Natural beauty is nearby on the Connecticut River
WINSTED — Spending a weekend boating is one of the many perks Winchester residents get a chance to enjoy each summer, and for those who are able to transport their boats from Highland Lake to other waterways, the options are endless. For a group of friends from Litchfield and Hartford counties this past weekend, the destination was the Connecticut River, where wildlife and humanity seemed to coexist in perfect harmony.On Saturday, July 23, boaters were relieved to get their crafts into the water and escape the tail end of a record-breaking heat wave that plagued the East Coast. With coolers and fishing gear in tow, families and groups of friends navigated the river’s wide channels and no-wake zones, stopping in coves along the way to drop anchor and dip into 75- to 80-degree waters.Starting at the Midway Marina in Haddam — about an hour’s drive from the Laurel City — captain Patrick O’Halloran presented his recently purchased watercraft, a used inboard cruiser that he intends to rename the Irritable Bow. With chips and dip, sandwiches, light beer and cigars aboard, the vessel traveled up and down the river on Saturday and Sunday, making stops for swimming and sightseeing with friends.The Midway sits on the eastern shore of the river, next door to the noted Blue Oar restaurant, which features outdoor dining with a clear view of the marina and surrounding waterway. From this starting point, it takes boaters nearly two hours to reach the ocean, as numerous no-wake zones appear along the route. A shorter tour was chosen for this excursion.O’Halloran’s outing included points of interest near the marina, including the Goodspeed Opera House, Gillette Castle State Park, the East Haddam Bridge and dozens of lakeside properties along the 15-mile stretch of river between Middletown and Chester. A cove just south of the Goodspeed made for a perfect spot to drop anchor, eat lunch and swim.Rivergoers buzzed by on wave runners, jetskis, speedboats and waterskis, while kayakers and swimmers enjoyed calmer waters. With the sun beating down and temperatures once again nearing 100 degrees, it was imperative to cover up with sunblock and hats and get out of the direct sunshine whenever possible. It’s easy to forget you are getting burned when you are traveling at 30 knots in the open air.In addition to the many people enjoying the river, many birds were spotted, including seagulls, herons, egrets, eagles and an assortment of ducks, all appearing content in the abundant sunshine.As a nearby excursion offering great beauty, the Connecticut river stands out of one of the Nutmeg State’s finest natural resources and a place to launch your watercraft — or catch a ride — when you get the opportunity.