Tuesday was family day at the beach, Tiana Beach on the stretch of Dune Road between Westhampton Beach and the end of the road. The weather was perfect, the beach was uncrowded, and the water was fine. Where to have dinner? There are three restaurants at the end of Dune Road as it meets Shinnecock Inlet, all offering views from Hampton Bays to Southampton. The last restaurant, Oaklands, with a lively crowd on the deck around the bar, looked most promising.
As soon as we — my husband Julius, son Alex, daughter-in-law Yan — ordered drinks, it was obvious that something extraordinary was going on there. With drink in one hand and camera in the other, I took a stroll down to the marina.
Two very big fish in a wheelbarrow filled with ice blocked my passage.
The bigger fish in the wheelbarrow, I soon learned, was a 166.5-pound Big Eye Tuna caught that day by the crew of Pleasure Sica, owned by Captain Tony Sica (center). Other friendly crew members are Richie Michna (left) and Larry Wassle (right).
They’re participating in the Hamptons Offshore Invitational Fishing Tournament, a charity event to benefit Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Long Island. Their catch put them in third place in the Big Eye Tuna division, which has a 100-lb minimum. These lucky guys are former Suffolk County Law Enforcement Officers who live in Florida in the winter and Quogue in the summer. (I forgot to ask, for the benefit of my single friends, whether all or any of them are married).
Each excursion is a two-day adventure out in 900- to 1,000-foot waters. They left again yesterday morning to see if they could beat 166.5 lbs and get higher in the rankings.
Fourth crew member Ray McDevott took good care of the catch, which included a smaller bluefin tuna. It was sold and processed nearby. Buyers include high-end restaurants and sushi chefs.
Then Tony and crew got down to work scrubbing Pleasure Sica, a 43-foot Egg Harbor Sport Fishing Craft, which is kept as immaculately clean as all the sparkling white boats in the marina.
While all that was going on, more are more boats came in to the marina. To the cheers of the appreciative crowd and the high-fives of the proud fishermen, each fish was hoisted on a scale and weighed.
The names and weights of the first-, second-, and third-place winners in each division are written on the board. Good luck Tony, Larry, Ritchie, and Ray. The contest ends tomorrow, Sunday, August 25, with a festive awards dinner.
In the meantime, the serious work of finishing drinks and ordering and enjoying dinner went on upstairs. We enjoyed tuna steak described in the menu like this:
“Red Chili Coated Tuna Steak
Yellowfin tuna dusted with an ancho chipotle chili powder, pan seared to your liking, with an avocado vinaigrette and a roasted pepper sour cream served with whipped sweet potatoes, roasted corn and black beans.”
No dessert, thank you, but the meal ended with a gorgeous sunset.