Learning about Long Island!

Port Washington – Long Island, NY (Wednesday, 6/14)
The plans to go for a morning run were scratched as it was pouring raining when Denise woke up.  Instead she put her time into completing the last blog post and getting a few work-related items completed. The rain finally stopped mid-morning, and in the early afternoon Claire arrived. We were off for our adventures together.

Our first outing was a “planned-in-advance” pedicure at a local nail salon.  It was a ¾ mile walk from the marina and it was great as it gave us plenty of talk time while being pampered a bit.

Getting a pedicure

We schemed our dinner plans for the evening, which involved eating on the boat and mapping out activities for the rest of her visit.  After the pedicures we walked to “Stop and Shop” (the large grocery store chain) which was in the next shopping plaza from the nail salon.  As it was getting close to dinner, we picked up a rotisserie chicken and some salad fixings and headed back to the boat.

We considered our options for the next day and decided to go to bed early and get a good night’s rest. This worked great for Claire, but not Denise who could not sleep and was up late re-downloading about 75 pictures from the cameras that she had accidently deleted from her computer. Of course this was after they were all catalogued and now this too had to be redone! UGH!

Port Washington – Long Island, NY (Thursday, 6/15)
As usual, the sun was up early and both Denise & Claire were awake with it. Because we were up and about, we chose to attend the 8:00 am mass at Our Lady of Fatima – the small Catholic Church we passed along our walking route in the village of Manorhaven.

Our Lady of Fatima Church

Inside Our Lady of Fatima

Inside Our Lady of Fatima

Garden at Our Lady of Fatima

Sculpture outside Our Lady of Fatima

On the way home, we stopped at “Bagel Time” for a coffee and ended up eating breakfast there. The food was very good and affordable – less than half of what it would be had we stopped at a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts.  This was definitely a local’s place and the people were very friendly.  We learned they make all their bagels, breads, muffins and sweets on the premises every day.

Bagel Time – Great Breakfast Spot

From there we went back to the boat to grab our backpacks, water, the bicycles, and then headed out for exploring the town of Port Washington.  We took mostly the same route Denise had run earlier in the week, but deviated slightly to stay closer to the water.  We passed the Town Dock and Louie’s Oyster Bar & Grill, and biked to where the road turned mostly residential.  From there we zig-zagged through the neighborhoods to stay off the busy Main Street, but eventually cut over as that is where the potential shopping was.

The road was so busy with traffic we didn’t feel safe riding on the shoulder, and the sidewalks were narrow and getting crowded with nearing the lunch hour.  So we got off our bikes and walked them instead.  We passed numerous restaurants, nail salons, hair salons, shoe repair shops, a single sporting-goods store and eventually the train station.  However, there were not many places for us to do “retail therapy”, so we got back on the bikes and rode up to Port Washington Blvd before turning back towards the waterfront and the small number of shops near Louie’s.

It was here that we went into Atlantic Outfitters to ask if they knew anything about getting a harbor boat tour.  We spoke with the owner who told us to pick up the tours where you get the water taxi at the Town Dock, and then gave us a phone number to call.

While talking to him we noticed near the register there were a pair of model sailboat made out of milk/juice ½ gallon cartons. He mentioned they were his kids models used in the annual home-made sailboat regatta – open to all 3rd graders and happens the first week of June every year.  Wouldn’t you know it, we just missed this event.  He told us that it is a huge deal that everyone in town looks forward to, and even if there is no wind, they still hold it; they just bring in big fans if they have to.

3rd Grade Sailboat project

From there we rode to the Town Dock for a water taxi “tour” and parked our bikes.

At Town Dock

We called and were told where to meet, and waited for the boat to arrive. Shortly thereafter, the water taxi showed up and Carolyn, the water taxi captain said she would give us a tour. However, we had to deliver a few passengers to their boats in the mooring fields and then we proceeded with the tour.

First, we learned that many of the homes across the Bay from our marina (in Kings Point and Great Neck) are owned mostly by “Persians”.  She took us by one house that is owned by a guy who came to the USA with $50 and started a pillow company, and by another home that was still under construction; cost: $70 million dollars!

