SAILING | Braving the sound in wintry weather

sailing gear
Gear you’ll want should you be brave enough to undertake winter sailing, as our newest correspondent, Edward Briganti, has.

Edward Briganti Contributing Writer

If you’re a New Yorker (or live anywhere on the eastern seaboard for that matter), you know we’re coming off what’s proved to have been a long winter. As a lifelong sailor, however, I long ago swore off heading out on the water between October and late April unless it was in warmer climes. But after New York’s fourth major snowstorm, I was driven from my cramped, stuffy, over-heated apartment into the outdoors. I have begun “Frostbiting,” as winter sailing in New England is known, on Sundays at Larchmont Yacht Club. It’s amazing how “up” life can look just by spending a few hours in the sun, even if it’s 40 degrees.

On the other side, winter sailing can be a brutally cold and miserable affair — the water is a hypothermic 36 degrees — so cold the floor of the cockpit gets chilly and forms ice inside the boat as you sail; there is more wind and it is shiftier and puffier and more unpredictable than in the summertime — all increasing the dreaded threat of a capsize. The fear of capsizing, however, is what also makes winter sailing so exciting. It’s healthy for the soul to scare the crap out of yourself every now and again. Winter sailing can also be some of the most strategically rewarding and visually appealing sailing there is. The light refracts off the water in a crisper, clearer way and the lack of boat traffic creates smooth waters. When it’s good, there’s often nothing better, so it is critical that outdoor sportsman dress appropriately for the conditions. Below is a summary of the gear I use, love, and recommend. All are based on two key and reinforcing themes: warmth and moisture transfer.

My take on gear is that you pretty much get what you pay for and cheap can be expensive. I take a long-term investment approach to my gear: if you buy the good stuff, it will perform better, longer. While it is recommended that anybody recreating in waters colder than 50 degrees wear a drysuit, it is not mandatory. For the sake of comfort, I use my Gore-Tex and capilene based offshore foul weather gear as my winter sailing attire.

1. Top: Musto MPX Gore-Text Race Smock: My top layer has an active cut, room for layering, articulated elbows and underarms for ease of movement. I like the smooth non-abrasive stretch neck seals with Velcro adjustment, side opening neck with waterproof gusset, and Velcro adjustable neoprene waistband. Side pockets with water resistant zips stash granola bars or a beanie on warm days. The waterproof coating keeps me dry.

2. Bottoms: Musto MPX Offshore Trousers: I lived in these bibs for 4 sultry days in the Gulf Stream on the way to Bermuda during the 2008 Newport Bermuda Race. The 500 denier Cordura seat & knee patches resist abrasion while hiking and moving around the cockpit. There’s plenty of room for layering. The multi-tool sheath stores my Gerber multi-tool. My favorite feature is the 2-way zip, which allows one to relieve oneself over the side without having to derobe.

3. Boots: Shamrock Stretch Boot by Dubarry of Ireland: Cozy feet are happy feet and happy feet make for a good sailor. These boots are gore-tex lined and incredibly comfortable. There’s enough room to fit a Little Hotties toe warmer inside as well. Some people think it’s cool to
wear these boots around town. Don’t. These boots will save your life, so treat those award-winning slip resistant soles with respect and have a pair of sneakers to change into when you’re
back on the dock before you reach the pavement.

4. Lifejacket: Lotus Designs PFD: This was my lifejacket from college sailing. I picked it up on a five-finger discount from the Lost & Found at the yacht club after watching it go unclaimed for an entire summer. The low profile/flak-jacket look is key to keep the things flow. The utility pocket on the front carries your knife, lip balm, granola bar, and beer koozie.

5. Gloves: Atlas Thermal Fit gardening gloves: Yes gardening gloves. Sold individually and preferred by sailors who always seem to lose just one glove. Much cheaper than brand-name sailing-specific gloves, just as warm, and in many cases more functional.

