North Shore Secret: Northport, NY

Britannia Yachting Center is the largest marina in Northport.

Boaters who find their way to Northport Harbor will find a laidback Long Island village filled with restaurants, shops, art, history and much more. By Tom Schlichter; Photography by Tom Richardson

I‘m always surprised when boaters tell me that they’ve never been to Northport. After all, this charming village on the North Shore of Long Island is located just 40 miles east of New York City and a lot closer to many Connecticut ports, plus it has so much to offer. Northport’s ability to stay just a little off the beaten path lies in the fact it is exactly that from a boater’s perspective. After entering Huntington Bay from Long Island Sound, you’ll need to veer east into Northport Bay and eventually make your way into the deepest recesses of Northport Harbor to reach the town dock. The route is easier than it sounds, however, and only takes about 15 minutes.

The public dinghy dock is steps from downtown Northport.

HARBOR TRIO

The largest estuary on Long Island’s North Shore, Northport Bay comprises Huntington Harbor, Lloyd Harbor, Centerport Harbor and Northport Harbor. Entering the complex from Huntington Bay, you’ll see Lloyd Neck to the west and the Coast Guard station at Eatons Neck to the east. Split the distance between them, staying east of the R “8” bell, and you’ll slide right down the throat of Huntington Bay while avoiding the submerged boulders that skirt both shorelines. Due west is Lloyd Harbor, a lovely, quiet anchorage surrounded by wooded shores and teaming with fish. Look east to pick up the G “1” buoy, which marks the entrance to Northport Bay.

STACK ‘EM UP

At this point you can set a course toward the four candy-striped stacks of the LIPA power plant to the east (from Long Island Sound you’ll find that the stacks line up laterally at magnetic north, making them a great aid to navigation). To the north, at the southernmost tip of Eatons Neck, is Sand City, a popular boater’s beach and swimming hangout that was home to a sand-mining operation from 1925 through 1964. The fine sand of Eatons Neck was used to make cement, and much of it can still be found in New York City’s sidewalks and buildings. The plant was destroyed by fire in the 1980s, but there are remaining ruins to be explored on the small island that was once attached to the mainland when mining operations first began.

The sand bottom here is great for anchoring, and the protected cove is a popular spot to overnight. There’s a snack stand on adjacent West Beach, the tip of which is also a bird sanctuary. Just north of Sand City is Price Bend, a hot spot for summer raft-ups. It’s an ideal anchorage, but it can be crowded on weekends. Continuing east, the entrance to Northport Bay is deep (20 feet MLW) and free of hazards. Head toward GC “3” to avoid a small shoal to the south then pick up R “8” off Little Neck Point. To the north lies Duck Island, another great spot to drop the hook and take a dip, but keep at least 300 yards southwest of Duck Island Bluff to avoid the rocky bottom and a shoal that extends east from Winkle Point.

Paddling in Lloyd Harbor.

TOWN APPROACH

From R “8” it’s a straight run southeast into Northport Harbor. Stay north and east of the buoy here or you’ll find plenty of rocks and shallows. To port you’ll see magnificent estates, the Northport Yacht Club and several historic ship captain’s homes as you approach the town. You’ll also notice Seymour’s Boat Yard, which offers transient moorings and service. Once a premier Long Island boatbuilding shop, it still uses a marine rail system to haul and launch boats. Just north of Seymour’s is the Northport Town Dock, which offers seven feet MLW and lots of space. Tie-up is free during the day and available on a first- come, first-served basis. From 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., the charge is $20 for any length of time. Overnight is $2 per foot. If you already paid the $20 fee it will be deducted from your nightly total. From the dock it’s a short stroll into downtown Northport and its many shops and restaurants.

Continue south past Bird Island and you’ll eventually reach the upscale Britannia Yachting Center, a “resort marina” that offers transient slips, two restaurants, a pool, service and a host of onsite amenities. So protected is this site that Britannia experienced no boat damage during Long Island’s last three hurricanes, including Super Storm Sandy.

Whole fried sea bass at Rockin Fish.

DOWNTOWN DELIGHTS

No matter where you choose to keep your boat on a visit to Northport, pack your appetite, because the village is loaded with dining options, starting with Tim’s Shipwreck Diner, featured in the 1997 film In and Out. Occupying a vintage railroad car that arrived in Northport in 1924, the diner features American fare ranging from blintzes and pancakes to burgers. Sit in the back to soak up the old-timey flavor. Bistro 44 serves sustainable seafood and local produce inspired by the season. Here you’ll find all-natural chicken dishes plus top-quality steaks. The prix-fixe lunch is a nice touch, as is the tapas menu at the bar and the special pre-theater dinner served from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Rockin’ Fish is a hip Main Street option that specializes in fresh, locally sourced seafood, burgers, appetizers and salads. They also have 16 craft brews on tap, as well as a wide array of whiskey blends. Copenhagen Bakery is a must-stop for fresh breads and sweet treats, but also serves breakfast, soups, salads and sandwiches. Other good sandwich shops and gourmet food sources include the Northport Village Gourmet Market and Northport Harbor Deli. To wash down lunch with a cold one, check out Sand City Brewery. The grog is great and you’ll love the festive atmosphere.

