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Yacht Club

Kings park residents and their elected officials stand opposed to any plans to build a bridge or tunnel across Long Island Sound. File photo

By Phil Corso

North Shore boaters are making waves over a lack thereof.

Members of the Smithtown Bay Yacht Club and the Stony Brook Yacht Club have been kicking up sand for weeks with hopes that county and town officials would throw them a lifesaver and dredge the waters where the Stony Brook and Porpoise Channels merge on their way out into Smithtown Bay along the North Shore. And while there has been some support vocalized via elected leaders, action is still pending.

Members of both yacht clubs, though fierce competitors when the two cast off in interclub fishing contests, came together in the name of public safety this boating season when they penned a letter on June 2 to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D). Using urgent language, commodores for both groups, including Mike Kozyrski and Kevin Rooney of Smithtown and Denis Lynch of Stony Brook, asked for a quick dredging of the channel leading out to Smithtown Bay in the name of boater safety.

“At dead low tide, there is oftentimes less than a foot of water in the channel leading out into the Long Island Sound,” Kozyrski said. “Should a boater experience a serious medical emergency out on the water, the bay constable or other emergency personnel may be unable to transit the channel in order to assist them. In our opinion, this is a personal tragedy simply waiting to happen.”

Rooney, coordinator of the dredging project for the Smithtown Bay Yacht Club, said the low-tide and low-water situation has reached a “critical stage” due to the continued shifting of sand and bottom material into the channel.

“It is not an overstatement to say that the very lives of our members, their families and all other boaters are potentially in serious jeopardy due to inaction by various government agencies to prioritize and complete the necessary dredging of the Smithtown Bay channel,” he said. “The situation is dire. And it is totally unacceptable.”

In their letter, the commodores said the area in question was mostly limited to where Stony Brook and Porpoise Channels merged. Navigation buoys turn in a northwesterly direction there, leading into the bay and out into the Long Island Sound. If not dredged properly, the boaters argued that personnel could be unable to reach someone in need of assistance from the shorelines of Port Jefferson or Eaton’s Neck.

“By the time they arrive, it may be too late,” Lynch said.

Bellone, who has put his administration at the forefront of the fight to improve water quality on Long Island, expressed the importance of dredging earlier this year when his administration announced the completion of a project at Champlin Creek in the Town of Islip. A spokeswoman from his office said the Town of Brookhaven submitted a formal request this week before the county’s dredge project screening committee, which will consider making the area a part of the dredging program.

Earlier this month, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) requested that Suffolk County dredge more than a dozen spots across the town for the 2016-2017 dredging season, including the waters of Stony Brook.

“Dredging our waterways is essential for both the economic and ecologic health of our region,” said Romaine, who is a past member of the Suffolk County Dredge Project Screening Committee. “Keeping these channels safe, open and usable on a consistent basis is essential for the health of these waterways, and for boaters to safely enjoy during the summer months.”

The commodores said they hoped lawmakers would put the channel on a regular maintenance dredging schedule in order to allow unlimited access to the Long Island Sound for both boaters and emergency personnel. They, along with other activists across the North Shore, have started a grass roots lobbying campaign with the goal of expediting that kind of schedule.

“This is not about boater convenience,” Kozyrski said. “This is simply about the health and safety of all boaters from our two towns — something clearly needs to be done and we hope that our county and town officials feel the same sense of urgency that we do for the safety of our club members, friends and neighbors.”

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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.

Brookhaven officials flood county public works offices with hopes of addressing water quality on North Shore

The creek flowing from Stony Brook Mill Pond, above, and into the Stony Brook Harbor is collecting sediment, making it difficult to use the body of water. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Just as the Town of Brookhaven officials are fighting to improve the Long Island Sound’s water quality, officials have also recently taken steps to combat the buildup of sediment deposits in Stony Brook Harbor.

According to a press release, Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) wrote a letter to the Suffolk County Commissioner of Public Works Gil Anderson on Sept. 14 urging the county to include a navigational channel to the “Stony Brook Boat Works” property. The channel will end south of Brookhaven’s “kayak/canoe launch.”

