Delivering T.S. Ferry (2002)

T.S. Ferry’s route from Rockland, Maine to Larchmont, New York.

Portland, Maine to Larchmont, New York, August 2002

Saturday, August 17

8:15 a.m.

Paul and I meet in the Larchmont YC parking lot, where Paul parks his car and transfers his luggage into mine. I drive us the rest of the way to Lewis’s house in Norwalk. Lewis has Roger’s black Mercedes station wagon ready to load in his driveway. We pile in our luggage and the food and drinks that I brought, then go through the process of getting on the road. Little Andrew wants to adopt Fish, whose tucked into my backpack for the trip. Lewis is finally torn away when Gay packs the kids into the car to take them to the pool. We’re on the road around 9:30 a.m.

The drive goes very fast up the Merritt to the Wilburcross, to 91, and onward on a diagonal across Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and into Maine. We encounter very few traffic clogs. I study the car manual looking for the location of the gas cap. The inch-thick booklet does not include this seemingly basic piece of information. The car has buttons for everything — built-in cell phone, emergency service, cup holders, seat heaters. We look for a button on the dashboard to press to have a tanker come along side and fuel us up — apparently we aren’t supposed to have to stop at a gas station.

12:30 p.m.

Our first stop is at the New Hampshire border liquor store. We buy rum. About 30 minutes later traffic starts to clog up and we swing off the highway for lunch at a Burger King in a land of outlets.

4:00 p.m.

We swing off the highway again for a stop in Freeport, Maine. We powershop at L.L. Bean, each carrying one of Paul’s “family” radios. “Great,” I say, “we get to be those annoying people with the radios in the store. I hate those people.”

Red’s Eats — the best lobster rolls in Maine.

6:00 p.m.

Our last stop is at Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, Maine. Paul had read reviews of this roadside food stand in the New York Times, among other publications. It’s a small, red building on a corner with a line of hungry patrons outside the service window and a few plastic tables and chairs behind it. Inside, two women work at a frenzied pace to fill orders for fish sandwiches, fried clams, French fries, lobster rolls, and crab rolls. Lewis and I order the “combo” roll: crab on the bottom and lobster on top in a split-top hotdog roll with a side of drawn butter. For $14.

7:30 p.m.

Roger and Brandy wind down for the evening.

We roll into Rockland, Maine. We’re just about to turn on to the main drag when Lewis’s “family” radio burbles to life. It’s Roger. As he describes his location I see him standing on the next corner as Lewis makes a left turn. We circle around and meet him and the family outside the restaurant where they’ve just finished dinner.

Lewis innagurates his “sky chair.”

Loading our luggage and provisions takes several dinghy rides. T.S. Ferry is on a mooring in the middle of Rockland’s large harbor. The dinghy docks are tucked in among industrial and commercial facilities. It isn’t very “yachty,” but it is intensely real — in this land people make their living from the sea, they don’t just play in it.

Brandy, the King’s 5-month old retriever puppy is on board T.S. Ferry. Christine, Sara, and Julia have moved into the Navigator Inn on shore, but Brandy is not welcome there. I enjoy playing with her, even though she repeatedly steals my lip protector. She’s “paper trained” after a fashion — she uses the bow of the boat. Paul undertakes to deal with this upon our arrival. He had asked young Julia about it, and she’d said it was simple, let daddy take care of it. He opts for using a plastic bag to move the stuff overboard, then rinsing with salt water. Paul, Lewis, and I settle in on the boat and Roger joins us for the night.

Sunday, August 18

7:00 a.m.

Rise and shine! Roger’s a morning person, which is a good thing on a trip where we’ll need to get moving pretty quick most days. The tide has risen enough to take T.S. Ferry to the pump-out dock. Once there, Paul and I take Brandy on her leash to walk to the Navigator Inn. Lewis and Roger finish the pump-out, return T.S. Ferry to her mooring, and bring Brandy’s travel box in on the dinghy. We meet up with Christine and the girls, and all go to breakfast at the local diner. There’s a bit of a wait, so Paul and I walk around town and take pictures of the decorated lobsters in the park.

