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Sailing

Kite. Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

The visitor comes unexpectedly sneaking around corners, invisible in the air even if you’re staring directly at him.

He is particularly welcome in the summer, when it’s so hot that the sweat on your skin only makes you wet and clammy, without providing much relief.

A cold drink might help, you think. As your fingers take respite from the moisture on the cup, your lips, tongue and mouth journey far from the heat, giving your brain the chance to ignore the signals the rest of your body is sending about how hot and miserable you are.

Short as this comfort is, it’s nothing compared to the effect this guest brings.

I tend to make an odd face when I get too hot, curling my short, thick tongue into my slightly larger lower palate and waiting, as patiently as possible, for the fall to bring cooler temperatures, Halloween costumes, pumpkin pie and, down the road, maybe a snowman that’s taller than me and my son who years ago started bending down to hug his father.

Today, however, during that most amazing of now moments, the guest has arrived, offering the kind of cooling and refreshing massage that lasts much longer than an hour. He charges nothing for his services.

He has an open invitation, of course, but he doesn’t always accept the offer, particularly when he’s traveling elsewhere.

He makes the horseflies scatter and alters the surface of the water, causing the kind of rippling pattern that may inspire a young mathematician eager to find a formula to explain what she sees.

He can interrupt even the most heated of discussions, debates and disagreements. It’s hard to be angry or to make an aggressive point when he’s around. And, in case you ignore him, he has a way of making his presence felt, knocking that stylish hat off your head and into the Long Island Sound, causing that expensive silk scarf to ruffle toward your face, or loosening those carefully tucked bangs.

Powerful as the sun and heat are, he can offer a counterbalance.

He can be cruel, knocking a bird’s nests out of the trees. He can also topple a table filled with carefully cooked cuisine, turning the mouth watering meal into a mess. When he feels like attending a baseball game, he can turn a home run into a fly ball and vice versa.

Ah, but go with him when you’re sailing, flying a kite or just sitting on a hot beach, and he brings the kind of cleansing magic to the air that water brings to a parched plate.

He helps send a kite high into the air, tugging on a line that causes the kite to dart, dive, dip and climb.

On a sailboat, he is the copilot, willing your ship, no matter its size, faster. You don’t need a motor when he’s around and you may not even need to drink that iced tea, lemonade, ice cold beer or soft drink you brought along with you.

After a sail, even on some of the hottest days, but particularly around dusk, he provides cool comfort in much the same way a blanket offers warmth during the coolest nights of the winter.

As he climbs through the nearby trees, he seems to ask you to “shhh.” Then, he waltzes past chimes, tapping each sound singularly and together, singing a unique summer melody that changes with each of his appearances.

He is an equal opportunity flag waver, indifferent to the political leanings of the people who hoisted the revered cloth to the top of a pole.

One of my favorite companions during the summer, I celebrate the cherished breeze, not only for the comfort he affords but for the way he alters the landscape and offers a respite from the heat.

Pixabay photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

A three-year-old golden retriever, missing for two weeks, was pulled out of Barnegat Bay Wednesday by two blessed souls. I know how that golden feels. I was pulled out of Port Jefferson Harbor Sunday and was I ever grateful.

I’ll tell you the whole story.

My family is visiting, finally, as the pandemic fades. That includes three sons, three daughters-in-law, one granddaughter, two grandsons, (the third was working), one dog and two cats. Sunday late afternoon we noted the arrival of what sailors call “the cocktail breeze,” and to enjoy it, three of us went out in the harbor on a 16-foot Hobie Cat. The catamaran is little more than two pontoons connected by a sturdy webbing on which passengers sit. There is a mainsail and a jib, and the light craft really flies across the water. But there is no motor, only an oar in case the wind dies down, and we have to row ourselves back to shore-hardly a desirable state of affairs, as you can imagine.

So, there we were, happily zipping along, when the breeze turned into a sudden gust, caught us off guard, and lifted one pontoon out of the water. I was sitting above the other, and I saw the colorful mainsail rising up like a wall and coming toward me. The abrupt knot in the pit of my stomach confirmed that we were about to capsize. That had never before happened with this boat. I braced for a shock.

To my pleasant surprise, the water temperature, while not warm, was more comfortable than I expected for so early in the season. And while I was wearing a life vest, I had casually closed only the top couple of toggles, so the vest rode up to the level of my chin, pinning the edge of my broad-brimmed hat that had come askew in front of my eyes. While I knew I was in the water, I couldn’t see a thing.

It took us several minutes to sort ourselves out, my son, daughter-law and myself. We worked to untangle ourselves as we clung to the side of one of the overturned pontoons. Then the boat became caught in a mooring into which the wind had blown us. We hoped one of the two motor boats that came along would stop to help. They passed us by, but one slowed down to take a video of us struggling in the water.

It is hard to right a catamaran, and in the sudden heavy wind, it proved impossible.

“Maybe we should call for help,” my daughter-in-law suggested, and proceeded to do just that.

Fortunately Evelyn and Greg Haegele, in their sailboat aptly named “Necessity” heard us and slowly approached. My children were most concerned with getting me to safety and up the swim ladder that Greg had thrown over the side, my daughter-law helping me swim over to their boat. My son calling out my age with concern in his voice.

It was not easy to climb the six steps in my sopping wet clothes, but as they say at NASA, failure was not an option.

