The Business of Boating: Helping People Get on the Water
By Rachel Bosworth
“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” – Jacques Cousteau
A love affair with the water is only natural when you live on an island. On the East End, salt water and fresh air draws those near and far to sandy shores and into the bays, harbors, and waterways that have made the North and South Forks an ideal destination for families, second-homeowners, and a growing tourism industry.
Local maritime history began with settlers making the voyage across the Atlantic, landing in towns known today as East Hampton, Southampton, and Southold, and with villages like Greenport and Sag Harbor serving as major whaling ports and important industrial outposts. In both the past and present, boating has lent itself to fishing, travel and nautical experiences that are becoming increasingly popular.
Technology has made boating easier, more reliable and ultimately more enjoyable. Now with the rainy days of May behind us, boaters are rejoicing for warm summer days on the water. From family boating day trips to luxurious yachting weekends, here’s how you can get on the water on the East End this summer:
Jeff Strong’s experience in the boating industry began when he swept the parking lots at the family’s namesake marina in Lindenhurst. After moving out East and eventually buying the business, Strong and his wife expanded their services with locations in Mattituck and Southampton, among others. “The connection of all of it is that we really love being out on the water,” he shares. “It’s a tremendous family experience.”
Offering boat rentals for the past 18 years, Strong’s Marine embodies a Disney World-like experience for their customers. Boats in the fleet are between new and two years old, with professional and reliable staff lending themselves to a safe, fun and memorable experience on the water. “Our goal is to get people out on the water,” Mr. Strong says. “But not just to experience boating, but enjoy the Strong’s Marine experience.”
For those who have little to no boating experience, the marina offers different captain packages to join you on your trips. “You’d never go skiing without a lesson beforehand first time,” explains Strong. “People don’t always think that way about a boat. You can have zero experience and be shown correct boating the first time, otherwise you can have a bad experience and not want to go again.”
Accommodating four to eight passengers, rentals begin at $395 for one day, $995 for three days, and $2,195 for a week. Cobalt, Regal, and Pursuit are among those brands in the rental fleet.
Mattituck and Southampton, 631.298.4770, strongsmarine.com
Another grandchild in the boating industry, Brian Spellman grew up around boats. “I’ve tried to live in several different places, but I always come back to Long Island mostly because of the water,” he shares. “Fishing is excellent, you can beach the boat and swim, and the scenery is beautiful.”
Family-friendly rental additions from the Hampton Bays marina include water ski packages and two-man tube sets. It is time with family that Mr. Spellman says draws many people to boating. “I get my kids on the boat and there is no better way to bond,” he says. “You only get a precious few summers.”
Spellman’s has 19, 20 and 22-foot Cobia and Grady White boats, beginning at $400 for the day depending on the size. Boaters can opt to rent anywhere from a single day to an entire season, testing the waters before making a purchase from the dealer’s inventory.
Hampton Bays, 631.728.9200, spellmansmarine.com
Port of Egypt
“My family’s business has evolved from a fishing station with daily rentals into a Grady-White dealer and full-service marina, but its foundation has remained the same,” said Yvonne Lieblein, Port of Egypt founder William Lieblein Sr.’s granddaughter. “Port of Egypt has always been dedicated to sharing the joys of boating with others. The key is emphasizing knowledge and safety so people can really relax and enjoy the incomparable experience of being out on the water.”
The Southold marina, which was founded in 1946, is one of the nation’s top Grady-White dealers. All new boats come with thorough, personalized demonstrations, allowing boaters to feel educated and confident. This season, Port of Egypt will launch “Captain on Call,” a program featuring customized boat handling lessons, cruises and guided tours. “Captain on Call is another way the Port of Egypt family will be able share its love of local waters and give everyone a chance to experience the instant vacation boating delivers.”
More information coming soon…
Southold, 631.765.2445, poemarine.com
Hampton Watercraft & Marine was founded by Tony Villareale in 1990 after years of running his own boat detailing service. The company started its first retail location in Westhampton Beach selling waverunners and marine accessories. Since, the company has grown to having three locations and is recognized as one of the leading boat dealerships in North America.
The Hampton Bays marina on the Shinnecock Canal is a full-service facility that can accommodates boats up to 75 feet with over 100 in-water slips, we have an award-winning service department, and is home to the Canal Café Restaurant.
