Thursday, August 10 - Newport, Rhode Island
When last we left our intrepid cruisers two days ago, Seaductress was peacefully at anchor in Stonington, Connecticut. Our whirlwind tour of famous yachting destinations continued yesterday as we made a leisurely exit of the harbor, headed for the ruthless North Atlantic and the famous Block Island. Actually, Block Island was just thirteen miles from Stonington, most of which we did under sail. Strange, but something about seeing three dozen other boats sailing makes you want to shut down your engine for a while, too. It was a very pleasant sail, with the only excitement coming as we exited the tricky Fishers Island area just outside of Stonington. As astute readers will remember, the cockpit chartplotter is without a cartridge for this area, so it no longer gives any detailed maps. With waypoints and courses plotted on the paper chart and binoculars at the ready, we set out the old fashioned way with great confidence only to see the Interphase depth sounder suddenly go to less than ten feet when we should have been in fifty. I hit the brakes as the depths came up to six feet, expecting one of the rocks that this area is known for to break us in half at any moment. I couldn't make sense of it; we seemed to be exactly where we should be. Finally I figured out that neither I nor the entire world had gone crazy, merely the Interphase sounder. I readjusted the sensitivity and all was well. "Maybe a big fish swam underneath us," Annie said, but all we could see were minnows.

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.

Laura on the Beach at Champlin's Resort Sportfishing boats Playground at Champlin's
Photos: (1): Laura made friends on the beach within seconds of getting out of the dinghy. (2) There were seven big sportfishing boats, each carrying at least 500 fishing rods, med-moored on the fuel dock. It wasn't a good day to buy fuel at Champlin's. (3) View of part of Great Salt Pond from the hill behind Champlin's Resort.

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.

Newport Habor
Photo: Newport Harbor is a great place to test your knowledge of the nautical rules of the road.

Saturday, August 12 - Bristol, Rhode Island
A front came through Thursday night and by Friday morning the weather was perfect again. We motored up against the current ten miles or so to Bristol to anchor for the night, then went to Rhonda and Janet's house for a wonderful dinner. Now we are going to put the boat on a mooring, go aboard Promise, and cruise back downstream for a triumphant return to Newport on a beautiful, fully varnished (almost) Little Harbor 38. Finally we will have achieved the cruising style we've so long been denied.

Bristol Habor
Photo: Some of the 500 moorings in Bristol Harbor as seen from the upper deck of the Bristol Yacht Club.

Monday, August 14 - Bristol, Rhode Island
We've return to the not-so-mighty vessel after a whirlwind three-day weekend of cruising, Bristol-style. The trip started with a relaxing sail down to Newport aboard Promise, chasing Will and Marilyn on Charmer, which evidently had a cleaner bottom and the propeller on the dinghy tilted up out of the water since they proved quite impossible to catch despite our ship's high levels of skill and teamwork.

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.

Janet Rhonda Reflections of a Mighty Vessel
Photos: (1): Captain Janet at the helm. (2) Captain Rhonda trims. (3) As usual, my favorite pictures are the ones I snapped on a whim. This one is the mirrored top of the compass on Promise.

Thursday, August 17 - Bristol, Rhode Island
The best thing about cruising is the people you meet, and the people you meet from Bristol are the best of all. For the past week Janet and Rhonda have wined, dined, and entertained us while Seaductress rested on moorings at the head of the harbor, just a short ride from the Bristol Yacht Club. On Wednesday I joined the girls on Charmer, a Gulf Star 41 captained by their friend Will, for the regular Wednesday night races. The action was very different from what we're used to at Sale Creek Marina, in part because there were six to eight crew on each boat (at Sale Creek, skippers consider themselves lucky to get one other person on board). Everyone was assigned a job according to their abilities; I was a grinder on the sheet winches, which was more responsibility than I wanted. In truth, I just wanted to take pictures, but on a racing boat that's not considered actual work. Since Will and Janet would have refused to maneuver the boat to get the best photo opportunities (another Sale Creek tradition, at least for me) it was probably just as well.

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.

Inside the Hershoff Museum Inside a Fisher Island 31 Will and Janet
Photos: (1): On the deck of a Fisher Island 31 inside the Herreshoff Museum. (2) The luxurious interior of the Fisher Island 31. (3) The driver and chief tactician of Charmer warm up for Wednesday night.