Persian homes on Southern shore of Manhasset Bay

Home of Pillow Manufacturer

We went by the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club and learned they hold sailboat races on Thursday evenings in the bay, and we talked about the Sands Point Preserve area where we are planning to go tomorrow.  Carolyn told us that she is in college at Sacred Heart University and has been working the water taxi for 4 years.  She is very capable at driving the water taxi and we enjoyed the information she shared with us.

Then we got back on the bikes and headed towards the boat, but got sidetracked to check out the area around Tom’s Point and the Manhasset Bay Marina.  Here we discovered Sheets Creek (and we were without a paddle), and a rabbit enjoying his day.

Sheets Creek sign & rabbit

We also went by the restaurant La Motta’s as we were considering it for dinner.  But we were pretty tired from riding and since we still had not eaten lunch, we headed directly back to the boat for food and relaxation.

For the rest of the afternoon we hung out by the pool at the marina, and around the boat until dinner which we had at the Clam Shack at the marina. After dinner we worked on planning our adventure for the next day.

Enjoying time by the pool

Sisters enjoying the Clam Shack

Port Washington – Long Island, NY (Friday, 6/16)
The weather forecast for the day called for rain, but not until mid-morning.  We were trying to plan our transportation mode and decided we would walk to everything close by, but would take Uber for the 2.5 mile ride out to Sands Point Preserve.

So we started out going back to “Bagel Time” for breakfast, and then walked back to the Stop & Shop to pick up a few things we needed for the weekend.  We made it back to the boat just in time as it started to sprinkle. After putting everything away and grabbing our backpacks and umbrella, we met our Uber driver and off we went.

Sands Point Preserve is a 216-acre park, on the original Guggenheim Estate, now owned by Nassau County, NY, but is maintained and operated by the Sands Point Preserve Conservancy.  It includes several historic mansions (owned by the Gould and Guggenheim families, circa early 20th century) and numerous walking paths, not to mention a spectacular view of Long Island Sound. Sands Point was the famed town of “East Egg” in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” and the estate reflects the opulence of that era. It was also home to orphan refugees during WWII and at one point was a US Naval Training Center (before it got moved to Florida).  You can learn more about the entire park here.

We arrived at the gate and paid for the tour of the “Falaise” mansion, and then walked up to Castle Gould to meet our bus that would take us to that part of the estate.  The Castle Gould is undergoing some renovations, so tours of it were not available, but we were able to get some exterior pictures.

Castle Gould

Sign by Castle

The other estate home “Hempstead House” is open for tours, but limited to Saturdays and Sundays only, so we were not able to tour it.  It is this house that has been used in numerous movies (“Scent of a Woman”) and small screen shows (“The Americans”, “Boardwalk Empire”) to name a few.

We took the tour bus to Falaise where we were met by a docent who told us of this specific mansion’s rich history, as well as the biography of Harry F. Guggenheim (nephew to the founder of the Guggenheim museum). The house itself has been left intact with all its furnishings as he stipulated in his will when he died in 1971. It is a 13th Century manor style home and has numerous artifacts, collectables and tapestries, not to mention collections of trophies; the result of his horse racing endeavors.  The terrace on the back of the house overlooks Long Island Sound and there is a simple, but elegant dining room that was used in the movie “The Godfather”.

Our Tour Bus

Entrance to Falaise

Long Island Sound from terrace at Falaise

Harry Guggenheim was an impressive business man (in mining operations), naval aviator, Ambassador to Cuba, founder of a newspaper (“Newsday”), and an avid horseracing fan. Additionally, he was good friends with Charles Lindbergh, who stayed at Falaise many times, and he was instrumental in securing funding for rocket pioneer Robert Goddard.  He truly had the golden touch with everything he did, except in his 3 marriages.

Our bus took us back to Castle Gould, and then we walked back to the gate where we got a cab to go back to the marina.  Despite the drizzle we found this to be a truly a fascinating place, and we really enjoyed this adventure.

