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Our History

The Sayville Ferry story began in 1894, when German immigrant Charles Stein took passengers across the Great South Bay, on a charter basis, in a gaff-rigged sailboat, transporting church groups, duck hunters, picnickers and holly gatherers for a day’s outing. 

Charles’s son, Fred, took over operation of the ferry 1921.  He motorized his father’s sailing craft, charging 40¢ for a round trip in 1922.  In 1926, he purchased the current boat yard, and in 1937, Sayville built its first boat specifically for the ferry business.  A few months later the great hurricane of 1938 hit, washing away a great part of Fire Island and devastated the business.  Fred could not meet the payments on the new boat, so he sold her to the British government for use as a hospital ship.

Fred’s son, Kenneth, started trying his luck with running the business in 1939.  During World War II, with travel restricted, mainlanders rediscovered nearby Fire Island as well as the military which patrolled the beach against U-Boat attacks and enemy landings.  

After World War II, travel to Fire Island and building on the Island grew at an accelerated pace.  Mr. Stein, now known as “Ken Senior,” the third generation, bought surplus war crafts and turned them into ferries.  By the 1960’s Ken Stein Junior (the 4th generation), who had worked in the Company since he was a boy, eventually took over the firm and shepherded it through its modern day growth, until his unfortunate passing in 2000.

Since 2000, Ken III has carried on the family tradition, serving the communities of Fire Island Pines, Cherry Grove, and Water Island, as well as the Fire Island National Seashore at Sailors Haven.  In 1994, Sayville Ferry celebrated its 100 year anniversary, and looks forward to many more. Thank you for becoming part of our proud history!

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