Neighbors remove sinking boat from James Creek in Mattituck

Bob Patchell once drove his boat, a 39-foot Chris Craft, all over the East Coast. He took it on trips to Newport and Martha’s Vineyard, up the Hudson River and all the way down to Fort Lauderdale via the Intracoastal Waterway.

But after two decades, engine problems and damage from Superstorm Sandy ended the vessel’s run. And so it sat — out of commission, lopsided and sinking — in the waters of James Creek in Mattituck, becoming something of an eyesore. Mr. Patchell, who purchased the boat in 1987 and dubbed it Tribeca Too, planned to remove it but never got around to doing so.

“I kept threatening, ‘Oh, this week I’ll do it. Next week and one week leads to two weeks to two months to two years, three years,” recalled the 74-year-old.

Mr. Patchell knew that even if he had the boat repaired he could no longer use it, as climbing to its bridge had become increasingly difficult as he aged. And anyway, its engine was shot.

Last week, neighbors and local boaters took it upon themselves to remove the defunct cruiser from the water, improving views of the creek. North Fork builder Paul Pawlowski and neighbor Rich Petrowski, who assisted in the effort, had taken notice of Mr. Patchell’s boat over the years.

“At one point it was a nice boat,” Mr. Petrowski said. “As a boater it is always sad to see a sunken boat.”

For years, Tribeca Too sat damaged and partially submerged in James Creek. (Credit: Rich Petrowski)

Mr. Pawlowski, who said he orchestrated the removal to “help a guy out,” called it a collaboration between himself, Mr. Petrowski, Tim Hough of Shore Marine Construction Corp. and Strong’s Marine.

Mr. Petrowski and Mr. Hough said they hauled the boat away last Wednesday after emptying some water from it and getting it to float. They tied it to Mr. Petrowski’s floating dock on the creek and dragged it to Strong’s Marine on Monday, where it was pulled out of the water. The boat will be dismantled and discarded, they said.

Mr. Patchell said the view from his house is much better now and that he no longer has to dread windy days, which always made him worry the boat would blow away.

“It’s going to break the mooring and off it goes,” he recalled thinking whenever there were strong gusts. “Then what do I do?”

In its day, Tribeca Too was a “great-looking boat,” Mr. Patchell said. He and his wife, Patricia, who died last April, had some great times on it in Florida. They took it to the Keys and lived on it in Fort Lauderdale for two to three weeks at a time. It had everything, he said, including a full kitchen and air conditioning.

Now, Mr. Patchell, who owned the former Motel on the Bay in South Jamesport, wants to sell his house on the creek. The five-bedroom, three-bath home is too big for him, he said. He’s glad the boat has been removed, as prospective buyers might not have found it appealing.

“It would not look good, a boat sitting there like it was sitting there,” said Mr. Patchell, who plans to remain in the area to be close to his grandchildren. If the boat had been stored at a normal dock and not tied up against a bulkhead, it would have looked OK, he said. But high waters during Superstorm Sandy caused the dock behind his home to rise above its poles and float away.

“Finally it’s over and it came to a very, very good ending by a real nice fella,” Mr. Patchell said, referencing Mr. Pawlowski. “I’m really happy.”

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Top photo: Rich Petrowski (left) and Tim Hough with the Tribeca Too Monday after it was pulled from the water at Strong’s Marine in Mattituck. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)