Sailor Slang: What does it mean to “Meet In Snug Harbor”?

Snug Harbor Music Hall
An 686-seat Greek Revival auditorium at Snug Harbor. Today the Music Hall hosts performing arts. It is the second-oldest music hall in New York City, having opened in July 1892 with a performance of a cantata.

Often times mariners are heard joking to each other that “They will meet up again in Snug Harbor“.  What does this mean?

Well, Snug Harbor is a 83-acre park along the Kill Van Kull on the north shore of Staten Island (New York City) that once was a home for retired and disabled sailors.

A Brief History Of Snug Harbor

The Shantyman, Kindle Edition by Rick Spilman
Related Book: The Shantyman, Kindle Edition by Rick Spilman

The will of Captain Robert Richard Randall who died on June 5, 1801-four days after he signed his will- directed that the proceeds of his estate be put in a trust and used to build upon his farm (Minto Farm) “an asylum, or Marine Hospital to maintain and to support aged, decrepit, and worn-out sailors”. The will ordered that this “Sailors’ Snug Harbor” be governed ‘forever’ by eight of New York’s most important men. Thomas Randall, his father, died in 1797 and his will left Minto Farm to his son Robert who had been living there since 1790.

Legend says that Alexander Hamilton and his assistant, Daniel D. Tomkins (who later became the fifth governor of New York and the sixth Vice President of the United States) were the authors of Robert Richard Randall’s will, but others say the will reflected the dream of the father. Although there is evidence that Randall’s friends called him ‘Captain’, there isn’t viable information that Captain Robert Richard Randall actually served at sea.

Sailors’ Snug Harbor finally opened in 1833, the country’s first home for retired merchant seamen. It began with a single building, now the centerpiece in the row of five Greek Revival temple-like buildings on the New Brighton waterfront.  From 1867 to 1884, Captain Thomas Melville, a retired sea captain and brother of Moby-Dick author Herman Melville, was governor of Snug Harbor.

Sung Harbor housed retired mariners in New York until 1976, when it moved residents to North Carolina but in 2005 that facility was closed.  

Snug Harbor Today

While Snug Harbor no longer operates a retirement home, the parent organization still assists today.

In 2009 it became clear that in order to assure perpetuity of the Trust and to continue to assist eligible mariners-most through their death-it was necessary to change how much a mariner could receive in assistance. Today the Trust, considered to be one of the oldest secular philanthropies in the country, continues to assist mariners throughout the country. The assistance provides direct vendor payments for rent or insurance or car  expenses or other living needs.  The mariners are required to access any and all appropriate entitlements as needed.  

Visit The Trustees of the Sailors’ Snug Harbor’s website to learn more about the benefits they offer today’s mariners.