Sunday, July 31, 2011

Stony Creek, 6 a.m.

Oystering on Long Island Sound is not always a large enterprise. Early Thursday morning, I arrived at the Stony Creek docks to meet Brendan Smith of the Thimble Island Oyster Company. This is an independent, one-man operation, with Brendan (or Bren) serving as captain, deckhand, marketing director, and part-time mechanic.

Finding a parking space along the narrow streets of Stony Creek can be a chore. The fact that I had a choice of several prime spots was a quick reminder of just how early in the morning it was. Bren was already there, and after some friendly small-talk, there were tasks which began to present themselves. We carried some gear and a large cooler full of ice to the end of the dock, to load into a small skiff which would carry us to his boat in the mooring field. But before we could do that, some rainwater in the skiff needed to be bailed.

Stony Creek is an attractive harbor with the Thimble Islands scattered just beyond its entrance. In the village however, most of them are obscured from view, as only two or three poke out from beyond the point. But as our loaded down skiff cleared the town dock, the full expanse of the granite island chain came into view.

I wasn't the only guest aboard for the day;  Helen Bennett and Peter Hvizdak of the New Haven Register were on hand as well. This was the first time I had met Peter, and prior to this, I had only "known" Helen and Bren through our communications on Twitter. I always have some apprehension meeting online acquaintances because they often are not the same person you thought they would be.

Within minutes however, it was clear this would not be the case today. Both Bren and Helen are every bit as nice in the real world as they are in the virtual world. These characteristics are important aboard a small boat.

The four of us motored through the maze of moorings until the red hull of a 22-foot workboat appeared over my right shoulder. Gliding alongside her, I grabbed a bow-line and fastened it to a cleat at mid-ship. It was about this time that Bren said something very bizarre.
"I don't know how to swim!" He said.
He had to be joking, I thought............right?

(More to follow)
Soundbounder: Just Your Local Oysterman part two
Soundbounder: Hauling The Cage part three
Soundbounder: Starfish...And Other Threats part four

Thimble Island Oysters: website
Helen Bennett on Twitter: @NewsGirlCT
Peter Hvizdak on Twitter: @NHRphizdak
Brendan Smith on Twitter: @organicOysters

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