Life on the Connecticut River

Post by - Published on 02/26/24 5:00 AM


Deb Martin and her family moved to a river town in Connecticut in 2017, and have since fallen in love with the culture, people, and community. In this article, Deb touches on some of her favorite spots in the area, and reminds us how lucky we are to spend time out on the water.

By Deb Martin

The 410 mile Connecticut River flows from Quebec to Long Island Sound, and brings nautical history and enjoyment to a wide array of boaters. Our homeport became Essex, Connecticut, in July of 2017.  Our move from inland Connecticut to the shoreline was one of the best decisions that our family has made. Before our move, our summers were always filled with transporting and lugging boats, paddle-boards, kayaks, and other floating devices to the water to enjoy the beauty of the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound.  Now, with the river as our backyard, it has become our perfect playground by creating a place of respite and fellowship. Plus, it has created memories that will forever be part of our family.

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The river provides options for taking sunset cruises, rafting up with other boaters, lunch on secluded islands, finding inlets to discover, overnights on moorings and of course access to Long Island Sound. It is our gateway to the entire Connecticut shoreline, Block Island, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. There are public access points that welcome local and visiting anglers- as the river is also known for its seasonal fish of shad and striper. There are always good fish stories among the locals and visitors looking to find “that spot.”


There are various river boat tours that help non boaters enjoy the beautiful Connecticut River too - from eagle watching in the spring, summer sunset cruises and watching the dazzling display of the swallows' nest in the reefs every late summer, access to enjoy the river can be discovered by anyone.

For our family, we spend as much time on the river as possible and take advantage of Long Island Sound to escape. Nearby our homeport, Hamburg Cove is the local favorite of many.  The narrow entry leaves boaters to navigate the tricky approach, and when the tide is low, it leaves boaters challenged and in need of Sea Tow or US Boat to assist captains to get unstuck. The Hamburg Cove raft ups (sometimes up to 8 deep with our friends and family)  bring a festive vibe and allow for a quick escape without going far.  There are private moorings, rental moorings as well as a good spot to anchor. As the cove starts to empty in the late afternoon - it is left with just a handful of boaters viewing the amazing sunsets and sounds of local yacht club cannons - a good reminder of how lucky we are to spend time on the water. 


Visiting Mystic, CT, another one of our favorites, is an easy ride from the mouth of the CT River in our Albin 28TE- taking only 45 minutes from Essex (depending). The Mystic River sets the backdrop of the historic village that vacationers enjoy. Navigating the train bridge and Mystic drawbridge are key planning strategies when heading into Mystic. 

In Mystic, we recently stayed as guests at the Mystic Seaport Museum using Dockwa, where we were welcomed and settled into our “night at the museum”.  We had access to the museum and enjoyed a walk into Mystic Village to grab a drink, and of course ice cream at the Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream shop - an iconic stop.


This visit was a quick-and-easy one night getaway that allowed us to relax and take advantage of the historic area. On the return home, after waiting for the Mystic Drawbridge to open, we were met by thick fog - not unusual for a hot summer August morning in southern New England. With a slower ride back to Essex, we happened to follow another boater who was heading in the same direction, together we navigated back to the Connecticut River - and with a shout out on the radio, we shared our appreciation for the maritime comradery and continued our journey back to our own mooring.  

Back on the river, if time is a factor, we use our dinghy to take a quick ride around the harbor on evenings after work as well as bring the dogs as they love the river too.  The sandbars and islands create an opportunity for all to explore. The dinghy also  provides front row seating for enjoying entertainment at the Connecticut River Museum or in middle cove at the Essex Town Green.

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Moving to a Connecticut River town has proven to be the best adventure, especially after living inland for 23 years. Our passion for the water has helped us create friendships, and  learn more about our beautiful river that brings so many boaters together. The Connecticut River truly feels like home.

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