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Glen Clove

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Glen Cove Still has Potential

Glen Cove, just to port inside the breakwater, earned its place in yachting history at the turn of the last century as a harbor of choice for wealthy businessmen commuting to New York City by water and rail. It was actually a part of the Town of Oyster Bay until 1917, when the Governor proclaimed it an independent city. Many of the estates along the Hempstead Harbor waterfront are still standing and in use as government buildings and executive retreats. Enticed by the promise of re-development of the Glen Cove waterfront into the “Newport of Long Island Sound” in some of our aging guidebooks, we dropped anchor inside the breakwater just off Glen Cove Creek and dinghied up the creek to see how far they’ve come. 

Let’s say that we're not sure about Glen Cove, but Glen Cove Creek still has ‘potential’, although the dream of a Newport on the Sound may be rather distant.  The head of the creek nearest town is crusty, yet the marinas near its mouth are protecting a fleet of boats that range from small dinghies to large sailboats, go-fast boats, trawlers and everything in between.  It’s perhaps the most diversified marina crowd we’ve ever seen.  And that’s a good thing.  We like seeing diversity and tolerance in boating, with blow boaters and power mongers co-existing in peace.  But it does seem that development in this snug harbor of potential has seen little progress. A NOAA article from 2002 details the extent of the issues.

The ghost ship of Glen Cove, like something out of a Disney movie set. "Arrgh, matie, that's the Regina Maris to you!"

From the mast sticking up out of the water presumably attached to a boat that is still connected to its mooring near the mouth of the creek to the mirage-like wrecks along the creek, it felt at first as though we were entering some world of Captain Jack Sparrow's.  There were ribs sticking out of the sand bars, wooden wreckage spewed along the banks, and suddenly, there was the Black Pearl herself rising out of the depths but up on a bank surrounded by weeds.  Then we realized the ship, with masts and rigging, was actually built into the bulkhead, which though overgrown looked rather new.  Our imaginations had run wild for just a few moments.

It turns out that the 'ghost ship' is actually the Regina Maris, which was brought to Glen Cove Creek from Greenport several years ago. It was hoped she could be restored as only one of three remaining three-masted barqs in the US, but she was too far gone and sank in the Creek. When an attempt to raise her with a crane crushed her hull, she was moved onto the land and embedded in concrete along a walkway. "It was the only practical way to preserve her", says Eric Swenson of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee. An article in Ocean Navigator tells the story of this permanently docked tall ship.

Steamboat Landing Restaurant in Glen Cove offers hearty fare and a prime location for harbor viewing. Check out our gallery of additional photos by clicking here.
The ‘new’ restaurant at Steamboat Landing was under new management when we arrived for lunch in mid-August (2006) and they had no liquor license.  They were hoping to get it by Labor Day. They have a fairly extensive dock for diners to tie up to, the majority of whom come in mid-sized power cruisers. It's quite a convenient and potentially visually entertaining lunch stop as there is quite a bit of activity in the Cove.

Lunch there can be quite a feast.  Portions are very generous.  We had steamed clams that were just about the best we’ve had in a long time and a blackened tuna sandwich. The tuna was seared and quite rare in the middle – just the way we like it – although the spicing was a bit strong.  The fries were very tasty and if it hadn’t been for the go-fast boat sputtering and trying to get his engines to stay on while droning out all possibility of conversation and filling the air with acrid smoke, it would have been a great experience.  It was quite funny that the restaurant patrons all booed when he started the engines up and cheered when they sputtered to a halt – and most were power boaters.  Even the chef came out to chastise him, but too late for many of the diners. Although he eventually got it started and actually 'bumper-boated' several slips down from where he began his journey, he succeeded in ruining many happy lunches as one by one the tables of lunch goers moved indoors to avoid the stink and the noise.

What to do

You tell us, if you know, please! The city of Glen Cove (40.52.2 N 73.37.40 W) has about 27,000 residents and must be accessible from somewhere on the water but not from this location on the Creek. We wanted to head into town for a quick tour before heading back across the Sound so we asked for directions from the staff, who looked at us rather blankly. We were advised by the maitre‘d that there was really nothing on the waterfront in Glen Cove aside from a park some ways down where there was a beach.  We checked it out by dinghying to the head of the creek, past junkyards, quarries, ruins, a long-abandoned oil containment boom, and gigantic sewer drains and it was true.  There is certainly no obvious way ashore from the head of the creek unless you want to risk wading through runoff. The only other ways ashore are from the restaurant or the marinas, from where we were advised it's a cab ride into town. "The center of town is about a half mile from the marinas," we were told later. The town has a development plan to connect the downtown area to the waterfront, but "...if it happens, it will be a few years from now," according to authorities.

Among the notable residents of Glen Cove over time have been Frank Woolworth, Lillian Russell, Charles Pratt, JP Morgan, and Henry Clay Folger. It was also the site of Cary Grant's abduction in North by Northwest, the setting for the original Sabrina movie starring Audrey Hepburn, William Holden and Humphrey Bogart, and the set for the Fox TV series The War at Home.

Well, finding the real Glen Cove was going to have to wait for another day when we had more time. Our experience with Glen Cove was mixed. Interesting but unfulfilling. If you can shed some light on the redevelopment status and how to get to town, please send us a note. We'd love to help boaters and the townsfolk get together.

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