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Huntington boating council swears in commodores, officers

The new commodores and officers of the Greater Huntington Council of Yacht & Boating Clubs were sworn in Thursday at the Northport Yacht Club.

Stephanie Quarles, of Asharoken, was named commodore of the council. She replaced commodore Jackie Martin, who became the council’s executive officer. Northport Village trustee Ian Milligan was sworn in as vice commodore.

The council represents nearly two dozen yacht and boating clubs along Huntington’s coast. The commodores help set the agenda and reach out to politicians to advocate for the interests of the council’s members, said Jon Ten Haagen, a past commodore.

“Our organization represents over 5,500 boating/voting families,” he said. “We can be influential with our elected officials to pay attention to getting the waterfront clean and the harbor safe.”

The council has successfully lobbied politicians on water quality and boating safety issues at the local, county and state level — including efforts to clean up the water along Centerport Yacht Club Beach, which was reopened in July 2015 for the first time in five years.

Quarles said she was “very excited” to begin her new role.

She said the council’s priorities for the next year will include lobbying lawmakers in Albany to speed up the phase-in of a state requirement for boaters to have safety education. Current state law only requires people born on or after May 1, 1996, to obtain a certificate of completion of boating safety education.

“Right now it’s 19-year-olds that are required” to get the certificate, Quarles said Thursday. “The mean average accident rates are happening with 40-year-olds, and it will be over 20 years before they’re [people who are 40 now] required to take an education course.”

Quarles said the council will also support legislation in Albany that would make it a more serious offense to drink while a boat.

Suffolk County Legis. William Spencer (D-Centerport), swore Quarles, Milligan and other officers in to one-year terms at the ceremony late Thursday. The event concluded the organization’s annual Safe Boating Week.

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