City Island

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City Island is located at the far western edge of Long Island sound.  It was originally settled by Europeans in 1654 and due to its location along a shipping artery, has been an important maritime community for much of that time.  Today, City Island is one of few places in the New York area that seems to remember that it truly is near water. Shipyards, marinas, sea-food restaurants and other nautical themed businesses dominate the landscape in this community of 4500 people.  Yet, for the kayaker, the community allows almost no access to the waters that surround the island.  Though almost every street dead-ends at the shore on each side of the island, access to the water is, in almost all cases, through locked gates that are for members of a neighborhood association.  Even the end of the island's main street is fenced off.  Gone are the kayaker's dreams of landing on City Island for a lunch of fried clams at Tony's Pier.  And gone are the dollars the kayakers would spend -- wake up City Island!


There are no official put-ins on City Island.  For an official put-in, you have to use Orchard Beach just a mile or so away.  There are plenty of areas to land for a quick rest, but the entire waterfront seems to be private property, so don't think of leaving your boat for a while and walking to a restaurant for lunch.  That being said, I have launched or landed a few times on City Island.  Beware of launching where you find an open gate.  You may land to discover locks blocking you from your car.  I was successful once launching from the end of Kilroe Street.  There was a sign on the gate the looked ominous, but there were no words on it at all, so I took that to mean the area was public.  I cannot guarantee this area will remain open.  But if you look around the island streets, you may luck out as I did.

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Directly south of City Island lies Hart Island - home to New York's "Potter's Field," a large  graveyard.  You may not land anywhere on the island.  Aside from Hart Island, there are lots of places to visit in the areas around City Island.  East along the shore takes you to Orchard Beach, New Rochelle and beyond.  Across takes you to Sands Point, Execution Rocks or Bayside Marina.  The crossing from here can be rough.  The waters here are full of all sorts of traffic, from large ships to small pleasure craft.  Crossing should be attempted by advanced paddlers only.  The Long Island Shore right across from City Island is home to the US Maritime Academy, a Coast Guard Station and a training base for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's NOAA Corps.  There can be a shipping traffic of all sorts.  Entrance to the Maritime Academy facility is restricted.  Be careful of boats of all sizes all along this area.

Beware the area near the Throg's Neck Bridge and beyond.  Much of the tidal flow for this part of Long-Island Sound enters or leaves via this channel and the currents here can get rough.  Stay well East of the bridge and beware of fast moving currents.

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Copyright 2005 - by Jacob Tanenbaum.  All rights are reserved.