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Northport Memories: The Wreck of the Gwendoline Steers

Unfortunately, not all memories of Northport are good ones.

Unfortunately, not all memories of Northport are good ones. Such is the case with the wreck of the Gwendoline Steers, a 98-foot tugboat owned by the Steers Sand & Gravel Co. which foundered and sank off Eaton’s Neck on December 30, 1962. 

The weather that day produced single digit temperatures and a fast moving squall brought in winds of up to 95 miles per hour. The tug was headed for its home port of Northport Harbor when it ran into trouble. With nine hands on board, the last radio transmission was the moment of twilight at 4:40 p.m. when they reported taking on water.

No one witnessed the actual sinking and it was presumed to have gone down in those dark, cold, rough seas. All on board perished and some were found at Sand City while others remained missing. The tug itself was not located for 109 days and, for a while, it was “the ghost ship that vanished.” All hands were eventually accounted for and the tug itself was found in 40 feet of water sitting upright off Eaton's Neck in Long island Sound. 

Dec. 30 of this year will mark the 50th anniversary of the tragedy and, with heavy heart, many of the fallen crew members' families will mark their calendar and pause in memory of their loved one. During my research journey in writing this blog, I have come across a Facebook site that is dedicated to the memory of
those souls. Mr. Steve Knox who was only eight years old when his dad, Robert Knox died on that ill-fated voyage, maintains the site to honor the victims and to keep their memory alive for the surviving families. More than an impersonal stone monument, this is a place to clock-in and read about the history of the event, victims' families, friends' remembrances, and familial evolution over the past 50 years. It's a medium that allows for real people to reminisce and be heard-- something that was not even a distant concept on Dec. 30, 1962. 

There is some talk of observing the date in a memorial ceremony in Northport this year, but I personally spoke with Steve on the phone and he is very tentative because there are four surviving families that are still unaccounted for. I salute Steve for his unselfish endeavor in keeping the memory alive not only for his own family but for the others as well. 

It is my hope that information as to the whereabouts of the missing four families will be realized before Dec. 2012. Families who remain unaccounted for are those of crew members Roy Burnette, Claude Markel, John Iverson and Rasmus Nordvik. Information and leads can be relayed to the Gwendoline Steers website at http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/152881484728297/ or to me at: inspectorbruyn@yahoo.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

joe ekenstierna February 28, 2012 at 12:29 PM
my father worked for steers,i was at sand city with him the mourning the life boat washed ashore, i was 11 yrs. old. The wind was blowing so hard i couldn't open the car door. He told me to stay in the car as he got out an walked down to shore line where i presume men from steers were pulling lifeboat up beach with 4 wheel drive vehicle. He stayed briefly then came back to car got in an never said a word, the following week photo of lifeboat was in Life magazine,boat was solid ice to top with shadow of a body.He worked for Steers for 42 yrs. and he never talked about it, he new the entire crew.
Dave Bruyn February 28, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Thanks, Joe for your comment. I went to school with Jimmy Ekenstierna who I presume is your older brother. There is a song I wrote and recorded with Steve Knox, son of Gwendoline Steers crewman Robert Knox. Just double click on it to hear the song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDshp72o15g
Rob February 28, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Beautiful song Dave
Dave Bruyn February 28, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Thanks, Rob My wife, Jessie is playing the bass and Steve Knox has a few bass licks as well. Steve's lead guitar is providing that pleasantly entwined sound that kind of emulates the "Young bloods" of 60's "Get Together" fame.
joe ekenstierna February 28, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Yes Dave Jimmy is my older brother, i'm the baby in the family, ha ha 62 yrs young.
Patricia Florenco March 30, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Hi Joe, That man was my Dad. We saw that picture when the magazine came out and we were not notified that it was being published. You can imagine the shock and horror we all had that day when we saw it.
Joann October 03, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Hi...I'm Jo-Ann Corretti, Northport/Long Island Artist, and I have been commissioned to paint the Gwendoline Steers tugboat with eaton's neck lighthouse in the backround...I am working on the painting now for the 50th year ceremony.... Blessings to all the families invovled....
Joann October 03, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Jo-Ann Corretti...I feel that it is such an honor for me to be asked to paint this very important commission...I'm gathering all the information that I can and trying to put all the details in the painting...I'm working on the painting everyday all day and researching everynight and trying to make the painting look as realistic as possible....this might be the most important commission that I'll ever do in my life so I'm putting all my energy into it...Jo-Ann
Dave Bruyn October 03, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Hi, Jo-Ann Thanks for your comments. I am familiar with your work, especially on the Northport Calendar. Your talent as a celebrated artist will be appreciated by all of the family and friends of the Gwendoline Steers. You may join the site at https://www.facebook.com/groups/152881484728297/ It is run by Steve Knox, son of Robert Knox who was one of the nine victims, that cold December night. There is a wealth of information there and a lot of good people who share in the sorrow of that tragedy. Bless you for your dedication.

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