Lionheart Cruise: New England 2008
Paula & Phil Briggs in front of their pond where remote control model sailboat races are held every summer. Around the pond is a 4-hole golf course. Nick's friend, Rudi, is hanging out next to Paula.
This photo shows the minefield of lobster pot floats that boaters have to navigate along the Maine coast. In many coves, they are too numerous to allow pleasure craft to anchor.
Crews from Lionheart, KAOS & Total Return visit Olson House in Maple Juice Cove, Maine
From lobster on the hoof, to lobster on the plate....we cooked and ate a lot of lobsters in Maine in 2008!
Boothbay, Maine, on a sunny, warm, and windy day in September.
Happy Hour aboard KAOS. Lionheart, Total Return, KAOS & Trader are rafted together on Jewell Island in Casco Bay near Portland, ME.
Nick is NOT welcoming MYC for happy hour at the raft up.
Dinner with Trader & KAOS at the Purdy Home in Portland.
Sightseeing in Portland included the Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse above, and the Longfellow Home, on the right.
Ross & Jo Anne Babcock from Second Wish joined us for dinner in Portland.
An afternoon spent on the Cog Railway on Mt. Washington, N.H. The picture on the left shows a train returning to the base. On the right is our train at the top. The view of 4 states from the top was much clearer than the photo shows.
The Bretton Woods Resort with Mt. Washington in the background.
Our last evening aboard KAOS, September 28, in Gloucester, MA. You can see Lionheart in the background and the Down East Cruiser Loop burgee in the foreground......and a good time was has by all!
Lionheart cruises into Boston Harbor.
Lionheart docked at Constitution Marina. The Old North Church, located in the North End of Boston, is in the background.
The Old North Church (left) as seen from the street. Paul Revere House (right). The church was where the lantern signals warned that the British were coming and Paul Revere made his famous ride.
Freshman dining hall at Harvard
The Breakers, Newport, Rhode Island.
The Dunes at Seashore National Park, near Provincetown, offer a different grandeur from the mansions of Newport. Priscilla (left) and Jean gave us the best tour of Cape Cod. They obviously love and enjoy their home territory!
Sights in Plymouth, MA, the town square (left) and the view from the old cemetery down toward Plymouth Rock.
Two geezers out for a land cruise of Martha's Vineyard. Hope the kids don't see this--they won't ever let us out again!
An afternoon stroll in Port Jefferson, another quaint town on Long Island Sound, NY.
Swans looking for a handout in Port Jefferson Harbor. These guys were rather aggressive, hissing and tapping the boat with their beaks.
Lionheart cruises into NYC, via the East River, October 17.
Sighting the Empire State Building from the East River....see the moon just to the left of the spire?
Lady Liberty in the rear view mirror as Lionheart cruises south in New York Harbor, heading for a rough day on the Atlantic off the coast of New Jersey.
October 21, 2008, celebrating 3 years of cruising! With us for the event are Susan and John Hauge from La Garza Verde. Their Dog Crew Member, Lilly, stayed home that evening.
Nick celebrates 3 years of cruising. Belly up on the pilot house bench! Tough duty for the Cat Crew Member.
The view toward Bar Harbor, Maine, from the top of Cadillac Mt. in Acadia National Park
This page will cover the period from September 29, through October 21, 2008, 46 days spent exploring the New England coast of of the US. On this leg of the trip we only traveled 739 miles (from Mt. Desert Island in Maine to Cape May, New Jersey), and did that in 21 days of coastal cruising. The rest of our days were spent exploring the countryside, visiting with friends whom we have met on the Great Adventure, and enjoying the beauty of the anchorages along the eastern coast. Knowing that our time on the East Coast was coming to a close, we truly dawdled and meandered for almost two months, and loved every minute. However, as the leaves started to turn, the winds picked up, marinas started to close and pull in their docks and mooring balls, and flight after flight of geese flew in their vee formation south, we knew it was time to head south ourselves.
