Connecticut River Trip

This post will bring our 2014 boating season to a close. ūüôĀ Boating is not a year-round activity for most of us in New England. The season comes to an end all too soon. ¬†I believe the shorter northern season is why New Englanders are so passionate about their summers.¬†For us, it was especially brief¬†this year – we didn’t even get started until late July. Even so, it was a short but sweet season. We were just delighted to back on the water.

Our yacht club, Shennecossett, ended the season early this year with a major dock project. D Dock, our old dock, will be rebuilt and new fuel tanks will be installed.

~ The new fuel tanks before they are placed underground. ~ The crane and barge are ready to do the heavy lifting.

~ The new fuel tanks before they are placed underground.
~ The crane and barge are ready to do the heavy lifting.

D Dock looks a bit odd with out the docks and finger piers. This was our piling with the red reflectors.

D Dock looks a bit odd without the docks and finger piers; only the pilings remain. We recognize our piling with the red reflectors.

And so it was time for us to leave SYC and head up the Connecticut River where this Kindred Spirit will winter. Al’s long list of projects will be easier to accomplish¬†if she is nearer to home. We watched the weather forecasts and checked the currents and tides. In order to take advantage of the current we needed to make the trip around the 24th-26th of September or wait two more weeks until Columbus Day weekend. We decided earlier was better than later, especially given the transmission concerns.

The sky gave us a glowing send off the evening before our departure.

The sky gave us a glowing send-off on the evening before our departure.

We left in the early morning on a day that was now forecasted to be gray and overcast with rain arriving later. A week ago it was predicted to be a very nice day. Such is New England weather. Our goal was to be anchored in Hamburg Cove, up the Connecticut River, by noon before the heaviest rain.

Once again we pass Ledge Light standing guard at the entrance to New London Harbor. We are going to takes a tour of the lighthouse someday - it is on my retirement bucket list. I want to see the inside!

Once again we pass Ledge Light standing guard at the entrance to New London Harbor. We are going to takes a tour of the lighthouse someday – it is on my retirement bucket list. We spend every summer looking at the outside so I want to see the inside!

We passed the Millstone Nuclear Power Station. Not the prettiest sight, but a "landmark" along the route.

We passed the Millstone Nuclear Power Station. Not the prettiest sight, but a “landmark” along the route.

Beware of the rocky shallows  - the green marker guides the way.

Beware of these rocky shallows – the green marker guides the way.

 Although the morning was dreary, we had a goal and marked each passing mile with satisfaction. We held the engine to 1100 rpms and babied the hurting transmission. All went well. Ahh, a sigh of relief.

It was good to see the Saybrook Point Lighthouse, known as the “outer light” at the mouth of the Connecticut River. ¬†In 1831, a buoy was placed just offshore to mark the dangerous bar at the river’s mouth. In the 1870s it¬†was dredged to accommodate increasing ship traffic, and the two granite breakwaters were built, one extending out from each side of the river mouth. The lighthouse was built and placed into service in 1886. It is now privately owned, purchased in 2013 for $340,000. There doesn’t seem one any activity on it, so I can’t help but wonder the owners plan to do with¬†a lighthouse of their own?

Saybrook Point Light

Saybrook Point Light, a 48-foot sparkplug lighthouse.

As we turned into the Connecticut River and passed the outer light, the “inner light” was visible. The inner light, Lynde Point Lighthouse, was the first lighthouse in the area, here on the west side of the river entrance.

Lynde Point Lighthouse

Lynde Point Lighthouse stands 65 feet tall — ¬†constructed of granite in 1838, electrified in 1955, automated in 1978,

This journey up the Connecticut River will be filled with memories of our boating years on the river, from 1994 through 2005. Those memories include bridges, which means waiting for bridges to open when you have a sailboat with a tall mast. With a trawler, the trip  will be different.

Before we left SYC, Al lowered our little mast. Yes, we have a mast, but no sail on the trawler.

Before we left SYC, Al lowered our little mast. Yes, we really do have a mast, but no sail on the trawler.

We could see the East Lyme Railroad Bridge up ahead. This is a bridge we had to pass through on every trip from our marinas to Long Island Sound. It is always up until a train comes through. Naturally, trains will transit through here whenever you also need to go through. So the bridge comes down and you wait.

A very fast power boat rudely roared past us, making us rock and roll. I cheered when the bridge came down right in front of it! Yeah- there is justice!

fast boat stopped at rr bridge

Stopped by the bridge! That’s what you get for speeding by us and throwing a nasty big wake.

My glee was short-lived. That power boat was able to fit below the bridge and went right on through.

As trawler newbies, we decided to wait until the bridge opens rather than try to squeeze underneath.

As trawler newbies, we decided to wait until the bridge opted rather than try to squeeze underneath.

Waiting for bridges to open reminded us of our trip down the ICW one year ago.

Waiting for bridges to open ¬†— reminded us of our trip down the ICW one year ago. ūüôā

Nostalgia – We passed several marinas where we had once kept a boat

The docks at Saybrook Point Inn

The docks at Saybrook Point Inn. We never kept a boat here, but we passed it on every trip down the river.

"Between the Bridges" is the name and it is. Right between the East Lyme Railroad Bridge and the Route 95 high bridge.

“Between the Bridges” is the name and it is. Right between the East Lyme Railroad Bridge and the Route 95 high bridge.

We got this one! No problem going underneath it.

We got this one! No problem going underneath it.

 

We spotted this little house right on the water, in every sense of "right on the water." It's been there for years - good to see it it has not been swept away in any floods or storms.

