Category Archives: Transportation

Pic Of The Day #1056

Moon over Saugatuck train station, earlier this evening (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Pic Of The Day #1053

The other day, alert “06880” reader Julian Oldale had lunch at Porsche America’s headquarters restaurant, in Atlanta. There were many cool vintage auto photos on the wall. This one looked quite familiar:

The caption notes that the Porsche 356 B coupe’s model year was 1960. You can tell the photo was taken around then — just look at all the rocks on the beach.

Don Sullivan Sails Through Retirement

After retirement, some men drive around looking for things to do. Some drink beer. Some clean out their garage.

Don Sullivan drove for Uber. He brews craft beer. And he’s built 2 boats in his garage — the latest a 20-foot yawl.

All in the past 3 years.

He and his wife Dawn have lived in Westport for 41 years. They raised 3 children here. She was very active in Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, He says he was “somewhat” involved.

Don and Dawn Sullivan, in 2005.

After a career spent selling large technology systems to the publishing industry, Sullivan retired at 63. A gregarious “people person,” he began driving for Uber. It was fun, and he made nearly 2,700 trips. But he gave it up a year ago, when the novelty wore off and it became “a commodity.”

He and his friend Steve Knapp created a great-tasting beer. They named it Valley Forge Brewery. They just finished their 12th batch. Each is only 48 bottles. “We don’t sell it. We drink it,” Sullivan says.

But all of that pales next to his boats. His interest was piqued when he saw photos of Henk Hoets’ flat-bottom lumberyard skiff.

Don Sullivan

Though he’d sailed all his life, Sullivan had never given a thought to building a boat. In fact, he’d never built anything.

Suddenly though, he was motivated.

He bought plans and lumber, and went to work. Two months later, it was done. It’s now moored at Longshore.

That project done, Sullivan gave his tools away.

But at a 2018 boat show in Mystic, he saw a beautiful Caledonia yawl. It was there last year too.

So Sullivan decided to build it.

Constructing a 2-masted, double-ended sailboat is a lot more difficult than a skiff.

But Sullivan bought plans from a man in Scotland. He gathered all the tools he needed. He headed to a specialty lumber yard in White Plains.

Then he got to work.

An early stage …

“I just followed the plans,” Sullivan says, as if describing how Waze helped him get home.

“The plans” included putting planks over a mold — upside down. Then he flipped it over, and worked on the interior.

… a work in progress …

It took 500 hours, over 5 months. Much of that time he was on his knees, or in awkward, uncomfortable positions.

He worked alone. It was physically demanding — the planks are 24 feet long — and mentally exhausting too. “There’s a constant, anxious challenge of getting it done,” he explains.

But, Sullivan notes, “This was a calling. Driving home from Mystic, I knew I had to build this boat. And convince my wife of it.”

… nearing completion….

This project became the most enjoyable thing he’s ever done. “I’ve never been happier, prouder or more enthusiastic about anything,” he says.

The yawl launches in April. He’ll sail in local waters, then head to Cape Cod.

His wife will be on board — physically, and emotionally.

“We’ve been married 42 years,” he says. “It gets better every day.

“But this was not my finest moment. For 5 months I was constantly focused on this. Dawn was 100% supportive.

“Now I’m looking forward to doing things together again. She’s a great first mate!”

… and finally shipshape.

Sullivan does not know what his next project will be. He will not, however, build another boat.

Although, he admits, “I said that after the first one too.”

(Hat tip: Jeff Wieser)

Friday Flashback #182

Tomorrow is Leap Day.

Today’s Friday Flashback honors another kind of leap.

Since its construction in the mid-1950s, the Saugatuck River I-95 bridge — back then, it was called “The Connecticut Turnpike” or “Thruway” — has been the scene of very occasional (and daring) (and stupid) leaps.

Startled drinkers at the Black Duck bar — and before it, Davy Jones’ — have watched teenage and 20-something guys (it’s always males) land in the water nearby.

The Saugatuck River bridge, under construction in 1957. Back then, I-95 was called the Connecticut Turnpike.

“06880” does not recommend this. The jump is spectacularly dangerous. And who in his right mind would even think of standing on the side of the bridge, with traffic whizzing by?

Nevertheless, if you have a story about leaping off this bridge — or any other one in Westport — click “Comments” below.

Feel free to comment too with any non-bridge Leap Year stories of your own.

Tired Of Traffic? Drive To These Meetings!

If you’ve lived in Westport more than 12 seconds, you know the traffic here sucks.

And it’s getting exponentially worse.

Beyond bitching about it to your friends, neighbors and on “06880” though, what can you do?

Well, you can go to a meeting with your RTM members, and representatives of the Selectman’s Office, Public Works and the Police. They want to hear your concerns about traffic — not just vehicles, but pedestrians and bicyclists too.

 

Sessions are set up by RTM district. So you’ll talk about your actual neighborhood — not just the usual chokepoints.