As reported in the previous segment, KAOS and Lionheart awoke in Seal Cove, Mt. Desert (pronounced dessert) Island on August 29, following our all night crossing from Nova Scotia. When we were awakened by the US Customs officials telling us to move to Northeast Harbor (another cove on Mt. Desert Island) to check in, we did so. As we arrived, we were delighted to see Total Return at the dock. We had met Captain Russ and Admiral Molly while doing the Great Loop trip. In fact, we spent a few days with them in Mobile Bay at Dog River Marina in November 2006. One evening we all went to the Mobile Yacht Club for dinner and met a little stray cat. Russ and Molly adopted that little stray and named him MYC (pronounced my-see) and he has been the Cat Crew on Total Return ever since. We agreed to have dinner together that evening and spent the day resting and cleaning the boat. Later we dined at a fine establishment; The Tan Turtle. This turned out to be a local hang out that served yummy comfort food, and a good time was had by all.
August 30 was the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend 2008, therefore, it was a rather crowded day to be in one of the best known vacation spots in the Northeast. The good news was that the free buses that operate on Mt. Desert were running a busy schedule through Labor Day. We hopped on a bus right at the top of the dock and were whisked over to Bar Harbor. This is is lovely town with a park square in the middle, lots of quaint shops and galleries, as well as the usual tacky t-shirt shops. We perused book stores (new and used), ice cream shops (cones starting at $3.50), restaurants (lobster is the big item here), and lovely bed and breakfasts aplenty. We loved walking around and checking it out and we made reservations for a tour of Acadia National Park for Sunday. What we did not realize that day was that Bar Harbor is the quintessential New England Coast tourist town. The only real differences between Bar Harbor, Camden, Booth Bay, etc., is the shape of the bay. While they are pretty much alike to look at, each has a unique history dating back mostly to the 1600s, and all provide hours of happy wandering and exploration. Having spent 2 hours walking and exploring, we hopped back on the bus and took it to Southeast Harbor which is pretty much on the other side of the island. It's a smaller town but the coastal scenery and the hamlets we passed through on the ride were well worth the effort. We had lunch there and "people watched" before we took the bus back to Northeast Harbor. We needed to pick up some items for dinner with Total Return and KAOS, scheduled to be held on Lionheart after the USC vs Virginia football game that afternoon. We picked up some Maine blueberries, strawberries, some watermelon and corn and were absolutely astounded by the tab of $48! While that turned out to be a mistake, it was only $34(!), the blueberries were $15 for a basket! That was the last Maine blueberry purchased on the trip through Maine. While they were delicious, if a little small, those prices were just over the top! Fortunately, blueberry muffins were quite reasonable. I bet they are made with Oregon blueberries. In any event, the Trojans trounced Virginia and dinner was a huge success topped off by an exquisite bottle of port provided by Captain KAOS.
August 31 was our day to visit Acadia National Park on Oli's Trolley Tour. Mt. Desert, and all of Maine, was formed by the force of the glaciers that blanketed New England 2 to 3 million years ago. Their movement south formed the many deep bays and numerous lakes that make this area so scenic and such an outstanding venue for outdoor activities and sports. Acadia is the name given to the entire area of the Canadian Maritime provinces as well as this area of Maine. It is believed that Mt. Desert was settled by French Jesuits in 1613. The major feature of Acadia National Park, Cadillac Mountain, was named by a Frenchman who laid claim to a large part of the Maine coast until his claim was nullified by the occupation of the British in 1759. The first American settlers arrived in 1762, Bar Harbor was incorporated in 1796, and Maine became the 23rd state in 1820. By 1880, the area was a summer playground of the Rockefellers, Morgans, Fords, Astors, Vanderbilts and Pulitzers. They built large summer "cottages" which were mostly destroyed in a large forest fire in 1947. Some of these building survive today as summer homes and hotels. In 1901 a public land trust was formed to protect the island from overdevelopment and to establish a park. The park land was donated by several major land owners. To protect the park from the incursion of automobiles, John D. Rockefeller built 45 miles of carriage roads, linked by lovely rock bridges over the gorges and major roads. In 1943 Acadia National Park was established by the US Government. Rockefeller donated 10,000 to acres to the park, as well as all the lovely carriage roads that are now used for hiking and biking. Besides the miles of scenic trails, the miles of breathtaking coastline make Acadia a fantastic outdoor vacation destination whether coming by cruise ship, RV, kayak, private yacht or car. One could spend many days exploring and enjoying nature and/or the luxury resort experience offered by Mt. Desert Island.
