Let the Season Begin!

It’s been 17 weeks since I last posted a blog entry, and what a difference those 4 months make. After that January blog, the winter just became worse and worse. Colder and snowier. We hunkered down and made it through to the other side – spring. What else can you do? We both worked part-time to pay for all of the improvements we are making to the new Kindred Spirit (and to keep us busy as well.)

It was late April when the boat was uncovered for the annual launch preparations for and to finish the many renovations. We looked out at a sea of shrink wrap in the boat yard, but at least there was no longer any snow.

A chilly April in Riverside Marina, Portland, CT; but Al still enjoyed a moment up on the flybridge. Ahh, anticipation!

The Top Dog food truck is a must-do while working on the boat. We grabbed lunch on one of our working days.

The Top Dog food truck is nearby the Portland marinas. We just had to grab a couple of dogs for lunch on one of our working days.

The unusually frigid winter created more ice on the river, which in turn caused considerable damage to pilings in the boatyards in Portland. The yard was able to get boats into the water, but at a slower rate. On May 19th, the new and improved  Kindred Spirit was launched. Although this was later than usual for us, it felt like the day had come all too quickly. Al finished all of the final critical mechanical and technical details . Poor guy, he worked every day that week for at least 6-8 hours preparing the boat. From painting the bottom, checking the engine, the new wiring, installing things, closing thru–holes and so on. All I had to do was…….. what did I do? Oh yes, I did my share of cleaning and waxing, the low-tech side of boat prep. I am also in charge of shopping for and packing provisions  and “stuff” for the boat.

Splash Day - in the water

Splash day – sitting at the dock at Riverside Marina

We were finally ready to make the river trip in reverse of last fall (Connecticut River Trip) , and I will try not to be too repetitious. Although it was the beginning of the Memorial Day holiday, the day was cool (and a Friday) so things were relatively quiet on the river.

The flybridge is a great place for this trip down the river - what a view up here.

The flybridge is a great place for this trip down the river – what a view from up here.

I put out our Shennecossett burgee for the ride.

Flying our colors — I put out our Shennecossett burgee for the ride.

Heading south on the Connecticut River. It was a chilly but beautiful day.

Heading south on the Connecticut River. It was a chilly but beautiful morning.

As the day warmed up, we saw people taking advantage of the low tide to enjoy this temporary river beach.

As the day warmed up, we saw people taking advantage of the low tide to enjoy this temporary river beach.

I photographed and commented on these rock paintings during our trip up the river last fall, but this time we were closer and I got a better photo. I still don't know what they are.

I photographed and commented on these rock paintings during our trip up the river last fall, but this time we were closer and I got a better photo. I still don’t know what they are.

Confession – I still have a few latent bridge issues, leftover from having a 59 foot mast on the sailboat. Before putting the boat back in the water, we carefully measured the distances from the waterline to various points on the boat — 17 feet from the water to the top of the bimini and 24 feet from the water to the top of the mast. We delayed raising the mast so that we didn’t have to wait for the Haddam Swing Bridge to open.

The mast is down, resting not he back rail of the flybridge just over the solar panels.

The mast is down, resting on the back rail of the flybridge, just over the solar panels.

Even though we had made it under the Haddam Swing Bridge on our trip north for the winter, I still looked at the bridge with some trepidation. I called the bridgetender to let him know that we would be passing under and he did not need to raise the bridge for us.

Approaching Haddam Swing Bridge

Approaching Haddam Swing Bridge

Checking out the clearance marker on the bridge

Checking out the clearance marker on the bridge  – Clearance height was 24, at high tide, as we passed through. This was an easy clearance with the mast down….. maybe even possible at low tide with the mast up????? Probably not worth the risk to test that theory!

A very nice view of the Godspeed Opera house just after the swing bridge.

A very nice view of the Godspeed Opera house just south of the swing bridge.

Gillette Castle was the next river landmark. We noticed the scaffolding - getting a facelift?

Gillette Castle was the next river landmark. We noticed the scaffolding – getting a facelift?

The trip down the river is enjoyable on a pleasant day. There are numerous landmarks and lots of nature to watch. But, there are also some annoyances caused by humans with a need for speed. Three skidoos screamed by us. They are a minor annoyance, but don’t really do any harm.  But fast powerboats that roar past you are an aggravation! Their wakes rocked us from side to side, just as they did when we had the sailboat. These boaters are not interested in the sights and sounds of nature – they can’t see or hear anything when roaring by like that. What’s the rush?? They would not get away with this on the ICW. I guess we still have sailboat blood in our veins. Hope we always will.

Noisy stinkpots roar past us, rocking us from side to side.

Noisy stinkpots roar past us, making a wake that rocks us from side to side.

Our little wake from our 8 knot speed. That won't disturb anyone.

Our little wake from our 8 knot speed. That won’t disturb anyone.

And then there was the friendlier watercraft that we passed - the little Gillette Castle ferry and the Riverboat Cruise.

There were also the friendlier water vehicles out on the river – the little Gillette Castle ferry and the RiverQuest cruise boat.

We had planned to stop at Hamburg Cove and spend the night as we usually do on our river trips north and south, but it was still early so we continued on to North Cove in Old Saybrook.

