1Captain Al Foster, New York, NY – 1907 Captain Al Foster was one of the early pioneers of the Party Boat Fishing industry. His career began at the age of 23 and spanned over 45 years at the helm of several New York City party fishing vessels. Early in his career, he skippered several of the earliest known party boats and later served as a hired Fishing Pilot, directing the Captains of vessels to the prime fishing locations, many of which he had discovered and named himself (17 fathoms, Seagull Banks, England Banks and Middle Banks to name a few). He later served as Captain and Pilot for other operators and eventually went on to purchase his own steamboats.
In 1888, he purchased the steamboat "MARY MORGAN" and modified her for Party Boat Fishing and renamed her "ANGLER". In 1892, he had the "AL FOSTER" built and both vessels formed the "Al Foster Steamboat Company".
He later sold the "AL FOSTER" and returned solely to the helm of the "ANGLER", where he continued to sail to the fishing banks until 1910 when he became ill. He died on July 6, 1911 and his obituary in the New York Times read "CAPT. AL FOSTER, FISHING PILOT, DEAD – Since 1865 he had been taking New Yorkers down the bay on daily trips – Knew all feeding holes". One hundred years after his death, he still is still recognized with legendary status, and is arguably the greatest party boat captain of all time.
2Captain Dave Martin Sr. and wife Helen, Brooklyn, NY – 1913 This vintage portrait photo shows the young couple, Captain Dave Martin Sr. and his wife Helen. The Captain's hat worn by Captain Martin reads "ATHENE", which was the second party boat the Martin brothers owned and operated from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY. (In 1910, the Martin brothers purchased their first boat, the "SPRAY".) Captain Dave Martin later owned and operated the famous party boat "GIRALDA" for over thirty years and was one of the pioneers of the era who specialized in wreck fishing.
Captain Martin and his vessel the "GIRALDA" later served during World War II transporting rubber for the war effort on the Amazon River. At the conclusion of the war, he downsized to a smaller vessel, the "ROARING FORTY IV", and in 1949, he retired to Stuart, FL where he became a citrus farmer. Captain Martin returned to New York during the summer months to work as the chief engineer for the Circle Line tour boat fleet sailing from Manhattan.
3Captain Jacob 'Jake' Martin Sr., EVELYN, Brooklyn, NY – 1914 Captain Jacob 'Jake' Martin at the helm of the "EVELYN", Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY circa 1914. Captain Martin was one of the pioneers of party boat fishing in the area and his "EVELYN" was the first converted steam yacht to sail as a party fishing boat from Sheepshead Bay. Consequently, he set a precedent for party boats that sailed from that port for the next 25 years… Converted luxury steam yachts were the mainstay of the Sheepshead Bay fishing fleet. Photo courtesy of Captain John Bogan Jr.
4Captains Dave Martin Sr. and Jacob Martin Sr., GERALDA, Brooklyn, NY – 1916 A 1916 photo of Captains Dave Martin Sr. and Jacob Martin Sr. aboard the "GIRALDA", Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY. Shiver me timbers! This rare photo shows Captain Dave wearing an eye patch. (Alas, he lost his right eye while playing 'swords' as a child.) In the later photos of Captain Dave that we have posted, he was wearing a glass eye. Photo courtesy of Bryant Martin.
5EFFORT Shark Catch, Brooklyn, NY – 1917 Shown from left to right are Captain Archie Buckner, an unknown angler, and a young Captain Fred Wrege at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY circa 1917. Captains Buckner and Wrege were partners in the original "EFFORT" and at the time of this photo, the 23 year-old Fred Wrege had already become an established and respected 'Fishing Pilot'. Captain Buckner would later own and operate the "CAPT. JOE II" from Sheepshead Bay and Captain Wrege would go on to serve in the United States Navy during World War I as the Captain of the minesweeper "USS HOPESTILL". In March 1919, Captain Wrege returned to party boat fishing and resumed the helm of the "EFFORT" and he would continue to own and operate several other like-named vessels over the next 45 years. Photo courtesy of the Captain Fred Wrege and Captain Charles VanDerVoort families.
6Captain Clarence Starn, Atlantic City, NJ – 1922 Captain Clarence Starn stands at the helm of one of his cruise vessels in this 1922 photo. He was the patriarch of "Capt. Starn's Pier" at Atlantic City, New Jersey. Captain Starn originally ran daily fishing trips and ocean cruises from the Pennsylvania Railroad pier at Absecon Inlet, and later purchased the pier from the railroad in 1936.
