A Bale of Turtles visits Mystic Seaport

Is this a nature blog, a history blog, a travel blog, or a boating blog? Mostly the latter three. I think.

2015Logo-2Remember 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.

Our flying burgees for this trip

Our flying burgees 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.

Three little islands on the west side of the entrance to Mystic River

Three little islands on the west side of the entrance to Mystic River

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.

Morgan Point Lighthouse is now  a private residence, but remains a visual landmark for marine traffic.

Morgan Point Lighthouse is now a private residence, but remains a visual landmark for marine traffic. Now that would be an awesome home!

Lobster "shacks" along the west side of the river.

Lobster “shacks” along the west side of the river. Top to bottom, also south to north along the river – Costellos, Abbotts in the Rough, and Fords. We have only eaten at Abbotts.

Shell fishing - oysters perhaps?

Shell fishing – oysters perhaps?

Ram Island Yacht Club - someones' getting ready for sailing lessons or racing.

Ram Island Yacht Club – someone is getting ready for sailing lessons or for racing.

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.

Opened Mystic Railroad Bridge

Mystic Railroad Bridge has swung open for our passage. This current version was built in 1984.

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 were 30 minutes too early for the opening, which occurs only at 40 minutes past the hour. WE pulled dover the dock to tie up and wait.

We were 30 minutes too early for the opening, which occurs only at 40 minutes past the hour. We pulled over at the dock to tie up and wait (The sign said you may only do that 15 minutes before the bridge opens, but it was mid-day on a Wednesday, so……….)

Time to go! The bridge is opening.

Time to go! The bridge is opening. Our first time though this bascule bridge!

Looking back after passing through - almost a 90 degree angle.

Looking back after passing through – close to a 90 degree angle when opened.

Welcome to Mystic Seaport Museum! Our first visit from the waterside.

Welcome to Mystic Seaport Museum! Our first visit from the water side.

Isn't it interesting to see the modern sailing dinghies docked next to the old

Isn’t it interesting to see the modern sailing dinghies docked next to the old buildings and the old fishing schooner, L.A. Dunton. Love the commingling of past and present.

Passing by the Charles W. Morgan

Passing by the Charles W. Morgan

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.

One section of the dock filled with MTOA trawlers.

One section of the dock filled with MTOA trawlers.

A peaceful anchorage, just a short dinghy ride from the docks.

A peaceful anchorage, just a short dinghy ride from the docks.

We took a swim in the river  right by our boat during the hot afternoon.

The hot afternoon weather drove us into the river for  a dip in the water.

The cooler evenings were pleasant out in the anchorage.

The cooler evenings were pleasant out in the anchorage.

A dinghy ride down the river to the town brought us to the Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream shop for ……… ice cream!!!

Al is thoroughly enjoying his "Mystic Mud" ice cream. I always get "Lemon Chocolate Kiss."  Yum!

Al is thoroughly enjoying his “Mystic Mud” ice cream. I always get “Lemon Chocolate Kiss.” Yum!

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.

The MTOA tent where we met and ate.

The MTOA tent where we met and ate.

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! 🙂

Al is chatting with another Mariner Orient owner at Happy Hour.

Al is chatting with Rob, another Mariner Orient owner at Happy Hour.

There were four weddings at Latitude 41 over the 3-day weekend.

There were four weddings at Latitude 41 over the 3-day weekend.

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.

Al putting out the fire, digitally and virtually.

Al putting out the fire, digitally and virtually. Is this like a wii?

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.

Mystic Seaport Planatarium

Mystic Seaport Planetarium – even this building “fits” in with its surroundings  on the grounds.

Inside the planetarium.

Inside the planetarium. I confess – I am at the remedial level for stargazing. Just can’t recognize the configurations. The Big Dipper is all I can find, on a good day, or rather, night.

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.

Rob and Anita on Pub Trawler

Rob and Anita on Pub Trawler, a Mariner Orient 40

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.

Sailing lessons that include how to right an overturned boat.

Sailing lessons that include how to right an overturned boat.

A summer camp for girls to experience what life was like - "Girls of Long Ago" and the Girls of Greenmanville."

A summer camp for girls to experience what life was like – “Girls of Long Ago” and “The Girls of Greenmanville.”

The pirate show was every afternoon. I few had paid more attention, perhaps we  could have learned the lines.  The horse drawn carriages added to the time travel feeling.

The pirate show was held every afternoon right near the MTOA tent. If we had paid more attention, perhaps we could have learned the lines and joined in. 
The horse drawn carriages added to the feeling of time travel.

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.

The grocer, cooperage, printers, and looms.

The grocer, cooperage, printers, and looms.

My favorite was the blacksmith. He was excellent at explaining the work.

My favorite was the blacksmith. He was excellent at explaining the work.

This is a time of year when the Seaport glows with color in the gardens.

This is a time of year when the Seaport glows with color in the gardens.

Everywhere you look, there is something to see.

Everywhere you look, there is something to see.

