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Bayles Boat Shop

Above, a large group of people sitting in the surf on the shore of Long Island Sound. Pine View, West of Crane Neck, Stony Brook. 1907.(West Meadow Beach). Photo courtesy of Port Jefferson Village Archive, Kenneth Brady Collection

By Tara Mae

Saltwater and sea air can replenish, rather than rust the spirit. Any means of water conveyance is a line to liveliness and livelihood, a rope that links us to the generations that came before. Set sail into Long Island’s local maritime past with Small Wooden Boats: The Forgotten Workhorses and Leisure Craft of Old at the Port Jefferson Village Center, on view now through October. 

Located on the second floor of the building, with a topical view of the harbor, the photo exhibit features approximately 60 photographs, mainly ranging 24-36 inches. Through the lens of wooden boats, it explores the labor and leisure of primarily 19th and early 20th century islanders and vacationers. 

“There are two distinct categories of images. People using small boats to fish, clam, transport items, and people enjoying the summer in the bathing fashion of the period,” Port Jefferson Village Historian Christopher Ryon, who curated the exhibit, said. 

Marshall’s Pier was located on the East shore of Poquott. Belle Terre and Mount Misery are in the background. Photo courtesy of Port Jefferson Village Archive, Kenneth Brady Collection

Skimmed from the village’s own archive, first compiled by previous historian Ken Brady, the catalog has amassed tens of thousands of photographs. Its selection includes access to pictures that other organizations, like Three Village Historical Society, possess. The breadth and depth of data highlights the profound impact of beach culture on this area. 

Small Wooden Boats is a tribute to and testimonial the scope of people’s sometimes shifting, yet still steadfast, relationship to the sea. 

“The photos in this show capture the serene atmosphere of small boats and people on the shoreline of harbors and ponds. From clammers and fishermen to women in dresses, you can imagine the feel of the water on their feet and the sound of the water as they walk,” explained Ryon during a tour of the exhibit.

In locations familiar to residents, such as West Meadow Beach, Pirates Cove and Port Jefferson Harbor, their predecessors pose in the Long Island Sound and from shore.

Penn No. 1, a small tugboat that maneuvered goods and equipment for Suffolk Dredging Corporation, seems at a standstill as two presumed employees appear portside. One man, still wearing his work gloves, leans jauntily against an unidentifiable object.     

Girl standing in water on the East side of Port Jefferson Harbor. Photo courtesy of Port Jefferson Village Archive, Kenneth Brady Collection

A little girl in a swim costume, somewhat faded with age, grins at the camera as she wades water with a flotation device tied around her waist. 

Men, women, and children, wearing street clothes, sit in floating repose aboard rowboats as three other male figures, perhaps lifeguards, stand behind them, staring purposefully into the distance. An empty dinghy is tied up to their right as waves break against the mooring. 

Individuals who appear as salt of the earth or buoyantly effervescent, all of these figures are both anchored to their era and adrift on the sea of time. Though their attire and apparel are different, they share a relationship with the water that is more familiar than foreign. 

“This exhibit exemplifies Port Jefferson’s history as a shipbuilding port, a transportation hub, a fishing, clamming, oystering community, and, of course, a tourist destination,” Ryon said

Penn No 1 was a small tugboat that worked for Suffolk Dredging Corporation. It was used to maneuver barges and equipment. Photo courtesy of Port Jefferson Village Archive, Kenneth Brady Collection

Essential elements of this dualistic dynamic have evolved or become endangered but their essence remains accessible to those who seek to acknowledge, even enjoy, the ebb and flow of  people’s dependence on the surrounding water. 

By design, the show displays the dichotomies of work and play. Pictures in Small Wooden Boats are harbingers of changing tides, before nautical industry was overtaken by seaside recreation. 

Such developments are embodied by the Village Center itself, which has its own ties to maritime history. Situated on the grounds of the Bayles Shipyard, the building originally housed a machine shop and mould loft, established in 1917 during World War I. 

That same year, the Bayles family sold it. After changing hands, it was acquired by the New York Harbor Dry Dock Corporation, which in 1920, closed the shipyard, and fired all of its workers except for a skeleton crew. Following different business iterations, the Village Center was founded there in 2005. 

