Is this a nature blog, a history blog, a travel blog, or a boating blog? Mostly the latter three. I think.
Remember our June visit to Trawler Fest in Essex when we joined the association called Marine Trawler Owners Association? MTOA’s Northeast Rendezvous has been held at Mystic Seaport Museum for the past 9 years. Since we are new trawler owners and Mystic is in our home waters, why not go?
Trivia Fact = The classic collective term for a group of turtles is a “bale of turtles.”
We became members of the Seaport last October, but haven’t been back since then, so this would be a nice chance to visit the museum by boat. In addition to flying our new MTOA burgee, we pulled out two of our older flags to fly for this trip.
Top burgee – We designed this little burgee back in the 1990’s to represent friendship between power boats and sailboats since we had friends and family using both styles of water travel. Notice the yellow prop, the blue “wave” and the sail. With our trawler, it seemed like a good time to pull this one out again since we have done both.
The middle burgee is the MTOA flag with the turtle mascot. We must be sure to stay on the lookout for others now.
The bottom flag is one we designed for ourselves many years ago. The scallop shells (me) surrounding the anchor (Al) were inspired by the Rhode Island state flag.
It’s a short trip from Shennecossett Yacht Club in Groton to the Mystic River. We take a left out of Fishers Island Sound and turned into the river at Noank.
Morgan Point Lighthouse in Noank was originally built in the early 1800s by the Morgan family. An interesting bit of trivia, to me, is that the lighthouse was manned by two female lighkeepers during its active service, once from 1838-1858 by Eliza Daboll and again from 1869-1871 by Francis McDonald. Both women assumed the duties upon their husbands’ deaths.
The Mystic River twists and turns and seems longer than it might really be thanks to two bridges. The first is the Mystic River Railroad Swing Bridge which opens on demand, unless a train scheduled to pass. The bridge carries Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor trains over the Mystic River in Mystic, between the towns of Groton and Stonington.
The second bridge, only a short distance north of the railroad swing bridge, is part of the main street in downtown Mystic. This unusual bascule bridge is fun to watch, from land or water, because its mechanical parts are all visible. Huge concrete weights at the ends of overhead rocking trusses counterbalance the bascule.
We chose to anchor just north of the seaport in a small area off the channel. In fact, we were concerned that there would not be enough space so we arrived on Wednesday the day before the Rendezvous was scheduled to begin. We were surprised to find that no other rendezvous boat chose to anchor – everyone else (20 boats?) took a dock at the Seaport. Dockage at the Seaport is pricey, really pricey, so I certainly hope that MTOA was given a discount. Anchoring was just fine for us.
A dinghy ride down the river to the town brought us to the Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream shop for ……… ice cream!!!
The MTOA Rendezvous included quite a few events. We enjoyed socializing at breakfasts, and dinners, three of which were catered by Coastal Gourmet, catering side of the onsite restaurant, Latitude 41.
A Happy Hour on the dock each afternoon give us time to meet others, taste delicious appetizers, and talk trawler talk. 80% of the people we met at this rendezvous are former sailors! 🙂
Safety issues played a role. We were able to have a Coast Guard inspection of our boat and received the authenticating label to prove we passed. The Coast Guard Auxillary also presented a session, “Suddenly in Command” about what to do if you (usually us first mates) are suddenly in command!! Since this is a new boat for us, we will be paying extra attention to this over the next few weeks so that I feel even more comfortable handling her. There was a fire extinguisher training using a laser-driven digital simulator. We both gave it a try. Very cool! Neither of us had ever used a fire extinguisher. At least now I know how to grab it, pull the pin, and how to aim and sweep.
I attended a planetarium show while Al toured a building, not open to the public, that housed old engines and old boats. Obvious choices for each of us. No photos of the old engines because I wasn’t there.
We met another Mariner Orient owner! Also new MTOA members and “local,” meaning the Fishers Island Sound coast of Connecticut. Rob and Anita found their Mariner Orient in the Chesapeake, too, and just bought her home to Connecticut in May. Pub Trawler, is a Mariner Orient 40 so it is 2 feet longer than ours, but the 2 feet are all in the aft cockpit. The interiors have the same dimensions but very different lay-outs. The four of us had a great time comparing the boats and our insights as new owners.
Mystic Seaport offers a varied program of summer camps for children of all ages, including sailing lessons, “living” history, science, crafts and arts. It was so nice to see the kids engaged in the activities around the village and on the water.
I did enjoy wandering around the Seaport and stopping at buildings and exhibits I hadn’t seen on our last trip. Summer is a much more active time here than October was. Arriving by boat and spending three days right there on site made for a relaxing time. There really is a sense of history and a time long gone, but not forgotten.
Early on Saturday morning, before the Museum opened to the public, MTOA was given a private tour of the Charles W. Morgan, the last of an American whaling fleet that numbered more than 2,700 vessels. Built and launched in 1841, the Morgan is now America’s oldest commercial ship still afloat – only the USS Constitution is older. We had toured it with Tim and Amanda in October, so I won’t repeat those pictures (at least not too many….)
Coincidentally, a SharkFest Swim was scheduled for Mystic on July 11th, the first ever for the town. This 1500-meter swim began at the Seaport, between the Dutton and Morgan tall ships, with the Mystic Fire Department’s water boat spraying water into the air. The finish was past the drawbridge just north of the Railroad Swing Bridge. Our fish-like friend, Dan, of Cutting Class, participated. We watched the start from the deck of the Morgan during our tour. Which means we weren’t really paying full attention to the historical details of the tour at that time.
Our last dinner together as a group ended with a cake and awards (Turtle pins for volunteering on a committee. We each earned one for helping with registration. 🙂 )
After a delicious breakfast on Sunday morning, the boats prepared to leave the Seaport and venture back to their home waters or onto new ports. We all slowly made our way south on the river toward the drawbridge, a long line of turtles with a few sailboats interspersed – also turtles, as far as speed is concerned.
We truly enjoyed meeting these people and sharing the camaraderie that a love of boating forges. And we look forward to meeting again in different waters, perhaps in April at the Southern Rendezvous in Fort Pierce, Florida.