Outer Reef Yachts (ORY), of Fort Lauderdale, Florida on July 26 used the dockside of the restaurant Prime, a well-known classic boathouse overlooking Huntington Harbor on the Long Island Sound to host a private yacht Step Aboard event on its award-winning 700 Motoryacht.
Seventy (70) invited guests had the exclusive opportunity to experience a private yacht tour led by Jeff Druek, President, & CEO, of Outer Reef Yachts, as well as an elegant summer evening reception.
A Long Islander, Jeff is highly respected in the home construction industry, as well as the East Coast boating community. Whether it’s building a high-end luxury home, or customizing 56 to 115 ft. yachts, he has experienced every level of both industries!
On August 31, 1972, the Long Island Advance (Patchogue, NY) newspaper featured a 16-year old fisherman’s prize catch of a 372-pound, 9-foot, and 6-inch shark just southeast of the Moriches Inlet connecting Moriches Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Later, Stephen Mastrozocco, a Long Island well-known photographer captured the very essence of the Moriches Inlet, a “natures wonder,” which the young fisherman saw as he battled with his catch.
The teenager was Jeffrey Druek, fishing off the boat Lady Jane owned by his uncle Captain Walter Nafey, of Mastic, when he reeled in the shark. For the first 3-hours, Jeff remembers, “I did not know what we had on the line, as it kept sounding. It was exhausting!”
It took the young Jeff, 3.5 hours to land the shark using bunker (Atlantic menhaden) as bait with an 80-pound test line on an Olson rod and Penn 9/0 reel. Jeff, along with his uncle took his catch to the Hi-Way Fishing Station in East Moriches to be weighed.
The different species of sharks found in the Long Island waters are sand tiger, blue, great white, shortfin mako, thresher, tiger, sandbar, and spiny dogfish.
The year before on June 24, 1971, the Long Island Advance had reported that Leo Boyce, of Mastic, a member of the Moriches Anglers Club finished first in their annual Shark Tournament.
The article continued, “Fishing out of Hi-Way Fishing Station (Atlantic Avenue) in East Moriches, Mr. Boyce’s shark weighed in at 281 pounds. The thresher shark was caught off Moriches Inlet in 125 feet of water.” Just like Jeff, the older Boyce had used an 80-pound rod and a 9/0 reel; however “he won a trophy not only catching the largest shark but also for the most unusual.” A year later, young Jeff did not win a tournament with his much larger shark, but this assisted in starting his passion for fishing and cruising the waters, which led to his yacht building business.
Jeffrey Druek grew up in Shirley and graduated from William Floyd Senior High School in June 1973, where he majored in industrial arts. While attending high school, the science department sponsored its 1st Annual Science Fair in the cafeteria. Jeff was one of the students receiving an honorable mention ribbon for his project.
“I built my first boat! Everyone else was building shoe shine boxes, so I asked Mr. LaBianca, my teacher, if I could build a boat.” It was an 8-foot flat-bottom small garvey!
Jeff continued, “I was allowed to keep the boat and used it to dig clams after school. I borrowed a 3-HP engine from my cousin, and my father launched me every day! I would cross Bellport Bay to dig clams on Bird Island.” He was a young entrepreneur in the commercial fishing industry of the Island using his 8-foot flat-bottom garvey!
The Hi-Way Fishing Station was where Jeff docked his clam boat. After receiving his driving license, he would drive his small boat to Patchogue every day to go to his clamming grounds. He was either scrapping his clam rake in waist-deep muddy, rocky water for hard shell clams or digging for long necks known as “piss” clams on the sandbars after the tide went out.
Bayman hit on hard times with the commercial fishing ban on striped bass, and the decline of scallops and clams due to the brown tide algae (Aureococcus anophagefferens). Independent bayman like Jeff worked long hard hours, and their work was seasonal!
An effort is being made to reverse the damage done to the local Island’s waterways, according to the Long Island Advance newspaper, March 22, 2018, “Mention clams or oysters and most Long Islanders’ mouths start watering. But the raw bar staples could play a bigger role. In September (2017), Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a $10.4 million shellfish restoration effort intended to improve Long Island water quality and bolster coastline resiliency.” The state plans to establish new sanctuary sites to expand public shellfish hatcheries, and one will be where young Jeff crossed Bellport Bay to dig clams on Bird Island.
