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Danfords Hotel & Marina

It looked like special effects from a movie scene playing out on the harbor.

At about 1 p.m. Sunday, July 1, a 33-foot Sea Ray Sundancer boat caught fire in Port Jefferson Harbor near the Danfords Hotel & Marina dock, according to police. The cause of the fire is under investigation by Arson Squad detectives, police said. Four Connecticut natives were onboard the boat when it burst into flames — Charles Schwartz, 59, who owned the boat; Ainsley Lothrop, 30; David Lamontagne, 47; and Robert Corbi, 31.

Suffolk County Police Sgt. Michael Guerrisi was off-duty at the time and onboard his own personal boat nearby, police said. The four occupants of the boat jumped into the water to escape the burning vessel, according to the Port Jefferson Fire Department Chief Brennan Holmes’ office, and Guerrisi aided in pulling the boaters from the water to safety onto his boat.

“Kudos to Port Jeff Fire Department — responded immediately to contain the fire — fantastic job,” Port Jefferson Village Mayor Margot Garant posted on Facebook, thanking the neighboring fire departments for lending a hand. First responders from Setauket, Terryville and Mount Sinai fire departments arrived at the scene of the incident to help extinguish the flames.

“Thank you to Port Jefferson EMS for providing rehab to the firefighters working on scene as well as emergency medical care to the vessel’s occupants,” a message on PJFD’s Facebook page read.

The occupants of the boat were transported to Stony Brook University Hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries, according to SCPD.

After 15 years in business, Lombardi’s on the Sound is no more. File photo

Change is on the horizon at the Port Jefferson Country Club.

After a 15-year partnership with property owner Port Jefferson Village, Lombardi’s on the Sound is no more. The family-owned catering business with other locations in Holbrook and Patchogue will no longer serve as the proprietor of the hall located on the golf course on the shores of the Long Island Sound.

The village board unanimously passed a resolution at its March 5 meeting approving the transfer of the catering license at the facility from Lombardi’s Caterers to The Crest Group LLC, a Port Jefferson Station-based real estate group, effective immediately. Crest’s hospitality division also includes Danfords Hotel & Marina, a longtime staple in Port Jefferson Village. The country club catering hall will be rebranded as The
Waterview at Port Jefferson Country Club and is set to reopen in early April, according to Christina Whitehurst, director of sales and marketing at Danfords.

“It was time for a change for both them and us, but I can’t speak for what changed for them as far as their business plan,” village Mayor Margot Garant said. “Lombardi’s sold their business — bulk sale. We simply had to approve the new vendor to assign the agreement. We felt Danfords knows the village and would prove to be a good working partner, treating both our members and residents as VIP clientele.”

Garant said village personnel are meeting with Danfords staff throughout March to coordinate plans, names, menus and events.

“We will make a joint announcement on all when everything is ready to launch,” Garant said. “We are excited to reclaim our country club.”

The mayor added that the menu at the rebranded hall is “to be announced,” but to expect it will be compatible with a country club setting.

Guy Lombardi, one of the business owners who also oversees the kitchens at Lombardi’s various locations, said they made the decision because they wanted to focus more on their other locations, adding that he expected Danfords would do a great job with the location.

“I loved that place,” he said of Lombardi’s on the Sound. “I loved to go there. The mayor does a great job there. It was just time to move on. It was a great run. We’re going to miss the people.”

“We would like to express our most sincere gratitude and appreciation for allowing Lombardi’s on the Sound to provide you the exemplary food, service and catering experience during our 15 years at the Port Jefferson Country Club,” the company said in a statement on the Lombardi’s on the Sound website.

Whitehurst said in a phone interview Danfords would welcome back employees who had jobs at the country club catering hall, and also indicated those who had previously made reservations for events at the country club should get in touch.

“We care about our reputation and how we do business and how we treat our guests and the level of service we deliver, so no matter what it is, we’re not going in there like we’re in and out,” Whitehurst said when asked about duration of the contract. “We want to continue to have the same track record like we have at Danfords.”

Five years remain on the 20-year lease being assumed by Crest, according to the village.

Danfords Hotel & Marina will be the site of a new business venture in Port Jeff which will allow patrons to take week-long charter trips. Photo from Christina Whitehurst

By Alex Pertoski

A new business venture slated to open in Port Jefferson Village in spring 2018 will chart a course all the way to New England.

Lime Charters, a New York-based charter company, and Aeroyacht, a yacht dealer specializing in luxury sailing catamarans, have partnered with Danfords Hotel, Marina & Spa to establish a Port Jeff location where charter boats can be rented by interested patrons to be sailed through the Long Island Sound to the New England region for week-long trips. Sailors would have the option of setting off on their own, or the company can recommend a captain to bring on board the small vessels to handle the navigation.

One of Lime Charters three vessels available for rent beginning in 2018 for those interested in sailing on week-long trips from Danfords Hotel, Marina & Spa in Port Jeff to the New England region. Photo from Bill Beasley

According to Lime Charters’ website, most captains charge between $150 and $250 per day. Depending on the season and the size of the boat, prices range from around $4,000 to $5,000 for the seven-day use of a catamaran, which is large enough to take up to 10 people. The company requires proof of sailing experience for those declining to bring along a captain, and pre-charter checks allow the company to assess sailors and ensure they are comfortable with the boat. Though the company advertises the boats can be used to sail to Rhode Island, Connecticut, Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, among others, charterers are permitted to take the vessel essentially wherever they would like.

Village Mayor Margot Garant said this is the first such business ever available in Port Jeff.

Bill Beasley, the founder of Lime Charters, said in an email at a recent international boat show he received a flood of interest in an offering like this in New York.

“Up until now, folks had to go further north or south to charter a catamaran sailboat,” he said.

Beasley shed some light on why Port Jeff is an “ideal location” to set up a launching area for Lime Charters. “It’s half way between New York City and the Hamptons — just an easy car or train ride out to us … Port Jefferson is a perfect sailing harbor town with its shops, diverse restaurants and, of course Danfords. It is a perfect partner considering their central waterfront location and opportunity for charter guests to stay at either before or after their charter. We hope to attract clients who like to be pampered and Danfords certainly supports that level of service.”

One of Lime Charters three vessels available for rent beginning in 2018 for those interested in sailing on week-long trips from Danfords Hotel, Marina & Spa in Port Jeff to the New England region. Photo from Bill Beasley

Christina Whitehurst, director of sales and marketing at the hotel, said Danfords is equally excited by the natural hospitality experience partnership.

“We’ve been doing a lot of upgrades to the marina and the area, and this is proof the word has gotten around,” she said in a phone interview. “It’s just going to expose another audience to Danfords.”

Garant expressed excitement over the possibilities the charter trips could present to residents and visitors in Port Jeff for those who want to add a one-night stay before or after their charter experience.

“I love it, I think it’s fantastic,” she said of the service and its base in the village she oversees. “I think it’s an excellent way to have more activities on our waterways.”

Garant also called Danfords a perfect anchor point.

Currently, Lime Charters has a fleet of three boats, though Beasley said their plan is to add more. Each vessel has a cooking area, and they offer the option of having groceries delivered to the boat.

Lime Charters is currently taking reservations for the 2018 boating season.