After extensive renovations, "Capt. Starn's Restaurant and Boating Center" opened for business on June 26, 1940. The business evolved through the years to include a large fleet of deep sea fishing and excursion vessels, a seafood restaurant, the famous speedboat ride on the "MISS ATLANTIC CITY", a fishing pier, a large seafood market, and several exhibits of performing marine life.
Captain Starn's operation was a main attraction in Atlantic City for the next three decades until he passed away in 1969 at the age of 79. The business became a victim of financial decline during the next decade and was sold in 1979. In 1992, Capt. Starn's Seafood restaurant was demolished and the property was redeveloped. Photo courtesy of Captain John Bogan Jr.
7Captain 'Charlie' Freiberger, Brooklyn, NY – 1925 Captain 'Charlie' Freiberger is shown here among several patrons aboard his party fishing boat "ADMIRAL" at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn NY circa 1925. Captain Freiberger owned and operated several party boats from Sheepshead Bay during a period of over twenty years. In 1935, he sold his last party boat, the "EFFORT II", and relocated to Brielle, New Jersey where he founded "Captain Freiberger's Brielle Yacht Basin".
8Fishermen's Coffee Nook, Brooklyn, NY – 1925 A 1925 photo of the "Fishermen's Coffee Nook" that was once located on Emmons Avenue (at the corner of East 21st Street) at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY. From left to right in the photo and wearing their Sunday best suits and hats are Captain Fred Wrege of the party boat "EFFORT II" and Captain John 'Candy' Keefe of the party boat "TAMBO". And wearing canvas coveralls is Captain 'Charlie' Freiberger of the party boat "ADMIRAL". If you asked for a Caffè Latte Supremo Grande here, they would probably chase you down the street.
9The 'Iron Horse' and 'The Babe' visit Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY – 1927 The year was 1927 and the New York Yankees had just completed a season where they set an American League record of 110 winning games with only 44 losses, and swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series. Babe Ruth's 60 home runs in 1927 set a single-season record, which would stand for the next 34 years. First baseman Lou Gherig, 'The Iron Horse', had his first big season with a batting average of .373 and 47 home runs, and was the American League's Most Valuable Player of the year.
After the historic baseball season concluded, both Gehrig and Ruth took advantage of the off-season to enjoy some of the fine codfishing offered by the Sheepshead Bay party boat fleet. This incredible and rare photo was taken on November 10, 1927 aboard the Sheepshead Bay party boat "ELMAR II". Standing from right to left are Lou Gherig, Captain Gus Rau of the "ELMAR II" and Babe Ruth. They spent the day fishing for cod at the Cholera Bank, and we are sure these two members of the Yankee's 'Murderer's Row' were true to their nickname and dropped a few fish on the deck.
10Sheepshead Bay Boat Owner's Association Annual Picnic, Atlantic Highlands, NJ – 1930 This amazing photo shows members of the Sheepshead Bay Boat Owner's Association (S.B.B.O.A.) at their annual picnic in 1930. The annual owners and crew picnics began in September, 1927 when the "AU REVOIR" and "GIRALDA" functioned as ferry boats for the group from Brooklyn to the picnic grounds located at Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. In this photo are the following members...
Front Row left to right: Archie Buckner (CAPT. JOE II), Axel Lyons (NANCY B.), Jacob 'Jake' Martin (GLORY), Lou Dodge (COMANCHE), Joe Ecock (MIRIMAR), Harry Phillips (PILOT II), Unknown.
Second Row left to right: Steve Wischerth (FIDUS), Franklin Hammer (WHITBY), Charlie Freiberger (EFFORT II), Gus Rau (ELMAR III), Frank Stefano (NAUTILUS II).
Third Row left to right: Unknown, Tony Klaer (TAMBO), Jacob 'Chubby' Martin (GLORY), Joe Gabriel (ATLANTIC), Harry Rigby (BROOKLYN).
Top Row left to right: Unknown, Unknown, Frank Knuth (FLYING D.), Alex Hanson (HELEN H.), John 'Candy' Keefe (TAMBO III). Photo courtesy of Ed Keefe Jr.
11Captain John 'Candy' Keefe, Brooklyn, NY – 1931 Captain John Keefe was born in New York City in the year 1890. He was the son of German immigrant parents living on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Orphaned at a young age, John took to the sea at the age of 14 aboard the Iron Steamboat Company's fishing banks steamboat "TAURUS". His job onboard the "TAURUS" was selling knives, fish cleaning tools and candy. The crew nicknamed the youngster 'Candy' and the name stayed with him throughout his adult life.