Like the original on Nantucket, which has a 1,300 candlepower electric light and is visible for ten miles, the Brant Point Lighthouse replica contains a fourth-order Fresnel lens.  lowest lighthouse in New England with its light only 26 feet above sea level.

Like the original on Nantucket, which has a 1,300 candlepower electric light and is visible for ten miles, this replica of the  Brant Point Lighthouse replica contains a fourth-order Fresnel lens and is only 26 feet above sea level, making it the  lowest lighthouse in New England.

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….)

The Charles W. Morgan

The Charles W. Morgan

I love looking upward at the masts stretching so high above. Every day, the sails were raised.

I love looking upward at the masts stretching so high above. The sails were raised every day that we were there.

Our tour guides - Shipyard Director Quentin Snediker and Dana Hewson, VP of Watercraft and Preservation Programs. Pretty cool.

Our tour guides – Shipyard Director Quentin Snediker and Dana Hewson, VP of Watercraft and Preservation Programs. Pretty cool.

Al on Morgan

Al on the deck of the Morgan. Change his clothes and he would fit right in with that time period. Must be the beard and that salty look.

in the morgan

MTOA members gathered below decks on the Morgan.

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.

Dan and Marcia, before the SharkFest Swim. Go, Dan!!!

Dan and Marcia, before the SharkFest Swim. Go, Dan!!!

The swimmers gathered on land. The start was an "in the water start."  Dan is the one in the yellow cap. Im pretty sure of it.

The swimmers gathered on land. The start was an “in the water start.” Dan is the one in the yellow cap. I’m pretty sure of it.

 

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. 🙂 )

A cake to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Mystic Rendezvous and the 25th year of MTOA.

George, Ted and John hold a celebration cake to mark the 10th anniversary of the Mystic Rendezvous and the 25th year of MTOA.

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.

The boats ahead of us.

The boats ahead of us.

The boats behind us.

The boats behind us.

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.

BI x 3 days + $0 = (F+U+N)

I bet that title caught your attention! Thought I would throw in an equation for a change of pace.

Block Island (BI) is another favorite destination in New England. I have done other blog posts about Block (July 2013, August 2013, and September 2014), but this time I really didn’t take many pictures. However, there is one distinction about this trip to the Block – we spent no money!!! (Except for the fuel….. ) And we had fun — it can be done. All you need is to keep it simple and spend time with good friends who love the water and boating, too.

We decided to take a short trip to Block just before the July 4th holiday. Years ago we spent the 4th there, and although it is fun, we prefer not to be among the crowds in the Great Salt Pond and on the streets. It gets a little crazy. Cutting Class joined us and we were fortunate enough to use the SYC club mooring.

Photo courtesy of Cutting Class.

Photo courtesy of Cutting Class.

On the SYC mooring

On the SYC mooring

We spent our days on the beach, watching boats enter the Pond, walking, kayaking, swimming. Yes, swimming. Dan and I braved the chilly waters. It felt good!

Block Island waters -- Above is Coast Guard Beach, a great place to watch boats come in and out of the Salt Pond. Below - Scotch Beach - one of the nicest beaches around.

Block Island waters —                                                                                                          Above is Coast Guard Beach, a great place to watch boats come in and out of the Salt Pond.
Below – Scotch Beach – one of the nicest beaches around.

Here is the proof that I really did go swimming!

First swim of the year for me! Thank you for the pic, Marcia! It is always good to have proof.

First swim of the year for me! Thank you for the pic, Marcia! It is always good to have proof.

The guys thoroughly enjoyed their work time helping each other with projects that require two do-it-yourselfers.

Guys at play, fixing, installing, checking, pondering.........

Guys at play – pondering, checking, fixing, installing ………

A cloudy morning was spent walking into town, checking out what’s new and what’s not. I am still surprised that we managed to spend a couple hours there and never had ice cream. Too early in the day? That usually doesn’t stop Captain Al.

Farmers Market

People enjoying the Farmers Market after the skies cleared.

This is one big raft-up in Old Harbor!

This is one big raft-up in Old Harbor!

These three gigantic yachts all came into the Great Salt Pond to anchor within an hour of each other. A monohull sailboat, a catamaran, and a power yacht. These pics do not even begin to show how big they were -- at least 100 feet long.

These three gigantic yachts all came into the Great Salt Pond to anchor within an hour of each other. A power yacht, a monohull sailboat, and a catamaran. These pics do not even begin to show how big they were — at least 100 feet long.

Evenings on the flybridge were the most fun. We all agreed that the flybridge is one cool place to have dinner.

Having fun together, just like old times in Hope Town Harbor.

Having fun together, just like old times in Hope Town Harbor.

The obligatory group selfie

The obligatory group selfie

Each evening as the sun set, three of us would pull out our conch horns and give it a go. Without a doubt, Dan is the best!

A trio of sunset conch horns

A trio of sunset conch horns

The full moon was an extra treat during this week.

The full moon was an extra treat during this week.

Alas, 3 days isn’t very long. We headed back to Connecticut to babysit for our youngest grandchild, and that is a very good reason to return home! 🙂

Bye, Cutting Class! See you back at SYC.