Officials noted that the creek, which flows from Stony Brook Mill Pond into the Stony Brook Harbor, has accumulated sediment deposits over the years, which is restricting tidal flow in that area. The growth of Phragmites, a common grass found in wetlands, has largely contributed to the sediment deposits. Romaine said the water is shallow in that area and it is difficult for the anchored boats at the Stony Brook Yacht Club to navigate the body of water during low tide.

“[The town] raised this issue because we think it should be examined,” Romaine said. “We think that the boaters particularly in the yacht club should have the ability to use the recreational waterways. We also think it would help [tidal flushing] for that creek.”

Romaine also said even if the project is approved, dredging the body of water depends on the amount of money available to execute the project. Once approved, the town will have to handle how and where the sediment is disposed. Romaine said hydraulic dredges, which dredge spoils and pump them half a mile away, and dewatering sites among others are ways the town can dispose of the dredge spoils.

In a press release, Romaine asked for the Stony Brook Task Force and Legislature Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) to support his position on the issue. Although Romaine submitted the letter to the county, it’s unclear when or if the Dredge Committee will accept the modified project, as the committee doesn’t meet regularly and is working on other dredging projects.

“It will take some time before the county addresses this. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get,” Romaine said in a phone interview. “This may not be their first priority but [the town] put the request in and we’re hopeful that it will get some attention.”

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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A scene from the annual Make-A-Wish Junior Sailors Regatta, hosted by the Northport Yacht Club. Photo by Talia Amorosano

By Talia Amorosano

It was a windy summer morning at the Northport Yacht Club on Monday where more than 100 sailors from age 8 to 17 rigged their own boats and hit the water to race at the 20th Annual Make-A-Wish Junior Sailors Regatta.

Sailors hailed from the Northport Yacht Club, Centerport Yacht Club, Huntington Yacht Club, Cold Spring Harbor Beach Club and Huntington YMCA, and all gathered to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a nonprofit organization that grants children with life-threatening illnesses wishes within their lifetimes.

For the Doherty family, which has headed the regatta for nine years, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has a very personal significance: a family friend who died from a heart condition at age 16 was a Make-a-Wish recipient, and was able to take a trip to Walt Disney World Resort thanks to the organization.

Keara Doherty, 17, who has been the top fundraiser all nine years since being involved with the event, said that once she ages out of sailing in the regatta this year, she plans to become more directly involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and help her dad, Bob, who is involved with the club’s Special Event Committee, organize the regatta and recruit fundraisers. This year alone, Keara Doherty has raised $10,000 by writing personal letters to family and friends asking for donations.

According to Peggy Doherty, the teen’s mom, the fundraiser has become increasingly successful over the years. Nine years ago, the event raised $25,000. Last year, the group hit $50,000. She said that this year the fundraiser brought in $46,000.

Northport Yacht Club Rear Commodore Rich Boziwick spoke highly of Bob Doherty’s influence in making the fundraiser a success.

“He’s been an incredible asset to this whole event,” he said. “He coordinates, brings the staff together, and gets the kids together.”

This year’s winners, in order of increasing difficulty levels, were: Joey Zarcone (Opti Green), Connor Burns (Opti White), Aidan Quigley (Opti Blue), Sterling Thompson (Opti Red), Courtney Garrison and Zoe Buscareno (Pixel); Connor, Brandon and Tyler Besendorfer, and Sebastion Blot (Blue Jay); Hallie Simkins and Cormack Murphy (Club 420), and Gavin Anderson (Laser Radial).

It is clear that there is a high level of community involvement with the fundraiser, with bagged lunches donated by a local Stop & Shop and prizes (including baseball tickets and a kayak) for the top fundraisers donated by local shops and members of the yacht club.

The Northport Yacht Club also hosts an annual swim-a-thon that contributes to the total funds raised for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  This year, there were 120 participants who swam 3,800 laps (53 miles) in total.  Of the group, 16-year-old Bryce Winters came in first place, swimming 304 miles in under 3 hours. Fundraising worked on a kid-by-kid basis, with individuals and sponsors setting rules for how sponsors would donate, sometimes based on number of laps swam or number of hours spent swimming.

Peggy Doherty said that the yacht club plans to continue hosting the fundraiser for years to come and that she and her family plan to stay involved.

“The kids are doing so much better with fundraising [as the years go on],” she said.