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Mystic River Kayak and the Launch of the Morgan

My favorite kayak destination in Southeastern Connecticut is the Mystic River in Mystic. This is always an enjoyable trip because it involves paddling past the Mystic Seaport with its beautiful boats and turn of the century buildings. Just a bit further downriver is the iconic Mystic River Bridge, then Mystic harbor with its many expensive yachts. Beyond the harbor is Mason’s Island and finally Fisher’s Island Sound. Depending on your level of fitness and available time, you can paddle for an hour or much, much more and take in some of the most stunning nautical scenery in Connecticut. We always start our adventure at a launching area located under the I-95 bridges that span the river about ½ mile upstream from the Seaport.

On Sunday, July 21, there was a very special event on the river that we didn’t want to miss. The Charles W. Morgan, a whaling ship that has been a part of the Mystic Seaport for many decades, was going to be re-launched after an extensive overhaul and re-build. Many other kayaks and boaters also thought that the river would make an excellent vantage point for viewing the event. When we arrived at the launching area it was “standing room” only. There were cars and trucks lining both sides of the road for at least ¼ mile. I had never seen this launch area so crowded! It was about an hour before the launch festivities were to begin and it was fun to see a flotilla of kayaks heading toward the same destination. Once we got to the Seaport we joined a rather large group of boats already anchored and enjoying the sites and sounds. The kayak was the vessel of choice for most of the water borne crowd, followed by the zodiac. There were also plenty of small boats amongst the group.  It was a really joyous atmosphere with many craft tied side by side.

Following the requisite speeches, that we really couldn’t hear because of our distance away from the podium, there was a blast of an air horn, followed by cannon blasts at various locations around the seaport, signaling that the launch was underway. The Morgan, which was sitting on a floating dry-dock, was slowly lowered into the water. Once it was floated, a fireboat began to send streams of red, white and blue water into the air. It was quite the sight from our vantage point on the water just about a hundred feet away.

Following the launch, we decided to paddle upriver instead of our usual trip downstream to see the other part of the Mystic River. The river got very shallow as we continued north beyond the I-95 bridges. At the point that we turned around, the river was no more than 8-10” deep.  And we had run out of time for this kayak adventure. Our only regret for this beautiful day was that we didn’t do more paddling before we stopped to wait for the Morgan’s launch.  We probably could have paddled to Mason’s Island and back before the fun part of the launch began.

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