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Scopinich Boat Yard - TravelStorys

Long Island Back Story

Location Trip Time Travel Type
New York 1 hour

Scopinich Boat Yard

Welcome to NY Back Story, where you can hear stories about local traditions. Here on Long Island we have several interesting places, including the former Scopinich Boat Yard in Freeport. Listen to Fred Scopinich, a boat builder who grew up in Freeport during the 1940s and worked in his father and uncle's boat yard, Freeport Point Shipyard from the time he was a teenager. The boatyard closed in the 1950s and is now located at the Hampton Shipyard in East Quogue. I grew up in the boatyard watching every day what was happening. There was nothing else I wanted to see but what was going on and what the day's progress was. I couldn't wait to get done with school at three o'clock and run down to the yard just to see what was accomplished during the day. When it came my turn to do it I kind of almost knew what I was doing already. It wasn't difficult for me. Actually, my father was in a good position because they did have the boat yard, the boat yard had the railways, and they did the service… The fellows had to come to them for service. There was no other yard in Freeport that could do anything in those years. That could build a boat, that could put on the Selanada, and put this heavy rail on the front that made a party boat out of it. Railways that could handle The Atlantic, which was a big boat in town. He built some of the charter boats that were at the boatman's association like the Rod and Gun. The coast guard came to the yard. Everyone came to the yard for something. My father had 12 men, 14 men, all though the late 30's during the war, when the war broke out and it got into the 40's… Let's say from 1941 to 1945 it increased to 70 men. Well I remember one good story about the boat Maureen – that was the 52-footer. The first night that boat went out in the inlet it took five crew members, they were all Freeporters. And they got out to the Coast Guard boat that was patrolling the inlet and the Coast Guard stopped them and said "where are you going?" And they said "mackerel fishing." But as the Coast Guard boat stopped them and asked them this, two fellows from the boat jumped off with pistols. They held up the Coast Guardsman! The boat went out, got its load of rum and liquor, came back through, went in and unloaded. Now they sent a skiff out to pick up the two guys… When they sent the skiff out they took two or three-hundred dollars and they hid it in the Coast Guard's boat. And they told the Coast Guardsman "if you report us, we're reporting you, that you took a bribe." And the old guy who told me this, he was about 90 years old, he said ha, what could they do now? Another boat, the Bella Marie, was unfinished, and the boat wasn't to be delivered yet. It still had about a week to go. But the schooner was out there. And this fellow that owned the boat, this fellow Rudy, he came down to the yard one night and jumped in it and just took it. He just took it. It was his boat anyhow, but it wasn't paid for or finished or anything. He went out and got his liquor and stuff and I guess he paid for the boat that way. Another fellow gave my father two houses for a boat. He was a housebuilder. And houses weren't selling that easy. And he had built the houses, and I guess he had to pay the lumberyard and all his suppliers and nothing was happening. He was a boatman and a waterman and he said "Freddy, look, I'm in trouble. I'll give you these two houses. Just give me a boat." And my father gave him a boat, and he went out and got his couple of trips and he paid everybody. Ready for more stories? Our next stop is the Lido Beach Conservation Area where you can learn about bay houses. This program is funded by the NY State Council on the Arts and the Robert W Gardiner Foundation.

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