Outer Island

Once a year Outer Island, the southernmost of the Thimble Islands, is open to the public. The Thimbles are a chain of small islands and rocks sprinkled just south of Stony Creek in Branford, CT. Outer Island itself is part of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge.

The morning started gray and very foggy, but this was a rain or shine event! I popped a Bonine for seasickness and headed out with my friend Rick, his wife and daughter and two of their friends.

You get to Outer Island via water taxi. The boat leaves from Branford’s Town Dock and stops at other islands along the way, dropping off and picking up residents and visitors.

Outer Island is about 5 acres of rock laid down as the last ice age retreated. It was originally a private island, owned by a couple. In fact, the main house and a smaller building are still there. It’s now owned by the Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior.

I’m sure most people will disagree, but in many ways, I wish it was still private. There is an experience to be had living on that island that will never be felt again.

Please understand, I’m not diminishing the research and scientific work being done there now. And I certainly wouldn’t be able to afford this island life I’m talking about. But someone should have the opportunity to drink in the solitude and beauty that can be found in so few places.

We toured the island, led by two professors from local universities. The island’s location and rocky terrain gives it some unusual characteristics – especially in the tidal pools carved into the rock. And then there are the rock crabs, a recently introduced species that’s muscled out some of the shoreline’s former residents.

Outer Island is the kind of place you don’t get to see too often… though you should if you get the chance.

Oh… one more thing. The Bonine has kept me loopy all day! I drove to dinner with Helaine and Stef, but it quickly became obvious I wasn’t ready to drive. Most of the side effects the package says can happen, have happened. Hopefully, I’ll sober up on Sunday.

6 thoughts on “Outer Island”

  1. Canon 300D and a variety of Sigma lenses. I wish it hadn’t have been overcast, which is quite problematic with the limited dynamic range of digital camera sensors.

    I shot over 300 pics. I’m not sure I’ll print any.

  2. Geoff,
    FYI: Outer Island is Public/Federal Park and Conservation Area land. It is open more than one day per year – in fact it is open to the public year round… if they can get there. Usually, for group access their are island docents and education guides that should be consulted. Half the island is indeed off-limits to the public (it is a bird sanctuary). During Spring, summer and fall, the island is open and gets hundreds of visitors.


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