New London makes new mooring field official with ceremony

New London - Janet Crane and Jeremy Bell appeared on stage, on queue and unwittingly, Saturday afternoon.

In the years to come, they and their 34-foot long American Tug "Tardis" might be recalled as the defining symbol of success by the, perhaps, 20 people who attended the semi-ceremony that was the ribbon cutting for 41-slip mooring field off Custom House Pier.

"When they asked us to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony," said Tony Sheridan, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, "I asked myself, 'How do we do this? How in the world do we cut a ribbon at a mooring?"

And yet, fully prepared with a 2-foot long pair of scissors glinting in the bright sun, Sheridan gave Mayor Martin T. Olsen the honor of cutting the "ribbon," a swath of red crepe paper stretched across the gangway to a floating dock that would deliver boaters to the shore, and more important, Sheridan, Olsen and City Councilor Mike Passero touted, to downtown New London.

The event was more fun than formal. John Johnson, chairman of Thames America's Cup Committee, Port Authority Chairman Jeff Harris, and Sheridan thanked the many people who played roles in bringing the state-of-the-art mooring field into existence, from Passero, a staunch advocate, to the contractors who completed their work ahead of deadline, to Peters Costas, the former chairman.

I inherited a great team and a great project," Harris said. "Thank you."

"We're blessed to have this," said Johnson.

"We got it up and running in July and it was sold out for Sailfest," Olsen told the gathering. "With proper marketing New London will become a port of call, a destination for boaters, and trains too,' he said after one interrupted his speech.

"Over time this will prove to be a very successful part of the overall effort to energize this waterfront."

As Olsen pointed out one boat moored in the harbor as belonging to a California couple, Crane and Bell arrived on the pier.

"And here they are," Olsen said,

The pair, originally from Encinitas, Calif., sailed from Florida and arrived in New London Friday morning.

They said they had traveled into Hudson Bay three times and wanted to check out Long Island Sound, so they headed up the coast and "hung a right in New York."

"These are first-class, quality moorings," Bell said. "It's a helix."

Janet Crane's terms were more comprehensive.

"Your line doesn't get all icky," she said.

The line comes from within the mooring, a circular tube, anchored to the bottom of the channel.

A boater uses a hook to draw the line from the mooring and ties it to the boat.

"They'll withstand hurricane winds," said Passero, an experienced boater.

"We had a harbor with no boats. Thousands of boats go up and down the river. With this and the transient docks we're building at City Pier, we have first class facilities. We can get a piece of that pie," Passero said.

Bell said the quality of the mooring prevents boats from being scratched, and the space between them allows boats to bob in the water without thumping other vessels.

Crane and Bell said they enjoyed the liveliness of the city and were looking forward to the Caribbean Night festival.

Music from the band, "Steele Dreams" began emanating from the Parade Plaza as the gathering on the pier ended, unceremoniously.

c.potter@theday.com

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