Guest Blog – The Bronxonia Yacht Club, Mr. Softee, Swans, and Uncle John’s Birthday

Editor’s Note: As a special birthday treat to honor my ‘Uncle’ John, enjoy a guest post written by my father, George Boue. Every year, he embarks on a boys-only trip up the Hudson River – and every year I find myself turning green with envy as he regales me with tales of his mishaps and experiences out on the water. Dig in, and get ready for a great northeastern adventure. Happy Birthday, Uncle John! 

The Bronxonia Yacht Club is one of those gems in the rough”that few people are fortunate to experience. Labor Day weekend found me and two family friends getting together for an annual boating adventure. The Club is a located by the Throggs Neck Bridge, and features inexpensive booze and blue-collar folk who are always willing to lend a hand – which is always needed if you own a boat.  It is truly a piece of “Americana,” and always serves as the start of our boating trips.


Mechanical concerns and the probability of floating debris from TS Irene kept us from our typical trip up the Hudson River, so we ventured to other places, including one night to LaGuardia Airport to watch the planes swoop over the boat. Afterwards, we continued cruising to the Arrow Yacht Club.

Following a couple of beers in the bar, we decided to walk the neighborhood. Danny and I were instantly brought back to our childhood in Elmhurst, Queens. College Point, also in Queens, has similar middle-class, brick and siding 2-story homes similar to those seen on King of Queens. We recollected playing games of manhunt that would encompass a whole city block, lasting for hours with all the kids in the neighborhood.

The nostalgia was heightened when we heard a familiar sound, evoking a Pavlov response. We rushed just in time to catch up with a Mr. Softee truck. It has probably been more than 20 years since I have enjoyed a Softee root beer float. What makes these special is the way you can suck-up the soft vanilla ice cream along with the root beer through the straw. It was delicious. Danny had a hot fudge sundae, and he too was brought back in time.

The top adventure was cruising down the East River on a sunny Labor Day, en route to the Statue of Liberty. Just as we passed under the Brooklyn Bridge the engine made a sudden whirring sound followed by smoke and the smell of burning rubber from the engine compartment. We were dead in the water, smack in the middle of the river with barges and ferries cruising by. We couldn’t drop anchor right away, so we let the tidal current take us further north. John was able to engage the engine in short spurts just to move us out of the way. We slowly drifted toward the Brooklyn side, eventually anchoring between the Williamsburg and Queensboro Bridges.

We had a fantastic view of Midtown, including the 23rd Street Heliport which also has seaplanes. After a comedy of phone calls with BoatUS and Sea Tow that took 3 hours, we were saved by a Bronxonia member, Richie, who towed us back to the Club. The most harrowing part of the trip (at least to John, Danny and Annie who were on the disabled boat) was navigating through Hells Gate, where multiple waterways converge to form strong currents that have sunk many a ship. Both boats swayed and rocked and I really thought the rope was going to snap. This was the biggest test of our Honey Badger theme for the trip.

But as with all our adventures and debacles we made it back safe, and added one more story to our collection. This blog is in honor of one of the nicest guys on the planet, someone who is not daunted by any setback, and who has always seen the glass as not only full, but spilling-over. Happy Birthday, John!

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Categories: Stories & Odes, Travel & Adventure

Author:Katie Boué

Katie Boué is the voice of TheMorningFresh.com - a travel lifestyle blog focusing on climbing, Airbnb life, and the outdoors.

2 Comments on “Guest Blog – The Bronxonia Yacht Club, Mr. Softee, Swans, and Uncle John’s Birthday”

  1. Tom Hansen
    September 12, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    I totally agree with the George’s comments regarding JFK, unflapable is the word that comes to mind. Three friends converge on the small community of Throggs Neck in the Bronx for their annual trip up the Hudson only to spend 2 1/2 days in the bilge of the Holiday Routine! Along with Robby and Big Paul they disassemble then re assemble the crafts’ engine, everyone including the Dr. is covered in GREASE! But alas not to dampen JFK’s spirits, off they go into the wild blue waters of NY Harbor! This is one adventure of too many to mention here that are totally unbelievable but true. More laughs that a barrel of monkeys? Hows about a boat full of honey badgers! And Annie, Mrs. JFK, is in the middle of it!

    I am truly thankful for having known John for almost 25 years, I just can’t imagine what went on during the first 25 and I hope to see the next 25!

    Tom Hansen
    Past Commodore Bronxonia Yacht Club

    • September 13, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

      Great feedback, Tom – thank you! I wish I could have been a part of this wild adventure. I guess I’ll have to keep myself occupied with the tales you all share with me (until next year, when I am shameless going to invite myself along for the ride)! John Keenan really is just an absolutely amazing man. He inspires me to kick the rules to the curb and just go for life with open arms and a wild sense of adventure.

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