This is the final of our three spring cruises before full -on summer kicked in.
Mystic Seaport and Block Island
With two really fun and gratifying spring cruises under our belts waterline, we were anxious to knock down one more before the summer crowds descended on our favorite destinations. We had just a few days left in June, and some friends were heading to Mystic, CT in their vintage GMC camper. We usually would join them with our Airstream, but this time, we decided it would be more fun to meet them in Mystic with the boat. On Tuesday, June 26, off we went!
We love Mystic. The Seaport has long been a favorite destination both by land and water. In the colder months it is a delightful day-trip. We take the dogs along, as they are welcome to explore the Seaport grounds with us and it always delights them. The town is nice to wander through. We aren’t big shoppers but there are loads of shops for those who are. The walk along both sides of the river is lovely, and bars and restaurants are plentiful.
For more on visiting Mystic, see our earlier post.
Arriving by boat, you run up the river from Noank. It is shallow and winding, but well-marked and easy to follow. Views of the historic communities and thousands of moored boats offer constant diversion. You can generally pass through the Amtrak swing railroad bridge without delay, but you almost always have to wait for the scheduled historic bascule bridge opening as you pass directly through the busy Main Street, which is normally crowded with tourists watching the boat traffic passing through. We have had trouble with grouchy, uncommunicative bridge tenders, although on our trip out, when there was a long delay at the railroad bridge, the tender was very helpful.
There is a broad variety of marinas to choose from along the river, but we find it very special to stay alongside at Mystic Seaport itself. Particularly in the evening and early morning, when the grounds are closed to the public and we have the place to ourselves, a stay at the Seaport is unique. During the day you can explore the exhibits and enjoy whatever activities are on the Seaport calendar. Historic craft are usually out on the river, sailing or motoring. Views of the river banks and historic homes are lovely, and the entire town is within walking distance, and very walkable.
Our trip to Mystic this late June day was uneventful. The weather was fair, the wind was down, the sun was out. We left New England Boatworks in Portsmouth, RI in the morning, and had an easy run out the bay, around Point Judith and past Watch Hill into Fishers Island Sound. The breeze was chilly, as it always is at this time of year, but it was very pretty.
We were at the base of the river, at Noank, by early afternoon. It was a lazy run up to the bridges, and we didn’t have too long to wait at the Bascule Bridge. As we passed through, much to our surprise, there were our friends Angie and Andy on the public walkway, shouting hello and taking pictures! This was total coincidence: we had actually not planned on arriving until the next day. Too funny!
The folks at Mystic Seaport were ready for us when we pulled around to the north end of the seaport where the “yacht docks” are. They are always very professional and helpful. We had a nice berth outside the main pier, with beautiful unobstructed views along the river. Once scrubbed clean and settled in, we hitched up the dogs and went off to explore. Lovely as always, and the dogs were very happy.
The Engine Room, located in the restored Lathrop Marine Engine building, features sixteen craft beers on tap, the area’s largest bourbon selection, craft cocktails, and a menu of locally sourced, creative American comfort food.
We enjoyed a casual, lively dinner at the bar at The Engine Room. We had discovered the place a year or so ago, and while it can be a bit crazy during peak hours, we enjoy the food, cocktails, beer and buzz. The Salmon Jerky and Hummus are stand-outs, salads are excellent, and the burgers have been both awesome and unremarkable.
When we got back to the boat, I wanted to see if I could get some evening pictures of the Seaport from the drone. It was already a little too dark, but I gave it a try anyway. Not great stuff, but always fun.
The next day we explored some more, I went on a lovely run along the river while Bruce did some boat work, and we met up with Angie and Andy for dinner at the Mystic Oyster Club. This is a sister restaurant to The Engine Room, and we love sitting at the bar, chatting about oysters, and enjoying their unique menu that is thoroughly farm-to-table oriented. We arrived at happy hour, stayed through dinner, and left happy! After that, it was a nightcap at the old traditional local Ancient Mariner, now re-branded as The Mariner Mystic, where we definitely entertained the bartender. Fortunately, Uber was available to get Andy and Angie back to their campground several miles inland; we hitched a ride with them back to the Seaport, where the dogs were happy to see us.
After two days in Mystic, we tossed around the question: do we stay or do we go? A nasty but fast-moving low pressure system was threatening for Thursday, with lots of rain. Ultimately we decided that hanging in Mystic in nasty weather wouldn’t be much fun, so we decided to use it as a travel day. It was gray, cool and drizzly as we cast off our lines and headed downriver. The Bascule Bridge operator wouldn’t answer our hail, and eventually opened the bridge about ten minutes late, without ever answering us. Remember what I said about grouchy bridge tenders? The rain started.
We waited at the railroad bridge, as that operator was very friendly and explained that the train, sitting at the Mystic station, was having mechanical problems. In the end, we had to wait about forty minutes for the train to pass and the bridge to open, but there was plenty of room to hang and no other boats to worry about. The rain got worse, and the wind began to build.
We had decided to run to Block Island. It was Thursday the 28th, the weekend before the Fourth of July. The Fourth is always a hoot on The Block, and especially with this weather, we knew we would arrive before the mob. So off we went.
It was a gray, wet, bumpy ride. Fishers Island sound was OK, although the visibility was limited in thick fog. Once outside the reef at Watch Hill, swell and chop rolling in from the southeast made it uncomfortable, but some additional throttle made it acceptable, and it wasn’t a long run. We burned some fuel, but got to Block quickly and without incident.
The harbor was still relatively quiet when we arrived, and we picked up the private Club mooring we have access to along the shore north of Champlins. The evening was still gray and chilly, but the rain stopped and the wind dropped. It was nice to be settled, and nice to see that it wasn’t busy. Yet.
During our stay, from Thursday the 28th until Wednesday the Fourth of July, we watched the season go from spring chill to summer hot, just as the harbor filled with The Summer Mob. It was fun to watch the transition. We walked in and out of town and got Mattie her fresh warm donuts. I went for some runs and hit the Farmers Market. Bruce definitely found some boat projects to work on, but I don’t know what they were. We got another pie (I think Key Lime this time). We caught up with old friends. We made water, did laundry, and charged batteries. We also had cocktails and dinner at The Oar (twice), and had more than a couple of mudslides at Champlins, which over the weekend switched into full-on summer crazy mode. It was fun!
By the Fourth of July, we were ready to head home. We had had our fun, and the crowds had arrived. Spring was over and summer was here. Bring it on.