Friday, August 18 - Hadley Harbor, Massachusetts
With reluctance we slipped the mooring lines this morning and took the Sakonnet River south from Bristol, pausing to fill up with fuel and water at Pirate Cove Marina (18 gallons including jerry jugs, 781 hours). Once out into Buzzards Bay we motorsailed in a light southerly breeze with the Elizabeth Islands of Cuttyhunk (with Martha's Vineyard in the distance) just a mile or so to starboard. As happy hour approached, we toured through Hadley Harbor near Woods Hole, then anchored with a dozen other boats just outside the harbor. While Annie and Laura did schoolwork I dinghied over to the small Bull Island, where someone maintains a nice dinghy dock and some short but pleasant hiking trails. Then I zoomed over a couple of miles to Woods Hole and spent a few minutes talking with the folks at the yacht club there. It was a peaceful night at anchor.

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 gave me just what I needed. It's not fast cruising the net on cell phone connection, but it does work.

Outside Hadley Harbor Woods Hole Dinghies
Photos: (1): View of the outermost Hadley Harbor anchorage from Bull Island. (2) It was hard dinghy city at the Woods Hole Yacht Club. One heavy rain and the entire fleet could be lost.

Saturday, August 19 - Plymouth, Massachusetts
We had a fine sail from Woods Hole to the west entrance of the canal, where a fifteen knot southerly wind was fighting the outgoing tide to build four foot waves. We were a little early for the 1:00 PM slack tide, but motored on in and sure enough, the outflow and waves soon diminished. The entire canal took only an hour to transit, for by the time we were halfway through the current was very much in our favor. Another victory for the Information Age. Once clear of the canal, we had another good sail up the coast towards Plymouth, keeping just a mile offshore. We'd chosen Plymouth over Provincetown out on Cape Cod because the harbor looked much more suited to a southwesterly blow like the one we'll see tomorrow as a cold front moves over us. I had hopes of anchoring, but with the wind already blowing fifteen out of the southwest and boats on moorings filling the spot I had hoped to score, we called the Plymouth Yacht Club and got a mooring within sight of Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower II. Funny, $45/night seemed high a few weeks ago, but I guess you get used to anything.

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're spending a second night on the mooring to let the last of the thunderstorms go by tonight, planning to depart for Gloucester tomorrow morning. I haven't seen any boats at anchor here. The only protected spots are filled with moorings, so that makes some sense given the weather forecast.

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.

Plymouth Rock Welded Statue at Brewster Park
Photos: (1): The famous Plymouth Rock, which may or may not be the first place the Pilgrims stepped ashore, but then this rock has traveled a bit itself in the meantime. (2) Welded stainless steel in Brewster Park, Plymouth.

Sunday, August 21 - Gloucester, Massachusetts
The first thing I wanted to do when we got to Gloucester, America's oldest seaport, was to hoist a few beers at the Crow's Nest. The Nest, of course, is the bar made famous by the book and movie The Perfect Storm as the place where crew and friends of the doomed Andrea Gail spent their time when not at sea. I wondered if fifteen years later, in this age of waterfront condos, would the place even exist?

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.

Crow's Nest Bar Friendly Swan Boater Information Sign
Photos: (1): When I moved my hand toward my camera to get a picture of the Crow's Nest from the sidewalk, two patrons who had just emerged sped hastily out of the frame. They had evidently seen my type before. (2) Even the wildlife is friendly in Gloucester. (3) We were very impressed by the welcoming we received in Gloucester, including this sign made specifically for visiting cruisers.

Wednesday, August 23 - Gloucester, Massachusetts
It's Annie's birthday today! Laura and I had fun decorating the cabin this morning to surprise her when she got up. She says she wants a good sail to Maine for her birthday. We'll do our best. The forecast is light winds and seas 2-3 feet, a foot less than yesterday. Rather than cut straight across like the Andrea Gail would have done we will stay off 10-20 miles off the coast, heading for Mantincus Rock along the routes shown on the Maptech charts.

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.

Fishermen's Memorial Memorial to Wives and Families Annie's birthday
Photos: (1): The famous memorial is surrounded by a listing of over 5,300 names of those lost at sea from 1716 to 2001. (2) The corresponding memorial to the wives and families of Gloucester fishermen is nearby. (3) Happy birthday, Annie.

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