IN MEMORIAM - CAPTAIN THOMAS A. MARCONI  1939-2006  CAPTAIN THOMAS A. MARCONI of the Sheepshead Bay party boat PILOT II passed away on August 27, 2006.   Captain Tom began his party boat career as the first mate aboard the original PILOT II with Captain Harry Phillips.   When his mentor retired in 1974, Captain Tom took over the operation and for three decades, the PILOT II name continued to be the premier Blackfish and bottom fishing boat at Sheepshead Bay under his command.   Captain Tom will always be remembered as being the perfect gentleman to his fellow boatmen, the customers who sailed aboard the PILOT II and his many friends.  "First Boat Out!"  Captain Tom was quoted in an October 31, 2004 New York Times article as saying "Social distinctions typically disappear when customers climb aboard.   Whether they make a lot of money or whether they make less than an average income is really of no avail out here." said Captain Thomas Marconi, who has been operating the PILOT II for 40 of his 58 years.   "They're all equal when they come on my boat."  Captain Tom is survived by his wife Nina and son David, and to them and the rest of the Marconi family, we wish you peace.  Captain Tom is in our prayers.  God grant that I may fish until my dying day. And when it comes to my last cast, I then most humbly pray, When in the Lord's safe landing net I'm peacefully asleep, That in his mercy I be judged as big enough to keep.  PILOT II, Brooklyn, NY – 1949  Captain Harry Phillips' "PILOT II" and Captain Otto Behensky's "SWANEE" at Pier 7, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY circa 1949.   Ernest Fiedler built the "PILOT II" in 1937, and the "SWANEE" was built in 1938 at Patchogue, NY.   The "SWANEE" would later be owned by Captain Fred Ardolino.   Captain Ardolino later sold her to Captain Charlie Roth who relocated her to Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn, NY where she sailed as the "WOODEN SHOE II".   Notice the chevrons painted on the wheelhouse of the "PILOT II".   The government appropriated many local party boats during World War II for service as costal patrol boats and each chevron represents a year of military service.   Also, the "PILOT II" was a member of the Sheepshead Bay Boat Owners Association as indicated by the "S.B.B.O.A." painted on her overhang.   Years later, a young Tom Marconi started his career as a mate on this boat.   Captain Phillips became Tom's mentor and sold the business to him when he retired in 1974.  Captain Harry Phillips, PILOT II – 1947  Captain Tom Marconi's mentor, Captain Harry Phillips is shown at the helm of his "PILOT II" while returning to Sheepshead Bay from a day of bottom fishing in October of 1947.   Captain Phillips was a 'Master' inshore party boat captain who specialized in bottom and wreck fishing.  This photo contains a wealth of details... A burlap bag of fish is tied to the rail near the stern, fishing rods are put away in their canvas bags, a spray curtain is hanging by the wheelhouse, the decks are scrubbed and still wet, a couple of bottles of beer still remain unopened, and the angler at the bottom is taking a quick snooze.   Each of the chevrons painted on the wheelhouse denotes a year of coastal patrol service by the boat during World War II.   Also notice the neat radiotelephone handset in the wheelhouse.  PILOT II, Brooklyn, NY – 1980  Captain Tom Marconi's "PILOT II" from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY circa 1983.   She was built in 1964 by Gillikin Boat Works at Harkers Island, NC as Captain Stanley Joseph's "CAPT. JOSEPH II".   She was originally powered by four GM 6-71 diesel engines turning three propellers (two engines were connected in tandem to the center propeller shaft), and was later modified to operate with three engines.   During her tenure at Sheepshead Bay, she was considered THE Blackfish party boat.  Sadly, the boat burned to the waterline during a Flounder fishing trip in the fall of 1982.  BLUE SEA III, Brooklyn, NY – 1985  The "BLUE SEA III" from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY circa 1982.   She was operated by Captain Nick Cannisi.   She was built in 1966 by Covacevich Shipyard, Biloxi, MS.   She came to Sheepshead Bay in 1976 and sailed as the "BLUE SEA III" until 1987 when she was sold to Captain Tom Marconi and became one of the many vessels that were named "PILOT II".   Photo courtesy of Captain Andrew Nazzaruolo. 
PILOT II, Brooklyn, NY – 1989  Captain Tom Marconi's "PILOT II" was built by Gulf Craft Inc. in 1989 and is shown prior to making the trip from Patterson, LA to Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY.   She specialized bottom fishing for Blackfish and Porgies while sailing from Sheepshead Bay.   She was sold in 1998 and relocated to Harwich Port, MA where she currently sails as the ferry and cruise vessel "FREEDOM".   Photo courtesy of Scotty Tibbs II and Gulf Craft Inc.  SEA QUEEN, Hyannis, MA – 1994  The "SEA QUEEN" from Hyannis, MA circa 1994.   She was built in 1971 by Machine & Supply Co., Beaufort, NC as the "BLUE HERON IV".   She later became Captain Tommy Marconi's "PILOT II" from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY.  PILOT II, Brooklyn, NY – 2007  The "PILOT II" from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY in November 2007.  Captain Tom Marconi  Captain Tom at the rail and doing what he liked best.  God grant that I may fish until my dying day. And when it comes to my last cast, I then most humbly pray, When in the Lord's safe landing net I'm peacefully asleep, That in his mercy I be judged as big enough to keep.