Operand type clash: text is incompatible with int

Swimming from New York to Connecticut

After swimming from Fishers island to Groton Long Point/Noank, swimmers rest near Noank Town Dock Monday morning. Seated, left to right: Steve Fagin, Rick Ely, Laura Ely, Mary Georgetti, Nickie Pettinati. Standing, left to right: Spyros Barres, B.J. Ferguson, Anne Galliher, Barry Sheckley, Vince Antonelli.

Shortly after dawn Monday, the village of Noank at first glance had the appearance of the staging ground for a Navy Seal-like invasion, as wetsuit-clad swimmers began assembling near Town Dock, along with a small flotilla of kayaks and power boats.

“What are you guys, some kind of club?” a woman out walking her dog asked me as I jammed a leg into the neoprene garment and tightened a strap on my goggles.

“Sorry, ma’am, I’m not at liberty to divulge that information,” I replied.

Just kidding. What I really said was, “Not a club, per se; just a bunch of people getting ready to swim across Fishers Island Sound.” She raised her eyebrows and said, “No kidding. Well, good luck!”

“Thanks. I’ll need it.”

Loyal readers may recall I mentioned a couple weeks ago I had been training for this event, and promised to follow up with an account. Monday was D-Day; here’s my story.

I and the other swimmers — Vince Antonelli, Spyros “Spy” Barres, Laura Ely, Rick Ely, B.J. Ferguson, Anne Galliher, Mary Georgetti, Jack Morehouse, Nickie Pettinati and Barry Sheckley — climbed into four power boats that towed four kayaks and began motoring toward our starting site at Clay Point on Fishers Island.

We had hoped to begin swimming by 7:30 just before slack tide in order to reach Groton Long Point, slightly more than 2 miles north, before the tide began to ebb about 8:30, but getting everybody on board and in position proved about as challenging as herding cats. As one of the slowest swimmers in this mixed group of amateurs and competitive triathletes I was particularly concerned about the timing — more about that shortly.

Anyway, we looked less like the Allied Forces landing on Normandy’s Omaha Beach and more like McHale’s Navy, but after all, this was to be a fun event — or so I kept telling myself.

The kayak support team climbed into their vessels, we posed for pictures on a partially submerged rock, the power boats that would accompany us started their engines, and with a whoop and a splash we were off.

As much as I enjoy recreational swimming, I vastly prefer hiking, running or kayaking because of the isolation.

For the next two hours I never saw another swimmer and only exchanged a handful of words with my “wing man,” Phil Plouffe, who paddled alongside and tried to keep me on course.

“Are we halfway there?” I asked at one point.

“Almost,” he replied.

An hour later we had this exchange:

“Head a little farther to the right.”

“OK.”

With about a quarter-mile to go I noticed I had begun drifting slightly east of our destination.

Uh-oh. The ebb had begun.

Gamely, Phil tried to direct me west, but it was no go. The harder I swam, the farther I slid east.

Spy, behind me, was having the same problem.

A motorboat skipper pulled alongside.

“Don’t fight it,” he said. “You’re like treading water.” He suggested I change course and swim east with the current toward Noank.

“Don’t worry. I’ll pick you up wherever you land,” he added.

“I’m not worried. Thanks,” I spluttered.

Truth be told I felt good the whole way and never doubted I’d make it, but I hadn’t planned to swim an extra half-mile or so, even with an ebbing tide.

Once I began stroking with the current, though, I made good progress and within 15 minutes approached Morgan Point in Noank near the mouth of the Mystic River.

“This is good enough,” I called over to Phil. He nodded.

I swam over to the rocks, touched one with an arm, and then reversed direction and steered for the waiting power boat. Once aboard I saw Spy make a similar maneuver, and I gave him a thumbs up. Moments later we rejoined our companions at Noank Town Dock.

Spy and I had swum to Fishers Island from Groton Long Point a few years ago, more or less on a lark, with Phil accompanying us in a rowboat. It was great to do it again in the opposite direction, and with a bigger crew.

“What’s next?” I asked B.J. Ferguson, the organizer of Monday’s adventure. “Block Island?”

He laughed.

“I can scratch this off my bucket list,” he said. “But there’s always something new to do.”

Amen.

B.J. and most of the others swim regularly at Giants Neck Beach at Rocky Neck in East Lyme, in an informal but hardcore group organized by Barry Sheckley. They typically hit the water at dawn and swim for a mile or two.

I hope to make it out at least once this year before the snow flies so next time I’ll be able to reach Groton Long Point before the tide turns.

Great job, guys and gals, and thanks for having me along.

 

Reader Comments

MORE BLOGS

My Favorite Kayak Race: The T.I.A.G.A.T.I.N.M.R. In Rangeley, Maine

Paddling like the dickens last Sunday on Maine’s Rangeley Lake, we competitors had two choices: steer clockwise or counter-clockwise around Maneskootuk Island.

Selden Island: Once A Bustling Quarry, Now A Quiet Haven

More than 40 years ago, Dave Wordell of Salem took his then-10-year-old son, Dave Junior, on a boat ride up Selden Creek, a narrow, secluded tributary of the Connecticut River in Lyme.

Life As A Lumbersexual

I can never remember – do you apply facial cleanser before or after the exfoliating scrub, and then finish up with healing balm and moisturizer, or should you start with the scrub, work your way through the cleanser and then top...

R.I.P. Cecil the Lion: Let's Make the Trophy Hunter an Endangered Species

The international outrage sparked by an American trophy hunter’s killing of Cecil, Zimbabwe’s beloved lion, justifiably vilifies the despicable practice of slaughtering wildlife for sport – but it also exposes the human...

All Who Wander Are Not Lost: Searching For The Elusive South Bog Stream In Rangeley, Maine

"Head for that tree stump," I instructed authoritatively one afternoon earlier this week, as if I knew for sure where we should be heading. I have learned to exude confidence when giving directions on any expedition, even...

Scott Jurek's 'Reward' For Breaking Appalachian Trail Speed Record: Three Summonses

When internationally celebrated speedster Scott Jurek scrambled last Sunday to the 5,269-foot summit of Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, he broke the record for the fastest assisted hike of the 2,189-mile...

No Swimming at Seaside: What’s Next? No Hiking at Bluff Point?

Most of the time I’m reasonably scrupulous about abiding by government regulations.

Training For Mystic Sharkfest: The Loneliness Of The Long-Distance Swimmer

Among the many benefits of active recreation is hanging out with friends – which of course you can do at a bar, pizza parlor or coffee shop, but since most of my pals prefer to spend their leisure time on the trail or water, we...

Stung By Wasps AND Suffering From Lyme Disease: I Can't Catch A Break

You know that funny, itchy feeling when something is crawling around or worse, lodged where it doesn’t belong?

Which Is Worse: Getting Devoured By A Grizzly Bear Or A Great White Shark?

During years of roaming hither and yon on land and sea, I’ve been chased by a grizzly bear, nearly trampled by stampeding yaks, charged by a bull, attacked by swarms of hornets and almost struck by a copperhead – but what...

A Whitewater Dream Taking Shape in Willimantic

Asked to name the best whitewater kayaking and canoeing stretches in Connecticut, most paddlers would single out a gnarly, 2.6-mile section of Class IV rapids on the Housatonic River from Bulls Bridge Dam to Gaylordville, or Diana's Pool...

My War With Canada Geese

Years ago I looked forward to autumn, not so much for the kaleidoscopic foliage but because the evening serenade of migrating Canada geese that lulled me to sleep.