Designed for speed and comfort

They’re smooth, shiny, and built for speed. Today’s boats are equipped with powerful engines that carry them on ocean currents, from local waters to distant shores.

Although their numbers have dwindled over the years, there are still a few boat builders on Long Island who have honed their skills in crafting the ultimate watercraft for fishing and pleasure.

CH Marine’s Profile Runabout with custom color tops on her trip to Maine.Billy Black

Classic boats to stay in shape

At CH Marine, the boat building division of Coecles Harbor Marina & Boatyard on Shelter Island, they still build classic ‘Runabout’ boats.

“People are looking for speed, ease of replacement and the wow factor,” says Peter Needham, co-owner of the company which from the late 1980s to 2005 built four Runabouts for Billy Joel, having commissioned the design original. (Coecles Harbor Marina & Boatyard is family owned and operated since 1973.)

The trend is to move from a combination of inboard/outboard motors to exclusively outboard motorization on vessels mainly 35 feet and under.

“Now they’ve come out with bigger and bigger engines, so we’re seeing them on boats up to 60, 65ft,” says Needham.

A top-of-the-line Runabout model cranks up to 740 horsepower, a notion that was unheard of just a few years ago. “They put two, three or five on the back of the boat,” Needham says. “What’s really appealing to us is that they’re really quiet compared to the diesel engines we were using.”

Over the past decade, builders have used better fiberglass, fabric, and resin materials, as well as improved construction techniques.

“The boats are better designed than they were in the past, so they’re stronger and lighter,” says Needham. Some builders imitate the sleek European style popularized by Van Dutch boats, but Needham says there is still a market for more traditional boats.

“Some people aren’t into the modern design look,” he says.

Boats, Hamptons
The 23 Miami from Steiger Craft offers exceptional handling and highly efficient performance. Courtesy of Steiger Craft

More comfort at sea

Over the half century of Steiger Craft’s Bellport business, the boats have evolved from commercial fishing to sport fishing to family/cruising boats, but the style of the wheelhouse has remained the same.

“There’s nothing new or cutting-edge about our designs,” says Vice President George Yurcak, who notes that they have countless customers in the East End, particularly Montauk and North Fork, including the traveling Piano Man himself. “Our innovations are really in creature comforts and features for fishing guys and families.”

Recently, Steiger Craft included a Seakeeper in its design: a gyroscopic stabilizer that prevents the boat from tipping over. Other changes relate to seating configurations for people who sail more, including dinettes, hybrid free-standing sofas and comfortable folding seats in the rear.

“Fit and finish have changed over time to be more user-friendly,” says Yurcak.

Years ago, boat builders, who built fishing boats for fishermen and clams, didn’t think about how families would use the boats.

“But now we realize that a big part of the market has to be split: it has to be half family, half fisherman. This is how a man can spend between $100,000 and $300,000 and still get his wife to agree,” says Yurcak.

Building approximately 100 boats each year, Steiger gel coats each boat in a variety of colors.

“White is very popular now because we don’t charge anything for it,” says Yurcak. “When they want light blue, light yellow, light green, they will pay extra cost for it. And if they want dark colors, there’s double the extra for that.

Boats, Hamptons
CH Marine’s Shelter Island Runabout with varnished teak cabin walls for a touch of elegance Will Ricketson

Consoles in the center

Superboat, based in Lindenhurst and Copiague, builds high performance sports and racing boats to order.

The current trend is center consoles, with a standing or seated console amidships, says Superboat owner John Coen, who has been in business since 1970 and has served many East End yachtsmen.

“It doesn’t have a cabin up front and you walk up to the front,” says Coen.

What started out as fishing boats have, for the most part, evolved into 45-foot high-performance vessels with plush padding and four to six outboard motors, reaching speeds of 90 mph, Coen notes. .

Starting at 16 or 18 feet and going up to 55 feet, center console boats range from $25,000 to $10 million.

“If you had said this 20 years ago, you would never have believed it: a center console boat was basically a stripped-down boat designed for fishing,” says Coen.

Aluminum deck/pontoon boats are also trending, mostly in the 20- to 26-foot range, notes Coen.

“It’s like having a big patio on the water,” says Coen. “You don’t see them too much here, because the bays are choppy here. But in lakes and in quiet places: thousands of them.

The deck includes lounge chairs and a steering console on the side.

“They’re made for just hanging out,” Coen says.

This article appeared in the July 2022 edition of Behind The Hedges. Read the full digital edition here. Read the previous “At home in the Hamptons’ presents here.

Earnest A. Martinez