This is second in a series of Long Island Boating World’s look into multi-generational families that service our region's nautical needs.
Coecles Marina on Shelter Island is located two-thirds the way into Coecles Harbor on the west side. (https://www.chmb.net ) There you will find a full-service marina having seasonal dockage for 60 boats along with space for 20 transients. Near the docks are 50 moorings with half reserved for transients. The marina has a pool, bike and electric car rentals as well as a shuttle service around Shelter Island. I docked here in 2013 for a few nights and can say the location is pretty, protected and peaceful.
Family Owned and Operated Since 1973
It was back in 1973 that Peter and Florence Needham looked at boatyards in Connecticut, Sag Harbor and Shinnecock to purchase. They settled on Coecles Harbor for its location. Their sons Peter and John took over the business after their passing. Each son started working here full time after college where Peter earned a bachelor’s degree in marine science and John, an associate’s degree in business.
This is truly a family business with Peter and John at the helm. Peter’s sons Schuyler and Connor oversee the operations in the yard. The newest family member, Mackenzie just came aboard. She started as a dockhand in the summers while a student. She is now doing varnish work and finishing full time. On how to run the business, Peter stated “we aspire to treat all of our customers, seasonal residents or weekend visitors, as part of the family” He continued by saying “over the past three generations, Coecles Harbor has distinguished itself as a top-notch service yard and premier northeast coast destination”.
The Coecles Marina is full service. They do mechanical work, painting and fiberglass repair, boat building, rigging and anything that makes a boat work. Their fuel dock only serves diesel. Between the marina and their boating building, there are 30 full time and five seasonal employees.
Boat Building Since 1985
Coecles Marina has a separate boat building division called CH Marine Yachts. (http://www.chmarineyachts.com) Each year between one to three high-end handcrafted Shelter Island Runabouts are built here. They produce a 30 and 38-foot model that are built to last. Their hulls use a vinyl ester resin and gelcoat (superior to polyester) and a Kevlar fiberglass cloth vacuum bagged with a Corecell foam core. (This is tech talk for the highest possible quality hull built). Their teak used is personally selected for grain and color and finished with hand rubbing one coat at a time. CH Marine uses two 375 HP Yanmar diesels for the 38-foot boat giving it a speed of 52 MPH while the 30-foot has one engine able to reach 40 MPH.
The 38-foot runabouts were designed by Peter Needham, boat designer Doug Zurn and Billy Joel with the smaller boat by Doug and Peter. If you do any boating in Oyster Bay, you will see one docked at the Piano Man’s mansion on Center Island.
Sales are done directly from the boatyard where you can consult Peter on any special needs.
Caring for Community
In asking Peter what they do to help the marine community, Shelter Island or environment causes he did not hesitate in his answer. He says the Needham’s give back to the community. John did a lot of work with the EPA’s Peconic Estuary Program, co-chairing the Citizens Advisory Committee for a number of years. He was also on the Citizens Advisory Committee for the EPA’s Long Island Sound Study. There they did a Best Management Practices demonstration project at the yard in association with New York Sea Grant. They also did a shellfish grow out study with Sea Grant that was fun. John heads up the town’s Waterways Management Committee.
Peter concluded by telling me that the corvid shutdown had four weeks of launch delays. While they were behind schedule, the crew had been working hard and more importantly using their years of knowledge to make up for lost ground over the next five weeks. He added they have a “get-it-done” type policy.
About Coecles and Shelter Island
While we were cruising the east end in 2013 we spent three nights tied up at the end dock. If our boat never moved for the rest of season we would have been happy at that dock and stayed until the ice came in! We chose Shelter Island and Coecles Harbor and Marina due to its amenities that included a pool, courtesy van service to the market, nearby restaurants and location. From Coecles we were able to take out our folding bikes and get anywhere on the island relatively easily. Our activities on Shelter Island included exploring Coecles Bay via dinghy with a stop at Taylor's Island for a picnic lunch. Evening activities included seeing a play on the lawn of the Sylvester Manor, fine dining at the Vine Street Cafe and taking a long walk on the quiet country roads to the north ferry for lunch in Greenport. While in Shelter Island consider easy cruising to Montauk, Riverhead and Peconic Bay and Greenport. You are also 40 miles from Block Island.