Captain Will Lieblein’s personal history on the Peconic Bay stretches back decades. His grandfather, William Sr., founded Port of Egypt before Will was born and the business remains in the family to this day.
Talking about his life out on the water this week, Lieblein recalled going out on service calls as a 12-year-old to jumpstart an engine for stalled boaters.
“Imagine you’re stuck out there and a 12-year-old kid shows up to fix the engine?” he asked with a chuckle.
Lieblein’s latest venture into local waters is Peconic Cruise Line. He recently purchased the Peconic Star II from Captain Dave Brennan and is transforming the longtime Greenport fishing charter into a cruise boat with a wide variety of events ranging from a yoga cruise to seal-watching expeditions.
“I’ve spent my whole life out on the water,” the 49-year-old Greenport resident said. “My first time out on a boat by myself, I was 8 years old. I kind of got addicted to it — that freedom out on the water to pick whatever direction you want to go.”
This latest direction is a departure from Lieblein’s most recent experience owning a ServPro business. It brings the captain closer to his previous days as a marina dockhand, boat towing captain, salvage diver, marina manager, boat handling skills instructor and even a commercial tuna fisherman on a Montauk longliner.
But much like the transformation the 73-year-old boat is undergoing, this latest venture gets away from just fishing and is more about experiencing the North Fork lifestyle. Peconic Cruise Line is already offering lighthouse and sunset cruises. And when the business is fully operational it will serve local beer, wine and food — think locally sourced oysters — on each of its excursions from the Railroad Dock in Greenport.
The Peconic Star II was built as an Army rescue boat, but has served several purposes since that time. It has been docked in Greenport since 1986, when Capt. Brennan bought it and began using it within his charter fleet. Brennan will continue to run charters on the Peconic Star Express.
Since purchasing the boat, Lieblein has ripped out the booths in the cabin, where he is installing a bar and new seating areas for guests to take in the sights. He’s also giving the boat a paint job.
The events, scheduled for Friday through Sunday, began last week and will continue as he completes renovations. This week’s lineup includes special excursions to see fireworks in Sag Harbor (July 1) and Orient (July 2). On Saturday, July 8 he’ll take guests to see the Shelter Island Fireworks show at Sunset Beach followed by a Three Mile Harbor fireworks cruise to East Hampton the following Saturday, July 15.
He’s also planning two-hour cruises before Dances in the Park events in Greenport this summer.
Another plan for Peconic Cruise Line is to host private events, the captain said, including birthday parties, wedding rehearsal dinners and corporate outings.
“I’m really looking forward to showing people all the possibilities out there on the water, especially for some who have never experienced that,” Lieblein said. “They have no idea about the nature and the sea life that awaits out there.”