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Sailing

Choppy conditions in Port Jefferson Harbor forced the cancellation of the race portion of the 2018 Village Cup Regatta Sept. 8,  but the annual fundraiser was a success anyway.

For the ninth year, the Port Jefferson Yacht Club and the Port Jefferson Village Center were the home for the event, which features a parade past the village-owned pier at Harborfront Park, a race out in the open water between sailboats representing the village and John T. Mather Memorial Hospital, and a banquet to conclude the festivities. This year, conditions weren’t conducive to holding the race, but the event still raised about $70,000 for two worthy causes, according to Mather’s Facebook page.

Funds raised by the regatta will be split between Mather Hospital’s Palliative Medicine Program and the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

For the sixth year,  actor/director and local resident Ralph Macchio served as community ambassador for the event. Macchio helps to publicize the important work of the two programs funded by the regatta. His wife, Phyllis, is a nurse practitioner in Mather’s Palliative Medicine Program.

The SoundWaters schooner will arrive in Port Jefferson next weekend. Photo by Mike Bagley

The 80-foot schooner, SoundWaters, is offering the public a chance to experience Long Island Sound in a very special way this August. This beautiful and historic three-masted ship will be sailing from Port Jefferson Harbor from Aug. 11 to 14. The public is invited to sail on Thursday, Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. and Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 12 to 14 at 3 or 6 p.m. Adult tickets are $35 and children (5 to 12 years) are $25 for afternoon sails and $35 for sunset sails.

SoundWaters
SoundWaters

Guests are invited to bring their favorite food and beverages and relax for a breezy afternoon sail — ideal for families — or a beautiful and romantic sunset sail. All sails last two hours and depart from the Port Jefferson Village Center Dock (just east of Danfords and the Ferry Dock).

SoundWaters, a replica of a historic sharpie schooner, has been sailing Long Island Sound since 1989 as the flagship of Stamford CT-based environmental education nonprofit, SoundWaters. During the week, SoundWaters is a floating classroom, carrying over 5,000 students every year from 64 different towns in the Long Island Sound region. While on board, SoundWaters educators teach the students about the ecology of Long Island Sound.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.soundwaters.org.

The entrance to the new exhibit in Cold Spring Harbor, If I Were a Whaler. Photo by Judy Palumbo

By Rita J. Egan

The Whaling Museum & Education Center of Cold Spring Harbor introduced its new interactive, hands-on exhibit, If I Were a Whaler, on Sunday, Sept. 27. The exhibit launched off with the opening day event SeaFaire featuring craft-makers, including a woodworker, quilter and spinner, demonstrating their old world skills. The day also gave visitors the opportunity to create historical maritime crafts such as ship models and scrimshaw carvings.

Judy Palumbo, community relations and development manager at the museum, said the committee designed the exhibit to give guests a strong sense of what life was like on a whaling boat for the whalers. She said exhibit goers will discover how simply the seamen lived and how minimal their supplies were. According to Palumbo, some would have only a tiny trunk for a three-year voyage, and on the boat, they would sleep in tight quarters that also doubled as a place to eat since there were no dining halls.

“We’re just trying to give people a picture of what life on the ship was like … a whaler’s life,” Palumbo said.

Items ‘for sale’ in the Jones General Store at the If I Were a Whaler exhibit. Photo by Judy Palumbo
Items ‘for sale’ in the Jones General Store at the If I Were a Whaler exhibit. Photo by Judy Palumbo

The community relations and development manager said the exhibit is extremely interactive and exhibit goers can experience each stage of a whaler’s journey. One interactive station is a general store where children are given coins to purchase items, and while deciding what to buy for their voyage, learn how limited the seamen’s budgets were.

Executive Director Nomi Dayan said the store is based on Jones General Store, which once operated in Cold Spring Harbor. She said children can decide things such as if they are going to get an extra warm pair of pants or two shirts.

“They really have to think critically about what it took to endure life at sea,” Dayan said.

At the second station, visitors will discover what life was like under the decks for the whalers. Children can try out a berth and view the limited food options the whalers had at sea.

“I think one of the most fun things about it is the bunk bed where you can climb in and realize how little personal space you had,” Dayan said.

Another interactive station will show visitors what it was like to raise the sails or swab the deck, which was also referred to as holystoning, where they actually cleaned the decks with stones, according to Palumbo. The community relations and development manager said the station demonstrates the whalers’ responsibilities during their voyages.

