Stonington to Westbrook to Stamford, CT, August 1 – 2, 2016

Our destination for August 1 was Westbrook, CT, a short 3 hour cruise.  We had light winds and following seas with the current behind us.  You can’t get much better cruising than that.  We left at about 8:45 and got into Westbrook shortly before noon, just in time for lunch on board.

The only excitement along the way was the field of lobster pots just outside of Stonington and the game of “Dodge the Ferry” we had to play as we passed by New London.  New London is one end of the New London/Orient Point, NY ferry route.   We had five separate ferries trying to get into or leave New London within the space of a half hour just as we were trying to cross the ferry route.   This is when AIS is its most helpful because we were able to tell how fast each ferry was going and when and how close we would be when we met each one.  We sorted it all out, and then it was a smooth passage to Westbrook.

We had the afternoon in front of us.  We would have loved to have spent the time relaxing and reading, but instead chores called.  We had been spot cleaning Curiosity’s interior as we went along.  But spot cleaning only gets you so far.  So that afternoon we buckled down and did a thorough cleaning of the interior.   We got some laundry going, I hauled out the vacuum cleaner, Jim dusted, and we both wiped down and spruced up the heads, wood surfaces and the helm.  Much better.

We had hoped to get together with Anne and Henry, my college roommate and her husband, again for dinner.  But alas, our last minute decision to come to Westbrook and the short notice we gave them meant that they were booked.   So we were on our own.  The dock staff recommended two restaurants: Café Routier and Bistro Mediterranean and Tapas Bar.  We had gone to Café Routier with Anne and Henry when we stopped by on our way to Nantucket, so we thought we would try the Bistro.  It had very good reviews on Yelp and was within walking distance of the marina.  Perfect.

The restaurant is located on Route 1, the Old Post Road, which I was sure was busy, since it is in every other Connecticut town it runs through.   And indeed it proved to be. We hoped there would be a sidewalk or at least some sort of shoulder we could use.  As it turned out there was only the hint of a sidewalk, so we walked through some parking lots and onto the shoulder.  Although a little hairy, it was fine because we did not have a very long distance to go along Route 1.  Most of our walk was along neighborhood roads that either had sidewalks or very little traffic.

As soon as we reached the restaurant we realized we had gone the wrong way.  Just on the other side of the restaurant was an entrance to the marina!  The Brewer’s Pilots Point Marina is huge and has several entrances.  When we plugged our destination into Google Maps, it tried to take us another way, but we, like fools who thought we knew better than Google, decided to ignore those directions and go our own way.  Well, we were wrong.  But we knew which way we would go on our way back to the boat.

The Bistro Mediterranean and Tapas Bar, as the name implies, is a Spanish style restaurants that serves “Mediterranean” cuisine (don’t they all these days?), including tapas.  We enjoy tapas because they tend to be very tasty and small, so we can order several different plates and get a lot of variety without getting too much food.

Our waiter said the plates were small, so we thought we would start with three.  We ordered artichoke hearts with garlic, tomato and a white wine sauce, grilled shrimp over pureed chickpeas with balsamic vinaigrette and piquillo peppers stuffed with braised lamb.  The shrimp and artichokes were excellent with lots of piquant flavor.  The stuffed peppers were subtler and both a little sweet and savory.  Jim thought we should have had them first because the other two dishes tended to overpower them.  But the peppers were still good.

Our waiter’s idea of small plates and ours were quite different.  The three dishes we chose were plenty for the two of us.  That said, we still had room for dessert: profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.  What’s not to like there??  They weren’t the best we’ve ever had, but they were good enough.

We hiked back to the boat, this time the right way, and got ourselves ready for our run to Stamford the next day.

We were planning on leaving Westbrook at around 8am.  The current would then be with us for most of the 6 hour cruise to Stamford and we’d have a favorable tide, which was important.  The Pilots Point Marina is very nice with only one drawback, the transient docks are right across from a beach with a shoal that extends into the channel you need to negotiate to get into the slips.  The shoal drops off, but it is narrow and you can clearly see the danger area from your boat.  We wanted to hit that area on a rising tide, which we would have if we left around 8.  In addition, the marina had docked a sailboat right across from us in the slip (it was a double slip with finger piers on the outsides of the two boats).  So we had the shoal in front of us and a sailboat right off our port side.  It took a bit of maneuvering and coming within about a foot of the finger pier on the sailboat side, but we got out.

The day was gray and a little on the nasty side.  It had rained and thundered about 7:30, but most of the storm had passed by the time we left.  Still, the wind kicked up to around 15 kts midway to Stamford and the seas went from flat to 1 to 2 feet with the occasional 3-footers thrown in.  The wind and seas were behind us, so we had a comfortable ride; we just had to crab along our planned route.

Of course, when we got to Stamford and were preparing to dock, both the wind and seas seemed rougher.  We were expecting a docking challenge.  This time, however, our slip assignment was in the Brewer’s Yacht Haven East Marina, farther away from Long Island Sound and much better protected from wind and current.  The slip was huge with a big turning basin in front of it.  It was a piece of cake getting in.  We were tied up by 1:30.

Since we had done a lot of our boat chores while we were in Westbrook, we had lots of time to relax in Stamford.  We took a walk to stretch our legs.  I then devoted myself to writing this blog entry, while Jim got horizontal on the salon couch and serenaded me as I typed. Ah, there’s nothing like the sound of snores to inspire you.

Tonight we will eat on board.  There’s not much within walking distance of the marina, and we still have several meals in the freezer.  It will probably be chicken chili over rice with salad and maybe some cantaloupe.  Tomorrow we return to NYC.

 

Hyannis to Stonington – July 30 – 31, 2016

We were up early for our 82 nm trip to Stonington, Connecticut.  Shortly after 6 AM, we were pulling out of Hyannis Marina.  The day was perfect with winds of 5- 10 kts and calm seas in Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds and only slightly rougher in Rhode Island and Block Island Sounds.  By 3 PM, we were turning into Stonington Harbor and were soon tied up at our mooring at Dodson’s Boatyard.

I spent the rest of the afternoon planning our itinerary for the rest of the trip. Then it was off to dinner at Noah’s in town.  Adrienne had a glass of Pinot Grigio, and I tried their Summer Day martini, which was a concoction of muddled mint and strawberries, cucumber vodka and lemon.  The martini was quite good.  For dinner, Adrienne had the steamed mussels, and I had the summer boiled dinner, which consisted of red shrimp, littleneck clams, mussels, potatoes, and fresh corn all with a basil aioli.  Both dishes were outstanding.  Light, but full of flavor.

We hiked back to Dodson’s and soon boarded a launch back to Curiosity.  We were tired from the early morning hour and long day, so it was a relaxing evening on the boat and bed.

Saturday morning we headed into Stonington for the 62nd annual Blessing of the Fleet.  The Blessing traditionally involves a fisherman’s Mass at St. Mary Church, followed by a procession to the docks for the actual blessing.  The procession is actually a parade that begins at the docks, wanders through town until it reaches the church, where the priests join the procession and then moves back to the docks.  We skipped the Mass but walked along the streets waiting for the procession.  People were lining up with their chairs to watch the parade.  A little before noon, the parade finally started.

Stonington Fishing Fleet

Stonington Fishing Fleet

Ade Among the Lobster Pots

Ade Among the Lobster Pots

At the head of the parade was a Coast Guard color guard; I assume they were from the nearby Coast Guard station.  We had watched them practicing a little earlier and it was clear this was a first time for some of them.  They were followed by two little girls in white dresses, holding a sign reading “St. Peter, Patron Saint of Fisherman.”  The Westerly brass band that followed them played loudly and was only a little out of tune.  A kids’ drum and fife band was next, and they were playing quite well.  Next was a group of bagpipers called the Mystic Highland Pipe Band, which played exceptional well.

