Whenever we want (or need) a quick getaway from the dock, we scoot over to West Harbor on Fishers Island which is in New York, but only 4 nautical miles away from Shennecossett Yacht Club. I’ve whined about New York’s ownership of Fishers Island on numerous occasions so I will try to let it go this time. This was just an ordinary overnight trip, but still so delightful. Our plan was to do a whole lot of nothing!
As we maneuvered to our usual anchor location, we noticed another Kadey Krogen nearby. You can’t miss that distinctive profile no matter what the size.
We returned the next afternoon for a special occasion at Shennecossett – Whit’s 70th birthday dinner! Whit and Joan own our former Kindred Spirit #3 so we have a unique bond.
We were off again on Friday morning – can’t waste these days of lovely weather. First, we paused to hang on our mooring by Pine Island, across from Avery Point. We have had this mooring since 2006, back when we were the only ones out there. It’s still a really, really nice location although it is no longer our own solitary cove.
Where to go next???? Hmmm……. How about a place, not too far away, where we have not been for over 15 years? OK! Coecles Harbor on Shelter Island across Long Island Sound between the North and South Forks of Long Island. That’s a mouthful for the 17 ½ nautical mile distance from us here in Connecticut.
Little Gull Lighthouse isn’t a famous or well-known lighthouse, but the original 53-foot lighthouse was described as “the key of the Sound.” It sure has seen its share of troubles.
- British troops landed during the War of 1812. Removed lanterns and reflectors putting it out of service for the rest of the war.
- Two great hurricanes that swept through New England in 1815 and 1938 damaged and demolished major parts of the lighthouse and buildings.
- In 1867, the Lighthouse Service began work on the eighty-one-foot gray granite tower that stands on the island today and installed a second-order Fresnel lens in the lantern room atop the new tower.
- A fire in 1944 destroyed much of the keeper’s house and spread into the lighthouse tower.
- The lighthouse was labeled as “excess” in 2009 and put on the auction block 2012.
- A Connecticut businessman is now the owner of Little Gull Island Lighthouse and has stated that he wants the lighthouse restored, preserved, and made accessible to the public.
Plum Island is very well-known. When we would travel from the Connecticut River to Long Island we passed through Plum Gut on its western side. It was interesting to have a look at this eastern side. I remember that in 2008, on one trip, I was reading Nelson DeMille’s famous mystery novel, Plum Island, as we passed through Plum Gut.
In 1954, the island became the home of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC), a United States federal research facility dedicated to the study of animal diseases and tasked with protecting America’s livestock from foreign animal infections.
There have always been plenty of rumors, conspiracy theories, and myths about the work done on Plum Island. Just a simple google of “Plum Island” will lead you down a rabbit hole. The facility is scheduled to be shut down in 2023 and had been advertised for sale for over a decade. The potential sale was averted in 2020 through the efforts of the Preserve Plum Island Coalition. Together, with The Nature Conservancy and Save the Sound, the Preserve Plum Island Coalition has a vision for for Plum Island to become a national monument for the purposes of ecological conservation, historical interpretation, and the discovery and celebration of our shared cultural heritage. The plan includes sanctuary areas for wildlife, preservation of the lighthouse and historic fort, an educational facility and a campus for research. This future would protect jobs in both states and allow residents and tourists to take guided tours of the island for the first time.
Gardiner’s Bay is larger than it might seem, but soon we had the Coecles Harbor entrance in sight.
That all sounds like a lot of rules, but we don’t mind most of them at all. The only way to maintain a harbor’s natural habitat is to protect it, unfortunately from humans. There isn’t a lot to do here other than swim and kayak. The only accessible beach is on the one side of the entrance. The Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island borders the southern side of Coecles Harbor.
We arrived and anchored early Friday afternoon and planned to stay until Sunday afternoon. Yes, I know, it’s the weekend…….. There were only 9 other boats which isn’t bad because it is a sizable anchorage area.
Coecles Harbor is a good place for kayaking. I found a Coecles Harbor Marine Water Trail online so on Saturday we made that our main activity.
My favorite portion of the Water Trail was #9, Taylor Island. The last time we were here, the building was dilapidated, the grounds were overgrown and there was no way to land there. A lot has happened since then.
The restoration of Taylor Island took from 2011 – 2014, well after whenever our last visit occurred. We were curious and landed our kayaks on the little beach. The island is a tombolo. I asked (myself) what is a tombolo???? A tombolo is one or more sandbars or spits that connect an island to the mainland. At low tide Taylor Island is connected to the larger Shelter Island.
By Saturday evening, the nine boats had swelled to over thirty, but only 20-some stayed overnight. Another evening of paintings in the sky.