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Photos courtesy of


by John Galluzzo

ou’re blockaded. The British have a chokehold on your trade, and you know, as a good resident of Essex fighting the War of 1812, that you need to do something. Luckily, you and your fellow Essex (then known as Potopaug) residents are expert shipbuilders. All you need to do is build small, fast ships to outrun the blockade. Call them “privateers”; by any name, they’ll help break the enemy-imposed economic strangulation. But the British get word. They send a force of 136 men in longboats six miles up the river from Long Island Sound, and raid the town. No one is hurt—but they seize every inch of rope the town has (sailing ships used it by the mile), confiscate any rum they can find, and burn the boats being built. And so goes probably the most exciting event in the history of Essex, one of the few American cities that can ever claim to have been attacked by a foreign enemy. The British followed a route similar to the one you will today. West of New London and east of New Haven, you’ll find Old Saybrook, and the entrance to the Connecticut River. The Saybrook Breakwater Light flashes green at the entrance to the Saybrook Outer Bar Channel. Lynde Point gives way on the west to South 52


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Cove, and then Saybrook Point, where the Saybrook Shoal Channel begins. Be mindful of the no-wake zone enforcement in this area as you pass under two bridges. Note that, in the fall, the marshlands along the river are frequented by duck hunters; their blinds will be visible from your boat—steer clear in October and November, just to be safe. North of the I-95 bridge, be careful as you stick to the channel to the west of Calves Island, as there are numerous obstructions close to the edges. Stay as close to center as possible, and stick with the channel as it bends around to the northwest. Soon, you’ll be upon Essex, which will be bustling with small boats. The main channel continues northward, and a series of private aids leads into Essex Cove. Once again, be careful to stick to local posted speed limits. Once ashore, you can march right up to the same tavern that the British harassed in 1814, take in the many local museums, or just stroll the streets and check out the historic architecture. Essex—made up of three villages, Essex, Ivoryton and Centerbrook—has been called “the perfect small town,” a title that deserves scrutiny. You’re on the clock.

6/11/18 1:20 PM

Captain's Seaside Guide 2018  
Captain's Seaside Guide 2018