Coast Guard Color Guard

Coast Guard Color Guard

Leading the Parade

Leading the Parade

Marching Band

Marching Band

Fife and Drum Band

Fife and Drum Band

Highland Pipe Band

Highland Pipe Band

After the bagpipers, came members of the Portuguese Holy Ghost Society, followed in turn by the Rancho Folcloirco Coracoes Lusiadas, a Portuguese folklore dancing group from Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Following them was the best of the parade, a group of little kids in ship costumes walking in the parade.  They were adorable.  On their heels was a group of boisterous and amusing pirates – Captain Kidd and the Free Men of the Sea, a group of pirate re-enactors from East Hampton, Connecticut.   Just before the end of the procession was the bishop of the Norwich diocese and other priests, surrounded by members of the Knights of Columbus.  Right behind them was a large statue of St. Peter being pulled on a cart. The procession ended with the Stonington Fire Department.  We hoped that there was no fire while the procession was underway, because the entire fire department was in the parade.

Portuguese Holy Ghost Society

Portuguese Holy Ghost Society

Rancho Folcloirco Coracoes Lusiadas

Rancho Folcloirco Coracoes Lusiadas

Rancho Folcloirco Coracoes Lusiadas (2)

Rancho Folcloirco Coracoes Lusiadas (2)

Sailors

Sailors

Sailing Away

Sailing Away

Free Men of the Sea

Free Men of the Sea

Pirates

Pirates

Knights of Columbus

Knights of Columbus

St. Peter

St. Peter

The parade, although a little hokey in places, was a lot of fun.  Afterwards we headed back to the boat for lunch, a little relaxation and the usual boat chores.

At around 5pm some friends of Adrienne who have a summer home in Weekapaug joined us on Curiosity.  Adrienne has known Neil and Anita since high school, but they had never been aboard Curiosity.  So we gave them a tour and then hopped on the launch so they could give us a tour of Watch Hill and their private beach and home in Weekapaug, RI.  We stopped at the Weekapaug Inn for drinks and a tour.  The Inn was destroyed in a hurricane that hit this area in the 1930s, and photos from that era, showing the damage, are hung in various parts of the Inn.  The Inn is right on the water and has been lovingly restored.  It was a beautiful location.

From there we returned to Stonington to have dinner at the Breakwater.  We all had a burrata and tomato salad to start.  I had fried scallops and Adrienne had shrimp scampi, which was excellent.

Neil and Anita’s daughter, Annie, joined us for dinner.  We really enjoyed getting to know her.  She’s an obstetrics nurse at New York Presbyterian Hospital and has her hands full as she works the night shift.  It was also great to see Neil and Anita, catch up on life and have a good time.

We caught the launch and returned to Curiosity and relaxed a bit before turning in.  We noticed that we were really rocking on our mooring when we got back.  We’ve been on a mooring at Dodson’s several times and never had the amount of rocking that we had when we got back on board.  It wasn’t especially windy or choppy.  But we were located right on the edge of the mooring field that was the most exposed to the waves from Long Island Sound.   Who knows if that was the reason, but in any event we didn’t mind the rocking.  We can both sleep well through it.  Tomorrow we’re off to Westbrook.

 

Nantucket to Hyannis Port, MA – July 27 – 29, 2016

Our plan for Wednesday morning was an easy 24 nm cruise from Nantucket to Hyannis Port to spend some time with Adrienne’s sister and brother-in-law.  We took our time in the morning and slipped off the mooring lines around 9:20 am, and headed out the Nantucket harbor inlet.  The wind was calm and the seas were flat with small one foot waves.  A little before noon, we were pulling into Hyannis Port.

Hyannis Port is a busy ferry terminal with ferries to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket running constantly, along with fishing boats and small tour boats.  We waited a while outside the channel for several boats to enter the channel ahead of us.  As we headed into the channel we soon had a ferry right on our stern; as we neared the marina a large ferry, the M/V Nantucket, pulled out of its slip and was heading out of the channel.  It was going to be tight.  I slowed way down, hoping the ferry behind me would also slow way down.  I could hear the two ferries chatting about us on the VHF radio, wondering what I was going to do.  I chimed in and asked them what they wanted me to do.  We choreographed a little dance around the channel marking and soon we were at Hyannis Marina, and a few minutes later we were tied up.  It was 12:15 pm.

Having been on moorings for a week. Curiosity was a bit salty.  So Adrienne and I gave her a much-needed bath.  Just as we finished, Ade’s sister, Catherine and her husband, Gary, arrived to whisk us off to their cottage in Dennis.

We spent a wonderful couple of days visiting with them.  They plied us with delicious food and wine, took us to lunch and dinner and generally poured on the hospitality.  It was refreshing to be off the boat for a few days after over a week on the moorings, and we got to see some of the improvements they made last year to their house, namely installing a beautiful new flagstone patio with pool and hot tub.

One of the main topics of conversation was the wedding next year of our son, Andy, to his longtime girlfriend and of their daughter, Alex, to her longtime boyfriend.  Andy’s wedding will be in May in Philadelphia, and Al’s wedding will be in August on the Cape.  Catherine and Gary have been checking out wedding venues on the Cape, so on Thursday night we had dinner at Wequassett Resort, one of the candidates.  The resort has several terraces overlooking Pleasant Bay.  We were seated on one for dinner, which was excellent.  But as day turned into night I felt something in my hair.  It was some kind of beetle, which I shooed away.  Then there was another.  This time, as I shooed it away, the beetle fell inside the back of my shirt.  Trying to get it out, I broke the beetle into several parts.  Ugh!  I was able to get the pieces out.  Then a few minutes later there was another beetle in the sleeve of my shirt.  That was it.  I went into the bathroom, took off my shirt and thoroughly shook it out.  I was ready to leave.

Beetles aside, our time on the Cape was very relaxing.  Thursday we took Catherine and Gary out on the boat for a short ride since they had never been on board except at the dock.  We were a little nervous about this because Gary gets sea sick and Thursday was a little blustery and bumpy just outside the Hyannis harbor.  But they loved it, even the spray off the bow.  Friday we did a few errands, had a great lunch at another resort called Ocean Edge, and then headed back to the boat Friday evening for an early departure Saturday morning.  Destination: Stonington, CT.

 Newport to Nantucket – July 24, 2016

We were up early Sunday morning to catch the favorable tides out of Newport Harbor for our 68 nm trip to Nantucket. At 5:49 am, I slipped our mooring lines off and Adrienne guided us out of Newport Harbor.  By 6:15 am, we were in Rhode Island Sound and heading east for Nantucket.  The sun just over the horizon was blinding but the seas were gentle three-foot rollers and winds were light.

We had had the generator on since 5:30 am and everything seemed fine.  I turned on the water maker and for the next two hours, and we made nearly 100 gallons of water.  The generator never missed a beat.  It seems that our problem all long had been the sea grass in Newport Harbor.

Across Rhode Island Sound and Buzzard Bay the current was against us and we were able to only make about 8 – 9 knots.  However, as we neared Vineyard sound the current began to shift and we were moving along briskly at 10 – 11 kts.  The ride was delightful compared to the other times we had traversed Buzzard Bay and Vineyard Sound.  Adrienne did have fun dodging the Martha Vineyard and Nantucket Ferries.  It seems that every time she takes the helm commercial traffic of some kind shows up.

We were soon in Nantucket Sound.  I was thrilled to find the winds quite light, and we easily snagged our mooring buoy.  By 1:30, we were tied up and making lunch.

After lunch, we launched the dinghy and tried out the new outboard.  It took a while to get used to the sensitivity of the throttle, but we were soon tied up at the dinghy dock.  We took a walk around town to stretch our legs and take in the quaint houses with window boxes and gardens filled with magnificent flowers.  As we walked, we felt fatigue catching up to us, so we headed back to the boat for an early dinner and bed.

Lilies in Nantucket

Lilies in Nantucket

Beautiful Gardens and Flowers

Beautiful Gardens and Flowers

Monday morning, we decided that we would take a walking tour of the city given Monday afternoon by the Nantucket Whaling Museum.  The tour was based on the story of the whaling ship Essex as recounted in Nathaniel Philbrick’s book In the Heart of the Sea.  So we hopped in the dinghy to buy our tickets at the Whaling Museum since we were not sure how popular the tour might be.

