It’s the same East End towns, hamlets and beaches. It’s the same folks, with locals, second home owners and a few billionaires. What’s different are the safety protocols in place to protect all of us from the coronavirus and what we are now seeing is even the strictest of rules will not stop the Hamptons summer season of 2020.
As I traverse the East End to go to my safe space, my sailboat, I see a certain determination of the masked folks walking dogs, jogging, bike riding, or doing their yard work. I believe there is a defiant energy visible that the coronavirus is not going to ruin their day. However, it sure has changed some routines.
A prime example of this is the new procedure in place to purchase take-out at the The Clam Bar on the Napeague section of Amagansett on Route 27. They make fabulous, moderately priced lobster rolls and I love lobster rolls. Therefore after working on the rigging of my sailboat, I drove my car there. When I arrived there was a sign to “Stay in the Vehicle!” It seems you have to order online, prepay with a credit card, and then wait for the food to be delivered to a series of tables in front of the parking lot with letters on them. Eventually a big brown paper bag shows up with your receipt and name on it. Only then are you permitted to exit your car to walk to pick-up your take-out! A total no contact procedure. Not quite the same as sitting on the outdoor tables, soaking up the sun, and perhaps drinking a cold beer until your food order was brought to you by a friendly waitress. The new end result? The place was slammed on Saturday!
My sailboat whistling in the breezes of Gardiner’s Bay has always been my safe space from the summer crowds of the Hamptons. There is never anyone anywhere near me while sailing, and sometimes I have the whole of Gardiner’s Bay to myself. This is not the situation at the opened but monitored local beaches. An East Hampton Town Trustee and good friend Ben Dollinger told me they are already crowded with only half the number of cars being allowed in parking lots. Ben said, “I went to bring my kids to Ditch Plains and it was busier than it is in the summer and it’s not even Memorial Day yet!”
I have been traversing about the East End to get to my sailboat docked in Three Mile Harbor Marina for seventeen years. The first half of those years the drive was from Montauk, now it’s from East Patchogue so I have seen lots of things over the years. This year, so far, there are more crazier, extremely high-priced luxury sports cars on the local roads. Cars that cost up to and beyond $1M! Someone I know at the gas station on Three Mile Harbor Road said, “The billionaires are all out here now. They are getting a chance to play with their toys. I am selling more high octane gas than ever. Some of these rich guys don’t even know where the gas tanks are on these crazy expensive sports cars!”
On the back roads I see more folks than usual walking their dogs usually wearing masks. I have even witnessed three/four people walking just one dog. Being an avid bicyclist for decades, it’s funny to observe both the skilled riders and then the terror some folks are visible showing riding a bike again after perhaps half a lifetime of not doing so. What’s most surprising is the number of people out and about everywhere pre-Memorial Day weekend. Ben said, “Everybody is already out here!”
For some reason I think he’s actually wrong. I believe more are on the way. Hamptons rentals are at record numbers with prices on the rise. This may mean a few more boats in Gardiner’s Bay. I am sure I can deal with that.