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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Magical Mystical Mystic

The ancient Connecticut seafaring town of Mystic had such a lovely ethereal ring about it, we simply had to go and explore.  We weren’t disappointed - what a magical spot!  To get there we had to wend our way up the gorgeous Mystic River with lovely scenery on either side.   

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A quintessential New England small town, Mystic is a popular destination for tourists and holidaymakers but especially appeals to nautical types.  Founded in 1654 it has a long history of boat building and seafaring and remains devoted to its past.  The world renowned maritime museum Mystic Seaport is just upriver from Mystic.  It’s a beautifully recreated 19th century seaport village on the waterfront, home to some wonderfully weathered old salts!

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Mystic Seaport generously offers foreign flagged vessels one free night at their dock which is fantastic.  Included were two tickets to the museum (normally $20), endless hot showers in the spotlessly clean shower block, free wifi and a good supply of clean water to fill Bandit’s tanks.  Such things bring a huge smile to salty sailors’ faces!

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Being dockside meant it was easy to unload the bikes and head off for an exploration through the bucolic countryside along the Mystic River.  Mystic Seaport was a lovely place to be we spent a lot of time sitting on Bandit watching the working displays including whaleboat rowing demonstrations.  We became a museum piece ourselves when the regular tour boats went past and we were added into the commentary.  “Now that boat is definitely a modern boat – you see its solar panels and wind generator?  It’s a cruising boat and look – it’s from New Zealand.”   We flew our Silver Fern from the spreaders and had one Kiwi come over to say hello.  It pays to advertise!

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 There are some interesting boats at Mystic Seaport including the 1841 Charles W Morgan – the oldest surviving wooden whaling ship in the USA; LA Dunton, a classic fishing schooner from 1921; Joseph Conrad, a square rigged training ship and a 1908 steamboat Sabino.  The one that really took our eye however was the beautiful classic schooner Brilliant.  She was in immaculate condition – a real stunner.

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Mystic Seaport is a haven for sailors – young and old.  The museum has loads of interactive activities and demonstrations of time honoured crafts such as cooperage, rope making, blacksmithing and woodworking.  Activities for children included toy boat building.  Summer sailing camps for young sailors are held here and it was wonderful to see the small yachts out with enthusiastic hands at the helm.  A truly wonderful place not to be missed on the New England coast.  .DSC_3620

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From Mystic we headed to Fisher’s Island, an exclusive private island full of the huge mansions that are a feature of Long Island Sound.  Sadly, at this time of year the Long Island waters are full of nasty jellyfish which rules out swimming.  With the water 23 degrees it’s far too cold for us anyway!

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Next stop was the beautiful group of pink granite islands known as the Thimbles.  This cluster of islands consists of 25 inhabited private islands and hundreds of other small rocks dotted into Long Island Sound off the Connecticut Coast.  The islands required careful navigation and we picked an absolutely still morning to do so, gently wending our way between rocks.  

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It would be very easy to spend longer here exploring the wonderful Connecticut coastline but we need to haul Bandit so, after another brief trip to New York, we’ll be heading straight back to the Chesapeake.

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