With the traditional start of boating season just weeks away, Long Islanders are beginning the annual ritual of washing, cleaning and waxing their vessels — getting them in shape for another summer on the water.
More than a dozen boaters spent a recent Sunday prepping their boats at Coneys Marine in Huntington — including Shinyi Shang, 17, who fed water into the holding tank of her family’s 37-foot-long Sun Odyssey as her father and little brother worked below deck.
“My dad is hard-core,” said the Jericho High School senior. “My dad loves it. He never wants to leave.”
While Memorial Day weekend is the time for many boaters to set sail, the season already is well under way for the area’s marinas, with crews across Long Island busy hauling boats out of storage yards and putting them in the water.
The process of moving these large vessels can sometimes be chaotic, said Kevin Coneys, vice president of Coneys Marine, where about 500 boats are stored.
After sailboats are brought to the dock, workers slip giant slings around the vessels. Using a crane, the crew hoists each boat, some as long as 51 feet, and gently lowers it into the water.
“It’s sort of like an emergency room,” Coneys said. “We don’t know who’s coming or when.”
This year, there are no new boating laws going into effect, but a 2014 law requires that anyone born on or after May 1, 1996 to obtain a safe-boating certificate before operating a motorboat, said Dan Keefe, a spokesman for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Nearly 42,000 students have completed the class and obtained their certificates as of March, he said.
As spring ushers in warmer temperatures, the Shangs and sailors like them look forward to spending long summer days cruising.
Peg Kuman, a strategy consultant from Northport, tries to take every other Friday off in the summer so she can spend more time on her boat.
“I find being on the water and being under the power of the wind to be the singular most detoxifying thing on the planet for me,” she said.
Although her 32-foot-long sailboat was still on land at Coneys last Sunday, Kuman and a friend, Gayle Sorrentino, 71, of Rockville Centre, were out scrubbing and polishing, getting it in shape before it goes into the water.
This year’s boating season has an international flavor, with the America’s Cup races taking place May 7 and 8 on the Hudson River.
The last time the races were held in New York City was in 1920.
Teams from the United States, Britain, France, Japan, New Zealand and Sweden are to compete in the event, a preliminary competition for the 35th America’s Cup, which will be held in Bermuda in 2017.
More than 20,000 spectators are expected to pack the shoreline in lower Manhattan to watch the races — including Hunter Botto, 58.
But as the Huntington resident awaits the races, Botto is spending his time caring for his 47-foot-long Catalina 470 — named for his 17-year-old daughter, Maryanna Mae.
Working on his vessel takes him far away from his daily life as co-owner of a Hicksville plumbing business.
“I like all the putzing around. I like all the fixing, the cleaning,” he said. “That stuff takes me away from the day-to-day stuff that will wear you down.”
BOATING SAFETY TIPS
Boater education: Learn the rules and your responsibilities. Seventy percent of boating accidents occur due to operator error.
Check your vessel: Both the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons have certified vessel examiners who will perform a free vessel safety check.
Wear life jackets: More than 80 percent of boating fatality victims might have survived had they worn life jackets.
Don’t drink while boating: One-third of recreational boating accidents that resulted in deaths involved the use of alcohol.
Source: U.S. Coast Guard
Boat registrations by the numbers
- New York State: 355,000
- Suffolk County: 52,500
- Nassau County: 23,700
Source: New York State Department of Motor Vehicles