Westhampton Beach features a fully-stocked showroom of boats and waverunners, an extensive ships store, and pro-shop for all of your watersports and boating needs. The newest marina, located on Seatuck Cove in Eastport, has 100 slips and is also a full-service facility.
Each location offers boat sales for new Tiara Yachts, Boston Whaler, MasterCraft, Key West Boats, Rossiter Boats and Yamaha Waverunners, as well as used boats.
Hampton Bays (631-728-8200), Westhampton Beach (631-728-8200), Eastport (631-288-2900), hamptonwatercraft.com
Modern Yachts started as a single marina in Westhampton Beach 49 years ago. The company merged with an existing Mattituck location in 1997 and acquired its third, and largest, location in Hampton Bays on the Shinnecock Canal in 2008. “Our business has always been predicated on providing premium service to our customers, no matter where they boat,” said Matthew Levy, the company’s sales manager.
Modern Yachts is New York’s exclusive dealer for Edgewater (15 to 37 feet), Cobia (20 to 35 feet) and Jupiter Powerboats (25 to 43 feet), and has an exclusive Eastern Suffolk territory for Sea Ray boats from 19 to 65 feet.
“Our customers come in interested in a wide array of boats but bow riders and center consoles have remained the most sought after vessels that we sell,” Levy said. “ The average size of boats sold in the last few years has dramatically increased, even in the bow rider and center console genres. Our sales typically average in the 25-to-38-foot size range.”
Modern Yachts has a Launch and Learn program for new and used boaters, which gives customers an unparalleled and thorough understanding of their boat and the East End’s local waterways. The company’s technicians are factory trained in Mercruiser, Mercury, Yamaha, Volvo and Cummins engines.
Hampton Bays (631-728-2266), Westhampton Beach (631-288-2400), Mattituck (631-298-5800), modernyachtsny.com
If you’re looking for a more luxurious experience, the Hamptons-based Tait Yachts offers precisely arranged trips on the water from picnic sails and sunset cruises to lavish summer vacations. A 116-foot Hargrave Motor Yacht is ideal for day and weekend trips, while the 41-foot Maine Cat Catamaran in the Tait’s fleet is the perfect half-day tripper for a cozy ten to 12 passengers. Yacht charter manager Danielle Tait Barton works directly with guests to ensure all aspects of the experience are covered; handling everything from menus to itineraries.
“Yachting is a unique and special industry. Often thought of, for good reason, to be exclusive… I believe I have made it ‘inclusive’ for many,” Barton shares. “I am so blessed to have our boutique style brokerage in the heart of the Hamptons; almost all of our worldwide customers started right here in Sag Harbor aboard one of our local yachts for just a relaxing day on the water. Just an afternoon … is really never enough.”
Vacation charters can be booked for travel in the United States, Southern Atlantic, Mediterranean, Europe, and Far East. Day charters range from $12,000 for a sunset cruise to $18,000 for a day. Weekly charters range from about $16,000 to over $1.5 million for some yachts in the Mediterranean.
Sag Harbor, 631.725.4222, taityachts.com
Sanlorenzo yacht dealer Boomer Jousma not only sells the uber-luxe yachts, but offers a charter service with modern boats and fellow high-end yachts through his company, NYachtC out of Sag Harbor. Including everything from catered food and alcohol, or bare boats for those who want to “rough it,” Jousma’s captains transport clientele on half- and full-day trips to local hotspots like Sunset Beach on Shelter Island and Navy Beach in Montauk.
“Clients can expect to be treated with the utmost service. All of the yachts in our fleet are no older than three years. This means you are chartering the latest and greatest,” says Jousma. “Clients deserve to be treated like they feel at home and in their own comfort zone. We pride ourselves in our broad knowledge of the Hampton waters and practice proper boating etiquette.”
With meticulously maintained boats in his fleet, there are several elite options for local trips on the water. “Life in the yachting industry is never dull. Every day brings new challenges with tight deadlines. I love what I do and can’t think of a better job than to hang around the docks and be on the water. Love to see people enjoy themselves on the water!
An 86-foot Sanlorzeno available for $5,000 for a half day and $8,500 for a full day, and the 62-foot Pershing for $3,500 for a half day and $6,000 for a full day.
Sag Harbor, 631.323.6773, nyachtc.com