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05/16/17 4:44pm
05/16/2017 4:44 PM

A small plane carrying a part-time Southold resident and her two young sons traveling from Puerto Rico to a Florida town was reported missing Monday afternoon, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Debris was found approximately 15 miles east of Eleuthera, Bahamas around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and the search for survivors continues, Coast Guard officials said.

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10/23/14 1:48pm
10/23/2014 1:48 PM
Captain Sid Smith stands at the bow of the Merit in Greenport this summer. Mr. Smith and his two crew were dubbed heroes after they rescued four people who were thrown into stormy seas Wednesday night when their tugboat sank. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Captain Sid Smith stands at the bow of the Merit in Greenport this summer. Mr. Smith and his two crew were dubbed heroes after they rescued four people who were thrown into stormy seas Wednesday night when their tugboat sank. (Credit: Paul Squire)

A Greenport fishing boat captain and his two crew members rescued four people from heaving seas and high winds when their 55-foot-long tugboat capsized and sank off the Rhode Island coast last night.

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10/14/12 8:00am
10/14/2012 8:00 AM

John Ross (center) with two Coast Guard chiefs at his 1967 graduation from the Coast Guard Commissary School.

As I stood on the dock in Greenport watching the U.S. Coast Guard barque Eagle come into port for the recent Maritime Festival, I was suddenly full of memories of a time 45 years ago when I was a cook in the U.S. Coast Guard.

My very first assignment out of boot camp was the 311-foot Coast Guard cutter Mackinac. It was based out of New York Harbor and patrolled the Atlantic from Greenland to Cuba. On my first patrol, in September 1966, we were headed to Guantanamo Bay for training with the Navy when we received an SOS from a ship that had lost power in a raging storm off the Florida Keys.

The storm was Hurricane Inez, one of the most destructive storms on record, causing over 1,000 deaths in the Caribbean. To rescue the ship we headed into giant 30-foot swells and withstood 80 mph winds. The screws of our ship were coming out of the water as the bow was buried in the waves.

In the galley, it was too dangerous to cook hot food, so the crew ate cold cuts and bread. This voyage ended safely and we were able to reach the disabled ship and restore its power. But our ship rarely sailed in calm water, as our mission was to man weather stations and be nearby to help ships and airplanes in distress.

Cooking in this environment required holding on with one hand and cooking with the other. Knives and utensils were always placed on a wet towel to prevent sliding. The galley of the Mackinac was located on the main deck, extending the entire width of the ship, with doors on either side to enhance ventilation. It was equipped with a six-burner stove, a large flat-top griddle, a stack oven, two steam jacketed (trunnion) kettles and a deep fryer with a 12-inch rim around it to prevent splashing. All our equipment was electric, as is common on most ships.

Mr. Ross served on the USS Mackinac in the early 1960s.

Surprisingly, much of our cooking was done from scratch. We made cakes and bread and used fresh produce as long as it lasted into the five-week patrols. In rough seas we would have to make some recipe adjustments, such as reducing the liquid called for in chocolate cake to keep it from rolling out of the pan in the oven. At breakfast we often had to turn the griddle up to 450 degrees so that when we cooked eggs over easy the whites would set immediately, allowing the yolk to roll back and forth while it cooked.

But we cooked some very good food, mostly following the recipe cards developed for the Navy and Marines in 1963. The crew ate meals on the mess deck located below the galley, where tables with benches were bolted to the floor and the food was sent down in a dumbwaiter. Our walk-in freezer and dry stores were located in the hold three decks below and required treacherous trips up and down the ladders.

After a year aboard ship I went to the Coast Guard Commissary School for 16 weeks and was then assigned to the Short Beach lifeboat station near Jones Beach. The station had 21 men and three rescue boats. It was very different from the ship in that I was able to write my own menus and purchase ingredients from local sources.

On weekends during the boating season we had many Coast Guard auxiliary officers on hand to help with law enforcement and rescue operations. These people would often have clambakes on the beach and it introduced me to Long Island’s wonderful bounty of seafood.

