We were watching the weather reports and it wasn’t looking good for going down the New Jersey coast. It’s the only real open ocean passage on this first half of the trip until we cross to the Bahamas. A system with strong east winds is just sitting off the coast. As a result the seas were churned up and it wouldn’t make for a good passage anytime soon. We had touched base with some internet friends, Skelton Crew and Mangoes, Marley and Mermaids, and they were waiting out the weather in the Hudson and at Sandy Hook, New Jersey.
With this weather in mind, we decided to take a slower path through Long Island Sound. That same system gave us some great east winds for sailing down LIS. We left Milford and once we passed Charles Island, we set sails and had a broad reach all the way across the sound in 10 to 20 knots of wind. It was great to be sailing again. We hadn’t been able to truly sail since Buzzard’s Bay. Funny, sailing Long Island Sound is a lot like sailing in Buzzard’s Bay. There is a strong tidal current and when the wind is against the current it can get really choppy. It’s also pretty deep all the way to the shore lines on each side, much like Buzzard’s Bay. We also really enjoyed the lack of lobster pots. It made for a much more relaxed passage.
Since we were in no hurry to get down to New Jersey, we decided to stop at Lloyd’s Harbor. A nice couple we met at the dock in Milford have a mooring here. They told us we could use their mooring as a stopping point on the shore. Lloyd’s Harbor is like the World’s End of the area. Great protected anchorage where people go and raft up in big groups with friends. When got in there on a Sunday afternoon and there were some groups still rafted up. The weather wasn’t that warm but the water was still in the low 70’s. A great spot to spend a couple of nights hoping for weather to change off the coast of New Jersey.
By Sunday night we had the place to ourselves. Even the harbormaster went home at 5:30 pm. There is one small beach that you can go to without much of a hassle but the rest of the beach access is from private land. The area below the high water line doesn’t belong to anyone and the locals will go ashore at low tide much to the dismay of the rich people who want their private beaches. The little island connects to the other parts of the beach at low tide. We had a lot of fun letting Summer run on that island and collecting some beautiful sea shell’s for Sea Shine Designs.
The harbor was very protected from all directions except for the southeast. It gave a great view to the west for sunsets on an area where the harbor narrowed with a park on one side and some really nice houses all around.
Did I say nice houses? A better description would be mansions. We took a trip around the harbor in the dingy to check out some of these places. We even went into nearby Huntington Harbor. Felt a little like the neighborhood in the Great Gatsby.
Lloyd’s Harbor was a great spot but it was open to a southeast wind. And wouldn’t you know it but every night, at about 1-2 am the wind would clock around to be from the southeast. This made for a very rolly sleep. After two nights we decided it was time to try something new. A lot of cruisers, including our friend Andrew who is cruising a little ahead of us on his Catalina 310, say that Port Washington is a great spot to hang out for a while. So we dropped the bridle from our free mooring and headed for hopefully another free mooring in Port Washington.
We had a nice down wind motor sail. The winds were 5 to 20 knots making just sailing a little slow and unpredictable at times. Also, we were getting the winds against current driven chop that reminded us so much of Buzzard’s Bay. We were surfing along with 2 to 5 foot following seas. But we averaged a good speed and were pulling into Port Washington after three hours of sailing. Port Washington is a very cruiser friendly town with a couple of free dingy docks, 20 free transient moorings (free for 48 hours but we have never heard of anyone being charged for staying longer) and a lot of good shopping right in the area. Originally we grabbed one of the three yellow mooring on the north side of the mooring field. After the first night the water taxi driver came by and asked us to move to one of the 20 yellow moorings on the south side of the mooring fields. He uses the three on the north side for long-term transient moorings.
We took the dingy into town and went to grocery store, hardware store and West Marine. There was a liquor store right there as well, but we were still stocked up on that thanks to the many parting gifts we got from friends and family. We had a sundowner and some raw bar at Louie’s. The restaurants around the harbor were nice but pricey. We also spotted a pretty big liveaboard community at one of the local marinas. And they had some interesting ideas on what makes a liveaboard boat. Port Washington also proved to be another great spot for sunsets. But one of the coolest things we have seen yet was the small, honor library right at the harbor. Leave a book, take a book. This is by far one of the more cruiser friendly places we have found yet.
We ended up staying for 3 nights before making our break for New York City. In the five days we were in Long Island Sound after leaving Milford we covered 48.8 nautical miles in 9.5 hours under mostly sail. (Anyone sick of sunset pics yet? I don’t think these will ever get old for us. I love watching the sun set or rise on the water.)