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Posted by: nauticalchronicles | January 23, 2013

LETTER FROM WEEHAWKEN

NAUTICAL CHRONICLES:

Letter from Weehawken

Louise and I got a letter the other day and, to say the least, it was quite a surprise. We don’t know anyone in Weehawken, New Jersey. Our son and his family live in Hoboken, but Weehawken, to us, is vacant of acquaintances. The letter was four pages in length and I know you will want to see its contents; it goes like this:

“Dear Captain Bob and First Mate Louise,

We feel terrible that we haven’t kept in touch this past year and apologize for “disappearing” this past summer. Please tell all our friends how much we missed them and how much we missed our dock life at the marina. As you know, after the last boat sank which, by the way, was NOT our fault, our lives took a serious turn.

We are still living in our motor home but, as you can see, we are no longer at Hampton Beach. The traffic was unbearable so we decided to bail; and bail we did…in a big way! One night, as we sat around in our lawn chairs beside our camp table, in the light of our Coleman lantern, smoking, we had what you might call an epiphanic moment; a sudden realization of where our lives were going, where our lives had been and where we wanted to go with them. Here is the short version of what we’ve been up to this past year.

I sold my pest control business. Since it was our busy season, my nephew was eager to work a deal to purchase it; since our other strange employee worked out so well, and since he and my nephew got along so well, it was a perfect time for me to part with the company. To me, UCM Pest Control is now IsawM Pest Control.

Though Mary’s copy editing business has slowed down considerably, she is able to continue with little interruption since all of her work is via the internet; moving, for her, was not an inconvenience, so…we hit the road in our motor home.

As you can now tell by the postmark on this letter, we landed up in Weehawken, NJ at the Flamingo Motor Home Court, just a stone’s throw from the Hudson River, Hoboken, New York (NJ), Jersey City, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and just across the river from NEW YORK CITY…I never figured us for city folk but we are having the time of our lives! We’ve met several other couples here at the mobile home park who are also living their dreams. We’ve spent much time in “the city” (we go by ferry) and we’ve spent time on the Hudson and East Rivers; we found that we could rent small center-console boats at Shipyard Marina in Hoboken for daily rates enabling us to explore the New York and New Jersey shorelines. It has been quite an adventure and, believe it or not, so far, our journeys have been episode-free and quite enjoyable.

But the REALLY BIG NEWS is that…we bought another boat! This time we bought it AS A BUSINESS: “VACATION YACHT RENTALS”. OMG, it’s what Mary and I call a “rare find” right here in Weehawken; FATE HAS SPOKEN TO US! Although it is not in running condition (lucky for us), it is permanently docked at what the seller called “a classy marina” in Weehawken Cove just off Sinatra Drive. The boat’s a real jewel (albeit a little in the rough); a 1959 40’ Chris Craft (wood). We named her “Our Getaway” and we’ve advertised her on the internet; we’ve aimed our ads more toward “regular people” than toward boaters. We get $200 a night, $1,200 per week or, if really lucky, $3,000 per month. Our rental boasts 2 bedrooms (sleeping 5 people) and a single bathroom (the marina also provides two nice bathrooms with showers). Though this past summer’s rentals were a little slow, we’ve learned a lot about renting, renters, check-in procedures and, of course, cleaning. LOL, but it was quite a summer.

Our first rental was in June. A lady from Truro, MA called and said she, her husband and two daughters would like to stay for a week and “do New York City”. Mary and I were at the boat to welcome them, check them in and get paid, in advance. We first became concerned when the two “daughters” (they appeared to be the same age and they had no similarity in appearance) arrived, alone, in a black Firebird with vanity Mass license plates… “WLDTNG”. When we asked where their parents were, they replied “they’ll be along shortly”. Our first mistake (other than renting to them) was to allow them to move aboard without their parents being there (no parents ever arrived). Over the course of the next two days, Mary and I were amazed at how many men these two girls could meet in such a short time; the foot-traffic up and down the docks to “Our Getaway” was astonishing; we thought, when they rented our boat, the family wanted to “do New York”, but not once did these girls leave the marina. I guess Mary and I were a little naïve, but when the Weehawken PD arrived and took them away, we were surprised. Apparently they were doing more than NYC and more than vacationing. Shortly after the girls were taken away, Nick’s Towing Service arrived to remove the Firebird; the side of their truck advertised “Fast, Courteous, and Efficient Service”. We never heard anything more about this incident and no one ever approached us for a refund; our “pay in advance” rule is now set in stone.

The second weekly rental we had was a couple and their three children from Hartford, CT. They were a perfect family; Mary and I called them the “von Trapp Family”. Each time they left the dock on an excursion, Jim, the father would lead the parade; Joan, his wife would follow, and the three children in order of height would follow her; all in single-file. They were all polite and well-behaved and, frankly, the best renters we had all summer. We spent time with them at the marina in the community room and the picnic area and became very friendly. We also invited them back to the Flamingo Motor Home Court which, I believe, they enjoyed more than the boat. Jim, it turned out, was a long-haul truck driver for Carolina Freight and was considering buying a class-A motor home. The stories of our adventures helped him to decide on pursuing motor-homing rather than motor-boating. When they left at the end of the week, our boat was cleaner and better than it had been when they first arrived; hopefully they will return this year.

