The North shore of Long Island has some very nice destinations for cruisers!
Port Washington is a nicely protected harbor, close to New York City. There's a railroad station near the harbor that takes you to Manhattan in 25 minutes! They offer free moorings for two nights, free pumpout boat, and an attractive town. This harbor, and the East and West shores leading in, are in fact the setting of The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald lived and wrote the book here. The amazing estates are still here. Alongside the estates it was interesting to see that the community itself has diversified-the best barbershop in town is run by three guys from South America, the laundromat shows Telemundo on TV, and the grocery store has a lot of spoken Spanish.
We stayed for three nights in Port Washington, and could have stayed longer, especially if we had chosen to go into New York.
Northport Harbor was also very nice! This is a very large, totally protected, natural harbor, with several arms and bays within, spanning perhaps 4 by 4 miles, and including the downtowns of Northport and Huntington. We anchored on the inside of one of the harbor-forming spits of beach, in a beautiful spot. This was wonderfully quiet during the week, but we found out that it gets completely crazy on weekend days when every 20-foot motorboat around anchors off this beach and parties all day. It's noisy and choppy all day, but we know that all motorboats go home at night so the night at least is peaceful, even on weekends
The town itself of Northport is very welcoming to cruisers. The photo above shows Destiny tied up to the free town dock for the day, which made all town chores so easy. Groceries, laundry, pumpout, water-fill, and of course ice cream(!). They have a dinghy dock, but bringing the big boat in was easy.
Northport is a very pretty town. There's a large shady park right at the water front, and the main street is busy with active shops and restaurants. This is an old town- there are buildings dating from the 1890's, and the concrete main street has not needed repaving since the trolley line stopped running in 1924!(the track still runs down the center).
These North shore towns are so much different than the South shore of Long Island where I grew up! These are older towns, with hills, and big rocks, and big hardwood trees. The South shore is all low lying and sandy.
A puzzling feature of visiting these harbors, for us, had been the almost complete absence of other cruisers. The towns have mooring fields with hundreds of local boats, and we do see boats anchored that hail within this local area. However, we have only seen one or two boats from far away. Our only theory on this is that when cruisers pass through The City into Long Island Sound they move quickly East to Block Island, Cape Cod, and Martha's Vineyard. We know, from our cruise in 2012, that those areas are very busy with cruisers.
Oh, well, we may meet those crowds soon enough as we continue East.
(A special treat in these harbors were the July 4 fireworks- in the days surrounding the holiday we saw ten fireworks displays, from towns in all directions!)
( For those who read earlier of our flight from The Chesapeake Heat, that has been a complete success. It is much cooler on the Long Island Sound!)