20 – 30 July: Shelter Harbour, Long Island to Newport, Rhode Island - 41 28N 71 19W
We carried on along the top of Long Island and turned down into the protected waters of Shelter Harbour. Some windy weather was forecast so appropriately named Shelter Harbour looked like a good place to stop.
We had heard of The Hamptons, where movie and music stars and other seriously wealthy people keep “summer homes”, and singer/songwriter Billy Joel is a local lad. But honestly we had no idea where it was – we can now report it is an area near the far eastern end of Long Island. The reason it is called The Hamptons is because is it made up of several hamlets with Hampton in their name. There’s Southampton, Bridgehampton, Hampton Bays and East Hampton, then there are a couple of outsiders just as lovely as their Hampton cousins – Greenport and Sag Harbour.
We spent a day catching the local buses, exploring the hamlets and sneaking a peak up gated driveways but didn’t spot any celebrities, or their homes for that matter, they are all tucked away behind well established trees in acres of manicured grounds.
You can certainly see the attraction here, there are long sandy beaches on the south shore of Long Island, the quaint fishing harbours of Sag and Greenport are delightful, every designer store you could possibly require is represented in East Hampton for your shopping needs, acres and acres of pristine vineyards offer boutique wineries for long lazy lunches and tastings, then there is the beautiful heavily wooded countryside with a few quiet lanes off the busy roads to take the Maserati or Rolls for a quick spin – ah the life of the wealthy!
July was ticking away, our plan was to get to Maine for August so we needed to keep on moving. We left Sag Harbour at dawn in the drizzle, but with a steady southerly to push us north it was a great opportunity to cover the 62 miles to Rhode Island in one chunk. We will be coming back this way so a stop at highly recommended Block Island will wait for our return. The weather perked up during the day, we caught a huge fish, the wind stayed with us and we pulled into Newport, Rhode Island before happy hour. An excellent day on the water.
Home of Americas Cup History
Just arriving into the harbour at Newport we could immediately feel we had entered one of the worlds top sailing ports. It was a Tuesday evening and the harbour was buzzing, it was a sea of sails, there were yachts absolutely everywhere – skipper had immense fun weaving Balvenie through the lot of them, our Silver Fern flag flying high and our seriously oversized New Zealand flag proudly displayed off our stern.
The harbour was packed full of mooring buoys, we have never seen so many very expensive yachts tied to moorings instead of in a marina dock, but there are just so many yachts here there obviously isn't enough marinas to go around. We squeezed into the few inches of designated anchoring zone still available, almost able to pass drinks to our neighbours, but we were all just happy to be in this iconic port.
In the late 1800’s Newport became THE place for rich New Yorkers to have a “summer cottage”. A building frenzy ensued with the wealthy all trying to outdo each other, but these days it is accepted that Breakers, the modest 70 room cottage in the photo was probably the pick of the bunch. It was commissioned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, at that time the Vanderbilt's were Americas richest family.
We did the excellent Cliff Walk along the foreshore in front of many of these beauties but we will save visiting inside the mansions for our return to Newport.
Newport is just beautiful, couple of blocks back from the harbour found us (almost lost) in heavily wooded country lanes – you can escape the busy harbour and town within minutes. They are very proud of their heritage and history here and have gone to huge efforts to preserve it; and although it is very touristy, especially at this time of the year, it had a lived in and looked after feel to it.
We enjoyed our stay, there was a small Jazz festival on, then a weekend Folk Festival that we listened to from the boat, it is just such a lively happening place and we will look forward to spending some more time here on our journey south. We said farewell to Brenda and David on Bandit, yet again, unless our paths cross in the Chesapeake in autumn we are unlikely to see them again on the water. Bandit and Balvenie have shared many anchorages in the past 2 years we will miss sailing (racing!!) with them.
Time to Head for the Cape Cod Canal and Cooler Waters