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D-Day ship turned New London ferry sailed in WW2 convoy from Halifax (8 photos)

Travel Tails: Smitty sails on a historic ship and meets a friendly chef
Smitty and I entered a New London ferry terminal not knowing if dogs were allowed. Then a black lab barked at us from behind the ticket counter.
 
Turns out that Khloe is the ticket agent’s dog and she goes to work with her human every day. Our visit to this Connecticut port was off to a dog-friendly start!
 
New London is a 7-hour drive from Ontario or 10 hours from Nova Scotia. Ferries from here cross to eastern Long Island where you’ll find Montauk and Gardiner’s Bay, both mentioned in Billy Joel’s song, The Downeaster ‘Alexa’.
 
Our New London Airbnb apartment included a fenced-in yard and hot tub for $79.95 a night. Our host put out bowls and toys for Smitty.
 
After exploring downtown and the seaside Fort Trumbull we booked passage on Cape Henlopen, a former tank landing ship with a remarkable history dating back to 1944.
 
Built in Indiana and named USS LST 510, she sailed down the Mississippi River picking up her crew along the way. From New Orleans she sailed northward to Halifax, Nova Scotia where she joined a convoy bound for Europe.
 
The Atlantic crossing terrorized her green crew as they dodged icebergs and rode 50-foot waves. Four of the 64-ship convoy were sunk by German U-boats, including one less than 400 yards from USS LST 510. Then her engines quit in the mid-Atlantic.
 
Mercifully, the ship survived the crossing and eventually unloaded her men and cargo at Omaha Beach, France on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
 
In 1983 she was sold to Cross Sound Ferry Services of New London. Now she takes cars and passengers to Orient Point, NY, a trip that takes 80 minutes.
 
We couldn’t turn down a chance to sail aboard this storied vessel, especially after learning she was dog-friendly and a round trip was only $29.95. Once underway we were treated to a top deck view of New London and the fascinating Ledge Light, reportedly haunted by an early keeper.
 
Dogs are not allowed in the lounge that honors the ship’s D-Day history. But Smitty made friends with a wheaten terrier named Lily in the heated midship seating area. Before our return crossing we had time to explore a seashell-covered Long Island beach.
 
If tourism in New London is on the upswing, a local chef might be responsible.
 
Chef Jack Chaplin’s Cooking with the Blues channel on YouTube has drawn countless travelers to this town, many from Canada. An invitation to visit Jack’s restaurant is why we chose New London for a late-January stopover.
 
Jack, who owns a boxer named Axel, told me about his family ties to Nova Scotia. “My grandparents had a beautiful place on the coast, 50 acres, at Southwest Port Mouton. It was so clean and sand dollars were rolling in the surf. Clean, but cold! When I jumped in I almost didn’t come out!”
 
Now averaging a million views per month, Jack and his pizza cook, B, have won fans the world over.
 
Jack’s videos often find him chatting with local workers or the musicians performing at his restaurant, Daddy Jack’s. I have no doubt this affable chef would interview a furnace installer with the same respect he would interview Eric Clapton.
 
Smitty and I visited during a video session and ended up in four episodes of Cooking with the Blues. You can find us here.
 
During the pandemic, Jack and B have teamed up with local sponsors to provide free take-and-bake pizza kits. And some food has been offered with negotiable prices and the slogan “nobody will be turned away.”
 
Regrettably, we didn’t have time to visit the nearby communities of Mystic and Groton. Plus we missed a dog-friendly boat tour that was shut down for winter. But we’ll go back to New London when the coast is clear.
 
Smitty is an Inuk dog from Kimmirut, Nunavut who now lives in Nova Scotia.

About the Author: Bruce MacNab

Bruce MacNab is the author of the award-winning biography The Metamorphosis: the apprenticeship of Harry Houdini. Raised in Dartmouth, he attended NSCAD and the Nova Scotia Institute of Technology. He now lives alongside Nova Scotia’s Cobequid Mountains
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