After a year at this station I was transferred to Governor’s Island, where I became a food service instructor at the Commissary School. This school consisted of intense four-week segments including classroom theory, meat handling, baking and production, which had us serving meals to the other schools on the island. I was able to teach all four segments and discovered later in my career as a chef that these lessons in the fundamentals of cooking were a great asset. At the time it was just another duty station, although a beautiful one, as my wife and I actually lived on Governor’s Island during the last year of my enlistment.

Here are some updated, small-quantity versions of Coast Guard and Navy classics.

Creamed Beef (‘S.O.S.’)

Spray a large sauté pan with no-stick and place it on medium high heat. Add 1 pound of ground chuck and break it up with a spoon as it cooks. While it is still pink, add 1 chopped onion, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. As the onions cook, add 1/4 cup flour and stir it into the meat to form a roux. Slowly add 2 cups milk, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

This dish can be served over toast or buttermilk biscuits.

Serves 4-6.

Stuffed Peppers (‘S.I.S.’)

Begin by making a stewed tomato sauce. Trim the ends off of 6 plum tomatoes and cut them into 1/4-inch dice. Place them in a saucepan along with 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/2 cup chopped onion and 1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper. Season with 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes and add 1 small can of tomato sauce.

Cut the tops off of 6 bell peppers. For appearance, use 2 green, 2 red and 2 yellow peppers. Cut out the insides and cut the bottoms so that they stand up. Combine in a large bowl 1 pound of ground meatloaf meat (beef, pork, veal) and 2 chopped chorizo sausages. Add to this 1 cup chopped onion, 2 tablespoons catsup, 1 tablespoon chopped oregano, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

Blanch 1 cup brown rice in boiling water for 15 minutes, drain and add to the meat mixture. Stuff this mixture into the peppers and place them in a deep casserole. Pour the sauce over them, cover and bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Serves 6.

Old-Fashioned Navy Bean Soup 

Purchase 1 pound of dried navy beans and rinse them under cold water. Place them in a soup pot and cover with 2 quarts water. Bring them to a boil and turn off the heat. Cover the pot and let rest for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, dice 4 ounces of salt pork and cook at medium heat in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot. When it has turned brown and released its fat, add 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped ribs of celery and 2 chopped carrots. Continue cooking and add 2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme.

Drain the navy beans, saving 2 cups of the cooking liquid. Add the beans to the soup pot along with 4 cups chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add 1 bay leaf, 1 can (15 ounces) of chopped tomatoes and a smoked ham hock. Season with 1 teaspoon black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Cook uncovered at simmering temperature until beans are tender, adding the reserved liquid as the broth evaporates. Total cooking time should be about 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the ham hock, cut off the meat and add it to the soup. Add 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and a little salt to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Serves 6-8.

John Ross, a chef and author, has been an active part of the North Fork food and wine community for more than 35 years. Email: [email protected].

09/09/12 2:30pm
09/09/2012 2:30 PM

JAY WEBSTER FILE PHOTO | The Maritime Festival scheduled for Sept. 22-23 will feature a more nautical theme this year.

Organizers of the annual Maritime Festival in Greenport Village believe this year’s event will offer more nautical-themed activities and highlight local business better than it has in years past.

East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation spokesman Ted Webb, who recently stepped down as the organization’s president, said the 23rd annual Maritime Festival hopes to expand on the success of Memorial Day weekend’s Tall Ships Challenge event, for which over 60,000 people visited the downtown area to view six vessels.

“This year we worked more closely with the Village of Greenport and the BID, which have been very supportive,” Mr. Webb said of this year’s festival, scheduled for Sept. 22-23. “We’ll have tall ships in the harbor [and] the parade will be bigger and better with more bands.”

Mr. Webb said the U.S. Coast Guard’s Barque Eagle and Zaida are scheduled to appear. The Coast Guard will also bring over a motor life boat from its station in Shinnecock. Mr. Webb said members of the Coast Guard will teach visitors about how it protects the shoreline and will also show them how to tie different knots.

