Archive for July, 2012

When you’re in NYC and you go on The Shark, and you sit in the only row of seats on the boat that will take on water as if the boat is sinking, please remember that you absolutely cannot buy new underwear at The South Street Seaport.

To save you from this fate, I’m going to use my adventure as a cautionary tale – even though sharing will cost me some major street cred.

Every home town has some special attraction, the thing that every good host will take you to see, the thing that captures local flavor and you’ll always remember. Whether it’s the Baseball Hall of Fame, the biggest ball of twine or The Grand Canyon, there is always something that you must see when you’re a tourist.

Some cities, like New York, are blessed with dozens and dozens of iconic, culturally enriching, beautiful and thought-provoking tourist attractions.

The Shark is not one of these.

Though on a hot, sunny day when my friends and I decided to be “tourists in our own town” The Shark is what I picked.

The Shark is so far down on the “must see” list for any New Yorker that I bet most don’t know what it is. So I’ll tell you:  It’s a high-speed boat that leaves from The Seaport. It has shark teeth painted on its sides and it goes up to 45 mph. It zooms from its berth to the Statue of Liberty and then back east to the Brooklyn Bridge, and parks back in its home 20 minutes later.

The Shark propaganda promised a thrilling ride. I told my friends it might be bumpy. I told my friends we might get a little wet.

When the first wall of water hit us, I was sure it was a fluke. It was so much water that if not for the seat I was sitting in and the sound of the engine, I’d have been sure we were in the harbor. Water flooded my eyes and splashed like a waterfall off my knees. I used a dry square of shirt to wipe my face so I could crack my lids enough to see. My friends, shocked and soaked, were doing the same thing. Before I could check the wetness of the rest of the passengers, a wave hit us from the other side. A fluke it was not.

We spent the next few harrowing minutes trying to protect our purses – really our iPhones and shaking with laughter.

When the boat slowed on the west side to let the passengers take pictures of The Statue of Liberty (thank God we didn’t have cameras with us) we got to lift our drenched heads to look around.

Nobody else was wet. Nobody.

Some kids in the front of the boat were chanting “Get Us Wet! Get Us Wet!” but oddly, they didn’t offer to switch seats with us. We spied a few vacant seats scattered rows ahead and pushed our way into them as our new seat neighbors, all dry, looked in horror as if sitting next to the wet ones would bring the same drenching fate down on them.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. I watched the view through water spotted sunglasses, hoped the air and sun would dry me off and chuckled when a bump would send tiny specks of wind-born spray across the boat and the people next to me screamed as if someone just turned a hose on them. They had no idea.

Soaked through and still in shock, we got off the boat and did a wet waddle to seats on the dock.

The Damage Assessment: All iPhones working. One friend had just returned from Paris and her brand new, red, Paris purse (made of French leather as the sales clerk emphasized) was soaked. Her black skinny jeans, shiny when wet, could be mistaken for pleather by someone far enough away. Another friend was wearing white gauzy pants that once weighted down with water started growing. The legs had stretched six inches beyond her feet so she couldn’t help but walk them. They were stained with the street. I was in the best shape because I was wearing shorts. Nobody had a comb.

But we aren’t quitters and the day was young.

We hung in the sun waiting to dry, shifting locations on the bench, leaving butt and thigh prints in our wake to find new, dry spots so the sponge action of the wooden bench would draw water from our clothing.

But my friend’s pants weren’t getting any shorter or whiter. Our butts weren’t getting any drier. And the Seaport is full of stores.  Thirst and circumstance got us moving.

A new skirt replaced the once white pants. The clerk cut the tag off of her and put the wet pants in the store bag (which later got so soaked it broke, spilling the pants out on the sidewalk).

My friend’s “pleather” was looking more matte and what she and I really wanted, the thing that would make our day, was new and dry underwear. No luck.

We did have luck at Red, a restaurant on the cobblestone street leading into The Seaport. The people watching is excellent and the margaritas pack a punch. The food is just “eh” but hey, it’s The South Street Seaport, you can sit outside and they have margaritas.

My friends and I will always remember this day. We laughed a lot. We had a ton of fun. My clothes recovered. The French leather bounced back just like French leather should. The fate of the white pants is still unknown.

As much fun as it was, I think I can speak for my friends when I say we won’t do it again.  So here is my advice to anyone considering a ride on The Shark:

  1. Reconsider (And I’m pretty sure The Beast won’t be any different)
  2. Sit toward the front of the boat. If there’s water pooled in a seat when you first board, let that be a warning.
  3. Bring a plastic bag. Put your purse inside it. And inside of your purse, have a spare pair of underwear.
  4. Limit of 2 margaritas per person at Red.

The next time I’m a tourist in NYC, I’m going for the Staten Island Ferry. The views are amazing, the ride is free and the boat is very, very big (and splash-proof).

Staten Island Ferry with the Statue of Liberty...

Staten Island Ferry with the Statue of Liberty in the background (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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