Then Greg passed his sunglasses to his wife and made a beautiful dive to swim over and help right the Hobie. Together they were successful despite the strong wind.

As my children clambered back aboard and sailed off, a police boat, followed by a fire boat dashed after them, checking to see if all was well. It seems some alert person in a waterfront home in Belle Terre, witnessed the mishap and called 911.

Meanwhile the Haegeles took me back to Port Jefferson via the launch service and then drove me home, a drenched dog.

Photo by Maria Hoffman

EYE CANDY

Maria Hoffman of East Setauket snapped this photo on July 18. She writes, ‘I was on the harborside beach of Port Jeff Harbor’s western headland just south of the inlet. As I scanned the busy Saturday harbor, the bright bold colors of the spinnaker sail caught my eye.  As the boat moved toward Port Jeff Village I realized that the striped sail would soon pass by the stacks with their candy striping and just waited for the moment.’

Send your Photo of the Week to [email protected]

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Three Village Historical Society historian Beverly C. Tyler on the Picton Castle.

By Beverly C. Tyler

The 19th century was the era of the romance of sail. Full-rigged ships, such as the Flying Cloud, set sail-powered speed records for ships of commerce voyaging to and from ports around the world that would never be eclipsed. These beautiful and awe-inspiring ships were just a fraction of the sailing vessels that transported goods locally, regionally and around the world.

Sailing on board the Stephen Taber in Penobscot Bay, Maine.

On Long Island Sound and up and down the East Coast of America smaller cargo vessels, sloops, schooners, brigs and barks kept residents supplied with many of the products they needed to sustain life. However, today as reported in the Oct. 23 edition of The Guardian, “[Modern vessels] fan out across the seas like a giant maritime dance, a ballet of tens of thousands of vessels delivering the physical stuff that has become indispensable to our way of life: commodities and cars, white goods and gas and grains, timber and technology.

“But shipping — a vast industry that moves trillions of pounds-worth of goods each year — is facing an environmental reckoning. Ships burn the dirtiest oil, known as bunker fuel; a waste product from the refinery process, literally scraping the bottom of the barrel, the crud in crude. It’s so thick that you could walk on it at room temperature. As a result, shipping is a major polluter — responsible for about 2.5% of global carbon emissions.”

A good friend from Auckland, New Zealand, Joan Druett, is an award-winning maritime author, who has written many books about the sea including “Hen Frigates,” the stories of women in the 19th century who went to sea with their ship captain husbands. The book includes a number of Long Island women including two from Setauket. Druett also has a blog “World of the Written World.” It was through her blog that I learned of the article “Winds of change: the sailing ships cleaning up sea transport” by Nicola Cutcher in The Guardian.

There are now a number of sailing ships and maritime companies working to ship products, especially those that cannot be grown locally, to other countries in sailing vessels that have a very low carbon footprint and are environmentally responsible; in other words shipping that does not contribute to the pollution of the oceans and the air.

Companies around the world like Shipped by Sail, Timbercoast, Fairtransport, New Dawn Traders and TransOceanic Wind Transport are working to provide clean, ethical and sustainable transportation of goods.

In April of 2018, I spent a week as a crewman on the Picton Castle, a 150-foot, three-masted bark, a square-rigged sail training ship that has, as of July 2019, made seven circumnavigations of the globe. I first boarded the ship as a visitor in October 2013 in Auckland and found out that Picton Castle was then based in the Cook Islands in the Pacific. Picton Castle crew member Kate “Bob” Addison wrote these observations July 12, 2013.

“Barque Picton Castle is just twenty miles off Atiu, a raised atoll in the southern Cook Islands, the first island call of this cargo and passenger run to the outer Cook Islands. We departed from Avatiu Harbour, Rarotonga yesterday morning to start this second inter-island voyage; this time we’re heading up north to Penrhyn, Manihiki and Rakahanga after a short call at Atiu in the Southern Group. And then back to Rarotonga in August for the start of our next long South Pacific Voyage.

“These cargo and passenger operations are a fascinating chapter in the history of our ship. Running a cargo operation under sail is definitely complementary to our core mission of sail training and adventure travel, it adds depth and purpose to our experiences and provides a true hands on training opportunity on board. The ship has always been about being part of something greater than yourself, of doing things that need doing whether you feel like it or not, simply because it needs doing. And now we have pressed our barque into a service that is bigger than the ship.

“At the moment the ship’s hold is about two thirds full of cargo, about fifteen tons of which is building materials that will soon become new water tanks in Atiu. We are carrying a mother, and daughter and their dog back home to Atiu and a commercial diver up to work on the pearl farms of Manihiki. In a small way we are contributing to the workings of the Cook Islands, our home in the South Pacific.”

My week on the Picton Castle in the Gulf of Mexico, as she prepared for her last round-the-world voyage, helped me understand how dedicated the ship and crew are to teaching us, not only how to work on a sailing ship but how to be environmentally aware of our surroundings and how important it is to respect the seas and harbors where we work and live.

In 2008 my wife and I spent a few days on the Stephen Taber, an 1872 Long Island-built schooner in Penobscot Bay in Maine. During the week we had a lobster and clam bake on one of the uninhabited off-shore Islands. We were told not to collect any driftwood. We brought everything we needed to the beach including the wood for the fire and when we left everything we brought was removed as if we had never been there. I am thankful for what these experiences have taught me.

Beverly C. Tyler is Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.

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.

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.