6. Sunglasses: Haber Vision Kenais: A bunch of ex Bollé guys got together and produced a gnarly line of polarized shades at value prices. The full coverage blocks out glare, and the polarized rose-colored lenses allow you to spot that lefty shift coming down the course from 300 yards

7. Hat: Patagonia Beanie: Crews might prefer a thicker wool hat, but as a skipper, I often get warm when I’m in the thick of racing.

8. Fleece Sweater: Patagonia R2 Jacket: This piece will essentially be your mid-layer between your smock and you base underwear. It is super light, super compressible, breathable, and heck, the U.S. Marines even use this jacket (have yet to find the special issue tan and olive drab), it must be good! The softly lined inner collar is where it’s at.

9. Fleece Pants: Patagonia R1 Pant: Similar to the R2 jacket but for your legs. Could get a little warm on the more mild days, if so, drop down to full-length capilene tights.

10. Wicking Undershirt: Patagonia Capilene: No cotton t-shirts in here. We wick and we stay warm and dry. Not much more to say here.

11. Wicking Underwear: Patagonia Active Boxers: The outdoor sportsman can’t have enough pairs of this wicking boxer short.

12. Socks: Patagonia Mid-weight Hiking Socks: If it seems like I’m obsessed with Patagonia, I am. They make good stuff and I believe that pretty much all others are just imitations. In all practicality though, you need a warm sock for frostbiting but it’s important that your sock not be a thick one. In the event you end up in the water and your boots fill up, you need to be able to kick them off easily. While this is an extreme situation, in reality, the Dubarry’s seem to fit better with a thinner sock.

13. Multi-tool: Gerber: The icon on this tool is a sword in a stone. I’ve had this tool since high, school and it has truly been my Excalibur. The quick deploy needle-nose pliers are a big help in clasping cold ring dings and adjusting shroud tension.

14. Knife: Boye Boatknife: A multi-tool AND a knife you say? What for? Well, the Gerber is your toolbox in a sheath for all the nuts, bolts, ring dings, pins, and other misc. hardware on the boat that might require attention. Yes the Gerber has a blade, but every sailor worth his salt knows a knife is really for personal safety. When things get rough and that line needs to be cut to free yourself or your crew from danger, you need a blade that will deploy quickly, cut inch-thick line like butter, and it’s dendritic cobalt so it won’t rust in the saltwater environment. For that you choose Boye.

15. Activated Warmers: Little Hotties:
It might seem like cheating with all this gear to use these little suckers but when it’s cold out, you’ll be glad to have them. Who said you have to suffer and be uncomfortable?! Enjoy some creature comforts and stuff yourself (especially crews) with these activated charcoal warmers.

16. Neck gaiter: Buff Original: Some people like the fleece ski neck gaiter, I prefer the lower profile, climate controlled Buff. The fish scale pattern lets the competition know I’m serious.

HOUSES | An Alpine-style 1960s beauty in Mount Kisco

67grandview67 Grandview Drive in Mount Kisco, our new home.

We’ve taken plunge. My long silence here can be attributed to our recent purchase of a home in Mount Kisco. Mrs. F and I have been completely consumed by the improvements we’re making at 67 Grandview Drive.

The house, built in 1963, is an Alpine-style raised ranch. To be honest, it’s not what I thought we’d end up with. I had visions of us in the classic Westchester starter: a pre-1930, three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath that was either colonial revival or Tudor in style. Mrs. F. is owed the credit for finding this house and having the vision to see it through. What she saw immediately and I see now was a very interesting interpretation of our style: There are houses quite a bit like this in our beloved Lake Placid and we love the 1960s. So there you have it.

Though the place was an aesthetic mess on the inside — the exterior isn’t perfect either; stucco was carried across three sides of the first level but not on the facade — it had, as the cliche goes, good bones. The kitchen cabinets were solid, the floors were fine and the utilities were in good order. The lot is adequate and provides an ample back yard space. The best features, we think, are the collection of evergreens that screen the house from neighbors and provide an Adirondack illusion.

