Our history has made us what we are today
Connecticut River Expeditions (CRE) originally owned and operated RiverQuest. From 2002 to 2021 Captain Mark and Mindy Yuknat provided the general public access to the lower Connecticut River, educating passengers on the ecology and beauty of the lower Connecticut River, while they cruising aboard eco-tour vessel, RiverQuest. Today this boat is berthed at Steamboat Dock at the Connecticut River Museum and continues to operate from Essex, CT.
A Captain in the Making
At 12 years old, Mark “borrowed” his first boat from the beach in Old Lyme and developed a passion for the Connecticut River. He spent his summers with his grandmother on White Sands Beach. His parents would join them on weekends. After seeing him eyeing a boat on the beach, his mother insisted that he not go out, in, or around any boats. As if this was a challenge, he and his friends proceeded to have many adventures on the water.
Mark and Mindy, the owners of RiverQuest, were both raised in Old Lyme. They have been cruising on the lower Connecticut River and Long Island Sound in various vessels since childhood and are very knowledgeable on the history, ecology and local wildlife that abound on the lower Connecticut River.
Mark and Mindy Marry
Although they knew each other in school, when they crossed paths again, a true partnership began. It wasn’t long before their son Alex was born and he too was immediately attracted to the river and boating. Alex was just a wee lad when they began taking him for rides in their small Zodiac boat, safely tucked under the spray cover, enjoying every moment.
R/V RiverQuest Arrives
Connecticut River Expeditions was born when RiverQuest was built in Willow Street, PA. In 2001, she was delivered by truck to Mindy at her workplace in Westbrook by error, but soon made it to the CT River and was the first vessel in the CRE Fleet. In 2007, RiverQuest was reconfigured. Ten feet was added to bow area making it the RiverQuest we know and love today.
First Tree Swallow Cruises
Captain Mark and Mindy are the pioneers of Tree Swallow watching!
Since 2003 they have brought individuals and groups on intimate cruises to see the swallow migration. They loved going to a special spot on the Connecticut River where 100’s of thousands of Tree Swallows gather each fall evening to sleep in the reeds each night. When the birds arrive they perform amazing aerial ballets Having enjoyed the spectacle, they felt that everyone should have an opportunity to witness this phenomenon. They continue to operate these cruises every year from late August through September, into early October on both RiverQuest and ADVENTURE.
ADVENTURE Joins the Fleet
ADVENTURE was a true labor of love. It is a classic riverboat, found at a salvage yard in Hempstead, North Carolina. It was abandoned, derelict in need of much TLC. The Yuknat family brought this vessel back to life, over 13 years. Captain Mark and Mindy spent 4 years living onboard while completing the final renovations. Today their son Captain Alex has taken the helm and continues the legacy and the endless projects associated with her. ADVENTURE is mainly used for Private Charters and special events.
RiverQuest returns to her roots. On January 31st she is purchased by Fresh River, LLC and returns to Steamboat Dock in Essex. The Connecticut River Museum works in cooperation with the LLC and operates the cruises. They are proud to continue Mark and Mindy’s original goals. They are “down-sizing” to a different boat for small group experiences and river stewardship.