From 1904 thru 1915, 'Candy' also fished and worked on two other Manhattan-based fishing steamers, the "CLERMONT" and "MOUNT DESERT". In March 1916, 'Candy' obtained his captain's license. During that year, 'Candy' moved from Manhattan to Astoria, Queens and took a job as a deck hand and alternate captain aboard Fred Wrege's "EFFORT" at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.
In 1919, 'Candy' purchased his first fishing boat, the "ADA L". For the next four years, 'Candy' and his "ADA L" made daily open boat trips from April through November. In 1923, 'Candy' sold the "ADA L" for a slightly larger boat which he named "TAMBO" and ran from Albert's Dock/Pier 6 at Sheepshead Bay until November 1930. On November 30, 1930, 'Candy' piloted his new 48-foot party boat "TAMBO III" and carried 42 passengers to the Cholera Banks on its maiden voyage. For the next five years, the "TAMBO III" fished all the local hot spots in the waters offshore of Brooklyn, Long Island and northern New Jersey during the warm weather months. The winter months in the 1930s found 'Candy' hitching a ride south to southern Florida aboard Jacob 'Chubby' Martin's "GLORY" where he worked as alternate captain and sometimes as deck hand.
After repeated urgings by Captain Charlie Freiberger, 'Candy' moved his family and boat business to Brielle, New Jersey in July 1936. The "TAMBO III" was berthed at Freiberger's Dock in Brielle, which was later known as the Harbor Inn Basin. The "TAMBO III" sailed from Brielle until September 1956, when 'Candy' retired and his eldest son, Edward, took over the business. 'Candy' passed away in June 1983 at the ripe old age of 92. Photo courtesy of Ed Keefe Jr.
12Wrege Family, EFFORT III, Brooklyn, NY – 1932 The Wrege family poses for a family photo aboard the "EFFORT III" at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY in 1932. Pictured from left to right are Ida Wrege, Captain Fred Wrege, and daughters Myra and little Gloria (standing in front of her Dad.) Many years later, Gloria would marry Captain Charles VanDerVoort, who would later take over the helm of the "EFFORT". Photo courtesy of the Captain Fred Wrege and Captain Charles VanDerVoort Families.
13Captain Edward Baletti Sr., Hoboken, NJ – 1933 Captain Edward Baletti Sr. at the helm of the original "PALACE" circa 1933. Captain Edward Baletti Sr. was one of the pioneers of North Jersey deep sea fishing and he began operating party fishing boats during the early 1920s. The Baletti family would go on to own and operate numerous party fishing boats for the next 70 years. Photo courtesy of Phil Castellano.
14Captain Lester Baletti, Hoboken, NJ – 1935 A young Captain Lester Baletti aboard his father's (Captain Edward Baletti Sr.) converted steam yacht "DIXIE". Captain Lester would later become the Captain of the "PALACE II" and "PALACE III". Photo courtesy of Phil Castellano.
15Captain Dave Martin Sr., GIRALDA, Brooklyn, NY – 1935 A dapper Captain Dave Martin at the helm of the "GIRALDA", Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY in 1935. James A. Baylis & Sons, Port Jefferson, NY built the 109-foot long "GIRALDA" in 1896 as a luxury yacht. Captain Martin purchased the "GIRALDA" in 1914 and converted her into a party fishing boat. Photo courtesy of Bryant Martin.
16Captain John 'Jack' Bogan Sr. – 1935 Scrub brushes and elbow grease ruled the day for a young and smiling Captain John 'Jack' Bogan Sr. when he was 'Decking' aboard the "PARAMOUNT II", Brielle, NJ at the age of 18. Photo courtesy of Captain John Bogan Jr.
17Captain Alex Hansen and wife Helen, Brooklyn, NY – 1936 Shown in this vintage photo are Captain Alex Hansen and his wife Helen circa 1936. Helen Hansen was the namesake of their family's party fishing boat, the "HELEN H" from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY.
18Captains 'Jake' and 'Chubby' Martin, GLORY, Brooklyn, NY – 1937 The father and son team of Captains Jacob 'Jake' Martin Sr. and Jacob 'Chubby' Martin Jr. aboard the "GLORY" in Miami, Florida circa 1937. The "GLORY" sailed from Miami during the winter months back in the 1930's and Captain 'Jake' took a break from a cold Brooklyn winter to join his son for a 'Busman's Holiday'.
