It was a big leap of faith for the Ida May Project board to hold its first fundraiser on Oct. 11. It is a small organization of nine volunteer directors; a changing group of between eight and 15 volunteer carpenters; and one paid staffer, shipwright, Josh Hermann. Except for the shipwright, most are retirees, passing along their work experience to benefit the community.
The impetus for the event was the retirement of now Chairman Emeritus Clint Smith, as well as the need to raise funding to qualify for an existing NYS grant.
Board President George Lindsay summed it up: “I thought it was a great evening for Oyster Bay, the Ida May and Clint.”
For 27 years Smith has been at the helm of the organization committed to building the 50-foot, 49-ton replica of the oyster harvester Ida May, which worked for 75 years oyster farming in Oyster Bay.
The Ida May Project is continuing Oyster Bay’s history of boat making that started in the 18th century. The first boat the Christeen Oyster Sloop Preservation Corporation restored, was named after the boat’s original Captain Smith’s teenage bride, Christeen. The Ida May was named after the ship’s builder/oysterman, Frank M. Flower’s teenage bride, Ida May. Her mother died when Ida was just eight, and it took the family historian to find that she was a Mayflower descendant.
President George Lindsay welcomed guests and thanked local merchants who provided the refreshments. George’s wife, Nancy Metz, had drawn large posters to decorate the shop with their names and logos. The Oyster Bay Brewing Company donated their signature beers; Bayville Seafood donated food platters: Café Al Dente donated a tray of meat balls, Verrelli’s Market donated sandwiches, and Dwight and Christa Relyea of Frank M. Flower & Sons, Inc., donated clams for a raw bar.
Jack Hoyt, board secretary spoke about the contributions of Clint Smith, the beating heart of the organization whose vision directed and led the project since its inception in 1992. Clint’s family and members of the East Norwich Fire Department, where Clint is an ex-chief, attended.
Board member Jamie Deming spoke with her vision of the project, sparkling her talk. As a longtime member of the WaterFront Center, which will take ownership of the Ida May for marine education, she is the expert.
The highlight of the evening for guests, was being able to walk up onto the Ida May and ascend into the pilot house, recently erected and framed above the main cabin of the boat. Ten slot windows, a folding door and a dashboard for all the instrument panel are still in the works.
Senator Carl Marcellino and wife Patricia attended. He secured the major grants for the IMP, and now Senator Jim Gaughran is continuing that relationship. Clint Smith was presented with a NYS proclamation from the Senator attesting to his contributions.
Jack Hoyt was packing up his card table, as they were closing up, smiling contentedly, after a job well done. “I think this was the perfect place to tell our story, here in the boatshop, where people can see just what we are doing,” he said.
You can visit the Ida May Project boatshop at the Oyster Festival or, in Building J. on West End Avenue, on Monday and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. To donate, visit theidamayproject.org.