Once we got back to the boat, it was really raining and we didn’t feel like venturing out too far for dinner. Usually when we get together we like to cook – really cook.  But the small galley on the boat was too much of a challenge, so we opted for the next best thing: TAKE OUT!  During our travels yesterday we found a bar-b-que place that delivered and we decided to give them a try, ordering a pair of hamburgers and sides.  Our order came 10 minutes earlier than expected, was hot and was super delicious!  Too bad for Mark who was flying back from a client site, as he missed the best meal.

Harbor Q

Hamburger from Harbor Q

Once Mark arrived and got settled in we looked at the weather and confirmed that we would still leave tomorrow and head to Port Jefferson.  Denise had made reservations for a mooring ball there, and then on Sunday we would press on to Greenport; weather permitting.

Greenport – Long Island, NY (Saturday, 6/17)
We had all agreed that we would leave at 8:00 a.m., but we woke up to very heavy fog, so it looked questionable that we would leave on time.

Marina fogged in

However, with radar and just enough clearing we were able to pull away from the dock at 8:15 and head out on to Long Island Sound.

Leaving Port Washington in fog

The water was flat with almost no waves or wind, so it was really easy to cruise at 20 kts.  Periodically throughout the trip we would encounter really dense fog and could only see about 500 yards in front of us.  At other times it was clear and we could see the Long Island shoreline, but at no time were we able to see the coast of Northern New York or Connecticut.  Here are some things we did get to see along the way:

Eatons Neck Lighthouse & GC Station

Homes on shore near Orient

As we were approaching the entrance to Port Jefferson Harbor, we started to question if we shouldn’t go further north, taking advantage of the calm seas. The weather forecast for Sunday through Tuesday did not look favorable so going further north to Greenport would give us some protection in an area that had a lot more to offer than a mooring at Port Jefferson. This meant going another 40+ miles, (we had already done about 35 miles) and it would take another 2.5 hours. But first we had to identify a location to stay for several nights. We used Active Captain and the Waterway Guide as our resources, called our preferred location at Mitchell Park Marina (municipal) and secured a favorable rate and dockage.  So we pressed on to Greenport with Claire helping Captain Mark and Denise getting to relax a bit.

Underway with Claire & Mark

A big concern to get to Greenport was that we would have to navigate through Plum Gut at an incoming tide.  This is an area where the Long Island Sound meets with Block Island Sound, and Gardiners Bay.  The water rushes between Orient Point on the North Fork, and the land to its north, called Plum Island.  It creates a vicious current and can have some choppy waves. Ideally you want to hit it at slack tide.  We would be going through there at about 1.5 hours after the slack; it was going to be a little bumpy.

As we approached Plum Gut we noticed the Cross Sound Ferries were also coming through the narrow passage, so Mark slowed the boat to let them get ahead of us.  Meanwhile Denise was able to take a few pictures of the Orient Point Lighthouse, called “Old Coffee Pot” and the Plum Island Lighthouse.

Cross Sound Ferry (to CT)

Orient Point Lighthouse – “Old Coffee Pot”

Plum Island, NY Lighthouse

Tide, Current and wind – effects at Plum Gut

Tide, Current and wind – effects at Plum Gut

We made it through safely and were amazed at how calm the waters were once we were on Gardiners Bay.  We did notice the wind had picked up a bit, but not near as much as was forecasted.  We cruised past the Long Island Lighthouse, which is locally known as the “Bug Light” because of its appearance; when it was first built, it looked like a bug.

Long Beach Light – called “Bug Light”

This marks the entrance into the Peconic River which runs completely around Shelter Island.

Homes on Shelter Island

We cruised about 2 more miles with Shelter Island to our port side and pulled into the Mitchell Park Marina in Greenport. While there were several boats in the marina at the time, it was not full to capacity and we were given a favorable slip.  We settled the boat, checked in with the marina office, and went for a quick walk around the area to locate a possible wine tour for tomorrow.  Despite gathering information from a wine shop in town, we were not able to book anything that was affordable on such short notice.  We went back to the boat, got showers and made it to the 5:00 pm mass at St. Agnes Catholic Church.

