In continuing our annual series on the Long Island Sound, this year we cruise to Exit Five. Exit five off the Long Island Sound is the entrance to Huntington Bay. This is the fifth harbor on the north shore of the Long Island when traveling east from New York City. The first four exits are Little Neck Bay, Manhasset Bay, Hempstead Harbor and Oyster Bay. Huntington Bay is between Oyster Bay and Port Jefferson Harbor. It is a quick cruise from Westchester, Western Connecticut and Western Suffolk.
Huntington Bay is largest and on the north shore consisting of different harbors and coves. It is a good place for a weekend destination because of its diversity. What we do is throw the hook out during the day and come into town at night. If we want alone time we spend a couple of days at anchorage in a quiet cove. The two towns here are Huntington Bay and Northport. Both towns are worth visiting for the boutiques, pubs, restaurants and entertainment.
Below are a list of places and things to do once inside Huntington Bay.
Lloyd Harbor: Lloyd Harbor is directly to your starboard behind the spit on the west side of the wide entrance. Here you will find a protected cove and inlet to the east. Be mindful of any transient anchorage signs here. There are no services in Lloyd Harbor
Huntington Harbor: To reach here you head south until you see the small lighthouse and then follow the buoys into the tight entrance to the harbor. Once inside the water opens up to a tightly moored fleet. The best way to see the harbor is to just circle it at a no wake speed. Here you will find everything a boater needs. There are several full service marinas to overnight with the closest ones to town at the southern end of the bay. These include Willis Marine Center (631-421-3400), West Shore Marina (631-427-3444), Knutson’s Yacht Haven Marina (631-673-0700). Please check any recent chart books you have for additional marinas. Huntington is worth strolling around. You will find shops, boutiques, movie theater and restaurants in the area between Woodbury and New York Avenue and on Main Street. Dining choices are too numerous to list here but they range from casual to upscale and cover several different ethnicities. You can find them at www.huntingtonchamber.com. For entertainment, the Paramount offers concerts on a regular schedule. For information go to www.paramountny.com Art lovers will enjoy a visit to the Heckscher Museum (www.hechscher.org)
A major event that takes place in Huntington Bay just outside the harbor is called Huntington Lighthouse Summer Music Festival. This event is an outdoor concert with the lighthouse as the stage for the music acts and the audience anchored in the bay. It has attracted over 1000 boats in previous years. For information and band schedule for this event that takes place around Labor Day weekend go to www.lighthousemusicfest.com/
Sand City Island / West Beach: To reach this area turn to port after entering the bay and then immediately to port again after the sandy spit and the markers. Here you anchor behind West Beach and dinghy or swim to it. It is a nice area to wade in the water or stretch your legs as narrow beach juts out over 2000 feet before it reaches the main part of Eaton’s Neck. There are no services here.
Centerport Harbor: This is a quiet harbor southeast of West Beach and west of Northport. While you are in the area it is worth entering for a look around. I have found this place too narrow to anchor in for my taste.
Duck Harbor: This harbor may be prettiest place to drop an anchor and offers protection from all sides. It is located east of West Beach and north of Northport. There are no services here and boats must maintain a 50 foot distance from homes on shore. Duck Harbor is small and I have been there several times to find the place either having limited room or empty and peaceful.
Asharoken: On the very eastern end of Huntington Bay and to the west of Duck Island you will find an open area for anchoring. Like other places, this is a peaceful spot to spend the day or night. If the winds kick in from the west you will want to be closer to Duck Island. If there is a strong wind from the east you may feel some of it because the narrow strip of land may not block much wind but the seas will be calm.
Northport: Northport is the harbor on the east side and our favorite. After you enter Huntington Bay and turn to port you will be in Northport Bay. Follow the markers and no wake areas carefully until Little Neck Point. There you will see a fleet of boats on moorings after your turn to starboard. Once you get into the channel of the mooring field check out the pretty mansions on the shores and look for the town dock to your left. This is a first come first serve dock with limited power. We have found it best to get there either early and stay the day or late afternoon when the day boaters leave. When docking here have fender boards or extra fenders to protect the boat from the changing tides.
Northport is a regular stop for us every summer. Sometimes even twice depending on what is going on there. We like the town dock which is the place to see and be seen. Northport has a very small town feel. In fact it was used to portray a typical Midwestern American town in the romantic comedy film In and Out starring Kevin Kline. (In the movie no water view angles were shot)
Northport’s Main Street is worth a visit to its boutiques, shops and restaurants. At the end of the commercial district is the John Engman Theater. Here you can see first class Broadway shows in a Broadway style theater. (See www.engemantheater.com for show names and dates). Northport’s other theater on Main Street is called, Barebones Theater Company that can be found at http://www.barebonestheater.com for its schedule. Northport is one of the few regional places where you take your boat to dinner and a show.
While village has several good restaurants one of our favorite meals is to walk down to Marino Cuisine and order their meatball and spaghetti hot pot to go. For a several dollars a person you will feed the entire crew back at the dock. A more upscale alternative is to make a reservation weeks in advance for their multi coarse tasting menu with unlimited wine for $160 on weekends. Northport has many good choices for dinner including the some old standbys that include Tim’s Shipwreck Diner, Skipper’s Pub, Main Street Café, Feed and Grain and Bistro 44 on Main Street. Facing the water on Woodbine Avenue is the Ritz Pub with the Wolfie’s Frozen Custard next door. For breakfast go to the Copenhagen Bakery minutes from the dock for fresh bread, pastries and coffee. Near the dock every Friday in the summer a 7PM there is music and every Saturday there is a farmer’s market.
[Tab & Maureen Hauser are docked in Brewer’s Glen Cove and have enjoyed cruising to destinations throughout the northeast and up through the Hudson, canals to the 1000 Island’s Montreal and Lake Champlain. For previous cruising stories or the other Exit on the L.I.Sound stories email email@example.com]