Many boaters call on Skipper’s Pub, near the harbor.

SASSY TO CLASSY

There are many more places to eat in Northport, so you’ll need to visit a few times to sample all the options. Spaced between the restaurants as you stroll though town are art galleries, jewelry stores, plus a variety of fun boutiques. The Window Shop carries fine Bulova timepieces and Pandora jewelry. The Jewelry Collection boasts gifts for everyone, with selections ranging from earrings to books. Owner Eileen hand-selects every item on display. Veronica Rayne Boutique is a trendy woman’s shop with designer items ranging from simple to chic. If a gift or something to remember your trip by will make your day, check out Clipper Ship Tea Company. Their staff will help select the perfect brew to soothe your soul. There’s even a great local theater—the John W. Engeman—which features plays, musicals and other live stage performances.

Interested in boatbuilding or local history? The Northport Historical Society and Museum has you covered. In addition to permanent and rotating exhibits, they have a research center and over 4,000 images on file. It’s a five-minute walk from the dock and open daily except for holidays. A bit farther afield is the magnificent Vanderbilt Museum & Planetarium in Centerport. During his extensive world travels aboard his yacht in the early 1900s, millionaire William K. Vanderbilt II collected birds, fish and plants. Many of these items are preserved on the grounds of his sprawling estate.

Finally, not to be overlooked in the Northport area is some mighty fine fishing. Stripers, fluke, blues, porgies, false albacore and blackfish abound here during their respective seasons. The crew at Cow Harbor Bait & Tackle, yet another occupant at Britannia Yacht Center, can point you to the action.

 

Northport Names & Numbers

 

HARBORMASTER (631) 261-7500

 

DOCKAGE, MOORINGS & SERVICE

 

NORTHPORT TOWN DOCK; (631) 261-7500

Free tie-up during the day on a first-come, first-served basis. From 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., the charge is $20 for any length of time. Overnight is $2 per foot. If you already paid the $20 fee it will be deducted from your nightly total.

 

BRITANNIA YACHTING CENTER; (631) 651-8844

Resort-style marina offering transient slips, fuel, WiFi, onsite restaurants, pool, bait and tackle, fuel, pump-out and more.

 

SEYMOUR’S BOAT YARD; (631) 261-6574

Offers fuel and transient moorings on a weekly or daily basis.

 

COOL SHOPS

 

THE WINDOW SHOP; (631) 239-5450

Fine jewelry, watches and Pandora items.

 

VERONICA RAYNE BOUTIQUE

(631) 261-2080

Trendy women’s shop with designer items ranging from simple to chic.

 

CLIPPER SHIP TEA COMPANY

(631) 651-2764

Find the perfect brew to soothe your soul.

 

WHERE TO EAT

 

ROCKIN’ FISH

(631) 651-5200

Outdoor dining with a focus on fresh, local ingredients. Great selection of craft brews and whiskies.

 

NORTHPORT HARBOR DELI

(631) 261-6808

The spot to pick up fresh sandwiches, salads and sides for a day on the water.

 

WHALE’S TALE CAFÉ

(631) 651-8844

Fun, casual dock-and-dine restaurant overlooking the docks of the Britannia Yachting Center. Don’t miss Taco Tuesday!

 

BISTRO 44

(631) 262-9744

Sustainable seafood and local produce inspired by the changing seasons.

 

SAND CITY BREWERY

(631) 651-2766

Festive brewpub serving fresh ale, beer and tasty pub grub.

 

THE PURPLE ELEPHANT

(631) 651-5002

Britannia Yachting Center-based eatery specializing in wild-caught seafood, grass-fed beef and pork, non-GMO chicken and vegan dishes.

 

THINGS TO SEE & DO

JOHN W. ENGEMAN THEATER

(631) 261-2900

Catch a musical, play or other live performance at this highly regarded theater.

 

NORTHPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY & MUSEUM

(631) 757-9859

Check out exhibits, artifacts, textiles, ephemera and more than 2,000 archived photographs on Northport history.

 

VANDERBILT MUSEUM & PLANETARIUM

(631) 854-5579

The former estate of William K. Vanderbilt II features an amazing collection of mounted fish, birds, mammals and other creatures.

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