andthe coarse grains of Hawaii work equally well. That althoughsunsets can be a million different colors, holding your breath justbefore they explode across the horizon is a universal reaction.

This year's entrants included bathing beauties and mermaids ofall ages. Photos of brilliant sunrises and ecstatic pets poured inalongside those of quiet mornings and stormy nights. But one imagecaptured our hearts.

Grand prize winner Albert Giraldi had the great fortune to snagthe instant when innocence and bliss collide. First Flight personifies that magical feeling of being atthe coast, no matter which one you call home.

Each photo we receive offers a glimpse of how our readerscelebrate their seaside lifestyles. And, monumental task or no,culling through the entries is a duty we love.

The 2004 Winners:

"First Flight"
Albert Giraldi

"Morning Dory"
Christine Black

"Paw Prints"
Lisa Illingworth

"Water Lillies"
Jasmine O'Connor

"Breakfast at Sunrise"
Randy Thur