Sailing On Poet's Lounge

Hark, now hear the sailors cry,
smell the sea, and feel the sky.
Let your soul and spirit fly,
Into the mystic...
//Van Morrison

The past couple of years have been an absolute whirlwind for Nick in terms of his career. When we first met he was working full time as a police officer, while simultaneously going through long days of nursing school and clinicals. After finishing up a two year run at that, he was able to pass the boards and become an RN. Always picking up overtime shifts and working details, he was eventually also switched from working days to working midnights at the police station. The schedule is pretty rough, I really give him so much credit and don't know how he has done it over the past year basically being nocturnal. On top of that, earlier this year he decided he wanted to pursue his paramedic license- not an easy feat. Still working full time as an officer and as a per diem nurse, he added paramedic training and ride hours on top of that. He was working and/or training basically seven days a week for months, all while still trying to maintain somewhat of a normal life. After completing the 100+ hours of ride time on the ambulance, he was able to challenge the paramedic test due to already having his RN. A month and a half ago he took the written test, and passed with flying colors. The only thing he had left was the hardest and most nerve-wracking part, the practical. A month ago today he went in for the 6 hour practical and I was so excited and nervous for him at the same time. I know how smart he is though, so I really had full confidence in him and knew that he was going to pass. Around 3pm I got the call- HE PASSED! I was so extremely happy for him and I know he was really happy for himself and to have that huge weight off of his chest. His newest goal is to become a paramedic firefighter, and this was the last piece he needed to ensure that that dream would come true. He is one of the smartest and hardest working people I know, and to see all of his long hours and nights of studying had fully paid off was amazing. I knew right away that I wanted to plan a really special night in honor of him and to celebrate all of his accomplishments thus far. We both live and die by the ocean, and he has gained a real interest in sailing over the last year, so I got the idea that a private sailing charter might be the perfect surprise. After some google searching I stumbled upon the charter sailboat The Poet's Lounge out of Mystic, CT run by Captain Darin Keech. I read some great reviews and saw that he ran two hour sunset sails and figured I could make the perfect night out of it. After a few emails back and forth with Darin to find an available date, it was booked! I told Nick the date and that I had a surprise for him, but I didn't give any hints as to what it might be. I was really proud of myself for not spilling the beans! I had a little under two weeks to get ready and plan a fun night out in his honor. I started by making a DIY pennant banner after looking at a few on Etsy to get the idea of how they were made. I found a google image of a pennant and cut it out on hard card-stock paper. I then hit up the fabric store for some burlap, twine, paint and grommets. I traced my pennant cutout 15 times on the burlap and cut them all out. After that, I used stencils and paint to spell out "Congrats Nick" with an anchor symbol on the burlap. Once the paint dried I cut two holes in the top of each pennant and used a hammer and grommet kit to add silver grommets to each. I strung through some navy twine that I found in the floral section that matched my paint color and finished it off with some silver claw clasps to match the grommets. It was a pretty easy and fun DIY project and I was pretty proud of myself for winging it and not following any directions. Here is a photo of the finished product!
The anchor is pretty much our symbol- we both love them and it has been a staple of our relationship, so I knew I had to include one on the banner. My whole idea was to make the banner and send it down to the boat captain in the mail so that he could have it hanging on the sailboat when we arrived. Having never met this person I was a little bit scared that when I sent it I would never see it again, but after a few emails (ok, and anxious phone calls) with Darin it seemed like he would make it happen! I then came up with a little itinerary for the rest of the night. After sailing, we would make a stop at The Treehouse Bar in Mystic for happy hour drinks and then I ended up making a late dinner reservation at S&P Oyster, also right in the same area in downtown Mystic. It was setting up to be a great night, but I can be such a pessimist sometimes (for good reason) so I literally tried to maintain ZERO hopes and expectations for the evening. I was envisioning seasickness, torrential downpours, food poisoning and the-like so that if none of those things happened, I would be able to call it a success. After having the night fully planned out, I took to my 'Paint' skills on the computer and made up an invitation to send to Nick. My hopes were that by mailing it to him the day before it would get to his house that day. Thanks to the USPS, it did not, but the good thing was I had made a few extras so I ended up just texting him a picture of it and them giving it to him when he got to my house. I wanted him to get it just before leaving so that he knew what to wear but I didn't want to give him enough time to really think about what the surprise may be, so it ended up working out because he still didn't know 100% what we would be doing when he arrived.
Are you throwing up in your mouth already? Good! I know I may be over the top sometimes but I really wanted to make it a special night for him and I love anything to do with planning, crafting, decorating, and surprising. In my next life I want to be an event planner. We headed on down to the shore and I finally revealed what we would be doing for the night. He was SO excited and surprised, I wish I could see the look on his face again. He has wanted to sail for so long, and tonight was finally the night. After a sketchy outlook in the beginning of the week the weather ended up being absolutely PERFECT, it literally could not have gotten any better. Blue sky, a little puffy cloud here or there, the perfect end-of-summer temperature and the slightest ocean breeze- the perfect recipe for sailing! The sunset sail is two hours long, and can take up to 6 guests. We obviously had just the two of us, and the sun was "set to set" around 7:00 sharp. It was perfect timing that would give us light for most of the trip and have it just start to get dark right as we would be getting back (with how smoothly things were going at this point I was expecting the boat to sink!). We showed up to the marina a little early and as we were getting out I saw them setting up the banner on the boat. YAY for the banner actually getting there and Darin setting it up as planned, but I had to stall quickly to give them another couple minutes to get it hung up. Once I saw it was ready I don't know why but I was so nervous! We walked down to the boat and he was so happy and surprised. He loved the banner and they hung it up perfectly stretching across the boom. The boat was a beautiful 1972 39' Ericson by the name of Poet's Lounge. We met Captain Darin and his mate and he seemed like such a relaxed and chill guy.
It was hard to get a steady photo of the banner due to the breeze, but it looked awesome! Big thanks to Darin for pulling through on my crazy request.

