First East Coast Cruise – Part 3 – Stonington

After a pleasant visit to Mystic Seaport we decided to make a short hop to Stonington, another favorite local port. It was a top-ten weather day, perfect for a cruise down the Mystic River and along the shore to Stonington, where we had friends and knew we would find — what else? — great food! 

The schooner Brilliant waits for the Bascule bridge to open.

We shoved off the bulkhead to catch the 9:40 opening of the Bascule Bridge, and followed the lovely Nevins-built schooner Brilliant down the river.  Brilliant was built for ocean cruising in 1932 to exceptionally high standards, and was a successful ocean racer during her early years.  She was donated to the U.S. Coast Guard for anti-submarine patrol work during World War II, then auctioned off back into the private sector in 1945.  Briggs Cunningham purchased her, re-rigged her with taller masts, and sailed her until 1953 when she was donated to Mystic Seaport to teach young people the art of seamanship. Since 1953, Brilliant has sailed the equivalent in nautical miles of five times around the earth with more than 10,000 students.

A beautiful day for a flybridge run along the Connecticut shoreline.

With the exception of some cranky and less-than-helpful bridge operators and one very unpleasant anonymous voice on the VHF, we had a pleasant trip down the river, in yet another parade much like the day before.  From Noank, we took the in-shore route along Mason’s Island and Lord’s Point, then rounded the breakwater into Stonington Harbor.  Brilliant clear day,  cool and dry.

Dodson’s terrific dock hands.  Sam and Hugh??  Don’t quote me on that…  but they are great!

We had decided to splurge (!) and stay dockside at Dodson’s Boatyard because we felt it would be easier to walk the pups and show various friends and acquaintances the boat.  Dodson’s is very nice, and it’s not cheap.  They also have the most cheerful, helpful, friendly and competent dockhands we have ever seen.

IMG_1075Our first task was to give the boat a nice scrubby-dub and then chamois her down.  Nice having her look all spit-and-polish.  Then to thank ourselves for the effort we wandered into the dockside Dog Watch Cafe, which is one of our favorite watering holes.  Fun spot, great vibe, lovely bartender-ess, nice locals.  Sat at the bar, just like always.  Perfect.

AB96EC58-D5F4-4D86-BB15-9E1C8C9F088EA walk with the dogs, oogling the truly beautiful collection of yachts – old and new, large and small – visiting with friends, and of course enjoying a little time on the flybridge, we spent a pleasant afternoon.  Somehow we never made it into town, which I regret, as it would have been a very pleasant walk which I haven’t done in many, many years.  We also had the pleasure of being tied up near another American Tug, Cheryl Ann, a 49-foot LRC.

We also stopped into the East Coast Yacht Sales office which is on the Dodson’s property.  They are the East Coast & Great Lakes dealer for American Tugs, and we purchased our boat through them.  In fact, we were the first AT they sold after becoming a dealer.

The East Coast Yacht Sales office at Dodson’s Boatyard.

They knew us well. We sort of thought that, as they are a new dealer, and as we were a client of theirs who had just purchased a brand new custom boat from them, they might be interested in seeing the new boat. We had a nice chat in their office and invited them out for a look.  This was, in fact, one of the main reasons we splurged for a night at the dock: it would be easy for them. Unfortunately they didn’t come for a look.  We were a little disappointed that they weren’t interested, but we also weren’t very surprised.

6B8D3CC2-E53A-4CEB-A922-C634C8449F73So that was our visit to Stonington.  We left early the next morning, enjoying the quiet, still morning light on the fleet in the harbor.  You can rent a mooring if you don’t want to spring for dock space.  And definitely go say Hi! to Lisa behind the bar at the Dog Watch Cafe.


6 thoughts on “First East Coast Cruise – Part 3 – Stonington”

  1. Stop it Bruce you’re making me envious. We’ve been too busy to do too much traveling this year . Only Nantucket so far.
    Larry &Fidelis


    1. Take some time off Larry! The weather is beautiful. When we come home, we will definitely take you and Fidelis a ride!


  2. I was just at that very boatyard in April and I discussed your boat with the folks at ECYS. I told them it was your blog on the trawler forum and your test ride videos that brought me in to see that 395. I am shocked and disappointed they didn’t have a look at your new boat. You are like the ultimate AT Ambassadors!!!


    1. Thanks Tim! We are really very pleased with the boat. I hope our enthusiasm comes through in our posts. Tomco, the builder, is an excellent company and we couldn’t ask for anything more than the quality, care, and support, and the constant communication both before and after purchase, that they provide. We will do whatever we can to help them promote the product.


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