St. Agnes Catholic Church

Inside St. Agnes

Afterwards we had time to go back to the boat and have a drink before going to dinner at Noah’s; a local place that offered small plate meals as well as full entrees. Some of the food was excellent (peel & eat jumbo shrimp, roasted beet salad, lobster bisque), but other items were less than stellar (crab cake, spicy prawns). When we were done we walked around Front Street and the shops that line it, doing mostly reconnaissance for tomorrow’s outing.

Dinner at Noah’s

Dinner at Noah’s – With Claire

When we went back to the boat, we evaluated all the options for getting Claire back to JFK on Monday. Since our plans had changed from Port Jefferson, we had different options this far north, and we had to get this figured this out.  The train is way too early (leaves at 5:30 am) and doable, but a last resort.  There were not rental car options available as they all are closed until Monday mid-morning, and are at least 25 miles away. It is not yet the summer season and the options were slim.  Fortunately, there is something called the Hampton Jitney and they have a bus that leaves Greenport at 7:00 am and can take Claire to the station in Queens, and then she can get a cab to JFK. The cost ($19) and the schedule meant it would work, so Claire booked a ticket.

It had been a big day full of fun and adventure and we had more on top for tomorrow.

Greenport – Long Island, NY (Sunday, 6/18)
Since we had gone to church last night, we were free to pursue other things in the morning. Denise went for a run out to a winery not far from town to check it out for a visit later in the day, and Claire went for a walk along the same route.  They met upon Denise’s return and walked back together around other parts of town, then made a rendezvous with Mark at the Dockside Deli for breakfast.

Here are some pictures of sites we saw on the morning run/walk:

Fallen Hero war memorial

Mermaid Sculpture

War memorials

Plaque about George Washington’s visit

House where George Washington visited

“Slip N’ Stay” marina

“Slip N’ Stay” marina

Poor Boys Yacht Club

We then went back to the boat to get cleaned up and then headed out for the day’s activities.

First up was the free tour at the Fireboat “Fire Fighter” located on the opposite side of the Ferry Dock, next door to the marina. It is a big red hulled boat that has been restored. It was in service for over seven decades protecting New York Harbor, and has the hard-earned distinction of being the most award-decorated fireboat in the world. At the time of her 2010 decommissioning she was the second oldest fireboat in front line service worldwide and as a National Historic Landmark is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  You can learn more about this cool boat here.

Fireboat “Fire Fighter”

However, the fireboat wasn’t yet open for tours; it didn’t open until noon and we were too early. So we walked over to the East End Seaport Museum as their doors were opened.  This is located between the fireboat and the Greenport Train station and proved to be a very interesting place.

Ferry Terminal

East End Seaport Museum

It was here that we first learned about the oyster industry and the impact hurricane Sandy had on this community.  Then our host, Brandon, told us all about the Long Beach Bar Light (“Bug Light”). Originally built in 1870, the structure was on screw piles and open underneath, which lead to its nickname “Bug Light” because at high tide it looked like a giant water bug. In 1926 a concrete foundation was added, and it stayed as such until it was burned on July 4, 1963 in a fire started by feuding young men from Shelter Island. In 1990 it was reconstructed and continues to be renovated now as a result of damage sustained by hurricane Sandy in 2012.  You can learn more about Bug Light and the East End Seaport Museum here.

“Brandon” at East End Seaport Museum

Finally it was time to go tour the fireboat “Fire Fighter”.  We walked throughout all the decks except the engine room (the previous tour was still in process) and the upper deck; only Mark went as Denise’s fear of heights kept her and Claire on the lower level.  We went through it all quickly and then moved on to our next adventure.

Prepped for a rainy day

Fireboat “Fire Fighter”

“Fire Fighter” plaque

Denise & Claire on “Fire Fighter”

Still full from our breakfast, we opted to skip lunch and headed out to walk to the Kontokosta Winery, a little over a mile away. Since we have never been to a winery in New York, we were not familiar with their wines and were excited to learn more. Here we shared two tastings between the three of us and ended up buying some of their Merlot as it was quite flavorful and not too expensive.  We also learned about how the building that houses the tasting room was made from 100% recycled/repurposed materials.  The bar was made from old wine barrels that had been opened and re-stained black for the dramatic color. It was a very beautiful building and we enjoyed hearing about their wines, which produce less than 4000 cases per year and is only sold at the winery. You can learn more about Kontokosta Wines here.