The enmeshment of past and present also underscores how the Sound remains intertwined in life on land, a message that Ryon seeks to bring to the masses through ongoing nautical projects.  

Besides the exhibit, another such endeavor is the construction of a replica whaleboat, dubbed Caleb Brewster, a seafaring vessel that will ideally launch in 2024. 

Summer of 1906, Pine View. Photo courtesy of Port Jefferson Village Archive, Kenneth Brady Collection

Named in honor of the Culper Spy Ring member who ran messages via his whaleboat between Long Island, under British occupation, and Connecticut, where General George Washington was stationed, it is a community undertaking. A crew of volunteers, among them students from an Avalon Nature Preserve program, is helping construct and assemble the whaleboat. And, in part as an homage to the village center’s heritage, it is being built in the Bayles Boat Shop located just a stone’s throw from the Village Center across from Harborfront Park. 

Construction of the Caleb Brewster and the Small Wooden Boats exhibit are part of a continuous effort to bring more attention to the common, simple sea craft that are so integral to the existence and entertainment an island provides. 

“The bigger boats, like schooners tend to get more notice, while the smaller ones are doing hard work moving materials and people,” Ryon said. “We [the village center] have this huge collection of stuff. We have done lots of different types of shows here, and small boats are part of the collection that I now want to showcase. I look forward to seeing people enjoying the exhibit.”

The community is invited to an opening reception to Small Wooden Boats: The Forgotten Workhorses and Leisure Craft of Old on Sunday, Sept. 10 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Port Jefferson Village Center, 101 East Broadway, Port Jefferson. Viewing hours for the exhibit are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Oct. 31. For more information, call 631-473-4778.

Winners cross the finish line during the 12th annual SikaFlex Quick & Dirty Boat Building Competition in Port Jeff. Photo by Aramis Khosronejad
By Aramis Khosronejad

The 12th annual SikaFlex Quick & Dirty Boat Building Competition took place at Port Jeff’s Harborfront Park on Aug. 19 and 20, channeling the village’s local shipbuilding heritage for a fun weekend.

The Quick & Dirty competition covers a summer weekend each year, with competitors having five hours to build their boats on the first day. The day after, they decorate their vessels and then race them. The competition consists of a few awards: best design, decoration, fastest boat built and the standard top three race winners.

Len Carolan, president of Long Island Seaport and Eco Center, has been a part of the race along with the Bayles Boat Shop, a local shop that has coordinated the event since 2012. 

“I have met some wonderful people,” Carolan said. “It’s been fun meeting these people and working together to do our boat building and also organizing an event like this.” 

Inspired by the rich maritime and shipbuilding history of Port Jefferson, the idea for this competition was sparked by Charles Carter. According to the Historical Society of Greater Port Jefferson, Port Jefferson was once the most prominent ship manufacturer in Suffolk County. 

Additionally, according to the website of The Shipyard, Port Jefferson’s economy mainly ran on the ships it used to build until approximately the 1920s, when it transitioned to a tourist-based local economy. 

Carolan spoke of his desire to involve more competitors, emphasizing that the event is a carefree and fun race. He said that people should join “for the experience. It’s a fun weekend.” 

One team that has been involved in the competition since it started is Ken Callirgos and Matthew Debeau. Callirgos said he has kept coming back because he “had so much fun the first year,” and that that’s the reason he’s planning on participating in the event in the foreseeable future.

Outside the Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum, Mark Sternberg, above, holds a copy of “New York Archives” magazine, which published his research this fall. Photo courtesy Sternberg

By Julianne Mosher

Living in Port Jefferson for more than half his life, Mark Sternberg always knew the village had a story. 

“I grew up here and I always wanted to know the absolute history of Port Jeff,” he said. “I wanted to get to the bottom of it.”

The North Shore of Long Island played a big role during the Revolutionary War. Books, movies, television shows and college courses have preached that the Culper Spy Ring — a network of American spies active during the British occupation of New York City and organized by Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge and Gen. George Washington — was based primarily on Port Jefferson’s next-door neighbor, Setauket.