Breakfast at the rockland Diner

Breakfast is blueberry pancakes, with real maple syrup worth the $1.50 surcharge. Paul, Lewis and I buy diner mugs and bottles of blueberry cream soda to go.

9:00 a.m.

Lewis, Paul and I do the grocery run. We’ve got a pretty specific list and we stick to it pretty well. A week’s worth of breakfasts, snacks, and three dinners for four people costs us $170. I’ve already provided lunches, and Lewis brought the beer. In the end, including Lewis and my contributions, our provisioning will come to about $500, plus a couple dinners ashore.

Paul with the provisions points the way.

11:30 a.m.

We load groceries and crew into the dinghy in a couple trips. Roger bids his family farewell, and we’re away. Destination: Christmas Cove .

We motore and sail about 40 miles along beautifully rocky coastline. We burned through film on the quaint lighthouses on just about every finger of land. T.S. Ferry maintained a steady 6.5 knots, mostly through the determination of her skipper — if the wind wouldn’t cooperate, the engine would. We glided into Christmas Cove late in the afternoon, the last of the five or so Larchmont YC cruising boats to arrive.

5:00 p.m.

Reflection, the Sabre 34, in Christmas Cove

On MapQuest, Christmas Cove is identified by a dot in the water, although there seem to be some Maine residents who claim that there is a dry-land town there somewhere. What we found was the Coveside marina and restaurant and several lovely houses around a protected little cove. Once settled, Lewis went about the important business of rigging his new sling-chair on the bow and Paul broke out the even more important blender. Cocktails complete, we dinghied to the marina for a great dinner, then returned to wind down into sleep fairly early.

Lobster Lessons

A pound and a quarter lobster is a “chicken lobster.”

Christmas Cove

Monday, August 19

8:00 a.m.

After a breakfast of cereals and coffee, we take the garbage ashore and ask about showers. There are none. So we stow our shower gear in the dinghy and go exploring. Lewis and I successfully follow directions to the nearest actual town, South Bristol. We find lots of beautiful photo opportunities along the road, including the town’s tiny rotating bridge that opens for a tall powerboat while we’re there.

We visit a local lobster pound and end up buying pound-and-a half-ers for everyone, plus a couple dozen steamers (clams). Clutching our livestock, we head back to Christmas Cove.

Roger and Paul took a wrong turn and wandered for a while, talking to a local who described a nearby shipyard that’s building the world’s largest sloop.

Lobster Lessons

Boat run lobsters are sold by weight, but not by the bug. These are the rejects — large enough for the fisherman to take, but not large enough for the average adult to make a meal of. The buyer names a dollar amount, and the seller selects lobsters that are worth about that amount. If you want to buy six pounds of lobster, you may actually get seven lobsters, or five, which weigh six pounds all together.

12:00 noon

With fresh ice and our dinner in the cooler, we get moving (once again, the last of the Larchmont fleet to drop the mooring). Based on the local’s directions, we motor through a lobster pot minefield to find the boatyard with the sloop. It turns out they also make tug boats there inside monstrous construction sheds. The building housing the giant sloop looks new, and we speculate that it’s construction was part of the price of the yacht.

South Bristol views

We sail another forty or so miles out and around more rocky points of land to reach our anchorage, “The Basin.” Were it not for T.S. Ferry’s GPS-driven chart plotter, we might have missed the entrance to this amazing little harbor. We turned into a channel that’s only a couple boat-lengths wide and 100 yards long, and, of course, clogged with lobster pots. At it’s eastern end we hung a left and entered a large anchorage where the other Larchmont boats already rode at anchor. The only hazard in this big, oddly shaped body of water is a rock that turned out to be marked with a white float.

Dinner in aboard T.S. Ferry inThe Basin.

5:00 p.m.

We anchored in about twenty feet, and checked the water temperature. 74 degrees! Roger took the dinghy to go exploring, but Paul, Lewis and I didn’t hesitate to put on swimsuits and dive in. Well, maybe we hesitated a little. But the water was refreshing and were were tickled to be able to say we’d gone swimming in Maine.

