Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Nellie Photos

Soundbounder: Nellie (original post)
SY Nellie: Website

Friday, November 19, 2010


Nellie is a powerful reminder of the age-old relationship between yachts and wealth. A century ago, this gaff-rigged cutter graced the western waters of Long Island Sound, flying the burgees of such exclusive yacht clubs as Larchmont, American, and Seawanka. She is the product of an era when sailing was a pastime reserved for men with pedigrees and summers off. An era when the western Sound served as the epicenter and playground for that crest of idle wealth.
Designed and constructed by the legendary Herreshoff Manufacturing Company of Bristol, Rhode Island, she was launched in 1903 for Morton Plant of New Haven, an heir to Reconstruction era railroad lines in the southern U.S.. With a 35' LWL and a deck that extends 46', she was one of three boats built to this design (Harold S. "Mike" Vanderbilt and J. Malcom Forbes owned the other two).
Surviving numerous owners and several different names (Butterfly), Nellie spent nearly 8 decades of the 20th century in western Long Island Sound. She had an auxiliary engine added in 1935; a new deckhouse in 1941; and suffered severe damage from a boatyard fire in 1959. Succumbing to the ravages of time, she
began her second century undergoing a 7 year restoration project which was just recently completed.

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to get a first hand view of Nellie and meet her crew. What an enthusiastic, accommodating, and fun group they are! I was invited aboard and given a tour which included a wealth of information about her history. She is a special boat and their pride in her was evident.

She is scheduled this winter to undergo work on some punchlist items from her recent restoration. Come spring, she will be back in the western Sound, ready to grace the waters for the next hundred years.

SY NELLIE: website (this is one of the best websites for a boat I have come across. Take some time and enjoy the photos and videos of her history and restoration. I highly recommend a visit; a long visit. You won't be disappointed)
Wooden Boat Magazine: Nellie (some beautiful photos of her undersail)
Herreshoff Marine Museum: website
YouTube: Interior Tour
Picasa: Nellie: Oyster Bay Spring Classic photo credits: Karen Martin

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Clearwater Hauled In Norwalk

While the sloop Clearwater spends most of her time on the Hudson River, she occasionally ventures east of Hell Gate into the waters of Long Island Sound. Making an appearance at random waterfront festivals, this vanguard of waterway restoration has from time to time, brought her message to the shores of Connecticut and Long Island.
With an overall length of 106' and a mast height of 108', she is modeled after the 18th and 19th century Dutch ships that worked the waters of New York Harbor and the Hudson River. The brainchild of Pete and Toshi Seeger, the Clearwater was launched in 1969 with the intent to bring awareness and appreciation to the Hudson's beauty, heritage, and frailty. According to their website, the message was always simple yet powerful:
"To the people who see her broad sails from the shore, the message is a poignant reminder of the potential beauty and wealth of our region’s much-abused and neglected waterways."

Clearwater's primary focus has always been the Hudson, but her influence has been far reaching. The Quinnipiac, Save The Sound, Oyster Bay Waterfront Center, and numerous other organizations along the Sound are following in the wake of The Great Hudson River Revival.
When I read Monday that she was hauled for some short-term hull maintenance, I made a quick visit to Norwalk Cove Marina to get a closer view.  Under threatening skies, it appeared the work was nearly finished and she was awaiting to be splashed once again. Never one to sit idle for too long, she was berthed at the 79th Street Boat Basin by Tuesday evening.

New York Times: A Sloop Named Clearwater
Maritime Systems: Clearwater Location

Thursday, November 11, 2010

WWII National Submarine Memorial

WWII National Submarine Veterans Memorial, Groton

Submarine History: History of the Memorial (additional photos)
Soundbounder: Battle Of Point Judith
USS Nautilus Museum (nearby)
US Submarine Veterans, Groton

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


The lobsterboat Raven rests quietly in her railway cradle; Stony Creek, November 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010


"November always seemed to me the Norway of the year."


Hauling a boat is a ritual that I often try to postpone. When the calendar reaches November, a strain of denial seems to overtake me. I become convinced that there will be plenty of warm days ahead. I try to remind myself of the years when I sailed on Thanksgiving weekend. A few peppers still growing in the garden reinforce this delusion. Unfortunately, the calendar and the thermometer do not lie. Sailors, like aging starlets and men with bad combovers, need to acknowledge the passing of time.