While the bay was frozen over in an effort to remain connected to the water, Jeff did a 10-month tour of duty in the U. S. Merchant Marines serving in 1975, as an entry mariner, or a 17-25-year old seaman. With his Transportation Workers Identification Credentials, Jeff was on a T-2 tanker transporting jet fuel from Galveston (Texas) to New England.
Jeff remembers, “There was nothing exciting about it!”
After his tour of duty, Jeff returned to his first job, commercial fishing. By 1977, the size of his boats began to increase from his 8-foot garvey to 16, 22, and 24 feet. He was making more money on the bay than on the tanker!
Soon, Jeff entered the construction industry as a framer building the skeleton of houses. Later, he started his own framing company, Seabreeze Carpentry Contracting with a highly–skilled carpenter crew, “which is a successful, thriving business having many large development contracts, as well as building high-end stand-alone homes.”
Branching out, Jeff started Olde Towne Builders, a custom home building company in East Quogue constructing new stunning luxury homes on the South Fork, known as “The Hamptons.” His new homeowner clients trust him!
Traditionally during the summers, the Hamptons’ population would increase, however it is becoming a year-round weekend residence for the wealthiest New Yorkers. Many of Jeff’s clients are seasonal and/or weekend owners, so he expanded his business to include managing their property and estates.
Still, all of his spare time was spent on the water! In 1996, Jeff custom designed and built the first of three (3) yachts: 75 expedition yacht Hercules; followed by 60 ft Nirvana and the 75 ft Eagle. Jeff has owned more than twenty (20) fishing boats and cruising yachts ranging in size from 8 to 75 feet. He loves to spend his time coastal cruising from New York to Florida!
Like most Long Islanders, Jeff has a lifelong passion for fishing, boating, and the sea! “My goal is to produce the ultimate yacht so others may follow their dreams, as I have in my years of cruising,” Jeff states.
After the Huntington private show, Outer Reef Yachts will host personalized tours of the Liberty, a 60 ft., model 60 Euro Yacht built by Defever in 2015, at Roche Harbor, Seattle, WA from July 27 to July 31, 2018.
Jeff, a master of both the land and the sea will lead Outer Reef Yachts participation in national and international boat industry consumer shows this fall. Beginning with participating with more than 600 boats across the two (2) ports of Cannes: the Vieux Port and Port Pierre Canto, as part of the 2018 Cannes Yachting Festival, September 11 to 16, 2018. His company’s stunning Pakiri a 630 Motoryacht will be on display at their Pavilion, PAN 026.
The 630 Motoryacht, a “pocket super yacht,” is built between 58 to 63 feet with customizations including installing a larger or smaller aft deck, salon, galley or cockpit. Its cruising speed is 9 - 18 knots with 13 - 22 knots maximum speed.
Back home on the West Coast, Seattle’s 40th Annual Lake Union Boats Afloat Show will take place September 13 to September 16, 2018, and Outer Reef Yachts will participate.
On the East Coast, the 48th Annual Newport International Boat Show will be held September 13 to September 16, 2018 at the Newport Harbor. Jeff’s team will showcase the Classic Series 610 and the 700 Motoryacht.
A month later, the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show in Florida, the largest national in-water show is being held October 31 to November 4, 2018, and Outer Reef Yachts will host an exciting exhibition of yachts, as well as personalized “Step Aboard” tours.
Jeff Druek believes, he has, “…instilled the same principals and attention to detail that I have in my custom home building business. My extensive knowledge of construction details and passionate knowledge of boats and yachts over the past 34 years has made my transition into the yacht building industry possible.”
When asked what his next project would be, Jeff Druek stated, “You never know!”
Sandi Brewster-walker is an independent historian, genealogist, freelance writer and business owner. She is the chair of the Board of Trustees and acting executive director of the Indigenous People Museum & Research Institute. She has served in President Bill Clinton’s Administration as deputy director of the Office of Communications at USDA. Winner of the Press Club of Long Island’s 2017 Media Award – 3rd Place for Narrative: Column. Readers can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.