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South Ferry boat renamed to honor Nick Morehead: Large gathering to celebrate his life

Sunday afternoon, July 30, a large gathering of Islanders assembled to witness the renaming of South Ferry’s boat Southside to the Capt. Nick Morehead.

Capt. Morehead passed away on May 10, 2021 at the age of 46, following a 4.5 years-long battle with cancer. He was a beloved husband, father, friend, and member of South Ferry.

While his passing left a void in the hearts of all who knew him, the atmosphere around South Ferry’s maintenance docks on Sunday was not filled with sadness. On the contrary, it was primarily filled with joy.

The ceremony took place on board the old Southside, featuring live music, a soda bar, and hors d’oeuvres. The deck was filled nearly to capacity  with Islanders of all ages who were there to celebrate Capt. Morehead’s life.

Near the bow of the ship were rows of chairs, all facing a microphone and a large picture of Capt. Morehead. Here, friends and family members stood to offer thanks for his life, and to share stories about the legacy he left behind.

The ceremony opened with a prayer, citing Psalm 127:1 — “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him” — followed by a statement from Bill Clark II, who remembers Capt. Morehead getting along with everybody.

“Nicholas always fit right in, he made us comfortable,” he said.

Next were two of Capt. Morehead’s friends, Scott Overstreet and Brett Surerus, who described it as an honor to have known him. Mr. Surerus cited Capt. Morehead’s humble nature, and noted that his humility would have made him avoid the honor of a vessel named for him.

Capt. John Westervelt focused on his colleague’s dedication to South Ferry. Even during cancer treatment, Capt. Morehead was an inspiration to those around him, he said, continuing to put maximum effort into his work and relationships. “He was a workhorse,” Capt. Westervelt said.

Once the sharing of memories came to an end, it was time for the christening and the official renaming of Southside. Silence hushed the deck as everyone gathered around Capt. Morehead’s wife, Paige, who held a champagne bottle high in the air for all to see.

Paige Morehead christens the Capt. Nick Morehead with a bottle of champagne across the boat’s gunwale. (Credit: Mark Mobius)

After a brief moment of suspense, she brought the bottle down onto the gunwale and quickly stepped back as champagne and broken glass flew through the air. Hoisting the shattered bottle high once more, the crowd began to cheer.

Father Peter DeSanctis then made his way to the microphone to provide a blessing for the ship, as well as thanks for the life of “Nicholas Morehead.”

Perhaps the most moving part of the ceremony came when the name change was formally completed. Up until this point, a tarp had been hanging just outside the wheelhouse, visible from all parts of the main deck.

Capt. Morehead’s and Paige Morehead’s children, Cayman and Larkin, had the honor of dropping the tarp to reveal a beautiful wooden plaque, decorated with the South Ferry logo and the name “Capt. Nick Morehead” engraved across it in large, gold letters.

“It’s a big deal,” said Cliff Clark, the father of Paige and father-in-law of Nicholas. “It carries a lot of dignity with it.”

The newly-named ferry then made its maiden voyage, traveling out of Smith Cove for approximately 30 minutes before returning to its dock and officially bringing the ceremony to a close.

Asked if he could sum up his son-in-law in a few words, Mr. Clark said, “Nicholas was kind, fair, committed and loyal to everyone and every organization he was part of.”