After buying our tickets, we wandered around Nantucket looking at the various art galleries and other stores.  We particularly liked Dane Gallery, which had some beautiful hand-blown glass “latticino shells” by Treg Silkwood.  One of them would look great on in our family room back in Florida.  After touring for a while, we hopped back in the dinghy and went back to the boat for lunch.

Our tour was to begin at 2:15 pm, so after lunch, we drove the dinghy back to town and headed for the museum.  Since we were a little early, we detoured to the bakery and had a few cookies to kill time.  Our tour started promptly at 2:15 pm.  There were nine of us on the tour plus our tour guide Karen.  Almost everyone on the tour had read the book, but Karen gave us a brief synopsis.  The Essex was a Nantucket whaling ship that sailed to the South Pacific in the early 1800s.  The ship was sunk by a large sperm whale and the book is about the crew’s efforts to survive in three small whaling ships.  The story of the Essex was the inspiration for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

Our tour started at the Easy Boat harbor, where the Essex had left Nantucket in August 1819.  At that time Nantucket was the whaling capital of the world.  On board were Captain George Pollard and First Mate Owen Chase, both of whom we would learn more about on our tour.  Our tour guide, Karen, was excellent.  Her descriptions of Nantucket in 1819 helped to bring alive the lifestyle on the island in those days.  Nantucket today is a cute boating and beach mecca for summertime visitors. But back then it was a working-class community with poverty and the dirt and smells that came with processing many tons of whale flesh every year to produce the precious whale oil that was at the heart of the economy.

Easy Boat Basin

Easy Boat Basin

Most of the men aboard the Essex were from Nantucket and they were all young.  Pollard, the captain, was the oldest at 28.  And the crew and officers were well acquainted with whaling and whale ships since they lived and breathed whaling from their infancy and played among the whale ships as children.

The expedition started out successfully enough during the first year.  The crew had killed many whales and had barrels of whale oil on board.  But shortly into the second year, while the crew was in the middle of a whale hunt, an alpha bull sperm whale, which measured some 85 feet in length, rammed the side of the Essex and tore a hole in the side causing it to sink.  As mentioned, the Essex carried three whale boats, which were small and light and used for the hunt.  But in this case, they became life rafts.  All the crew, about 20 men in all, managed to get into these boats before the Essex sank.  They had precious little food and water, and only two boats had any navigation equipment.  They were in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean.

Pollard wanted to head toward the nearest land, which was a Polynesian island.  But the men objected because they believed that cannibals inhabited the island.  Instead, they wanted to sail to Valparaiso, Chile, over 1,000 miles to the southeast.  Against his better judgment, Pollard agreed to sail for Chile.  The irony is that the 8 men who survived this journey, 5 of whom were from Nantucket including Pollard and Chase, did so by resorting to cannibalism.  At some point along the way, they decided to draw straws to see who would be killed.  The man who got the short straw was shot and consumed by the remaining men.  Pretty grim.

One boat was lost and never heard from again.  Two were found not too far from Valparaiso.  The men were near death, basically bones inside skin bags.  They were honest about their ordeal and admitted to the cannibalism.  All 5 Nantucketers returned to Nantucket and all 5 returned to whaling.  However, after a successful career as a whaling captain, Chase died a broken man with mental illness.  Pollard became a captain and was given command of a whaling ship, but this one was lost on an uncharted reef off the Hawaiian Islands.  He was never given command of another ship after that.  He was well loved by Nantucketers, however, and returned there to become the night watchman for the town.  Both men lived into their 70s.

On the tour, we saw both Pollard’s and Chase’s houses, as well as the Unitarian Universalist Church where many of the Nantucket crew from the Essex worshiped and were married.  We strolled down Captain’s Row, where many of the sea captains built houses. We also learned that the families the whalers left behind had to struggle to make ends meet because the men got paid when they returned from their whaling trips.  Women outnumbered men 4 to 1 and really were in charge of governing Nantucket because the men were so often at sea.

Tour Group in front of Unitarian Church

Tour Group in front of Unitarian Church

Gold Dome Atop Unitarian Church

Gold Dome Atop Unitarian Church

Gold Dome from the Harbor

Gold Dome from the Harbor

Captain Pollard's House (now a shop)

Captain Pollard’s House (now a shop)

Owen Chase House

Owen Chase House

The tour and our guide were excellent.  We both have read the book, and the tour made the book come alive for us.  It was very worthwhile.

After the tour, we returned to Curiosity to relax and get ready for dinner, which was at the Centre Street Bistro.  We were there the last time we were in Nantucket, and our recollection was that the food was very good.  This time, we found it to be good, but not excellent.  The menu was imaginative enough but the execution could have been better.  We started out with an appetizer of thinly sliced seared tuna over a bed of Asian slaw and dressed with sesame oil and balsamic vinegar.  This was quite good, but there was entirely too much dressing.  I had Bistro Pad Thai with fried shrimp for my main course.  Again, it was good, but the pad thai lacked some flavor and the shrimp were bland.  Adrienne had pan fried chicken breast with burrata, basil, and fresh tomatoes.  Also good, but the chicken wasn’t seasoned and it was fried to an inch of its life.  We opted for a dessert of blueberry pound cake with fresh raspberries, lemon curd, mounds of whipped cream and raspberry coulis.  The flavors were very good, but they could have cut the amount of curd and whipped cream in half.

After strolling around town for a bit after dinner, we headed back to Curiosity to relax and get ready for the next day.

Our plan for Tuesday morning was to rent a scooter and tour the island.  We packed our bathing suits, lathered on the sunscreen and caught the launch to shore.  It had been over four years since we last rode a scooter but the scooter shop was very good at giving me a refresher course.  After a few trial runs, Adrienne hopped on behind me and we were off.  Our plan was to visit two beaches – Madaket on the far western end of the island and Siasconet on the far eastern end of the island.  This would be about a 30-40 mile ride.

We left the scooter shop and faced our first obstacle – cobblestones.  Many of the streets in central Nantucket are paved with very uneven cobblestone.  Riding a scooter on them is a very bumpy and slippery procedure, and there is basically no way to avoid them.  But with Adrienne navigating and me driving, we made it out of town and headed out the appropriately named Madaket Rd.  The road was relatively straight but occasionally we would reach a series of tight s-curves.  Normally these would not be a problem but there was a very strong cross wind that was definitely impacting my driving.  We reached one curve, where it was obvious that I was not going to make the turn.  All I saw was a mailbox rapidly approaching the front of the scooter.  Fortunately, I was able to stop quickly and although the bike nearly fell over, we were able to catch it and maintain control.  Whew!!  Too much excitement!

After catching my breath and letting my heart rate subside, we continued and soon reached Madaket Beach.  The beach was beautiful with gently crashing waves from the Atlantic.  We sat and watched the beach for a few minutes and then walked over to Millie’s Market and bought a large blueberry muffin and a bottle of water, which we promptly consumed.  Scooter riding is hard work!

Madaket Beach

Madaket Beach

Back on the scooter, we headed east planning to tour some of the areas north of Madaket Road.  We turned up a road and headed north.  The road quickly became dirt and after a while I figured we had no idea where we were going and the road did not have great traction.  So we turned around, cut through some very nice housing developments and finally reached Cliff Road which led us back to town.

To get from Madaket to Siasconset, you have to go through town, which means more cobblestones and a lot of traffic. We made it without incident and soon were heading out of town to the east.  We turned up Polpis Road, which wandered through the northeast section of Nantucket.  It was a nice ride, with a lot less wind, and I was getting more comfortable driving.  Soon we reached Sankaty Head Lighthouse.  We hopped off the scooter and headed up to the lighthouse.

Sankaty Lighthouse was built in 1850 on the easternmost cliffs of Nantucket Island, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  Over time the cliffs eroded away until the lighthouse was on the verge of falling into Atlantic.  In 2007, the lighthouse was acquired by a non-profit foundation and moved about 400 feet inland.  The move was highlighted on a TV series called Monster Moves, which you can watch on Youtube (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ftrZtGZ9Hgw) and which we actually saw last year.  When we arrived at the Lighthouse and read the placard about the move, it took us a few minutes to remember that we had seen a show about this.  It was an engineering feat and well worth viewing the video.