We only had three, one-night rentals during the summer; we’ve decided to remove this option from our advertising…one-night rentals are just not worth it; we’re not doing that anymore. We rented a Friday night to two young men who were so polite and so exuberant, so happy-to-be-alive that we couldn’t turn them down. After checking them in, they immediately headed to town for supplies (for one night? What could they need?). It turned out that they wanted to have a spaghetti dinner for their girlfriends; a dinner with all the trimmings…salad, meatballs, spaghetti, wine, some type of fancy flaming dessert. They even bought an Italian table cloth for the dinner. As I understand it, the festivity was quite a success. The girls were in awe of the skills shown by the boys in creating this gala event, and the young men’s exuberance and effervescence were bolstered by the girl’s reactions. Mary and I have never seen such happy young people; their positive attitudes and love-of-life gave us pause for thought. Unfortunately, their lack of respect for “other people’s property” only became apparent the next day after they checked out; it took us three days to clean the place; spaghetti and sauce and meatballs were everywhere, not to mention the pots, pans, dishes, silverware, empty wine bottles…what a mess! We can only say that D’Agostino’s Spaghetti Feed will remain a hard lesson-learned as we approach another rental season.

An old acquaintance of mine also rented the boat for one night. Pierre was alone, but eventually met a girlfriend. They apparently went to dinner and then apparently returned to the boat. I say apparently only because after Pierre checked-in, I never saw him again. The next morning after Pierre had left (he left the key on the kitchen table), Mary and I returned to clean and prepare the boat for our next guests. We found the boat in pretty much the same condition we had rented it to Pierre in; the bed was made and appeared not to have been used; the kitchen had not been used; it appeared nothing had been used except…a single washcloth; that was it; one washcloth. We will always wonder about that night and what went on; I haven’t seen Pierre since.

Late in August, I needed to be away for several days, so Mary and her friend Martha were in charge of rentals. By this time, our “rules for rental” had been firmly established. Mary received a call from a very polite young man with an Irish Brogue accent who wished to rent our boat for two nights, Friday and Saturday; he and his friend were headed back to college the following week and wanted one last vacation before going back to school. Mary sensed that she may be “breaking the rules” by renting to this young man, but his name was Shawn and he was polite and he was Irish (Martha’s son who was also named Sean and who was also polite and Irish, had become one of Mary’s favorite young college men), so together…they rented to him and his friend; for two nights. It actually went very well; they did not have guests on-board; they went out for entertainment each of the two nights; they spent late afternoons having beer on the deck; they did not over-indulge; in every aspect they were polite and well-behaved. It appeared to Mary that all was well. I returned Sunday around check-out time and was walking down the dock just as Mary and Martha came bounding off the boat, swearing and shouting, and running up the dock, past me and out of the marina headed for the parking area. Alas, they were too late. Shawn, the college student with the polite demeanor and Irish Brogue had just escaped the clutches of Mary and Martha, absconding with much of the furnishings of “Our Getaway”. They, apparently had needed some supplies for college, including but not limited to, our microwave oven, our toaster, our pillows and sheets, our towels, our silverware, dishes, cups, pots, pans…not to mention my very special Weems and Plath porthole clock and barometer on a plaque, a going away gift from The General and his wife, Deb. Mary, of course, filed a report with Weehawken Police, but the name and address given by “Shawn” to her and Martha was fictitious as was the phone number, the college and all the other information.

During the course of last summer, we honed our rental and check-in skills to a razor sharp edge. Our summer-end rentals went well although there were fewer of them than we would have appreciated. We may not have not made our fortune yet, but by the end of the summer we had paid for the year-round slip fees and the metered electrical charges, and we anticipate a successful 2013 rental season.

As always, our life is an adventure which we cherish, and we apologize again for not having kept in touch with you, Louise and our fellow boaters at Cove; we take consolation and pleasure in knowing that our friendships are forever, and that when we do meet again, it will be like we never left. Especially say “hi” to The General and Deb; we hope Bella is doing well. If we ever make it back to Cove permanently and you’d like to get us a “coming home” gift, consider a Weems and Plath porthole clock and barometer; even without the plaque it would be a fitting gift.

Your BFF’s, Peter and Mary”

This was quite a letter and quite a surprise. I know you miss them as much as we do; maybe we should rent some time on their vacation yacht next summer…let me know and I’ll arrange it. To see more of their boat, go to: homeaway.com /vacation-rental; type in #3176976. Remember, summer is just around the corner; see you at the boat show.

Classy Marina Vacation Yacht Rental Your Getaway

Captain Robert Brown

First Mate Louise

the little man

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Responses

  1. Captain:

    Clearly there is a correlation between vacation rentals and spaghetti dinners. In my limited exposure to said meal combination I have heard that inevitably the food ends up in the strangest of places. You might also suggest to your friends Mary and Peter that they may want to check their mailbox for errant panties!

    Beyond that, how the hell are ya? I am now a high school representative for Lincoln Technical School in E. Windsor, Ct. How I arrived at this is beyond me, but its covering my insurance, and hopefully will allow me some freedom to pursue acting when spring arrives.

    I’d be VERY interested in renting that boat. Please mention me to your pals, as I wouldnt want a whole week, but would certainly be trustworthy enough for a couple of nights if they are willing to break their rules! I am out and about in NH and MA now visiting high schools fairly regularly. Perhaps we can make our paths cross for a lunch or dinner or something?

    Where are you at these days?

    ad

  2. Captain Bob,
    It’s amazing how familiar these stories sounded. Reminded me of the “Shorwinds” days!


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