Eagle is a German-made tall ship built in 1936 that was taken as a war reparation by the U.S. following World War II. The 295-foot ship then sailed to its current homeport in New London, Conn., where it acts as a training vessel.

Zaida was used during the 1940s in the Picket Patrol — a part of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary made up of motor boats, yachts and other small craft. Mr. Webb said Zaida is one of the last remaining yachts from the all-volunteer Picket Patrol — known as the “Hooligan Navy” — that patrolled the waters off of Long Island.

In addition, the Privateer Lynx, a replica of a historic ship from the War of 1812, will be available for both viewing and sail aways.

Jack Fisher, a resident of Peconic Landing in Greenport and a former member of the Hooligan Navy, has been selected as grand marshal for the festival’s opening parade, Mr. Webb said.

Greenport Village Business Improvement District president Peter Clarke said he’s pleased that the event’s focus is strongly tied to local maritime history. Mr. Clarke said his group has worked with the museum’s new president, Ron Breuer, and village officials over the past year to plan both the Tall Ships Challenge and the Maritime Festival.

“Working together — the museum, the BID and Village Hall — we made some steps in the right direction,” he said.

Mr. Clarke said the museum is also working to accommodate local store owners’ concerns more than it has in the past. For example, Mr. Clarke said the museum has decided to reduce the number of outside vendors during the festival in order to highlight downtown businesses. He said some business owners have also expressed to the museum their belief that nonprofit groups should come up with additional fundraising methods outside the village instead of relying solely on revenue from hosting a single event downtown.

“Despite the different point of views of the past, this year has been about bringing the community together,” Mr. Clarke said. “I think it will be a very interesting festival.”

Greenport Village Mayor David Nyce said he’s also pleased that there has been more dialogue among the museum, BID and village during the planning process.

“Hopefully, this trend will continue in years to come,” he said.

With about two weeks left until the Maritime Festival kicks off, Mr. Webb said the museum is finalizing a list of nonprofit groups that will hold educational demonstrations during the event, as well as musical performances.

The traditional Land and Sea reception will take place Friday, Sept. 21, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the East End Seaport Museum. Tickets are $30 each; $25 for museum members.

Cruises to Long Beach Bar “Bug” Lighthouse are scheduled between 4 to 6 p.m. each day of the festival. Last year was the first time in about a decade that the lighthouse has been open to the public. The structure was built in 1990 to replace the original Bug Light, so named for the insect-like appearance of its spindly steel legs. That building was destroyed by arsonists on July 4, 1963.

The opening day parade steps off at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, and marches along Main and Front streets. There will also be a kayak derby.

Sunday. Sept. 23, will feature a dory race as well as snapper-fishing and chowder contests and a live musical performance by Dunegrass in Mitchell Park from 1 to 3 p.m.

Throughout the two-day festival, there will be classic ice and small boats on display in Mitchell Park, as well as Captain Kidd’s Craft Alley, Kings of the Coast Pirate Shows, a Mitchell Park Treasure Chest and various street events.

The Maritime Festival will conclude Sunday with raffle drawings in Mitchell Park.

“It will be a full weekend,” Mr. Webb said. “Let’s hope for good weather.”

For more information, visit eastendseaport.org.

[email protected]

07/09/12 10:48pm
07/09/2012 10:48 PM

A Greenport man whose family reported him missing after he took his boat out Sunday to Connecticut was located Monday afternoon, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Todd Feilage, 36, was reported missing Monday morning after he didn’t show up for work, officials said.

Before taking his 21-foot boat to Westbrook, Conn., officials said Mr. Feilage had contacted his father before leaving Greenport and said he was having some engine trouble.

The Coast Guard said it had launched rescue boat crews from its stations in Montauk and New London, Conn., to search for Mr. Feilage. In addition, marine units from the Southold and local police assisted in the search.

The Coast Guard ended its search after it received a call from Mr. Feilage, who said that he had fixed the electrical problems and safely pulled into Pier 76 Marina located in Westbrook, Conn.

[email protected]