After introductions and apologies, we plunged the steamers and lobsters into the steaming pot for our dinner. Served along with corn and potato rolls, it was one of the best boat meals ever.

Tuesday, August 20

9:00 a.m.

Tiny island

Even though there’s no obvious place to go ashore, Paul manages to wander off for a while, exploring in the dinghy. The morning has dawned grey and breezy. Roger starts the engine as a signal to our lost mate to get back aboard.

Paul and Lewis at the cruise closing cocktail party.

Today we sail to Falmouth Foreside, a small town just north of Portland. This will be the final stop for the Larchmont cruise, marked by a cocktail party at the home of former members followed by dinner at the marina. We sail southwest along the coast, then pick our way through the islands that protect Portland’s harbor area. Paul sets up his laptop and wireless connection and he and I check our email. Unfortunately, the connection is intermittent this far north.

4:00 p.m.

We come alongside the dock in Falmouth Foreside to take on diesel and water. Paul wanders up the ramp and finds ice cream while Roger confirms the cruise participants with the marina office. Everyone — still five boats — is there. The vans to the cocktail party arrive at 5:45. We’ve been assigned a mooring at the far side of the mooring field, but Paul is lingering in the office talking to the rather attractive manager. Roger calls him on the VHF, knowing that there’s one on in the office. He ignores it. Lewis calls him on the “family” radio. We can see him through the window talking and pointing at the boats and at the chart on the wall. Finally he radios back that a closer mooring is available if we want it. We should have known that he was working on procuring something for us!

Lobster Lessons

“Shedders” or soft shell lobsters are the type we usually get in restaurants. Lobsters shed as they grow, and the newly revealed shells remain soft for a few days. The meat in soft shell lobsters isn’t as dense as that of their hard shell brethren, but it’s much easier to get at.

Portland cocktail party

6:00 p.m.

The cocktail party in the Tingley’s yard gives us an opportunity to meet the others cruisers. They’re very welcoming to Roger’s “delivery crew.” Back at the marina we stop in at an estate auction next door. What’s billed as the furnishing of a sea captain’s home looks mostly like a collection of poor-condition reproduction Victorian furniture and a lot of used household goods. I wonder if there are some real finds buried in the various lots of crockery, art work, and toys. But I’ve done the Antiques Roadshow thing. It’s not worth it tonight.

Roger treats the crew to dinner, which is quite good. Once again, we’re (almost) all worn out from rising early and sailing long. All except for Paul, who hooks up with the crew of Entropy and is allowed by Roger to borrow the dinghy (against Lewis and my unspoken advice — we’ve noted Paul’s alcohol intake).

All’s well, however — after some dinghy racing and a few beers, Paul returns in the wee hours. The next day he gets lots of message on his cell phone, however, from people who he called at 2 a.m. as he was zooming around the harbor, wondering what the hell he wanted.

Wednesday, August 21

9:00 a.m.

Sunset over Boston (somewhere out there).

Today we depart for more familiar waters, starting with a 22 hour run from Portland to the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal. We’ll be traveling with another Larchmont boat, Far Horizons. Roger cooks up a bacon and egg breakfast to get us started. I follow up by making lunch sandwiches before we drop the mooring.

Fish takes his watch below.

10:00 a.m.

We set out, intentionally at this hour so that we’ll reach the canal around 8 a.m. Thursday. There’s a breeze, but not enough of one to sail at the speed we need, so we motor sail. During the day we loosely follow watches — two hours on the helm, two hours on watch to help the helmsman, and four hours down. Overnight these watches will be more strictly adhered to.

6:00 p.m.

Lewis forages for breakfast.

The breeze has picked up enough to turn off the motor. T.S. Ferry is plunging along at 6.5 knots with about 15 degrees of heel. Roger fires up the charcoal grill and first grills the chicken we plan to eat Thursday night, then the steaks for tonight. I roast yellow potatoes in salt and garlic and steam asparagus. Dinner at 15 degrees heel is just as good as the level lobster feast.

