yah, everybody wants their nickel.
used to be able to hand launch from the Glastonbury side of the ferry (Ferry Ln, CT Rt 160) for free. It's been a few years, but as long as you didn't interfere with the ferry operation, no one would stop you. Can't guarentee that this is still the case. There is parking for about 10 cars there.
while Wethersfield charges you to launch at the Cove, if you launch from the adjacent CT DMV property you shouldn't be charged. Park at the back of the DMV parking lot and look for a path down to the Cove.
The Connyak BBS