Passing by the entrance to Hamburg Cove

Passing by the entrance to Hamburg Cove

Next landmark – Essex. one of our favorite Connecticut River towns.

Next landmark – Essex, still one of our favorite Connecticut River towns.

Time for the next bridge. The I-95 bridge was no worry, but immediately after it was the Old Lyme Railroad Bridge, always a headache when our homeport was in Essex. Just when you needed to get through, it would come down. We checked its height on Active Captain and learned that it was 22 feet — we were good to go with the mast down. As we neared it, the bridge went up. It generally stays up unless a train is passing by. And if one train is passing by, you could be in for a long wait because there was usually another one coming from the other direction. The bridge tender doesn’t open it between the two passing trains.

Old Lyme Railroad Bridge clearance

Old Lyme Railroad Bridge clearance. Hmmm, looks like only 18 feet at this water level.

Good thing it was time for the bridge to open.

Good thing it was time for the bridge to open.

Looking back over our shoulders, we had a view of both bridges.

Looking back over our shoulders, we had a view of both bridges – I-95 and the RR bridge.

North Cove in Old Saybrook is just south of the railroad bridge. It is a lovely cove lined with charming homes. Many years ago we put our name on the waiting list for a mooring there. After 8 patient years, our name made it to the top. We regretfully turned down the opportunity because the cove had shoaled so much it would have been an inconvenient place to keep a sailboat at that time. As things naturally go, the entrance and cove was dredged the following year. But things do often happen for a reason – we joined Shennecossett Yacht Club which has been a much better fit for us.

The entrance to North Cove in Old Saybrook.

The entrance to North Cove in Old Saybrook.

After a very chilly night (45 degrees!) we left North Cove early to catch as much favorable current as possible.

Catching a very swift current in the right direction. Nice extra push out the river.

Catching a very swift current in the right direction. Nice extra push out the river.

Captured a quick view of both Saybrook lighthouses, Lynde Point first and Saybrook Point Light at the end of the breakwater.

Captured a quick view of both Saybrook lighthouses, Lynde Point first and Saybrook Point Light at the end of the breakwater.

With hot coffee in our hands and warm oatmeal in our bellies, we enjoyed the morning ride down Long Island Sound.

With hot coffee in our hands and warm oatmeal in our bellies, we enjoyed the morning ride down Long Island Sound.

We know we are close to our homeport when the ferries are coming and going out of New London Harbor.

We know we are close to our homeport when the ferries are coming and going out of New London Harbor.

The Project Oceanology boat out of UCONN's Avery campus was also out that morning.

The Project Oceanology boat out of UCONN’s Avery campus was also out that morning.

The sight of Ledge Light welcomes us back.

The sight of Ledge Light welcomes us back.

We turn into little Pine Island Bay, pass Avery point and settled on a mooring. We have arrived.

We turn into little Pine Island Bay, pass Avery point and settled on a mooring. Not bad – only two and a half hours from Saybrook.

The special treat of the morning was the accidental timing of our arrival at Shennecossett just a few hours before Cutting Class‘s arrival. Dan and Marcia, on Cutting Class, had returned south for the winter (they missed a good winter, didn’t they?). We enjoyed being the first to welcome them back home. It was so good to see them again!

Cutting Class arrives home from 8 months of cruising tot he Bahamas and back. Welcome home!!

Cutting Class arrives home from 8 months of cruising to the Bahamas and back. Welcome home!!

After another very cold night (46 degrees), we awoke to a sunny breezy day. First chore on the list was to attach our mooring ball to the mega-chain that leads to a 1000 pound mushroom anchor. A “winter stick” takes the place of the mooring ball through the winter, to hold the chain and mark the location so that we can easily find it. Al gave our mooring ball a thorough cleaning and fresh paint. Its bottom paint matches the new green bottom paint on the trawler (changed from the original red.)

Changing the winter stick to the mooring ball.

Changing the winter stick to the mooring ball. The winter stick is the long wooden stick covered with fuzzy growth.

We were close enough to attach a line form the boat to the mooring ball and just haul ourselves over to the ball. All set.

Transferring the boat from the transient mooring to our own mooring, without power, just tow ropes.

Transferring the boat from the transient mooring to our own mooring, without power, just tow ropes.

Before and After: winter stick with buoy marker to mooring ball.

Before and After: Winter stick with buoy marker to mooring ball.

Shennecossett has had a very busy winter! D dock, including the gas dock was replaced, new fuel tanks installed, and dredging is still underway between B and C dock. We had to dinghy past the tug, barge and claw on our way back and forth to the boat.

Dredging at Shennecossett Yacht Club

Dredging between C and D dock at Shennecossett Yacht Club

It was good to be back in the water and back at SYC. We sublet our slip on D dock for another year and will spend this summer on our mooring. Although it is not as convenient as a dock, it is a nice location.

The view around us on our mooring

The view around us on our mooring

My next blog task is to put together the photos with descriptions of all the renovations and  projects Al has done over the past 8 months. I promise I will try to get that done soon. I call it the “Trawler Transformation.”