Ade in Front of Sankaty Head Lighthouse

Ade in Front of Sankaty Head Lighthouse

We then headed to Siasconset, had some sandwiches for lunch, and headed down to the beach.  It was low tide, and the beach rapidly slanted down to the water.  Right at the water’s edge, the sand was covered with many small rocks.  While I waded in the surf, Adrienne took the plunge and swam in the chilly water.  She found it quite refreshing.  We stayed on the beach for about 45 minutes and then it was time to return to town.

This time, we took Milestone Road, since it was a straight shot back to town.  Unfortunately, the wind was howling again and there was a lot of traffic on the road.  Cars and trucks were constantly passing us. It was not the most interesting or pleasant ride, but we made it, and by 3:30 pm, we had returned the scooter unharmed and with all our limbs still intact.  I was exhausted.

After a quick ride back to Curiosity and a shower, we took the launch back to town for dinner.  We had reservations at The Proprietors Bar and Table, a restaurant that was opened by the former chef at American Seasons, a restaurant we had really enjoyed the last time we had been in Nantucket.

After the scooter ride, I needed a drink, so I read over the specialty cocktail menu.   The only problem was I recognized none of them!  Nonetheless, after talking with the waitress, I ordered number 7.  No name, just number 7.  It was a drink containing Sotol (a distilled spirit that is the state drink of Chihuahua, Durango, and Coahuila), honeydew melon and basil.  Weird but good.

Adrienne and I then shared three small plates.  The first was Crispy Rock Shrimp with miso chili dressing, avocado, and furikake (an Asian spice mix).  It was excellent.  The second was Crispy Thai Style Broccoli with peanut sauce, Sambal and lime vinaigrette, and an Asian slaw.  This was so good that even George Bush might eat it and like the broccoli.  The third dish was Kimchee Pancakes with Pork Belly.  This was the least successful.  Good but not as good as the other two. Overall, however, this is a restaurant to which we would definitely come back.

Tomorrow we are off to Hyannisport.

 

Newport Continued – July 23, 2016

We returned to Curiosity in the late afternoon, intending to relax and read.  We turned on the generator to charge the batteries and give us some power to cook dinner, as we decided to have a pasta casserole we had prepared and frozen before we left.  All was well.  We were awaiting the final Jeopardy answer when the generator suddenly cut off.   The generator panel said there was insufficient water flow.  So we headed to the engine room to look at the generator’s water strainer.  It had some debris in it, but it wasn’t clogged.  Jim cleaned it out anyway, popped it back in and started the generator again.  It started right up.  Problem solved.  We eventually headed to bed and were getting close to calling it a day when the generator cut out again.  Again, insufficient water flow.  But the evening was cool and still very windy, so there was no need for the A/C.  This time, we let it be and figured we would deal with it in the morning.

The next morning we fired up the generator again, and it ran without any problems for about 2 hours when we shut it down. Jim emailed Burr Yachts to see if they had any thoughts on the issue and they mentioned that there was a heat sensor on the exhaust pipe that might be bad.  This would require getting a tech on board to troubleshoot the problem.  Ugh!  We thought the problem was that something had clogged up the intake line and now was off.  At worst, we thought we might have to get a diver out to check the intake.  But all seemed well so we called the launch and headed into Newport.

This was Saturday, the second day of the Newport Folk Festival taking place at Fort Adams.  The docks were filled with people taking water taxis and launches to the Festival.  We probably would have tried to get tickets to the festival, but when we arrived on Thursday the Festival was sold out.  Just as well.  Saturday was going to be a hot and humid day, and baking in the sun all day did not appeal to us.

Instead, we hiked over to Bellevue Avenue, where the mansions are located, to tour Marble House, the home of Alva and William Vanderbilt.  As you might have guessed from its name, Marble House is constructed almost entirely of marble imported from Europe.  It was a gift from William to Alva.  Alva had selected a warm gold and cream marble for the entry way, which was a perfect cube shape, two stories high and huge, because she didn’t want the house to look or feel like a mausoleum. Instead she wanted a home that took its cues from the Palace at Versailles, so you can imagine how understated it was.

Marble House

Marble House

Marble House from the Rear

Marble House from the Rear

The dining room was done is red and gray marble on the walls and gold boar’s and stag’s heads on the ceiling.  The dining room table could seat at least 12 and the chairs were made of gold-plated bronze.  The side chairs weighed 75 pounds, the host and hostess chairs 100 pounds, and all required footmen to push them in and pull them out for family and guests.

Across the center hall from the dining room was the formal sitting/living room.  It was filled with mirrors and carved wall figures, which were plated in 22-carat gold.

Ballroom and Sitting Room

Ballroom and Sitting Room

Ade Wants This Fireplace for Our House

Ade Wants This Fireplace for Our House

Behind this room was the Gothic Room.  It had dark red walls and all its windows were constructed with gothic arches and stunning stained glass collected in Europe.  The purpose of the room was to house the Vanderbilt’s collections of gothic artifacts, such as ancient books, illuminated manuscripts, altar pieces and more.  Alva apparently believed that they and others in their class were the American aristocracy comparable to European aristocracy.  As such, they needed to have collections of ancient artifacts just as the Europeans did.  But unlike the European families who had had centuries to establish their collections, the Americans only had decades.  The Americans (and the Vanderbilts were among this group), therefore, decided they needed to buy collections en masse.  The Gothic Room was the result of that effort.

The Gothic Room

The Gothic Room

Fireplace in Gothic Room

Fireplace in Gothic Room

Gothic Room Ceiling

Gothic Room Ceiling

Up the main staircase on the mezzanine level were two rooms, one for men and one for women.  They were small, by Marble House standards, but their purpose was to provide a place for house guests to rest from their travels and clean up a bit.  This was the late 1890s and early 1900s, when the wealthy were traveling around in carriages and open cars.  As our audio guide pointed out, they got dusty and needed to freshen up, and these rooms were designed to provide a place for that.

Men's Parlor

Men’s Parlor

Ladies' Parlor

Ladies’ Parlor

The second floor housed the bedrooms, one each for Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt and two for their three children, two boys (William and Harold) and a girl (Consuelo).  Surprisingly, there was only one guest bedroom, which was quite large and elaborately decorated with an en suite bath.  Apparently, many of the families in these mansions did not have a lot of house guests during the summer social season.  They tended to socialize with the other families who were living in or renting the mansions, or who were staying in nearby hotels.

William's Bedroom

William’s Bedroom

Alva's Bedroom

Alva’s Bedroom

Consuelo's Bedroom

Consuelo’s Bedroom

Harold Vanderbilt - Three-time Defender of the America's Cup

Harold Vanderbilt – Three-time Defender of the America’s Cup

Guest Bedroom

Guest Bedroom

Guest Stting Area

Guest Stting Area

Marble House did not long remain a family retreat for the Vanderbilts because Alva divorced William in what was a shocking move on Alva’s part.  In those days, according to Alva, the only people who got divorced were Hollywood stars, certainly not the upper crust of American society.  Her husband begged her to accept a separation, but she refused.  She wanted to be a trailblazer for women, to show them that they could be independent and survive.  So she got divorced and became a major supporter of the women’s suffrage movement. After the divorce, she used Marble House to store clothes and furniture.

Having seen the upstairs and the downstairs of life in the Newport Mansions, we decided to return to Curiosity for some lunch and R & R before dinner at Jo’s Bistro.  We hiked back to the wharf to pick up the launch and met another huge group of people trying to get over to the folk festival.  Normally, to get a launch all we had to do was show up on the wharf and in about a minute one would show up.  Not so that afternoon.  Many boats and launches came and went, but none were shuttling people to the mooring field.  Finally one showed up and we were able to return to Curiosity.

