New Jersey Scuba Diving
Mount Sinai Harbor / Jetties
As the name implies, the Mt Sinai west jetty is located at the mouth of the Mt Sinai Harbor. I've only dove the site once, so I certainly am not qualified to make judgments on the quality of this location. There are a few things I can say though. First, depth at the location seems to be very shallow. Most of my dive was spent in less than 6 feet of water. That means in order to dive this site, you should carry a little extra weight to help keep you underwater. I had a dive buddy who ended up carrying rocks with him in order to stay down. Second, the west jetty is not really that easy to get to. To get there, you have to get to Village Beach Rd in Port Jefferson. Once you find this road, drive to the end and you will see a small parking lot. During the summer, it is nearly impossible to park here and that makes diving this location very difficult. So, I suggest diving this location in the Mid-Spring. That way, you don't have to fight for parking and you get to enjoy some of the sea life that has returned from its winter slumber.
So, once you get there, suit up at your car and walk down the small stretch of beach till you get near the jetty. Enter the water at your leisure. Once in the water, you can swim north along the jetty to the tip. You may see fish, lobster, crabs and the sort. There are large openings in the rocks that form the jetty. Large enough in fact that you can almost swim into one. I don't advise doing this because getting stuck might be a frightening experience.
After swimming to the tip, you need to make a decision. Decide whether the conditions are good enough to either swim inside of the inlet, swim further north into deeper water, or play it safe and turn around. I decided to swim into the inlet, while hugging the jetty. Fortunately, the boat traffic was non-existent that day so we got a look on the other side of the jetty. I would advise staying out of the inlet under most circumstances because the combination of the boat traffic and strong currents can make it a rough time. You may experience some strong current near the end of your dive, but if you're close enough to the jetty, you can always just crawl onto the rocks and walk back to shore. If you decide to head north from the tip, I understand that the water gets pretty deep. I've never been out there, so I couldn't tell you for sure if it's worth the trip.
Mt Sinai Harbor is just that, a harbor and with all harbors the utmost concern is boat traffic. So, to start with, I don't recommend diving in the harbor until after the boating season is finished. Unfortunately, the price you have to pay to see the harbor is high. If you're not prepared for extreme cold water diving then this location is out of the question. Visibility seems to be anywhere from 5ft to mud, which is not so much fun if you're afraid of the dark. So, why in god's name would anyone want to subject himself to that type of torture? First and foremost, diving is fun!!! Second, because you are diving deep inside a harbor, current isn't so bad. This is, of course, if you stay away from the inlet, which I advise. Third, diving is fun!!! Fourth, you are reasonably assured that you will not encounter other divers in the area. Fifth, diving is fun!!!
Beyond those reasons, the harbor holds some secrets that only the truly brave and hardened soul gets to see. First, there are at least two if not more boats lying in the bottom of the harbor. The first of the two is a small sailing boat. I have no idea the identity of this boat, but you can be pretty well assured that is was lost in the past few years during a large storm. You can find this boat almost directly west of the boat ramp near the moorings. The second, appears to be a working boat of some type. You know, like a lobster boat or fishing boat. The funny thing about this boat is that it appears to have been scuttled. I mean, it is loaded up to the top with cinder blocks. I don't know the identity of this boat either, but hope to get a better idea this winter. There is also a small car or truck that is just west of the boat ramp. It looks like it was rolled down the boat ramp into the water and then sank. The car is upside down so I assume that means it floated for a short period of time before coming to rest on the bottom.
-- Roger T. Mailler
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