Tom Forella provided me with much information so fortunately I did not have to give a speech.

I am sure everyone will enjoy Tom's account of the many cruises throughout the years. I am sure everyone will want to sign up for future Connecticut River Cruises.

Written By Tom Forella

It turns out the Forella's have been hosting the CT River Cruise since 1986...the year I (Tom) was married as it happens. Yikes, I didn't realize it had been that long. Allen Ames on Sesame hosted it in 1985 and then we began our run. Here's a list of the themes:

1986 Forella's discover Christopher Columbus's Longo Rangio Navigando Machino (Loran C). Inflatable rowing races were held.

1987 Tender Olympic Water Games, complete with a floating (and lit) Olympic Torch in honor of the Summer Olympics.

1988 Monohull Catamaran Dinghies (In honor of Dennis Connor's America's Cup catamaran). (It poured and we never did it.)

1989 Limerick Races (We received some very good ones. I saved them all.)

1990 Sea Shanty Races (Almost as good as the Limericks)

1991 Phonetic Alphabet Race (Tell a story using the Navy's phonetic alphabet)

1992 An Interview with Christopher Columbus

1993 Halloween Costume Race

1994 A New National Pastime (in honor of the Baseball Strike). Had to write nautical words to baseball songs.

1995 Hurricane Lanterns to ward off hurricanes (made from pumpkins)

1996 Kid's Activities Time (you know where my head was at this point in life...my son Tim was born two weeks later)

1997 A Light Hearted Tribute to Hig (I can't believe its been 10 years...)

1998 "What'd You Do this Summer?" Tell us a story about your summer yachting. (My kids were writing an essay on what they did for summer vacation.)

1999 New Years Eve Party in honor of Y2K (Complete with a red apple that descended a rig as we counted down to zero. Good party.)

2000 Limericks II (Almost as good as the first one)

2001 Hors D'Oeuvre Race (we ate well that year)

2002 Jazzin' Up the Place (dedicated to jazz music...bring an instrument and play)

2003 All Star Weekend (comes as your favorite athlete...Jon Orzolek's son came in his downhill ski racing suit))

2004 Hurricane Lanterns II (the effects from 1995 had worn off. An artsy guy named Charlie took top honors)

2005 Navigation Aid for BYC of the South. (A musical weekend to benefit Biloxi Yacht Club after Hurricane Katrina) It poured and nobody showed so the benefit was carried into 2006. We ultimately gave Biloxi YC $400.

2006 A Rendezvous in the Pirates Lair (In honor of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean smash hit. We had a ball.)

2007 to be determined...

Here's a paragraph my father and I wrote in 1992 on the 500th anniversary of Columbus's discovery of America: "It began spontaneously in the 1960's when boats were made of wood. So much work went into commissioning wooden boats each year, that many people did not launch until well after Memorial Day. (In fact, the Club Commissioning at Mystic Seaport was probably made possible by the advent of fiberglass boats.) Some members worked so long on commissioning their boats that they would not believe the season ended after Labor Day. After all, they had practically just put their boats in the water. So, Ed Higgins, Pat Papineau, and Lem Hoops started this fun race to Hamburg Cove in their Warner 20 and Eastward Ho sloops rigged like catboats. The coveted first place trophy, a large silver bowl called the Caribita Cup was donated by Ed Higgins, skipper of the Warner 20 (reportably with the quietest engine) named Caribita. Now, some thirty years later, the race has evolved into an event where we race, raft, award prizes, socialize, and have fun. To keep it interesting for all, the Race Committee decides prize winners based on a variety of factors, only one of which is finish position. Most importantly, every boat gets a prize!" After having passed responsibility for the event to us in 1986, Hoops stayed involved through 1993 as our Finishing Committee Boat of the entrance to Hamburg Cove. I guess it took that long for us to convince him the event was in good hands.

One of my fondest memories was the year Papineau, Hoops and Ames basically told me "you need to take this over and keep the tradition alive; here's how we do it." We sat in the bow of Sesame (I think) and went over that year's results right then and there. I laughed through the whole thing. Those guys are very funny. But they taught me how to do the whole thing. Everybody gets a prize. Everybody gets their name read. People love to hear their name announced. I learned that running dinghy racing for 9 years. I remember the year my father's old boat won the Caribita Cup. I'd have to look at the trophy to get the year right. Jon Orzolek has it now. It was maybe 1971. And our 34' wooden Alden cutter, Valorosa, had won the the big prize. I'm 12 years old and I was thrilled. We'd never won anything with that old boat. And we just won a big silver bowl. But that was the point and the lesson that Papineau, Hoops, and Ames relayed. Try to have this race won by the guys who never get silver. And we've stuck by that. Sure, every now and then somebody really dazzles us and we give it to a go-fast boat. But usually, we find a technicality that results in a disqualification or a penalty and an unsuspecting guy gets the top prize to put on his mantle for a year. Lately, we seem to give it to more powerboats. That's who shows up. Things are little different now. Not as many boats sail the course. Its not easy sailing under mainsail only with the puffy wind and all the current. Not as many people come to the river in the fall if the weather isn't perfect. They don't know what their missing. More people keep their boats in Mystic or other points east. That's ok with us. We plan to keep doing it as long as they'll let us. Its the last true on the water event. We don't go ashore. We have three moorings right next to each other. We tie as many boats together as we can, make sure everybody's safe, and have a pretty good time. There's truly no other event like it.

OK, one more story. Last year, Rich Astles shows up with his son Cameron on Richie's fathers boat, Dick & Bev's, Shabu. Rich is about 6 years younger than I am I think. When I used to sail with my father, back when I met the three Saltzman brothers, we spent a lot of time hanging with Dick & Bev. I taught Richie how to sail a dyer dhow at Napatree in about 1974 or thereabouts. So, fast forward to 2006. Little Richie is a captain on big ships now. I mean big hips. He ships out for months at a time. He comes to Columbus Day weekend with his son on his Grandpa's boat, sails a marvelous race, almost got beat by Jon Orzolek, but recovers in the end to get the gun. First place finish. (Of course, this was a pirate race, so everybody pretty much got a gun or a sword or something.) Now, we hadn't seen Dick & Bev at Hamburg Cove for a couple of years. They'd been doing the Great Loop and hadn't been around, writing for cruising guides and all. So, we acknowledge Shabu's terrific finish at the results party, and congratulate her for finally finishing the 2004 race and DSQ her from this year's race. Heck, Shabu had won the Caribita and Sweethearty Trophies at least once each and probably more. Richie couldn't believe it. The teacher DSQ's him! I told him to come back next year and try it again. I bet he shows if he can arrange it...