We have a handful of DealBreaker correspondents who, in addition to their usual responsibilities (reading S-1s, stalking hedge fund managers, picking the green M&Ms out of the bowl, etc) do some occasional reporting. We sent one of our more intrepid correspondents to Jersey via the "luxury" SeaStreak to chronicle the high-end commuting experience to and from Wall Street. (High-end relative to... the Staten Island Ferry.) Our correspondent reports:
SeaStreak is a high-speed catamaran that, on a daily basis, shuffles hundreds of salarymen from Manhattan to Monmouth County. At $38 round-trip, it’s one of the more cost-inefficient ways to get between Wall Street and New Jersey’s lighthouse-studded shore, and it styles itself as a luxurious commuting option. The SeaStreak ethos may be summarized by the following hypothetical exchange, reproduced on its website:
Do you go to Brooklyn?
No, we do not operate any service to Brooklyn.
Supposedly, due to its cost and trajectory, SeaStreak hosts a lot of after-hours dealmaking. Overpriced journey to unappealing destination, all for the shot at seeing a few handshakes? I’m so there.
My first feeling, on boarding, is mild dismay. It turns out that one man’s “luxurious” is another’s “floating Greyhound.” The ceiling in the main cabin is only about seven feet high; I see one tall guy who’s gone bald on top, and I can only assume it’s from rubbing his nog against the corrugated aluminum roof.
[Photographic evidence after the jump...]
I find a seat next to a guy who is reading a textbook about coastal navigation and may be on the wrong boat. The crowd is suits and the occasional skirt, slumped in attitudes ranging from exhaustion to defeat.
There is, fortunately, a bar. The scene there is lively enough, and I see a guy pretend to practice his golf swing. But given the presence of a Mets jersey and a Guinness sweatshirt, I don’t think it’s a business crowd.
I pick up a Coors Light and a list of dogs available at the Monmouth County SPCA, organized by “canine-ality,” and return to the “action.” No deals are being made. No friends are being made. Progress to New Jersey is, granted, being made, but who cares?
Being a boat, SeaStreak is a little exuberant, slapping happily along the waters of the New York Bay. Here’s the world as I see it:
It’s at about this time that I recall that the last time I was on a boat, I spent eight hours puking.
But before I can take that step, we reach our first stop, Atlantic Highlands. The departure of 98% of the people in the room has an immediate and salutary effect on my morale. I’m relaxing in the upper cabin, thinking about adopting a pit bull, when I realize that someone is spying on me:
For some idiot reason, the lone lurker takes my photographing him as a sign that I want to talk, and pops over to tell me that it’s illegal to take pictures on a boat. I dispute the premise. “I’m sure you’re probably innocent,” he says, affably, slurping from a Sex on the Beach, before saying that you can’t be too careful, because of terrorism.
I take a moment to contemplate my condition qua human being. I’m lurching towards Manhattan on a boat built in 1970, about to throw up on the institutional carpeting, reading about stray dogs, with an off-label Minuteman as my sole companion. Verdict: it’s been worse!
From a spying point of view, though, SeaStreak isn’t particularly fruitful. The nearest anyone came to a deal was a guy who said, “See ya tomorrow” to his seatmate. It may be that SeaStreak’s eminence in the field of extracurricular interfacing has only recently been subsumed by things like the JFK helicopter. But, at least in its current incarnation, this boat’s only a slightly more nauseous version of NJ Transit.