Milford Mania – Grandchildren On Board!

posted in: Family and Friends | 6

Why would we go west??? We only go west when we were heading south on our Bahama voyages (2013-2014 and 2015-2016) or when we took a 3-week trip up the Hudson (2018). Our thoughts turned westward with a message from Don on Limerick up in Lake Champlain. “Hey, let’s get together one more time in Port Jefferson before we head south to the Chesapeake!”

Al and I thought it over. Milford is directly across Long Island Sound from Port Jeff and guess who now lives in Milford? Two reasons to head west. We decided this would be a great time for a grandchildren sleepover on Kindred Spirit. 

We left Shennecosett at 5:50 am to catch a favorable current. The trip was a straight 48 nautical miles west on Long Island Sound and took us only 6½ hours. Not bad at all.

Looking back at Groton with the sun rising.
The two lighthouses at Saybrook Point at the end of the Connecticut River.
Milford Harbor has floating docks. We saw (and stayed at) a floating dock in Camden Maine last summer. Milford and Camden are the only places we have seen floating docks.

We reserved a dock (something we rarely do) at Milford Landing Marina at the very end of the harbor and pretty much right in the center of town. It is a city marina and was very nice. Clean, well tended and landscaped with friendly, helpful dockhands. We highly recommend it.

Milford Landing Marina
Milford Landing Marina from across the harbor

Fair Warning here! The rest of this post is 98% photos of our grandchildren’s visit with us on the boat. This was a first – first time by boat to Milford and first sleepover on the boat. Such an event demands inclusion in our memories. How can you have too many photos of your grandchildren??

By mid-afternoon, Ryan and Kerri, along with our new crew, Caleb and Ceci, arrived at our slip. They were ready and eager for their first overnight on the boat.

Our new crew, Caleb and Ceci!

The $10 toy fishing poles from Walmart were a big hit. They may not catch real fish, but the kids sure learn to cast that line. They fished here, there, and everywhere.

Fishing off the dock
Fishing from the bow and flybridge.

It is important for a crew to feel needed and learn to do chores. Just like their Papa, boat chores are much more fun than household chores.

Wiping the salt water off of the teak and the stainless.
The ducks soon learned that our slip was the new feeding station.
Caleb and Ceci enjoyed discovering other feathered friends such as the swans and the egret. Thanks to Sam and Kayda we now know that it is probably a yellow-crowned night heron. (But it was daytime???)
The bow was a favorite spot on the boat. At first it made me nervous, but after closely watching for a while I realized they were safe.
Caleb was interested in learning about knots. Captain Papa practiced a bowline with him and how to cleat a line.

What is it about that engine room???? The kids love that place. They ask over and over again if they can go down there with the Captain. 🥴

Captain Papa demonstrates checking the oil in the engine. 🥰
Al needed to redrill a screw on the back of the aft cockpit hatch. In the blink of an eye there were two helpers ready to have a go at it! He is so patient – each one had a turn at using the power drill.

After dinner we took a walk down the dock, Al noticed the old Matthews (the boat, not the man.) He stopped to admire it and chatted with Dick, the owner. Al grew up in West Haven and spent time in Milford boating with his family. He reminisced about a Matthews that he recalled from his childhood right here in Milford Harbor, identical to this one. Dick said it was this boat, owned by his father.

Miltrice, a vintage Matthews.

Milford must be known for oysters. There is big Oyster Festival in Milford on August 20th and there were quite a few oyster boats at the docks.

Oyster boats in Milford Harbor
Papa teaches Caleb and Ceci about the parts on the oyster boat. Somehow I just don’t see either of them eating any oysters.

Captain Papa believes in training the youth of today in proper boating activities. How fortunate that “Scoopy Doo‘s” is right there, a few steps from the marina. Another reason to recommend Milford Landing Marina!

Scoopy Doo’s serves Milford’s very own Buck’s French ice cream.
Happy faces all around
We watched a short movie to settle down.
Story time with a book about boating for kids. Caleb and Ceci are learning new vocabulary – bow, stern, fore, aft, galley, head (their favorite boat word.)

Up bright and early on Saturday morning (6:30 am) the crew amused themselves with cheerios and artwork until Nana was able to quickly pull herself together and make breakfast.

5 year old girl makes a princess crown and the 8 year old boy draws someone “overboard”. What can I say? Pretty typical. 😉

When we retired to bed the night before, we noticed this —

Hmmmm…. and whose fingerprints might those be?????
Time to get the deck crew working again. Let’s clean those fingerprints off the windshield. Again, no complaints about the chore at all. Boat chores are fun!
Caleb treats the entire boat as his personal gym, swinging here and there.

Mom and Dad arrived just before noon for our day trip out to Charles Island. This was a trip down memory lane for Al after growing up on the water near here. He told us that the island looks quite different from his childhood memories.

Charles Island (a.k.a. Thrice Cursed Island), lies just a half mile off the coast of Milford at Silver Sands State Park. Legend says that three curses have been laid upon this tiny bit of land.

The notorious pirate Captain William Kidd visited Milford during his final voyage in 1699. Legend says that Kidd hid a portion of his fortune on Charles Island, possibly beneath a giant boulder known as Hog Rock and that he cursed the island to scare off treasure hunters.

The island was already cursed by a Paugusset chief in 1639 to protect the island’s sacred spirits from European settlers.