Sternberg, a lawyer by trade and Port Jefferson high school graduate of the Class of 2001, first became interested in the history growing up and learning these stories and legends. Interested in his hometown, he began reading about its history, eventually getting his hands on “The Seven Hills of Port: A Documented History of the Incorporated Village of Port Jefferson” by Patricia Hansell Sisler and Robert Sisler. 

“I had a professor at New York University, a summer program for producing, and one of our projects was to pitch a show about something you love,” Sternberg said. “I thought that the Culper Spy Ring would be a great TV show.”

And that school project became a passion. 

Above, Mark Sternberg leading a tour of visitors through the Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum on Culper Spy Day. File photo by Raymond Janis

In 2013, Sternberg found a letter that tied two Port Jefferson brothers to the ring. Retrieved from a chimney of what is now the Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum years ago, the letter (dated Dec. 21, 1780) informed loyalist soldier Nehemiah Marks’ comrades that Phillips and Nathaniel Roe helped supply Setauket-based spy Caleb Brewster with information to pass on to the patriots. 

Sternberg located the letter archived at the University of Michigan. 

“I had a lot of people telling me the basis for the claim was a legend,” he said. “It was made up.”

But it was eventually authenticated and now hangs in the museum, which was originally Phillips Roe’s home, located at 141 W. Broadway.

“Mark has done the real hard research,” said George Hoffman, co-founder of the Setauket Harbor Task Force. “I think he has certainly put Port Jeff village back into the mix. … People always used to call them the Setauket spies, but it’s pretty clear that the Roe brothers played a central role due to his research.”

Hoffman added that Sternberg has brought “fresh eyes to old history.”

Finding the letter sparked something in Sternberg making him want to discover more. 

After going away to school in Atlanta, Georgia, and then NYU, he left the quaint village he used to call home, moving to Manhattan for 12 years. 

Then, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sternberg and his now-wife decided to move back out to the Island, settling in East Patchogue.

“When I moved back to Long Island, I wanted to get involved more with the house,” he said. 

Working closely with Port Jefferson Village historian Chris Ryon, he began doing heavy, original research into the Roe family.

“Mark has been working, really concentrating, on this Culper spy history, and then delving into it more so than anybody else that I know,” Ryon said. “He has gone beyond what a lot of historians would look up.”

Ryon admired that, while working full-time, Sternberg spends most of his free time continuing to learn about the Roe family and how Port Jefferson was involved with the Revolutionary War. 

“He’s traveled all over the place, looking at the primary documents, and by doing that, he’s discovered many more things, and a lot of mistakes that people have repeated,” he said. “Mark is so saturated in his knowledge of this, he picks up on things that people don’t understand are important.”

‘He has changed the way people think about Culper Spy Ring.’ 

­— Chris Ryon

Since Sternberg’s initial find of the letter almost 10 years ago, he has continued to research and advise on the history of the brothers and how the home was part of a much bigger piece of history that was almost forgotten. 

“He has changed the way people think about Culper Spy Ring,” Ryon said. “He has enlightened us — he has raised the bar.”

Sternberg said that he is continuing to help with the Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum, setting up exhibits and preparing for its full opening to the public. He also is working alongside Len Carolan at Port Jeff-based Bayles Boat Shop to recreate a whaleboat from the American Revolution era. The boat shop is an offshoot of the Long Island Seaport and Eco Center — a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of maritime history on the Island. Sternberg will be acting as a historian on the project to get the boat as close as possible to what it was.

“Mark has been instrumental in tying up what we’re doing in building this boat and the history of [the whaleboats],” said Carolan, president of the Bayles Boat Shop. “And especially how the history is connected to Caleb Brewster.”

Sternberg also recently published new findings about the Strong family in “New York Archives” magazine this past fall. 

“People ask me, ‘Why are you so into history?’ and honestly, I’m more into solving mysteries,” he said. “There’s so much more to find and it’s that dopamine rush when you find out something about your hometown’s history you would have never found out before.”

Sternberg is happy to volunteer his time to find out what really happened up here almost 250 years ago.

“Why wouldn’t I volunteer? I love my hometown,” he said. “Any of my extra time I can spend here talking about the history, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

TBR News Media recognizes Sternberg’s valuable local historical research by making him a 2022 Person of the Year.