Since taking possession on March 9, we’ve set about correcting the interior deficiencies. Electrical service has been upgraded. Painting and floor restoration are under way. We cleaned up the Scheirich kitchen cabinets and are in the decide-and-purchase phases of ordering new countertops and new appliances. The bathrooms, one sky blue and one mauve, will wait, as will replacements for the aluminum-frame windows.

You can follow our progress at a special Tumblr blog I’ve created to track our improvements.

And here’s a Flickr set with more photos than you’ll ever need to see.

WHEELS | 1950 Crosley Hotshot roadster

CrosleyHotshotFormer New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s 1950 Crosley Hotshot roadster, left, on display in the Coach Barn at Kykuit.

Last fall, as I wrote here, Mrs. F. and I spent a very nice afternoon at Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate in Sleepy Hollow. Among the many treasures there are Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s extensive car collection. Displayed alongside the massive midcentury behemoths the governor used while in office is a 1950 Crosley Hotshot roadster.

The car, a charmingly-designed convertible that looks more like a dune-buggy than anything else, was first introduced in 1949. Rockefeller’s is a 1950 model. Time magazine has called the 1,100-pound, 149-inch car one of the worst cars of all time, writing:

What killed the Hotshot was its engine, a dual-overhead cam .75-liter four cylinder, not cast in iron but brazed together from pieces of stamped tin. When these brazed welds let go, as they often did, things quickly got noisy, and hot.

The Hotshot was manufactured until Crosley Motors ceased to be in 1952. The company had been founded in 1939 by Cincinnati industrialist Powel Crosley, who made his fortune manufacturing radios and owned the Cincinnati Reds. With the help of his brother, Lewis, he launched Crosley Motors in 1939. The cars enjoyed some popularity during World War II as they were relatively fuel efficient. After the war’s end, the line expanded to include sedans, wagons, coupes and roadsters. At its peak, in 1948, the company sold nearly 25,000 vehicles manufactured at two plants in Indiana and one in Ohio.

Crosley owners included Omar Bradley, Humphrey Bogart, Pamela Harriman, Gloria Swanson, Frank Lloyd Wright and Rockefeller.

GREAT HOUSES | Kykuit, seat of the Rockefellers

KykuitKykuit, the epic seat of the Rockefellers in Pocantico Hills.

“It’s what God would have built, if only He had the money.”

At the peak of the Hudson Valley fall, Mrs. F. indulged me and agreed to spend the better part of an October Saturday touring Kykuit, the Rockefeller seat in Pocantico Hills.

The estate, owned by New York’s first family since 1893, is a sprawling compound that sits high above the Hudson and the villages of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown. Its apex is a forty-room classical revival manor house that was home first to John D. Rockefeller Sr. and subsequently by his son, John D. Rockefeller Jr., and his grandson, Nelson A. Rockefeller, storied governor of New York and the 41st vice president of the United States.

Work on the mansion’s first form took six years to complete. The house’s final rendering was completed by Junior in 1913 with architecture from Chester Holmes Aldrich and William Adams Delano. The six-story structure includes two basement levels. The gracious interiors, which I found remarkable for their simplicity, were designed by Ogden Codman Jr., who co-authored the seminal Decoration of Houses with Edith Wharton in 1898.

Elsewhere on the estate, called the Park, are the homes of David Rockefeller, Happy Rockefeller, and a massive Tudor-revival Playhouse that’s still used as a club house by the Rockefeller. A nine-hole golf course, a massive orangerie and a multi-story Coach Barn and about 70 other outbuildings and houses round the Park out. The landscaping is as remarkable as the manorhouse and the other structures. Initially begun by the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, the work was completed by William Welles Bosworth, who designed the extensive terraces, fountains and gardens that surround the house.