Children can learn how to plan a voyage as well at the navigation stage and, based on their choices, find out their fate. Destinies include being shipwrecked or catching a whale among other outcomes.

Exhibit goers will discover how the whalers spent their free time, too. Palumbo explained that catching whales only used a small percentage of the whalers’ time spent at sea since the mammals weren’t that easy to catch. Maps are also on display showing the seamen’s journeys that included expeditions to the Arctic, South America and the Hawaiian Islands.

Complementing the interactive stations will be nautical tools and artifacts on display from the museum’s collection, which totals 6,000 pieces. Palumbo said the museum owns one of the largest scrimshaw collections in the Northeast and one of the last fully equipped whaling boats.

Palumbo said construction of If I Were a Whaler began Labor Day weekend; however, the museum’s educators Cyndi Grimm, Liz Fusco, Gina Van Bell, Amanda Vengroff, as well as Dayan and carpenter Peter Schwind have been working on the exhibit for months.

Dayan said the plan right now is to display If I Were a Whaler for two years. She said she believes the interactive exhibit, which was inspired by the USS Constitution Museum in Boston’s A Sailor’s Life for Me: War of 1812 curriculum, will provide children an understanding of maritime history that they may not get from a textbook or by just looking at an artifact in a museum.

“We hope families will gain a much better appreciation and understanding of local history, and we hope that will happen through making history come to life,” Dayan said.

The Whaling Museum & Education Center of Cold Spring Harbor is located at 301 Main Street, Cold Spring Harbor. Admission is $6 for adults and $5 for children. For more information, visit www.cshwhalingmuseum.org or call 631-367-3418.

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Port Jefferson Yacht Club hosted its sixth annual Village Cup Regatta on Saturday, raising funds for pancreatic cancer research through the Lustgarten Foundation and for John T. Mather Memorial Hospital’s palliative medicine program.

The regatta pits the hospital and Port Jefferson Village against one another in a friendly competition for the Village Cup, a trophy which the hospital has now won two years in a row following a village reign of three years.

Participants raised about $64,000 for the cause through this year’s race, according to yacht club member Chuck Chiaramonte. The sum will be split between the Lustgarten Foundation and the palliative care program, which is focused on improving patients’ quality of life.

Chiaramonte said over the six years of the regatta, the event has raised more than $300,000.

The yacht club — formerly known as the Setauket Yacht Club — supplied the boats and captains for the event, which included a parade of boats, games and face painting for children at the harborfront park, and a trophy presentation at the adjacent Village Center.

Chiaramonte said the club looks forward to the event every year.

“It was really meant to just be a joyous occasion and share the love of the water and boating with our neighbors,” he said.

A yacht club boat gets ready for the 2014 Village Cup Regatta in Port Jefferson Harbor. File photo by Bill Landon

After almost 40 years on Port Jefferson Harbor, an area yacht club is changing its name.

The Setauket Yacht Club announced on Thursday that it is now called Port Jefferson Yacht Club, paying tribute to the area that has been its home since 1977.

According to a press release from Port Jefferson Village, the yacht club’s members overwhelmingly approved the name change.

The announcement comes about a week ahead of the Village Cup Regatta, an annual boat race between the village and John T. Mather Memorial Hospital — in which the yacht club participates — that raises money for pancreatic cancer research.

“We have been a part of the Port Jeff community for many years and it was time for us to embrace our ties with the local residents, businesses and the wonderful harbor,” yacht club Commodore John Ciarelli said. “We feel a special bond to the village and wanted to reflect that in our name.”

Since moving from Setauket to Port Jefferson, the club, which was founded in 1959, has been based on Surf Avenue Pass Way, behind the Port Jefferson Village Center off East Broadway. It offers a summer sailing program and services such as launches to moorings.

According to the village press release, the renaming also coincides with a new type of membership program for special activities, aimed at people who need a place to store smaller watercraft like kayaks, canoes or paddle boards.

“We want to be the portal for the enjoyment of the harbor for the greater Port Jeff and Brookhaven community,” Ciarelli said. “We provide a broad spectrum of waterfront activities, including being the home of the Stony Brook University sailing and rowing teams.”

The Village Cup Regatta will be held on Saturday, Sept. 12, at Port Jefferson Harbor. Music will start around 10 a.m. at the harborfront park near the Port Jefferson Village Center, and the traditional parade of boats will begin an hour later.