The sail from Noank to the Connecticut River boatyard is an easy one. It is the preparations that are most consuming. I needed to make sure the yard had a dock space available. I also had to make arrangements for getting back to Noank to retrieve my car. Finally I had to dig through my bedroom closet for gloves, a wool hat, and the rest of my winter wardrobe. A gentle autumn day on land can sometimes feel like January just a few miles from the shoreline.

November is lonely on the water. An occasional commercial boat is the only other vessel you may see. The shoreline in the distance seems deserted too. Gone are the crowds that flocked to these beaches just six weeks ago. Waterfront homes that overflowed with guests, look empty and silent. Their awnings and Adirondack chairs have been removed from the lawn. Only an occasional whiff from a fireplace tells you that someone is home. A lighthouse that seemed like a quaint image for artists and tourists in June, becomes a utilitarian navigation aid in November.

November is also a sad month on the water. No matter how enjoyable the time might be, you know the days are numbered. This year is no different, as my day is spent looking back in time, rather than forward. I think of my trip to the Thimble Islands, and a starry night anchored in West Harbor. Any sort of thought to suppress my approaching winter ashore. The seasons of the year have come full circle.

I arrived in Saybrook without a hitch, and made my way to the train station the next morning.

It was a spectacular fall day with sunny skies and temperatures in the 60's. As the train passed through Niantic, Long Island Sound came into full view. There were several boats in the distance, taking advantage of the lovely weather. For a brief moment, I started thinking that I should drive back to Saybrook and take one more sail. There would certainly be enough time, and it would be a shame to waste such a nice day.
Eventually I realized that this would not be possible since I had already removed the sails from the boat. My sailing season was over, and there was no way to delay its inevitable end.

But in spirit, it never ends.
This was originally posted in November 2008; but I had no readers then.

Cakewalk V

Who says we can't build things here anymore? This August, Derecktor Shipyard of Bridgeport launched and christened Cakewalk V, the largest private yacht built in the United States since the 1930's. Measuring 281 feet in length, with a beam of nearly 47 feet, the $82 million vessel is the newest toy for Charles Gallagher, a private equity investor from Denver.

With her six decks and massive beam, Cakewalk V might very well be the largest yacht (by volume) ever built in the U.S.. The largest yacht lengthwise was J.P. Morgan’s Corsair IV, a 343-foot steam ship built in the 1930's by Bath Iron Works of Maine.

Derecktor's Mamaroneck shipyard has been a staple of the landscape for years but it is limited in size. Their Bridgeport location opened about a decade ago with the intent of attracting larger projects, both commercial and private. From oil skimmers to large yachts, the drydock here can accommodate vessels up to 4,000 tons.
In October, I  got a zoom lens view of  Cakewalk V from across the channel in Steel Point. After a month of sea trials and outfitting, the crew was busy putting the final touches on her. Within days she was gone; bound for warmer waters to make her world debut at the Ft Lauderdale Boat Show.

Derecktor: Cakewalk V specifications
CT Post: Cakewalk Makes A Splash
Bloomberg Profile: Charles Gallagher
Bloomberg Profile: Gallagher Industries
Derecktor Shipyards

photo credit: (bottom) Derecktor

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Route 146

With the fall colors now quickly disappearing, I took a short detour yesterday and drove Route 146 from Branford to Guilford. I have traveled portions of this road before, but it was always with a destination in mind. Yesterday's drive was simply a diversion from the monotony of the interstate.
Leaving Route 1 and its forest of leftover campaign signs, Route 146 winds through an assortment of landscapes, from rocky vistas to wooded marshlands. At times, I would turn onto a side road when the name sounded interesting (Sachems Head Rd, Old Quarry Rd etc), but I never explored too deep before continuing on.
Route 146 is probably my favorite drive along the Connecticut shoreline. But it is not a great "let's film a car commercial here" sort of road. It's too disjointed, too narrow, with causeways that seem prone to flooding. It's not the open road, it's a back road,... traveled by slow pokes like me, listening to Herb Alpert and taking pictures out the car window.

Soundbounder: Stony Creek
Soundbounder: Chaffinch Island Park
Herb Alpert: Route 101