Annapolis – August 9, 2016

We are back in Annapolis after 29 days traveling on the boat.  Our round trip distance was 1037 miles, which we covered in just under 113 hrs for an average speed of just over 9 kts.  We had remarkably great weather and the seas were generally quite calm except for our passage down the Delaware River on our first day.  We had no significant mechanical issues.  All in all, a great trip with beautiful scenery and an opportunity to reconnect with a number of old friends.

Our journey from Chesapeake City to Annapolis was fortunately a very easy trip.  However, had we slept in a little later, it could have been a very different day.  Our original plan was been to sleep in on Tuesday morning and leave when we woke up, whenever that was.  We knew we could be fighting the current down the Chesapeake Bay if we left too late, but it was not a long trip and we figured sleep outweighed current.

However, Adrienne woke up early, and I was also somewhat awake.  A check of the weather showed small craft warnings for early in the afternoon, so we decided to go ahead and get up and get moving.  Thank goodness we did.

We roused ourselves and got the boat ready to depart.  We noticed it was a little foggy to the west, the direction we were headed in.  Of course, the port navigation light, which I thought I had fixed, was out; a futile attempt to fix it before we left failed.  The sun was up and the fog did not appear too bad, so we decided to go ahead and go.  At 6:20 AM, we left the dock and headed down the canal.  We were only about 20 minutes from the canal end.  As we proceeded down the canal, the fog got denser until we had very limited visibility.  We had our foghorn blaring away.  Fortunately, there was no other traffic on the canal, so we were able to proceed cautiously without incident. As we rounded a bend, the fog started to lift only to briefly get dense again and lift again.   As we exited the canal and entered the Elk River, we could see the fog was really dense to the west but beginning to clear to the east.

As we entered the bay we could hear on the radio ongoing conversations between the C&D Canal operators and some commercial ships.  The fog apparently had continued to thicken in the canal, and shortly after 7 AM, they closed the canal to all traffic – not just commercial traffic, but all traffic including recreational boats.  In fact, we heard the operator asking one sailboat, which was trying to traverse the canal, what he thought he was doing and ordering him to pull over and anchor.  Thank goodness, we had left before it had gotten worse.  The canal did not reopen for over two hours, at which point a huge amount of commercial traffic was waiting to pass.

The Bay, on the other hand, was beautiful, with glassy seas and a strong current in our favor.  By 11 AM, we were under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and by 11:30 AM, we were tied up in our home slip at Annapolis.

Our last two days of travel had been remarkably lucky.  My early morning revelation on Monday to go to Chesapeake City instead of Cape May and Adrienne’s early Tuesday morning decision to get moving early had saved us hours of travel and given us near perfect sea and current conditions.  Sometimes the gods smile upon you.

We will spend a few days in Annapolis relaxing, then take the boat to Burr to get the bottom painted.  Adrienne will head north to visit her father, and I will go home to Florida.  Sometime in October, we will begin the next adventure traveling south again along the ICW.

Great Kills, NY to Atlantic City to Chesapeake City, MD – August 7-8, 2016

Sunday morning we were up early for our long trip (85 nm) to Atlantic City.  The weather forecast was good with 10-15 kt winds and 2 ft seas with a 7-8 sec period.  At 6:20 Am, Adrienne eased us off the face dock and down the channel.  It was low tide and we were a little concerned about shoaling in the channel.  We proceeded very slowly at idle speed out of the harbor, but we had no problems.  We saw one spot where the depth was 8 ft but mostly it was 10 ft or more.  By 6:40 AM, we were in Raritan Bay.

Adrienne increased our speed to our usual running rate of 1420 rpm.  On Friday, we had been seeing speeds through the water of 9.1 kts at 1420 rpm.  Today, we were running at 10.0 to 10.1 kts at the same rpm.  The bottom cleaning made a real difference.

Once in the Atlantic, we turned south.  The wind at Sandy Hook was about 10kts but by mid-morning it had dropped to 5kts.  The seas were smooth with rolling waves of 1-2 ft.  A very pleasant ride.

As we journeyed along the New Jersey coast, we had to periodically dodge groups of small fishing vessels camped about 2 – 3 nm outside each inlet, as well as the occasional crab/lobster pot fields.

By 3:40 PM, we were turning into our slip at Farley’s State Marina right next to the Golden Nugget Casino.  Even though we were using our headsets to communicate, Adrienne and I could hardly hear each other because of the pounding beat of the band on the Golden Nugget deck.  Oh the joys of Atlantic City.

