You need never miss the boat to Fishers Island

I'm going to hazard some speculation and suggest that Matthew Lynch holds the record for the most boat trips from New London to Fishers Island in any given year.

"I've been across a few times," Lynch said, with some understatement, when I met with him this week aboard his 24-foot powerboat, part of a two-boat fleet.

Lynch runs a water taxi service of sorts, Water Transit Services, and makes frequent runs to Fishers Island as well as anywhere else you might want to go by water.

Rates range from $130 for a routine, 20-minute trip from New London to Fishers Island to $350 to Block Island or Sag Harbor, Long Island.

I am not just counting Lynch's charter trips in calculating his Fishers Island Sound crossing record.

He is also a captain with the Fishers Island Ferry District, a job that enables him to log lots of crossings.

Lynch employs some others with his taxi service, including his father, a teacher who has summers off, and sometimes he sees his own charter boats going by, to and from the island, while he is in command of one of the Fishers Island ferries.

Lynch, who is 28, has been at the business of crossing Fishers Island Sound for quite a while.

He started working for the ferry district when he was 16 and attending Waterford High School, first for a summer and then on winter weekends.

He liked the business so much he attended the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy for two years. After his first long stint on a ship, though, he decided he liked shorter crossings better than many days at sea.

He eventually transferred to Central Connecticut State University.

He continued to study on his own for a captain's license, and when he had it, he applied for and got a job as a captain for the ferry district.

The idea for a business came to him back in 2006, after some folks missed the last ferry to the island, not an infrequent occurrence.

At first, he thought it would be a way to subsidize the cost of a pleasure boat. But the business took off, and he says now he can hardly remember the last time he was able to take time off to go fishing.

He not only takes people who miss the last ferry, but he has a group of regular customers who use his service instead of taking the ferry. He tells them to call from the road when they get close, say New Haven, and then he will pick them up at City Pier.

A personalized Lynch trip takes about half the time as the trip on the ferry, and you make up your own schedule. The $130 fare includes as many people as Coast Guard rules allow as well as luggage and whatever kind of freight might fit.

A customer who was flying into Providence from overseas recently had Lynch meet him at City Pier in New London at 1 a.m. The passenger got dropped off at the dock at his house on the island. The after-hours trip cost a $40 premium over the usual fare.

Lynch keeps his two boats at a interesting new little marina that straddles the Waterford-New London line, in Quaker Hill on the Thames River.

It's called Boating on the Thames and is just north of the Connecticut College boathouse, surrounded by the woods of a shoreline nature preserve.

From his wooded riverside perch at the northern tip of the city, Lynch can be ready to pick up a fare on the island in under a half hour.

And these days, he says, the hands of islanders looking to hail a ride to the mainland go up pretty often.

This is the opinion of David Collins.


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