As mentioned, our destination for dinner was Jo’s Bistro.  The festival crowds were waning by early evening, and we had no trouble getting a launch.  We hiked over to the restaurant and were grateful for the A/C because the evening was still a hot and muggy affair.  We had high hopes for Jo’s Bistro because it had great reviews, but alas it didn’t quite live up to its billing.  The food wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t that great.  Jim had seared scallops over mashed potatoes with peas and corn, and I had grilled shrimp over a pea and melon risotto.  Sounds good, but both dishes needed better seasoning and more flavor.  The rolls, however, were excellent.

Our return to the boat meant that it was time to fire up the generator again.  As with the other times, it started right away.  But after about an hour it stopped again.  And again it was because of insufficient water flow.  We thought the problem had resolved itself when the generator ran without trouble the previous time.  Wrong!  This was becoming a real problem because we were planning on going to Nantucket the next day where we would be on a mooring for three days.  If the generator wasn’t working we’d either run our batteries down or be forced to get a slip, and there was no guarantee that one would be available on such short notice at that summer boating mecca.

We really thought that it was something that was clogging the intake.  I had seen clumps of seagrass throughout the harbor when we were coming in on Thursday.  So I stepped outside just to see if there was anything on the port side where the generator and its intake are located.  And lo and behold, a long clump of sea grass and seaweed was wafting along the port side.  Now this was not definitive, but it certainly suggested that a glob of this stuff was periodically getting sucked up into the intake.  We decided to take a deep breath and forget about it until tomorrow.  We were planning on running the watermaker on our way to Nantucket, for which we would need the generator.  If it could power the watermaker for several hours without stopping, then there was a good chance that the clog theory was correct.

So we forgot about our generator problems and hit the sack.  We would have to be up at 5:15 for a 6 am departure the next morning.

Sunset Newport Harbor

Sunset Newport Harbor

 

 

July 21-22, 2016 – Stonington to Newport

Thursday morning we were up early for the short 36 nm run to Newport, Rhode Island.  We wanted to leave early because moorings in Newport are on a first come basis – there are no reservations.  So at 6:30am, we slipped off our mooring lines and headed out of Stonington Harbor.  It was a relatively easy run to Newport in calm seas and without too many lobster pots along the way.

By 10:15 am, we were coming down the channel into Newport Harbor.  Adrienne called the harbor master to see if we could get a mooring.  Our hearts dropped when he said none were available.  We had nowhere to stay in Newport.  He suggested we try Old Port Marine, which also has moorings.  We called them and got no answer.  We continued down the inlet and just before we turned into the harbor, we got Old Port on the radio.  They had a mooring for us.  Hooray!  By 10:36am, we were tied up to mooring number 1, right in front of the Newport Yachting Center,  a great location.

As we were tying up, we noticed that Spray, the boat in front of us, seemed to be flying an Annapolis Yacht Club burgee.  A few minutes later, a tender from the boat came along our starboard side, and we met Russ and Margo from AYC. We invited them on board and we had a delightful chat.  While we had never met, we had a number of mutual friends at AYC.

After lunch, we were going to launch the dinghy and go into town.  However, the wind suddenly picked up and it was going to be tricky lowering the dinghy from the fly bridge, so we took the Old Port launch into town.  We wandered along Thames Street, the main shopping avenue.  Adrienne and I wandered into a number of shops and eventually she bought a skirt at the Haley Hansen store.  Then it was back to the boat for a quick shower before dinner.

Dinner was at Fluke Wine, Bar and Kitchen.  Our reservation was at 5:45 pm, which was early even for us but that was all that was available until much later.  When we arrived we were the only people in the restaurant, except for one or two folks at the bar.  We wondered why we couldn’t get a later reservation, but figured they were booked starting at 6:30, which turned out to be the case.

We decided to try a number of their small plates for dinner.  Our first two dishes were the fluke ceviche and an heirloom tomato burrata salad.  Both were excellent.  Our second two dishes were a grilled shrimp soba noodle salad and ravioli filled with foie gras and Medjool dates.  The shrimp were good but the raviolis lacked punch. The foie gras had been pureed and so lacked that lusciousness usually associated with foie gras.  Instead, it was just pureed liver.  For dessert, we split the blueberry bread pudding which was good but hardly compared to the bread pudding at AYC.  After dinner, we did a few errands and then headed back to the boat.

Our original plan was to head to Nantucket on Friday.  But NOAA had predicted high winds for Friday and part of Saturday, so we decided to remain in Newport for the weekend.

Friday morning, we woke to the wind howling across the harbor, and it was only supposed to get worse as the day progressed.  No way were we going to launch the dinghy in that mess.  We had also wanted to get a pump-out from the Newport pump-out boat but that also seemed like an invitation to disaster since most of the boats in the harbor were pitching and yawing with the winds and seas.  Instead, we called the launch and went into town to play tourist.

We decided to tour some of the Newport Mansions.  On previous trips to Newport, we had toured the Breakers and done the Cliff Walk.  This time, we opted for the “Servant Life” tour at the Elms.  This tour, as the name implies, explores the lives of the servants that kept the Elms running smoothly.  There was only one other couple on the tour so we had plenty of opportunities to chat with our tour guide.

We started the tour, appropriately, at the servant’s entrance.  The entrance, which was also used for deliveries, was a circular drive completely covered with overhead wisteria vines and therefore was invisible from inside the house.  We learned that the Berwind family, who built the Elms, traveled with over 30 servants between outdoor and indoor staff.  The married servants lived nearby in Newport, while the single servants lived on the third floor, which was designed to appear as if it didn’t exist.  This was because the Berwinds wanted the running of the Elms to appear as if no servants were there.  As our tour guide said, they wanted to make it seem that everything happened “as if by magic.”  Well, it may have seemed that way, but the reality was that the staff worked every day of the week, for about 14 hours each day, almost every day of the year.

Covered Servants and Delivery Entrance

Covered Servants and Delivery Entrance

Ade Lost in the Foliage of the Servants' Entrance

Ade Lost in the Foliage of the Servants’ Entrance

Servant and Delivery Entrance as Seen from the Interior of the Elms

Servant and Delivery Entrance as Seen from the Interior of the Elms

On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of the servants came from Ireland and England and led lives of poverty where they were working at least that hard and struggling to feed and clothe their families.  As servants at the Elms, they got free room and board and enough money to not only support themselves but send money to their families in their home countries.  By these standards, the servants had good lives, as evidenced by one letter that a relative of one of the maids had written. The relative had visited the Elms and seen the maid’s room, with its bottles of perfume and comfortable furniture and judged it a good life.

Mr. Berwind had made his money in coal and was very interested in having a “modern” house; hence it had electricity and indoor plumbing with hot running water, even in the servants’ quarters.  We first saw these quarters, complete with relatively spacious rooms, beautiful hardwood floors throughout and three bathrooms, two for the ladies and one for the men.  The ladies’ bath was closed, but the men’s bath was open.  It had one bathtub, one sink, one toilet, and a shaving station for about 6 or 7 men, and it was not spacious.

Servant Quarters

Servant Quarters

Maid's Room

Maid’s Room

Men's Bathroom

Men’s Bathroom

The third floor also had a telephone and an elaborate, and very modern, for its time, “intercom” system. This did not operate the way we would expect an intercom to work because we would expect the system to allow someone to call another person directly to convey a message.  Instead, there was a button to activate in each room.  The master or lady of the house would press the button and on the third floor a bell would ring and a flag would light up on a large board, indicating where the service was needed.  The intercom would also “ring” in other servant areas of the house.  A servant would be dispatched and he or she would tell the appropriate household staff on the first or second floor what was wanted, and magic would happen.

Intercom System

Intercom System

On the third floor, the staff also had access to a roof terrace that extended around the entire perimeter of the house.  Sounds great, except that there was no view.  The outer edge of the terrace had  a 10-foot wall that, from the outside, looked like an extension of the second floor, part of the illusion that there were no servants’ quarters. As a visitors, however, we were able to climb a platform to see the view out the back, and it was a spectacular vista of the grounds, the shoreline, and the harbor.

