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Port Jefferson, Long Island, NY & Mount Misery Cove

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Port Jefferson is a great harbor if you need to get out of nasty weather, and Mt. Misery Cove just to the East of its entrance is a great little gunkhole if you want a great big sandbox to play in.

Port Jefferson is a great destination from anywhere on LIS, lying directly across from Stratford Shoal Lighthouse. Moreover, it’s a great stopover to or from more easterly destinations.

The entrance channel to Port Jefferson is well marked through the jetties, and it’s usually easy to get in unless of course there’s a giant ferry vying for space in the channel. Give them plenty of clearance, and remember that they do turn around at the head of the harbor when they leave again. Be aware of about a 7 foot tidal variation and up to 2.6 knots of current running through there. Once inside the jetties, the harbor is wide, well-protected, and offers almost unlimited opportunity to drop anchor. Be careful of anchoring too close to the giant mooring where the barges get dropped off, though.

The Port Washington to Bridgeport ferry started by PT Barnum.

One of the more interesting spots to drop anchor (during the week) is Mount Misery Cove, a sandpit with 60 foot high bluffs. The hole was made by excavation of sand that was shipped off to build much of NYC as a component of the masses of concrete and glass that were needed when the skyscrapers started going up. It offers decent all around protection, but it does have a sandy bottom so a Danforth-type anchor may be your best bet for holding here. The best approach is to clear GC5 and go past the barge mooring a good way in toward shore, then follow the 12 foot contour line right in. The average depth in the hole is about 11 to 15 feet MLW. When we visited on foot on Memorial Day of this year, we noted lots of moorings in there now.

There is a second anchorage to starboard as you enter the main harbor but we've never been in there as we draw alot and the approach has a shallow. It's always been a little crowded-looking for us. If you have experience with it, please let us know what you like or don't like about it.

Inside Mt Misery Cove.

If the hole is too crowded – and on weekends it can be just overloaded with raft ups – you can drop anchor anywhere outside the main channel in Port Jefferson harbor. Diesel Marine (VHF 68) offers launch service to anchored boats, and several marinas and yacht clubs have guest moorings and slips. Danford’s can accommodate yachts up to 160 feet in length and it’s always fun to see who’s in town. To go ashore by dinghy, go all the way in to the Danford’s Inn and Marina dinghy dock. Finding it is a bit tricky the first time; you must circumnavigate the marina to port, heading in all the way to the waterfront bulkhead, then turning right to where the main marina dock meets the village waterfront. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the umbrellas in the outdoor café above you. Tie-up is free with a receipt from one of their restaurants, although we’ve never been asked to present it.

Once in town, Port Jefferson has a lot to offer with much of the activity centered around the waterfront: ferries disgorging and reloading, cars cruising, restaurant patrons people watching, and tourists shopping up a storm. It’s a browser’s paradise. Shops, art galleries, and boutiques abound. There’s also a performing arts theatre. What you can’t find is a chandlery, as we learned on a recent trip there when our refrigeration system needed emergency assistance! There is a powerboat dealer. There is a fishing tackle shop. But with all those boats in the harbor, there is no boating supply store.

Main Street with lots of shops, restaurants, and activities


One of our favorite things to do is to stroll through the quieter historical districts where the ship’s captains, builders, and sailmakers made their homes in a bygone era. You can arrange for a walking tour to bring it all to life, including the legends about PT Barnum, who actually started the ferry to Bridgeport so he could commute from his home to the home of the circus across the sound. There’s a charming museum and gift shop just a few blocks from the waterfront, and a wonderful used book store that usually has a robust nautical section.

The Admiral's Deck at Danford's offers plenty of boat and people watching.

As to eating, there are many options within a few feet of the docks. Danford’s offers 25 East American Bistro, a topnotch upscale restaurant inside the Inn, while their outdoor bar, Admirals Deck, offers a great lunch and brew option right on the marina waterfront. For lunch or simple seafood served on a patio cafeteria style, the Steamroom is right across from Danford’s on East Broadway. If you walk down the street to the left, there’s a restaurant with seating on a lovely outdoor porch, inventive menu, and live music at the outdoor bar. There’s a food market at the upper end of Main Street, a pub to quench your thirst along the way, and many of the restaurants offer take out that you can bring aboard.

A new Harborfront park under development to the East of Danford’s may make Port Jefferson a great boating destination while preserving some of the maritime history. There’s a children’s play area, a waterfront promenade, and the modified and refurbished Bayles Shipyard Building, which will provide a venue for recreational, social, and educational functions, as well as space for exhibits in its location at the entrance to Harborfront Park.

Boat Builders and Boat Yards of Westchester and Long Island

Exhibition at Port Jefferson Village Center


At anchor with the breakwater behind.

Mt Misery Cove on a busy weekend.

Aerial photo taken by yours truly, Daria, hanging on for dear life at the masthead.

The Park City coming into the ferry dock and opening its jaws to disgorge daytrippers from CT.

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