By Kate Berube
Photography by Belinda Randolph-Mills
Northern Nav Clothing is an embodiment of West Sayville native Timothy Leigh-Manuell’s south shore upbringing. Launched last summer by the veteran sea captain of the Sayville Ferry Service, the brand's vintage soft apparel wears like your favorite shirt in classic coastal colors while subtly imparting nautical knowledge borrowed from his 26 seasons with the 127 year old institute. It speaks to the chaos of a Long Island summer, where everything seems to come together in one spot.
Leigh-Manuell came on as a deckhand in the summer he turned 16 with a group of his childhood friends. Like generations of local kids before and after him, his years at the ferries helped establish his sense of self while instilling a deep respect of life on the water. Sayville Ferry workers are unique in that they come back summer after summer, long after they’ve finished college and launched successful careers of their own, intricately tied to the bonds they created on board these boats. Leigh-Manuell and his friends would go on to follow the natural progression from deckhands to captains. He later married the ticket counter girl from his first summer, and now watches as their daughter and her friends begin the cycle anew.
There’s a magic found here, and it’s largely attributed to the culture the Stein family has cultivated, a place where your growth is measured in summer sunsets and sea salt. The ferries are a family business in the truest sense of the word, owned and operated for more than a century by the same one. “I admire him tremendously, how present he is all the time with his workers, the balance he finds with running a successful business but still managing to create a place where kids come into their own,” Leigh-Manuell said of current owner Ken Stein. “We all tried to mirror that in our lives as we got older, be it here at the ferries or elsewhere, we try to be for these kids what they were for us.”
That camaraderie was on full display when this year deckhands Karl Stein, Tom Costa, and Hannah and Anthony Pascarella agreed to showcase Northern Nav’s summer line just as the south shore welcomes back the season like an old friend.
| You can find Northern Nav at Off Main Apparel and Bunger in Sayville, Action Sports in Oakdale, or the Davis Park Harbor Store |