Decorative Statue on Terrace Roof Wall

Decorative Statue on Terrace Roof Wall

View from Atop the Terrace Wall

View from Atop the Terrace Wall

We descended that servants’ staircase to the basement where we saw the enormous kitchen with and equally enormous cast iron stove, work stations for every imaginable type of cookery, and cabinets galore to house the pots and pans and other implements necessary to prepare the enormous quantity of food that was prepared each day for the Berwinds and their guests.  The chef was paid an astounding $10,000, which translates to about $250,000 in today’s dollars!  He, of course a man, was from France and was the sole ruler in the kitchen.  The basement also housed a large luggage room and the servant eating areas adjacent to the kitchen.

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen Pots

Kitchen Pots

Servants' Eating Area

Servants’ Eating Area

Luggage Room

Luggage Room

From there we toured the nitty gritty of the household operations, the generation of the copious amounts of hot water needed for the Elms’ laundry, cooking and bathing needs and heating.  The house had hot water boilers and huge coal-fired furnaces to heat water and warm the house.  The furnaces used so much coal that Mr. Berwind had built a 150-yard tunnel through which small coal cars carried coal into the basement.  A process totally invisible to any guest – it all happens by magic.

Laundry Implements

Laundry Implements

Laundry Sinks

Laundry Sinks

Hot Water Heaters

Hot Water Heaters

Coal Fired Furnaces

Coal Fired Furnaces

Coal Car in Tunnel

Coal Car in Tunnel

After our tour, we walked back into town and had lunch at the Red Parrot.  We were starving.  Adrienne had a fresh tomato and pesto flatbread, and I had a gigantic calamari salad.  There was so much calamari that I brought half of it back to the boat for lunch the next day.

By the time we finished lunch, the wind was really whipping across the harbor.  White caps everywhere!  We hopped into the launch and headed for Curiosity.  Water flew over the bow, showering Adrienne.  It took the launch operator two tries to get close to Curiosity, but we were finally able to jump on board.  At least we made it.  Fortunately, we were not planning to go out again that day.  It was time to relax., since we figured the adventure was over.

Foolish thoughts!  We will fill you in in our next posting.

Westbrook to Stonington, Connecticut – July 20, 2016

Wednesday we were off to Stonington, Connecticut – a 28 nm cruise from Westbrook.  The current in the Long Island Sound was flowing west in the early morning, so we decided to leave later in the morning to minimize the adverse current.

Around 10 AM, Adrienne took Curiosity out of her slip and moved her over to the fuel dock to refill our tanks.  We actually had plenty of fuel to get to Nantucket, but might be getting low on our way back.  Since fuel is more expensive in the areas of Rhode Island and Massachusetts that we intend to visit, we decided to top off our tanks. 410 gallons of diesel and a half-hour later, we were ready to head to Stonington. I started the engines and Adrienne headed for the helm.  We both noticed that the stern was swinging away from the dock and I yelled that the dockhand had untied the stern line.  Adrienne rushed to the helm and I shouted that the dockhand had tossed all lines off and we were drifting back toward a large sailboat.  Fortunately, Adrienne got to the helm, put it in gear and eased us forward just in time.  It was a little scary – we are not used to dockhands just undoing the lines before you tell them you are ready.

Other than that and avoiding a number of ferries coming out of Old Saybrook and New London and dodging a number of lobster pots, our trip to Stonington was uneventful,  The seas were calm and the winds were only 5 -10 kts.  A very pleasant trip.

Just before 2 PM, we were pulling into Stonington harbor and heading for our mooring at Dodson Boatyard.  The wind had picked up somewhat and there was an ebbing current.  But Adrienne easily spotted our mooring and I was able to bring Curiosity beside the mooring.  Adrienne grabbed the mooring mid-ship, walked it up to the bow, and quickly cleated it.  I came down to help her secure the other half of the bridle and by 2 pm we were secure.  For not having done a mooring in nearly two years, we actually looked like we knew what we were doing.

After resting for a little while, we took the launch into town and walked about the town.  We have been in Stonington a number of times but always enjoy strolling through this stereotypical New England town with small shops, stately homes, and tree-lined streets.

Along Main Street

Along Main Street

Along Water Street

Along Water Street

Stately Mansion on Main Street

Stately Mansion on Main Street

We then returned to the boat, Adrienne wrote yesterday’s blog, and we got dressed for dinner.  We took the launch back into shore and headed for Noah’s Restaurant on Water Street.  Noah’s is a chef owned and operated restaurant focused on basic, fresh and local ingredients.

We started dinner with drinks – I had a vanilla twist martini and Adrienne had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.  Both were delicious.  For an appetizer, we shared Korean Green Scallion Pancakes with a spicy dipping sauce. The crust on the pancakes was made from mung bean and the pancakes were crispy and delicious.  For our main courses, Adrienne had fresh  tomato relish and I had pan seared scallops with a ginger-scallion sauce.  Both were outstanding dishes.  We finished by sharing a Blueberry crumb pie – good but not as good as the appetizer or the entrees.

After a short walk, we headed back to the boat.

Stonington, Connecticut in then Early Evening

Stonington, Connecticut in then Early Evening

Tomorrow we are off to Newport.

Stonington Harbor At Night

Stonington Harbor At Night

Stamford to Westbrook, Connecticut – July 18-19, 2016

We left Stamford around 6:30am, as planned, for a cruise to Westbrook, CT.  We had hoped to leave a bit later, but the forecast for the day was southwest winds 5-10 kts, increasing to 10-15 kts with 20 kt gusts and seas 1 ft, increasing to 2 ft in the afternoon.  We knew it would take us about 6 hours to get to Westbrook, CT, our next destination, so we decided to go with the early departure to avoid the high winds and potential thunderstorms in the afternoon.

The seas and winds were behind us during the entire cruise, and we arrived in Westbrook around 12:30pm without incident.  We saw very few lobster pots, always a good thing, and only had to dodge one ferry.  The seas and winds remained calm, so all in all, it was a very pleasant cruise.  Leaving early, although painful, was the right decision.

We docked at the Brewer’s Pilots Point Marina, which we had never been to before.  It was excellent.  There was plenty of deep water on the approach and at the dock.  Well, except for a shoal that extended out from a beach directly across from our slip.  The shoal made for a somewhat tricky docking situation, but Jim guided us past the shoal and into the slip without any trouble.  Apart from the shoal, the marina had well maintained floating docks, a restaurant, club house and pool on site, and a knowledgeable and friendly staff.  We’ll definitely come back.

Brewers Pilot Point Marina

Brewers Pilot Point Marina

Once docked, we started on our usual boat chores, rinsing the boat, chamoising the teak and bright work, tidying the helm, washing dishes, etc.  We also attended to some emails and financial stuff.  Once that was out of the way we contacted Anne, my college roommate, who summers with her husband in Old Saybrook, a mere 15 minutes east of Westbrook. They swung by the marina and picked us up for day and a half stay at their cottage, which is less than a block from the beach.  Perfect!

We settled in and caught up on each other’s news since our last get together.  The afternoon was getting a bit overcast and windy, but we took advantage of the breeze by repairing to their second story balcony for drinks and cheese and crackers.  It was delightfully cool up there, but as we were nearing 5:30pm, I could see the sky darkening to the west and a line of thunderstorms, which was quite visible, moving east.  We sensibly decided to move cocktail hour indoors.  Although the sky and wind suggested a major storm, the reality was much tamer.  The storm blew through in about a half hour and dropped a minor amount of rain, not enough to interfere with our dinner of grilled jumbo shrimp, corn and tomato pasta salad, grilled swordfish and cherry clafouti.  Delicious!

The next day Anne suggested we visit the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, which is just across the Connecticut River from Old Saybrook.  Our brief storm from the previous day had ushered in a beautiful summer day.  The sun was out, the temperature was in the low 80s and the humidity was low.  We couldn’t have ordered a better day if we had tried.  The trip to Old Lyme was an excellent activity because the museum is situated on a beautiful location, surrounded by gardens and backing up to the Lieutenant River, a tributary of the Connecticut.