The Village of Port Jefferson reignited a time-honored tradition last weekend during its 26th annual Charles Dickens Festival.

Hundreds of community members, visitors, business groups and local organizations participated in the festivities from Friday, Dec. 2, to Sunday, Dec. 4. 

The show went on despite hard rains and gusting winds throughout the morning and early afternoon Saturday. Mayor Margot Garant, decked out in traditional Dickensian garb, commented on the turnout in the face of these conditions. 

“To me, it just shows how important this festival is to not just this community but kids coming from St. James and beyond who are coming to see Santa,” she said. “It’s just magic, and rain or shine we’re going to be doing Dickens.”

Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden concurred with this positive outlook, regarding the festival as another means for community-building. “It’s heartwarming to see everybody still supporting this festival,” she said. 

Trustee Stan Loucks commented on the uniqueness of the opportunities afforded through the festival and the steady growth of the events over its nearly three decades in existence.

“It’s grown every single year, and it’s just the most festive time of the year,” he said, adding, “I love the whole atmosphere, the village center. It’s a very special place, and I look forward to this every year.”

The program across all three days was loaded with special events featuring the various elements that formulate this distinct village’s character. The heart of Port Jeff was on full display, from its downtown business sector to its local history, public institutions and more.

At the Bayles Boat Shop, local shipbuilders showcased their ongoing work to construct a 25-foot whaleboat honoring the village’s Revolutionary War heritage. 

John Janicek, treasurer of the boat shop’s nonprofit arm, the Long Island Seaport and Eco Center, detailed how the whaleboat ties together various threads of Port Jeff’s historical roots.

“It not only ties in the historical aspect that Caleb Brewster performed here during the Revolutionary War and [the role] Port Jefferson played, but it also ties in our shipbuilding aspect, too,” Janicek said. “We’re getting a lot of support from the village on this. They see this as something the whole village can get their arms around and embrace, similar to the Dickens Festival.”

Over at the Drowned Meadow Cottage on the corner of West Broadway and Barnum, local historians greeted visitors with guided tours detailing Port Jefferson’s strategic position during the Revolutionary War. They shared stories of local patriots whose involvement in the Culper Spy Ring helped advance the cause of American independence.

Village historian Chris Ryon discussed how the Dickens Festival offers a platform to promote local history to residents and visitors alike.

“We take the people from Dickens and tell them how Port Jefferson was involved in the Culper Spy Ring,” he said. “It’s another group of people that we can bring in.”

Mark Sternberg, Culper Spy Ring historian at the Drowned Meadow Cottage, offered a unique take on Dickens. He remarked upon the intersection of the Dickensian and Revolutionary periods and how people today can relive tradition and rehear the lore of the past.

He said, referring to the American spies, “A lot of these people survived into the 1800s, and the stories of the American Revolution were told during the 1800s. For us to tell stories about the American Revolution as part of the Dickens Festival, it’s what they would have done.”

The historian added, “It’s keeping with the tradition of telling a story about the founding of our nation, even in later periods. Now Charles Dickens may not have talked about it because he was British, but here in America during the Victorian era, we would have.”

Along with stories of the past, the village exhibited the musical talents of local students. At the Port Jefferson Free Library, the Edna Louise Spear Elementary School chamber orchestra delivered moving string performances, filling the library with festive tunes.

Their music teacher, Christian Neubert, summarized this Dickens custom. “For a number of years now, we’ve been coming to perform here at the library during the Dickens Festival,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to get our students out for a performance and to get the community involved with our music program.”

Jessica Schmettan, superintendent of schools for Port Jefferson School District, was among the dozens of audience members at the library. She expressed pride in seeing the students perform before their fellow community members.

“It’s just amazing that our students can be performing in the village in which they live,” she said, adding that the festival “gives them a different avenue to perform in, not just the auditorium or the classroom but in front of a real audience.”

At Suffolk Lodge No. 60 on Main Street, the oldest Masonic lodge on Long Island, brothers treated guests to magic shows and a dance festival. Downstairs, they served freshly baked cookies and hot chocolate.

