Boating in Saybrook, Connecticut
Tranquil & Beautiful
If you have the opportunity to explore the Connecticut then count yourself fortunate. Nowhere in the United States will you be able to find untouched expanses of water comparable to the Connecticut's breadth and scale. From its mouth at Saybrook to its New Hampshire source, yards away from the Canadian border (though only navigable from sea to Hartford), you'll find plenty of sights to see among 400 miles of some of the most picturesque shoreline New England has to offer. The Connecticut River's entrance has kept coastal crowding at bay. The Saybrook bar is shallow, as are many of its reaches, so it pro\tects the river from the deep-draft merchant ships that transit larger rivers like the Mississippi, Hudson or the Columbia. Small traders and barges work quite well, but over-the-road commerce is preferred. Add a shift in the local economy during the Great Depression, as well as the long-ago demise of the Connecticut's Rail system, and you've got a shoreline devoid of any largely populated cities except for Hartford. The result is miles after miles of untouched shoreline that makes for a boater's paradise.
Things to See and Do
The mouth of the Connecticut could prove to be quite busy during the summer months, when yachtsmen from far and wide head for the scenic coves of Essex, Old Saybrook and Deep River as well as more than a dozen anchorages spaced along the length of the River all the way to Middletown. You'll find plenty of attractions not far from the River's mouth. Griswold Point and Great Island, on the eastern side of the river, harbor the largest nesting popuspan classospreys in Connecticut and are two of the best bird-watching sites in the state. Remember to keep your distance so as not to disturb the wildlife.
Griswold Point is also a popular swimming spot, despite the fact that a breach in the inlet has cut off land access to the The Connecticut River's name is a corruption of the word "quinetucket" meaning long tidal river. And long it is-at over 400 miles the Connecticut ranks as one of the Nation's longest rivers. Above: a westerly view along Fenwick's south shore. tip at all but low tide. Pets are not welcome at the preserve because of the nesting birds. Use the designated trails over the spit to preserve the dune grass that helps to stabilize the area. Great Island and the Back and Black Hall rivers are fun to explore by dinghy, canoe, or small runabout. Between the Bridges (860-388-3614) has these small craft available to rent. You'll see ospreys, egrets, sandpipers, and herons stalk- ing the tidal flats at low tide and hunting in the marshes at higher water. On sunny weekends from June through Octo- ber, there's usually an angler on every bridge, pulling blue crabs from the brackish water below. Some use special fold- ing traps, but most use the traditional net and a chicken wing or some other leftovers tied to a string.
On the western side of the river is the borough of Fenwick, a beautiful and exclusive summer community. Fenwick Golf Course (860-388-2516) is open to non-residents on a lim- ited/same-day call-in basis, except on weekends during the high season.
Mariners and landside visitors alike can enjoy the lux- urious amenities of the Saybrook Point Inn, Marina & Spa (860-395-3080) in historic Old Saybrook. Built on the former site of the Terra Mar Marina and Hotel, the award- winning resort is situated where the Connecticut River joins Long Island Sound.
If you're a Yale graduate or a lover of history, you'll want to stop off at Saybrook Point to see Fort Saybrook Monument Park, the statue of Lion Gardiner, the tomb of Lady Fenwick, and the boulder marking the site where Yale University stood from 1707 to 1716.
To visit downtown Old Saybrook and its charming busi- ness district, you'll need to hop onto your bike or the local trolley, or call a cab-it's a pretty long walk. See Old Saybrook and Old Lyme for more information.
Restaurants and Provisions
You'll find only a few restaurants at Saybrook Point. The Terra Mar Grille (860-388-1111), is an upscale eatery at Saybrook Point Inn, Marina, & Spa. You can enjoy the fine cuisine inside or outside on the terrace. Saybrook Point Dock & Dine (860-388-4665) lives up to its name, letting patrons tie up to come ashore for a full array of seafood, including great chowder, and other entrees. You'll also find Jack's at Harbor One Sandwich Shop (860-388-3231), only open on the weekends.
Downtown Old Saybrook is about a mile away from the facilities at Saybrook Point, and half a mile or less from North Cove. The Saybrook Point Inn offers complimentary bicycles and shuttle service to town for their guests. We suggest Paperback CafÃ© (860-388-9718) open seven days a week with live jazz on weekends. Penny Lane Pub (860-388- 9646) on Main Street specializes in regional American cui- sine. Walt's Food Market (860-388-3308) comes through with great soups and sandwiches as well as groceries. For a further variation on the soup-and-sandwich lunch, cross over o Vanderbrooke Bakers & Caterers (860-388-9700), where you can also pick up some fascinating pastries. See Old Saybrook and Old Lyme for more information. For general repairs, call on A&R Nautical Repair (203-671-1000). Their on-site service also specializes in mechanical and electrical diagnosis.