The Florence Griswold Museum is said to be the home of American Impressionism.  Florence Griswold was the youngest daughter of a sea captain who built a well-appointed home in Old Lyme for his family.  By the late 1890s, Florence, who by then was about 50, unmarried and childless, had lost her parents and older sisters.  Although once prosperous, her family had encountered financial difficulties after her father died, and by the time Florence had lost the remaining members of her family, she needed money to make ends meet.  She decided to convert her home to a boarding house. In the summer of 1899, Henry Ward Ranger, an American artist, visited Old Lyme.  He was looking for a place to establish an artist’s colony and found it in Florence’s family home. From then until about the early 1930s, Florence Griswold’s home became a summer retreat for many American artists who were important in bringing Impressionism to U.S. shores.

One of the things that so attracted Ranger to Florence’s home was her gardens, which at the time were in disarray, but clearly had been an important aspect of the home.  Over the years, Florence worked on the gardens and they featured prominently in the plein air work of many of the artists.  The museum restored many of the gardens, which are today impeccably maintained and lush with a wide variety of flowers, vegetables and herbs.

The museum consists of a modern structure that houses much of the artwork, a café, and the original home.  We toured the modern structure and were treated to a wide variety of paintings and sculptures by numerous artists who were residents of the artist’s colony.  Most of the work would fall into the American Impressionist category, but not all of it.  We took our time wandering through the rooms and learning about the individual artists.

Griswold Gardens 1

Griswold Gardens 1

Griswold Gardens 2

Griswold Gardens 2

Artists in the Garden

Artists in the Garden

Ade and Anne Strolling Thru the Gardens

Strolling Thru the Gardens

Art Colony Parlor

Art Colony Parlor

We then toured the Florence Griswold House, which was built in 1817 in the Late Georgian style.  The house is furnished as it would have appeared in about 1920, with some of the original pieces that Florence and her borders used.  The bottom and second floors of the home contain many more paintings by the colony artists, but the really fascinating thing about the home is the painted panels.  The artists decided to paint the inset panels on the doors and walls of the home.  This took place over a number of years, and the artists decided among themselves who would paint what.  Some of the panels, especially in the dining room, were collaborations by two or more artists.  These panels are stunning, mostly landscapes of scenes at the colony, in Old Lyme and elsewhere.  Any one of them would be a beautiful painting if framed, yet they grace the interior of the home in a surprising and original way.   There was much to see and appreciate at this small museum, but the panels were the highlight.

Dining Room

Dining Room

Painted Panels in the Dining Room

Painted Panels in the Dining Room

More Panels

More Panels

And More Panels

And More Panels

Panel Above the Fireplace

Panel Above the Fireplace

After touring the house we wandered to the waterfront.  It was easy to see why this location was a favorite subject of many of the artists who came here.  The Lieutenant River is a small, winding body of water lined with marshy wetlands and overhanging trees.  It was fun to imagine that it looked much the same today as it did back in the early 20th century.

We returned to Anne’s and Henry’s cottage for lunch, and then Henry shuttled us back to the boat.  We would be leaving the following morning and needed to do an engine check, review our route, check the weather and then get ready for the evening.  We had invited Anne, Henry and Ellen, another college friend of mine who was coming to visit Anne that afternoon, for cocktails on the boat before we all had dinner at Café Routier in Westbrook.

The weather, although breezy, was beautiful.  We opened up the flybridge and moved us up there for cocktail hour once everyone arrived.  I hadn’t seen Ellen in many years, and it was so much fun to catch up with her.  Our only regret was that her husband, whom we have never met, was unable to come.  That pesky thing called work got in the way.  But we will make sure there is a next time and that her husband can be with us.

On the Flybridge - Henry, Ellen, Ade and Anne

On the Flybridge – Henry, Ellen, Ade and Anne

Ellen, Anne and Ade

Ellen, Anne and Ade

On the Dock - Ade and Jim

On the Dock – Ade and Jim

It was a short drive to the restaurant, which served, as the name implies, French inspired food.  And it was delicious.  I had a pan seared trout with Lyonnaise potatoes.  Jim and Henry had miso ginger-glazed duck and Anne and Ellen had pan seared scallops.  All the dishes were very tasty and well-prepared. But the most enjoyable part of the evening was sharing good food and excellent wine with old friends.

Tomorrow we head to Newport.

 

 

Jersey City to Stamford Connecticut – July 16-17, 2016

Friday morning we took our time getting up.  Our plan was to run the 34 nm to Stamford in the afternoon.  Our route would take us down the East River, past Manhattan, under the Throgs Neck Bridge and out into the Long Island Sound.  The East River is notorious for fast currents, particularly at a point know as Hell Gate.  In the morning the current would have been against us.  We decided to wait till nearly slack tide to depart, so we would have the current mostly with us down the river and out into the  Sound.

While we were eating breakfast and lounging about the boat, I noticed a sailboat pull up beside us.  Several persons dressed in traditional Indian garb (as from India, not Native American) came down the dock and boarded the sailboat.  One man was wearing a heavily brocaded gold and burgundy robe with a matching hat.  The sailboat left and a few minutes later we heard drums from the main dock, which was several docks down from us.  We could see some kind of parade proceeding down the dock, so Adrienne and I pulled on our shoes and headed to check out the commotion.

Coming down the dock was a large party of individuals all dressed in traditional Indian garb, with the women in colorful saris, all dancing to the beat of the drum.  Clearly this was a wedding party.  In the middle of the pack was the man in the traditional hat, who we concluded was the groom.  Even though it was incredibly hot and the party was dressed in what appeared to heavy garments, the men and women continued to dance to the beat of the drum.

Everyone was having a tremendous amount of fun, and a number of spectators showed up to watch the show.  The party went indoors, presumably for the wedding itself.  We returned to Curiosity, but later we saw the groom and a woman, we assumed, was the bride re-board the sailboat next to us and leave.

We finished our preparations for departure and left the dock at around 1:35.  Immediately we entered the chaos that is New York Harbor.  As we turned down the main entrance channel for Liberty Landing we found ourselves surrounded by several power boats, 4 jets skis milling about, a number of sailboats and one of the New Jersey ferries that docks right next to Liberty Landing.  The ferry was coming out and crossing the entrance channel in front of us, of course.  When we left that mayhem, we entered the main harbor, which we knew would be a zoo because it was a lovely Saturday afternoon in the summer.  We had ferries to the right of us, ferries to the left of us, ferries in front of us as boldly we rode into the jaws of the East River and the mouth of Hell Gate (just a little melodrama to keep everyone awake).  Not to mention all the other power and sailboats bouncing around in the harbor.

View of NYC from Our Liberty Landing Slip

View of NYC from Our Liberty Landing Slip

New York City

New York City

Once we made it past the Brooklyn Bridge, however, things calmed down considerably.  Most of the ferries were behind us, and only a few pleasure craft and small commercial vessels remained.  The actual current was running about 15 minutes behind the predicted current, so we had some current on our nose.  About half way to Hell Gate we picked up a barge that was also heading to Hell Gate but only doing a few knots.  We were concerned about being caught behind it if there was current running at about a knot at Hell Gate.  There wasn’t enough time to pass before Hell Gate, so we slowed down to let him go first.  Just before Hell Gate, we also saw four U.S. Navy patrol boats coming up the river.  Not sure what that was about but it could have been part of the heightened security we saw the day before in the harbor.

Entering the East River

Entering the East River

Approaching the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges

Approaching the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges

Midtown

Midtown

By the Queensboro Bridge

By the Queensboro Bridge

Along the East River

Along the East River

Classic Empire State Building with ModernArchitecture in the Foreground

Classic Empire State Building with Modern Architecture in the Foreground

Approaching Hell Gate

Approaching Hell Gate

Navy Patrol Boat

Navy Patrol Boat

We reached Hell Gate just a little after the start of the flood.  The current was fine and we were able to pass the barge shortly thereafter.

Our trip out of the river and through the Sound was uneventful.  There was a flotilla of sailboats near the Larchmont Yacht Club, but they were all heading into the harbor and we did not have to play dodge ball with them.

