Here’s a good reason to visit Rockaway one last time before the beach closes for the season on Sunday: Toss back a few beers and you’ll be helping some fine folks bounce back from a devastating fire that burned down several houseboats at a local marina.
Around 3 a.m. on Tuesday, an all-hands fire tore through Marina 59, off of Beach 59th Street. According to Rob Bryn, a bartender at Rippers and member of the band Wild Yaks, the fire started on the Queen Zenobia, a 30-foot yacht that was once part of the Boatel complex of rentable houseboats.
Bryn posted on Instagram that he lost “pretty much everything” as the fire spread to his boat: “3 guitars, my computer, my phone, my eyeglasses, all my boat shoes and crocs, my purple baseball cap. And all the cash I managed to save bartending 5 days a week all summer long.”
most of you in Rockaway must already know – there was a fire in Marina 59 last night. It started on Queen Zenobia, the boat next to mine. I was roused from a half sleep by flashing orange lights through the window above my bed. When I came out onto the dock Queen Zenobia was already well on fire. I didn’t know what to do. I picked up a hose and start spraying water which was totally ineffectual. Also yelling and screaming. I was the only one awake and the only person on the dock. It’s a tremendous consolation to me that I was awake and yelling and waking other people up. Although 5 boats would sink and Matt and Clara’s boat would be pretty much totally destroyed but somehow remain afloat, no one was hurt and everybody in the marina is safe and sound I lost pretty much everything I own, 3 guitars, my computer, my phone, my eyeglasses, all my boat shoes and crocs, my purple baseball cap. And all the cash I managed to save bartending 5 days a week all summer long. I’ve had a pretty lonely and miserable summer but have many times kept my spirit up, counting my monies alone at night like a Scrooge Gollum creature, dreaming of winter travel and escape. John Hoppin, the blue Faggin bicycle finally met its end. I saw it before the boat sank sometime this morning. All that was left was the frame. Everything else had melted away and all the beautiful blue paint was gone. I am haunted by how else I might have used the few minutes I had. Running onto the boat to at least save my money. Or cutting the dock lines and pushing the boat away. I wasn’t wearing a knife. I hope to have a phone again soon
Among the other victims were Matt Blance, co-owner of boardwalk ice cream stand CitySticks, and his girlfriend Clara Leonard, a hairstylist. “Although 5 boats would sink and Matt and Clara’s boat would be pretty much totally destroyed but somehow remain afloat, no one was hurt and everybody in the marina is safe and sound,” Bryn wrote.
On Instagram, Leonard wrote that no one was home on their friend’s boat when the fire broke out there. “No one knows how it started,” she said, adding that strong winds from tropical storm Hermine caused the flames to spread to other boats and wipe out many of her belongings. “Marina 59 was a really special to us and a lot of people and I’m devastated to see this happen to our community here,” she wrote.
I’m sure many of you have heard by now. The past two summers my boyfriend Matt and I have lived on a houseboat on Marina 59 in Rockaway beach, NY. Really early Tuesday morning our dear friend’s boat caught on fire, no one was home fortunately and no one knows how it started. The winds from the “tropical storm” Hermine made the fire spread so quickly that it caught the six boats around it including ours on fire. The other five boats immediately sank, ours somehow didn’t completely sink, not that it matters because everything on the boat was destroyed by the fire. No one was physically injured. Marina 59 was a really special to us and a lot of people and I’m devastated to see this happen to our community here. Our boat, “Irene” was our first home together. I had taken all my work stuff and some clothes to Brooklyn that day. Other then that we lost everything else. Matt somehow managed to grab his backpack with his computer and passport. He also managed to wake up and get off the boat thanks to our friends on the dock. But we lost everything else. It’s too hard to even think about everything that’s gone because at the end of the day it’s just stuff. Also thanks to everyone for reaching out and all the amazing support we’ve received over the past couple days.
A photo posted by Clara Leonard (@claraleopard) on
Already, a Gofundme page has raised over $6,700 for Bryn, and another one has raised over $1,200 for Blance and Leonard. In addition, Rippers has announced that it’s selling a special “RoBrew” draft named after Bryn. A dollar for every one sold will “go towards getting things back in order for this extraordinarily special man,” the boardwalk burger stand wrote on Instagram today. (Rippers will be open daily through the end of the month, by the way.)
Our dear friend and co-worker @rob_bryn had a crazy shitty thing happen to him, if you haven’t heard. The boat he was living on burned and sank in of matter of minutes with all his worldly belongings. In a meager attempt to help Rob re-coup some cash to get his life back together, we’re doing what we do best, selling ice cold beer! All weekend long, starting today, we’ve got a special draft on hand, RoBrew, which Rob himself has blessed and whispered sweet nothings into. A dollar of every RoBrew we sell will go towards getting things back in order for this extraordinarily special man. So please, come by and taste the man for yourself.
A photo posted by Rippers Rockaway Beach (@rippers86) on
Edgemere Farm, an urban farm and market not far from the marina, named Cody Sprague, an employee of Brothers on the boardwalk, as another victim of the “freak fire,” and noted that most of the lost boats had been “permanently occupied by residents of the community.” (Over the years, some of the marina’s artfully designed boats, like the SS James Franco, have popped up on sites like Airbnb. One of them, the Ziggy Stardust, sunk in July due to what its captain, Ben “Dr. Klaw” Sargent, said was a “bad group of renters.”)
This week’s installment of Edgemere Farm’s Saturday brunch series, from 10am to 2pm, will double as a fundraiser for the victims, with drinks and live music. So get on over there and help out the folks who’ve been feeding and pouring for you all summer.
Update: The boardwalk location of Caracas is offering a Help Cody arepa made with kimchee, microgreens, sweet plantains, tomato and avocado. Profits from the $9 arepas go to Brothers employee Cody Sprague. Caracas is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 11am to 9pm, through October 2.