We went to the Chart House for Happy Hour, feasting on rock shrimp, ahi tuna nachos and Mediterranean chicken pitas, while Adrienne had a glass of wine and I had a margarita.    A good and inexpensive dinner.  Then it was back to the boat and enduring the booming music until 11 PM when it finally stopped.  The music normally would not have bothered us that much.  But that Sunday it seemed unusually loud and we were tired from our early departure from Great Kills and the long run to Atlantic City.  We’re just not Atlantic City party people, I guess.

While watching the Olympics, we planned out next two days.  Monday we were going to head for Cape May, a short four hour run.  Tuesday would be another long day, all the way from Cape May to Annapolis.  I had thought that we would have the current with us, but alas I was wrong.  If we left Tuesday morning, the current would be against us in the Delaware Bay, against us in the canal, and against us for most of the Chesapeake Bay.  Bummer!

Monday morning I woke up very early, since I had crashed the night before at 9:00 PM, despite the loud music.  As I contemplated our trip for Monday, it occurred to me that if we ran all the way to Chesapeake City on Monday, we would have the current in the Delaware Bay and in the canal.  And if we left Chesapeake City early Tuesday morning, we would have the current with us in the Chesapeake Bay, at least for a while.  Duh!  Why hadn’t we thought of that last night!

Adrienne woke up around 6:00 AM.  I told her my thoughts and she heartily agreed.  By 6:40 AM, we were heading out of Farley’s on our way to Chesapeake City.

The Atlantic Ocean was beautiful.  The seas were glassy with very short long period waves and winds less than 5 kts.  A perfect cruise to Cape May.

To get to the Delaware Bay, we used the Cape May Canal, a 40 minute passage for us that eliminated the need to go all the way around the tip of Cape May.  By 11:42 AM, we were exiting the canal and into the Delaware Bay.  The Delaware Bay is one of those bodies of water that is notorious for choppy seas and miserable rides.  Today, the Bay was glassy with winds of only 1-2 kts.  We couldn’t believe it.  We also had a half knot current behind us, as we sped up the bay to the C&D Canal.  The only downside to the light winds was that the bay was covered with a light fog limiting visibility to about 2 nm.  Not much of a downside given how smooth the water was.

As we moved up the Delaware Bay and into the Delaware River, the current continued to increase until we were doing almost 12 kts, while our speed through the water was only 9.9 kts.  What a delight!

By 3:30 PM, we were turning into the C&D Canal and by 4:45 PM, we were tied up to Schaefer’s Fuel Dock to refuel for our final leg to Annapolis.  After fueling, we moved up in front of the Schaefer Canal House Restaurant and tied up for the night.  It had been a long but reasonably peaceful day.

We had a quick dinner at Schaefer’s.   Adrienne ordered a crab cake and I fried shrimp.  Both were good.  We ate on their patio less than ten feet from Curiosity.  We planned on making it an early evening again since we were tired from the early departure and the long day.  That is, if I can drag Adrienne away from the Olympic coverage tonight.  We’ll see.

Tomorrow is the final run to Annapolis.

 

Croton-on-Hudson to Great Kills Harbor, NY – August 5-6, 2016

Friday morning, our plan was to leave around 8 AM for the 49 nm run to Great Kills Harbor.  I was up in the helm around 7:30 AM, turning on all the instruments.  I was shocked to see that the depth gauges were reading between 5.8 and 6.2 ft.  Somewhat disturbing given that Curiosity draws 5 ft.

Steve had assured us that there was over 9 ft at the dock even in the lowest tide, although he later stated that it was 7.5 ft.  Well, it wasn’t that deep Friday morning!  The tide was rising, so we waited until 8:30 am.  At that time our gauges were reading 7 ft.  Adrienne eased us out of the slip, and while we churned a lot of mud, we were soon away from the dock and in 10 ft of water.  Thank goodness.

Once in the Hudson, we were on our way south.  In about an hour, we reached the Tappan Zee Bridge.  We had heard on the radio that the western half of the central span was closed to traffic but that we could use the eastern half.  We checked with the tugs at the construction site who confirmed that we could ease by on that side.  At 5 kts, we passed under the bridge, marveling at the coordinated dance of the tugs moving the cranes and barges into the correct positions.

Western Channel Occupied

Western Channel Occupied

New Towers

New Towers

Moving A New Section Into Place

Moving A New Section Into Place

Just past the Tappan Zee Bridge, the current turned against us and we slowed down to a turtle’s pace.  At the George Washington Bridge, we had two knots of current against us and were doing only 7.5 kts.

As we got closer to the New York Harbor, the traffic once again dramatically increased with tankers, ferries, sailboats and jet skis crisscrossing the harbor.  Amazingly, we were able to hold our course through most of it and watch all the traffic cross in front of and behind us, as if we had a protective barrier around us.  Hard to believe that our timing was that perfect.