12:00 midnight

I turn in shortly after dinner to get some sleep before my watch. For the first 90 minutes, noises from the cockpit above combined with the stereo — which is on to keep the first watch awake — prevent me from sleeping. Then the wind slacks off and the engine is fired up. I fall asleep and am dead to the world until Roger flicks on my cabin light at midnight.

Lobster Lessons

Lobsters migrate, spending the winter months in the deep ocean and returning to the shallows where they can be trapped in the spring.

Lewis is just finishing his watch at the helm, so now he’ll keep me company for two hours, then we’ll wake Paul and I’ll stay up with him until four a.m. I quickly become acquainted with our course and progress while I slept using the critical tools of this nighttime passage: radar and GPS chart plotter. These, combined with the remote control autohelm and cockpit-controlled VHF radio, make T.S. Ferry a very well-informed, easily driven vessel.

Entering the Cape Cod Canal — back to the rules of civilization.

The full moon paints a highway of reflected light along which the boat drones. The mainsail is up and providing a little push, but the jib is furled to provide better visibility ahead. Around us the sea is not empty, but dotted with the lights of distant vessels and the even more distant shore. Boston is a glimmer off our starboard beam. A radar contact shows about a quarter mile off our starboard bow, but we can’t see it. As we move forward it remains stationary — probably an unlit fish trap marker with a radar reflector on it. Behind us, Far Horizons is just that — a tower of red, green, and white lights near the horizon.

Through the dark hours we match new light with objects on the radar and on the chart. That flash of yellow is one of a string of markers for Boston Harbor. The tiny flicker of light way off the port bow must be the Provincetown lighthouse. That bright white light abeam is a blot on the radar — a big fishing trawler powering toward Gloucester.

I made a point of finishing Linda Greenlaw’s The Lobster Chronicles before we left Maine. Now as Paul rises for his watch, Lewis goes below and starts to read it.

Wooee in the Cape Cod Canal

1:00 a.m.

Paul puts on Paul Simon and we stand in the cockpit peering over the dodger and singing along. I’m very chilly, but I’ve slipped into a zombie state. We’re entering Cape Cod Bay and we’re likely to start seeing lobster pots again. Sure enough, I see one float by in the moonlight to starboard. We start watching more attentively, but continue to see them only when they’re along side, not before we reach them.

“What the hell!” Paul gasps as we both realize there’s a presence moving along the port side of the boat level with the lifelines. My first thought is “buoy!” even though we would have seen it on the radar. My heart is still in my mouth when the vague presence resolves into a flag bobbing on a floating pole. We didn’t run over it, but we came damn close. And we never saw it, even though we were watching for them.

I get my dive light and we start trying to light our path, but soon after another flag ghosts by on the port side. This time we’re not as startled, but it’s still a little unnerving. My watch is about over, and Roger comes up on deck. I’m not proud, I go below and crawl back into my bunk. Some time later the engine goes off, but I’m only vaguely aware, absorbed in strange dreams of dark objects on the water.

Fish and Lewis nap after our 150-mile passage.

Thursday, August 22

8:00 a.m.

There’s light in my cabin and movement above my head. The engine is back on. I slip into the head and notice a stone wall outside the port. We’ve reached the canal. I pull on my sweatshirt and climb into the cockpit.

Fish navigates us to Quissit.

At the marina at the east/north end of the Cape Cod Canal we take on water and fuel, then take showers aboard T.S. Ferry — you can’t use the marina showers if you don’t spend the night. We replenish the water we just used, then, 60 minutes after arriving, motor out into the canal. Far Horizons passed us going in around 8:30 and I spoke with them on the radio. We wished one another a good passage to Buzzards Bay.

10:00 a.m.

Wood’s Hole motorcycle figurehead.

It’s a windy morning, and it’s blowing right on our nose as we press against the current in the canal. As we approach the far end, Lewis and I on watch, we see a big tug and barge heading right toward us. We hug the edge of the channel as this monster bears down on us, blown by wind and pressed by current. Size is an illusion — the channel is plenty wide enough for both of us and we pass port to port. On the VHF we hear the barge captain criticizing the inhabitants of a small powerboat that’s anchored at the edge of the channel practically in the barge’s path.

