We’re already late for the pre-game festivities when we pull out of our slip in Freeport, New York. I settle in the bow. While idling out of the canal I see a sign for “Wedding Chapel,” about 50 feet from a sign that says “Knife-Throwing Lessons.” Both have the same phone number. About 30 minutes later we arrive at Zach’s Bay and meet up with several boats tied together. We swing around and see a guy with a deep tan, kicked back, wearing a faded bathing suit, who looks like he’s already had a puff or two and a few beers. I ask him if they’re staying for the concert. “Of course,” he says, breaking the state record for wide grins. He sweeps his hand toward the rest of the crew: foam parrot hats. Some foam sharks too. Barbecuing. The guys and gals average about 50 years of age, though some seem pretty young: legacy Parrotheads.
Overhead a small plane orbits, towing a banner that says LandShark Lager. It’s Buffett’s own brand, available at stores listed on his website, margaritaville.com. While you’re there, you can also purchase T’s, flip-flops, frozen concoction makers, tequila, Adirondack chairs, men’s and women’s fashions, and otherwise a healthy dose of the tropics. Oh, and when you’re traveling to Pensacola, you can make a reservation at the New Margaritaville Hotel. (Jimmy’s making a killing off Parrotheads.)
The stereos on all the boats in Zach’s have the volume cranked, and they’re playing — what else — Buffett songs.
A stereo war is going down between “Fins” and “Volcano” and a few other songs. One lyric stands out overall: “Ran into a chum with a bottle of rum…”
Buffett’s about to come on. Life is good. There’s only one problem: We can’t see the stage.