BROOKHAVEN'S MARITIME HERITAGE
Located in Brookhaven hamlet are the Fireplace Boatyard on Beaver Dam Creek (sometimes referred to as Gould's Marina) and Tookers Boatyard on the Carmans River. The Fireplace Marina has been in operation since the 1940's for summer dockage for approximately 39 boats. Owned and operated by Mrs. Ruth Gould and Walter Gould before his death, the marina offers a safe haven from the storms on the Great South Bay.
Tookers Boatyard has been owned and operated by Bill Starke for the past 20 years. The Starkes purchased the yard from Dick Tooker who purchased it from Captain Sam Newey who was a well known boatbuilder in Brookhaven. The Newey-Tooker -Starke Boatyard has been in continuous operation for over 100 years.
" Shipbuilding was an important industry all over Long Island until the earliest part of the 20th century, and Brookhaven Hamlet was no exception. One of Long Island's best and most renowned boat builders, Nehemiah Hand, was born in the village of Fireplace in 1814. Brookhaven's own shipyard was run by Captain Sam Newey, who started to build boats in 1900 at the end of Newey Lane" (The History of Brookhaven Hamlet, once known as Fire Place, Kathleen L. Scheibel, 1998)
According to Stephanie Bigelow "No doubt the best known Brookhaven shipbuilder was Captain Samuel Newey, who turned out boats of all description from his shipyard near the end of Beaver Dam Road. He started to build boats in 1900. Having sold to the Vacuum Oil Company a 65-foot freighter he had built for himself, he subsequently built them fourteen tankers which went to India and to Africa. He built sloops, yachts, yawls, boats for ferrymen, boats for the oil trade, commercial draggers equipped with heavy booms and hoisting gear, and little sailboats for the younger generation who wanted to race.
"In 1924 alone, 54 boats were built in Captain Newey's yard, many of these being of the Shore Bird class for the Westhampton Beach Yacht Squadron. He built the 87-foot Ocean Beach ferry in the t920's and the same year, the 70-foot Howard E Harrin, a party fishing boat. He drew no plans, nor made half models in scale, as Gil Smith did, but just went ahead and built; he always was of the opinion that, 'anyway, no one could see both sides of the boat at once.
"For the larger boats, when it came launching time, he used house moving equipment, sliding the boats on rails, turning the corner of his lane into Beaver Dam Road, thence into Carmans River, and launching them sideways. When Sam Newey retired in 1948 he sold his yard to Richard Tooker from Moriches. At one time Newey Lane was called Eelpot Lane because so many eelpots were made there." (Bellport and Brookhaven, pages 67 & 69, Stephanie Bigelow, 1968)
Stanley Grodeski, formerly a boat carpenter with Captain Newey, built boats on Newey Lane and his grandson Philip Shelton built a boat, which is currently owned and sailed out of Squassux Landing.
Tookers Boatyard, as it is known today has many tales to tell. When Bill Starke took over the yard 20 years ago he said there was a stall in one of the sheds for a horse that Dick Tooker's daughter had some years before. It was taken out to make way for additional boat storage. It had to be reinstated for Bill's own daughter's horse who was named White Socks. Her foal, Amelia, was born in the shed and so completed a cycle for the boatyard.
Once Bill was working in the
yard and someone he did not know drove into the yard and said that the
end of Beaver Dam Road was very crowded and could she use the boatyard
for a ceremony to honor "Eddie". Bill agreed and thought he knew who Eddie
was. So the group came down and had their memorial service and threw Eddie's
ashes into the creek. Two days later the Eddie whom Bill thought he knew,
appeared in the yard, hale and hearty. So there are an unknown Eddie's
ashes memorialized in the boatyard.
Another story which Bill related
was told to him by Dick Tooker about a time when he had a boat on the rails
of the yard being readied for launching. The owners wanted to install a
cabin on the boat but did not want to pay Dick Tooker to do the work. So
the next morning two carpenters arrived and started to work on the cabin.
Dick Tooker noted that they carefully took out their plumbob to make sure
the lines were right as carpenters do. They built a very nice cabin on
the boat and went away. Dick Tooker did
not say anything and put the boat in the water. Lo and behold the cabin was indeed very well built but had a very distinct tilt to the side. The carpenters had not calculated whether the boat had been level on the rails.
In keeping with this maritime tradition the Post MorrowFoundation has created a community boatbuilding program at Tooker's Boatyard.<>Their objective is to preserve and promote the maritime history and heritage of Brookhaven Hamlet while providing a variety of educational experiences, primarily for residents of the area with particular emphasis on youth. They would be particularly interested in stories or information about the boatyards and/or any pictures which would help them to complete the history of the maritime heritage of Brookhaven. If anyone has information, please call the Foundation.
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