Chris Connolly, master of the lodge, said the lodge dates back to the late 18th century. He expressed delight at seeing this historic organization maintain an active community presence through Dickens.

“Being a part of the community is a big part of who we are and helping others,” Connolly said.

Jason Intardonato, senior deacon of Suffolk Lodge No. 60, discussed Dickens as a means of strengthening local connections and a time for selflessness.

“The Dickens Festival provides us with an extraordinary opportunity to interact with our neighbors here and with the community in Port Jefferson and to allow them into our space, entertain them for a while during the holidays, and give back,” he said.

Farther along Main, Jeffrey Sanzel’s annual production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at Theatre Three is an active reminder of the historical background to the Dickens Festival.

The festival also provided a platform for some to communicate their message on a larger stage. For the second month in a row, protesters from the farmworkers union Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW gathered outside the Pindar wine shop in yet another call of action to negotiate a contract. The dispute is part of more than a year of negotiations between the union and Pindar Vineyards, the wine store’s parent company. 

John Durso, president of Local 338, joined the picketers on Main Street during the festival. “We knew that today was the Dickens Festival,” he said. “We knew that there would be a lot more people around, so we decided to … bring attention to the fact that these workers, like everybody else, are entitled to the same dignity and respect that all workers should have.”

Coordinating the annual festival is a monumental task for the village and the various stakeholders involved in its planning. Kevin Wood, the village’s director of economic development, parking administrator and communications committee head, thanked the sponsors who supported the festival and commented on the event’s success despite the inclement weather conditions.

“Because this has been [going on for] 26 years, people understand that this is one of the most unique events on Long Island, so they’re going to fight the rain to be here,” Wood said. “To support the production and the infrastructure, there are so many volunteers but there are also so many people staffing to make it work.”

Snaden concluded by offering how the Dickens Festival advances some of the village’s highest aims. She said the community uncovers its sense of place through an event such as this.

“It really goes to the sense of community that we all have,” she said. “All the work that goes into this festival and how everybody comes together, it’s a beautiful thing to see.”

Port Jeff village historian Chris Ryon, above, poses with a Revolutionary War era whaleboat. The planned “Resolution“ will be similar in style and scale to the above vessel. Photo courtesy Ryon

American history and local tradition are on a collision course here in the Village of Port Jefferson.

Last month, public officials announced that the village government would partner with the Port Jeff-based Bayles Boat Shop to recreate a whaleboat from the American Revolution era. The boat shop is an offshoot of the Long Island Seaport and Eco Center, also known as LISEC, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of maritime history on Long Island. 

Mayor Margot Garant said the village government entered into conversations with LISEC because it sought a way to promote the story of Port Jefferson’s role in the Culper Spy Ring.

“We would have never considered it without having LISEC as a partner,” Garant said. “They just absolutely loved the concept. We brought it to them for the historical component and for helping us tell the story about Port Jefferson’s instrumental role — and the Roe family’s role, in particular — in the spy ring.” She added, “We felt the whaleboat would be a unique way of embracing the history, telling the story and engaging the community.”

In an interview, LISEC president Len Carolan indicated that the buildout would last for up to two years or so. “The boat will be a little bit longer than 25 feet, 6 feet wide, and it will weigh up to a ton,” Carolan said. He added that a project of this scale will also require additional steps: “This is the first time we’re going to be using a lofting platform.”

Lofting is a practice in wooden shipbuilding that enables designers to produce full-scale drawings used as templates. These renderings will help the builders to cut wood pieces with precision and to create a vessel that is as true to the source as possible.

The designers even hope to use the same building materials as the original whaleboats. “Typically, the boats then were built with white oak and white cedar,” Carolan said. “We have access to white oak because that grows here on Long Island. The white cedar, though, is no longer available here, so we’ll have to go a little further north to get the kind of wood we need.”

The term “whaleboat” is a misnomer, denoting the style of the vessel rather than its intended function. Carolan stressed that the operators of the original whaleboats did not use them for hunting whales.

“It’s similar to the design of the boats used to hunt whales, but those boats were much bigger — they were like 32 to 36 feet long,” he said. However, the boat’s design likely offered the patriots certain tactical advantages at sea. “It was easy to maneuver and row, and they were able to raid British ships and get away quickly using these whaleboats.”