Capt. Darin let us know that we would be sailing out of Mystic Harbor and heading over to cruise around Fisher's Island not too far off the coast. Fisher's is a very private Island with little to no cars, and it is sometimes hard to get on unless you know someone or have an "in".

In his glory!

After clearing the channel, Capt. Darin let out the mast and cranked it tight- we were officially sailing! I haven't been sailing in years, since I was a little girl, and it was Nicks first time so we were both so excited. It was actually incredibly more smooth and peaceful than I had imagined. I don't know why but I always pictured sailing as "rough", but it honestly felt like we were effortlessly gliding through the air. Capt. Darin asked us which pandora station we wanted and after a quick debate we settled on Jack Johnson. Just the right vibe for the setting, not too upbeat and at the same time not depressing. He must have had Pandora One because there were no commercials and the mix was great, we couldn't have asked for a better selection of songs. He had a little Jambox type speaker and it worked great.

I had prepared some hors d'oeuvres of red grapes, prosciutto, brie cheese and crackers for us to snack on and packed them in some tupperware. When I went to leave my house earlier that day I opened the cabinet to get out my prized "Stoned Wheat Thins" crackers that I had gone out to the store to get specifically for the trip. Lo and behold, they were gone! My parents had gone down to NJ for their anniversary weekend and just felt the liberty to pack them away. I called my Mom and was literally insane outraged at the cracker stealing as I did not have time to go out and get more. I had to settle for the mildly stale onion triscuits that we had left in the cabinet. Later that night they ended up sending us a group text of multiple photos of the Stoned Wheat Thins being used/eaten in action, complete with the hashtag #stonedwheattravels..... Am I too old to call Child Services?? Those parents think they are sooooo funny sometimes! (But it was actually pretty darn funny)
I had also brought a very special bottle of champagne that I got in France last year and had saved for a special occasion. There was no one I would have rather opened it with and it was the perfect night and reason to celebrate. Prior to popping the Champagne, I announced to Nick that I had written a Toast/Cheers that I wanted to read to him before we drank. It was actually an AABBCC rhyming poem and was not the least bit sad by any means, but for some reason I had COMPLETE water works. Like, could not even read past the third sentence without ugly-crying and having to stop for a few minutes and start over. Lord help me if I ever have to make an actually-sad public speech or toast. Once I composed myself I was able to get through it and we did a big cheers! Congrats Nick!

It was so relaxing just to be out on the water eating and drinking and the warm sun on our faces. It was nearing that "golden hour" of sunlight, what photography dreams are made of! I was daring and brought my Nikon D300 onboard, which is what most of these pictures were taken with besides a few panos and selfies with the iPhone.

