Friday, July 30, 2010

Satterly Landing

Satterly Landing Park, Mount Sinai Harbor

History of Mt Sinai
Kayaking Long Island: Satterly Landing

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Little Darlin'

Little Darlin';  Mystic River, July 2010

Mackenzie Cuttyhunk: photo gallery
Mackenzie Boat Club: Restoration Of Little Darlin

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Eatons Neck Coast Guard Station

When I was about 12 years old, my parents along with myself and two younger sisters, swam ashore at Eatons Neck Basin and took an informal tour of the Coast Guard station. I don't think we entered any of the buildings, but instead just walked around the grounds and got a close-up view of the lighthouse and station. It was early on a Sunday morning and so long as we stayed out of their way, the Coast Guard crew did not seem to mind our visit. Some other people anchored nearby had the same idea, and like us, they were on their way about 40 minutes later.
When I anchored here last summer, the station was off-limits to visitors. This was really no surprise as many stations began restricting access as early as the 1980's. Those that continued an open-door policy, soon changed following September 11, 2001.

There are four Coast Guard stations presently located within Long Island Sound: Kings Point, Eatons Neck, New Haven, and New London. Just beyond the Sound are the New York Harbor and Montauk stations, while the Block Island station is now closed.

Coast Guard Station Eatons Neck is the only local station to have a lighthouse on its grounds. The lighthouse was built in 1799 and is the second oldest in the State of New York (Montauk Point is the oldest). A life saving station has existed here since the early 19th century, while the present Coast Guard station was built around 1875.
With a few exceptions, I have  found the stations to be very attractive. Many of the buildings are from the late 19th century, and often look like some waterfront prep school high upon a hill.  The white clapboard siding, red shingled roof, and large flagpole are a sure giveaway however, that this is a Coast Guard station (or once was).
In recent years I have noticed that many of the boathouses appear to be falling into disrepair. My guess is that as boat technology has advanced, the boathouses have become obsolete. Today, many of them seem to be used as a storage facilty or repair shop. If you look closely at the photos above, you can see holes in the roof.
Last week while I was preoccupied with the grounding of the Alabama, a fire broke out at the Coast Guard station in Menemsha, on Martha's Vineyard. According to reports, the boathouse and docks were destroyed by the blaze. I have yet to hear whether or not they plan to rebuild. Whatever they decide, it seems unlikely a new structure will match the character and charm of these old red headed ladies by the sea.

USCG History: Eatons Neck Coast Guard (vintage photos) pdf
Coast Guard USA: Station Eatons Neck
Eatons Neck Auxiliary
Lighthouse Friends: Eatons Neck Lighthouse (map included)
Vineyard Gazette: Menemsha Fire Destroys CG Boathouse
Soundbounder: Eatons Neck Basin

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Last I heard, the Alabama had arrived home safely  in Vineyard Haven. I thought I would end this series with a tip-of-the-hat to the tugboat Gwendolyn. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find much information on her.
I have learned she was built in 1975 and is owned by Gwenmor Marine of Mystic. She is 50 feet long, and is the only working tug in operation along the Mystic River that I am aware of.
If you are as fascinated by tugs as I am, be sure to visit Tugster; a New York Harbor waterblog! Will does an excellent job covering New York's sixth borough, along with other ports of call.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Schooner Alabama

Following several days of treating her like some tabloid starlet who slept in a ditch, I guess it is only fair that I give  the Alabama her proper due. I must say, she looks much more attractive afloat than she does aground.

According to the website, she was designed by Robert F. McManus, a highly regarded architect of many Gloucester fishing schooners. Built in 1926, she served the Mobile, Alabama Bar Pilots until  her retirement in 1966. She was brought to Vineyard Haven in 1967, but it was not until a 1990's rebuild that she was fitted for sail.
While I am no fan of the Black Dog Tourist Empire (you won't catch me wearing a Black Dog T-Shirt), I do appreciate their fleet of ships. Along with the Alabama, the Shenandoah and Chantey  offer charters, excursions, as well as youth and educational programs.