September 1 was Labor Day and there was a change of weather in the air. It was cold with a brisk wind and the island bus schedule was significantly reduced. By September 3, the leaves were beginning to turn and were blowing in the streets. As we left Mt. Desert Island, passing through York Narrows, we were busy dodging the thousands of lobster traps that are planted in all the coves and as far out to sea as the eye can see. Photos don't adequately show the density of the traps nor the hazard to boating that they represent. After picking our way carefully for several hours we arrived in Camden, ME, where we were scheduled to pick up our new radar. While the 2 captains did their boat work, the 2 admirals set off to discover Camden, get haircuts, find a grocery store, and enjoy an afternoon ashore. Camden is charming and quaint, as described above (see Bar Harbor). Among their major claims to fame is to be the home of Maine's great poetess, Edna St. Vincent Millay, who wrote the following about her town:
All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked the other way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
And that, my friends, truly describes Camden. Another claim to fame is the fact that Peyton Place was filmed there in 1957, and they still talk about that. While I cannot say that the radar installation went without a hitch, by Friday, September 5, we were ready to move on. We had to find a sheltered spot to spend the weekend because there was a storm on the way.
KAOS and Lionheart headed to Buck's Cove, actually a short distance from Camden. Friday was sunny and we spent the day exploring the coast and the tiny hamlet. On Saturday, Lionheart moved on to Center Harbor in Brooklyn, ME, to reconnect with our friends Paula and Phil Briggs whom we had met in the Exumas last March. They have a lovely old home which Phil, an architect and boat builder, has redesigned for modern living. They treated us to a fabulous dinner, picking us up at the dock of the Brooklyn Yacht Club while we left Lionheart on a mooring ball in the protected harbor. When Phil delivered us back to the dock it was blowing and starting to rain, and, it was darker than the inside of a cow! We had failed to bring a flashlight so we literally "felt" our way down the deeply slanted dock (low tide had arrived) and out to our dingy at the end of a wildly rocking dock. All's well that ends well but we won't be forgetting to bring the right equipment again anytime soon! It rained about 10 inches that night, filling our dingy and all the rest of the dingies in the harbor. In the morning, the locals were all out bailing their dingies and checking their boats on the moorings. Lionheart was fine, but Lion Cub (our rubber dingy) was almost swamped and the bilge pump was toast. It had to be hand bailed before it could be lifted back onto it's chocks on the top deck. Before we realized how much water was in Lion Cub, we rather overtaxed the hydraulic lift. This came back to bite us when we returned to Camden on September 8. After taking the dingy into dinner late that afternoon, we returned to our mooring just before sunset and tried to reload it on the big boat. No dice. The engine on the davit (lift) failed with Lion Cub hanging about 10 feet off the water and about 1 foot below the top deck. What to do????? Fortunately, while it was 7:00 PM in Maine, it was only 4:00 PM in California. The Captain called the davit installer in California. While he did not have any miracles on how to convert the hydraulic system to manual, he did suggest the use of a come- along. The Captain just happened to have a comealong on board. By using that device and the strength of both of us, we were able to get the dingy back on board. It was a very trying task that reminded both of us that we are not getting any younger. The next day we ordered a new davit motor to be delivered to us in Rockland, ME., our next port of call.
While we were back in Camden, KAOS had gone to another port to be hauled out. They had developed a vibration and feared that they had picked up some lobster pot lines. Sure enough, when they got the boat on the hard, there were the remains of lines from at least 6 lobster pots. KAOS had line cutters installed on their shafts and met us in Rockland.
September 9 through 12 was spent in Rockland where we met up with Total Return again. It was rainy and cold most of the time but we managed to walk around the old part of town, going to the Farmer's Market and the Farnsworth and Wyeth Museums among other things. The Wyeth Museum actually featured the work of Andrew Wyeth's father, N. C. Wyeth, and his son, Nicholas Wyeth. N.C. Wyeth made his living by illustrating many famous books. Nicholas is a contemporary artist living in NYC. On September 13, KAOS, Total Return and Lionheart moved just a few miles to Maple Juice Cove. There we visited the site of the subject of some of Andrew Wyeth's most famous paintings and drawings. In this out of the way cove there stands an old farm house where Christina and Alvaro Olson lived and died. His painting, Christina's World, was purchased in 1948 by the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and is one of his most well known works. We all walked to the Olson house, visited the cemetery on the property, enjoyed the quiet farmland setting, and then returned to the dock where we were able to buy lobsters for our dinner. We retired to Lionheart to cook and to watch USC vs Ohio St. Another satisfying trouncing by our team. They looked invincible!
