2018-02-15 / Columnists

Local companies—and families—anchor their lives to Long Island’s Great South Bay

NY Boat Show features many area boating companies
by Sandi Brewster-walker

of Margaret and Jim Koehler the Dinghy Shop, Amityville of Margaret and Jim Koehler the Dinghy Shop, Amityville The Progressive New York Boat Show organized by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) took place Jan. 24-28 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. Among the exhibitors were recreational boat dealers from Amityville, Babylon, Bay Shore, Copiague, Lindenhurst and Massapequa, where boating is a lifestyle along the Bay!

Helping to keep boating alive on the South Shore, two local family businesses were among the 2018 show exhibitors: Amity Harbor Marine and the Dinghy Shop!

Amity Harbor Marine, a family-owned dealership and full-service marina, was organized in 1956. The 1940 US Federal Census enumerated Benjamin “Ben” Pulvidende, Sr. (1909-86), and his wife Margaret Cecere (c1912-90) living on 15th Avenue in Kings County with their one-year-old son Benjamin, Jr. It would be Ben, Sr. who would move his family to the South Shore of Long Island, and started a boating business around 1956.

Ron Pulvidende and his son Alec of Amity Harbor Marine Ron Pulvidende and his son Alec of Amity Harbor Marine Members of the Pulvidende family were descendants of immigrants from Catania, Sicilia, Italy, the secondl-argest city located on the East Coast facing the Ionian Sea towards Greece. Boating is probably in their DNA!

Their business is a factory authorized dealer for Chaparral, a manufacturer of pleasure and fishing boats (Nashville, GA), as well as Sea Hunt Boat Company founded by father-and-son team Vic and Bubba Roof (Columbia, SC).

Benjamin and Margaret’s son Benjamin, Jr. would take over the family business; however today, Robert, Ronald and Diane are the third generation working at the full-service marine business. It offers a barbecue, picnic, gazebo area, clean restrooms and showers, gas dock, as well as a canvas shop on property. At the New York Boat Show, the fourth generation, Alec Pulvidende, a young filmmaker and photographer, was working with the family.

Another family-owned business at the Boat Show was the Dinghy Shop of Amityville, operated by Jim and Sue Koehler with their daughter Marguerite, as marketing director. The shop has three main products: paddleboards, kayaks and small personal sailboats. The Koehlers offer Twilight and Full-Moon Kayak Tours of the Great South Bay, as well as a number of training courses.

On May 5 and 6, the Dinghy Shop will host a Kayak Test Drive Event. As a vendor, some of their kayaks will also be used at the 2019 Pan American Games, Lima, Peru.

From along the Great South Bay, other companies in the marine industry exhibited. Ketcham’s Creek on Narrasketeek River is the home of Steve’s Marine Service, West Inc. founded in 1988 by Steve Stavracos. The 10,000-sq.-ft. complex will accommodate well over 100 boats for winter land storage, and has 40 slips on floating finger docks for the summer. They are also a Volvo-Penta authorized commercial engine power center.

Suffolk Marine, of Babylon, is an authorized service center for Yamaha outboards, Yellowfin and Regulator boats. They are known for their 16 slips dedicated to the service center.

Crossbay Motor Sports of Bay Shore offers new Kawasaki and Sea-Doo personal watercraft (PWC) for the land lover that wants affordability and speed on the water. They believe in building lasting relationships with customers on land or the water.

MarineMax located in Copiague and Lindenhurst is known as a resource for boaters, and is said to have a diversity of brands and models. The boating lifestyle is enhanced through vacation planning, yacht charter rentals, demo days and their Getaway program services.

In Lindenhurst, East Shore Marine Sales was established in 2001 as a “one-stop shop.” It offers maintenance, dockage, parts, sales and brokerage. They are an authorized dealer of Southport for a “smooth, responsive, quiet and dry” ride, and Century Boats established in 1926.

Island Yacht Sales, of Lindenhurst, offers brokerage, buying, selling, trading and full-service repair as well as storage of boats. It was founded by Chet Stripland in 1997. Stripland’s operation is the exclusive New York State dealer of Bob Dougherty’s Evergreen Boats. In 1999, Bob won the Marine Manufacturers Innovation Award, revolutionizing the way boats were built with his Rapid Molded Core Assembly process (RAMCAP).

Joe, Tom and Mike operate the Kehl’s Family Boat Center & Marina of Lindenhurst, founded 40 years ago in 1978. The business was started by the oldest brother Joe, who enjoyed boating. Today, Kehl is an authorized dealer of Crowne Line and Sea Pro boats, as well as offering summer dockage and winter storage.

An exhibitor from Massapequa was South Shore Marine Supply, “a store where you can speak to a person who really has an interest in what you’re doing.”

Spending the day at the Progressive New York Boat Show was just a reminder of the local recreational boating economic significances, direct impact and history on the South Shore of Long Island.

Near the end of the 1896 boating season, on Sept. 26, boat builders like Warren Purdy, of Amityville, advertised in the South Side Signal newspaper, he had boats for sale and rent!

Twenty-two years later, Frank Weeks, a boat builder in Amityville, ran an advertisement in the South Side Signal, April 4, 1919 issue, “FOR SALE – Auxiliary sloop boat, 36 feet long, 12-foot beam, eight H.P. engine.”

The area’s lifestyle and culture was created by locals like: Ted DeGarmo, Wilbur F. Ketcham, Joseph J. Kopec, George O’Shea, Foster Post, Frank Chichester, Raymond Melick, Robert Hulse, Harry Hulse, George Hulse and more, who were yachtsmen, boat builders and/or managed boat yards.

On Feb. 4, 1905, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper announced, “In conjunction with the regular Sportsmen’s Show which is to take place at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 21, the first national motor boat exhibition will also be held.” This was 113 years before the Progressive New York Boat Show took

place Jan. 24 through 28, 2018 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

The writer is an independent historian, genealogist, freelance writer and business owner. She is the chair of the Board of Trustees and acting executive director of the Indigenous People Museum & Research Institute. She has served in President Bill Clinton’s Administration as deputy director of the Office of Communications at USDA. Winner of the Press Club of Long Island’s 2017 Media Award – 3rd Place for Narrative: Column. Readers can reach her in c/o the LI.Indiginous.people.museum@gmail.com.

Boating facts & figures

The Great South Bay, a 45-mile-long lagoon, is located between the South Shore of Long Island and Fire Island. The body of water known as South Oyster Bay is to the west, and the Patchogue and Moriches bays are to the east.

Today, there are more than 12,014,387 recreational boats with powerboats being 82 percent, personal watercraft (PWC) 10 percent, sail boats 2 percent and others being 6 percent, nationally. The industry produces 650,014 jobs, both directly and indirectly, as well as a total expenditure on boats, engines, accessories and related cost over $35.4 billion.

The United States manufactures 95 percent of the recreational boats, which are small, towable, 26 feet or less used in America for fishing, swimming, water sports and other leisure activities. Boating is a lifestyle existing within the Long Island culture for well over 150 years along the Great South Bay!

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