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Kayak

A Suffolk County Police Department boat. File photo by Alex Petroski

An overturned kayak in the Long Island Sound required emergency rescue services from the Suffolk County Police Department Aug. 23.

The Suffolk County Police Department received a 911 call regarding a man who was in distress after his kayak overturned in the Long Island Sound, approximately two miles north of the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant at 11:52 a.m. Thursday, according to police. Aviation Section Officers John Carey and Richard Davin responded in the police helicopter, located the kayaker and guided Marine Bureau Officers Steven Tarolli and Christopher Erickson, who were onboard Marine Delta, to the victim. Officers Tarolli and Erickson were able to pull the victim onto the boat. The Wading River Fire Department and Town of Brookhaven Bay Constable assisted in the rescue.

The victim, Andrew Punella, 61, of Queens, was transported by the Wading River Fire Department to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead for treatment of hypothermia.

New policy sets cap on accrual of daily fees while seized boats are in storage

'Kayaks at Bay' by Holly Gordon

By Alex Petroski

In a seemingly ongoing effort to solidify policies regarding the storage of kayaks in Port Jefferson Village, the board of trustees voted to approve additional code changes during an Oct. 16 meeting.

The latest code change will set a minimum opening bid for kayaks and other small vessels previously seized by the village for being left on racks at village beaches past the posted required date for removal to be auctioned off. Each year, residents interested in storage space for their boats enter a lottery, and those selected are permitted to use village racks for the season. Signage near the racks warns owners they need to be removed by Nov. 1, though the village typically allows a several week grace period before it starts seizing abandoned vessels and moving them into storage.

The village still has several unclaimed boats left on racks from the 2016 season, which will be auctioned off Nov. 9. Adherent to the new policy, the minimum bid for any vessel will be $75, or $1 per day in storage plus a $25 fee — whichever total is less. So for example, a vessel in village storage for 10 days would have a minimum opening bid of $35 at auction. Any vessel kept for more than 50 days would have a minimum opening bid of $75.

Signs detailing the Village’s kayak policy are visible year round. File photo by Alex Petroski

“The whole goal is to get this thing rolling,” Village Mayor Margot Garant said during the meeting. The goal behind the connected village policies is to incentivize owners of seized boats to retrieve them from storage while also deincentivizing rack users from leaving them through the winter.

The $1 per day in storage policy makes it less expensive for owners to retrieve abandoned boats then if they were to pay the fines, though they assume the risk of competing with other bidders. The new policy would eliminate the current $10 fee per day for storing abandoned vessels.

Art Worthington, a village resident for more than a decade, is a boat owner who stands to benefit financially from the policy change, though on principal, he said he’s not satisfied with the new rules.

Worthington said during a phone interview, and a village spokesperson confirmed by email, that he stored a 14-foot Sunfish sailboat on village property at the Crystal Brook Hollow Road beach during the 2016 season without a permit, and went to retrieve it for the winter in December 2016, about a month after the posted date warning of possible removal. He said at the time he asked the village by phone if they had seized his boat, and based on his description the spokesperson said it was not in storage. In Sept. 2017, Worthington was granted permission to inspect the storage area, and found that his boat was in fact in the village’s possession. Worthington has since been instructed to bid on his vessel to get it back at auction.

“I’d pay $75 for it, sure, but the bottom line is they’re dead wrong,” he said. “They deprived me of the use of it for a season. They should be giving the people their boats back.”

Worthington said he believes his boat should be returned to him free of charge, and hasn’t decided yet if he will bid on it.

Members of the public can view the vessels up for auction Oct. 27 from 10 to 11 a.m. at East Beach to consider participating in the Nov. 9 auction.

USCG vessels. File Photo

A man’s body was found floating in the Long Island Sound about three miles north of Belle Terre Village at about 2 p.m. June 19, according to the Suffolk County Police Department.

Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad detectives are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of Gregory Blanco, a 41-year-old Commack man.

Someone on board the Park City, a Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company ferry, spotted a body floating in the water Monday afternoon. The Stratford Fire Department responded and recovered the body which was transported to the Town of Brookhaven Port Jefferson Marina.

The victim had launched in a kayak from Northport. He was pronounced dead by a physician assistant from the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner who will perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

On June 11, 24-year-old Huntington Station resident Selvin Vasquez-Enamorado launched his kayak from a beach near Crab Meadow Beach in Northport and never returned. His kayak was recovered, and the police have since called off the search.

Crab Meadow Beach. File photo.

Suffolk County Police are searching for a kayaker who was reported missing in Northport Sunday June 11.

Selvin Vasquez-Enamorado launched his kayak from a beach near Crab Meadow Beach to go fishing sometime between 3 and 4 p.m. When Vasquez, 24, of Huntington Station, did not return home, a friend called 911 at approximately 6 p.m.

Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau and Aviation Section, United States Coast Guard, Huntington Harbormaster, Smithtown Harbormaster, and United States D.E.C. Marine Units have assisted in the search.

The kayak was recovered.

Detectives are asking anyone with information to call the Second Squad at 631-854-8252.

Village kayak racks at Centennial Park beach don't provide enough space to meet demand. Photo by Elana Glowatz

By Alex Petroski

Many kayak users in Port Jefferson Village were left without a paddle during the summer of 2016, and as a result, the board of trustees is examining ways to accommodate more aquatically inclined residents.

Signs detailing the Village's kayak policy are visible year round. Photo by
Signs detailing the Village’s kayak policy are visible year round. Photo by

The village currently supplies four wooden racks, which hold six kayaks each at two different beaches. Use of the racks is determined after applications are submitted and a lottery is held in April each year. About half of the applicants were not granted permits because of limited space for the 2016 season, according to Village Clerk Bob Juliano at a recent board meeting. Storage is provided so that kayakers can safely and conveniently leave their vessels near the water, rather than having to transport them every time they are to be used.

The lack of available storage resulted in about two-dozen vessels being left locked to trees or simply strewn across the beach without permission this past summer. There is no cost to obtain a permit if a resident is selected in the lottery.

“My goal is to expand the number of people able to store kayaks,” Trustee Stanley Loucks, who also serves as the board’s liaison to the recreation department, said in a phone interview. He said the village is actively working on changes to improve policies for the 2017 boating season. “What I want to do is put enough racks in for any Port Jeff resident who wants to have a kayak.”

Permanent signs have been in place warning beachgoers to remove kayaks and other small boats from the racks, and by extension, the surrounding areas, by Nov. 1 or be subject to fines. The signs also warn those without permits to refrain from leaving vessels altogether. Juliano said stickers were placed on the remaining boats Nov. 2, warning the owners to remove them within a five-day period, though the village didn’t act until about two weeks later. To retrieve their kayaks, owners are required to visit the Port Jefferson Department of Public Works and pay a $100 fee.

Loucks said kayak storage and the dumping of vessels without permits got “out of control” this year.

Port Jefferson residents Lois O’Donnell Kilkenny and Jodi Casciano said in Facebook messages that they would like permits to store their vessels, but they avoid the lottery altogether because they don’t think the chances of being selected are great. Demand for spaces may be greater than the village realizes.

“We sure would enjoy having more of them, so those of us who don’t have could obtain one,” O’Donnell Kilkenny said. “It gets harder to transport them as we get older! I know I would use it a lot more if we only had to pull it off the rack and go.”

“I have, like, a boatyard in front of my house.”
—Dorothy Court

Dorothy Court, Waterview Drive resident, which is adjacent to the Crystal Brook Hollow Road beach, said, at a public hearing on the matter in June, that she supported tougher rules.

“I have to deal with these kayaks every single day,” Court said. “I have, like, a boatyard in front of my house.”

Loucks said he is sympathetic to village residents who get shut out by the application process. “It’s a shame we have to limit the number of people,” he said.

According to Juliano, a Port Jefferson family had five kayaks tied together and locked around a tree that were seized by village personnel in November. They submitted a letter asking for leniency from the village when they learned of the $500 in fees required to retrieve the boats. The board approved a motion Nov. 28 to cut the fees in half.

Village Mayor Margot Garant was in favor of reducing the fine for the family, though she said at a recent board meeting that the fees are in place to discourage the practice of abandoning kayaks.

“It’s not really about the money, it’s about cleaning up the area,” she said.

Loucks said the board of trustees is considering moving existing racks to East Beach and removing them from the beach at the end of Crystal Brook Hollow Road, while also adding more to comply with demand. He said an experimental contraption was used on East Beach this year, though moving the racks there and adding more would be ideal. Garant added she would like to see the existing racks moved because of a lack of parking in the area.

The village provides racks with space for 24 kayaks at the beach at the end of Crystal Brook Hollow Road in Mount Sinai Harbor, and the same amount of spaces at the beach near the Village Center in Port Jefferson Harbor.

Village kayak racks at Centennial Park beach don't provide enough space to meet demand. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Before the boating season gets into full swing, officials are trying to agree on what to do about people who leave their kayaks strewn on Port Jefferson beaches without a permit.

During a recent trip to the beach at the end of Crystal Brook Hollow Road, village Trustee Larry LaPointe saw “there were five licensed kayaks on the rack and 20 on the ground scattered over the entire area, some chained up to trees, most of them just laying there,” he said during a recent board of trustees meeting.

In April, the village held its annual lottery to determine which residents would get to use its kayak racks at that beach, which is located on Mount Sinai Harbor, and the beach at Centennial Park, on Port Jefferson Harbor.

“All of the slots were accounted for” in the lottery, LaPointe said, “so that means most of the people who won the lottery haven’t put their kayaks down there yet.”