The 14th was a grey, cold, stormy day spent dodging lobster traps on our way to Boothbay. Arriving at noon we decided to go to the dock at Brown Brothers to wait out the wind. KAOS did just fine at anchor but we just wanted the convenience of the dock. The next day was warm and sunny and we enjoyed exploring Boothbay and taking advantage of the end-of-summer sales to replenish a wardrobe that has become rather tatty recently. Since we are heading south to warm weather, we bought a few new summer duds on sale. Boothbay dates back to the 1600s and qualifies as fabulously quaint. In the summer it is a tourist mecca with hundreds of cottages of all sizes on the islands surrounding the bay and one of the best used book stores I have ever encountered. While hanging out with Total Return, they gave us a copy of a non-fiction book, The Secret Life of Lobsters, by Trevor Corson. It was a fascinating read, combining science, politics, and the history of the lobster fishery in Maine in the area of Mt. Desert and the Cranberry Islands. It was especially interesting for us, having just spent so much time dodging traps, eating lobster, and getting "dissed" on the VHF by the lobster fishermen. They seem to consider the private yachts to be a nuisance to themselves!
On the 16th, KAOS, Total Return and Lionheart met up with Jean and Steve Purdy on their sailboat, Trader. We had met the Purdy's while doing the loop in 2006, and they met KAOS in 2007. They live in Portland, ME, in the summers and sail Trader. Winters are spent in Florida and the Bahamas on their trawler, Suncat. They directed us to meet them in a calm harbor named The Basin on one of the myriad of islands in Casco Bay, just outside of Portland. It was a beautiful afternoon and we all congregated on KAOS for happy hour and a light dinner of heavy hors d' oeuvres. The next day we followed Trader to Dolphin Marina, a famous local hangout for lunch. Then on to anchor in a cove on Jewell Island. It was a small anchorage so we decided to raft the 4 boats together for the night. A raft up that had Lionheart and Total Return side-by-side facing west; KAOS and Trader also side-by-side facing east; this put all boats stern to stern with each other. I know it's complicated but I go into the detail to explain the total chaos that ensued the following morning when the wind came up, the tide went out, and everything turned into a nightmare at 8:00 AM. First we all started dragging our anchors. I heard the disaster alert while still in bed. Somehow I managed to arrive on deck, with clothes on, in about 2 seconds flat as we tried to cast off from Total Return, a boat bigger than Lionheart, and KAOS moved forward to get away from us. Trader just got away as fast as they could to avoid being driven on the rocks or getting squished between the big boats. In the ensuing 30 minute fire drill Total Return went aground and got pulled off by Lionheart. This was accomplished with Captain KAOS in his dingy ferrying lines back and forth between the 2 boats and Lionheart making a mighty effort to tow Total Return off the bottom. When all was said and done, no one sank, no one got hurt, no boat was injured......but you can rest assured that was "the last raft-up" of Lionheart's current crew! After we got out of the cove, Trader headed home to Portland, Total Return headed south and we haven't seen them since, and KAOS and Lionheart headed for the dock in Portland to spend a week.
