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A perfect sail around the Island with Broadway Joe

Around noon one day last week, Charlie Modica called to ask if I wanted to go for a quick sail on Charm, his 70-foot sailboat. I replied, “Yes,” without hesitation.

It was very last minute, and Charlie and his wife Lisa didn’t know if any of the 11 other people they invited would be able to make it.

Several other people replied “yes” as well. A couple of people hesitated at first, but came anyway. One person who was having lunch in Greenport replied “no” until she was notified with a second text that a friend of Charlie’s named Joe was coming.

As a result of the sail, many new friendships were formed.

All 14 of us, including Menantic Yacht Club members Betsy and John Colby, Tom McMahon, Jodi Sisley and daughter Nadia, along with Shelter Island Yacht Club (SIYC) members Jerry and Jean Drum, Karen Larson and Commodore Bruce Brewer and his wife Susan, met at 2:30 p.m. at the SIYC, climbed aboard and set sail.

Charlie and Lisa were gracious hosts, with Broadway Joe Namath, the special guest, acting as bartender and server. What more could anyone ask for? Commodore Brewer was at the helm and steered us about halfway around the Island.

After about an hour of sailing, Charlie realized that he’d made a gigantic faux pas, punishable by walking the plank, because he was not flying the club burgee with the Commodore on board. Up it went, and he remained high and dry. In fact, everyone who set sail also returned.

Joe Namath, a good friend of Charlie’s visiting from Jupiter, Fla., was the life of the party, joking and talking with everyone on board. He regaled some of us with stories about famous athletes he had met over the years and I wanted to say, “like you,” because he is one of the most famous of all time. I remember the 1969 Jets, the hype and the glorious win in Super Bowl III, when the 18-point underdogs beat the favored Colts, 16 to 7. 

At one point, Joe was talking about sports-related injuries, in particular traumatic head injuries. I asked a pointed question: If he had a young child, would he let that child play football? His thoughtful answer didn’t really surprise me.

Joe said he wouldn’t allow his young child to play football because of the risk of traumatic brain injuries. However, when that child reached high school, and he or she wanted to play, he would use his powers of persuasion to try and dissuade the child from playing, but would not forbid it.

Most of the guests took turns steering the boat, and as we were approaching home port some of us had a picture taken next to Joe at the helm. After sailing, Lisa and Bruce invited us for drinks and conversation at the SIYC — a perfect end to a perfect sail.