Couch Surfing, Montauk!: day 2
Trip Start Oct 30, 2010
130Trip End Ongoing
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("...There's obviously something good on the other side of this," I told myself.)
When Christian did come around (naturally with a slight hangover), he said he'd be there in five minutes in his jeep, eager to take us to Montauk's famous lighthouse at the end of the peninsula. On the way over though, we stopped through the central part of the town to pick up his friend Elaine, an Irish girl who had been working in the town as a bank teller since last October.
She was the sweetest girl, handing us ice cream bars she had bought before meeting up
We all climbed around the back of the lighthouse (there's a fee to go up it) along a path of giant smooth rocks that perfectly blended together in a natural walkway around the sea. On the other side it broke away to a clear beach where we all took a cold swim, Christian taking a picture of us three girls after. (And yeah, the water out here is cold.)
The adventure really got going though when Christian, who (again) works for about four different hotels around the island, told us that we may be able to take out some sail boats from the Yacht Club (a ritzy resort and spa we ambushed from the side in little bikinis, flip-flops and moppy hair -- or maybe I'm just describing my own insecurity).
There were two sun fish sailboats available to us. Having a fear of alligators and slimy weeds, I never fully learned how to operate one while living in Florida, though know the names for the parts. Elaine admitted she has been a sailing instructor for seven or more years back in Ireland.
I got in her boat.
Christian and Katie took the second.
"We're disobeying all the rules from training," Elaine told me as we sailed through the surrounding million-dollar yachts docked around us.
But I was distracted, enjoying the feeling of being in my first James Bond movie with them around. I pictured poker games taking place inside and the players' women idling around in fur clutching champagne flutes. Above us, an occasional private jet or Cessna would zoom by over head.
"We didn't tell anyone where we were going, when we'd be back, we don't have a watch, nor do we have life vests," she said. "You'd be killed if your instructor knew."
When she said this, at the time, she meant the instructor would kill you. Not that your lack of safety would do it.
Anyway, no one ever actually thought for a moment that we would get into any trouble while we were out there. I guess you never do though.
But we kept sailing. And sailing. And trying to catch up to Christian who controlled Katie's small boat, we went out even further, past the small white buoys (or "boys," Elaine said the Irish call them) and the huge red one that swung a bell with each rocking wave
...The one featured in the first scene of the movie "Jaws."
Katie fell in. No, Katie was pushed in. My mouth dropped open, my mind saying "I would KILL him." But she laughed.
"I had been thinking about going in anyway," she would tell me later.
"OK well get back into the boat," I kept thinking as I watched her swim around its side.
She'd go in one more time after this, this second time falling out thanks to some sloppy spinning and speed.
We were too far out. I was a bit uncomfortable so said something to Elaine who agreed. We never meant to go out that far. One of our two drivers was just too... showoffy, of sorts.
Coming back into the channel, a boat belonging to the coast guard came up beside Elaine and I.
"Do you have life preservers?" he called over to us
Elaine and I sat quietly. I eyed a Sponge Bob bougey board we had rescued from the sea moments earlier. A potential life preserver?
He circled back around to us when we didn't reply. Asking again.
"No," we told him. He gave a loud gruff but to my relief pushed off from us, after asking, however, where we were coming from -- the Yacht Club being it.
Katie and Christian came up behind us and so we told them what he asked us. Kinda of pushed it out of mind, and tried to keep going forward, without much luck because the wind was pushing the other way back to sea.
Giant sail boats (MASSIVE ones) and power boats picked up around us. One or two honked.
Katie fell in again, this time, in plain sight of the coast guard.
He zoomed toward their boat with his lights flashing and siren on, yelling at them with a deep voice to get over to the side (where Elaine and I were) and stay there.
Christian, finding us unable to move going in a straight line along the rocks (instead of criss-crossing the channel), disobeyed him.
That was scary -- as in, the coast guard's reaction to this.
Our two boats got tied up to a second power boat and dragged up to the coast guard's dock, which was just around the corner
The ride there was kind of fun. Katie and I perched at the top of the boat in our swim suits as we powered straight over. (We wished we had our camera.)
It wasn't as exciting for Christian and Elaine, however. While Katie and I toured the outside of the Coast Guard's grounds (highly fenced up around us), talking with some of their officers, the other two had to surrender their drivers licenses and told us later that they have a court date.
"You're lucky that guy caught you," one of the drivers of the power boat had told us.
We were surprised to hear that.
He's a former marine and scared the bageebies outta me.
But it looks like Christian and Elaine won't get into too much trouble. And if they do get ticketed (at least for the life jackets), I've discussed with Katie how we should help them by paying half.
Interesting, wild travel
Katie and I returned back to the beach behind our hotel after for an hour of swimming (she reading and me pretending to be a mermaid back and forth in laps), showered off, packed, and then furthered refreshed ourselves over dinner at "The Sloppy Tuna," a restaurant next door that Charlie Sheen was spotted at the evening before (we asked our waitress what he had ordered but she disappointingly confessed that she wasn't working when he came in).
Pulled our luggage about a mile or so to the train station, and got back to Manhattan just before midnight, carrying fresh, wild and exciting stories back to the newsroom the afternoon after.
Oh, also a well burned back.
(And the lesson to always carry a life vest)
-- btw, this experience, entirely free, couch surfing.