The Commodore Doug Berman Memorial Sail

Wet Cash and Flags

The day could not have been nicer. It was made to order in heaven. Southwest Winds at 5-12 knots, calm seas, just a few nice clouds. Halee, Sophia and Jonah arrived at 11:30 at The Sayville Marina at Port O’ Call and I met them in the parking lot. The boat was rigged and ready to go. The kids donned their water shoes and life jackets, which I noticed were exactly correct, clearly Doug had chosen precisely the protective gear for his children to wear on their catamaran adventure in the BVI last fall. I gave them all the safety talk, just like on the airplane, and showed them the Past Commodore’s Flag that another old friend of Doug’s delivered to the boat that morning. I hoisted the Past Commodore’s Flag on the spinnaker halyard above the spreaders and.

We sailed off towards Davis Park with the goal of anchoring at Cherry Grove and getting pizza at Grove Pizza. Jonah was a bit scared and was holding onto the hiking strap like he would never let go. Truth be told, I was a little scared as I had never had young children aboard my catamaran whose name is: “Hazardous {when wet}”. I questioned my judgement a little, but I had a team of capable sailors and coaches and a safety boat with me. “Belts and suspenders” along with gear Doug had equipped his children with insured that we were as safe as we could be. As the waves splashed through the trampoline Jonah shrieked saying “I don’t like this”, and laughing and chortling like crazy. Halee didn’t say anything, but I asked “is that a good noise or a bad noise he’s making?” From the big grin the answer became obvious, quickly.

As Joe operated the red safety boat and Jonah and Sophie became more comfortable with the unexpected ride, Jonah pointed to the safety boat and said: “I wanna go on the red boat!”. We have never called it ‘The Red Boat’ but i have a feeling we may from now on! As we got within a 1/2 mile of Fire Island, Joe noticed a heavy fog rolling in over talisman. We decided that discretion was the better part of valor, Gybed around, adjust the boat for the best Gybeangle back to Port O’ Call and broad reached back. We had backup plans for our backup.

In case things weren’t working out so well, this would give Halee and the kids a chance to call it a day. When we got back, Halee and the kids all wanted to see Fire Island (which apparently Doug told them many stories about) rather than get pizza in Sayville. We boarded “The Red Boat” and it was off to Cherry Grove. With Griffin commanding the boat the ride was smooth and joyful. As we anchored the boat on the eastern edge of Cherry Grove, Jonah noticed the Belvedere Guest House, truth be told it’s impossible to miss. He said to me “I want to see that!”

Doug and I had several things in common, one of them was noticing the top shelf stuff. Cars, Boats, Planes, Architecture, Design we both were always intrigued. The Belvedere Guest House was built in the mid 1950’s by a man who started the development in Cherry Grove and built the first 50 houses there. It is a castle and a half, completely out of character with the rest of the town where most of the houses are small simple ‘saltboxes’. The Belvedere is a landmark that has appeared on every nautical chart since before I was born. This video is a tour of this magnificent building. It’s one of a kind and way way way over the top. It’s almost the antithesis of Fire Island.

It seems like Jonah might have the same propensity as his dad for over the top items.

As we walked past the Belvedere I pointed the two lions standing guard over the entrance. I mentioned to Halee that even though were were only 60 miles from NYC, we were on a boardwalk, there are no cars in fire island, it’s peaceful, beautiful and without traffic, lights, etc, there is no noise of civilization. The sound of our footsteps on the boardwalk and the gentle breeze set the pace for the visit.

The fifteen minute walk into town went by quickly (4 year old walk faster than I do, who knew?) we found Grove Pizza and AJ, The proprietor had a table for 6 outside under the awning waiting for us. As you can see in the photo, the tables on the right were ‘out of service’. Wet sat at the table on the left. We had pizza, mozzarella sticks and lots of water and soda (the day was hot). Sailing on a catamaran you get completely soaked. It is traditional for me to pay the bill with wet money. In fact, the few times i’ve gone over on the ferry and my money wasn’t wet, they made comments. Yup, the cash in my pocket was wet, which I dutifully pointed out to the waitress (who i’ve known for years), “of course” she replied. Then a walk to the beach (which is about another 3 minutes) to see the Atlantic Ocean, then back to the boat.

During the walk back to the boat, Griffin, Joe and I were walking ahead and Halee, Sophia and Jonah were behind. I felt something touch my hand, Jonah had run up to us and told me that he wanted to hold my hand. Melt my heart and make my month!!!! I turned around and said to Halee: “I guess he’d rather walk up here with ‘The Boys'”, and smiled. My memory of Doug was smiling too.

We boarded “The Red Boat”, with Joe in command, we raced the ferry going back Sayville, and won!

But there was more. They had a long drive home but wanted Ice Cream. As it happens Doug also used to tell them about Carvel. I didn’t realize it, but Carvel is a local chain, maybe even just a Long Island thing. In fact, for you that don’t know, Carvel is soft serve ice cream (and cakes). The owner of Carvel, long dead, was a bit of a local celebrity as he used to do the commercials himself. He had a distinctive Graveley voice: “We make ice cream, everyday, at Carvel.”

I directed them the nearest Carvel and before parting ways I got a big hug from Jonah, Sophia and Halee. Make my month! In retrospect, I should have gone to Carvel with them. Something to look forward to for next time.

My thanks to Doug’s family for giving me the opportunity to have such a wonderful experience with them.

Many thanks to my friends and colleagues that all contributed generously to make it a great and spontaneous day for the kids, and me.

Dan Williams, South Shore Racing

Commodore John Breuer, Wetpants Sailing Association

Griffin Sisk, South Shore Racing

Joe Beitch, South Shore Racing

2 thoughts on “The Commodore Doug Berman Memorial Sail

  1. What an amazing day and tribute to a friend! For those of you who didn’t watch the video of the guest house, go back and watch it. Not only is this an amazing structure realize that everything in there had to be transported by boat, barge or driven (because in those days you could, there was no breach) miles across the sand to get to Cherry Grove. Incredible. I’d love to see it in person!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Diane Caggiano July 10, 2020 — 6:15 pm

    Sounds like a very special day! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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