In that memorial parade of boats, the sailboats racing in the regatta will cruise past with special banners and nautical flags. Following the race, the Village Cup will be presented to the winning team in the Village Center.

This year’s race ambassadors are actor Ralph Macchio, known for his roles in “The Karate Kid,” “My Cousin Vinny” and “The Outsiders,” and husband of a Mather Hospital nurse; and Maurice DuBois, a CBS news anchor.

In the four races held in the five years since the regatta was founded, Port Jefferson Village won the first three and Mather won the fourth, making the hospital the current cup holder.

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The deck of the Martha E. Wallace, taken by John M. Brown. Photo from the Port Jefferson Village archive
Spectators fill the dock to watch the Martha E. Wallace launch, taken by John M. Brown. Photo from the Port Jefferson Village archive
Spectators fill the dock to watch the Martha E. Wallace launch, taken by John M. Brown. Photo from the Port Jefferson Village archive

It was the largest wooden sailing vessel ever built in Port Jefferson, during the village’s shipyard heyday.

The Martha E. Wallace was built at the Mather & Wood Shipyard in 1902 and topped off at more than 200 feet long and 1,108 tons, according to a history of prominent residents interred at Port Jefferson’s Cedar Hill Cemetery written by cemetery historian George Moraitis.

John Titus Mather — the very same whose name is memorialized on a Port Jefferson hospital, and one in a long line of shipbuilders — and Owen E. Wood had started the shipyard around 1879. Located on the harbor, near the current ferry terminal site, they quickly got to work building the first ship for the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company, Nonowantuc, a wooden-hulled steam ferry, and later the original Park City ferry before designing the Martha E. Wallace.

The Martha E. Wallace is docked at Steamboat Landing. Photo from the Port Jefferson Village archive
The Martha E. Wallace is docked at Steamboat Landing. Photo from the Port Jefferson Village archive

The schooner Martha E. Wallace launched on Aug. 2, 1902. According to “Images of America: Port Jefferson,” written by local library staffers Robert Maggio and Earlene O’Hare, it was “the last of the great schooners built in Port Jefferson,” with four masts and 16 sails. Those sails were made at the Wilson Sail Loft, another village business situated at the harbor.

About 2,000 people witnessed the ship’s launch, Maggio and O’Hare wrote, but the majesty was short-lived — the vessel was destroyed eight years later when she ran aground off the coast of North Carolina.

The Martha E. Wallace, under construction, sits at the Mather and Wood Shipyard with the Ida C. Southard, which is getting repairs. Photo from the Port Jefferson Village archive
The Martha E. Wallace, under construction, sits at the Mather and Wood Shipyard with the Ida C. Southard, which is getting repairs. Photo from the Port Jefferson Village archive

That incident was early one morning in late December 1910, and records show the Martha E. Wallace got stranded near Cape Lookout in the Southern Outer Banks, while carrying cargo on a trip between Georgia and New York. The small crew was rescued as the schooner was rapidly taking on water.

The Martha E. Wallace was one of several dozens of vessels the Mather family had a hand in building. A half-hull model of the ship is on display — along with other ship models and shipbuilding tools — at the historical society’s Mather Museum on Prospect Street in downtown Port Jefferson, based at a former Mather family home.

It was a beautiful day in Mount Sinai on Sunday, as more than 35 boats of all sizes were blessed by Rev. Jerry Nedelka at the Mount Sinai Yacht Club’s 11th annual Blessing of the Fleet.

Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), Yacht Club Trustee Bill Dick and other members of the club joined Nedelka to wish the boats a safe journey.

 

By Dan Woulfin

Northport celebrated new and old traditions on land and by sea this past Saturday, June 13.

The Northport Running Club held its inaugural Northport Nautical Mile Run, a downhill 1.15-mile race with hundreds of participants through the heart of Northport and ending at the foot of the harbor.

Afterward, the Coast Guard auxiliary and local clergy held the annual Blessing of the Fleet at the village docks to mark the start of the summer season.

Port Jefferson held its annual Boater’s Maritime Festival on June 6 and June 7, bringing pirates, art, animals and water sports to the village’s downtown area on a warm weekend. Residents and visitors learned how to row, stepped onto paddleboards, wiggled into kayaks, went on treasure hunts, stuffed their faces with clams, petted slippery snakes and more.

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