Monday, September 27, 2010


I once traveled to City Island back in the 1980's when I had my first boat a Bristol 24. I arrived late in the day and left the next day. So I did not get to see much back then. A little evening walk some dinner and back to the boat. I thought it was time to return with BIANKA this time and spend a little more time in this unique part of the City of New York at the end western end of Long Island Sound.

City Island is a place that welcomes and seems made for sailors. Like other waterfront towns it has a rich history. City Island more so than most as a lot of nautical history. The Hell Gate Pilots were based on the island. Here is there office (now gone) where they would watch for ships coming up Long Island Sound heading for New York. Here is the Pilot Station back then:

Here's how it looks today:

The Hell Gate Pilots were merged in with the Sandy Hook Pilots a number of years ago and the piloting is now done by a few of the Sandy Hook Pilots who are also certified for Hells Gate.

Some classic Americas Cup yachts were built on the island over the years. Along with a bunch of other legendary yachts as well. In places like the Nevins shipyard.

It was at the Nevins Shipyard on City Island that a young Olin Stephens first met yacht broker Drake Sparkman and teamed up to form Sparkman & Stephens design firm. The shipyards are pretty much gone from City Island  but, there are still quite a number of yacht clubs and boatyards that will make a sailor feel welcome. 

I arrived on a Friday afternoon and picked up a mooring at Barron Marine. Barron's is not a Yacht Club or Marina it is a boatyard . Here is a photo of their eighty year old workboat:

This wooden workhorse is still working the waters around City Island. Barrons is my kind of boatyard.
There is no swimming pool, clubhouse or bar. But, it is a convenient location to get all that one needs for the boat whether it's provisions, supplies, laundry or a good meal. All can be had within walking distance of the location.  After securing BIANKA and taking a hot shower I wandered around admiring the small sensible houses of the hard working middle class residents of the island. The island population is only about 4,500 people. Which makes it feel more like a small town than a part of New York City. In a few minutes I was on the main drag of the island City Island Ave.
There are all kinds on small local restaurants along the street and no national chains that I could see in my travels. I really like that about City Island.

I stopped for lunch at a local Irish bar called The Snug on a recommendation from someone at the boatyard for some fish and chips and pint on Guinness. A good way to start my tour of the island. After the meal I headed over to the Post Office a mere three blocks away. I came across this typical old clapboard building which gives City Island it's small town charm.

It was filled with all things nautical. So much so it was hard to move around in it. Much of it used and prices that are negotiable. As I walked in there was a negotiation going on for an old miners oil head lamp. Yep it's that kind of place filled with that kind of stuff and shelves overflowing with nautical artifacts. It's a place only a sailor could love. The town is proud of it's nautical heritage and it shows even in the small park nearby:

As the sun started to go down it was time to head back to the waterfront and head back to BIANKA. Tomorrow will be another day for more exploring.

No comments: