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Boatyard exhibit opens July 1 in Port Jeff

A private social hall is also part of

A private social hall is also part of Hanff's Boatyard in Greenport, where wooden boats are made and refurbished. (June 12, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The nonprofit history group Long Island Traditions opens its "From Shore to Shore: Boat Builders of Westchester and Long Island" exhibit July 1 at the Port Jefferson Village Center, located, appropriately, in a restored building at the former Bayles Shipyard, at 101 E. Broadway. It runs until Sept. 2, and admission is free.

Among the two dozen historic boatbuilding and repair yards featured:


Knutson Marine, Halesite

One of the oldest operating yards on Long Island, the operation on the shore of Huntington Harbor dates to the mid-19th century.

The family initially built wooden boats and ships for use by local industries. With the outbreak of World War II, the yard, located on East Shore Road, underwent a major expansion to turn out boats for the Navy, Air Force and the War Department.

The current owner is Dan Knutson, who employs skills passed down from his father and grandfather. He keeps wooden boats shipshape using tools and machines often older than his 52 years.

Knutson's Boat Yard has kept at it, despite real estate development pressure and the recession's toll on boating.


South Bay Boat Repair, Patchogue

Manager Charlie Balsamo remains dedicated to the vanishing art of restoring and maintaining historic wooden craft at the Underwood Street facility. Balsamo, a native of Gibraltar, has worked at the yard since 1959. During that time, the yard has built approximately 75 boats and repaired commercial fishing boats, Coast Guard vessels and ferries.

There were once several similar boatyards along the Patchogue River, including the legendary Gil Smith yard where catboats were the primary product. Now, only South Bay and Frank M. Weeks Yacht Yard remain.

Other featured boatbuilders and boatyards in the exhibit include Howard Pickerell of Southampton, the Scopinich family of Freeport and East Quogue, Alan Steiger of Bellport, the Harter Brothers of Bellmore and Westin's Boatyard in Sayville.

At 7 p.m. on July 16 and 30 and Aug. 20, there will be public programs with boatbuilders, boatyard owners and waterfront preservation specialists.
On Aug. 3-4, there will be a traditional boat display highlighting several of the featured boat builders. The programs are free. More information is available at or at 516-767-8803.

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