The week in Portland (Sept. 19-26) included Captain KOAS leaving for a few days of business in California and Captain Richard doing maintenance and repairs. The Admirals got in a full day of touring this very interesting city on the bay. We visited the childhood home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the Victorian Mansion known as the Morse-Libby House, the Museum of Art which has a fine collection of Andrew Wyeth paintings, and also a visit to the L.L. Bean Outlet store (more wardrobe augmentation). That is also where one finds all the cruise ship passengers shopping. Yes, huge cruise ships make Portland a port of call and I can see why. The city itself has been maintained as it was circa late 1800s. The waterfront buildings now house restaurants, gourmet shops and galleries, law offices, and various business, but the cobblestone streets and wonderful public squares and public art make it a real visual delight. The western area of the old town is a neighborhood that very much reminds me of our old neighborhood in Pasadena. The homes are large and built in the grand styles popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s, by well known architects of the period. I loved seeing these great old places and very much enjoyed the old cemeteries in the town. We spent one day driving down the coast to visit Ogunquit and Kennebunkport. Gorgeous, rugged coastline and lovely countryside with the leaves beginning to turn. We also hooked up with another Looper couple whom we met in 2006 on a sailboat, Second Wish. We saw them one day as we were out cruising toward Portland and arranged to meet Ross and Joanne for dinner. We had a lovely time catching up on our cruising adventures and mutual friends. My favorite side trip was the day we spent driving to Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. This was about a 3-hour drive through beautiful countryside. Again, it was a lovely clear day in New England with vistas of fall's turning leaves all around. We arrived in the Mt. Washington area about lunch time and had lunch in one of the area's grand old hotels; The Bretton Woods. Fully fortified, we headed for the base station of the Mt. Washington Cog Railway. While it is a mere 6,288 feet tall, Mt. Washington is the highest summit in the northeastern US and is located in the White Mountain National Forest. The Cog Railway was opened in 1869 to serve a hotel that was located at the top. However, today there is a weather station at the top as well as a Ranger Station. Mt. Washington has reported the highest winds and coldest temperatures on the North American Continent. The highest wind reported was 231 mph in 1934, and over half of the days in winter are recorded at 75 mph or more. The Cog Railway was envisioned and built by Sylvester Marsh who nearly perished in a storm while climbing Mt. Washington. He decided that the view and the experience should be available to the world, without the danger of freezing to death, so he built this unlikely looking railway. A coal burning, steam engine pushes a railcar up the steep grade taking about an hour and a half each way - 4 miles per hour. The train stops several times in the trip up to take on more water and to allow the brakeman to change the track direction, manually, when approaching a down bound train. While the view at the top is amazing and the trip is unique, one has to believe that the New Hampshire motto of "Live Free Or Die" was something of an inspiration to building this special train. Returning to the boat at the dock in Portland by 7:00 PM, we were able to watch USC vs Oregon State. In an astonishingly awful performance, the Trojans managed to lose to the Beavers 27-21, thereby dashing their hopes for an undefeated season and a National Championship.....one more time. The Beavs for Pete's sake!!
Friday, September 26, found Lionheart rocking and bucking at the dock as tropical storm Kyle was beginning to bear down on New England. Since Portland sits on Casco Bay and is pretty much open to the Atlantic, the docks were going to take a pounding. We departed around noon and made it back to The Basin which is supposedly a secure hurricane hole and Kyle was expected to have hurricane force winds. We hunkered down. KAOS left an hour behind us and could not get out of the pass in the islands to get to our anchorage, so they holed up closer to Portland but in another secure spot. Luckily for New England, Lionheart, and KAOS, et. al., Kyle bypassed New England and hit Nova Scotia......not so lucky for Shelberne, N.S., which we had enjoyed very much in August. After Kyle failed to materialize, we headed south to Gloucester, MA, where we picked up a mooring ball behind the headland lighthouse. That evening was spent on KAOS celebrating the end of our buddy boating for the season. They needed to get south, where they will spend this winter in Marathon, FL. They will likely spend next summer on the New England coast. We, on the other hand, wanted to spend every day we possibly could taking in the rest of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York, before heading south for our final trip on the East Coast.
