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!
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.
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.
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.
Our 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.
A 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.
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.
So 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.