Kontokosta Winery sign

Kontokosta vineyard and tasting room

Wine tasting at Kontokosta

Kontokosta tasting room

After the tastings we went outside and walked to the back of the property that goes all the way to the Long Island Sound.  It was still overcast and hazy, but it still was really pretty.

Kontokosta tasting room from back

At Kontokosta Winery

At Kontokosta Winery

From there we headed back to the boat, promising Mark that we would not deviate any further.  However, once we reached town we agree to let Mark go ahead while Claire and Denise did a little window shopping. We arrived back to Island Office in time to have happy hour and enjoy watching the ferry from Shelter Island carry all the weekenders back to the mainland.

Ferry boat leaving terminal

Soon it was time to go to dinner and we all decided that we should try Claudio’s, even though it was a bit of a tourist trap.  This restaurant is located on the waterfront, just steps from the marina. It is famous as it is the oldest same-family owned restaurant in the United States. It was founded in 1870, and the restaurant still houses the original (now antique) bar as well as photographs and artifacts from America’s cup defenders; including the great “J” boat racing ships. Since Mark is a former J-boat racer and Claire loves the sailing life, this was of particular interest to us all.  It helped that we had very good food, even though the YELP reviews were only mediocre: we must have hit it on a good night.

Claudio’s Restaurant

Plaque at Claudio’s

Claudio’s famous bar

After dinner we walked around some more of the downtown area, but not much was open as it was the weekend and things were quieting down.  We ended up going back to the boat to watch some TV and do some reading before calling it a day.  When all was said and done, we had walked over 18,000 steps and 9 miles today.

Here are some other pictures of things in town we saw while walking:

Historic Home in Greenport

Library Main Entrance

Old Kindergarten Schoolhouse

Greenport – Long Island, NY (Monday, 6/19)
We started the day by seeing Claire off on her traveling adventure that involved (no lie) bus, taxi, planes, & automobile until she finally got home to Tallahassee.  She picked up the Hampton Jitney right near the train station and ferry terminal which was very convenient.  We had a great time together and we hated to see her leave.

Hampton Jitney

For the rest of the day we stayed on the boat and did work for clients, cataloged pictures and worked on this blog post. The wind picked up dramatically and there were big waves and whitecaps in the bay between us and Shelter Island.

Whitecaps in Peconic River

We had been watching the weather and decided that it would be too tricky to stop at Block Island on our way to Cape Cod as there was only going to be one really good weather day (Thursday) and the rest would be high winds and seas. So we made plans to go directly to Cuttyhunk (tip of Cape Cod) on Thursday. Then we would be in more protected waters to move up through the Cape from there for the rest of the weekend.

Our reservations here at Mitchell Park Marina were only through Tuesday, so we had to find a place to stay on Wednesday night.  We wanted to stay in the Shelter Island area, just move to a different spot.  Our choice was Dehring Harbor, located immediately across the Peconic Bay from us.   We had heard about this place from Bruce (“Shenanigans”); a guy who was in a sailboat across the dock from us in Solomons, MD. He keeps his boat on a mooring there and he told us to look him up when we got to this area.  Mark gave him a call and he helped us secure a mooring. He told us to let him know when we arrive as he will give us a driving tour of Shelter Island. This we are really looking forward to!

Sometime in mid-morning we noticed a guy delivering a bunch of boxes on a dolly to the sport fishing boat at the end of our pier.  The boxes had the logo “stidd” on them and we had a pretty good idea that the boat was getting some new Captain’s chairs.  We have stidd chairs on Island Office and love them. They are incredibly comfortable as they adjust every way possible and are built to last.  Later we learned that “stidd” is actually headquartered here in Greenport only half a mile away. Go Figure!

