Maritime Nirvana in Mystic

After Tropical Storm Jose dissipated, we finally escaped the Boston area and resumed our journey southwest toward our next destination: Mystic Seaport, CT. We departed Hingham, MA at sunrise, transited the Cape Cod Canal again, and anchored for a night back at Mattapoisett, MA. Mattapoisett is a super convenient harbor since it is one of the only ones on Buzzards Bay where we can anchor with our 7.5′ draft — and the entrance is easy enough where we could depart 5am the next morning before sunrise.

It was a calm sunny motoring day as we made our way west past Newport, RI and Block Island. Then early afternoon, heavy fog rolled in, reducing visibility to near zero. Did I mention that I hate operating in fog? We switched on the automatic fog horn system and Andy helped look out for unseen hazards while I kept a close eye on the radar. Our only close call was a small motor boat running fast on plane that suddenly appeared off our bow. Captain Irresponsible seemed very surprised to see us. Hopefully he learned that slowing down in fog would be a good idea (especially when you don’t have radar or AIS).

Luckily as we got close to the entrance of the narrow, winding Mystic River, the fog cleared. The three miles of river are jam-packed with boats. Marinas line both shores, and each time the river widens a bit, there is a mooring field. You can immediately tell that this is a place obsessed with boating.

There are two bridges to clear on the way up to Mystic Seaport. First is a railroad swing bridge that is normally open except when Amtrak trains are speeding through. Right after that is a highway bridge in the middle of downtown Mystic. That is a bascule bridge (the kind that swings up from one side) and only opens once per hour during the daytime. We made the 3:40pm bridge opening and were settled into the dock at Mystic Seaport by 4pm.

Mystic Seaport is a 19 acre maritime museum founded in 1929. I have been to lots of maritime museums – and this is by far the biggest and best. In addition to the public displays, the Seaport is a working restoration shipyard. Their current major project is restoring of the Mayflower II, the replica of the tallship that brought the Pilgrims to America in 1620.

The extensive shoreline at the Seaport has numerous historic ships along with small sloops used for sailing classes and sculls for the Stonington crew team. One of the coolest boats temporarily on display is the Viking longship Draken Harald HÃ¥rfagre. The reconstructed longship sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 2016 to relive the first transatlantic crossing and the Viking discovery of the New World, more than 1,000 years ago.

The top attraction at the Seaport is the barque Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaling ship. Built in 1841, the Morgan is the oldest commercial ship still afloat in the world. It was brought to Mystic in 1941 after an 80 year whaling career. I have toured a number of old ships over the years, and this was definitely the most interesting. We learned about the really gross whaling operation where they would remove the whale’s blubber, render it into oil using big boiling vats on deck, and then store the hundreds of barrels in the hold. Each of their voyages generally lasted more than three years!

We also got to see a demonstration of crew going aloft up the Morgan’s mast to furl sails. There are a crazy number of lines involved in the rigging.

Mystic Seaport also has numerous museum exhibits and re-enactor presentations throughout the village, including a great one on whaling, some fun live sailor music, and one with cool old bow figureheads.

  

It was great have a dock slip right in the middle of the museum so we could explore any time of the day we wanted. Here is some video from our slip:

Mystic Seaport was one of my favorite destinations of our voyage so far. Check it out if you are ever in the CT/Long Island area.

5 Replies to “Maritime Nirvana in Mystic”

  1. It is a great place. I worked in the boathouse for a while after i retired. Should have come up thevConn river to Essex. I would hav bought you a beer at the Griswold Inn. A battle with the brits took place there in 1813. Sorry you missed Block Island.

  2. A post script. In August we visited Mystic with Carolyn an Jack Batty. They have a friend who published a book of photos on women of the sea

  3. Your love your blog posts. They are so well written and make us happy…that you are having this dream voyage. We love you all. Stay safe and enjoy it all!

    Carolyn and Jack

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