Last season’s regional surprise cruising destination goes to Stamford, Connecticut. Stamford is the state’s third largest city and is located near the western end of the Long Island Sound. It is about six miles north of Oyster Bay making it an easy reach from any marina on the western north shore of Long Island.
For years, the Crab Shack in Stamford was the only place to stop for lunch or dinner. What has made Stamford a day or overnight destination is the construction of Harbor Point located on the east side of the western channel. Harbor Point sits on 100 acres containing apartments, businesses and 30 retailers that include over a dozen restaurants, rooftop bars, a supermarket, salon, liquor and drug store. It is a LEED-ND Gold Certified, mixed-use area with the motto “Live, Work & Play”. The area has 20 acres of parks, a weekend water taxi and a free trolley that goes into the city and Stamford Town Center mall all year. Harbor Point is just a few blocks from the train station for an easy commute into New York City.
Cruising into Stamford is easy as long as long as you pay attention to your charts. To get to the harbor entrance aim for the lighthouse at the end of the jetty and keep it portside while remembering your “right – red – return” basics in the narrow channel. Once at the jetty drop to a no wake speed. When inside the harbor you turn to port at the channel marker into the western channel. While motoring into the channel, look for the schooner Sound Water.
Docking and Dining
When docking here there a few options to consider. The closest place to the restaurants will be on your starboard side past the Ponus Yacht Club. To arrange a slip at any of Harbor Point’s docks hail them on Channel 9 or call 203-355-6045. They offer first come, first serve dockage at $1 per foot for half a day or $2.50 for staying overnight. Other places to consider would be the Ponus Yacht club which has a small guest dock that can be used by reciprocal clubs if you buy a round at the club bar. Safe Haven (formerly Brewers) accommodates visitors but is on the east branch of the harbor and is a 2.5-mile walk or a short cab ride away to the restaurants and shops.
Once docked, there are several restaurants I would consider choosing. In our visits, we tried and liked the Sign of the Whale where you can dine in their airy restaurant or enjoy a rooftop drink with a limited menu. We also enjoyed Mexicue where you eat outside, inside or on the roof. Shipwreck offers casual fare along with entertainment during the day and evening on the weekends. For a list of restaurants and events at Harbor Point go to http://www.harborpt.com
Across the channel from Harbor Point, there are two places for a meal. For casual seafood try the Crab Shack. For an upscale experience that specializes in steak go to Prime. Prime charges you $100 to dock but gives you a $75 credit in the restaurant to make sure boaters dine there. If you dock across the channel, you can take the water taxi that operates on weekends.
Things to Do:
If the wind is right, consider letting someone else do the skippering by boarding the 19th-century style schooner Sound Water. (www.soundwaters.org ) Every day in the season they offer two-hour sails. There is nothing better than to be aboard an old-time schooner in a good breeze when all the sails are set. Guests on board are welcome to heave-ho and hoist sails.
If the weather is bleak, or if you are in a shopping mood you can walk or take the trolley to the Stamford Town Center (www.shopstamfordtowncenter.com) Here you will find all your favorite stores and restaurants that you would expect in a large suburban mall.
If your plans have you dockside overnight, see what is playing or performing at the Stamford Center for the Arts at the Palace Theatre. (www.palacestamford.org)
This theatre was an original old vaudeville house built in 1927 and reopened in 1983. Around the marina, you may find a couple of the bars having live music as well.
For complete information on what Stamford offers, go to http://stamford-downtown.com. Also, when cruising here, consider visiting Guilford and New Haven on the Connecticut coast or Oyster Bay on Long Island. Previous cruising stories to these ports can be found by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or searching the archives at www.liboatingworld.com