Just south of the Statute of Liberty, we saw a group of about 8 jet skis (possibly a tourist group) heading across the harbor.  Jet skis are supposed to yield the right of way to all other vessels.  The first six skis passed easily in front of us, but the last two were lagging behind. I saw the leader of the group turn and yell something to the two laggards.  The two skis could have easily gone behind us, but they continued straight across.  Adrienne had to slow Curiosity almost to a stop to let them slide in front of us.  I can’t imagine what would have happened if they had tried that with one of the ferries or other commercial ships.

As we passed under the Verrazano Bridge, we turned toward Great Kills Harbor.  There was no charted route and no marks, so we followed the directions given by us by John Calascibetta of the Great Kills Yacht Club, where we were going to be docking for the next two nights.  Basically we were to head toward a pile of rocks, which used to be the Orchard Shoal Lighthouse before Hurricane Sandy destroyed it, turn toward the Great Kills Harbor before we reached the light, follow the channel while avoiding the shoaling on the red side and then avoid the shoaling on the green side.  It was a little crazy, but we were soon in the harbor heading for the Yacht Club.

John and another yacht club member were waiting for us.  The good news was that we would be on the face of a large t-dock right along the channel.  The bad news was there was a large rock just beyond the end of the dock that we needed to avoid, and of course, as soon as we reached the dock, the wind picked up and was blowing at 15 kts.  I was able to turn Curiosity around to make our departure easier, and used the wind to blow us onto the dock.  We were soon tied up.

The Great Kills Yacht Club (GKYC) is a volunteer run yacht club.  I don’t think we have ever been in a friendlier marina.  From our first call to them about slip reservations, John C. was great – highly responsive and incredibly helpful.  We had asked him if he could recommend a diver to check Curiosity’s bottom because we had been noticing that our speed through the water was slow.  Not only did John have a recommendation but he arranged for the diver to meet us Friday afternoon. He provided detailed and clear instructions about the best course from the Verrazano Bridge to the Great Kills entrance and potential shoaling at the entrance.  As soon as we were tied up, John gave us a run down on all the restaurants in the area.  Several other yacht club members wandered over and we all had some enjoyable conversations about boating.  As we were talking, the diver showed up and we arranged for him to clean the bottom first thing in the morning when it would be high tide with better visibility.

Great Kills Yacht Club

Great Kills Yacht Club

We decided we needed some extra cash to pay the diver in the morning and also to pay the GKYC which only takes cash.  So Adrienne and I hiked to a local bank with an ATM machine to replenish our cash supply.  One of the members offered to give us a ride but it was less than 1 mile so we decided to get some exercise.  In fact, every time we started to walk, some member or the other offered us a ride.  As I said, everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful.

Great Kills is a seaside community with small well-kept houses and several restaurants along the waterfront.  We assumed that the area had sustained extensive damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy and we were both right and wrong.  Some of the marinas and restaurants were totally destroyed.  The storm surge topped the pilings at the Great Kills Yacht Club and jumbled up all the boats that had been removed from the water and winterized.  But John’s boat, which was in the water close to the shoreline, was undamaged. In addition the Great Kills Yacht Club Clubhouse, which is just across the street from the docks, only had an inch of water in its basement.

We decided to have dinner in town on Friday night and eat on the boat on Saturday.  We planned to be up very early on Sunday for our departure for Atlantic City, so the dinner on board seemed to make sense.

We ate at Fiore di Mare, an Italian seafood restaurant, but that’s not where we started out.  We wanted to eat at Cole’s Dockside Restaurant because they had a $23 fixed price dinner that included three courses and a bottle of wine and John highly recommended it.  We arrived and were seated right away.  After about 5 minutes we got a basket of bread.  After another 5 minutes we got some water, but there was not a waiter or waitress in sight.  There were plenty milling around, but none of them approached our table and all seemed to fade away every time we tried to find out who had our table.  After 25 minutes we left and informed the hostess.  She seemed surprised, but didn’t apologize or try to rectify the situation.

So, we ended up at Fiore di Mare, right next door.  Again, we were seated right away but this time we had a waiter who was attentive and took our orders.  We split an appetizer of fried and stuffed zucchini blossoms.  Good, but lacking a bit of flavor.  I had Lobster Fra Diavolo and Adrienne had Soft Shell Crabs ala Meuniere.  My dish consisted of a whole split lobster, mussels, clams and calamari over pasta.  Adrienne had three sautéed crabs with a lemon butter sauce.  It was a massive amount of food, perhaps a bit overcooked, but very tasty.

