MAMARONECK, N.Y. - Joseph Russo loves going to work everyday at Harbor Island, which is one of the biggest small-boat harbors on the east coast and best known to residents as the jewel of Mamaroneck.
"I think it's the true jewel, and i'm lucky because I love it so much," said Russo, who has been harbor master for three years and has docked his speed boats in Harbor Island for over 30 years. "Every section is different and that's what makes it special, the character, and that's what we try to preserve."
Many also know the harbor at the foot of Mamaroneck Avenue as the second-largest natural small-boat harbor between Maine and Florida. Russo patrols the approximately 9.5-mile coastline, which is filled with over 600 boats, 335 of which are small boats - boats 22 feet and under. When you factor in the five private yacht clubs, six marinas and the various private homes with docks in the harbor, that number jumps to around 2,000, Russo said.
But, most people who come to Harbor Island aren't interested in the 70-foot yachts and private country clubs. "Most people come down here to relax and enjoy the character of the harbor," Russo said. "Even if they don't own a boat, you see people come down here to have lunch. It's peaceful, it's tranquil, it's a getaway."
Sheryl Murray reads two books a week in the small boat she and her husband Ed have had docked on the west basin of the inner-harbor for 35 years. "This is our country club," said Murray, who always makes sure to leave crackers for her friends Mr. and Mrs. Mallard - if she doesn't, the ducks fly onto her boat, while the swans will ram into it in protest.
Harbor island is tailor-made for the blue-collar worker, Russo said. Although it doesn't provide electric, water or cable like a neighboring harbor in New Rochelle, Russo believes they're the best deal around.
The boating season is from May to November, and a docking permit costs $30 per foot for residents and more than double that for non-residents.
What is your favorite part of Harbor Island?
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