In late 2011, Joe Flotteron was following the path he had set for himself, working as a broker at a financial firm in Manhattan after graduating from Villanova University that spring.
But instead of planning how he could climb the corporate ladder, he was sitting at his desk, daydreaming about the career he really wanted.
So, less than nine months in, he quit to chase that dream.
Flotteron, a Greenport resident, now runs Peconic Water Sports, a full-service company based in Southold — with additional locations in Sag Harbor and Montauk — that helps people do almost anything fun out on the water, from fishing to wakeboarding, kiteboarding, tubing and everything in between. They offer camps for kids, boat rentals and charters, and other services for people looking to have summer fun on the water with a little guidance and without the commitment of buying a boat.
Flotteron and his co-workers don’t have a day off during the summer, work-
ing roughly 100 straight days from dawn until dusk, he said, but it pays off when the colder months arrive and they’re able to follow their other passion — traveling. Their globe-trotting adventures are well documented on the company’s popular Instagram account, which features photos and videos of water sports adventures in the summer, and scenery from Nepal, Japan, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and other countries during the offseason.
It’s an unorthodox way of life, but one Flotteron says suits him.
“It’s like Deadliest Catch, but with tourists instead of crabs,” he joked, referring to the popular reality TV show about Alaskan king crab fishermen who work long hours.
Being in the water was in Flotteron’s blood from an early age. He grew up in the suburbs in New Jersey, but eagerly looked forward to summers spent at his family home in Cutchogue, where he learned to wakeboard before he was 10, and worked as a wakeboard instructor on the South Fork as a teen and in summers during his college years.
Familiarity with the North Fork from spending summers there as a kid made Flotteron believe that quitting his finance job and basing a water sports company there was a business risk worth taking. Since starting the company in 2012, he’s seen it grow even more than he expected.
“I was seeing that [a water sports company] adn’t developed on the North Fork, and it started on the idea that the North Fork was going to continue to thrive and grow,” he said. “I didn’t think it would get as far as it has.”
I was seeing that [a water sports company] hadn’t developed on the North Fork, and it started on the idea that the North Fork was going to continue to thrive and grow. I didn’t think it would get as far as it has.
Joe Flotteron, Peconic Water Sports
Part of the appeal is that the company can work with people or groups at any level of experience on the water.
“It’s a means for people that want to do stuff on the water, from someone whose never done anything before up through somebody who does it all the time and might be just looking for a way to do it better or easier,” he said.
The company’s bread and butter is its fleet of wakeboard boats. They run popular camps for kids — Flotteron said precautions are being taken this summer include mask-wearing, extra cleaning of boats and a maximum of only six people on a boat at a time — and boats can also be chartered for parties or for a ride to popular destinations such as Sunset Beach on Shelter Island or Claudio’s in Greenport.
In total, Peconic Water Sports runs a fleet of 20 boats and is in business from April through October.
The company’s growth has been encouraging for Flotteron, but he
also prides himself on his staff, which includes water sports experts from all over the world, including the Dominican Republic and Australia, who all bring something important to the table, whether it’s the ability to work well teaching kids or fix any mechanical issues with the boats. Several employees were former customers who attended the camps when they were younger.
Jodi Sweetbaum-Carse, who has a home in Cutchogue, has been spending summers on the North Fork for more than 20 years, and started sending her twin sons, Nick and Kai, who were 11 at the time, for wakeboarding lessons back when the company had only two boats. They quickly became hooked, she said.
“The boys had never done wakeboarding and it became their life. We were even forced to buy a trampoline so they could practice flips when they weren’t on the water,” she said.
When they aged out of the summer camps, they started to work for the company as deckhands, and are now in their second year as boat captains, teaching camp and running charters.
Sweetbaum-Carse said that Peconic Water Sports has shaped her family’s entire summer experience on the North Fork, and said it’s not hard to see why the company has thrived.
“Having boats like they have is expensive and time consuming, and people aren’t interested in taking that on,” she said. “And the captains and deckhands really teach people how to do water sports, which you have to have.”
She added that she appreciates being involved in something the whole family can enjoy, and said that while she won’t be wakeboarding any time soon, she still likes being part of the experience.
“I love watching them all and just love being out on the water,” she said. “And when the boys were young, it exhausted them, which was a bonus.
“Most importantly, what it has done for us is make us really appreciate that we live on the water and just how beautiful and special that is,” she added. “Going to the beach is amazing, but being out on the bay completely switches your perspective.”