A Boat Charter to the Thimble Islands


In mid-August, a scary reality dawned on me...the summer was almost over, and I had little to show for it!  It's as if I turned on a light switch, and the darkness was suddenly revealed.  I kept looking at the calendar, as if it were my first time, counting the days.  "No, that can't be right.  School isn't starting in less than two weeks."

COVID-19 stopped everything.  There were no amusement parks, adventure parks, weekend getaways, museum trips, trips to the movies, or restaurant reservations.  Sure, some of these places opened up with appropriate social distancing measures, but we didn't even consider them with my 75+ mom living with us.  In my daily habit of doing the same-ole-same-ole, I neglected to consider that we could have made plans doing safe activities--activities that would have been fun if I only took the time to think outside the box, do some research, and be a little creative...

On August 17th, after two months of being asleep at the wheel, I finally started researching activities on the internet, and guess what?  I discovered that if I had opened my mind a bit, I would have seen there were actually many safe alternatives to staying home.  There was a two-seater boat tour in Mystic (Mystic Boat Adventures), bicycle rentals, Harley rentals, kayak rentals, and the like.  There was hot air ballooning, RV rentals, and glamping (luxurious campsites with heated tents, tree houses, or another unique places to stay).  Unfortunately, I was so wrapped up in my own depression, fear, and anxiety that I let an entire summer go by without any plans, and now, in less than two weeks, it was time for school...the carefree weeks of summer vacation would be over!

On the 17th, I started researching Thimble Island Cruises--an activity in Connecticut that I always wanted to experience.  I didn't like the idea of going on a boat with other passengers, but hey, maybe I could be convinced to think otherwise.  

Then I read... "This year only...charter a boat for less than $200 and invite up to 15 passengers to go on a one hour boat tour."  The only "hitch" was that the boat charter was not available on the weekends; I could only charter the boat Monday - Thursday, so I had to take a day off from work and find others that could do the same.  On the 18th, I called to make boat reservations, and before I knew it, I was asking friends to join me for that Thursday (the 20th).  My sister-in-law could go with her four kids since, being a school teacher, she would not be expected to return until August 24th.  Then two of my grade-school friends could come with their two children as well.  (Their husbands couldn't get the time off from work, but then again, if they had, we would have been over the 15 person limit.)  I wanted to invite other friends, too, but we couldn't go over the limit...not even by one person.

The day ended up being spectacular.  In fact, the weatherman said the temperature and the dew point made it one of the top ten best days of the year.  We wore our masks onto the "Sea Mist," but once we were on, we social distanced by family.  Each family found their own comfy spot on the top deck of the boat, and we enjoyed taking in the views.  We learned a little bit of history, too, such as there are 365 Thimble Islands, and the name of the islands come from the Thimbleberry, a plant native to the area that produced sweet, red berries, similar to raspberries.   Unfortunately today, the captain told us that the Thimbleberry plant doesn't even exist on the islands anymore.  While some of the islands are nothing more than a rock (that stays above sea after high tide), some of the other islands are populated and lavish...with beautiful houses, decks, and even swimming pools.  We all joked about each of us purchasing our own island.  I found my dream island above...it's the one with the ski chalet type house with solar panels.

On the tour, my two close friends surprised Lewie by bringing him birthday gifts (since they weren't able to come over for his big day).  They also brought Munchkins to share (in lieu of a cake) since we were limited in terms of what we could bring aboard the boat.  They sang "Happy Birthday," and so, Lewie was able to celebrate his 12th birthday AGAIN--"Sea Mist" style!   

The hour tour went by fast, so when we disembarked, we decided to find a nearby restaurant with outdoor dining; some of the restaurants closed in the area by 3 p.m., so we drove to the next town over and ate at a popular seafood restaurant.  There, we sat at picnic tables and enjoyed food like fried clams, lobster rolls, fried shrimp, onion rings, hot dogs, burgers, and fries. We talked about our summers, the 2020 that never was, and of course, the looming first day of school that was bringing a little anxiety to all of us.

At the end of the day, we vowed to send each other pictures, and we all left, grateful for having this last "summer experience" to enjoy together.  I left wishing I had planned more unique outings like this but also feeling satisfied at the same time.  It was better late than never.  It's a day, for sure, that will go down in the "history books" as the boat ride during COVID-19 that made life feel normal and even a bit joyous.  We will rise above this pandemic, and our friendships will endure this and any challenge that comes our way.

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