December: Mystic Harbor


The bascule bridge gave it away

It’s the harbor at Mystic Seaport, in Mystic, Connecticut. I’ve only ever driven by there, most recently to go to the annual Catboat Association meeting in Groton, but from charts and pictures the bascule bridge looks right, and the catboat appears to be the Seaport’s Breck Marshall.

Peter Knowlton
Beverly, Mass.

Catboat is Seaport-built

It’s Mystic Seaport looking downriver toward the bascule bridge and Long Island Sound (eventually). The catboat is the Seaport-built Breck Marshall, a Crosby catboat modeled after the 1900 version Frances, which is also in the Seaport’s collection. My godfather had Crosby build a catboat on the same model, save for an extended rake transom with an underslung rudder and bowsprit. She was a common sight sailing Osterville, Mass. waters for a number of years, sporting an advertisement for the Osterville Free Public Library on her sail.

Dave Tew
Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Amistad is to the left

The Mystery Harbor shown in the December issue is in Mystic, Conn. looking south from Mystic Seaport. The giveaway landmarks are the bascule bridge on Rte. 1 (on the right), the tall flagpole in Mystic and the noticeably raked masts of the schooner Amistad berthed at the Mystic Seaport Museum. I am very familiar with the area as I was harbormaster of the Mystic River for 12 years. I became well acquainted with every rock (I’ve hit them all) and mudflat during my tenure. Not good PR for a harbormaster, but true, nonetheless.

Paul C. Watts (Mystic River Harbormaster, retired)
Mystic, Conn.

Brings back great memories

Reminds me of the cruise we did on which we spent a night at Mystic Seaport; was super neat being on the grounds after dark. Good ice cream next to the bridge!

Patrick Mailloux
Portland, Maine

Was childhood playground

The Mystery Harbor in the December issue is in the Mystic River at Mystic Seaport. I recognize the bridge, which I watched open many times as a child in the late ’50s and early ’60s as I walked the banks of the river playing in boats and fishing the river with friends.

I remember on special days my grandparents, who lived on the west side of the river, would take me over to a large boat that was heavily ballasted with stones to keep it still at the dock. For less than 50 cents you could go aboard and listen to an old timer tell you about the boat. The boat was the Charles W. Morgan, which is once again sailing, and part of one of the best maritime museums in the country.

I spent many summers crawling around that boat dreaming about whaling and great sea adventures. I’m sure those early days at the Morgan, and playing around the river watching the catboats, set me up for a lifetime of sailing. I now sail out of Camden, Maine, on the sloop Hightail, surrounded by ships from the same era as the Morgan.

Marc Lorraine
Appleton, Maine

Double whammy of familiarity

The Mystery Harbor is the Mystic River, in Mystic, Conn. Mystic Seaport Museum is on the left, along with the two raked masts of the schooner Amistad. The boat in the right of the picture is the catboat Breck Marshall, owned by the Seaport, which gives rides to the public. I’ve sailed to the museum a few times for the WoodenBoat Show, and just for visits as crew on other people’s boats. Love OPBs.

By the way, the article “From Budapest with Love (and Oysters)” [also in the December issue] features a photo of an oyster boat. In the background is Guilford, Conn.’s Grass Island and its much-pictured red shack, which has withstood many named storms including Gloria, Irene and Sandy, and nor’easters. Just out of the picture to the left is the town mooring where I’ve kept my sloop, Jessica Buckling, for many years. So, I got a double whammy of familiarity from this issue.

Douglas W. Meyer
Guilford, Conn.

Too obvious?

Thanks for an easy one right before Christmas – the Mystery Harbor is in Mystic, Conn. My wife and I attend the WoodenBoat Show every year. I’m a retired middle school teacher and volunteer as part of a team that builds Bevin’s Skiffs with kids at the Cape Cod Maritime Museum. Come and visit – it’s a hidden gem on Hyannis Harbor.

Pete Cross
Hyannis, Mass.

Strange bedfellows

I used to stay there during Labor Day weekends in the late ’70s. More recently I returned there with my wife on my 20-foot sailboat, where I ended up next to Tiger Woods on his motor yacht. Let’s just say it was a bit of a contrast in lifestyles . . .

Eric Cordis
Schroon Lake, N.Y.

Nice views from slips there

It’s Mystic Harbor between Mystic Seaport and the bascule bridge on Main Street in Mystic. We’re members of the Seaport and visit the harbor there – my favorite harbor – two or three times a year by boat from the Connecticut River. Mystic Seaport has great wharf slips that are discounted to members, and the views of the harbor from them are simply wonderful.

Rich Ewing
East Hampton, Conn.

Hey, I once worked there!

I was thumbing through the December issue of Points East when I came across a familiar photo. I had the privilege of being the chantey singer at Mystic Seaport Museum from 1972 to 1985. I also sailed a boat out of Noank, Conn., so this stretch of water, with the drawbridge in the distance, is one I fondly remember. I also recognize Mystic Seaport’s Breck Marshall, a Cape Cod Catboat, in the foreground.

Many boaters have navigated their way up the Mystic River to visit the museum. My first venture there was in 1951 with my father and younger brother in a small cruising sailboat named Little Stormy. The day was too foggy to venture out on Fishers Island Sound, so my dad elected instead to take us up-river to the Seaport. We spent the night at the dock under the shadow of the newly acquired Charles W. Morgan. That was an experience that had a profound effect on me, as I subsequently became an employee for 13 summers at the Seaport demonstrating sea chanteys and talking about life on sailing ships. Such wonderful memories.

Stuart Gillespie
West Bath, Maine

Great small-boat estuary

I spent a wonderful college semester attending the Williams-Mystic program at Mystic Seaport, and sailing on these waters. Williams College and Mystic Seaport run a tremendous “semester abroad” program, with a rigorous academic program, and featuring multiple hands-on explorations (think New Orleans seaports and the Pacific Northwest) and 10 days at sea on a tall ship. Absolutely wonderful, and life changing! What a great estuary for small-boat sailing you’ve pictured above the bridge at Mystic, Conn.

Clint Marshall
Biddeford Pool, Maine

A fun destination

The mystery harbor is Mystic looking down river towards the bascule bridge and downtown. The Seaport has been a favorite of ours since the ’80s when we cruised there aboard our Cape Dory 27 Ecstasy. We still cruise there every year, these days on our Northern Bay, Elixir. It’s always a fun destination!

Paul Lepanto
Shelton, Conn.

Nice afternoon breezes

I’ve sailed, paddled, motored and rowed this section of the Mystic River many times over the years. The view is to the south, looking at the raised U.S. Rte. 1 drawbridge (it must be 40 minutes past the hour) with the catboat Breck Marshall in the foreground and the Amistad on the left at the Seaport’s shipyard. It looks like Araminta is also tied up there. As usual, the summer breeze is being funneled up the river making it a nice spot for small-boat sailing if you stay in the channel.

William Meier
Mystic, Conn.

Beetle Cat in background?

The catboat to the right is the Breck Marshall, which the Seaport uses to take passengers out for hour-long sails. The small boat near the drawbridge is probably one of the 12’ Marshall Beetle Cats that are available for rent to museum visitors during the summer. I work as a volunteer there keeping the rental fleets, including the Breck, ship-shape.

William Littell
Madison, Conn.

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