Shooting My Universe: Alabama In Gloucester (beautiful photo)
Martha's Vineyard Times: Schooner Refloated In Mystic River
Soundbounder: Alabama Afloat
Soundbounder: Alabama Aground IV
Soundbounder: Alabama Aground III
Soundbounder: Alabama Aground II
Soundbounder: Alabama Aground I

Alabama Aground IV

Upon being refloated, the Alabama performed a short sea trial before returning to Noank for the evening. According to the New London Day, divers today will inspect the keel for any damage.
These photos were taken Thursday morning during low tide, with the grounded schooner shrouded in fog.

New London Day: Grounded Ship Is Freed
Soundbounder: Alabama Aground III
Soundbounder: Alabama Aground II
Soundbounder: Alabama Aground I
Soundbounder: Alabama Afloat

Update: On Friday evening at approximately 6 pm, the Alabama cleared Morgan Point and made a course east through Fishers Island Sound. So long Alabama! Hope to meet again under better circumstances.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Alabama Afloat!

She is free! Armed with stronger towlines and a high tide, the tugboat Gwendolyn pulled the Alabama into deeper water on Thursday evening.
I'm guessing we won't see the Alabama back in these waters for quite some time. As for me? I know I will never look at a Black Dog T-Shirt quite the same way ever again.

Soundbounder: Alabama Aground IV
Soundbounder: Alabama Aground III
Soundbounder: Alabama Aground II
Soundbounder: Alabama Aground I

Alabama Aground III

With daylight and high tide quickly disappearing, it looked as if the Alabama would remain stuck until the following day. Just as I was about to leave, the tugboat Gwendolyn arrived, providing hope that the schooner would be freed shortly. When all else fails, bring in the big guns.
I was certain this was the solution; the tug had more than enough strength to pull the ship free. But the brute force of the tug could not overpower its weakest link. Three times, a towline was attached and the Gwendolyn dug in hard with all its might. Like the sound of a whip cracking, the towline broke all three times. The optimism was short lived.
The sun was down; the tide was ebbing; and the tug was out of rope. It was time to call it a day.

Black Dog Tallships: Alabama
Soundbounder: Alabama Aground I
Soundbounder: Alabama Aground II
Soundbounder: Alabama Aground IV
Soundbounder: Alabama Afloat

Alabama Aground II

Anybody have any ideas? No, letting the air out of the tires isn't an option.
The first boat on the scene was the Mystic Whaler.  The big, heavy, tallship replica, based out of New London, tried to tow the Alabama free using her auxilary engine. She made several attempts without a budge.
The local SeaTow and Towboat US boats then gave it a try. While these are powerful boats, they are more designed to assist smaller and lighter vessels. Working in unison however, seemed like a good idea. One boat attached a line to the mast of the Alabama, while the other rigged a more tradition towline from the stern. The Alabama listed over as the two boats worked in tandem. Watching this, I thought she was going to be pulled free, but after numerous attempts, the schooner was still aground.
By this time, a large crowd had gathered along the shore, and a fleet of small boats circled nearby to watch. It was a hot, windless night and this was turning into a sideshow. Out of respect for the crews and a concern for safety, I kept a good distance away and watched the events from afar, relying on a zoom lense to view the action. Sure, it was interesting to watch, but it was also important to stay out of the way. 
What really struck me funny was the number of self-proclaimed experts commenting on what the towboats were doing wrong. Sound can travel a great distance over the water and I could hear the manager of a nearby marina calling them "Dumb &Dumber" along with a few other unprintable words. Everybody is an expert these days.

Soundbounder: Alabama Aground part one
Soundbounder: Alabama Aground part three
Soundbounder: Alabama Aground part four
Soundbounder: Alabama Afloat
Black Dog Tallships: Alabama