Local historian Mark Sternberg is among the key figures involved in this project. Sternberg said he cultivated an interest in local history while growing up in the Port Jefferson School District. Back then, the stories of local patriots left an early impression upon him, inspiring him to pursue the subject more deeply.

“I’m from Port Jefferson … and grew up surrounded by the history here,” he said. “There is a lot of stuff here in Port Jeff that hasn’t been well documented. We have barely even started to scratch the surface of what we know about the spy ring.”

Sternberg foresees the whaleboat serving an array of educational purposes. An operational whaleboat makes possible various historical reenactments, such as Valentine Rider’s misguided plundering of the Roes — whom he had falsely believed were loyalists — and scenes of the numerous whaleboat battles fought in the Long Island Sound.

Sternberg added the whaleboat would help to tell the story of Caleb Brewster, a Setauket native who assisted the American war effort through his participation in the spy ring. Brewster also joined in the famous whaleboat fighting on the Sound. 

Though the name of Brewster’s whaleboat is lost to history, Sternberg recommends naming it “Resolution.” He said this title could still honor the Brewster legacy.

“My recommendation is to call the boat Resolution,” he said in an email. “This was the name of Valentine Rider’s whaleboat; [he was] a patriot privateer who launched from Connecticut to harass perceived loyalists on Long Island. It will work for plundering reenactments, as Valentine Rider and his men plundered the families of Nathaniel and Phillips Roe in May 1781 — the Roes were portraying themselves as loyalists as part of their roles in the Culper Spy Ring.” He added, “The name will also work if we ever try to reenact the intense whaleboat fight of 1782, as Valentine Rider fought alongside Caleb Brewster in that battle.”

Port Jeff village historian Chris Ryon also supports the whaleboat project. He sees the whaleboat as a unique opportunity to showcase two previously distinct strands of local history, connecting the village’s shipbuilding roots to its contributions to the Revolutionary cause.

The whaleboat “pulls it all together,” Ryon said. “It’s one of the earliest histories we have and pulls our Revolutionary War history in with our maritime history.”

Carolan expressed similar enthusiasm for the project. He said he hopes for the public to be able to follow the various stages of the buildout, from the construction of the lofting platform to the completion of the whaleboat. 

He also holds that the whaleboat could be a precursor to similar projects down the road, generating momentum and boosting confidence among those working on it. “We are hoping that it becomes a visible sign to students and local school districts,” the LISEC president said. “And that the entire build from beginning to end is open for the public to see the progress.” 

Carolan added that he hopes the build is the first of many large undertakings for the Bayles Boat Shop and added, “I think it’s going to give us so much more exposure.”

For Garant, sharing the local history of Port Jefferson is essential. By educating locals about their historical origins, she believes residents can better understand who they are, where they come from and their place within that history.

“I think the history is key to who we are,” the mayor said. “I feel one of the responsibilities of local government is to not only embrace that history, but to enrich and save it and work with the community to celebrate it and talk about it.”

Photo by Julianne Mosher

The Sikaflex “Quick and Dirty” Boat Building Competition and Race finally came back to Port Jefferson after a long-awaited year. 

Hosted by the Long Island Seaport and Eco Center, the 10th annual competition took off this past weekend on Aug. 28 and 29. Originally scheduled for the previous weekend, it was postponed due to rain and winds caused by Tropical Storm Henri. The 2020 event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sponsored by the Sika Corporation, a supplier of marine adhesives and sealants, the event provides would-be boat designers and builders a chance to showcase their creative skills and talents. 

Throughout the weekend, visitors could watch two-member teams, working under a time limit of five hours, build their boats in the parking lot of Harborfront Park next to Bayles Boat Shop. 

Not only did the contestants have to finish constructing their makeshift boat within a few hours, but they were also expected to assemble it using a meager supply of plywood, plastic cable ties and Sikaflex sealant — no nails or screws allowed — and make sure the boat wouldn’t sink in Port Jefferson Harbor. 

Len Carolan, the event’s coordinator, said during the boat race at 2 p.m. that it had been “a wonderful weekend.”

