OYSTER BAY, N.Y. — At Theodore Roosevelt Park in this charming hamlet on the North Shore of Long Island, a boardwalk extends into Oyster Bay Harbor. If you stroll to the end of it and stare hard across the bay to the point, you can see Billy Joel’s estate peeking out from a stand of trees. But the main attraction on a breezy, blue-skied Wednesday afternoon wasn’t the Piano Man’s pad, it was Tiger Woods’s 90-foot yacht, Privacy, docked in the marina next to the park.
The boat, which Woods reportedly bought in 2004 for a cool $20 million, has been anchored at the Oyster Bay Marine Center for a couple of weeks, presumably serving as home base for Team Tiger as he plays in the 101st PGA Championship, at Bethpage State Park, about 15 miles south of here. We say presumably, because we have not been able to confirm who is actually sleeping on the boat. A worker at the yacht club next to the marina said Woods sightings have been infrequent. “I’m pretty sure he’s staying near the course,” he said. “We’ve only seen him one time.”
Regardless of where Woods is bunking, his yacht has been the talk of the town and a popular spot for photo-ops. The 500-ton fiberglass behemoth has three decks and room for two Seadoos. Among its other reported trappings: a gym, an elevator, an eight-person jacuzzi, even an inflatable decompression chamber. (Specs courtesy of the good folks at superyachtfan.com.) You can see none of these features from the public boardwalk a couple of hundred yards away, but that didn’t stop curious observers from ogling on Wednesday afternoon.
“I respect his privacy, but I would love to see what it looks like inside,” said C.J. Elmessaoudi, a chef who stopped to Snapchat a few photos of the boat on her way home from work. “It’s beautiful, like a mini floating house.”
Earlier in the week Elmessaoudi’s commuting views had been impeded by inclement weather. “Today, I just turned and I saw this big giant yacht right there, and I said I’m going to take a peek,” she said.
It’s rare to see a boat of this scale in this marina, especially this time of year. “You see bigger yachts around the holidays, or out east at Claudio’s,” Elmessaoudi said, referring to the iconic restaurant and marina on the North Fork. “This is definitely a big deal. I’m just wondering if he’s going into town and venturing into the restaurants and such.”
Perhaps Elmessaoudi didn’t note the name of the boat.
Brad Launer, who got his first glimpse of Woods at the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage, pedaled down to the park Wednesday with his two sons, Griffin, 9, and Nolan, 6. This was their second visit but that didn’t stop them from parking their bikes and posing for more photos in front of the cruiser. Launer learned that Privacy was in town via some snaps that were circulating on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. As it happened, that same day a video surfaced of Billy Joel and his buddy Jay Leno wheeling around town in an old-timey car. Oyster Bay was having a bit of moment.
“There was lots of buzz among our friends about how all of this was good for the town,” Launer said.
Good for the marina, too — not that its staff was willing to divulge much information about their superstar tenant. “We’re on a strict mum’s the word,” said a gentleman at the desk who had just sold a customer a bottle of boat wax. “But honestly I haven’t even seen him.”
Is he staying on the boat?
“We don’t know.”
The only obvious sign of anything golfy on the premises was a PGA Championship courtesy vehicle in the parking lot.
Back on the boardwalk, bird-watching enthusiast Shelly Dougherty and her husband Bill, in town from Chicago, were inspecting the boat with a set of binoculars. They had come to the park in search of terns, cormorants and long-tailed ducks but couldn’t resist scoping out at the yacht after hearing who owned it. Shelly said she spotted what appeared to be a paddleboard on the top deck, but, alas, no sign of the jacuzzi. She also saw a staffer in a hoodie cleaning the windows on the starboard side of the ship.
This had to be more fun than birding.
“I’m not so sure,” Shelly said.