There are signs at the beaches warning that kayaks must be properly stored in racks, yet there are still many left unattended. To solve the issue, a code proposal would give the head of public works authority to remove unpermitted vessels that have been left unattended for 48 hours, Village Attorney Brian Egan explained at the meeting. The village clerk would give notice that the boat was removed, with a description of the vessel, and after 30 days unclaimed it would be considered abandoned.

At that point, Egan said, the village would be able to sell or otherwise dispose of it. And LaPointe said there could be an annual auction of the abandoned vessels.

“And what do I do when some of [the owners] come to kill me?” Trustee Bruce Miller joked, referring to potentially angry kayak owners confronting public works Superintendent Steve Gallagher.

The trustees also discussed kayaks being unmarked with ownership information.

“What happens when they say, ‘That’s my kayak,’ and the other guy says, ‘No, that’s my kayak,’” Trustee Bruce D’Abramo said.

“How do you prove that’s your kayak when there’s no marks,” LaPointe agreed.

D’Abramo replied, “Yep, I could get a free kayak.”

As the code would allow the village to charge those picking up impounded vessels with the costs of removal, storage and the price of the clerk’s public notification, another question raised was what the “reasonable costs” referenced in the proposed code would entail.

Mayor Margot Garant said she hoped to have a list of recommended fees by the time the matter went up for a public hearing at the board meeting on June 6.

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A Long Island kayaker drifts along. File photo by Talia Amorosano
A Long Island kayaker drifts along. File photo by Talia Amorosano
A Long Island kayaker drifts along. File photo by Talia Amorosano

By Elana Glowatz

Applications will soon be available for Port Jefferson residents who want to use one of the village’s kayak racks in the coming season.

Those interested will be able to pick up applications at Village Hall through the month of March. They are due by the end of that month.

Once the application period ends, the village will hold a lottery that will be open to the public, on April 1.

The village has racks in two locations: Centennial Park, which is located on Port Jefferson Harbor near the Port Jefferson Yacht Club, formerly known as the Setauket Yacht Club; and at the beach at the end of Crystal Brook Hollow Road, on Mount Sinai Harbor. Each rack has slots for six boats on it.

Village Clerk Bob Juliano said on Wednesday that there are at least five racks available for a total of 30 slots. With the village’s efforts to add to its storage space for resident kayaks, he said there are possibly six more slots than that, but he had yet to hammer down a final inventory number.

According to Juliano, officials will choose the winners at random, and determine at which location they can store their boats based upon what the applicants wrote in as their first and second choices and, as the lottery goes on, upon remaining availability.

There is a limit to one boat per household. After paying a $10 administrative fee, winners will get stickers to put on their boats to note their permitted use of the racks.

Centerport and West Islip firefighters assist in bringing the Hovercraft to shore following the rescue. Photo by Steve Silverman

A hovercraft vessel came to the rescue of two kayakers stuck in mud in a Centerport pond on Tuesday night, according to Steve Silverman, a spokesman for the Town of Huntington Fire Chiefs Council.

The Centerport Fire Department received a call around 9 p.m. on Tuesday night of a man and a woman stuck in a kayak approximately 100 yards off the shore of Mill Pond. 

Once rescuers arrived, they realized they were not able to reach the kayak due to thick mud that was restricting boat access. Centerport Fire Chief Brian Mark then made the call to the West Islip Fire Department for assistance.

West Islip’s hovercraft was the only vessel that could reach the couple, since it is able to float on air and travel over mud, ice and swampy areas a conventional boat can’t traverse.

The Suffolk Police Aviation unit assisted as well, providing a helicopter that gave light to the rescue scene.

Firefighters launched the hovercraft from an access point on Centershore Road, and were able to reach the kayak in several minutes. The Centerport Rescue Squad checked the uninjured couple. The pair was covered in dark mud.

Forty firefighters and emergency medical personnel in total participated in the rescue, which was successfully completed in slightly more than an hour with no injuries.

Crab Meadow Beach. Photo by Rohma Abbas

Strong winds left three kayakers lost and adrift on Tuesday before emergency responders brought them to shore, the Suffolk County Police Department said.

Michael Fisher, 16, his brother Matthew Fisher, 20, and Kevin Nobs, 16, all of East Northport, were a little more than one mile north of Crab Meadow Beach in Fort Salonga when police said winds picked up and brought them out into the Long Island Sound — too far for them to paddle back to shore. Nobs’ kayak had overturned while Matthew Fisher jumped out of his kayak to attempt to swim to shore, police said.

The three had become separated in the exchange, and were floating as two lifeguards at Crab Meadow Beach grabbed their long boards and jumped into the water to try and save them. They were, however, unsuccessful.

Marine Bureau Police officers Paul Carnival and Keith Walters responded to the incident and rescued all three kayakers along with the two lifeguards who tried to save them. The kayakers did not require medial attention, police said.

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