What exactly happened in the final moments before the sinking of the Gwendoline Steers tugboat 50 years ago? It stills remains a mystery, and point of contention, in the minds of many who mourn the loss of nine men that cold December night in Huntington Harbor.
Local Author and Maritime Enthusiast Edward Carr will cover every aspect of the sinking and aftermath, and let the audience decide for themselves in a presentation at the Northport Library auditorium Wednesday at 7 p.m. “The Wreck of the Gwendoline Steers: A Forensic Analysis” is free to attend.
“There were numerous issues that surrounded the sinking,” said Carr. “The weather played a major part, but numerous details both before and after the tragedy created more questions and fueled speculation pitting the Coast Guard, Army Corp, victim’s families, and Steers Sand & Gravel against one another."
On Dec. 30, 1962, the tugboat Gwendoline Steers, pride of the Steers Sand & Gravel Company, sank in Huntington Bay during an ice storm. The following morning, the tug’s lifeboat was found at Hobart Beach on Eaton’s Neck with the body of a crew member encased in ice. The rest of the nine member crew came ashore over the next five months… one at the south side of Eaton’s Neck, one at Crescent Beach in Centerport, another at Huntington Beach. LIFE Magazine and local newspapers kept the tragedy fresh in everyone’s minds until the wreck was found and all bodies recovered the following Spring.
Read more about the Gwendoline Steers wreck in a post from Northport Patch blogger Dave Bruyn.
“The tug was home-based out of Northport, and the crew members were all known in the community. They were a part of Northport’s fabric as they patronized local shops on Main Street, and partook in daily business activities in the area. Steers Sand & Gravel was a family company, and the sinking made
national headlines,” said Carr.
The Gwendoline also represents one of the few instances where the Coast Guard could not rescue stranded sailors right on their doorstep. The storm was too intense, and the Eaton’s Neck station couldn’t respond.
“The storm was on par with what we just experienced with Tropical Storm Sandy,” said Carr. “The winds were sustained at 75 mph with gusts of 90 mph. The only difference is that the temperature was 3 degrees Fahrenheit, while Sandy had 60 degree temperatures.”
Artifacts recovered from the wreck by local divers will be available for the audience to view at the end of the presentation. Attendees will also be treated to view prints of local artist Jo-Anne Corretti’s newest painting entitled “Last Moments” commissioned to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the sinking.