 Love this photo of the best Captain, Capt. Darin, heading us off into the sunset.

This totally captures the demeanor of Capt. Darin- SO relaxed and casual, yet perfectly under control! You could just tell he was amazingly skilled at his craft and I felt completely safe the whole trip. He isn't nosey either and doesn't try and spark up too much conversation, so even though you are in close quarters you really feel almost as if you are alone with your guests. His mate was really nice as well and helped steer whenever Darin had to change the sails.
My PARAMEDIC! If I ever do have a medical emergency I really hope I am with Nick. A Police-Officer-Nurse-Paramedic-soon-to-be-Firefighter, take your pick! He is here to serve your public service needs.
Here we are in our cozy corner... champagne, snacks, music, and a warm blanket- really all you need!

Darin started heading us more towards Fisher's Island, and was able to get us pretty close to shore so that we could spy on check out the mansions.
Like this glass-house!
Or this "humble" colonial.
Especially this time of the year, once the sun starts to set, it sets pretty fast. There is only about a 15 minute window of really good sunset light, so Darin turned us right for it and asked if we wanted to go up on the bow to watch it. Um, yeah! His mate (bless her soul I cannot remember her name for the life of me) was able to use my camera and get some shots of us watching the sun go down.

Love these photos! It was so beautiful and romantic. You really lose all care in the world and just become totally in the moment, not something that happens everyday in the busy world we live in, and especially with our schedules.

 One of those special moments in life that you really try and savor.

And just like that the sun dipped below the horizon. We lingered for a bit, and then it was eventually time to start heading back. 

This little private island in the sound belongs to the guy who invented the Segway. Nice, but a little too secluded for me! It is run by mostly solar and wind-power as well.
 Changing directions back to the harbor.

About fifteen minutes after the sun had set the sky actually started to get a second wind and a really pretty pink "after" sunset appeared. It was almost better than the first! Deep, bright colors lit up the sky.

Gorgeous silhouette of the CT coastline!

Time to reel in the sails.
REALLY hard to take panos on a moving sailboat!

One of the best sunsets of the year. The sky was celebrating for Nick as well!

The light started to fall fast and before we knew it, it was almost fully dark. 

I am in LOVE with this little chapel on the ocean. It was so cute and picturesque.

Soon we were back in the harbor with the rest of the sailboats, all ready to park it in for the night.

 Love these shots of the little ferry boat steaming away, smoke trail and all.

It is safe to say we had an absolutely amazing time on the sailboat. It was everything I had imagined and more and it all went perfectly. So fun to celebrate Nick and all of his accomplishments. He deserves it for all of his hard work and I know he can do whatever he puts his mind to. Can't wait to take another trip on the Poet's Lounge!
After a farewell to the Poet's Lounge, we headed to downtown Mystic to the Tree House Bar at the Oyster Club in Mystic. I have been a couple times before before but it was Nick's first time. It's a really cool spot, literally up in the trees overlooking the mystic river. 

We enjoyed some fruity drinks, I even got a rum punch which is incredibly unlike me, but it was yummy! After that I got a wine and Nick ended up ordering a Fishers Island lemonade. And that's when our lives were changed forever. The FI lemonade was AMAZING! Not too sweet and a combination of vodka, whiskey and lemonade. It was too bad the summer is almost over because it definitely would have been my go-to drink for the summer. I ended up getting three four packs that next week to bring up to his sisters wedding in the Cape for everyone to try. If the price is anything to judge, it's basically liquid gold. $54 for a twelve-pack, folks.
When it was time, we headed over to S&P Oyster for a delicious upscale seafood dinner! Everything was really yummy- I had crab cakes and Nick had salmon. We split the bacon-scallop appetizer as well. Good food and great company, we had a blast! 

Earlier on the sailboat Darin had mentioned that he is a musician and would be playing later that night at the Daniel Packer Inn. We didn't want to go home yet since we were having such a good time so we figured we might as well check him out. The Inn was so cute and his band was great! Great songs and a really talented group.
We ended up randomly meeting my coworker who lives in mystic at the bar, and he ended up bringing us to another fun bar down the street afterwards called The Harp and Hound. It was so much fun, we even ended up dancing! All in all it was one of the most fun, perfect, amazing, romantic and special nights I have ever had, and I really hope it was for Nick too! Congratulations!!

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