HappyHappy Rockefeller plays with her son, Nelson Rockefeller Jr., in a fountain at Kykuit in 1965. This image was taken by epic LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Though the grand setting is itself worthy of a visit, Nelson Rockefeller’s extensive art collection is the real gem at Kykuit. A roster of artists whose works adorn Kykuit is too long for inclusion here, but the Governor’s subterranean galleries, which feature some of the best artists of the 20th century, are among the finest I’ve ever visited. Warhol, Picasso and Calder are all accounted for. The Governor also interspersed a vast collection of sculpture on the property.

As if that weren’t all terribly charming, there’s a fantastic collection of Rockefeller automobiles, carriages and coaches in the Coach barn. Among these are the Governor’s 1949 Crosley Hot Shot and several Lincolns he used during his four terms as New York’s chief executive.

The Park is a frequent cultural reference; the Governor’s May 4, 1963 marriage to Happy Rockefeller was mentioned during the third season of “Mad Men.”

Tours of the home are conducted seasonally, from the beginning of May to the beginning of November. The 2011 season opens Sunday, May 8. While the home is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, tours are run by Historic Hudson Valley, a network of historic Hudson Valley homes that was founded in 1951 by Junior. Tickets should be purchased in advance and tours start out from the adjacent Phillipsburg Manor.

Here’s a gallery from our trip:

Kykuit — Historick Hudson Valley
(914) 631-8200 Monday through Friday or (914) 631-3992 on weekends
Pocantico Hills, New York.

MAPS | The Old New York of ‘Mad Men’ (Updated)

View ‘Mad Men’ environs in a larger map

Season Four updates appended below.

Some weeks ago, I asked a couple of good friends who are devoted ‘Mad Men’ fans for some help in identifying Old New York icons referred to in the AMC drama, the fourth season of which premiers on Sunday. The idea was to build a Google map to complement the excellent map put together by the staff of The Journal News, which details the Westchester County references on the show.

We came up with a fairly short list: Keen’s, the Waldorf, the Oyster Bar, P.J. Clarke’s, Tiffany’s and a number of hotels and department stores. I started watching shows from the previous seasons and came up with a few more. Then, early this week, I spent some time mining Basket of Kisses, an excellent blog run by Deborah and Roberta Lipp. They’ve got a catalog of cultural references for each episode that I believe to be nearly complete. Armed with data assembled there, my Google map filled out quite nicely.

I won’t bother listing all the locations, save for those which are marked only by addresses. Here’s that group, accompanied by explanations:

405 Madison Ave.: The headquarters of Sterling Cooper
152 Riverside Drive: Freddy Rumsen’s apartment
995 Fifth Avenue: Stanhope Hotel
767 5th Avenue: Savoy-Plaza Hotel
335 Madison Avenue: Biltmore Hotel
5th Avenue and 56th Street: Bonwit Teller
116 MacDougal Street: Gaslight Cafe
33 W. 52nd Street: Toots Shor
3 East 53rd Street: The Stork Club
8 Whipoorwill Road, Chappaqua: Henry Francis home
Park Avenue and 83st street: Pete and Trudy Campbell’s apartment
42 West 12th St.: Joan Holloway’s apartment

Season Four, Episode 1: ‘Public Relations’
Time-Life Building: 51st Street and Avenue of the Americas
Waverly Place and 6th Avenue: Don’s new apartment
Jimmy’s LaGrange: 151 East 49th St., detailed here.
Hotel Barbizon: 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue
Griswold Inn: Essex, Conn.

Season Four, Episode 2: ‘Christmas Comes But Once a Year’
Chumley’s: 86 Bedford St.
White Horse Tavern: 567 Hudson St.
St. Vincent’s Hospital: 275 8th Ave.
Hotel Elysee: 60 East 54th St.
First Baptist Church: 71st Street and Broadway

Season Four, Episode 3: ‘The Good News’
The Brown Derby: Los Angeles, Calif.
City College: 160 Convent Ave.
University of California: Berkeley, Calif.
Santa Catalina Island, Calif.
Barnard College: 116th Street and Broadway

Season Four, Episode 4: ‘The Rejected’

Jim Downey’s Steakhouse: 8th Avenue and 44th Street
Washington Market: Meatpacking District
Audubon Ballroom (Site of Malcom X’s assassination): 3940 Broadway

Season 4, Episode 5: ‘The Chrysanthemum and the Sword’
Playland Amusement Park: Rye, New York
Benihana: 47 West 56th St.
Staten Island Ferry: Whitehall Terminal, South Ferry
104 Waverly Place: Don’s address
Deerfield Academy: Pete Campbell’s alma mater
Asia Society: 725 Park Ave.

