A summer favorite is peach shortcake at the Church of Christ Peach Festival, which will be held Aug. 16 this year. The castle-like northern Gothic-style church was built in 1903 with local pink granite and has distinctive stained-glass windows. There is also a Blessing of the Fleet in late July/early August. The town library or Church of Christ — (203) 488-7827 — can provide information.
For outside activities there is a small park with a boat ramp and small sandy beach. You can launch your kayak here or arrange for lessons or tours from Connecticut Coastal Kayaking (www.ctcoastalkayaking.com) or other local rental companies. For an easy hike on pavement and gravel through a tidal estuary, Stony Creek Trolley Trail is near the library at the north end of town. The trail starts at Thimble Islands Road and West Point Road. Stop in the library for information and a trail guide.
Approaches and anchorages
Whether approaching the Thimble Islands from the east or west, be sure to stay in the marked channel. There is a tidal range of approximately 6 feet, so many rocks are visible only at low tide, which can be hazardous without local knowledge. Charts 12372 and 12373 are essential when visiting the area. As you plot your course, note that some buoy positions may have changed slightly from their charted positions.
If you are coming from the east, pass south of Sachem’s Head, red nun 20, and south of Goose Rocks Shoals, red nun 22. Head northwest to red nun 4 off Wayland Island. Follow the marked channel from red nun 4 to green can 11. Work your way south into the anchorage between High Island and Pot Island. The main anchorage is between green can 11 off East Crib Island and green can 1 near High Island.
Approaching from the west, stay south of Negro Heads, red nun 28, and Gangway Rock, green can 1. Proceed east/northeast to red nun 4 on the southwest corner of Inner Reef. Once safely past Inner Reef, turn north, leaving Outer Island to starboard, then northeast into the main anchorage between High Island and Pot Island. Green can 1 marks a 3-foot rock south of High Island, so be sure to leave it to port.
When anchoring, be careful of cable and pipelines running between the islands. The main anchorage is protected, except from the southwest. It can be quite crowded on summer weekends, and there is much activity to keep you entertained as tour and shuttle boats pass by. The anchorage usually quiets down after sunset.
Boats also can anchor north of Cut-In-Two Island, with local knowledge and an eye on your chart plotter. Calvin Ohidy, the Branford harbormaster whose jurisdiction includes the Thimble Islands, advises that you also can anchor to the side of the main channel as long as you leave plenty of room for traffic. There are moorings in the anchorages and around the islands, but all are private and not for rent. Be mindful of the no-wake 6-mph speed limit in the Thimbles and within 100 yards of shore.
If the Thimble Island anchorages are crowded and you are looking for nearby alternatives, the harbormaster recommends anchoring south of Green Island in Branford Harbor, near the Branford River entrance, and also farther west to Kelsey’s Island, near the Farm River in East Haven. For shore access from the Branford Harbor anchorage, take your dinghy farther up the Branford River and ask at local marinas for dinghy dockage. As you continue up the river to where it turns to a backward C, there is a state boat ramp. From here, it is a 25-minute walk along Harbor and Maple streets to Main Street and town, where you will find several excellent restaurants.