One wonders what Daniel Whitehead, who first settled Bayville and Lattingtown in 1658, would have thought about the incident in Oyster Bay Harbor that could have endangered one of his descendants on Tuesday, Jan. 20.
When Bill Whitehead, a member of the North Oyster Bay Baymen’s Association (NOBBA), was cleaning his morning’s take, he was drifting, and talking to Bill Fetzer, a fellow NOBBA member who was clamming in a nearby boat.
“We were south of the Glancy [a Frank M. Flower & Sons dredge boat], and all of a sudden he gave it the gas and plowed between us,” he said. “I had to grab onto my boat or I would have gone into the water. I couldn’t believe how close that dredge boat came to us. And the dredge was hanging on the side of that boat five feet from my motor.”
Attorney James Cammarata, who represents Frank M. Flower & Sons, shared a very different version of what happened. Last Tuesday’s incident, he said, resulted after several weeks of illegal clamming by NOBBA members on Flower’s leased property.
“The members of NOBBA appear to be attempting to intimidate, antagonize and disrupt Flower’s operations,” Cammarata said. “In the past few weeks, and especially the past few days, some baymen are ignoring that we have a stay in place and are clamming on Flower’s leased properties.”
Cammarata said on Tuesday that Flower’s dredge boat was surveying the company’s leased land and Fetzer’s boat drifted into the path of the Glancy.
“Our captain tried to avoid him and it caused a wake,” Cammarata explained, adding that the captain wasn’t aware that Whitehead was in the vicinity. “Anytime a 54 foot boat makes a maneuver to avoid hitting someone it will create a large wake.”
Flower and NOBBA have been involved in ongoing legal battles over the third of the bay that the Town of Oyster Bay has leased to the shellfish company.
An Oct. 31, 2013 state Supreme Court decision nullified Flower’s lease, but it has remained in effect until Flower’s appeal of that ruling is decided by the Appelate Division, Second Department.
The shellfish company won a stay in court allowing Flower — and only Flower — to continue their operations in the leased property.