A Shelter Island Shutdown? Get to the Ferries!

Shelter Island Ferry Strike
No more rides, suckers! Source Photo: Hance Gesell

So the U.S. government has shut down. It got me thinking, who would have that kind of power over Shelter Island? Answer: the ferries! If they went on strike they could get anything they wanted. Thank goodness they are run by different owners.

“Joe says their demands are outrageous! They want hot food and drinks delivered in the winter. They want clean, heated restrooms at the docks. They want extra money for working past midnight or when the wind chill factor is below ten degrees. Joe says that if the town gives in to these luxury demands now, the ferry workers will get soft. We gotta hold the line, Cathy!”

“You’re right, Sherry. But I gotta get to Tanger Mall to shop for three birthdays. How can I get off the island?”

“Okay Cathy, take one of the black market boats. They call themselves the ‘fare-leggers.’”

“I don’t know any of those people, do you?”

“Yes. Just after dawn, go down to the cat tails where Ram Island Road and Ram Island Drive intersect. There’s a footpath that leads to an old wooden outhouse with a moon cutout on the door. Knock three times and tell them Joe sent you. Bring 20 bucks for each way.”

“Forty bucks for a round trip? Are you crazy?”

“Look Cathy, you wanna get off the rock or not? I’ll go with you. We’ll share a cab to the mall.”

Early the next morning…

“Watch your step getting into the boat, ladies.”

“You must be making a fortune with these prices. Don’t you feel guilty, overcharging people?”

“Does somebody have a gun to your head making you go to Tanger Mall? Things cost what they cost. You want a discount? Bring me three burritos from Taco Bell.”

“I guess offering sexual favors is out.”

“I’m over 50, lady. Sex I can get, it’s a good lasagna I’m looking for. If you can cook, we can talk.”

“Well forget it. We’re not going to cook just to get a boat ride.”

“I’ll be back at five o’clock to pick you ladies up. You can only take back what you can carry. This is a Boston Whaler. It has a weight limit.”

Later that day at 5 p.m…

“Here he comes, Cathy. Move everything down to the end of the dock.”

“Oh my God, did you girls buy half the store? How many bags is that? And why do you have two microwaves?”

“There was a sale. Buy one, get one free.”

“I told you this boat has a weight limit!”

“We know, that’s why we made it back to the dock early. You haven’t had to wait for us at all.”

“I said you can only bring what you can carry! You can’t carry all these bags!”

“Well, not all at once. We each have to make two trips. But you don’t have to help us, we can carry everything.”

“A Boston Whaler can safely carry four adults and three coolers. That’s what I meant by ‘weight,’ you dingbats! How can you be Island women and not realize I can’t cross the channel with three adults, a dozen full shopping bags and two microwaves?”

“Sherry, wait, who’s coming up on that boat?”

“Hi! Do you guys need a ride to the island?”

“We’re committed to going back with him, but we’ve got too much stuff to fit in his boat.”

“I’m Judy, this is Mary, we’re ‘Sail for Sales.’ We’ll carry your packages over for 20 bucks.”


On the other hand, a ferry strike could inspire a wave of small start-up businesses on Shelter Island. On the Island, we live by the New England adage “While you’re waiting for something to turn up, start with your sleeves.”

Read more sheltered Islander here!

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