The third curse was by a group of sailors in the 1721 who supposedly buried stolen Mexican treasure on the island. They cursed the island so no one could find the treasure and come after them.

Over the centuries, Charles Island has been home to a tobacco plantation, a summer resort and a fertilizer factory. The 14-acre island has seen raging fires and devastating storms. Over the centuries, numerous plans for the island came and went. 

Eventually the State of Connecticut acquired the island and opened it as part of Silver Sands State Park in 1960. It is connected to Silver Sands by a rocky tombolo (a sandbar emerging at low tide) that allows visitors to reach the island.

Hurricane Sandy severely damaged the island’s vegetation in October, 2012.  Today, Charles Island is the site of a large heron and egret rookery.

Postcard of Charles Island, Milford, Conn., ca. 1930-1945 – Boston Public Library, The Tichnor Brothers Collection

Back to the present day!

The whole family is ready for a boating adventure. Caleb, Ceci, with Mom and Dad, Kerri and Ryan, in the pilot house.
The crew on look out.
Papa taught Ceci how to use the foot button to lower the anchor.
After a short dinghy ride to Charles Island, we spread out a blanket to hang out there. Caleb brought his shovel in the hopes that he might find that pirate treasure. 😉🙃
The kids explore the beginning of the tombolo (sandbar).
At high tide, only the very beginning of this end of the sandbar is visible.

The actual island was underwhelming and we did not last long. Sorry, Charles, I think you have seen better days. But Kindred Spirit was waiting for us and she did not disappoint.

The water temperature was around 73 degrees. Ceci jumped right off the swim platform.
Kerri and I enjoyed the water, too.
Caleb leaped from the swim platform directly onto the paddle board and proceeded to do some fancy footwork and balancing.
Ceci gets her hugging!
Caleb had announced that he loves to “people watch” yesterday. The binoculars added a whole new dimension to this pastime.
We both did a double-take when we saw this photo, after the fact. Caleb is really getting into the boating/fishing mode. Looks like a beer in his hand?? 😳

Time for a dinghy ride! Papa takes Kerri, Caleb and Ceci for a spin around the anchorage.

Who’s that driving??? That was Caleb’s biggest wish for this boating visit.
Ceci needed just a little off-duty time.

A request to use the flybridge on the return to Milford Harbor was granted.

Captain in training!

I think the whole family enjoyed their day on Kindred Spirit – Mom, Dad, Caleb, Ceci, and Nana and Papa, too!

Returning to our slip at Milford Marina presented me with a new challenge. I am always at the helm when we depart and return to our slip at Shennecossett but I had never docked the boat in any other slip until we arrived in Milford. Arrival day wasn’t too bad because there was no boat on our port side, just the dock on starboard. I called ahead for assistance from the dock crew, just in case. Nice to have them there but with Captain Al’s voice in my ear we can handle it pretty well.

On the return from our day trip to Charles Island, it was low tide making the channel feel very narrow for turning. It really isn’t any different, but it does give one pause to see a marker in the mud.

Not only was it low tide, but there was now a boat on our port side in the slip. With only 18 inches between us and that boat, I had to back us into the slip. Passengers were reminded to sit still and be completely quiet so I could hear Papa’s directions in my ear. We did it. The dock crew looked up at me and said, “Nice job! You make it look easy.” That brought a big smile to my face! 😁 And the nauseous feeling disappeared.

Two views of our slip at Milford Marina. It was a tight fit.
I have to include this picture. Milford Landing was hosting the Rotary Club’s annual fundraiser Lobster Bake that day. Two boats down from us really got into the theme. Lobsters and lemons in abundance.

Before we left Milford on Sunday, Al and I took a walk around the waterfront of Milford. After the months of house hunting with Ryan and Kerri this was a different perspective and made their new home even more special.

Our view of the town (which is really called a “city.”)
I could see both of these weathervanes right from the boat.
Hotchkiss Bridge connects the west side of the harbor to the east side.
The head of the harbor from Hotchkiss Bridge.
Memorial Tower in the center of Milford.
The 29-foot  stone towers was built in 1889 to honor the city’s founders. Stones are inscribed with settlers names. 

This was an exceptionally loooooooong blog post, but how can anyone not include all those photos of their family from such a special time?? Believe me, I selected these from hundreds! I would recommend Milford as a stopping point even if our grandchildren did not live here. I was quite impressed with the marina and the town.

6 Responses

  1. Kimberly

    They are so darn cute! What a wonderful adventure for everyone! Jeff and I laughed at the photo with all of the handprints. Looks like Caleb is definitely a future boater. And GREAT job backing into those tight quarters! I never would have had the nerve to do that.

    • watsons

      You could definitely do that, Kim! You are much more accomplished at piloting than I am.

  2. Robert M Dyer

    Love seeing the Grandkids. Yes, some the best times ever are boating and looking for treasures on the beaches when you young.

    We will always feel young Boating… Bob & Kyra on Lady Grace

  3. Jeanne

    What an awesome few days with the grands and kids! Pics are amazing and you all had a great time! Love the smiles on everyone’s faces.

  4. Ellen Margel Seltzer

    These are wonderful and harry and I lived in Milford – and harry raised his son there! You kids and grandkids are so much fun to look at and so cute as well. We love the oyster festival but haven’t been thanks to Covid! So glad everyone had a good time. Looks like tons of fun. We are in Norway and playing near the water- not on it til Sunday!

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