On September 30, we entered Boston Harbor mid-morning. It was a thrilling sight to see this great city from the ocean and pass by the old fort, the historic docks and pull in at the Constitution Marina which is, indeed, right down the quay from the USS Constitution; Old Ironsides herself. We spent the rest of that day getting our chores done and getting our maps and itinerary ready to begin our exploration of this greatly historic area. We started on October 1, with a trolley tour of the city to familiarize ourselves with the layout of the city and the locations of the many historic sites. This tour was done with KAOS who had taken a mooring south of Boston in Onsett, MA., and driven into Boston for the day. This was a reconnaissance mission for their return next year. As always, we found a lovely little bistro for lunch (right around the corner from Paul Revere's house) in the North End. After lunch we walked down to the docks and took the ferry to visit the USS Constitution, which is on display at the Charlestown Navy Yard which is about a block from the Constitution Marina. Late in the afternoon we parted company with KAOS for the last time on this trip. The next day we walked across the Charlestown Bridge and found ourselves once again in the North End. We could look back across the river and see Lionheart at the dock and beyond her was the Bunker Hill Monument. We headed for the old North Church, famous for the lantern signals that sent Paul Revere on his ride in April 1775. On the way we passed the Copps Hill Burial Ground and had to stop and look at the famous names on some of the headstones. We followed the Freedom Trail, which is indicated by a red line or a brick path on the sidewalk, to Faneuil Hall. Built by one of Boston's wealthiest merchants in 1742, Peter Faneuil, it originally had open market stalls on the ground floor and a large meeting room on the second floor. It became Boston's official town hall. The original building was gutted by fire but rebuilt in 1761 by public money. This is the building where the first rumblings of the American Revolution were felt. Here, under the leadership of James Otis, Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren and other "Sons of Liberty," debates were held that led to the opposition to the Sugar Tax of 1764, the Stamp Act of 1765, and the tea tax discussion which ended in the "Boston Tea Party." Marching on the Freedom Trail, we passed the Old State House, the Old South Meeting House, and kept going until we hit China Town. There we had a fine dim sum lunch. Fortified yet again, we walked to Boston Common and enjoyed the public gardens. From there we walked up Beacon Hill, catching sight of John Kerry's house and many other beautiful homes in this famous section of Boston. Of course, we got lost but found our way to the Charles Street Meeting House and back to Charlestown Bridge and staggered on sore feet back to Lionheart. On Friday, we took to the Boston rail system. The North Station is located just across the Charlestown Bridge, and by 11:00 AM we were walking around Cambridge. We had lunch at Grendel's Den on Winthrop Park and then took a guided tour of Harvard University. Our tour was led by a senior student who happened to be from California. While all Harvard students take a general core curriculum, they also have the option of taking classes in their special area of interest. Our guide's special interest is film making. In any event, he gave us a very interesting tour of the Harvard Yard and some of the buildings outside the Yard itself, including the freshman dining hall which was the inspiration for the dinning hall at Hog Warts, Harry Potter's alma mater. He noted that the Young Democrats boast 2000 members, while the Young Republicans are less than 1000 strong. He also said that since 1998 Harvard offers up to full scholarships to all students in need, allowing Harvard to attract the very finest students from around the world. The freshman class numbers 1600 and all freshmen live in housing around Harvard Yard and eat in the same dining hall. This fosters a strong relationships for the entire undergraduate experience. Our guide obviously loved his school and his educational experience. As the tour ended, it started to rain so we headed back to the train station and thus to Boston. We made one stop at MIT to walk around that beautiful campus on the banks of the Charles River with a view looking over to downtown Boston. We arrived back at North Station about 5:00 PM and stopped at one of the numerous Italian restaurants in the North End. After a fabulous dinner and a stop at a flower shop to pick up some posies for Nick, we once again staggered back over the bridge to Lionheart to rest our barking dogs. Saturday we cleaned the boat in preparation for showing her to some potential buyers on Sunday. In the afternoon we strolled over to Charlestown and climbed Bunker Hill. We meandered through the neighborhood around the monument and picked a pub to return to for dinner. In the early evening we made the short walk back to Warren's Tavern which was established prior to the Revolution. We had great burgers and returned to watch USC vs Oregon, played at the Coliseum in LA. The Trojans beat the Ducks 44 to 10. The Ducks were so bad, it did not do much to reinstall the Trojan's reputation going into the season as #1 in the nation. On Sunday, Lionheart was so gleaming clean that one needed to don sunglasses to look upon her. Unfortunately, the buyers turned out to be lookers which we determined the following day when they submitted a detailed, but woefully under priced offer. We said no thanks and took ourselves off to Salem, MA., the site of the famous Salem Witch Trials of 1692. It was another fabulous fall day; brisk air and turning leaves. We took the fast ferry from Boston so we had the experience of arriving in Salem by water (our normal approach). We took the trolley tour, of course, and then walked around visiting the graveyard where a monument to those hanged in the hysteria is installed. The old buildings, cobblestone streets, docks that were once a main shipping center on the Downeast sailing route, the House of the Seven Gables and other attractions, all "old and older," were of interest to us as we ambled around town. While Salem claims to have many haunted spots, I would say it is mostly haunted by tourists these days. However, the month of October, and the night of Halloween in particular, promise (according to all the advertisements) to be truly exciting to the 100,000 plus visitors they expect to arrive in costumes. My grandkids would love it!