“Everybody seems to be enjoying themselves,” he said. “The weather’s been great for us, and we’ve had a lot of newcomers. Everyone’s having fun.”

Two of those newcomers were Allyson and Richard Nuss, who just moved to Port Jefferson village from Setauket this summer. The duo decorated their blue cardboard boat with paw prints to give a shout-out to their small business, The Social Hound Dog Park and Hotel located on Belle Mead Road. 

Richard said that while walking past the Bayles Boat Shop every other night over the last few weeks, they have gotten to know the workers there. The shop encouraged the couple to build their own boat for the race and they immediately said ‘yes.’

“We’re trying to be part of everything,” Allyson said. “We thought it would be like a cool thing to do.”

Not the competitive types, they had just two goals.

“All we wanted was 1, not to sink; and 2, not to come in last,” Allyson said.

And while seven boats raced around the pier, dozens upon dozens of spectators cheered the teams on from the beach. 

“It’s getting bigger every year,” Carolan said. “And having it around the dock, it’s a perfect spot.”

Originally, he added, three more teams were set to build, but could not make the new date after the storm last weekend. 

“Seven teams are usually the average,” he said. “And I think we’ll have at least a dozen next year.”

The event ended with an awards ceremony, where guest judge Mayor Margot Garant helped announce first, second and third place winners, as well as best design. 

“The Sikaflex boat build and race is a great day to raise awareness about the LISEC organization, which is one of our founding partners down here at the maritime campus at Jeanne Garant Harborfront Park,” the mayor said. “They do wondrous things in that boat shed building, and it’s a great way to see the community connect with them, and the contributions they make.”

Garant said the turnout of viewers was “phenomenal.”

“I think this was the biggest turnout I’ve seen,” she said. 

Following the award ceremony, LISEC raffled off a special item made at the Bayles Boat Shop — a 14-foot stand-up paddle board.

Photo by Alex Petroski


By Kimberly Brown

This weekend bring your friends and family to Port Jefferson Harbor to experience the legendary and captivating Sikaflex “Quick and Dirty” Boat Building Competition. 

Sponsored by the Sika Corporation, a supplier of marine adhesives and sealants,  the event provides would-be boat designers and builders a chance to showcase their creative skills and talents.

Photo by Alex Petroski

Hosted by the Long Island Seaport and Eco Center (LISEC), the tenth annual competition will be held over a two-day period, Aug. 21 and 22. On Saturday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., visitors can watch two-member teams, who are working under a time limit of five hours, build their boats in the parking lot of Harborfront Park next to Bayles Boat Shop. 

“It’s great to be back,” said Len Carolan, the event’s coordinator. “This year we have about ten teams, so it seems like everyone is ready to get out there and have some fun again and that’s what it’s meant to be about.”

The challenge? Not only do the contestants have to finish constructing their makeshift boat within a few hours, but they are also expected to assemble it using a mere supply of plywood, plastic cable ties, and Sikaflex sealant — no nails or screws allowed!

On Sunday from 9 a.m to noon, the teams will finish painting their masterpieces, covering the boat in fun designs, and patterns. Finally, at 2 p.m, the teams will race each other in Port Jefferson Harbor to compete for first prize. 

“I think the time limit is what keeps some people away from trying because they’re thinking ‘How could we build a boat in five hours?’ but it gets done and always turns out great,” Carolan said.

Teams ranking in first, second, and third place will receive trophies for their boat racing success, but there will also be a prize for the team that has the most original design. Following the award ceremony, LISEC will raffle off a special item made at the Bayles Boat Shop. “We thought we should do something a little different for the raffle this year, so we built a 14-foot stand-up paddle board at the shop,” Carolan said. “We have one team that builds a different raffle boat each year — next year we will have a 16-foot canoe.”

Tickets for the raffle range between $5 and $20 and the paddle board will be on display throughout the weekend.

According to Carolan, the “Quick and Dirty” boat race is still welcoming teams to join in on the fun. The entry fee is $100 and each team must seek a sponsor, or sponsor themselves. Local businesses are encouraged to sponsor this annual event. 

For more information on how to participate, visit www.lisec.org or contact Len Carolan at [email protected].