Our destination for August 1 was Westbrook, CT, a short 3 hour cruise. We had light winds and following seas with the current behind us. You can’t get much better cruising than that. We left at about 8:45 and got into Westbrook shortly before noon, just in time for lunch on board.
The only excitement along the way was the field of lobster pots just outside of Stonington and the game of “Dodge the Ferry” we had to play as we passed by New London. New London is one end of the New London/Orient Point, NY ferry route. We had five separate ferries trying to get into or leave New London within the space of a half hour just as we were trying to cross the ferry route. This is when AIS is its most helpful because we were able to tell how fast each ferry was going and when and how close we would be when we met each one. We sorted it all out, and then it was a smooth passage to Westbrook.
We had the afternoon in front of us. We would have loved to have spent the time relaxing and reading, but instead chores called. We had been spot cleaning Curiosity’s interior as we went along. But spot cleaning only gets you so far. So that afternoon we buckled down and did a thorough cleaning of the interior. We got some laundry going, I hauled out the vacuum cleaner, Jim dusted, and we both wiped down and spruced up the heads, wood surfaces and the helm. Much better.
We had hoped to get together with Anne and Henry, my college roommate and her husband, again for dinner. But alas, our last minute decision to come to Westbrook and the short notice we gave them meant that they were booked. So we were on our own. The dock staff recommended two restaurants: Café Routier and Bistro Mediterranean and Tapas Bar. We had gone to Café Routier with Anne and Henry when we stopped by on our way to Nantucket, so we thought we would try the Bistro. It had very good reviews on Yelp and was within walking distance of the marina. Perfect.
The restaurant is located on Route 1, the Old Post Road, which I was sure was busy, since it is in every other Connecticut town it runs through. And indeed it proved to be. We hoped there would be a sidewalk or at least some sort of shoulder we could use. As it turned out there was only the hint of a sidewalk, so we walked through some parking lots and onto the shoulder. Although a little hairy, it was fine because we did not have a very long distance to go along Route 1. Most of our walk was along neighborhood roads that either had sidewalks or very little traffic.
As soon as we reached the restaurant we realized we had gone the wrong way. Just on the other side of the restaurant was an entrance to the marina! The Brewer’s Pilots Point Marina is huge and has several entrances. When we plugged our destination into Google Maps, it tried to take us another way, but we, like fools who thought we knew better than Google, decided to ignore those directions and go our own way. Well, we were wrong. But we knew which way we would go on our way back to the boat.
The Bistro Mediterranean and Tapas Bar, as the name implies, is a Spanish style restaurants that serves “Mediterranean” cuisine (don’t they all these days?), including tapas. We enjoy tapas because they tend to be very tasty and small, so we can order several different plates and get a lot of variety without getting too much food.
Our waiter said the plates were small, so we thought we would start with three. We ordered artichoke hearts with garlic, tomato and a white wine sauce, grilled shrimp over pureed chickpeas with balsamic vinaigrette and piquillo peppers stuffed with braised lamb. The shrimp and artichokes were excellent with lots of piquant flavor. The stuffed peppers were subtler and both a little sweet and savory. Jim thought we should have had them first because the other two dishes tended to overpower them. But the peppers were still good.
Our waiter’s idea of small plates and ours were quite different. The three dishes we chose were plenty for the two of us. That said, we still had room for dessert: profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. What’s not to like there?? They weren’t the best we’ve ever had, but they were good enough.
We hiked back to the boat, this time the right way, and got ourselves ready for our run to Stamford the next day.
We were planning on leaving Westbrook at around 8am. The current would then be with us for most of the 6 hour cruise to Stamford and we’d have a favorable tide, which was important. The Pilots Point Marina is very nice with only one drawback, the transient docks are right across from a beach with a shoal that extends into the channel you need to negotiate to get into the slips. The shoal drops off, but it is narrow and you can clearly see the danger area from your boat. We wanted to hit that area on a rising tide, which we would have if we left around 8. In addition, the marina had docked a sailboat right across from us in the slip (it was a double slip with finger piers on the outsides of the two boats). So we had the shoal in front of us and a sailboat right off our port side. It took a bit of maneuvering and coming within about a foot of the finger pier on the sailboat side, but we got out.
The day was gray and a little on the nasty side. It had rained and thundered about 7:30, but most of the storm had passed by the time we left. Still, the wind kicked up to around 15 kts midway to Stamford and the seas went from flat to 1 to 2 feet with the occasional 3-footers thrown in. The wind and seas were behind us, so we had a comfortable ride; we just had to crab along our planned route.
Of course, when we got to Stamford and were preparing to dock, both the wind and seas seemed rougher. We were expecting a docking challenge. This time, however, our slip assignment was in the Brewer’s Yacht Haven East Marina, farther away from Long Island Sound and much better protected from wind and current. The slip was huge with a big turning basin in front of it. It was a piece of cake getting in. We were tied up by 1:30.
Since we had done a lot of our boat chores while we were in Westbrook, we had lots of time to relax in Stamford. We took a walk to stretch our legs. I then devoted myself to writing this blog entry, while Jim got horizontal on the salon couch and serenaded me as I typed. Ah, there’s nothing like the sound of snores to inspire you.
Tonight we will eat on board. There’s not much within walking distance of the marina, and we still have several meals in the freezer. It will probably be chicken chili over rice with salad and maybe some cantaloupe. Tomorrow we return to NYC.