Meet Pat Mundus, Greenport Maritime Festival grand marshal

The 2015 Maritime Festival Grand Marshal, Captain Pat Mundus.

The 2015 Maritime Festival Grand Marshal, Captain Pat Mundus.

Pat Mundus enjoys hanging out on her porch in Greenport during warm summer days, but she feels more at home when she’s out on the water. 

The 58-year-old local charter boat company owner grew up in Montauk with her parents and two sisters. They spent most of their time on boats, a lifestyle she credits to her father, Frank Mundus, the famous sport fisherman who inspired the character Quint in the book and movie versions of “Jaws.”

“I like the pace,” Ms. Mundus said of the sea. “When I’m home, I feel like things happen too quickly for me — too many emails, too many phone calls, too much of all of that — I’m not connected enough to the rhythm of the earth.”

After returning home from a six-month winter sailing trip to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and the Bahamas, Ms. Mundus learned she will be honored as grand marshal of the annual Greenport Maritime Festival parade.

“I said yes right away — just as long as I didn’t have to wear a mermaid costume,” she recalled with a laugh.

While she’s honored to be this year’s grand marshal, Ms. Mundus said she believes the title represents more than just her accomplishments.

“I really believe in mentoring,” she said. “I could not have accomplished my goals without someone pointing me in the right direction and now that I have gray hair and a sore back, it’s time for me to do that for somebody else.”

The ocean has always been a part of her life. Once Ms. Mundus finished high school, she bought a one-way ticket to the Caribbean and worked on charter boats for three years, sailing home to Long Island and back to the Caribbean as the seasons changed.

In 1977, having heard it was starting to accept women, she enrolled at SUNY/Maritime College in Fort Schuyler, N.Y. She graduated four years later as the only woman in her class.

>During her 17-year career as captain of an Exxon oil tanker, she supervised the mostly male crew and handled cargo. She also traveled across the world, making trips from the Persian Gulf around the Cape of Good Hope; visiting Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen; and docking  in the Mediterranean and the English Channel.

“It was a cool job,” she said. “My favorite part, which motivated me to stay all those years, was that I loved the rhythm and harmony of being at sea.”

>Ms. Mundus retired in 1997 after being diagnosed with stage two Lyme disease, though the illness didn’t keep her off the water.

She and her husband, Earl Vorhees, who has since passed away, lived in East Hampton until they moved to Greenport eight years ago. When they weren’t sailing, the couple restored two yachts and five antique barns upstate.

Currently, Ms. Mundus owns East End Charters in Greenport, which charters boats for private and special occasions.

Ron Breuer, chairman of East End Seaport Museum, said his board of directors has considered choosing her as grand marshal in the past.

“Pat stands out every year,” he said. “We looked at Pat and at what she’s been doing — all the work she does all over the East End and in Greenport.”

Museum vice chairman Arlene Klein described Ms. Mundus as “incredibly sophisticated and knowledgeable about classic boats and their importance to the history of the East End.”

Her staff at East End Charters is mostly female and she also hosts a Fresh Air Fund child every year in an effort to show young women how to become mariners.

According to Ms. Mundus, only about 5 to 6 percent of people in the field are women. This is also evident at the Maritime Festival, Ms. Klein added, where only a handful of women have been honored as grand marshal in 26 years.

“People are going to say ‘Well, why her as a Grand Marshal?’ ” Ms. Mundus said. “Frankly, I don’t really know why they chose me, except I’m flattered they chose a woman. This story is not about me, so much as it is all women mariners.”