Thursday, August 10 - Newport, Rhode Island
Two hours later we entered the cut at Block Island into Great Salt Pond, an large anchorage largely filled with boats--and this on a Tuesday. I can't imagine a weekend, or Heaven forbid the 4th of July, when over 2,000 vessels are said to converge here. On this occasion, with just 500 or so boats in the harbor, we found space to anchor in 25 feet of water with good holding. We dinghied ashore to the dock at Champlin's Resort, where we could see a very nice playground on the hill. In addition to the playground, Champlin's has hotel rooms, a swimming pool, a movie theater, two or three snack bars, an ice cream parlor, and a bike rental business on site. It was quite a circus, with hundreds of people out the marina dock and more boats per square foot than I've ever seen. Big motor yachts were rafted and tucked in three deep all along the dock and I wasn't sure how some of them got in there, much less how they planned to get out. At the fuel dock, gigantic sportfishing boats were backed in and med-moored. A 150 footer named Lady M came in and med-moored beside them while 20-30 people (including me) stood and gawked. All this time Laura was living it up on the very nice playground, making friends with dozens of kids who came and went as she played on. Indeed, although it would have been fun to rent a bike and see more of the island, the area around the playground was all that we would get to see of Block Island.
After a peaceful night, we pulled anchor and headed back towards the mainland. As we hit the tidal rips to the north of the island, the depth gauge again went wacky and tried to convince me that we were headed onto rocks that didn't exist, but I managed to duck and swerve around them just the same. The wind should have been giving us a good sail towards Newport, but it was light until we reached the entrance into the East Passage. Suddenly the wind picked up to 15 knots against the outgoing tide, creating big swells that Seaductress surfed down at nine knots. Around us, big racing sloops with Kevlar sails and a dozen serious looking men were practicing tacks and spinnaker sets. Around the corner was Newport, where the Americas Cup was defended and many a famous race has been started. As seems to be the case everywhere in this area, 95% of the harbor was taken up with moorings, but we found a spot to anchor and were soon in the dinghy, headed for town.
The waterfront in Newport was filled with people out enjoying the sunny, prefrontal day, shopping, eating, and walking the streets. The only problem with these picturesque New England towns is that in keeping with their nature, you can find places to buy antiques, books, yachting clothes, maybe even a new spinnaker, but if you're looking for groceries, you're out of luck. We did manage to find an ice cream shop and a playground before returning to make sure the boat hadn't been blown away. I've decided that while I didn't need one in the Bahamas, I really miss not having a folding bicycle here in the States. It would have to be a folding model to fit in the dinghy, and it most certainly would be trying to rust out from underneath me, but a lone man on a bicycle can cover a lot more ground than he can on foot...and maybe those happy-hour shrimp cocktail platters wouldn't be so often out of reach.
Saturday, August 12 - Bristol, Rhode Island
Monday, August 14 - Bristol, Rhode Island
We got a space at the dock in Newport thanks to the hospitality of David Hurd, whose magnificent condo overlooks the harbor and his two boats (one sail, one power). We got a fine tour of the very crowded harbor, where a Jazz Festival was in full swing at the Fort, aboard his Main Ship, No Tact, then enjoyed Chowder and Chinese take-out at the condo a host of people that included Janet and Rhonda's Bahamas cruising buddies such as Chuck and Allie of the Island Packet 38 Kairos. In the morning after a walk through town we were off on Promise to Dutch Harbor for the night, although Janet was nearly convinced to take us back to Block Island. As always, the food and company were great. We sailed back to Bristol today in fine form to dine and watch Janet's favorite movie, Abbott and Costello in The Time of Their Lives, which was certainly an apt description of the long weekend.
Thursday, August 17 - Bristol, Rhode Island
We've more than enjoyed our stay in Bristol, touring about in Rhonda's Sabb, eating like kings, watching classic movies and reality television, and loading a half a ton of groceries on the boat. Janet has loaned us charts and a couple of hundred pounds of cruising guides, so tomorrow we're off for Maine.
Friday, August 18 - Hadley Harbor, Massachusetts
This morning I listened on the SSB to the Cruizeheimers Net (8:30 AM on 8.152MHz) for the first time since leaving the Bahamas and it brought back some memories. The same folks (Salty Paws, St. Jude, Destiny, Diva, etc.) are there but the geography is all turned around. When they do the regional check-ins, they start in Canada and work down the east coast; of course I remember them starting in the Caribbean and working north, but such is the annual migration of cruisers. There was just one boat checking in from the Bahamas.
I had an e-mail last night from Chris and the family on Pi Squared, who we last saw sailing out of Luperon. He said they were still happily on the boat, cruising Newfoundland but starting south in about a week. Who knows, perhaps we'll see them somewhere along the way.
Tomorrow, we'll go through the Cape Cod Canal. It's crucial to get the tides right for this ten mile canal because currents are often as high as four knots (and some claim six, which would stop us cold). I had some data from the chartplotter, but needed more. Eureka...the wonders of the Internet! Places like www.tides.info gave me just what I needed. It's not fast cruising the net on cell phone connection, but it does work.
Saturday, August 19 - Plymouth, Massachusetts
Sailing up Buzzard Bay, we must have passed at least a half dozen classic yachts, from Hinckleys to a beautiful all-varnished wooden ketch. Sails could be seen in all directions. In fact, there are almost too many sailboats here, filling every anchorage that isn't already chock full of mooring balls. A beautiful and perfectly maintained yacht like Promise would be the queen of sailboats in Chattanooga, a real big cheese among all the Hunters and O'Days, but here she's just another pretty face. And poor Seaductress, worn down after thousands of miles of non-stop cruising, is getting just a bit self-conscious about her looks.
Sunday, August 20 - Plymouth, Massachusetts
We took the launch in to the yacht club just before lunch and had an enjoyable walk around town. Of course we stopped to see Plymouth Rock. The history of the Rock, which was not mentioned in any of the actual accounts by the Pilgrims at all, is fascinating. The date of 1620 chiseled into the rock was actually put there a couple of hundred years after the fact. The rock has been broken apart, moved uptown, and then reassembled back in the original spot. So far as rocks go, this was one of the more interesting ones we've seen.
Laura and I also toured the Mayflower II, an authentic reproduction of the original built (106 feet long, no engine) around fifty years ago in England and sailed across. About once a year a crew of around 26 does actually take her out and sail this lumbering craft. Onboard, we met both a crew member and a Pilgrim and were able to get some first-hand accounts of the voyage. Strange, they had never heard of Tennessee.
Sunday, August 21 - Gloucester, Massachusetts
It did, with that same famous sign advertising "Food, Liquor, and Lodging." Unfortunately, I had only a single dollar in my wallet, so the chances of getting any of the three were slim--but who knows? Gloucester is a friendly place. We stopped to talk with the Harbormaster after anchoring, and he gave us a little welcome packet even though we weren't taking one of the city moorings (which are, in fact, reasonably for this market priced at $25/night). At the head of the Inner Harbor on the south side is the Cripple Cove public landing and dinghy dock with an adjoining playground. While I went in search of the Crow's Nest, Laura played and made new friends.
If the weather looks good tomorrow we may do an overnight up to Penobscot Bay, Maine.
Wednesday, August 23 - Gloucester, Massachusetts
We decided to spend yesterday here in Gloucester so we had time to walk around town a bit, going ashore this time near the Coast Guard station at another nice public landing and walking through town to the memorials on Stacy Avenue. Later, while Annie read a book, I watched The Perfect Storm and Laura watched The Wiggles.