On Saturday at 8 AM, we welcomed, Larry, the diver.  He suited up and then jumped in to begin inspecting the bottom and cleaning it.  About 2 hours later Larry emerged and told us that we had had a rag jammed into one of the stabilizer fins and a layer of slime on the bottom.  He thought there was enough slime to cause us to lose about a half knot of speed. All the running gear and transponders were in good condition.  Excellent.

We did some boat chores and then hiked over to Frank and Sal’s, another establishment recommended by John.  Our plan was to make a frittata for dinner and needed a few supplies.  We were tempted to scratch our plans when we saw some of the prepared food at Frank and Sal’s, but we resisted.  With our groceries in hand, we returned to the boat.

Our afternoon was filled with Olympics coverage because Adrienne is a huge Olympics fan (me not so much, but it is Adrienne’s passion), blog writing, chatting with yacht club members, and getting ready for our departure the next morning.  We were in the midst of all that puttering when a small sport fisher pulled up by our stern clearly wanting to dock in the 30 feet or so that was left on the face dock we were on.  I hopped out to help them with their lines.  Because of the position of the remaining cleats and the shortness of their lines they ended up half on and half off the dock.  Then another small boat rafted next to them.  About 10 people piled off the boats and headed off to a gathering, we later learned, was being thrown by the Staten Island Yacht Club.  Around 5 PM on of the boaters returned, puttered on his boat for a bit and then turned on some heavy metal music cranked up to the max.  We endured until the rest of the people returned around 7:30 and left us for the evening.

The rest of the evening was considerably quieter.  Our frittata was good and gave us some leftovers for my breakfast.  We turned in early, well at least I did.  Adrienne stayed up watching the Olympics until the women’s swim team got the silver in the individual medley.  She loves the swimming!  I love sleeping!

Jersey City to Croton-on-Hudson, NY – August 4, 2016

Thursday was another glorious day—sunny, warm and dry.  Our destination was Croton-on-Hudson, just south of West Point.  We had never cruised up the Hudson, and we weren’t sure we were going to have another opportunity because we will be bringing Curiosity down to Florida in October and might keep her there permanently.  So we planned to cruise north as far as West Point and then turn around and stop for the night at Croton-on-Hudson.

We pulled out of Jersey City at 8:10 AM and entered NY Harbor right in the middle of the morning rush hour.  There were ferries everywhere.  The Staten Island Ferry, the many, many New York Waterway ferries, and a bunch of other ferries.  In addition, there were commercial ships and myriad pleasure craft.  The Harbor was a zoo.  But with the help of AIS, we threaded our way through the maze of traffic, which lasted until the George Washington Bridge.  After that, it was beautiful cruising.  The water was calm, the wind was light and the visibility was excellent.

Midtown

Midtown

George Washington Bridge

George Washington Bridge

Palisades New Jersey

Palisades New Jersey

Commercial Traffic

Commercial Traffic

A little more than an hour after we passed under the George Washington Bridge, we came to the Tappan Zee Bridge, which is undergoing a major construction project.  A completely new bridge is being built right next to the old bridge, which will be decommissioned when the new one is done.  When the new bridge is finished it will be the widest bridge in the world and will accommodate high speed bus lanes and possibly commuter trains.

Jim was aware of the project when we were planning the trip, so when we were within about a mile and a half from the bridge we hailed the tugs to find out if there were any special instructions for passing through the construction zone.  We knew, for example, that at various times either the east or west side of the span would be closed to boat traffic.  On Thursday, however, there were no limitations except that passing boats had to proceed at a “no wake” speed.  We slowed down to 5 kts and went through.

Tappan Zee Bridge

Tappan Zee Bridge

As we neared the construction zone, we could really appreciate the engineering complexity of this project.  There were at least three huge cranes on floating barges at the main span and numerous tugs and miscellaneous other boats milling about.  They were trying to maneuver into place an enormous bridge section, being suspended by a huge crane.  This required the tugs to move the barge carrying the crane with the segment into place and to keep it there so that segment could be lowered and secured.  No easy feat.  In fact, about a week before there had been a crane accident that closed the bridge for hours and snarled traffic for miles.

New Bridge Towers

New Bridge Towers

Adding a New Section

Adding a New Section

After the Tappan Zee Bridge, it was smooth sailing up to West Point.  On our way, we passed the famous Sing Sing Prison.

Sing Sing Prison

Sing Sing Prison

West Point sits on a point of land on the west side at a bend in the river.  When you approach from the south, the academy starts to loom above the water as you round the bend.  It’s very impressive.