We spotted this little house right on the water, in every sense of “right on the water.” It’s been there for years – good to see it it has not been swept away in any floods or storms.

 

Passing by Essex. We spent many years on a mooring at "The Chandlery."

Passing by Essex. We spent many years on a mooring at “The Chandlery.”

Just as we reached Hamburg Cove, north of Essex, the gray and cloudy day added  wet to its weather description.

Just as we reached Hamburg Cove, north of Essex, the gray and cloudy day added wet to its weather description.

Entering Hamburg COve

Entering Hamburg Cove – one of our favorite anchorages on the river.

We spent a peaceful, but chilly afternoon and night in Hamburg Cove, I even sat in the engine room with Al just to get warm. The morning brought a new and different day Рsunshine!

A lovely morning in Hamburg Cove

A lovely morning in Hamburg Cove

Hamburg Cover boat house

Hamburg Cover boat house

Hamburg Cove grassy dock - We watched this dock for years, waiting for it to sink away into the water. But it is still there!

Hamburg Cove grassy dock – We watched this dock for years, waiting for it to sink away into the water. But it is still there!

We were hoping to see the colors of fall foliage on this trip, but we seemed to be just a little too early for the brightest colors. ¬†As we traveled north up the¬†Connecticut River, we played Billy Joel’s “River of Dreams” as background music. The music video was shot¬†on the Connecticut River and in various Connecticut¬†locations.

“We all end in the ocean
we all start in the streams
We’re all carried along
by the river of dreams”

It is an interesting ride up the Connecticut River, and a trip we have not taken in quite a few years. A perfect day for the flybridge. We had a wonderful view of the river’s shoreline and its mix of textures — nature’s rocks and trees to manmade habitats, large and small.

Come along for the ride —

Homes on the river

IMG_3294Rocky shoreline

rocky shore and house

A few logs and branches caught on sandbars in shallower parts of the river.

A few logs and branches caught on sandbars in shallower parts of the river.

An empty sandbar

An empty sandbar

We could see markings on the rocky ledge but have no idea what they mean or their purpose.

We could see markings on the rocky ledge but have no idea what they mean or their purpose.

Markers on the shore, not the water. They are actually more difficult to spot.

Markers on the shore, not the water. They are actually more difficult to spot.

One of the most famous sights along the Connectiut River is Gillette Castle. The “castle” was originally a private residence designed ¬†and built in 1914 by William Gillette, an American actor who is most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on stage. After Gillette died, with no wife and no heirs, he had his will stated in his will that the property could not be possessed¬†by any “blithering sap-head who has no conception of where he is or with what surrounded”. The State of Connecticut¬†took over the property in 1943, renaming it Gillette Castle State Park.¬†¬†It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

The Chester Ferry is one way to reach Gillette Castle (sitting high above the water). The ferry began operations in 1769 and is one of the oldest continuously running ferries on the Connecticut River.

The Chester Ferry is one way to reach Gillette Castle (sitting high above the water). The ferry began operations in 1769 and is one of the oldest continuously running ferries on the Connecticut River.

The ferry docks below Gillette Castle

The ferry docks below Gillette Castle

A closer view of Gillette Castle

A closer view of Gillette Castle

There certainly is a variety of boats along the river, even on a quiet day such as this.

This is the Becky Thatcher River Boat, part of the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat Tour.  for the ultimate Fall Foliage journey through the unspoiled Connecticut River Valley.

This is the Becky Thatcher River Boat, the water portion of the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat Tour, a two and a half hour train and boat journey.

Notice this sailboat?

This curiously moored sailboat caught our eye!

This funky water vehicle came roaring by. We think we have seen it before up the river. Although we could not catch it's name, we think it might be "Barnacle Balls."

This funky water vehicle came roaring by. We think we have seen it before up the river. Although we could not catch it’s name, we think it might be “Barnacle Balls.”

It wasn’t long before we approached East Haddam, the home of Goodspeed Opera House,¬†originally built by a local merchant and banker, William Goodspeed. Construction began in 1876 and was finished in 1877. Goodspeed Musicals,¬†formed in 1959,¬†is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and advancement of musical theater and the creation of new works.

Goodspeed Opera House - looks like they are doing some work on the buidling.

Goodspeed Opera House – looks like they are doing some work on the buidling.

Just beyond Goodspeed Opera House is the East Haddam Swing bridge, spanning the river between Haddam on the western shore and East Haddam on the eastern shore as part of Route 82. It is stated to be the longest swing bridge of its kind in the world.

East Haddam Swing Bridge

East Haddam Swing Bridge

Obviously, as sailboat folks, we have always had to wait for this bridge to open, on the hour and half hour only. The clearance is stated to be 22 feet at high water, but I called the bridge tender to double check. We had measured our height without the mast – 18 feet. We were good to go, but honestly, it unnerved me a little bit.

Here we go - first time going under a bridge as a trawler!!

Here we go – first time going under a bridge as a trawler!!

Almost home at this point, just another 30 minutes more.

This was the most colorful tree we saw on the trip. Notice that is a singular tree, not trees.

This was the most colorful tree we saw on the trip. Notice that is a singular tree, not trees.

The river curves and we can Middletown ahead on the western shore.  We will be wintering in Portland, across the river on the eastern side.

The river curves and we can see Middletown ahead.

The river curves and we can see Middletown ahead.

And the season ends………… the new Kindred Spirit is “on the hard” in Portland, Connecticut.

"On the hard" = when a boat has been hauled and is now sitting on dry land.

“On the hard” = when a boat has been hauled and is now sitting on dry land.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Connecticut River Trip

  1. Pingback: Let the Season Begin! | Kindred Spirit

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