Bye, Cutting Class! See you back at SYC.

Bye Block Island! We'll back again!

Bye, Block Island! We’ll be back again!

Bye hydrangeas! You brightened our cabin for two trips.

Bye, hydrangeas! You brightened our cabin for two trips.

On our way home

On our way home.

Time to Enjoy the Boat, with a Family Visit

It was time to enjoy the boat now that the majority of the transforming is completed (Note that I wrote majority, not all.) Al’s son, Tim, and his wife, Amanda were in Connecticut for a couple of weeks and became our first overnight guests on the trawler. 🙂 They have spent the last 3 years traveling the U.S. in their 25 foot Airstream RV (Watsons Wander) so they were the perfect couple to test out the accommodations. They understand small spaces!

A bouquet of homegrown hydrangeas add color and cheer to the boat's salon.

A bouquet of homegrown hydrangeas add color and cheer to the boat’s salon.

To add a festive touch to the salon for our first overnight guests. I picked some hydrangeas from our garden. The blooms this year have been full and plentiful.  My stone towers require no watering or trimming. 😉

Our minimalist home garden - stone towers, hydrangeas, and daylilies.

Our minimalist home garden – stone towers, hydrangeas, and daylilies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tim and Amanda arrive via our dinghy.

Tim and Amanda arrive via our dinghy.

Because there was only time for a short trip, we headed to Napatree and Watch Hill. We learned that anchoring is the boating version of RV “boon docking,” dry camping without hookups = free. Although I suppose anchoring wouldn’t be considered “dry,” just free. 🙂

Once anchored, we stretched our legs with a walk on the beach and a little beach combing.

Beach combing at Napatree, all the way out tot he rocky point.

Beach combing at Napatree, all the way out to the rocky point.

Napatree Beach doesn’t have many special finds such as unusual shells or sea glass. Some years we do find nice sea glass, but most of the time there just isn’t any along here. One might think that the homes destroyed in the Hurricane of 1938 would have created a treasure of sea glass and pottery, but if it did, it has long since been discovered or buried deeper beneath the sand and sea. One can find plenty of coal as you reach the end of the beach near the rocks and old pilings. These pieces are supposedly what remains of a wrecked coal barge many many years ago. The coal actually has a beauty of its own, sparkling in the sun.

Collection of coal iridescent pieces found washed up upon the sand.

Collection of  iridescent coal pieces found washed up upon the sand.

Tim and Amanda try out our kayaks and tour the anchorage and mooring field near the town of Watch Hill. They must have enjoyed the experience because they now have their own kayaks!

Tim and Amanda tried out our kayaks and toured the bay.. They must have enjoyed the experience because they now have their own kayaks!                                            Sitting on the bow is a great place to survey the anchorage.

Our next walking tour was around the town of Watch Hill, a good choice due to the cloudy skies. We come to Watch Hill quite often, so I will try to post pictures of different sights, if that is possible! We began with a walk out to the Coast Guard Station, always visible from the beach and from the water when passing by the coast.

U.S. Coast Guard Station stands watch.

U.S. Coast Guard Station stands watch.

On our walk past the houses that line the road to the Coast Guard Station, we noticed this unusual wind vane.

On our walk past the houses that line the road to the Coast Guard Station, we noticed this unusual wind vane. The zoom lens did manage to capture some of the details of this quirky witch vane.

On the road to the Coast Guard Station is this charming log (stick?)  and rock fence. THehouse it surrounded was part of a garden tour on this particular day.

This charming log, stick and rock fence lines the road on the way to the Coast Guard Station.

Yes - Taylor Swift's "house" in Watch Hill. The white walls built around it are now more visible from the water than any other land feature.

Yes – Taylor Swift’s “house” in Watch Hill. The white walls built around it are now more visible from the water than any other land feature.

I know, I know, I have posted photos of the Ocean House before, but I can't resist. It is such a landmark. The gardens around the croquet court were in bloom.

I know, I know, I have posted photos of the Ocean House before, but I can’t resist. It is such a landmark. The gardens around the croquet court were in bloom.

Although the day was gray, the flowers were bright and cheerful.

Although the day was gray, the flowers were bright and cheerful.

Bronze statue of Ninigret in the center of town. Watch Hill was occupied in the 1600s by the Niantic Indians, who were led for many years by Chief Ninigret.

Bronze statue of Ninigret in the center of town. Watch Hill was occupied in the 1600s by the Niantic Indians, who were led for many years by Chief Ninigret.

"Bonita" the charter fishing boat was back at the dock with a catch.

“Bonita” the charter fishing boat was back at the dock with a catch.

Watch Hill remains a special place to visit. It is within a two-hour boat ride, has a little town with shops and restaurants, history, beaches, and a nice anchorage. What’s not to like? It is close to home, but gives you the feeling that “you got away” for a little while.

A Napatree sunset.

A Napatree sunset.

Our special little trip ended with dinner at Paul’s Pasta in Groton. Thanks, Amanda and Tim! We really enjoyed our time with you. Perhaps we are kindred spirits as we travel on land and on water.