All sessions take place in the Town Hall auditorium, at 7 p.m. The schedule:

  • Districts 2 & 3: Tuesday, March 3
  • Districts 1 & 4: Monday, March 9
  • Districts 6 & 8: Monday, March 16
  • Districts 5 & 7: Tuesday, March 31
  • District 9: Monday, April 13

Don’t know your district? Click here for a map.

There’s plenty of parking at Town Hall. But leave early. You never know about the traffic!

Waiting in line at the Imperial Avenue light.

Friday Flashback #181

Alert “06880” John Kelley found this map of the New York & New Haven railroad.

It’s even older than it sounds. The date was 1845.

The railroad was not completed until 1848. This was a projected route.

It was originally single tracked. A 2nd track was added soon.

The Westport station was on the east side of the Saugatuck River. The rail line merged with the New Haven & Hartford RR in 1874.

In the 1890s a major construction project created a 4-track grade separated railroad, with no rail crossings. At that point the Westport station — located on the east side of the Saugatuck River — was moved to its present location.

Starting in 1913, the rail line was electrified.

Those are all interesting facts. If you are reading them on a train — moving s-l-o-w-l-y between New York and Westport — we hope you arrive safely, and soon.

Unsung Heroes #134

Alert — and grateful — “06880” reader Susan Ross writes:

My unsung heros are the guys at J & J Auto. They are simply the nicest people in Westport.

They have given us years of honest kindness and helpful assistance.

They say with a smile, “don’t worry about coming in all the time so we can add air to your tires. Lots of people do!“

Once I phoned them from a college tour road trip. Our car was making noise. The local garage insisted we needed a new transmission pronto before getting on the road, or our family wouldn’t be safe.

J & J told us it sounded okay to drive home. When we got back they checked it out. Only a minor tweak was needed.

J & J Car Care on Post Road East. It’s between ASF and Pane e Bene.

Another time my son slammed the garage door, crushing my license plate. They hammered it out, reattached it in the pouring rain. They charged nothing, because “things happen.”

Now they are keeping bees behind the garage, and jars of delicious warm honey under the desk. That’s a story in itself.

(J & J Car Care Center is at 1590 Post Road East, across from the Westport Inn. To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Car Thieves Strike Again

Last night and early this morning, unlocked vehicles in several Westport neighborhoods were burglarized.

Westport Police received reports from both ends of Greens Farms Road, and the Old Mill Beach area. In addition, an unlocked vehicle — with the keys in it — was stolen from the Compo Beach area.

Police expect more reports as the day goes on.

The department says:

Please let these incidents serve as a reminder that vehicle break-ins and vehicle thefts continue to occur in ours and neighboring communities at great frequency; especially in the overnight hours.

In the majority of Westport cases of vehicles being entered which resulted in thefts of goods from within, the doors were left unlocked. In almost all Westport cases of vehicles being stolen, keys were left inside an unlocked vehicle.

The vast majority of these suspects do not wish to take the time to attempt to force entry into a vehicle. This is especially true in the overnight hours, when doing so could create a significant amount of noise that would draw the unwanted attention of otherwise sleeping neighborhoods. When encountering locked vehicles, these suspects almost always simply move on to the next possible target. We therefore strongly implore our residents not to fall victim to these types of crimes.

Preventive measures taken by the community coupled with the vigilance of our officers is the key to safeguarding our neighborhoods. We ask that you please always lock your car and bring your keys inside. Please remember to take valuables out of your car for the night, such as purses, wallets and electronics, and never leave these items out in plain view within. even if the vehicle is locked.

It is also good practice to keep outside lights on and motion lights activated. Lock your residence and arm the security system, if your home is equipped with one.

We also ask that you please notify the police department if it appears that your vehicle was entered or if you should observe anything suspicious in your neighborhood. No one knows your neighborhood better than you do, and the information you provide is always vital to our crime prevention efforts.

Anyone with information about these incidents should call the detective bureau: 203-341-6080.

Today’s Entitled Parking Trick

If you finished your meal at the Sherwood Diner a few minutes ago and wanted to head out the normal way: tough luck.

Some brainiac decided that the exit lane from the main lot was a perfect spot to park.

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

The car in the middle in the photo above blocked the entire exit. Everyone had to use the narrow driveway behind the diner — unless they wanted to wait for the driver to finish his or her meal.

Nothing whatsoever indicates this is a parking spot.

And please don’t say “maybe there’s a good reason for this.”

There can’t be.

All Students Safe In School Bus Crash

The Westport Fire Department, Police Department, EMS and the Norwalk Fire Department responded swiftly, after a school bus crashed into a tree on Sylvan Road North at 8:10 am this morning. The bus was en route to Kings Highway Elementary School.

The scene this morning on Sylvan Road North.

The fire department says that all students had already been removed from the bus by good Samaritans without any complaints of injury.

However, the driver of the bus was trapped by the dashboard and required extrication using hydraulic equipment, by the Westport and Norwalk Fire Departments.

Rescue work today. (Photos courtesy of Westport FIre Department)

The last fire department unit cleared the scene at 9:26. Police are investigating the accident.