19Captain John 'Jack' Bogan Sr., Brielle, NJ – 1938 Captain Jack Bogan is shown on the right holding a pair of Pollack caught aboard the "COLUMBIA" circa 1938. Captain Jack died in 2010 at age 92. We are thankful for his passing along the lore of 'the good old days' of party boat fishing in New Jersey. Photo Courtesy of Captain John Bogan Jr.
20Captain Dave and 'Laddie' Martin, GIRALDA, Brooklyn, NY – 1938 Captain Dave Martin Sr. with his son Dave 'Laddie' Martin Jr. aboard the "GIRALDA" at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY circa 1938. 'Laddie' would later go on to earn his Captain's license and follow in the family tradition as a Sheepshead Bay boatman. (He operated the "COMANCHE II" and later the "ROCKET" and "ROCKET II".) During World War II, Captain Dave Sr. and his "GIRALDA" served the US Government by transporting desperately needed natural rubber from the Amazon River in Brazil to the United States coast. Captain Dave Sr. retired from party boat fishing in 1950 and became the head engineer for the Circle Line sightseeing fleet in New York City and then became a citrus farmer in Florida. Photo Courtesy of Bryant Martin.
21Anthony and Louis Castellano, Hoboken, NJ – 1939 Anthony Castellano hoists a jumbo codfish caught aboard the deep sea fishing boat "PALACE" during the fall of 1939. Looking on (on the right and wearing the plaid coat) is his father, Louis Castellano.
Louis Castellano was the founding father of the "PALACE" fishing fleet that was responsible for bringing the original "PALACE" to Hoboken, New Jersey in 1930. The "PALACE" name would continue in the party fishing boat business for the next 63 years. Photo courtesy of Phil Castellano.
22Captains Sid Wilsey and Fred Wrege, Brooklyn, NY – 1941 Standing alongside the 'EFFORT III" at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY and conversing with an unknown deckhand are Captains Sid Wilsey and Fred Wrege. (We have to think that at least some of the dialog was about getting the deckhand's boot off Captain Wrege's suit jacket.) Captain Wilsey was the skipper of the "EFFORT II" at the time (Captain Fred's prior vessel). This 1941 photo is courtesy of the Captain Fred Wrege and Captain Charles VanDerVoort Families.
23Captain Fred Wrege, EFFORT III, Brooklyn, NY – 1944 Captain Fred Wrege at the Helm of the "EFFORT III", Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NJ circa 1944. Captain Fred was one of Sheepshead Bay's noted 'Wreck Masters'. While the Martin brothers specialized in wreck fishing to the south along the New Jersey coast and off Atlantic City, NJ, Captain Wrege's forte was fishing the wrecks to the east off Long Island and Fire Island. Captain Wrege was one of the last 'old time' fishing Captains who relied on his compass, watch, and shore ranges to locate his wrecks, and not fancy electronics. He was a physically large man that was as tough as nails and was highly respected by the party boat community (and he still is to this day.) Sadly, Captain Fred Wrege passed away on March 6, 1961 at the age of 66. Photo courtesy of the Captain Fred Wrege and Captain Charles VanDerVoort Families.
24Crew of the LOREE, Brooklyn, NY – 1945 The crew of the "LOREE" from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY circa 1945. From left to right are Captain Adam 'Eddie' Doll, Mate Eddie Enders, and a young Bill Doll (age 15). The "LOREE" was owned by partners Adam 'Eddie' Doll and Mike Scarpati. Captain Adam 'Eddie' Doll began sailing party boats in 1917 with his first boat, the "JUPITER". He later operated the "ADA L", the "ANGLER", the "ANGLER II", the "LOREE" and the "DOLLSON". His son, Captain Bill, took over the "DOLLSON" and went on to own the "JET" from Sheepshead Bay. (Captain Bill still operates the "JET" today.) Photo courtesy of Captain Bill Doll.
25"Da Boyz of Sheepshead Bay", Brooklyn, NY – 1945 Shown standing in front of Mike Maffai's Tackle & Bait Shop on Emmons Avenue, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY are, from left to right, Captain Herbie Hammer (the "WHITBY II"), Captain Fred Wrege (the "EFFORT III"), Captain Axel 'Alex' Hanson (the "HELEN H"), Mr. Maxwell and his partner, Captain Kaspar Bonsignor ("OLD PAL"). This 1945 photo is courtesy of the Captain Fred Wrege and Captain Charles VanDerVoort Families.