Roger and Paul return to deck and Roger plots us a course toward Quissit, Mass. We fall off, bring out the jib, and sail in two long tacks across the eastern end of Buzzard’s Bay. I offer Paul the helm, and he accepts “after putting on sunscreen.” About thirty minutes later he still hasn’t taken over, and I point out to him that we’re nearly there. Roger reinforces this with a clear “we’re three miles from the harbor, Paul.” Paul charges up from below and takes the helm.

2:00 p.m.

Venerable blue lobster in the Wood’s Hole Aquarium.
Wood’s Hole work dock.

Quissit is a very protected little harbor adjacent to Wood’s Hole. It’s also very shallow, so Roger picks our way in through the tiny channel. I ask what the bottom is, and someone replies “rock. Not forgiving.” But the depth gauge is, it never drops below 8 feet (we draw 6.5). Roger takes us all the way in to the inner harbor, protected by a line of natural rocks. We take one of the two moorings available. While Roger goes ashore to settle up, I mix up a batch of papaya mango rum smoothies to go with sandwiches. It all goes down very well, reviving us for a shore-side exploration.

4:00 p.m.

We miss the bus to Wood’s Hole and decide to walk rather than wait 20 minutes. It’s supposed to be about a mile. Forty minutes of walking along the edge of a near highway later we enter the outskirts of town. Aside from the Oceanographic Institute and the ferry docks, the town isn’t much. There are a few shops for the ferry crowd. We all wander through the acquarium and enjoy the enormous blue lobster on display, but we don’t linger for the seal feeding at 4:30. Paul goes his own way, as usual, but Roger, Lewis, and I end up catching the bus back past Quissit and on to Falmouth. This is a larger town with more shops and activity. We walk the main street, buying t-shirts and a few odds and ends. The 5:30 bus comes along before Lewis has finished his shopping but Roger and I manage to delay it long enough for him to come running.

Odd boat in Quissit.
Little Blue.

Back on board we bake the chicken that was partially cooked on the grill and enjoy it with rice and mango papaya salsa. We’re mid-way through the meal when Paul radios from shore. We suggest that he borrow a dinghy to get out to us and then return it with our dinghy, since we’re in the middle of dinner and rain is imminent. He good-naturedly agrees. But before he appears at the dinghy Roger decides to go get him.

With everyone on board we decide it’s a good night for a movie. We’ve buttoned up the cockpit with the dodger and bimini, so Roger sets up the TV/VCR on the companionway and we stretch out on the lazarettes to watch Hanibal.

Toward the end of the movie we all become aware of activity on the boat off the our starboard. People are up on deck, flashlights are being used, and someone’s in a dinghy. We ignore it, enthralled as we are by Hanibal Lechter and the feral pigs.

T.S. Ferry!” a voice cuts through the pig squeals, “T.S. Ferry!”

Roger flicks off the movie, perhaps assuming as I do that they’re annoyed by the sound.

“Yes?” Lewis answers across the 20 yard gap of water between us.

“Our dog has gone overboard and we wonder if we could borrow your dinghy to look for her?”

Lobster Lessons

Each lobsters has two different claws: a crusher and a cutter. Lobsters are “handed”: the side that each type of claw is on varies from one lobster to the next.

Our hearts sink. We’d seen the dog earlier — a tiny little Scots Terrier. Roger and Paul re-mount the engine on “Little Blue” and set out to help search. Lewis and I use the halogen light and binoculars to scan the shoreline and water around us. I ask the dog’s name: “Smokey,” and if she can swim. “If she has to. She’s 18 years old.” Our hearts sink further. Finally Lewis abandons the search to go do the dishes. I continue sweeping the light out of sympathy until Roger and Paul return. Two women in dinghys from the other boat stop off our stern to thank us for helping. In 30 minutes of searching they’ve come to accept the loss, at least initially. Some time the next day Roger will muss, “some kid sailing a dinghy will find that dog today or tomorrow . . .”

Watch Hill, Rhode Island

We regroup in the cockpit and decide, after a few minutes, to watch the end of our movie, mainly to take our minds off of the poor pup.

