Solo. When I got to the put-in, I realized that I had forgotten my paddle! I got an old T-handle Clement’s paddle from a local old-timer who assured me that it was the only one I’d likely find in the area. It had the typical Clement’s split 3/4 of the way up the blade!
I drilled several small holes on either side of the split, and cross-stitched it with copper wire, which I always carry on trips for exactly that purpose. Off I went, losing a few hours.
I moved fast, as I like to do, from sun-up to sundown. With the good current and the wide blade of that paddle. It took me about a week or so to pull into Essex and then the Sound.
Funny story…I didn’t fully realize how tidal the River gets below Middletown CT. I stopped for a “break”, pulling my 16′ Mad River royalex canoe up a few feet from the river, just above Essex. I went into the bushes for a few minutes and returned to the canoe, only to see it had been taken by the rising tide and was now drifting downstream with the current! I tried to run in the river to grab it and all my gear, and immediately went thigh deep in the muck.
As I watched hopelessly, along with a turkey vulture who must have been amused, I started walking towards a marina I could see down river. They had a small barge with a claw type crane that they used to dredge the marina. They saw my predicament and started out into the river to fetch the canoe. I thought they were going to grab it with the claw, probably crushing it and my gear. I was greatly relieved when they just maneuvered alongside the canoe and pulled it up on the deck. Whew!
Earlier that day I was passing the Rocky Hill Ferry and came upon a large barge that went aground on a sandbar. It was gunning its prop to try to dig itself out. So, overconfidently, I paddled my shallow draft canoe by them on the inside, Smiling a bit and waving as I passed, chuckling to myself that I could easily navigate the sand bar. The crew must have seen my hubris. No sooner had I almost passed them, and in just a few inched of water, that I too ran aground! It was the crew now that was laughing!
I’ve paddled some 6,000 miles across Canada, on every major and minor river, across the largest lakes on the continent, from the Grand Portage on Lake Superior across the Rockies (yes it can be done) and onto the Fraser almost to the Pacific. And I feel strongly that the Connecticut River is the most beautiful and interesting of them all. I’ve finally settled down in small house in Connecticut, right ON the river. The Connecticut is truly in my blood!