On an early fall morning, we sit sipping coffee, the sound of chickens clucking and birds chirping accompanied by light jazz floats in the air creating what one might describe as the audible equivalent of peace. From the driver’s side door of a vintage Land Rover Defender, Nick Voulgaris steps out. He’s already been working for several hours, though he looks fresh-faced as he extends a strong handshake and warm smile.
We’re at Kerber’s Farm, in Huntington, NY, a side-of-the-road farmstand that Nick transformed from a dilapidated plot of land destined for condos into a working store, restaurant and farm. The place is serene, picturesque.
If you know Nick Voulgaris, none of this will surprise you. His work ethic is unparalleled, his style can only be described as “on point,” and his passion is infectious, especially when it comes to anything that is old and in need of love.
“I think it's just something I have inside me. It wasn't something that just came to me one day. Growing up on Long Island, I had the privilege of going on these old wooden boats, and that started planting the seed,” Nick told us, as we sat in his office. Perfectly adorned with pieces of nautical history that are in some stage of restoration—an old radio direction finder from his dad's 60s-era boat, a vintage porthole from his days as an apprentice at the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol, RI. “I just love old things and preserving them. And I think that carries through into all things that I'm passionate about—my farm, my boats and my books.”
It was his books that first drew us to Nick. Back in 2014, Nick did a signing for his first book, Hinckley Yachts: An American Icon, at our Edgartown store. Though that wasn’t the first time that Nick had been drawn to us.
“In 2003 I was cruising my sailboat and stumbled into a boutique on Block Island that had this brand with a whale logo,” he told us. “It had a nautical, evocative feel. It spoke to me as a mariner, someone who loves the sea. That boutique had a whole display of vineyard vines, and I bought half a wardrobe that day.”
From there, we could tell Nick was one of us. As the sailors say, we liked the cut of his jib.
As we got in the car and made our way to the harbor, we chatted with Nick about his various projects, and one thing became very clear: whether it’s writing books, restoring boats or growing vegetables, Nick likes things that take time.
“I'm a glutton for punishment with these projects,” he says with a laugh. “From a financial standpoint, they're typically not lucrative immediately. But in the long haul, they prove to be things that bring me a lot of joy—and eventually they work out financially. But that's not the primary motive. I chased things for money, and I ended up being miserable. I worked on Wall Street. I thought that was the ticket to happiness, and for some people it is. But not for me. For me, I love rolling up my sleeves. I love creating something.”
What Nick creates is joy—whether it’s the joy of a child wandering blissfully amongst the vegetables and animals at his farm, or the joy of seeing his perfectly, painstakingly restored 1971 Alden 58, Scout, gliding beautifully across the waters of Sag Harbor Bay. It’s as though the love that Nick pours into his projects, and the happiness he gets from them, seeps out and spreads, touching all those around him.
“I love being on the water. I have to be near the water, on the water or in the water 95 percent of the time. For me, being on a sailboat, you feel the sensation of the sea,” he told us as we boarded Scout for an afternoon sail. “When you motor out of the harbor and hoist the sail, in that moment that you shut the engine off—the sails fill, and it’s just … quiet. You feel that breeze, and you hear the gentle waves going past the hull. And that forward momentum that the boat has is profound and, for me, very magical. That was how I got connected to Sag Harbor. It's the only Hampton town that really has the connection between the harbor and the downtown village. You can walk into town, get an ice cream cone, and go to the American Hotel for dinner. All those things are very special.”
For Nick, being on the water is being at home—it is comfort, happiness and joy simply for the sake of joy itself. There is no pretension, no hidden agenda, no underlying goal. There is simply the water, and the tranquility found there.
“When I wake up in the morning, I have this immense feeling of gratitude. Not everyone wakes up, so just the dawn of a new day brings me happiness. I love to have quiet time to work and reflect, whether that’s at my desk in New York City, or at the farm, or onboard Scout. I just meditate for a little while, and then I write. For me, being aware of the gifts that I have, the life I am able to live—it’s profound. And I really feel that in the morning,” he said.
“And coffee certainly helps,” he added with his trademark smile.
It’s this joy for life, this appreciation simply for the breeze and the sunrise, that carries through into everything Nick does. And it’s what keeps us excited for his next project, whatever that may be.
If you’d like to check out the farm, or pick up one of Nick’s books, head to kerbersfarm.com.