Stidd’s main office

As the afternoon wore on, the threat of severe weather approaching meant we needed to plan our dinner accordingly.  Mark had been craving pizza so we walked to a place called “1943 Pizza Bar”; known for their really good brick oven pies.  They only make one size, (14”), and only have a few other items on the menu like salads and appetizers, but all the ingredients are super fresh and delicious. It’s a very small place and they turn tables fast, but many locals call ahead and come pick up their orders.  But they are never not busy, and they told us last Saturday they made 1500 pizzas in their small brick oven. The food was great and we took back plenty of leftovers back to the boat.  We will miss this place when we leave.

1943 Pizza Bar

We made it back to the boat in time to beat the rain.  It started around 7:30 p.m. and by 8:30 p.m. it was pouring!  We finished the day watching the movie “Masterminds” – a true B-movie comedy based on the 1997 Loomis Fargo Robbery in North Carolina. It was good for a chuckle, but we could not believe that anyone would have really been that stupid. However, there is still $2 million not yet recovered, so maybe they did!

Greenport – Long Island, NY (Tuesday, 6/20)
The day started as the previous day ended; pouring rain which nixed Denise’s morning run.  Eventually, it cleared up and we were able to (finally) enjoy some nice weather.

We spent the morning working on updating this blog, and doing a few boat chores. Then we spent a huge part of the day planning out our stops for the next 2 weeks. We had already secured reservations in the Portsmouth, NH/Kittery, ME area for the July 4th weekend, and for the upcoming few days. But we needed to schedule the remainder time.  Further complicating things, Mark was getting a request from the North Carolina client to visit the week of 6/26.

So, we redid our routing, deciding to bypass most of Cape Cod and consider it on the return trip in the fall (and hopefully better weather) and instead go into Boston. Not originally on our plan, but fits the schedule nicely and allows Mark to fly out of Logan airport. Denise will now have a fun place to safely stay, and maybe even see some old friends.

After this was planned and reservations secured, we went on a few errands including picking up milk and bread at the IGA.

IGA Market

We returned to the boat for some more work and (of course) happy hour before heading out to dinner at Front Street Station. Here we had mediocre hamburgers which left Denise longing for the juicy one from Harbor Q in Port Washington she had with Claire.

Tonight we were thinking about our time at Greenport, and we were very glad we made the decision to bypass Port Jefferson and come here. We may go there on the way back home, but without a doubt, coming here proved to be a good choice. The Mitchell Park Marina amenities are good with floating docks, good Wi-Fi and cable tv connections, and nice bathrooms. It was a bonus that the marina had a “book 3 days get the 4th free” offer.  The only thing they do not have is a laundromat, but we are not quite in need of one right now so that is ok.

In addition to being a good marina to wait out the bad weather, the location was terrific. Everything we could possibly want is in walking distance, including a supermarket (IGA), drug stores, restaurants, tourist shops and a winery. The train station, ferry terminal and Hampton Jitney stop is within 500 yards, and the Post Office is across the green. They also had a cleaners that Mark was able to use to have his “work” clothes cleaned so they would be ready for his next client trip.

In the park there is a carousel as well as greenspace where people can come with their dogs, but also where they hold concerts in the park in the summer months.  In so many ways this marina reminded us of the city marina in Charlevoix, Michigan. However, the lack of information about town activities by the “summer help” in the office was quite different. Here, they are clueless and need a lesson in “Disneyesque” customer service. But all-in-all it was a great place to stop for 4 days and enjoy some classic boating grounds that many people will never experience.

Here are some other pictures we took of the area around the marina, and in Greenport:

Carousel at Mitchell Park Marina

National Scrabble Assn

Alice’s Fish Market

Mitchell Park Marina

Mitchell Park Marina Office

Mitchell Park and Carousel

Front St from Mitchell Park

Claudios and docks near marina

Greenport’s Old Jail

Front Street

Greenport Firehouse

Greenport School – all levels

Mitchell Park Marina from Fireboat

Tomorrow we will move the boat to a mooring in Dering Harbor and will have more adventures there.

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