The weather was fine yesterday, and a bungalow owner’s thoughts fondly turn to plumbing. I didn’t want to spend my first day at the beach plumbing, but by the end of it I certainly wanted the water turned on. So I got out my plumbing notes and my plugs and my wrenches and the stick with the PVC fitting for the underground valve, and my neighbor T., God bless him, did not run and hide when he saw me in my plumber’s garb (oldest bleach-stained T-shirt, baggiest pants, mismatched socks, ancient red sneakers) but came over to help. He is skinny and can crawl under the house, and knows what a compression joint is (I had forgotten that the plumber loosened that connection last fall). We got the job done in record time, and T. even fired up the hot-water heater. I spent a few hours cleaning the porch and the kitchen floor and making a list of all the things I have to do (fix shower door, buy light fixtures, paint porch floor) that I can’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me for having to do, because, after all, I do own a bungalow in Rockaway. Then I treated myself to a cheeseburger and a beer and went to bed.
It rained all night, and was still drizzling this morning, but neither this nor my recent experience sailing in the Azores deterred me from taking the first opportunity to ride the new Rockaway ferry to Manhattan. It came in right on schedule at Riis Landing, where there is free parking outside the defunct Coast Guard Headquarters (I don’t know if it’s long-term parking, but I hope the Éclair is still there when I go back). The boat is beautiful. She is called the American Princess, and has a saloon inside with long tables that seat six, and an upper deck with benches under an awning, and you can stand outside and see Coney Island and the Verrazzano Bridge and container ships in the shipping lane and downtown Manhattan, all shrouded in clouds. Imagine what it’s going to be like on a nice day!
For some reason, there were many more women than men on the boat, and the women spent their time yakking away and applying makeup; the American Princess is much better equipped for vanity than the A train. The fare is six dollars (compared with two dollars for the A train). The ads say it has a bar and café, but the smell of coffee was coming only from the takeout cups that everyone except me knew enough to bring on board. I put my bag and umbrella on a seat, but I just couldn’t see confining myself to one corner of the boat, hemmed in by a suit reading the Times and a nerd navigating a BlackBerry, when I could be on deck approaching New York Harbor. I not only want to take the ferry to work: I want to work on the ferry.