Sunday, August 19, 2018

Norwalk – A Second Look

When we set out on our cruising adventures, we rarely go back to someplace once we've been there already during the season. This year we've done it twice. (Actually, three times, but that's another story.) The first time was when we went back to Summit North Marina in Delaware after we visited Philadelphia. That was a stop of convenience. The second time was when we went back to Norwalk, CT. That was because we felt we had short-changed that destination the first time, and we wanted to check it out.

Norwalk Cove Marina
First of all, the marina, Norwalk Cove, is as hospitable a marina for big boats as you can find. There will be more about that in a future marina report. Let's say for now that if you have a boat that's a bit bigger than most, you'll love Norwalk Cove.

Big, big, big slips
The town itself is fine. The SONO area (South Norwalk, the part of town closest to the marina) is made up mostly of restaurants and bars, not shops. It's not a quaint New England town but a vibrant city. It's “millennial” in its vibe and very cosmopolitan. There's a rich tapestry of different cultural, national, and ethnic impressions. 

SONO neighborhood of Norwalk
We both said that if we were thirty years old again, Norwalk would certainly be worth a look as someplace to live. And maybe that's how to describe Norwalk: it's a nice place to live, but not a tourist destination. But you should certainly make the time to go there.

There is one feature of the marina that deserves special mention: they have a miniature putting course, and it is AWESOME.

I won by five strokes.

Port Jefferson – An Unexpected Pleasure

My original plans were for us to cruise out Long Island Sound along the north shore out to Mystic, CT, then across the sound to Greenport, LI NY. From there we were going to go back to the north shore and head west. I'm not sure why I changed my mind about that, but I decided it would be better to try a different tack. I think it had something to do with me being suspicious about anchoring opportunities on the way back west.

We still went out the sound on the north side from Manhasset Bay, NY to Norwalk, CT to the Thimble Islands, also in CT, then to Mystic. But on the way back west, instead of going to Greenport, we crossed the bay from Mystic to Port Jefferson, LI NY. Our research showed there was a good mooring field with a pump out boat, a vibrant touristy town, and a free launch service, aka a water taxi. I liked how it all sounded.

It couldn't be any easier.
As was the case for most of our excursion into Long Island Sound, boating conditions were excellent, if not a little boring. There was very little wind and calm seas prevailed. It was an easy boating day. The only thing that we had to pay special attention to was to keep a sharp lookout for the large ferry boats that steamed from the Port Jefferson inlet across the sound to Connecticut.

The inlet itself is well protected with a wide, clearly marked channel that heads due south toward the town of Port Jefferson itself. There are mooring fields on both sides of the channel. The main field is on the left (east) side as you approach the docks and town. There is some kind of large rock and gravel operation on the right (west) side that loads and unloads onto and from barges around the clock. The moorings on that side are nearer the entrance of the bay. 

There are a couple of marinas there but, wow, are they expensive. The pump out boat, as we found out, is only available on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. One of the marinas has a pump out, but it wasn't working while we were there. There is also a unique manually operated pump out barge directly to the left as you enter the inlet, but it didn't look large enough to accommodate a boat larger than maybe 35 feet long. It's painted white; you'll spot it easily. It may work great, but we didn't try it.

Getting to shore via the town's free launch service is convenient and quick. They standby on channel 68 and take you ashore near a boater's building with a security lock that has bathrooms, showers and laundry. This building is pretty much in the heart of the city center. It seems to be an efficient operation.

Once a shipbuilding town, Port Jefferson is now a full fledged tourist destination with all the trappings. From fudge to ice cream to little trendy restaurants to interesting museums to shops of all kinds, Port Jefferson wants you to spend money there. The most trendy area is on East Main, appropriately named as it is one block east of Main Street. (See the separate marina report for provisioning and accessibility information.) It's a busy and pleasant town. And as we have a preference for mooring fields (and we have a great Phasor generator) it was a terrific stop and one we would make again.