Sixty-Something: Personal Gardiner’s Bay Tales | Community | Sixty Something –


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The Gardiner's Bell Buoy. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

The magic is back in Gardiner's Bay. As more and more pleasure crafts, both sailboats and powerboats, are back in the water for the Hamptons summer season of 2021, you can see the grins of the various boat owners out on the water. Getting your boat's bottom painted, cleaned up and then launched is a rite of passage every new spring. The first time back out in Gardiner's Bay is always like having a needed cold drink of beverage on a very hot day, very needed and rewarding.

Boat owners are a funny breed. They must gage tides, winds, seas, clouds, and even other boats while out pleasure cruising. Then there are the sights you see! A few years back I was asked to spread Richard Ivan's ashes at the bell buoy outside Three Mile Harbor in Gardiner's Bay. Richard was a power boat man, although he would go sailing occasionally with the "Ragman," his nickname for me as a sailboat guy. Richard had a colorful past. He was a collector and investor, when he passed he had a warehouse in New Jersey with 22 early 1960's Lincoln convertibles, similar to the one JFK was shot in, that being with the back doors that opened in the opposite of today's cars.

Richard probably sailed with me four or five times in the many years I knew him. He used to sit atop his vintage Egg Harbor high on the bridge with a Heineken and a huge Churchill cigar and wish me luck as I was about to shove off and sail out of my slip next to his at Three Mile Marina. He was often there offering me a freezing cold Heineken when I came back.

One time with Richard back in the mid 2000s, we experienced a once in a lifetime sailing adventure. It was a clear, sunny and breezy mid-week summer's day. Richard was on board sailing with me in Gardiner's when over the horizon came one of those wonder sailboats. It was the ADIX! At the time, it was the second largest privately owned schooner in the world. It had just unsuccessfully attempted to break the speed record for crossing the Atlantic for a boat in its class. It is 211.6 feet long with three very tall masts. It was in full sail with what seemed like an army for a crew who had ADIX masterfully dissecting Gardiner's Bay with precise tact. Quite frankly it was magnificent, and the crew waved to Richard and I every time we both crossed paths sailing both of us completely under sail riding the fantastic winds of Gardiner's Bay.

Another of those rare times sailing with Richard, we were fortunate to witness the vintage America's Cup (1934) finalist sailboat, Endeavor, perhaps one of the greatest J-Yachts ever built. It had just been refurbished by the great sailboat restoration queen, Elizabeth Meyer, who was on board that day seated in an almost throne like chair behind the huge steering wheel surrounded and manned by a captain and a well-dressed crew. They had a tremendously large main sail, well over one hundred feet high, yet tight and always flowing majestically for maximum performance. Richard kept saying, "Look at that Ragman, look at that. They don't make them as beautiful as that anymore."

Sadly, Richard died a few years later due to an aneurysm at one of his palatial homes in Arizona and his ashes were delivered to me to be spread around the bell tower by his widow after a service in Sag Harbor.

It was a typical sunny big sky day when I scattered his ashes at the bell buoy. To this day, when I hear that buoy bell, I remember hearing Richard Ivan saying to me as I shoved off for my nightly sunset sail, "Ragman! Have a great safe sail, looks like a good wind tonight!"

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