Mattituck, NY 41° 00’ 07” N 72° 29’ 47” W
Having grown up near here, we love to return precisely because things have not changed very much. The North Fork of Long Island is still relatively undeveloped, and most of the old potato farms have been converted into thriving vineyards. Mattituck is a small village mostly ignored by the cruising crowd, as the inlet is a bit hard to spot from Long Island Sound, and the canal meanders for more than a mile before reaching a public landing area. We have sometimes sought refuge here in a real blow, as the small anchorage is well protected, and there is a marina for those preferring the security of a slip. We drop the hook, take our dinghy to the public dock next to a boat ramp and walk less than a mile into town. The tiny “Main Street” is actually named Love Lane, and it’s here where we find an old-fashioned hardware store, pharmacy, a wine and cheese shop as well as the very cool Love Lane Kitchen. Dinner here is a treat. I have the steamed sea bass, and my wife has the penne-arugula pasta. The Eastern Long Island breeze is refreshing, the pace of the place is relaxing, and the people, mostly locals who live here year round, are friendly. The Long Island Railroad has a station here, making Mattituck a convenient place to change crew. Contrary to popular opinion, you really can go home.
Thimble Islands 41° 15’ 48” N 72° 45’ 17” W
Before heading west on our way to New York City from Mattituck, we decide to take a short detour to Connecticut’s Thimble Islands, 16-miles across Long Island Sound. As we approach the chain of over 300 islands (the actual number depends on what your definition of “island” is), we think we’re seeing a mirage of Maine, as the pink granite formations closely resemble the rocky “Down East” coast. We drop our hook between High and Pot Island in 15-feet of water. Although the islands are all private, a volunteer group, “Friends of Outer Island” provides a tour guide of this island during the summer up until September 25th or so. (Check www.friendsofouterisland.org) The group works in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There is a small beach on which to land a dinghy or kayak. Picnics are permitted, but pets are not. For a late afternoon stroll and a dog walk, we take our dinghy to Stony Creek, the small hamlet on the mainland. Our cruising guide recommends stopping at the Stony Creek Market, where we decide to try their famous Medlyn white pizza – a real treat. Eating out on their front porch is an even bigger treat. Returning to our boat, we enter our waypoints for our route to the Big City as we enjoy the peace and quiet of our anchorage. Tomorrow will be a different story.
New York Harbor 40° 42’ 49” N 74° 01’ 53” W
Less than 80-miles west of the peaceful Thimbles is bustling New York Harbor. We time our approach to Hell Gate on the East River to ride the ebb tide as the current here can reach 5-knots or more. Traveling down the East River past the skyscrapers of Manhattan is always a thrill, in more ways than one. Having had a New York office here for many years, the sights, sounds and smell of the City bring back a multitude of memories. I only wish I could tie up temporarily to find a Sabrett’s hot dog stand. As we round the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan, we spot the Statue of Liberty off to our port and then cross the Hudson River. We head for the large clock bringing us to the entrance to Liberty Landing Marina on the New Jersey side. We like this spot because of its view of Manhattan and protection from the wakes created by all the harbor traffic. This full service marina has two on site restaurants, fuel, pump out service and a ship’s store. After tying up, we take the ferry to downtown Manhattan ($14 each, round trip) where we get a taxi to our friend’s home on the upper West Side. It’s wonderful for us, as ex-New Yorkers, to be back here, and it’s even more fun to have arrived by boat. We’ll spend a couple of nights at Liberty Landing as we take advantage of the City’s great food, music, theater, museums and galleries. In between all these activities, we’ll start planning the next leg of our cruise of the East Coast.