Tuesday, October 7, found us leaving Boston Harbor and traveling down Cape Cod Bay to the Cape Cod Canal where we docked at the Sandwich Marina and prepared for another week of land touring. We ordered a rental car and headed for Newport, Rhode Island, on Wednesday morning to tour the fabulous summer cottages built by the likes of the Vanderbilts in the late 1800s and very early 1900s. I had been looking forward to this day for quite sometime. As my readers know, I am especially interested in architecture and interior decor, particularly from this time period. Fortunately, the Captain indulges this interest and often accompanies me. He did this day, much to the distress of his poor feet! Newport, R.I., is about 50 miles west of Sandwich, MA., and partially faces on Narragansett Bay. We arrived in Newport by mid-morning and managed to find the tourist office and buy tickets to tour 5 of the major mansions. We thought we would need to come back a second day to get in all 5, but with a bit of haste, a lot of perseverance, and a few Tylenol, we managed to do it all in one day. The Breakers, 1895, is the 70-room summer estate of New York Central Railroad President Cornelius Vanderbilt II. It includes a 2-1/2 story high Great Hall and a Morning Room adorned with platinum leaf wall panels. The interiors feature rare marble, alabaster, and gilded woods. Marble House, 1892, was built by Alva Vanderbilt at a cost of $11M, and was the stage upon which she competed with Mrs. Astor to be considered the grand dame of New York society hostesses. After she divorced her Vanderbilt, she used it to as a platform for her "Votes for Women" campaign. The Elms, 1901, was built as the summer retreat of coal magnate Edward Julius Berwind and his wife Herminie. It houses monumental works of art and a beautiful garden, also full of art. An interesting part of this house was touring the huge kitchen and service area in the basement. All of these houses were served by legions of support staff. The purpose of these houses was summer society. Dinners parties, dances, picnics, carriage outings, tennis parties, etc., were the order of business for 2 summer months. The houses had huge coal burning ovens for cooking and baking, flower gardens for cut flower arrangements, huge sets of china and silver (or gold) flatware, not to mention the amount of laundry produced by the family and house guests! Rosecliff, 1902, is a fantasy in terra cotta with expansive garden and ocean views. Many of the grandest parties of the Gilded Age were staged here. Now the ballroom is rented out for weddings, movie sets, and other events. The last stop was Chateau-Sur-Mer, built in 1852 as a year-round home for the Wetmore family. It was the least ostentatious and it was the Captain's favorite. It features hand-carved Italian woodwork, Egyptian and Japanese Revival stenciled wallpapers and rare trees. This home was occupied by family members until the l960s. By this time (around 5:00 PM) we were both about to drop as we headed east back to Lionheart on Cape Cod.
Thursday, October 9, was one of our all-time favorite days of touring. We were invited by Jean and Priscilla, the Ocean Flyer crew, to meet them at their home in Cummaquid on the Cape Cod coast at 9:00 AM. We managed to find their private drive quite easily and were welcomed into their very special, newly redesigned and rebuilt home which looks out over the marshlands to the southern shore of Cape Cod Bay. We met Ocean Flyer in 2006 while doing the Great Loop. We had not run into them in 2007 but kept in touch through mutual friends. When we learned they were planning to do the Down East Loop in 2008 we stayed in touch and met up in several ports along the way. At first, they were way ahead of us. Then we caught up with them on Cape Breton Island. Then they were behind us. Then they passed us while we were in Boston and they headed into their home port of Hyannis Port, MA. Their home is beautiful, comfortable and specially outfitted with memorabilia from extensive travels, including Jean flying solo around world a few years back. There is also space for both their many hobbies. It gave us renewed enthusiasm for getting to Oxnard to build our dream house. With the recent tumult in the financial markets, we have even toyed with the idea of just heading south to Venezuela, back through the Canal.....in other words, going home the hard way. However, I think we are still set on ending the trip as planned, at the end of this year. In any event, Jean and Priscilla drove us down the back roads and byways of Cape Cod. While the day started in rain, by the time we were lunching in Wellfleet it was sunny and the water in the Bay was sparkling. We arrived in Provincetown by early afternoon and spent our time there taking a tour on the sand dunes of the National Seashore Park overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and walking around the town itself. Sunset found us having a drink at the Hyannis Yacht Club. It was truly a day to remember. We would never