While everyone has their favorite spot to gunkhole, Long Island’s eastern waters provide a surfeit of spots in which to anchor up which can leave you feeling nearly alone … yet never too far from the seaside action. Here are a few favorites.
The quintessential harbor on the North Shore of Long Island. If you want to sail the Sound, Port Jefferson is the place to start.
Chart 12362. If you’re west of Port Jefferson, head east until you encounter the red-and-white whistle and light buoy at 40° 59.3 / 73° 06.4, due south of Stratford Shoal (also known as Middle Grounds). Then head south. If you’re east … same thing but turn port instead of starboard. Barring all that, follow the ferry in! Probably the most famous place to anchor up for some privacy is Mount Misery Cove, also known as the Hurricane Hole, the Sand Hole, and a bunch of other names. It’s on the northeast of the harbor just after you enter. If you want to get away from it all, this is the place. Plus, it’s almost perfectly protected by high dunes except for the entrance, which is open to the west-southwest. Otherwise it’s moor out or grab a spot at the town docks. Port Jefferson fills up quickly on weekends, so phone ahead.
The Port Jefferson Town Marina (631-331-3567) usually has around eight to 10 docks (and the same number of moorings) available to transient boaters. For more rental moorings, call: 631-473-9890. Danford’s Marina and Inn (631-928-5100) sports around 50 slips for clientele and there is some day dockage and moorings available as well. A number you’ll need if you’re mooring out is the Port Jefferson Launch, 631-689-8262.
What to Do
From fishing and diving (outside the harbor) to nightlife and restaurants for every taste and pocketbook, Port Jefferson’s got it all. Try the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce (631-473-1414; portjeffchamber.com) for a full listing of what’s what and where.
Chart 12352. Hurricane Sandy wrought havoc on Long Island waters, even areas that weren’t hard hit. But one of the neatest features — although there are folks who will disagree with this — is the new inlet that was punched through Fire Island by the storm just about where Old Inlet is located on the charts and more-or-less directly south of Bellport Village.
This inlet isn’t stabilized, nor would it be safe to transit. The best way to observe it is from the bay side. While there is a channel and buoy section marked whether coming from either east or west, there has been a fair amount of disruption to sandbars, shoals, etc. because of Sandy and several nor’easters. Your best bet is to take it slow once in Bellport Bay and follow your chart. The bay has cleared up tremendously since the break, so a lookout is a good idea as well. The break is about 135 degrees from the Bellport Town Docks.
What to Do
Being able to observe this new breach is being party to a geological happening, and not something that occurs every day. Fishing is said to have picked up in the area, and some decent looking surf has been observed on the outside. If you want to know what it felt like to be the first to discover something, you’ll get a sense of that pulling up to the new inlet.
There’s no transient dockage at the Bellport Town Docks, but you can anchor off and dinghy in. Town is about 1/4 mile north. Check bellportchamber.com for more information. Alternately you can head a bit east to the buoyed entrance to Beaver Dam Creek and the Beaver Dam Marina (631-286-0440).
Or you can cruise a bit west to the Swan River and the Patchogue River and find every possible type of marina, restaurant, bar, and more (patchogue.com for more information).
Or, a no-brainer: you’re at Fire Island, just head to any town. The communities all did major cleanups after Sandy and — by and large — all is back to normal on the barrier beach.
Chart 12352 (12358 if you plan on going through the canal). This is more of an area than a specific place, but it’s an area that all boaters should visit at one time or another because it leads to so much more. Bordered on the west by the Quogue Canal and the east by the Shinnecock Indian Reservation, the area is the open door to a wide world of ocean fun. While navigating close to shore requires some skill, you can access the ocean through Shinnecock Inlet (formed by the hurricane of 1938), or experience all the bay has to offer. There are dozens of marinas on the west side of the Ponquogue Bridge, and a few on the southeast side as well. Then there’s the Shinnecock Canal on the north of the bay, which leads to the Peconics.
A snap. From the west, through Moriches Bay into the Quantuck and then Quogue Canals to the bay. Clear the Ponquogue Bridge and you’re in the bay proper. Alternately, from the ocean, through Shinnecock Inlet. If you’re between the Forks, it’s the Shinnecock Canal for you. Sort of an “all roads lead to Rome” kind of place. You’ll want to bring a dinghy if you plan on going ashore on the south side of the bay; otherwise stay in the (well-marked) channels.
There are simply too many places to list. Get a copy of Coast Pilot 2, 42nd Edition, 2013. Download it at (nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/nsd/coastpilot_w.php?book=2).
What to Do
This is a waterman’s (and woman’s) paradise. Outstanding fishing (ocean and bay), clamming, beachcombing, surfing, hanging out, scuba diving (the Ponquogue Bridge at night is a must for experienced Long Island divers). Sailing offers the usual South Shore shoal problems, but once through the canal (or the inlet), that ceases to be a factor. The area is well buoyed and marked. There are a seemingly endless number of bistros and restaurants just inside the inlet up and through the canal and beyond.
… And There Are Sooo Many More!
This guide hasn’t touched on the Peconics and points between the Forks. There’s (from west to east) Riverhead, a ton of down-island covers and marinas, the “Hook” at Robins Island, Greenport, Shelter Island and it’s many hideouts, Sag Harbor, East Hampton, Orient and the famed Plum Gut, and so much more. All it takes is a boat, a chart and a spirit of adventure and you can find your own “best destination.”