Nautical flags flew from the mast of the oyster sloop Christeen as she waited to be re-launched the afternoon of Oct. 2. Several hundred people were gathered at the boat launching area of Theodore Roosevelt Park waiting for the ceremony scheduled for 4 p.m.
Father Malcolm Burns and the Rev. Bruce Griffith bless the Christeen oyster sloop as townspeople gather to watch at the town boat launch area.
Gregory Druhak was on board the Christeen taking pictures of people on the deck and focusing down on the crowd to record the event. The events were being recorded everywhere, some using cameras and some camcorders.
"It's a great day for a launching," said Dave Short, shipwright in charge of the restoration of the Christeen. Speaking from the show mobile he said, "I so much appreciate the work of the volunteers. They did exemplary work.
"This is like having a child - if I can use that analogy," he said. "I am proud to have been able to give Oyster Bay back the ship in the condition she should be in. She is good for another century."
There was loud applause for the man who led his group of about 30 volunteers, teaching them all the way. Earlier in the morning, with only the volunteers around, the mast had been lowered by crane by Jim Longo. Two silver coins had been placed at the bottom of the mast, one from 1883 and one from 1999. The Atlantic Steamer Scuba Team helped see that the rudder slid into place.
New York State Senator Carl Marcellino said the Christeen showed what can be done when people have a dream. "They took a rotting hulk and restored it." They used some state money ($100,000) and volunteer work. They collected wood from the surrounding estates and put the ship together with loving hands. This is an example of a community that is willing to work together and get things accomplished, he said.
Town Supervisor John Venditto said it was no time for speech making and got some affirmations from the crowd. "This is about the spirit of Oyster Bay," he said, directing the crowd to look at the flags flying on the mast of the Christeen. "Never have I seen the flag of Oyster Bay looking so good. Thank you."
The Christeen pennant was at the very top of the mast followed by the Town of Oyster Bay flag.
The crowd applauded his words.
Legislator John Caning congratulated David Short and his volunteers toward re-launching the Christeen. "May it flourish at the Marine Education Center and in the bay for many years to come."
Kathy Wilson, Oyster Festival executive director said, "As someone who loves the water - it's great to meet the Christeen's Crew. Come down to the Oyster Festival and view the ship."
The Christeen will be docked at the Oyster Bay Marine Center. Clint Smith said the sails, which will be tan, are presently being made in Maine and are expected to be in place in time for the Oyster Festival.
Jack Williams, president of the Friends of the Bay explained the connection between FOB and the Christeen. "We had a small but important part in the saga. Ten years ago we heard of the Christeen rotting away in Connecticut - so we bought it." Their biggest concern was that is stay afloat until it got here, he said.
"The two happiest days in a boat owner's life are when he acquires it and when he gives it away," he quipped. "We sold it to the Christeen Oyster Sloop Preservation Corporation for $1. We at FOB didn't have the resources. Congratulations to Clint Smith for raising the needed funds. The Christeen will be a large part of the Marine Education Center.
"It will be a floating classroom,"he said.
Clint Smith announced Mrs. Robert Woodland would christen the ship. Mr. Woodland who died in July, was one of the Christeen's volunteers. "She will break the ceremonial bottle," he said.
Up on deck of the Christeen were Father Malcolm Burns of St. Dominic R.C. Church and the Rev. Bruce Griffith of Christ Church.
With his white navy cap off, Father Burns made the sign of the cross as he blessed the ship and sprinkled holy water.
Rev. Bruce Griffin too sprinkled the ship with holy water and made the sign of the cross in a blessing as he too prayed over the Christeen.
Mrs. Woodland tried once and then twice before the bottle broke. That made the re-launching official.
Clint Smith announced that the East Norwich, Bayville and two Oyster Bay Fire Companies would add a wet-down ceremony. "Let the water flow," he said.
Spires of water raised in the air from the top of fire ladders, high overhead, and flowed down over the ship. The ship was mist covered. Sirens blasted. The Christeen eased into the water.
A rainbow formed from the streaming water and led down to the deck of the Christeen.
Caroline DuBois was videotaping the events. After the wet-down her camera was splashed with water. As she brushed off the drops, she said, "That's all right. This was an historic event."
Sitting on a hatch cover during the wet-down were Madeline Short, Jessica Beardsley, Chelsea LeValley, Eliza Short and Jacob Short. When they came ashore they were shivering and shaking.
"Now I know what it's like to have hypothermia," said Jessica Bearsley. "It was cold," said Eliza.
"Don't try this at home," said Madeline.
"This is a great event," said Rob Crafa, environmental analyst with FOB and its first executive director.
"We live in a great place. This is what makes Oyster Bay great," said attorney Marvin Morrison, an avid sailor.