J. P. Knapp had been coming out to Bellport since the early 1890's when he rented Carman's River from the Smith Family. In 1899 he was one of the partners who built the Yacht and Golf Club there. It is highly probable this was where both Dodi and Claire learned to sail.
Always the most difficult Knapp to read anything about in the papers , Dodi most likely did his share of sailing in Bellport. I've been told by several informed sources, that he preferred the then new sport of motor boating. The Knapp craft "Lady Dixon" in which he made the papers with in 1911, was a motor boat albeit a broken motor boat. The Knapps (Sylvia & Claire) left Bellport around 1912 for Greenlawn, but Dodi used the town again in 1939 as a nothern home port for "Storm King" his future motor yacht.
I've been told that it was around Moriches Bay circa 1916 that Dodi & possibly Claire met Frank and Louise M. Lawrence. The Lawrence's informed him they were going to sell the waterfront estate they owned in Mastic on the Narrow Bay just east of Smith Point. Readers of this site know what happened next....."Hey Pop! ..............can I borrow a few bucks?
I've been told that Dodi's boat of choice for the Mastic Bay Area in the 1920's & 30's was the Sea Sled. These were radically different in design (Inverted V hulls) for their time. The Boston Whaler is a modern adaptation of Albert Hickman's patented Sea Sleds that came in all shapes, sizes and prices as some of these ads point out.
Although most Sea Sleds were of the squared off bow shape, Mrs. Schulz recalls the boat of Dodi's that her father serviced in the 1930's, as being "a small cabin boat." It could very well of been like the one on the bottom of the above catalog or it could be like the one just below.
Whatever Dodi did have docked in there at the foot of Jefferson Dr. in Mastic Beach, I always thought he at one time must of had something really big. My reasoning was simple. The size of the bulkhead. It was around 50 feet long and 25 feet wide. The same size as his "living room" in his house up the street. I heard he had the cove at the foot of his property dredged and the bulkhead put in around the late 20's which would of been the time that Home Guardian was doing the same thing at the Lagoon on the east side of his property. This could of been how he met the the Smadbeck Brothers.
About 10 months ago I discovered some info about Dodi's yacht the "Storm King" and the great story concerning Ernest Hemingway that went with it. It has been told and retold in many versions since Hemingway's "Pilar" and Knapp's "Storm King" tied up next to each other in the Bimini harbor one day in May of 1935. According to Hemingway the "Storm King" hailed from Miami, which would of made sense as Dodi had a home on the water in nearby Ft. Lauderdale. I looked through many issues of many boating magazines and like most things connected to Dodi Knapp came up blank.
I recently had a phone conversation with Dan Acernio, an antique marine engine specialist out of Sayville, NY. I was led to Dan because he was the last Long Island owner of the boats that belonged to Dodi's pal and neighbor William Shepherd Dana. It is said The "Wha-High" (sp) was a very fast and legendary Hacker craft that tore up Moriches, Narrow, and Great South Bay in the 1930's. I can almost see the two of them out there racing each other. But what was Dodi racing in? obviously not the Storm King most likely his Sea Sled. I figured the Storm King which if he took it to Bimini was a some very large yacht that wouldn't fit in the cove on Dock Road, Well like many of my other assumptions about all things Knapp....I was wrong. Dan was amazing on the phone....he said "What was Dodi's real name?" I said, "Joseph Fairchild Knapp" Within a few seconds he had the answers. "Here it is in Lloyds Registery." (something I wasn't aware of) "The Storm King" 53' feet 2" inches, built in 1931, repowered in 1934 (Dan the engine man would notice that) Twin Lathrop's, designed by William J. Deed, built by Marine Construction in Willmington Deleware. I WAS FALLING OVER.... Then he said, " Owner Joseph F. Knapp, 580 5th Ave. NYC (J.P's office) Home port MASTIC!.....good grief so that's what he had docked in there.... Then he went on to tell me "I can probably find a picture or two of it for you" Needless to say Dan is on my list of Must See's when I next return to the Island.
Bolstered by this new found knowledge of a wonderful book called Lloyds (Of London) Registry, I looked for it in our libraries here in Nashville. As it turns out good old Commodore Vanderbilt had several different volumes of his families personal copies in a special collections unit at the Vanderbilt Library. I poured through them and in a 1939 edition I found it! By now Storm King's home port was moved to Ft. Lauderdale / Bellport (did the Knapp's keep the Bellport home?) which made sense as Dodi left the Mastic area in 1938 or early '39. The mansion was for sale by early spring of '39. With the info on the boat's designer and builder, I was able to find and article on it in the March 1931 issue of The Rudder. Then Wendy Schnur and the wonderful folks at G.W. Blunt White Library at the Mystic Seaport Museum came through like gangbusters........Ladies and Gentlemen.......may I present to you the flagship of the Joseph F. , Gertrude O. & Marion E. Knapp fleet....