A Call For Pirates In Port Jefferson
November 2, 2010
Source: The Hour
By: Deirdre Frost and Sebastian Price
The call, "Ahoy matey," echoes near us as our ship moves through the choppy waters toward Long Island's North Shore.
Crossing the Sound on the Port Jefferson Ferry from Bridgeport is going to be a challenge, given that a fierce Northeasterly has just blow through the region the night before. Stark white caps on the dark blue waves signify that we are in for a bumpy ride with the strong winds and churning waters continuously battling the elements during our afternoon journey. Despite the vivid drama on the water, we are excited to be one of the few passengers aboard the P.T. Barnum ferry that seems staunch and immune to the harsh weather conditions. In less than an hour, we come into the port safely.
Our interests peak when we overhear a historian in port discussing the notorious Captain Kidd, who chose Port Jefferson to rendezvous with other pirates in the late 17th century. With other swashbuckling seamen from the Village of Setauket, Captain Kidd schemed how he would bury heaps of gold bullion and other treasure after plundering ships in the deep Atlantic. According to records, Kidd buried the bulk of his treasure on Gardiner's Island in eastern Suffolk County and then attempted to use it as a bargaining chip to be pardoned from high treason. But his devious scheme went awry with the recovery of the treasure, which consequently resulted in his arrest and imprisonment.
In search of our own pirate booty, we come onshore to discover the landmark white buildings of Danfords Hotel & Marina, overlooking the beautiful harbor. Located within the heart of the historic village, the resort's spectacular water views entice us to have our own rendezvous in this luxurious setting. The nautical décor is evident everywhere, especially in the rooms and suites that remind us of the sea as we peer at the magnificent vistas that comes alive before our eyes.
On the balcony of our suite, we view the tall, white yachts and watch the Port Jefferson ferry as it silently drifts from our sight. To our surprise, the spacious quarters with its navy and white décor resembles a fashionable yacht salon that offers sanctuary amidst a vast seascape.
Entering the main building in true pirate style, we swagger into the lively and animated surroundings of The Wave Restaurant where we dine on savory sea bass and cod and squelch our thirst with delectable Long Island wine. To complement our great feast, we decide to toast our good fortune in finding such a perfect hideaway, despite the fierce, blustery weather outside.
We are piqued by the history of Port Jefferson, especially in discovering that the area was originally called Drowned Meadow that offered a safe harbor to mariners. From visiting the Shipbuilding Museum in the historic section, we hear stories about the village gaining prominence as a major shipbuilding center in the early 19th century and then, being renamed Port Jefferson in honor of Thomas Jefferson.
To relive the history, we take a stroll around Harborfront Park where we are surprised to see the ruminants of the original rails that were used in moving the huge ocean going ships into the water. Along the waterfront are the piers from which the ferry operates with daily service, all year around. From the early 20th century, the ferry service flourished under its entrepreneurial developer from Bridgeport named P.T Barnum, who made money charging passengers seventy-five cents for a one-way and a dollar for a return trip.
Even today, watching the Port Jefferson Ferry as it moves peacefully through the water is a spectacular sight. Adding to the scenery is the beautiful shoreline and wildlife that enhance the waterfront. Along the protective harbor, anglers can wade out to fish, even during cold weather conditions.
Captivated by Port Jefferson's history, we are fascinated by the nautical life of this vibrant waterfront village. Our plan is to visit again when the HMS Bounty ship is scheduled to dock at Danford's Pier on Nov. 6 and 7. This famous sailing ship is being hosted by the Village of Port Jefferson as part of the filming of a new TV Series Here's to Us. To liven the set, pirates will be on hand to greet guests and a buffet and open bar will be catered by Danfords for any hearty souls aboard the HMS Bounty. During the event, registrants can enter a drawing to land a walk-on role in the new series.
For further information or reservations at Danfords Hotel & Marina, refer to www.danfords.com or 631-928-5200.
For information on the HMS Bounty event, refer to www.portjeff.com or call (631) 509-1226.
Related Link: http://www.thehour.com/story/493876