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Exit Four, Oyster Bay, on the Sound

In continuing my annual series of “exits” off the Long Island Sound, this year we cruise into exit four. Exit four off the Long Island Sound is the entrance to Oyster Bay. This is the fourth harbor or bay on Long Island when traveling east from New York City. The first three are Little Neck Bay, Manhasset Bay and Hempstead Harbor. Oyster Bay is a quick cruise from Westchester, Western Connecticut, northern Nassau County and Huntington Bay. Oyster Bay offers two areas to visit. When you enter the harbor you will be looking about three miles south towards Cold Spring Harbor. Heading this way will give you a nice ride along the shore where you can admire the homes. Eventually you will reach a sand spit that has a narrow pass so watch your markers and depths. If you motor carefully past the spit you will see to the west the campus of the famous Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories where people from all over the world work on curing different diseases. This area is crowded with moored boats so anchoring here is not desirable. Cold Spring Harbor is a village worth strolling around.

To visit you can call ahead to the Powles Marina (631 367-7670) to see if they have any day mooring balls or anchor on the north side of the spit and dinghy into their marina. Powles is a five minute walk up to Main Street where you will find boutiques, food, ice cream and the quaint Cold Spring Harbor Fire Museum that is worth a peak. At the far side of town is the small Whaling Museum. Heading back up the harbor keeping Cove Neck on your port you can again admire the mansions along the shoreline until you are able to turn to port and enter Oyster Bay. Cove Neck is the location of President Theodore Roosevelt’s home called Sagamore Hill. It is a national park and worth a visit as the home is pretty much the way it was when he lived here. Rounding the Cove Neck you come to Center Island on your starboard and the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club. This yacht club opened in 1871 and is one of the oldest in the United States. It was written about in Nelson DeMille’s book The Gate House. The yacht club allows members of other clubs to stop by for lunch or dinner. They also have a Sunday evening “Salty Dog” outdoor BBQ’s that we have enjoyed. You can rent a mooring ball for the night but it can get a little bouncy from the morning fisherman passing by.Continuing south into Oyster Bay you will see a protected area called The Cove on the eastern side of Cove Neck. While this is a pretty place to stop I preferto anchor in West Bay. Moving along and past Mos sPoint on Center Island you reach the Oyster Bay Marine Center Sagamore Yacht Club and the Town of Oyster Bay Marina. There is no room for anchoring in this area.Sagamore Yacht Club, (516 922-0555), has 15 balls they rent to reciprocal clubs for $50 a night. The Oyster Bay Marine Center, (516 624-2400), rents balls at $1.50 per foot. To be dockside rates per foot are $4.50 weekdays and $5.00 weekends.

The nice thing about staying in this part of Oyster Bay is that you are only a 10 minute walk to the village.Oyster Bay is a historical town with a few good restaurants and several old houses or structures to wander about. There is also a nice automotive museum here. From the waterfront it is a three mile walk to Theodore Roosevelt’s home.No captain will find a more tranquil evening than staying on the hook in West Bay.To get there you pass the southeast tip of Center Island (where you can see Billy Joel’s former mansion) and continue north until you find a place west of Center Island to stop. At West Harbor you are protected from rough seas on all sides. On weekends this area has many boats and rafting parties but there is enough water to have your privacy. At night I have never seen more than several boats anchored out. The average depth in this area is about 8 feet with a good hold.

The best part of being at anchor here is the solitude, safety and stars. When staying in West Bay you are near the Bridge Marina, (516-628-8688) located on the opposite side of the bridge. The marina offers two mooring balls, full service repair and a casual restaurant.A side note about Oyster Bay is to use extreme caution when entering the Sand Hole. This pretty protected little anchorage at the tip of Lloyd Neck is a nasty place to get in and out of. It should only be attempted at high tide and if you are with someone who knows the water. Each year boats are damaged entering it. Once you are inside you have little maneuvering room if a storm blows. I have had friends play bumper boats in the hole or get grounded in a sudden storm. Explore this place in a small boat or dinghy.When anchoring out we follow some simple rules.After letting out the scope I set my anchor alarm on our chart plotter. (The usual recommended scope is five to one for day anchoring and six to eight for overnighting)If we drift more than a 150 yards the alarm will sound.I also make it a point to visually check outside once in the middle of the night.For complete information on what Oyster Bay offers go to www.visitoysterbay.com.

For additional cruising stories go to www.tabhauser.com and boating articles.


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