No matter what the calendar and thermometer may read, it is the Old Lyme Railroad Bridge that marks my seasons . When I sail north of this span in November, the bridge closes behind me, and my winter begins.
For the past several years, Carina has spent her winter months in a boatyard a few miles above this bridge. I still sail her occasionally in late fall and early spring, but always north of the span. Until I venture to the other side, it all seems like a preseason exhibition game. It doesn't really count. This 1907, truss-style, bascule bridge is my Checkpoint Charlie; my San Ysidro. Passing beneath her is my spring and autumnal equinox.
There is something that feels very unnatural when a boat passes under a bridge. The charts and signs all show that there is plenty of clearance, but I still find myself second guessing the dimensions. I envision the mast being too tall, hitting the bridge, and then falling down. If only Freud were aboard to diagnose and explain my mast-envy, and dismasting anxiety.
But there are no mishaps, and the bridge operator gives me a wave as I clear the opening. I turn to wave back and immediately realize that I am south of the bridge. "See you in November" I yell to him.
Ahead of me I can see the two lighthouses at Saybrook Point, and I smell the salt water in the breeze. A small wave rolls in from the Sound and smacks the hull broadside, spraying my face lightly. It's a brisk and salty reminder that Carina has been released from her winter stall, and is now free to roam in what F. Scott Fitzgerald called "the great wet barnyard of Long Island Sound".
Soundbounder: Ferry Landing Park