East End Dreams

Written By: Joseph Velardo

It is hard to remember the first time I went to the Hamptons. Well first I went to Montauk, I know this and secondly I know I stayed in Ditch Plains. My brother who is seven years older had an old school summer share out there with a host of people. I on the other hand was on the road to recovery from major back surgery and ended up on the moldy towel covered sofa in the living room. One thing I do remember is one of the older women speaking rather loudly and drunk stating “I can’t believe I didn’t get any tonight”. Laying half broken and probably under the effects of a pain killer coma, I rolled over and went back to sleep. 

Through this whirlwind trip east out the LIE to 27 and finally Montauk Highway the Town of East Hampton stirred my mind. The trees, cedar shingled homes and the cars that sat under the oak trees of main street kept me dreaming about summers out east. 

My life went through a lot of changes during the ensuing 10 years. I moved from a job in finance to boat building and finally settled back in NYC in advertising. With this I found my passion for finding old boats, restoring them to sell while I spent my summer weekends on them. There was something about the old teak and the soul of a boat that kept me coming back for these work weekends. I made it a rule to always have a cold beer and some good music ready for the end of the day (usually 3PM).

Time moved on and I sold my last New Jersey built boat and settled into the Fall and Winter. Come January my life took a turn when I met Robyn who would become my wife. She kept listening about my love of boats and the mysterious east end place I want to spend my summers. As she is a good person and forward thinker she didn’t even bat an eye when I found a 1979 27-foot sailboat on craigslist for $600.

Christened the GRACENT after my parents who introduced me to boats, Grace and Vincent. We spent the following weekends in a New Jersey marina scrubbing the mildew, stripping the teak of a lifetime of grime and rebuilt the one-cylinder diesel on a friend’s workbench. The time came and the truck arrived for the trek from Forked River, NJ out to our new home on 3 Mile Harbor. It is odd to load a boat onto a truck as opposed to taking the ocean but in the case of a $600 boat there is only so much trust you can put into your work.

The GRACENT settled into Gardiners Marina on 3 Mile Harbor and we found a home. But it truly became our summer home when our best friends came to stay for the night. They were visiting family for a funeral on the North Fork and asked if they could stop by. As with most weekends out East a visit turned into a bottle of Rose’ and a cruise out to 3 Mile Harbor to anchor. The anchor held the muddy bottom and changed our view of life. The tree covered hills surrounded us while the warm water washed us of city life.

Time has marched on the boat has gotten bigger and our friends are now residents of Sagaponack. The change is welcome as now our routines are based on the day. Friday we grab dinner at Harbor Grill, they pour us our drinks while we wait for a Montauk caught fluke special. Saturday morning is a ride to Atlantic Avenue beach for a paddle and maybe catch a wave. Saturday afternoon is a ride out to Sag Harbor to meet our friends and catch up. Sunday is a day spent on 3 Mile Harbor. We relive our Rose’ filled weekends and laugh as our dog barks at swimmers. We are no longer just a couple as our friends have multiplied. There are the neighbor’s kids jumping off of boats swimming over to say high as their parents come over for a drink and a story.

Now as we sit as the season turns from winter stick season to the trees budding and daffodils popping up across the East End. We talk about last summer and start to make plans for the coming summer. A boat trip to Montauk to visit family friends and a visit to Lunch for a lobster roll. One week my parents visit from Florida and we will picnic at Wolfer and another week my wife’s family with twin twelve year olds will come east for a fishing trip to find porgies.

Our memories are of the beauty we wake up, fall asleep to and what will come as our soon to be born son enters the world.