Mystic Seaport.

Friday, August 23

6:00 a.m.

The boys reach Mystic Seaport

We’d joked about setting sail for Mystic at 5:30 a.m., but Roger stated quite seriously that it wasn’t light enough then, he’d noted it during the overnight. But 6 a.m. is light enough. Roger cranks on the motor and Paul drops the mooring. Lewis stays in bed — one of the luxuries of sailing with an experienced crew. Just outside Quissit we raise the sails to a breeze on our beam. Roger guides Paul at the helm on a tour past Cuttyhunk. As we sail past the harbor there we’re hailed on the radio by Pelican — one of the Larchmont fleet. They’re inside Cuttyhunk watching is go by.

I take the helm shortly after and point us toward Pt. Judith. Three weeks prior on another trip, I drove a boat from Pt. Judith to Watch Hill. Today I want to drive Cuttyhunk to Pt. Judith. For the next three hours or so the boat never goes slower than six knots and averages closer to seven. The quartering swells are somewhat confused by a breeze that is contrary to the current, and I have a blast rolling down their backs and watching the knot meter peg at 8.8.

Norwalk-built Brilliant at home in Mystic (with T.S. Ferry
 in the distance).

12:00 noon

Seaport lighthouse.

We reach past Pt. Judith right on schedule and I willingly surrender the helm to Roger and go below for a rest. My right arm has been twinging — pseudo Carpal Tunnel — for about an hour. The 17-mile Pt. Judith to Watch Hill run is more of the same, but a little flatter. Paul drives us along it and right on through the Watch Hill passage toward Mystic. In the ten or so times I’ve sailed Fisher’s Island Sound, the current has almost always been against me, and the wind has always been either dead or on my nose. Today we continue on our screaming reach all the way from Watch Hill to Ram Island at the mouth of the Mystic River.

3:55 p.m.

The Mystic railroad bridge stands open and we motor on up to the drawbridge that carries Route 1 across the Mystic River. It’s due to open at 4:15. Our plan to tie up on the seawall to wait it dashed by the “no docking” signs all along it. Roger decides he can hold position in the river to wait. We’re soon joined by two more sailboats, and we can see various vessels on the other side of the bridge waiting to come out.

Mystic’s whaleship, the Morgan.

Saturday, August 24

7:30 a.m.

Roger is up and out early to take pictures before the gates open. Paul is long gone on a run. Lewis and I rouse ourselves and I go shower, then follow Roger’s plan. Gay is due with the kids this morning to pick Lewis up — they have to attend a wedding this evening.

A San Francisco workboat —
a long way from home.

10:00 a.m.

Yare little daysailor.

Gay turns up and we’re all impressed at her early arrival. We help load Lewis’s gear into the car, then Roger and I walk over to the marine consignment shop we’d seen last night. It doesn’t take look to figure out that unless you know exactly what you want, and they happen to have it, sorting through the shop is a waste of time. I move on to town, Roger returns to the Seaport store. After power shopping in town, I too return to the Seaport store, and more specifically the fine art shop. I look at the originals, then flip through a bin of prints. I pause at a familiar image. The last time I was here I’d been very tempted by this print — but I was on a tight budget. I’d satisfied myself with a promotional postcard of it which I kept by the TV in the living room ever since. I’m still budgeting, but the terms have changed a little, and the fact that I’ve been thinking about this print for at least two years certainly alters the situation.

Bow study.

As I’m paying, I am mesmerized by another print — this one framed and hanging over the cash register. They don’t have it unframed, and I don’t want to spend what the framed version costs, although the framing is very well done. The sales lady suggests I visit their new shop across the street. There I find more prints by the same artists and select a signed print of a 1992 America’s Cup promotional poster. I return to the boat with tubes and bags. I need to get out of Mystic!

1:00 p.m.

