Port Jefferson Harbor in ‘95

Footnotes to Long Island History

Pt. Jeff Harbor in ‘95

August 18, 1955


Thomas R. Bayles


          The “American Bay of Naples,” as Port Jefferson harbor was called years ago, was a scene of great activity in 1895, as is shown by the following clipping from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for May 5, 1895.

          “E. M. Brown, commodore of the New York Yacht club, was here today inspecting his steam yacht Sylvia, flagship of the New York fleet, which was launched a few days ago from the Mather & Wood railways.  She has received a thorough overhauling and several alterations since her arrival from England three months ago, where she was purchased for Mr. Brown.  Artists from New York are now at work decorating the interior.  The saloon will be decorated in ivory and gold, and the owner’s room in cream and pink, as well as is the guest room.  The Sylvia is a trim and shapely boat, 130 feet in length, and is with one exception the smallest steam yacht to cross the Atlantic.  She will carry a crew of 15 men, with Spafford H. Davis as captain.

          “Port Jefferson has become a famous winter headquarters for luxurious craft of all kinds, and the fleet includes yachts ranging in size from a 40-foot cutter to schooners and steamers 200 feet in length.  With few exceptions these boats are all commanded by captains who reside here and draw handsome salaries throughout the year.

          “At the shipyard of James N. Bayles & sons the yachts are packed like sardines in a box.  This yard was established by James M. Bayles.  The firm has the reputation of building excellently modeled craft of staunch seaworthiness.  When commercial shipbuilding began to wane, the Bayles yard turned their attention to the yacht trade and built several yachts for New York men.  These boats attracted the attention of yachtsmen, and trade has steadily increased since then.

          “A. L. Barber, the millionaire, owns the largest yacht in the bay, the steamer Sapphire.  She looks like an ocean steamer, spreading her yards among the smaller craft.

          “Henry A. Loughlin of Pittsburgh was here this week and after consulting his captain, A. S. Hallock, ordered work begun on his trim steamer Vesta.  The steamer Magnolia, owned by Henry Belknap, is ready to launch from Bayles’ yard where she has been coppered and lengthened about 14 feet by a new overhanging stern.

          “The famous old racing sloop, Fanny, still owned by Thomas and Frederick Fisk, is being made ready to go into commission.  She looks as bright and trim as in her palmist days.  Another beautiful boat and famous racing craft is the schooner Sachem, and sailed by Capt. C. J. Aldrich.  She is being made ready to sail and will clear the middle of the month.  A new main saloon finished in rich mahogany is one of the changes made on the steamer Nirvana with George L. Tyson, owner.

          “The large black schooner which arrived last fall as the Norsemen will weigh anchor and sail for Larchmont on Memorial day as the handsome schooner Alsacienne.  For many months past carpenters, riggers and painters have been busy transforming the old into the new.  S. C. Bragg, the owner, has not spared expense in fitting up the new boat.  The furnishings of the main cabin are the best, and the upholstery is of gold plush and the hangings of heraldic tapestry.  Capt. Robert Dayton is now in command.

          “The new steamer Duquesne will arrive here soon, when Capt. Simeon H. Davis will assume command.  The new boat is 130 feet over all and carries a complete electrical plant.

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