Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Artists Along The Way

Top to bottom: Block Island, Mystic, Block Island (again), Rye, September 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Kirby Pond Tide Mill

Along Kirby Lane in Rye are several parking spaces directly across from the Tide Mill Boat Basin. The spot provides an attractive view of a former tide mill and pond. Built in 1770, the mill's grinding wheels (bottom photo) now mark the entrance to the marina. The Rye Nature Center has provided an interpretive sign that provides a brief history of the mill, along with a guide to the birds found on the pond.
Although there is not a park here, and the mill is private property, this location provides a unique view with peaceful surroundings. The building is a popular subject for artists and photographers. When I visited this week, a painter was setting up his easel, while a couple with a large black lab shared something to eat as they took in the view.
Tide Mill Boat Basin : History Of The Mill
Painting Rye: The Mill Pond (scroll down)
Wikipedia: Tide Mills

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tide II

Tide II, Mattituck, August 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Horst Wessel

I learn new things everyday. Only recently have I become aware that the USCGC Eagle was originally a German ship. Commissioned by Adolph Hitler in 1936, the 295 foot barque was named in honor of Horst Wessel, a prominent Nazi activist who died in 1930 . At the end of World War II, she was taken as a war reparation by the United States. Two other ships in her class were taken by the Soviet Union and Portugal.

Monday, September 21, 2009

September 21, 1938

Today marks the 71st anniversary of the Great Hurricane of 1938. Flooding and 100 mph-plus winds extended from New York to Cape Cod, with the storm's worst destruction striking Rhode Island, and the eastern portions of Connecticut and Long Island. Occurring years before hurricanes were given names by the National Weather Service, the storm is sometimes called the Long Island Express or the Great New England Hurricane.

New London suffered extensively as a large portion of the flooded downtown caught fire and burned. The lighthouse tender USS Tulip (top photo) broke free and came to rest along the twisted tracks of the New Haven Railroad. In Watch Hill, all the homes along Napatree Point were washed away by the storm. Landmark buildings in Greenport were leveled. Depending on sources, between 700 and 800 lives were lost.

Throughout Long Island Sound, there are still visible reminders of the 1938 Hurricane. Stone foundations of waterfront buildings that perished, can be seen partially exposed in the sand. There are islands, peninsulas, and inlets that were altered (and even created) by the force and surge of the storm. It remains the most destructive storm (in lives lost & damage) ever in New England and Long Island history.

Rogers Library Southhampton: photo gallery
SUNY Suffolk: Long Island Express
PBS: The Hurricane Of '38 Railroad Extra: 1938 Hurricane (photos & map)
SOUNDBOUNDER: Napatree Point
New London Day: New England's Katrina
photo credit (top): Railroad Extra
sources: Sudden Sea by R.A. Scotti; The Great Hurricane by Cherie Burns

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Matilde Corrado

Matilde Corrado, westbound, north of Plum Gut, August 2009 Marine Traffic.com

Thursday, September 17, 2009

R "2"

R "2", Little Narragansett Bay, July 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Peck Ledge Lighthouse

Peck Ledge Lighthouse (AKA Pecks Ledge), August 2009
First Lit: 1906
Automated: 1933

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mohegan Bluffs

Although Block Island is not part of Long Island Sound, it would be incomplete to have a site devoted to the Sound that did not include it. There are ferries that arrive here from both Long Island and Connecticut, and the island is often visible from the eastern portions of the Sound. It would be like discussing Cape Cod without mentioning Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.
Block Island is easily accessible to many boats and tourists who flock here in the summer months.
Sometimes it seems almost too accessible. Four years ago, I arrived here one day in July only to learn that no moorings or docks were available. The designated anchorage area was packed with boats as well; several boats (including my own) dragged anchor because there was not enough space to let out the proper amount of scope. The town was crowded too. It was not a relaxing visit.
Last year we visited in September and were truly able to enjoy all the beauty that Block Island has to offer. A good part of one day was spent visiting Mohegan Bluffs on the southeastern coast of the island. These are clay cliffs reminiscent of the Pacific Coast and Gay Head on Martha's Vineyard. In 1590, a war party of 40 Mohegan Indians was driven over these bluffs by Block Island Indians- The Manisseans.
A wooden stairway descends the bluffs and leads to a boulder-strewn beach with heavy surf. I walked along the empty beach watching the waves crash upon the large boulders. Every so often I would catch a glimpse of the Montauk Lighthouse, approximately 18 miles to the southwest. The Southeast Lighthouse, located at the top of these cliffs is no longer visible from the beach. Erosion of the bluffs had threatened the structure, and it was moved back from the edge of the cliffs in the early 1990's. I can still remember walking here years ago and having a Planet Of The Apes moment as I looked up from the beach at the iron above.
When the summer crowds are gone, you can almost feel as if you are the only living soul here. As Thoreau wrote about Cape Cod to the east: A man may stand there and put all America behind him.
The Nature Conservancy: Block Island

Saturday, September 12, 2009


For many cruising sailors and tourists, New London usually gets passed over as a destination. There are much more attractive harbors and towns in the region, and New London with it's train station and ferry terminals, is often just a transfer station used to get to somewhere else. For water rats like me however, this waterfront has a lot to offer. The ferries, tall ships, submarines, and fishing boats make this an appealing harbor. New London Harbor is industrial, but it is a true working seaport.
A sure sign of September in New London is the return of the Eagle. Often at sea for extended periods of time, the 295 foot bargue returns to a prodigal son's welcome this time of year. Since departing New London in April, she has sailed to such locales as Spain, Monaco, France, Charleston, and Halifax.
SOUNDBOUNDER: Horst Wessel (additional photos)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Looking West

During late summer and autumn when the air is clear, the skyline of Manhattan looms large on Long Island Sound's western horizon. The silhouette, depending on the visibility, can be seen as far away as Westport, CT, perhaps even further. For the past eight years, it has been difficult to take in this view without thinking about September 11, 2001. The skyline of Manhattan still looks strange to me with the two counterweights missing from it's southern end. ********************************************************* Sherwood Island State Park in Westport is the site of the Connecticut 9/11 Living Memorial. The site was chosen because on clear days, Manhattan is visible. It is a location where people gathered on September 11 to see smoke rising from the skyline. The park then served as a service area for relief efforts following the attacks. Sherwood Island September 11 Memorial Sherwood Island 365 New York Times: September 11, Yet Nothing Stops The Tides Westport Now: Providing Comfort Long Island Daily Photo: Remembering

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


SEPTEMBER From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes' sweet odors rise At noon the roads all flutter With yellow butterflies By all these lovely tokens September days are here With summer's best of weather And autumn's best of cheer But none of all this beauty Which floods the earth and air Is unto me the secret Which makes September fair.
Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)
SEPTEMBER: Quotations
Poem Hunter: Complete Poem
Wikipedia: Helen Hunt Jackson
photos: West Cove, Noank, September 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

STV Unicorn

This ship has an interesting history. The hull of the STV Unicorn was constructed in 1947 using salvaged steel from German U-boats. Originally a Dutch fishing vessel, she was converted to a sailing ship in the 1970's. Measuring 118 feet overall, her deck is 90 feet long with a 22 foot beam. She offers executive training programs as well as community youth instruction. The Unicorn is the only all-female crewed tall ship in the world. Her home port is Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
Departing Port Jefferson just after dawn, I spotted her at anchor in the northern portion of the harbor.
Shooting My Universe: STV Unicorn In Gloucester
Cape Ann Images: Schooner Festival (scroll down)
Cape Ann Images: Painting A Unicorn

Monday, September 7, 2009

P.T. Barnum

P.T. Barnum ferry departing Port Jefferson, August 2009 When you reach the narrowest part of a channel, you will encouter the largest ship.
That is how it seems sometimes. On a cloudy August day motoring in to Port Jefferson, we met up with the P.T. Barnum ferry making her way out of the harbor. I moved as far to starboard as I could, mindful of a jetty that borders this narrow passage. We passed each other uneventfully; passengers waved, and we waved back while trying to keep an eye on the channel ahead. The ferries run quite frequently between Bridgeport and Port Jefferson. No sooner does one boat leave, before another arrives to repeat the process. I have been told that a large percentage of the summer traffic consists of daytrippers who are just looking to take a boat ride, and maybe have lunch in Port Jefferson. P.T. Barnum, by the way, was a resident of Bridgeport, and was instrumental in the creation of the first regularly scheduled ferry service that crossed the Sound here. Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sheffield Island Ruins

For years I have looked at these ruins from a distance, but it was only recently that I rowed in to take a closer look. On the northwest side of Norwalk's, Sheffield Island are the remains of a foundation and dock that are now part of the Stewart McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. I do not know much about it's history other than it suppossedly burned in the 1940-50's. Depending on sources, it was either a resort or a private estate. Remarkably, vandalism and graffiti seemed relatively minimal.
In The Field: Sheffield Island
Norwalk.org: Norwalk Islands
Soundbounder: Sheffield Lighthouse

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Thimble Islands Tour

Recently I described Eatons Neck Basin as an anchorage that I have visited for over three decades. During this past decade however, the Thimble Islands has become the anchorage that I most associate with Long Island Sound. It has always been too far for an overnight or weekend sail, but nearly every trip up or down the Sound has included a stop here.
Despite visiting often, I have never ventured beyond the deep water passage between High Island and Money Island. The submerged rocks (boulders) and unmarked channels always seemed too risky to me. When a keel hits granite, granite always wins.
This summer, we decided to take a tour on one of the boats that are based in nearby Stony Creek. I don't remember what the name of the boat was, but we chose one of the smaller ones with the idea that it could travel closer to shore. It was $10 per person for a one hour tour, and in my opinion, a great bargain. The captain grew up in the area, and even worked on some of the island homes in his youth. With the exception of an inevitable, 10 minute story about pirates, Captain Kidd, and buried treasure, he was very informative. I learned where President Taft spent a summer, where Jane Pauley lives, and how granite was mined here for the construction of Grand Central Station.
Another thing I learned is that while most of the islands are private, Outer Island is open to the public. The Stewart McKinney Wildlife Refuge along with the CT State University System maintain Outer Island, and it is accessible by the ferry that serves the islands. 
CT Coastal Access Guide: Outer Island

Eatons Neck Basin

Of all the anchorages in Long Island Sound, it is Eatons Neck Basin that I have been visiting for the longest time. It is here that my family anchored for a swim while returning from the Operation Sail activities in 1976. It was also here that we sought shelter from rough seas one night while fishing just north of the lighthouse. Most of my visits here have been the result of two extremes; hot, windless days in search of a swimming hole, and close refuge sought in foul weather.
It has not changed much in 30-plus years. The surrounding land is still beach and forest, and the Coast Guard station remains staffed at the far northeast corner of the cove. On foggy days you will hear the fog whistle blow, and reveille is played at 5 or 6 am daily. The biggest change is that the beach and Coast Guard station are now off-limits. The former Henry S Morgan estate has placed No Trespassing signs along the beach and marsh. It is still a great place for a swim, but you cannot go ashore.
Although sometimes crowded on weekend days, the anchorage usually consists of just a few boats on weekdays and evenings. The cove was empty when I took these photos on a hot, August morning. This is an anchorage I will always return to.

Levonious Family: Vintage Photos & Map
Cruising Guide To New England Coast: Eatons Neck Basin
Soundbounder: Eatons Neck Coast Guard