Season 4, Episode 6: ‘Waldorf Stories’
Heller’s Luxury Furs: 246 Seventh Ave.
Pen and Pencil: 205 E. 45th St.

Season 4, Episode 7: ‘The Suitcase’
The Palm: 837 2nd Ave.
Forum of the Twelve Casears: 57 West 48th St. (Now A.J. Maxwell’s)
Keen’s (previously mentioned in Season 3): 72 West 36th St.

Season 4, Episode 8: ‘The Summer Man’
New York Athletic Club: 180 Central Park South
Barbetta: 321 West 46th St.

Season 4, Episode 9: ‘The Beautiful Girls’
University Club: 1 West 54th St.
Frank E. Campbell: 1076 Madison Ave.

Season 4, Episode 10: ‘Hands and Knees’
Shea Stadium
Playboy Club: 5 East 59th St.
Warwick Hotel: 65 West 54th St.

Season 4, Episode 11: ‘Chinese Wall’
Jones Beach
Hotel Statler (today’s Hotel Pennsylvania): 401 7th Ave.
River Club: 447 East 52nd St.

What are we missing?

CLIP | ‘The Chrysanthemum and the Sword’

GREAT HOUSES | A pair of homes for Cheever or Draper in Ossining

Ossining. The home of the ficitional Don Draper and of fiction creator extraordinaire John Cheever, it’s been in the news a good deal this week as the nation awaits the premier of the fourth season of “Mad Men.”

The Journal News, the paper for the northern suburbs, talked with Ossining residents about the drama’s references to their environs. Peter Applebome, in his Our Towns column today in the Times, wondered why the Drapers weren’t living in one of Westchester’s more southern, tonier suburbs like Rye or Larchmont. The most obvious reason Don and Betty live in the northern river town, Applebome concludes, is a bow to John Cheever, who called an old farmhouse off Cedar Lane home for three decades.

Draper residence, real and imagined
The question as to why the Drapers live in Ossining has puzzled me and other fans of the show ( contributing writer Will Briganti thinks “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner’s choice of Ossining is a bad inaccuracy) for some time. Earlier this week, I went in search of Draperesque real estate in Ossining in an effort to prove Weiner wrong.

Of course there are beautiful properties in and around Ossining, just as there are up and down the Hudson Valley. I didn’t expect, though, to find a doppelganger for the Draper’s house at the fictional address of 42 Bullet Park Road. Take a look:


And here’s the Pasadena home used on the show:


Sure, there are slight exterior differences — the Pasadena house is all clapboard and has an Arts-and-Crafts influenced roof pitch — but they’re still both center-hall colonials. The former, located in Scarborough, just south of the village of Ossining, is on offer from Houlihan-Lawrence for $839,000. Built in 1936, the house’s exteriors appear as updated versions of Betty Draper’s. There’s even a knotty-pine paneled den:


More pictures in the gallery below.

Living a Cheeverian lifestyle
Two-and-a-half miles northeast of John Cheever’s Ossining home is another old farmhouse that was updated in the 20th century. It’s also on offer from Houlihan-Lawrence and can be had for the asking price of $699,000. The property, once the home of a “world-renowned artist and sculptor,” features a pool, an exterior garage and a barn. It’s glorious, frankly, and were it not just a little north and just a bit out of our price range, Mrs. F. and I have agreed we’d be very interested.

