Last Call To Board The Ida May Project

The Ida May oyster harvester will be on view at the Oyster Festival, Oct. 15 and 16, for the last time ashore. It goes into the water this winter. (Photo courtesy Dagmar Karppi)

This is the last year visitors to the Oyster Festival, Oct. 15 and 16, can see the oyster harvester Ida May on land. Since 2010, people attending the festival have been walking through the Ida May Project (IMP) boat shop, located in the big blue building J on West End Avenue, to witness the progress and learn about traditional boat building for the last dozen years checking out her progress.
Appropriately, the oysters that are the featured food at the festival, need oyster harvesters to deliver them to the public.
For over a dozen years volunteers have been building the ship, two days a week, even during the pandemic, the work continued inside the boat shop, following safety precautions. Currently they are working five days a week as they push to completion.
It has been amazing to see how the boat has progressed from a wooden skeleton to the full-sized ship with a pilot house that you will see in total for the last time from land. Once it is in the water, sometime during November and December, this winter, according the weather and the schedule – the lower half the boat will be hidden from view, submerged.
The volunteers have been wonderful, including retirees from corporate jobs, and professions, locals who love wood and boats, and even a few very dedicated high school students. They form a cohort of committed craftsmen and women too. New volunteers are always needed, and are welcome. No prior experience is necessary, just come to be boat shop and sign up.
In the food court, Greek Cove of East Norwich will be serving the IMP customers. This year artist Susan Bello has designed a new commemorative IMP t-shirt. You can wear it to the 2023 parade, when the boat is finally launched and ready for the Waterfront Center to use to provide marine education, recreation and tours shouting out the history of this great deep-water harbor.
The Oyster Festival is a project of the Oyster Bay Rotary Club and run by the Oyster Bay Charitable Fund, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission includes providing a family friendly event, promoting the beauty, history and resources of Oyster Bay and supporting local charities through fundraising activities during the festival.
The Western Waterfront on West End Avenue, where the IMP is located, is your connection to tours on the bay aboard the oyster sloop Christeen, and dockside tours on the fireboat John J. Henry as well as visiting the Ida May where, for a donation you can sign your name on a plank that will be used in finishing the ship. There will even be pirates. The Kings of the Coast Pirates will offer buried treasure hunts twice per day, free: at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. You can expand your waterfront experience by coming to the festival from NYC to Oyster Bay aboard the fireboat on Friday Oct. 14 with the return trip on Monday Oct. 17. Guests are welcome to take either or both one-way rides. Visit for further details.

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