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Milford CT: Anchorage off Charles Island in The Gulf

Kitesurfing in the protected waters of The Gulf.
The "Monopoly Houses" decorating the beach.

As with just about every island off the Connecticut coast, buried treasure attributable to Captain Kidd and other pirates is said to exist on a small island the Indians called "Poquahaug", just a mile off Silver Sands Beach. Iron chests filled with "loot" are rumored to be buried on Charles Island! This treasure is also rumored to be protected by packs of large rodents (aka rats) which has kept us from exploring the island on foot. When we finally got up the nerve to go ashore last summer, we found that the entire island was closed for the nesting season. Oh well.

We have had such wonderful stays in this anchorage. Mid-summer, it can be very busy with lots of day-trippers coming out from the harbor, anchoring out for a day of fun then heading back in to their slips for the night, just as the distant travellers pull in to the anchorage for the night. This parade of ships is quite entertaining and the variety of vessels provides much to view and discuss from the comfort of the cockpit.

It is also one of the prettiest anchorages on Long Island Sound for sunsets and moon rises for some odd reason. We have never yet had a boring sunset in this anchorage as the pictures attest. The long beach along the northern shore is lined with a kazillion little Monopoly houses that light up as though on fire as the sun rises, and disappear with the sunset at night. And what a treat on the 4th of July, when it seems that the local tradition is to outdo one's neighbor in fireworks displays. One year, we ooohed and aaahed and honked long into the night as house after house took turns setting off spectacular displays for our pleasure and rating.

Fishermen walking on water along The Bar.

On one of our first visits, we were enjoying breakfast in the cockpit when we noticed fishermen who must have been disciples of Christ as they were clearly walking on water! A quick review of the charts and few more minutes of tide retreat revealed the sand bar that connects Charles Island with the mainland. Before we knew it, there was a massive procession of people strolling out to the island, stopping to dig for oysters and clams along the way, fishing from its middle, and just plain playing on the water. We have since walked the length of The Bar and it is a most extraordinary thing to do. The Bar is just a few feet wide and drops off quite steeply with a swift current running across it as the tide runs over it. You literally do walk on water here. What fun!

West of The Bar are some of Connecticut's only shellfishing beds open to the public. You don't need a permit, but you are restricted to use of hand tools only, to respect of private property, and to a limit of a half bushel per person per day. Shellfishing is prohibited from the beaches (Silver, Gulf, Gulf Pond, Fort Trumbull, Cedar, and Calf Pen Creek). To check on the state of the fisheries, call the Environmental Health Department at 203-783-3287. Oh, and blues really like to head under the bridge and into Gulf Pond.

Never a bad sunset in the lee of Charles Island.

As a result of The Bar, even though it feels exposed from the Southeast and the Northwest, the westerly side is protected from the wave action during all but the highest tides and most severe conditions, providing a nice quiet anchorage when the waters are churning more outside. And it is certainly a great place to spend a hot summer night away from the bugs and catching any bit of breeze.


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