And shortly we do. We say goodbye to Lewis, Gay, and the kids, and untie T.S. Ferry from her Seaport berth in time to catch the 1:15 bridge opening. We’re among a crowd of boats that await the bridge then motor through. Ahead of us, a powerboat named Valiant shows little skill at maneuvering in close quarters. Just on the other side of the bridge he stops short in the channel, forcing Roger to reverse T.S. Ferry and swing toward oncoming traffic. Then Valiant resumes course and we have to fall in behind rather than pass. This erratic behavior continues as we approach the railroad bridge which, to our dismay, is closed.

Bow study.

We queue up again, Jayed, the enormous motor yacht that had been tied up near us for the night, in the lead. The digital sign on the bridge says we have a 20 minute wait, but the countdown is not consistent. It jumps to 15, then to 9 seemingly at random. Finally we hear a train in the distance, and the northbound Amtrak streaks by. The sign on the bridge goes from 6 minutes to 9. Hummmm. Eventually we hear another train —southbound, of course. The second train clears the bridge and the sign reads 0 minutes. We wait, Roger continuing to maneuver to hold us in place. The radio, set to the bridge channel, crackles to life:

“Mystic Railroad Bridge, Mystic Railroad Bridge, this is the vessel Jayed.”

“This is the Mystic Railroad Bridge, go ahead Jayed.”

“When will you begin opening?”

“I’m opening right now, Jayed.”

And then the imperceptible movement of the swing bridge becomes apparent. Jayed’s skipper, probably urged by an impatient owner, noses his big boat into the gap almost before it’s wide enough. Valiant follows, and then T.S. Ferry. At last, we’re away.

6:00 p.m.

The Thimble Islands — like a last visit to Maine.

Roger’s original plan had been to go to Mattatuck on the north shore of Long Island, but a check of the tides in the shallow harbor nixed that idea. I voted for the Thimble Islands, a group of tiny, rocky lumps near New Haven, Connecticut. They are very quaint, the anchorage is very sheltered, and, best of all, they are, through a trick of glacial roaming, geologically the same as Maine. We could spend our last night amid rocks that are part of those where we’d been cruising at the beginning of the week.

Unfortunately, by mid afternoon it’s clear we won’t reach the Thimbles until after dark. We don’t want to negotiate the tiny anchorage after dark, particularly with the moon hidden by rain clouds. Instead we make for Sachem’s Head, which offers a protected anchorage just a stone’s throw to the east of the Thimbles. We ghost in under motor in the drizzle around 8 p.m. and drop the hook.

9:00 p.m.

Our final dinner, planned way back on day one, is linguini fra diavolo with turkey sausages, garlic bread, and chopped salad. We have the last of my blueberry galettes for dessert, although it goes uneaten, we’re so full and tired. It’s a rainy night, so we set up the VCR below and watch Where the Heart Is, a movie that I thought was very sappy when I saw it on a plane. This time it seemed mostly funny. It ended and the TV was switched to a home video show on broadcast TV. I went to bed.

Sunday, August 25

Our last morning dawns sunny and blue. We set out early, anxious to cover the 40 or so miles to Larchmont. It’s a bitter-sweet journey, mostly under power. This has been an amazing trip and we hate to end it. But work, family, pets, and responsibilities call us back ashore.

3:00 p.m.

We load bag after bag onto the Larchmont Yacht Club launch — my stuff, Paul’s stuff, garbage, and Roger’s one bag of dirty laundry (but he’s cheating, he’s leaving most of his stuff on board). Folks on neighboring boats and the dock greet Roger and ask how the cruise went, when did he get back? He seems tickled to be able to say “Great, and just this minute!” With the exception of a short night at home when he drove round trip from Maine home to pick up the family, he’s been living on T.S. Ferry for more than three weeks.

The rest of us — myself and Paul, Lewis, and Fred who helped with the northbound delivery, were lucky to have spent a few days or a week on board, but Roger is the real winner. Which is, of course, fitting, as it’s his boat.

Paul and I part from Roger with firm wishes to be called upon again. Paul drives me to Norwalk to get my car from Lewis’s driveway, and all of a sudden we’ve come full circle. We take to southbound I-95 like kids racing dinghies, recklessly weaving our expensive automobiles through the heavy traffic as if all these cars and trucks are plastic boats. It’s hard to adjust to landlubber ways!

The final run down the Sound.

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