Sunday, November 05, 2006

Old Saybrook to New Haven, CT

29.9 nm
Wind: calm to W 5 knots
Maximum speed: 5.4 knots
Average speed: 4.3 knots
Latitude: 41°15.57’N
Longitude: 072°53.96’W

We motored all day today. It’s the first day we didn’t even bother hoisting our sails. I’m becoming very frustrated with that, even though I know that today we had to make progress getting Wade back to New Haven. There was almost no wind, and we overslept our tidal alarm clock, so we were going against the current again. Luckily, on this side of the Sound there’s a lot less current.

So we ended up getting into harbor before dark, a first so far for this trip. Wade convinced us to go ashore, and we ended up trekking deep into the heart of New Haven for a piece of legendary pizza. Evidently New Haven is the town that invented the pizza or “apizza.” Pizza, or tomato pies, had never been commercially available (even in Italy!) before this place started in New Haven. We didn’t get to go there, but to a tiny little place, right on the edge, or so we were told, of the “hood.”

We didn’t have a place to dock the dinghy. Our guidebook told us there was a restaurant you could dinghy up to, but that place has been converted to a catering business. So instead we had to tie ourselves to a sea wall and hop over a fence right while a cop was driving by. It seems like no matter what we do, we’re automatically cast as homeless people.

We wandered to a gas station, picked up a few staples like bread and milk, and asked where we could get a bite to eat. A local guy at the convenience store not only told us where there was a place to go, but ended up giving us a ride there and back again. His name was Big John, and he gave us a tour of New Haven, including the legendary street where pizza was invented. He was obviously a man in love with his town, which is awesome. So far, Connecticut wins the hospitality award.

We met all of his friends, including the bartender, an old Cherokee guy who sailed back and forth from Florida in his youth, a wonderful lady named Casey, and George, who thought we were crazy for only having a 27-horsepower engine. They all thought we were crazy, basically—crazy hippies. They couldn’t figure out if we were on vacation or moving or mind-bogglingly rich or what. I guess we are crazy. I know I felt overwhelmed, back in civilization, with shiny televisions, and heat, and fatty food.

I’m beginning to realize that we have no fear, even when it might be better to. We made friends with everyone in the place, hopped back in a car with someone we didn’t know and got a ride all over town, and then came back to the boat. We had left the dinghy tied up to the seawall, our boat—our only means of transportation and livelihood—out in the harbor, locked, but with the computer sitting out, our camera sitting out. Karl looked around and said, “Yup, we’re going to get stuff stolen someday.” We had just marched into one of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods on the coast and hung out with a bunch of crazy locals. We hadn’t known anything about the town or the neighborhood or anything—just pulled up in our boat, hopped the fence, and marched on in. I know we would do the same thing anywhere.

I hope—but maybe it’s just me—that Karl’s wrong. That we won’t get anything stolen. That our complete and naïve trust in strangers will be rewarded. That we figure if you walk into people’s lives being open, being honest about who you are, and living in a way that’s inspiring, that people will respect us. Maybe that won’t be true when I get to a place where one of my shoes is worth someone else’s whole house, though. Here we’re still just stinky nutcases with greasy hair.

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