What's New?
  For Sale
  A History
  Email List
  Members Only
  Marine Weather
  Local Weather
  Contact Us
Marionette visits her old homeport, Essex, Connecticut (updated September 28, 2013)  

October 1, 2012. It's been a quiet, and hot, summer - a little day sailing, no cruises, no more racing after our June Off Soundings regatta, and now it was time to think about getting Marionette in for her winter nap. The plan this year was to sail her up the Connecticut River and haul her at Cove Landing, a really neat boatyard in Hamburg Cove about 8 miles up the river, just 2 miles past the village of Essex.

The timing was such that maybe Marionette could have a season closing happening at her old homeport of Essex? Thirty plus years ago prior owner, Tom Marston, hailing from Essex, raced her successfully for years. Tom has been ill and recently lost his wife, Marion, who was the inspiration for Marionette's name. They were long time members at Essex Corinthian YC which was hosting the Clark Memorial River Race (no spinnakers) on Saturday, September 29 and, as we were passing right by Essex, why not enter Marionette? This regatta had a reputation for challenging racing, and very hospitable hosts. Besides, Tom Clark, a local sailmaker who had had passed away at a too young an age, had made a sail for one of our pre Dolphin era boats.

The forecast was that Friday, Sept 28 would be an awful day - heavy rain, 20-30 knot winds, and so it was. This Dolphin is always interested in avoiding bad weather and so, on Thursday, we motor sailed from Niantic Bay the 16 miles to Essex, conducting an overdue sea trial with Marionette's Motor #2 (click here to go to that update). We found a nice, but expensive slip right in front of the neighboring Essex YC tucked in among a lot of big power boats - see below. Saturday the forecast was light winds from the north, cloudy, occasional showers, light mist. Here is the scene...

Marionette's track - CT River race course between the white Xs

Marionette's slip

Click on the above photos for large views, click your browser back arrow to get back here

The history of these two, side by side, yacht clubs is interesting. Essex Yacht Club was founded in 1933, and until 1980 their clubhouse was the building that presently houses the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club. A marine laboratory and the large neighboring property became available in the late 1970s and EYC bought it, and dedicated their new clubhouse in 1980. The additional land and waterfront provided for substantial added facilities for this upscale yacht club. ECYC was founded in 1984 - its founders were many former EYC members looking for a more casual but still corinthian club environment. Click on the subtitles above for more information.

The skipper's meeting was held Friday at 6 PM, very casual, at ECYC's clubhouse. Attendance low due to the weather, but hospitality was high - complimentary liquid refreshments served. All skipper's meetings should be like this - seated in comfortable armchairs, discussions about the vicissitudes of racing on the river with its fluky breezes and awesome tidal currents, war stories with, and about, the local hotshots...

Saturday, September 29 - race day. Start was at 11AM. Heavy overcast and light mist, a nice but shifty 8-9 knot breeze from the north, and the incoming current nearing slack. There was a 12 mile course scheduled, twice around up and down the river between the white Xs on the chart above, and the start and finish right in front of Essex. There were only 4 boats in our class, our Dolphin, and a Morgan 24, a Pearson 26 and a Pearson Triton - all with lower PHRF non spinnaker handicaps than Marionette's 270. We started on the same line with another small class of larger PHRF boats - total 8. The weather was blamed for some cancellations.

Marionette had a crew of 2 - your webmaster as trimmer, watcher for shoals and rocks, and moveable ballast, and son Michael, driving. We had a nice start and led our class at the weather mark. Then the breeze started to die, the mist got heavier, but at least the current was just starting to ebb - it was carrying us downriver.

On the downwind, downstream leg we sailed into a no breeze hole and Celebration, the Morgan 24, and winner of a similar race the previous week, caught us and passed us at the leeward (southern) mark. Then the strengthening ebb current and dying breeze became critical as the fleet began the long beat back up the river.

Marionette's strategy was to stay close to shore on the east side of the river out of the worst current and look for a forecasted wind shift to the northeast. We kept moving, barely. But our competition, looking for more wind on the west side was forced to anchor in mid river, no wind and strong ebbing current.

Eventually, Marionette sailed into a light building breeze filling from the northeast (!) and then we heard the Race Committee call for a shortened course because of the light breeze. The finish would be at original starting line - making it a once around course.

We finished 1st in our class and 2nd overall.

The awards party was a fun event, open bar, with a number of older members congratulating and talking to us about Marionette and her years sailing out of Essex with Tom and Marion Marston and their 4 kids. It was very gratifying to talk about her and her 17 years in my care. She has been carrying that 'pretty boat' tag for over 50 years.

Sunday, September 30, 2012. Still overcast skies - Marionette and I left Essex YC at 10:30 and at 11:30 were tying up at Cove Landing Boat Yard in Hamburg Cove. This part of the Connecticut River has long stretches of dense woods on its shores with magnificant mansions peeking out at the river. Sample views...

Looking up river
Elys Ferry - now a private home
House at entry to Hamburg Cove

Click on the above photos for larger views - click your browser back arrow to get back here

Hamburg Cove is the Eight Mile River that has 2 coves - one large outer cove and a small inner cover. The outer cove is a well known and often used hurricane hole, surrounded by beautiful homes . The inner cove is home to Hamburg, a tiny hamlet, part of the town of Lyme, the Hamburg Cove YC and the Cove Landing Boat Yard - specializing in restoring and maintaining classic wood boats. They will haul Marionette this year - we are hauling in class.

Altogether, this was a nice way to end the season...

On a mooring in the Eight Mile River
Hamburg Cove YC
Cove Landing Boat Yard

Click on the photos above to see larger images - click your browser back arrow to get back here

Not your typical boatyard

Sunday afternoon, in good company, ready for the travel lift on Monday

Waiting on Monday
Monday afternoon - home


October 22, 2012. Thanks to Ed Birch, the Essex Corinthian YC Race Committee Chairman we got a good picture of Marionette approaching the finish line.

Approaching the finish line - webmaster in leeward ballast position


Postscript, December 1, 2012. At the post race party we found out that Marionette's former owner Tom Marston raced International 14 dinghies back in the 1950s and 1960s - as did the Race Committee Chairman, Ed Birch. It seems that the Essex Yacht Club was then a hot bed of International 14 dinghy racing. Tom wrote a chapter in a book co-authored by other International 14 racers, and edited by Stuart Walker, titled "The Techniques of Small Boat Racing by the International 14 Sailors of North America". George O'Day wrote two of the chapters. This revelation required further investigation - click here to go there


PostPostscript, September 28, 2013. While checking the ECYC website for the Race Notice for the upcoming 2013 Clark Memorial River Race on October 12, we came across this picture of Marionette on their Facebook page - from the 2012 event.

In the fog/mist waiting for the start, I think...










1 [Home] [A History] [Technical] [Restorations] [Stories] [Forum]
[Members Only] [Links] [Marine Weather] [Local Weather] [Contact Us]

© Copyright 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Website Design by EasyWebCreations.com & Powered by ASP Hosting