Photo Credit: Robert Wargas
The popular owner of a Montauk marina was found dead in Montauk Harbor Monday, leaving the close-knit East End hamlet mourning his death.
Carl Darenberg, 64, who owned Montauk Marine Basin and devoted his life to supporting Montauk's fishing community, was found just after 9:30 a.m. floating near neighboring Uihlein's Marina.
Owner Henry Uihlein said one of his employees had gone down to wash a boat when she suddenly re-emerged, shaking.
"She said, 'There's somebody in the water,' " Uihlein said.
"I yelled, 'Carl, get up! Carl, get up!' " said Uihlein, a longtime friend of Darenberg. "I didn't even want to imagine him being dead."
Uihlein called East Hampton Town police, while Darenberg's employees rushed over to help retrieve the body and place it on a swim platform.
"His crew responded in a second," he said. "They all cried and got him out of the water."
East Hampton Town police Capt. Christopher Anderson said police were investigating the circumstances around Darenberg's death, but so far it did not appear that any criminality was involved.
The Suffolk County medical examiner's office was assisting in the investigation, Anderson said.
Darenberg family members said they hoped video surveillance at the marina would yield some clues as to what happened to him.
Darenberg had worked at the marina, his family's business, before taking it over, said his cousin, Debbie Tuma of Riverhead.
He organized events honoring longtime Montauk fishermen and helped start the area's first seafood festival, working within Montauk's Chamber of Commerce, said Tuma, a freelance writer for Newsday.
He also ran shark tournaments, focusing in recent years on conservation by tagging sharks instead of killing them, she said.
Family gathered Monday at the Montauk home of Darenberg's brother, Gary.
"It's really pretty shocking," said Carl Darenberg's nephew, Chris Darenberg. "We didn't expect it to happen like this. He's helped everybody he could in every way he could. He helped guys get back on their feet."
Cecilia Thompson, Gary Darenberg's ex-wife, called the event "unreal."
In addition to his brother and cousin, survivors include Darenberg's wife, Joann, two adult children, Courtney and Chase, all of Montauk, and a large extended family, Tuma said. Funeral services hadn't yet been arranged.
Friends at the Liar's Saloon in Montauk Monday recalled Darenberg as a fixture of the local nightlife scene. "Anytime there was an event it wasn't complete unless Carl was there," Matthew Galcik said.
"He'd come in and light up a room," Doree Laizer added.
Tuma said: "He loved to go out because he really loved people. . . He socialized and networked, and he knew all the fishermen and he knew all the tourists."
Friends and customers wandered around the shuttered dock at Montauk Marine Basin Monday, looking for answers. Condolence notes left by mourners fluttered from the glass window of the front office.
Neil "Surreal" Thomas, an accordion player, arrived at Lynn's Hula Hut, an outdoor tiki bar on the Marine Basin property, to discover his gig had been canceled because of the death.
"It was a bummer, kind of shocking," he said. "He was here last night, and he seemed OK. This is all kind of sudden and shocking."
Paul D'Angelo pulled up to the dock to discover it was closed and soon found out the tragic reason. He was stunned for a moment.
"I've known him 49 years," he finally said. "He ran a good business."