This post will bring our 2014 boating season to a close. 🙁 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
My glee was short-lived. That power boat was able to fit below the bridge and went right on through.
Nostalgia – We passed several marinas where we had once kept a boat
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 – sunshine!
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 —
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.
There certainly is a variety of boats along the river, even on a quiet day such as this.
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.
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.
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.
Almost home at this point, just another 30 minutes more.
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.
And the season ends………… the new Kindred Spirit is “on the hard” in Portland, Connecticut.