We continue on the tour of Manhasset Bay and as promised. continue the tour to highlight the southern end of the bay from the Town Dock toward Plandome.
The Nautical Advisory Council (NAC) of the Port Washington Public Library offers tours of Manhasset Bay each season, with an option of a tour on Saturday, Sunday or a Thursday sunset tour. Going south from the Town Dock, the first “landmark” is Louie’s Shore Restaurant, a well-known seafood restaurant and destination for many boaters and tourists. Louie’s is very much a part of Port’s nautical history. Louie’s started out as a speakeasy, owned and operated by the Zwerlein family. When the Zwerleins sold Louie’s after 96 years of ownership, Marcelle S. Fischler of The New York Times said, “Sitting at a table in the back corner of the patio room on a recent evening, reminiscing about times past, Mr. (Jay) Zwerlein figured that in its heyday, 3,000 lunches and dinners a week were probably served in the 6,500-square-foot restaurant’s five dining rooms. Bob Hope stopped by. Robert De Niro ate here and filmed scenes here for Meet the Parents. Alan King was a regular. The Lion’s Club meets at the restaurant every Tuesday.” Source: The New York Times, Long Island Journal, March 17, 2002.
The next “stop” on the tour is Inspiration Wharf, which includes Atlantic Outfitters and Long Island Boat Rentals. It is the former site of the Marshall A&R Shipyard, a well-known Atlantic seaboard marine service and supply store from 1929 to 1964. Ginger Marshall Martus, a longtime Port Washington Yacht Club member and local nautical historian, who has since moved to Maryland, was part of the Marshall family and has a collection of historical documents housed at the Port Washington Library. Martus is an honorary member of the Nautical Advisory Council.
Just south of the Dolphin Green apartments stands a white house with pillars, which is part of Bayview Colony. Carl Fisher, who developed all of Bayview Colony in the 1920s, built this home. Fisher was also the developer of Miami Beach and the Montauk Yacht Club. Also located in Bayview Colony was the Cow Bay Skiff Club, renamed in 1910 as the Port Washington Yacht Club. The club moved in the early 1920s to its current location.
Bayview Colony along with other homeowner’s associations have waterfront areas including Gallway Beach, Port Washington Estates dock and beach, Secor Drive and Manhasset Bay Estates dock and beach. Next up is the former Whitney Boat house and dock owned by Wall Street financier and later ambassador to the Court of St. James, Jock Whitney of Manhasset. The Purdy Boat Company built Aphrodite, 74 feet, for Whitney’s commute to New York City. The boat was stored in the Whitney Boat House.
Carl Fisher brought the Purdy Boat Company to his Bayview Colony in 1920. During more than 50 years on Manhasset Bay, the Purdys designed and built many luxury yachts, Gold Coast Racers and racing sailboats. During World War II, the company built 88 utility and rescue boats for the Navy. A marine railway was used to launch boats.
The Purdy Boat Company is a big part of the nautical history of our area. Alan Dinn, a Port resident, is a Purdy. He is also a walking encyclopedia of not only the Purdy Boat Company, but for all things nautical for our area. He has written several books, one of which is Boats by Purdy. Alan is part of the Nautical Advisory Council at the Port Washington Library.
One of the Purdy Boat Company’s most famous works was the Aphrodite, built for multimillionaire John Hay Whitney. “Aphrodite’s guest list over the years reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ in the worlds of government, business and entertainment with such luminaries as Fred Astaire, Sir Laurence Olivier, Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Henry Ford II, FDR advisor Harry Hopkins and Nelson Rockefeller aboard for summer day cruises down Long Island Sound. Aphrodite also once served as the site for a birthday party for Shirley Temple.”
Moving south along the shore is the beach at the S-curve on the road to Plandome. This part of the bay is very shallow. There is a federal channel on the west side of the bay. It enabled tugboats to bring oil barges to the fuel terminal.
There are tons of reference points along the bay that remind us of the incredible nautical history of Port Washington. It is a fascinating voyage from our earliest days when Port provided sand to build the streets of Manhattan, to modern times, and along the way we meet America’s Cup sailors and managers, people famous and infamous, seaplanes, famous boats and boat builders, famous watering holes—just a few of the fascinating stories that make up the tapestry that is Port’s nautical history. Much of this information is housed at the Port Washington Library. Many thanks to NAC members Joel Ziev, MaryLu Dempsey Palafox and Bill Palafox for some of the information re: boat tours.