Made on Long Island: Port Jefferson boat shop preserves Long Island's maritime past
The Bayles Boat Shop in Port Jefferson is helping Long Islanders get out on the water while preserving the area's maritime heritage.
The boat shop was started in the late 1990s by Philip Schiavone, a retired contractor who wanted to combine his love of building things with his passion for boating. It is run by volunteers and part of the Long Island Seaport and Eco Center, a nonprofit focused on maritime preservation.
“As far as I know, more ships were built here than any other harbor than Boston and New York,” Schiavone said of Port Jefferson.
A crew of dedicated craftsmen build, maintain, and restore wooden boats at the shop using traditional techniques. Walter Saraceni, a five-year volunteer, said each boat has its own story. The shop lets the village's shipbuilding history live on.
The volunteers are currently building a 24-foot replica Revolutionary War spy boat that will eventually sail the Long Island Sound in 2026 for the nation's 250th birthday.
The boat shop is looking for more volunteers to help out. Schiavone believes there will always be a need for wooden boats and people who want to build them by the harbor.