Oak Beach Inn

In the 80s I would get on my Yamaha XS 650CC and drive out of Manhattan to Jones Beach. I’d avoid the gathering of sun-worshippers at the East Bathhouse and rode past the sand dunes bordering Ocean Parkway past West Gilgo and Cedar Beach to the Oak Beach Inn located across the inlet from the western end of Fire Island.

One sunny afternoon I rolled into the parking lot and stopped a few feet from the slanted gangplank leading into one of Long Island’s more renown bars. OBI’s bartender, Robert “Rosebud” Butt, was reputed to have been the birthplace of the Long Island Ice Tea and the freshly-opened clams from the raw bar tasted of the Atlantic. TVs showed sporting events and music videos, but the main entertainment was to sit on the outer deck and watch the comings and goings of the cigarette boats churning up the channel.

The sea was calm and the speed boats ripped up rooster tails in their wake.

Most of the yahoos minded the speed for approaching the docks, but on my second beer two old salts pointed to an approaching Scarab.

“I don’t think he’s going to slow down.” The lean man was tanned to the color of a leather couch from years on the ocean. “He’s going about 40 knots.”

“Probably his first boat.” His more portly friend leaned over to get a better view of the inlet. “He’ll get by the sand bar, but he’s gonna have trouble with the buoy.”

“No, he’ll have no trouble with it.” The thinner man scratched his chin. “Then again the current’s running a little funny. Yeah, you’re right. He’s in trouble.”

How much trouble was explained by the speedboat crashing right into the buoy, splitting the rakish bow in half.

“Doesn’t look like anyone was killed. Guess we should go out and help him.” The fat man turned to me. “You mind watching our drinks, we’ll be right back.”

“You got it.”

The two men weren’t the Coast Guard, but they were the next best thing.

They were drinkers at the Oak Beach Inn.

The location of the original club was at 40°38′23″N 73°17′10″W.

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