have found all those little towns and the dune tour on our own. The next day we were back in Hyannis Port before noon to take the ferry to Nantucket where we spent the afternoon touring the entire island, the whaling museum, and having dinner before catching the 7:30 PM ferry back. Saturday we toured Plymouth, MA., where the Pilgrims landed in 1620. We saw the Rock, the Mayflower II (an authentic reproduction), the graveyard where John Standish is probably buried, and the Town Square located at the top of Leyden Street. Leyden was the first street in the fledgling colony and was the site of the first Thanksgiving in 1621. Plymouth (originally spelled Plimoth) is only about 20 miles from Sandwich so we returned to the boat early to watch USC vs ASU which the Trojans won. The next morning we were up and out by 9:00 AM to get down to Woods Hole and take the ferry to Martha's Vineyard. We thought we had plenty of time, however, the unique parking plan (unknown to us prior to arriving at the ferry terminal) had us backtracking and parking in a field and taking a shuttle bus. Fortunately, the shuttle bus delivered us at the ferry terminal (for the second time) with exactly 5 minutes to spare. Anyone who knows the Captain knows how relaxed he was at the moment of boarding! The rest of the day was a new experience for the Admiral. We had been advised by Jean and Priscilla to rent a scooter to tour the Vineyard. While I am not prone to riding motorcycles or scooters, I decided that considering the magnitude of "The Great Adventure", I would not really be testing fate any further by spending the day riding on a scooter behind the Captain. In fact, we had a great time, enjoying lunch in Oak Bluffs, and incredible ocean vistas all along the way. I will say further that we both were ready to get off that machine when the trip ended safely back at the ferry terminal. As we often say on Lionheart...Cheated death again!
Tuesday, October 14, found us underway on the final few days in previously untraveled territory. Leaving the marina at 10:00 AM, taking advantage of the tide, we traveled south to Buzzards Bay and then turned west heading into Long Island Sound. Arriving at the Big Salt Pond on Block Island at 5:30 PM, it provided a sheltered anchorage on a rather windy night. The next morning we continued west past Plum Island, a heavily guarded government compound which has been featured in several suspense novels by Nelson Demille. By 3:30 PM we had taken a mooring ball in Port Jefferson and took the dingy to shore to explore this quaint town on Long Island. October 16 we anchored in Glen Cove and chose to stay aboard on a windy and cold afternoon. Friday morning we were up and out early at 6:30 AM (well, the Captain was up early.....he got me up when we neared the passage between Long Island Sound and the East River). He thought he had timed our arrival at Hell Gate so that we would be entering the East River with the tide. Unfortunately, in one of his few miscalculations dealing with tides and currents, we hit it at exactly the opposite point. Therefore, between 7 and 9 AM we were traveling west in the East River against the tide and current. It made for slow going but Lionheart has the chops to dig in and motor on through. We also noted that we were almost the only boat on the river until we reached the ferry terminal in lower Manhatten. In any event, arriving in the early morning, on a bright fall day, in New York Harbor from the east is a truly fabulous experience and I took many photos, although I will only use a few here.
Arrived back in NYC on October 17, 2008, completing our Down East Loop. We had left Liberty Harbor Marina on June 6, heading up the Hudson with KAOS. On October 18 I had lunch with my friend Naomi in the West Village. The Captain and I watched the Trojans beat the Cougers of Washington State that evening. Sunday we took the subway to the Guggenheim, had lunch in a restaurant on Lexington, and walked in Central Park. We did all this by subway, a major feat in itself. After our outing we repaired to Lionheart to nurse the colds we had picked up somewhere. The first time we have been sick in quite sometime, for which we are grateful! October 20 and 21 found us traveling down the east coast of New Jersey. We arrived in Cape May on October 21, around noon. By 3:00 PM the wind had driven us out of the anchorage and into Utsch's Marina for shelter. In the middle of the fire drill of taking up the dragging anchor in wind and boat traffic, we saw our friends on La Garza Verde pass by. We were fortunate enough to hook up with John and Susan for dinner that evening and we celebrated the completion of the Down East Loop (which they had done in 2007) and the 3-year anniversary of the Van Gemert's Great Adventure. Yes, we left Long Beach on October 21, 2005, and have traveled a total of 21,095 miles since then. Now we are headed back to California. The duration of this leg of the trip, and the mode of transportation, are currently undetermined. News at 11!!!!!