By 5:00 pm, we were nearing the entrance to the Stamford Harbor.  A large barge was exiting and passing us well to port.  However, the barge called us and asked that we pass him on his starboard side.  This made no sense, but I confirmed again with him that that was what he wanted.  So we started to turn in front of him to get on the other side.  He immediately called us and wanted to know if we were a power boat or a sail boat.  He had been calling a small sailboat but using our AIS information.  We quickly turned back to starboard and passed him on his port side. Not sure how he could have made that mistake; we were probably at least a quarter mile from the sailboat.

We entered the Stamford Harbor and headed for Brewer Yacht Basin.  The winds had been calm all day, but just as we reached the slip, it began to rain and the wind starting gusting.  My first attempt to dock was thwarted by the wind but I turned us around and docked the second time with heavy use of the thrusters.  As soon as we were docked, the wind began to ease.  Of course!  It was 5:30pm.

We took Uber up to Adrienne’s father’s house, had dinner with her father and older sister and then drove back to the boat to relax for the evening.

Sunday morning, I drove Adrienne up to her father’s house to spend the day with him, while I did chores – shopping, engine check, route plotting, laundry, and repairing yet again the pesky navigation light.  The chores done, including a successful repair of that navigation light, I drove back to house where we had a delicious dinner prepared by Adrienne.  Adrienne’s father turns 91 on July 20, so we had a little birthday celebration for him.  He was in good spirits; it was a fun dinner for all.

Tomorrow, we are off to meet Adrienne’s college roommate and husband in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

 

Atlantic City to Jersey City – July 14-15, 2016

Thursday in Atlantic City was largely a rest day while we waited for more favorable weather on the Atlantic.  It was also a day of boat chores.  Adrienne took the cleaning chores and I took the mechanical ones.

While she cleaned, I took a look at the depth gauge to see if I could figure out what was wrong.  It was still acting up showing depths at our slip that ranging from 5 feet to 183 feet.  I checked all the connections, wriggling wires but to no avail.  After consulting with Burr Yachts, it was time to call a diver to check the transponder located on the hull exterior – hopefully there was something on the transponder causing it to fluctuate.  Based on a recommendation from Farleys, the marina we were staying, I called Marina Diving Services.  I was not optimistic that I would be able to get a diver to look at the transponder on Thursday, but it was worth a shot.  I left a message on the answering machine and went about my other chores.

Task two was to fix the port side navigation light which was out.  I took it apart and the bulb was burnt out.  Since I had just replaced the bulb two days ago, this was not a good sign.  However, I noticed that the light fixture had not been securely latched, so perhaps it had banged about causing the bulb to fail.  I put in a new bulb, tightened the fixture and tried the light again.  Everything seemed fine, for now.  Finally I replaced a cabinet latch on the docking station which had broken.  I had spares on the boat, so that was an easy fix.

Meanwhile Adrienne had finished cleaning the inside of the boat and polishing the stainless fittings on the outside.  It was time for lunch.  While we were eating, Marina Diving Services called and said they could be at the boat mid-afternoon.  Great!

Mid-afternoon, the owner of the business and the diver showed up.  Of course there was nothing on the transponder.  Nonetheless he took a brush and gave it a light cleaning.  I tried the depth finder and it was not fluctuating, but the day before the fluctuations had been sporadic so maybe it was fixed by a little cleaning and maybe it wasn’t. We would see. I was not optimistic.

After our chores, our original plan had been to go down to the boardwalk in Atlantic City and sightsee, but it was already late afternoon and we were planning an early departure Friday morning.  I had learned that there was a nice walkway from the Golden Nugget along the river to Harrah’s Casino and then to the Borgata Casino.  So Adrienne and I took off on a long walk.

The waterway walk turned out to be really nice.  It was also a sculpture walk with various pieces of outdoor sculpture along the way.  None of the sculptures was great, but it did show an attempt by Atlantic City to have some type of art other than the tacky décor of the casinos.  The views over Absecon Inlet were nice.  We also passed right by the wind farm that you can see from the ocean as you approach Atlantic City.  After about two miles, we were at the Borgata.  We could see the Golden Nugget just across the highway, so we figured we could just walk straight to it.  Wrong.  With elevated freeways and exit and entrance ramps, there was simply no easy way to get to the marina.  We finally gave up and went into the Borgata, exited into its parking lot, took a dirt path to Harrah’s and then took the walkway back to the Golden Nugget.  A total of just over 4 miles for our walk.

Overlooking Absecon Inlet

Overlooking Absecon Inlet

Duck Sculpture

Duck Sculpture

Swirling Fish Sculpture

Swirling Fish Sculpture

Wind Farm

Wind Farm

For dinner, we ordered take-out from the Chart House, which is one of the Golden Nugget restaurants.  We knew that the entrees at the Chart House were large, and expensive, so we figured we could split a salad and an entrée.  For dinner, we had a chopped salad and braised short ribs with mashed potatoes and asparagus.  It was excellent and plenty of food for the two of us at half the price of eating at the restaurant.  Good deal!

Friday morning, the alarm sounded at 4:45 am – a very painful time of the morning.  Our goal was to leave for our 94 nm trip to New York Harbor by 5:30 am, shortly before sunrise and well after civil twilight.  We got up and prepared to leave.  While there was plenty of light, we went to turn on the navigation lights just to be safe.  Of course, the port light was out again.  Drats!   Fortunately, there was very good visibility so the lights were not really needed.  Adrienne eased us out of the slip and out the inlet with no drama.  Our ride north was uneventful.  We had 2-3 foot following seas and light winds.  Other than occasionally having to pick our way through a minefield of small fishing boats near the various New Jersey inlets, the trip was straightforward.  By 2:00 pm, we were entering New York harbor.

Cruising Under the Verrazano Bridge

Cruising Under the Verrazano Bridge

Verrazano Bridge

Verrazano Bridge

As usual, the harbor was a jumble of anchored ships, fast moving ferries, small fishing boats anchored in the shipping channel (what’s that about??) and this day a departing aircraft carrier.  We could hear on the radio, the carrier calling various small boats telling them to get out of its way.  Most did except for one poor boat that apparently wasn’t aware that this massive ship was off his port quarter.  Go figure.

As we were approaching New York City, we could see one of the Staten Island ferries coming up fast on our port side.  It was on a heading to pass just in front of us.  Suddenly Adrienne noticed a small fast boat racing up the river, cutting between the ferry and us.  It was the Coast Guard, complete with the bow-mounted and manned machine gun.  The gunner indicated that they wanted us to slow down and move further away from the ferry.  No call on the radio, just an intercept.  We immediately complied and they escorted the ferry across the river.  We’ve been through New York Harbor several times now and have never before encountered a Coast Guard security detail. It seemed to us that the harbor was on high-security alert after the Nice truck attack, and apparently we were too close to the ferry for the Coast Guard’s comfort.

Coast Guard Up Close

Coast Guard Up Close

Protecting the Ferry

Protecting the Ferry

Lady Liberty

Lady Liberty

By 3:00 pm, we were at Liberty Landing Marina and quickly tied up.  As we turned down our fairway, we saw another Fleming 55, and a few minutes after we docked, a third Fleming 55 came in.  It was like a reunion.  We chatted with the owners of the other Fleming on our dock. It turned out to be brand new, and we had fun comparing all the new features of their salon to ours.  The new ones also come with a yacht controller, basically a remote control for the engines and thrusters.  Gayle, who does most of the docking, just uses that to dock the boat rather than the pilot house, fly bridge or rear docking station controls like we do.  In fact, they don’t even have a rear docking station because they don’t need it with the remote!  They were a very nice couple who hail from Fort Myers, FL. and were spending about a week in New York before heading up the Hudson.  Their itinerary did not seem to coincide with ours, but you never know we might run into them later on.

We returned to Curiosity, feeling the early morning alarm weighing on our energy levels.  Soon it was time for dinner on the boat, a white bean chili we had made before and frozen, and blessed sleep.  We were exhausted.

Tomorrow we can sleep in and then head down the East River in the early afternoon for our next stop, Stamford, CT.