Our dear friends, Linda & Harland are coming down from Massachusetts for their annual trip to view the Connecticut River Swallow migration to Goose Island. We tell them that it may be a bit early for a really good show of birds as they usually make their voluminous runs in September, not August. However, this weekend is the only time they have available for visiting, so we’ll go for whatever show the swallows will give us. When they arrive on Friday afternoon, we let them know that the local Chester Fair is starting tonight and the main event tonight is the tractor pulls. Thinking this will be something they would enjoy, we discuss he possibility for a while, then decide to just stay on board at the marina, have a cook-out and get the boat ready for the weekend on the river.
After a barbeque with fellowship and some catching up, we turn in around 11:00 pm for the evening. It’s been spectacular weather the past two days with daytime highs in the high 70’s and nighttime lows in the high 50’s. The forecast for the weekend calls for more of the same. We’ve had our windows open for two days and the A/C off, so we leave our windows open and settle into bed.
Saturday morning, Tracy makes a nice fried eggs breakfast while we discuss things that we can look forward to during the next two days. We discuss the possibility of docking at the Connecticut River Museum and going thru their exhibits prior to heading further south on the river to our proposed anchorage right off Goose Island. After breakfast and cleanup, we start the process of prepping Kailani for shoving off. Linda & Harland give us a hand with power, water, cable, etc while Tracy & I get Kailani ready for the cruise.
With all dock lines ready for quick release and all hands briefed on where to put the lines after releasing from the cleats (so they’re handy when we return), I start the engines and we shove off from the dock. After getting out into the river channel, I think about the holding tanks and since we’ll be anchored out for the evening, I decide we should run first down to the DEEP pump-out dock and start the weekend with empty tanks. So we pass south of Goose Island and pull up to the DEEP dock and Tracy gives Kailani a thorough cleansing of her holding tanks. Both are empty and ready for our night at anchor. Immediately north of the DEEP dock is Old Lyme City Dock where we usually fuel up, so with a night of some planned generator hours and tanks at half full, we decide to fuel up while were right here, so we wait for a slot on their docks and pull in for topping off our fuel tanks. We take 137 gallons of fuel between the two tanks and we leave there all topped off and head back north to Essex and the Connecticut River Museum. While we’re running, I get the museum on the phone and ask about the availability of their dock space and they tell me the docks are only for their members and they probably can’t handle a 49’ vessel anyway. So as we approach Essex we find an anchorage spot just off the Essex Shoal Channel. We’ve never ventured into this water, but we spot a fifty footer anchored in there and upon further examination of the charts, see that we can safely get in there for an anchorage. After Tracy drops and sets the anchor snubber, we unload the tender. Tracy decides to catch up on some shut eye and Linda, Harland & I decide to take Frankie into town and just walk around checking out the village shops.
Essex boasts of a town dock, however they don’t make the location very well known info, so we dinghy into shore and tie up at what I think is the Essex Town Dock. After tying up the tender, we walk up the vast yard to the house and look for signs of life either from town officials, or private life. After failing to find either, I decide to give my friend Gary Woods a call to see if he knows anything about the town docks. After talking to Gary for a while, we realize he knows as much as we do in this regard so we still don’t know if we’re correct, or trespassing. Just as we’re running out of ideas to confirm our situation, a gentlemen comes out of an adjacent property heading for his car in the adjoining driveway. So I go over to him and ask if he can confirm or deny that we are on town property. He describes that he thinks we’re on private property, but he’s just a guest visiting for the weekend. We determine that we’re most likely on private property and decide to abandon the tie-up and keep searching for the town docks. After a few private docks, we come upon a small dock with room for literally, two tenders, or two jet-skies or any other combination of the same. At this time, there’s a guy tying up his jet-ski, so I ask him and he confirms that this is in fact the town docks. We take up the other available space and head into town with Frankie on his leash. First store we see is Sweet-P’s Ice Cream Shop, so it’s time for ice cream! Then we proceed to a local antique shop with mostly nautical type items. Harland finds two items that are mis-marked as to what they actually are and lets the shopkeeper know! Linda and Nick went into the ice cream store leaving Harland on the curb with Frankie. A couple of ladies passed by and admiring the dog, asked Harland the dog’s name. “Frankie” Harland replied. Subsequently, Harland and Nick went into the antique store and as Linda was watching Frankie outside, two ladies drove by, slowed, rolled down their window and Said “Hi Frankie”. Linda was blown away…how had these ladies known the dog’s name. Some secrets must be kept! -tc Then it’s back to the tender and motor out to Kailani where Tracy is waking up from her siesta.
We’re so close to Goose Island, we decide to have Harland drive the tender while we motor Kailani to our Goose Island anchorage spot. This saves us having to lift the tender up to the sundeck roof for the short trip. We end up exactly where we had planned to be from our previous search of the charts and the anchorage works out great for us once the large boat/wake traffic from the channel dies down.
At around 6 pm or shortly thereafter, we start to see some swallows begin their swarm around the island, but the real show isn’t for another hour and a half (we just don’t know it yet!). The early birds seem to come, swirl for a while, then fly off beyond our visibility (even with binoculars)! This coming and going continues for an hour or so, then as earlier described, the real show starts at around sunset, shortly before dusk. During this early dance of the swallows, we’ve made our way up to the roof of the sundeck for an unobstructed view of the sky. All four of us are on the roof looking skyward and the swarms start to fly low all around us. We’re forced to stand in awe as teems of swallows are flying right towards us from a height lower than our vantage point and seconds before they would seemingly crash into the vessel, they split up and go around to our left, around to our right and overhead all at once and for about ten minutes as these particular swallows need to join the swarm. It’s impossible to see who is the lead swallow in this dance, but coordination and timing are beyond belief as a spectacular choreographed dance begins in the sky overhead and situated right above Goose Island. This swarm lasts only minutes and before you can relax and enjoy the show, the swallows form a downward spiral and funnel themselves into the island for the evening. The sky clears and the show is over!
We had come out here today with very low expectations for a great show, and we were rewarded with one of the best shows we’ve seen yet.
After the show ends, we fire up the generator and Tracy prepares a delicious barbequed ribs dinner. After dinner, we break out the new scrabble board for a riveting game of word creation. The end of scrabble is the end of the day for us and we turn in for the evening. Peaceful and serene are the words to describe this anchorage as we all hit the beds. Kailani’s ground tackle system holds us safely and securely and our sleeps are rarely interrupted by the anchor alert. Tonight is no exception as we sleep soundly accompanied by low winds and calm seas. All’s quiet until Tracy is awakened by the sound of the inverter clicking as it searches for a load draw sufficient enough for it to keep inverting. Mother nature cooperates while mechanical nature isn’t so cooperative. Oh well!
Tracy wakes up early enough to catch the swallow show in reverse, wakes Linda and Harland and we watch the swallows venture out for the day.
Time for the generator to start up again as we turn on the coffee pot and get ready for a nice breakfast on a slightly cool morning. After breakfast, we spend some time relaxing, then it’s time to load up the tender back onto the roof as we prepare for the run back to Chester Marina. The river is not very busy for a summer Sunday and the trip takes us about an hour and as usual, as we approach our dock Jim, Bart, Brian, Kim, Chad and Brian are all ready to help us with our lines. Docking is always easier when we have so much help.
After Kailani is secured, we reconnect the utility lines and our guests, Linda and Harland pack up their gear for their ride home back to Massachusetts. Our two days of fun and boating have provided us long-term memories.