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Schnee aboard The Half Shell. Photo by Victoria Caruso

A new one-of-a-kind experience came to the North Fork’s shores this summer. 

In August, Founders Oyster Farm owner Steven Schnee led the first of many private cruises aboard The Half Shell — a 31-foot 1936 Chris Craft yacht. Throughout the season, passengers were able to choose from several sightseeing destinations across the North Fork, including a private oyster tasting above Schnee’s local oyster farm. There, about a half-mile off Founders Landing Beach, passengers popped open some complimentary bubbly and learned how to shuck oysters. 

“People are really curious about how oysters are grown and how oysters are harvested,” said Schnee,  who supplies oysters to many of the North Fork’s top restaurants. He decided to use the restored yacht to offer tourists a new way to enjoy these local oysters.

Schnee’s decision to restore the Chris Craft arose from a strong appreciation for the area’s maritime history and the craftsmanship of vintage boats. While most modern boats are made of fiber-reinforced plastic, his 1936 yacht is wooden — a modern-day rarity and a symbol of Greenport’s shipbuilding past. “It’s a piece of history you just don’t want to see die,” he explained. Over a span of six months, Schnee spent roughly six hours a day, seven days a week, restoring the yacht at The Boatyard at Founders Landing. “It actually was in better shape than I had expected it to be,” said Schnee. “The engine runs like a clock — a Timex, not a Rolex, but it runs.” 

During The Half Shell’s first season, Schnee offered both daytime and sunset cruises that could be booked for up to four hours and up to six people. This spring, Schnee will bring the yacht out for a second season — and he’s already taking reservations, which can be made at