Cheever’s house, which we’ve driven by in the past, is also an old farmhouse, but the property doesn’t appear to be as large as the one on Croton Dam Road. When I first saw the listing for the latter, I was sure it was Cheever’s place, but it’s not. Here’s a look:


And here’s a gallery of photos from both houses:

Images courtesy of Houlihan-Lawrence.

TELEVISION | ‘Mad Men’ Season 4 previewed

Everyone and their uncle — including the President — are counting the days until Don Draper and Co. drop in for their annual visit. Anticipating their return, major media outlets have started to preview the fourth season of ‘Mad Men,’ which premieres at 10 p.m. Sunday, July 25 on AMC.

The New York Times
Television critic Alessandra Stanley’s detailed preview fronts the Sunday Arts and Leisure section this weekend. Stanley’s report is the most detailed and revealing I’ve yet read. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce — the agency formed in December 1963 when Don Draper, Roger Sterling, Bert Cooper and Lane Pryce broke away on news that McCann Erickson had acquired Putnam, Powell and Lowe and Sterling Cooper — is apparently off to a start, if not a running start. December 1964, when the action gets under way, finds the agency struggling to secure accounts, per Stanley’s report. Don is living in Greenwich Village while Betty Draper is now Betty Francis. Fans who tired of the Drapers’ marital discord and collapse will be happy, Stanley writes, as much of this season is firmly focused on the struggles of the new agency.

USA Today
Bill Keveney talks with the cast, who promise a season full of changes and challenges for their characters. Keveney’s preview has fewer clues than Stanley’s, but a set of cast interviews, presented in a sidebar, are well worth a read.

The Journal News
Westchester County’s daily paper carries a locally-oriented season preview that includes a map of local points of interest referenced over the past three season. Folks in Ossining speculate with culture writer Chris Serico on what season 4 has in store for the cast; there’s a map from artist Chris Brown; and Liz Johnson, the paper’s award-winning food editor, offers tips on how to throw a party Betty’d be jealous of. Also, be sure to check out this interactive map, which debuted last summer but has been updated.

Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times, in a preview piece published Thursday, probes the top 10 mysteries its writers hope are addressed in Season 4. Among these are: What happened to Peggy and Pete’s baby? Why didn’t Greg Harris land that residency at St. Luke’s? Did Paul Kinsey dump Joan?

New York Post
The Post takes a look at the three female leads — Betty, Joan and Peggy — and how the women of today relate to these archetypal 1960s characters.

As I come across more reviews and previews, I’ll post them here.

COCKTAILS | Planter’s Punch, emperor of rum cocktails

PlantersPunchA recently-consumed and much appreciated Planter’s Punch, enjoyed aboard a friend’s boat on the Long Island Sound off Rye.

Ten years ago, I set off for a 10-day adventure with good friends Johnny and Sean. Besides getting epic sunburns and a good bit of sailing and boating in, we predictably did a bit of drinking.

If we had to pick one cocktail to sum the trip up, it would have to be the Pain Killer, concocted expertly by the bartender at the Colonna Resort, where we stayed. Another, equally enjoyed, was Planter’s Punch.

A complicated stew of rum, curacao, syrup and juices, it’s a perfect remedy for steamy days like those we’ve enjoyed in Cheever Country of late. I enjoyed one during a sunset cruise aboard a friend’s boat a week or so ago. It was glorious.

Mrs. F. and I are going to try to reprise the cocktails this weekend with this recipe from cocktail maestro Dale DeGroff:

• 5 oz. Dark Rum
• 5 oz. Light Rum
• 3 oz. Orange Curacao
• 6 oz. Fresh Orange Juice
• 6 oz. Pineapple Juice
• 3 oz. Simple Syrup
• 3 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
• 3 oz. of Grenadine
• 1 tablespoon Angostura Bitters

Mix all ingredients together in a large pitcher. To serve shake the drinks individually in a cocktail shaker with ice and a goblet filled 3/4 with ice. Garnish with pineapple orange and lime slices. Yields 1 liter and serves 6.

TRAILER | ‘The Swimmer,’ 1968

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