Celebrating Local Boatbuilding

The Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead and Long Island Traditions are welcoming three native Long Island boat builders: Donn Costanzo, Chris Hale, and Kevin Weeks, for a conversation on their work at the new Hallock State Park on  Sunday, Oct. 27 from 1 to 3 p.m. 

Boat building is considered a traditional woodworking craft, and is recognized as important pieces of Maritime Folk Art heritage, locally and nationally. 

Don Costanzo

Donn Costanzo is the owner of Wooden Boat Works, in Greenport, where he builds and restores traditional recreational sailboats and motor boats.  Raised in Sayville, Donn first became interested in skiffs and garveys which were used on Great South Bay by local baymen.  Donn went clamming and scalloping, traditional activities for area residents.  As a high school senior, he worked with Al Terry to restore one of the legendary boat builder Gil Smith’s skiffs, launching Donn on his career path.  However “it was not until I went to Lance Lee’s apprentice shop that I learned classical boat building.  At that point I felt I had some skill that was marketable.”  He later worked in Europe both building and restoring boats before returning to Long Island in 1994. At first he worked on restoring Beetle Cats, a popular racing boat on Long Island during the 1950s. Shortly afterwards Wooden Boat Works began restoring Gil Smith boats, and building a John Atkins’ designed lapstrake skiff.  Eventually he was able to establish Wooden Boat Works at the Hanff boat yard in Greenport, where he could work on larger boats that required deep water.

Kevin Weeks is the owner and manager of the Weeks Yacht Yard in Patchogue, the third generation of his family to run the yard. The yard was founded by Kevin’s grandfather in the early 20th century after apprenticing for Martinus Smith, whose yard would later be incorporated into the Weeks property. Between 1915 and 1923, Kevin’s grandfather built a number of buildings on the property including the ‘long’ shop, the ‘big’ shop and the machine shop. The oldest building on the property is the ‘white’ shop which dates to the 1870s when the yard was owned by MS Smith: the ‘white’ shop is also the same building where his grandfather apprenticed. The Weeks Yacht Yard has built numerous commercial and pleasure boats throughout its century-long history, originally mostly from wood and later from fiberglass.  In addition to maintaining boats, the Weeks family has maintained and preserved many of the original structures and features of the yard.

Chris Hale

Chris Hale has worked at many boat yards on Long Island including: Coecles Harbor Marina on Shelter Island, Hampton Shipyard in East Quogue, and has worked at Weeks Boatyard, in Patchogue, since the 1990s.  He works on traditional wooden boats, ranging from skiffs and cat boats to modern recreational fishing boats.  Hale is also one of the few remaining boat builders who make “half models” of traditional boats that once graced Great South Bay. Hale follows a long line of traditional boat builders who make “half models”, a tradition that was carried on by Fred Scopinich of Freeport, when he worked at his family’s Freeport Point Shipyard during the early – mid 20th century. Hale makes several varieties of “half models” that include both recreational and commercial boats. Hale uses various types of wood depending on the model he is making.  Using specialized tools, Hale makes garveys, models of sailing racing boats, and other boats commonly found on Great South Bay.  He estimates that he has built over 100 models, and plans to continue for years to come.

Reservations are requested. Tickets may be purchased in advanced by calling Hallockville Museum Farm at 631.298.5292 or visiting their website at hallockville.comAdvanced tickets are $10. Tickets at the door may be purchased on a first-come first-served basis for $15 each or two tickets for $25. Space is limited.

The Hallock State Park visitors center is next to the Hallockville Museum Farm campus at 6062 Sound Avenue.

Partial support for this program is provided by New York State Council on the Arts.

Beth Young

Beth Young built her first boat out of driftwood tied together with phragmites behind her family’s apartment above the old Mill Creek Inn in Southold. Nowadays, she spends most of her time kayaking, learning about shellfish, writing newspaper stories, trying to sail a Sunfish, and watching the way the bay changes from day to day. You can send her a message at beth@peconicbathtub.com

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