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The Work We Do: Brian Becker, Sea Tow Eastern Long Island

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My name is Brian Becker.

I’m a captain here at Sea Tow Eastern Long Island. I’ve been here for 21 years now.

This is my summer job. During the school year, I’m a school teacher at Shelter Island. I teach physical education K-12.

I wanted something different, so came here and asked what it would take to be a captain.

It took about six months to get my license over that winter.

One thing that makes this job exciting is that you can’t really anticipate what’s going to happen.

Most of the time we get in around 10 o’clock, and ease in unless we have a dock-to-dock, which is scheduled. We plan what we want to try to do: if something needs to be done for the boats, daily cleaning and things like that.

We get called out to jobs. Now, it’s phone calls more than radio calls. It’s mostly just tows, people just recreational, breaking down, running out of gas, battery jumps. On occasion we have boats that sink.

The company was founded in 1983 by Captain Joe Frohnhoefer. The president at the time, Ronald Reagan, decided that to save funding, the Coast Guard would no longer respond to non-emergency situations, which is how the concept of Sea Tow originated.

I’ve always had a boat.

It’s a lot different, owning and running your own boat compared to towing and salvaging.

More people are buying boats, and more money means bigger boats. Nowadays, the technology is getting better so the boats are getting faster, there’s a rise of people drinking and boating, unfortunately. People have to learn that respect for the water.

I like being on the water and I like helping people, especially when there’s children on board.

We have a pretty fast response time. And I try to make the boating experience positive. Usually when they’re broken down, it can bring it down fast.

So, just getting them back to the dock where they feel safe, the kids aren’t petrified like ‘Oh my god, what’s happening, are we going to drown, is the boat going to sink?’

Boats break down, need some gas or whatever, and we get them running again so it keeps that positive experience for them lifelong.

“The Work We Do” is a Shelter Island Reporter multimedia project profiling workers on the North Fork made possible by Peconic Landing.