Chatting Boating and Farming with North Fork Native Katie Sepenoski of Port of Egypt, Heron Suites and Sep’s Farm

Q: How did you come to the North Fork?

A: I’m a native—a Sterling baby, born in Eastern Long Island Hospital — Greenport born and raised.
My first job at 11 was at my family’s marina, the Port of Egypt, carrying life jackets, counting bait, selling bait and tackle. I worked 5:30 am-11:30 am.

Katie Sepenowski

 

I met my husband in high school, and his family had a farm in East Marion. They’ve been here since the 20s in Orient and Southold, and started the farmstand in the 60s. His family were bay men in the offseason.

Fresh veggies Seps

 

Sep and I began truck farming to Shelter Island and have been happily serving the residents for 25 years.

I raised my children on the farm. They have followed their passions. My older son is a writer, pursuing his Ph.D. in Boston, and my younger son is an architect in Boston. You can see their love of nature in their work. Both return home to help run things in season as they can.

Seps Next Generation

Q: Tell me about your family’s marina.

A: Port of Egypt Marina has been in the family since in 1946. It’s a full-service marina and the oldest Grady White dealership in the nation—almost 70 years.

My father, Bill Lieblein, is still here giving boating and docking lessons, and he personally gives every new customer a boating seminar when they take possession of their new or used boat.

Bill Leiblien Port of Egypt Marina Tuna Trip

We’ve always been about safety on the water and protecting our resources, so in addition to that seminar we offer classes and lecture series on boating safety and the health and ecology of our bays.  Coming up we’re hosting a seminar by Peconic Green Growth on Marine Life and Bays. Our reputation for integrity and our willingness to continue educating gives people the confidence to enjoy their time on the water and explore the area.

Q: I know you have the standard full-service facilities, like a fueling station, pump out station, Hi & Dri storage, a pool, Hertz car rental and park and launch, but are there any special facilities or services at Port of Egypt that you’d like to highlight?

A: Several; we have a hotel and restaurant on premises, and we operate a seasonal Boating Club. Later this month, we’re hosting a property-wide Annual Spring In-Water Open House, and people can come explore all we have to offer.

Q: What’s the Boating Club?

A: It’s a way people for people who don’t own a boat to enjoy the boating lifestyle. It’s like a time-share. You buy a membership, and then between May 1 and October 31 you can reserve available club boats. After each trip, you return the boat clean and with a full tank of gas. We check it in, and then it’s ready for the next club member who wants to use it. We make it easy.

Q: Sounds like a hassle-free way to enjoy the water. What’s the Open House about?

A: It’s a special time when people can really get to know our team, our boats and our property. We were at the New York and Nassau Boat Shows recently, but the Open House is much better because we have all of our new boats in the water. People can see all the models, take a test drive and get a sense for Grady-White Boats, their quality and how they operate in the water.

Riding a Grady White

 

That weekend we’re also participating in Long Island Winterfest: Live on the Vine and will have the stellar Jack’s Waterfall performing. Local beer and wine will be poured from a specially-converted fire truck, The Hook and Lager. People should come, test drive a boat and enjoy the music. It’s all happening March 20-22, Friday to Sunday.

Q: Tell me about your hotel.

A: It’s called Heron Suites. While we’ve had a hotel on the property for some time, Hurricane Sandy forced us to renovate it thoroughly, so it’s essentially new. We turned the rebuilding into an opportunity to make our waterfront lobby and event space even more spectacular. The lobby has a window onto Southold Bay, with an unobstructed view of the bird sanctuary that’s right in front of us. Gulls, ducks, herons, oyster catchers and terns—all kinds of bird activity happens out on that island, and guests and visitors can enjoy it like nowhere else.

Heron Suites View

In the event space we host everything from birthday parties and bridal showers to corporate meetings and lectures and classes —even small weddings.

This Saturday we also have a Live on the Vine concert, with Ahmad Ali, and we have some special packages available for that.

Guests who sign up for an exclusive painting class with Rita Rooney in the waterfront lobby on the weekend March 27-29th will enjoy a complimentary wine and cheese tasting.

Q: You mentioned the family farm in East Marion. You must mean Sep’s.

A: Yes, Sep’s. We have great loyal customers at our farm stand on the Main Road. Our signature crops are corn and tomatoes, but we have all the variety of vegetables all the way through the fall.

Sep produce on a grady white

 

My father-in-law the first farmer out east to plant in a greenhouse. While we no longer sell flowers by the flat, we do plant and cut fresh flower bouquets. For me it is the ultimate in Color Therapy.

Katie Sepenowski flowers

At one time we raised over 500 acres of produce, leasing most of the land. Over time some of that land was turned into houses and taken out of farming. With the changes over time we’re still raising 80-100 acres, including land in front of Pebble Beach. Thankfully we’re able to do it because of the deer fence.

Seps

 

Q: Anything you’d like to add?

A: I’ve been trying work on some of the Governor’s initiatives such as Taste NY, such as putting value- added agricultural products out into the community and tying it in to the boating culture. We have such a rich and unique culture out here, with our agriculture, aquaculture, craftsmen, artists and more.

I want people to understand how easy it is to get here and enjoy this wonderful place, whether by boat, bus, train or car, and share in the deep, authentic culture of the North Fork.

 

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