Here’s a story I wrote a while ago for Southern Boating about Port Washington, New York, a great cruising destination (“Exit One on Long Island Sound”) if you’re heading for the Northeast this summer:
If you’re cruising east of New York City this summer, think about a stopover at Port Washington on Long Island’s North Shore. With its large marinas and mooring fields, waterfront restaurants and marine services, “Port,” as locals know it, is one of the major boating destinations on the East Coast. It’s worth a visit whether just for an overnight if you’re heading farther east, say to Newport, or even up to Maine, or as a destination in its own right. And it’s easy to get to. In fact, Port Washington is only about four miles east of the Throgs Neck Bridge, marking the entrance to Long Island Sound. “We like to say we’re Exit One on the Sound,” says Steve Wachter, the general manager of Brewer Capri Marina, a massive full-service waterfront complex in Port Washington.
An affluent, commuter suburb, Port Washington has a lot going for it. For openers, it’s a pretty spot where stately waterfront homes with long, sloping greenswards grace the shoreline, particularly on the western—or Great Neck—shoreline. When I lived there many years ago, we used to enjoy sailing by one that had his-and-hers seaplanes out in front. If Gatsby comes to mind, there’s a reason. Indeed, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote his classic while staying in Great Neck, which he called West Egg, looking across the bay to Sands Point—the most affluent section of Port Washington—where his Daisy was staying in East Egg. If you want to indulge your Gatsby-type impulses today, there’s Rodeo Drive-type shopping only 15 minutes away by car, while Manhattan itself is only 36 minutes away by train.
The Port Washington peninsula was settled in the 17th century by Dutch traders and English farmers who originally called it Cow Bay, a name that didn’t sit well with residents as the town morphed into one of the most desirable sections of Long Island’s Gold Coast. Cow Bay became Manhasset Bay long ago, the entrance of which is wide, well-marked and easy to find. After cruising under the Throgs Neck Bridge, stay in the ship channel but keep an eye out for commercial traffic; there are a lot of large tugs and barges. Leave City Island on your port side and Stepping Stones light (46-feet-high) to starboard; in fact, stay well north and west of the light. Read more: