Growing up, restaurateur Robin Mueller always had fond memories out on the water. “Ever since my childhood, where I spent my summers on my grandfather’s converted fishing schooner, I have had a passion for classic old boats,” the Green Hill Hospitality owner said. As he expanded his footprint in Greenport, opening Green Hill Kitchen and Anker across from one another on Front Street, he also had constant exposure to the village’s many classic wooden boats.
Now Mueller has combined his two passions by renovating a vintage 1957 yacht and opening Green Hill Charters, which offers cruises in North Fork waters that can be catered by either of the restaurants.
“We offer our guests various options when it comes to catering from either of our restaurants,” he said. “Fans of our BBQ tend to order our BBQ kits, which we deliver to the boat in an insulated box.” The food is cooked and prepared in the restaurant and served aboard, optionally with a culinary crew member “to cater to our guests’ every wish and prepare and serve all.”
Back in 2018, Mueller found a boat online that he thought could work as a charter.
“By total coincidence, I stumbled across an online listing for a classic 1957 Yacht, located in a shed in a navy yard near Buffalo,” he said. After sending a crew from ELH Marine Services upstate to check it out, the boat made the 660 mile journey down through the Erie Barge Canal, the Hudson River and eventually the Sound. What then followed was a laundry list of refurbishments to get the boat into perfect shape.
“The boat was in remarkable shape given its age,” Mueller said. “So far, we have put in over 1,100 man hours, completely stripping all exterior surfaces, resealing every single plank, repainting, revarnishing, rewiring, reflooring. It’s an endless list.”
Green Hill Charters opened for business last season on a smaller scale, but is now open for cruises of up to six people.
“We have streamlined the operational side of things and are now able to offer different cruise options for our guests,” he said. The North Star, the name of the boat, offers four different cruise options with prices starting at $900 — a half day cruise, a full day cruise, a sunset cruise and, thanks to a partnership with the East End Seaport Museum, a private tour to Bug Light.
Charters primarily leave out of Greenport, but arrangements can also be made to pick up or drop off in Sag Harbor, Montauk or Connecticut for a 15 percent fuel surcharge and docking fee, if applicable.
“Cruises include trips around Shelter Island, exploring various secret swimming spots, or drop offs at any of our or our partner restaurants, SALT, Duryeas and Navy Beach,” Mueller said.
Despite the work, Mueller says adding a charter cruise company to his list of local businesses was a rewarding way to help continue Greenport’s maritime tradition. “At the time, it sounded like such a simple idea: find an old boat, make it look nice and make all the money spent back in no time,” he said. “Well, I quickly learned that you have to be a special kind of crazy to own a wooden boat. But she is truly a labor of love, and I can’t wait to get others as excited about this 1957 beauty and help preserve a small part of Greenport’s rich history with wooden boats.”