Use ChartKit Region 3, pages 7 and 33; Maptech Waterproof Chartbook Long Island Sound; Maptech Waterproof Charts 1, 2, and 17; or Maptech electronic and NOAA paper charts 12375 (1:20,000) and 12372 (1:40,000).
Navigation and Anchorages
Use tide tables for Bridgeport. High and low tide at Saybrook Jetty is 35 minutes later. Mean tidal range is 3.5 feet.
Saybrook Breakwater Light (Fl G 6s 58ft 14M HORN) is about six miles from Duck Island in Westbrook, and seven miles from Black Point and the entrance to Niantic Bay. Long Island's Plum Gut is eight miles away.
From the southeast at R "8" Fl R 4s BELL, head for the jetties marked by for R "2" Fl R 2.5s and the white painted Saybrook Breakwater Light (Fl G 6s 58ft 14M HORN) at the Saybrook outer bar channel. From here, follow the buoys upriver, being sure (especially at night) to avoid floating debris. From the west, look for the Saybrook Breakwater Light on the southern end of the breakwater. On a clear day, you can see the white tower for many miles. West of the breakwater is a nice anchorage for lunch and a swim. It's unprotected, so an overnight stay isn't recommended.
When crossing the Sound from Plum Gut, or coming from the west and traveling south of Long Sand Shoal, pass on either side of the RG N "E" at the east end of the shoal. One of the first things you'll see is a large, white house with two chim- neys in Fenwick. Be sure not to confuse Lynde Point Light (F 71ft 14M) with the shorter, outer light on the breakwater. From the east, pass south of Hatchett Reef R N "6" off Old Lyme Shores. Then pass south and west of R "8" Fl R 4s BELL before swinging to the northwest and heading for the breakwaters.
CAUTION: Do not attempt to pass or follow fishing boats over the Saybrook Bar. the ruins of the old shad-fishing piers on the east side of the river are hazardous. As you head north through the breakwaters, keep R "2" Fl R 2.5s to the east as it marks a shoal area on the eastern side of the channel. On weekends, the mouth of the river is congested with all types of boats. During an ebb tide, the current can run up to five knots. You may also experi- ence some current on your beam at the southern end of the breakwater, so take care not to get pushed into the rocks. Give a wide berth to large commercial vessels, as they aren't very maneuverable and can't alter course once they're within the restricted width of the dredged channel. The only other consideration is a set of earplugs. Once the high-speed race boats are past the outer light-and sometimes before-they have the throttle wide open.
NOTE: a no-wake zone exists from the breakwater entrance to G "5" Fl G 4s and then again from just north of R "8" Fl R 4s to R "14" Fl R 4s opposite North cove. The 71-foot Lynde Point Inner Light was built in 1803, making it the third-oldest lighthouse in Connecticut. After you pass both the light and G C "7," Old Saybrook's South Cove is to west. The remains of an old causeway at the mouth of this cove make it accessible only to boats with shallow draft. At exceptionally low tides, you may be able to see the remains of the steamboat Granite State, which sank in 1883 near the mouth of the cove.
Saybrook Point is located between South Cove and North Cove. There are two excellent marinas here-Harbor One Marina (860-342-1085) and Saybrook Point Inn, Marina & Spa (860-395-3080). Because of their proximity to the open water of the Sound, they are favorite stopovers for large cruising boats on their way to Newport or New York. North Cove in Old Saybrook has a dredged channel with a depth of 10 feet on the approach but only three foot depths inside the cove. To enter the cove, turn sharply to the west north of G C "15" and stay between the local markers. There are some 150 permanent moorings here, so you'll find little space to drop anchor. The town of Old Saybrook welcomes transient boaters and maintains a few guest moorings avail- able at no charge. All other vacant moorings are available for up to 72 hours, but you must remain aboard. If you have questions, you can contact the harbormaster (860-388- 4969). North Cove Yacht Club (860-388-9087) may also be able to help. The club offers launch service, showers, rest- rooms, and other services for a modest fee. Mariners continuing up the Connecticut River will find the next waterfront facilities at Old Lyme, about two miles to the north.
Shoreside and Emergency Services
Airport: Bradley Intl. Airport (Hartford) 860-292-2000
Coast Guard: New London 860-442-4471 or VHF 16
Harbormaster: Old Saybrook 860-388-4969
Police, Fire, Ambulance: 911
Taxi: Essex Taxi 860-767-7433
Sea Tow 8004-SEATOW or VHF 16
TowBoatU.S. 800-391-4869 or VHF 16 Train:
Shore Line East 800-ALL-RIDE F