West Point

West Point

West Point - 2

West Point – 2

West Point - 3

West Point – 3

That section of the Hudson is mostly wide curving expanses of water with sloping tree-covered cliffs on the west side and lower tree-covered banks on the east side.   Occasional small communities dot the banks, and water fowl dive for the numerous fish that jump out of the water.   We passed a large sailing ship the Kalmar Nyckel, which is a replica of the Dutch-built armed merchant ship famed for carrying settlers to North America in 1638 to establish the colony of New Sweden.  Apparently, after a falling out with the Dutch West India Company, Peter Minuit sold his services to Sweden and helped to found the New Sweden Colony in Wilmington, Delaware.  Who knew??

Kalmar Nyckel

Kalmar Nyckel

Just before 3 PM, we pulled into the marina at Half Moon Bay.  The marina is situated on the banks of Haverstraw Bay, a wide bay on the east bank.  The depths across Haverstraw Bay were good, no less than 10 feet.   The depths at the dock were less, but we were assured there was no problem in the marina itself.  And so it proved to be, at least when we were docking (more on that later).

Steve, the marina manager, was very friendly and accommodating.  After we docked, he came by and gave us information on local restaurants and other businesses, provided us with a map and gave us a tour of the property.  We needed to get a few supplies, so we hiked over to the local natural foods market, Green and Grain.  It was good to get off the boat and stretch the legs.  We also had the opportunity to see a bit of Croton-on-Hudson.  It was a nice community, but not too much there, at least from what we could see by foot.  So we returned to the boat and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.

Dinner was at Umami Café.  This was about a mile walk from the marina.  Not too bad.  At first we thought there would be a significant wait for a table because there were about 6 people waiting and the restaurant did not take reservations.  But they were all part of the same party.  After they were seated, so were we.

The Umami Café is an eclectic, Asian fusion/Mexican/American eatery.   Very casual, brightly colored, loud and with a mix of people from families with young children to senior ladies.  We ordered Peking duck quesadillas and umami salad.  The quesadillas were different, but quite good.  The salad had greens, jicama, papaya and an Indonesian peanut dressing.  Very good.  For a main course we split the bibimbap.  Bibimbap is a Korean rice bowl with vegetables, grilled chicken and a sauce.   Now, we had never heard of bibimbap before Tuesday of that week when we were watching a cooking show that featured it.  When we saw it on the menu we had to order it.  We loved it.  We’re not sure it was the best example of bibimbap, but to our uneducated taste buds, it was very tasty.

It turned out to be a very pleasant evening.  We enjoyed the cooler temperatures and our walk back to the boat.

Tomorrow we cruise down the Hudson to Staten Island and the Great Kills Yacht Club in Great Kills Harbor.

 

Stamford, CT to Jersey City, New Jersey – August 3, 2016

Wednesday morning, we left Brewer Yacht Haven at 9:05 AM for the 34 nm run to Jersey City, New Jersey.  We timed our departure based on the current at the notorious bend in the East River known as Hell Gate.  Our goal was to reach the Throgs Neck Bridge at 11:07 AM, which corresponded to slack tide at Hell Gate.  Theoretically this would provide a favorable current all the way from Connecticut to New Jersey.

For once, we timed our departure perfectly.  We had over a knot of current in our favor in the Long Island Sound and reached the Throgs Neck Bridge at 11:09 AM.  We dodged a few boats and a barge or two, but largely the passage to the bridge was unremarkable.  We continued under the bridge, past the Bronx Whitestone Bridge and headed for the North and South Brother Islands.  Usually we go between the two islands, because it is a slightly more direct route.  However, as we reached the islands, there was a slowing moving sailboat wandering in front of us and a barge coming up the East River through the narrow channel in the opposite direction.  Not wanting to be part of the confusion that was about to happen between the sailboat and the barge, we opted to go north of North Brother Island.  On previous passages through this area, we had seen a number of barges use this route.  With the current behind us, we were soon around the island and entered Hell Gate before the sailboat and after the barge had passed.  Perfect.

The current was ripping in Hell Gate.  We had sustained speeds of 12.9 kts and briefly hit 13 kts, and we were not even at maximum ebb.  Despite the squirrelly currents, Adrienne had no trouble keeping us on the straight and narrow.  Soon we were at New York Harbor. I guided us through the ferries, and by 12:52 PM we were docked on M dock at Liberty landing Marina.

Though we have been to Liberty Landing a number of times, we had no idea how big it really was.  Usually we dock at D or C dock.  This time we kept going way back into the marina to M Dock.  We had a large T-head, which was great, but we were half a mile from the marina office.  Adrienne hiked to the Marina Office to check us in while I began washing the boat.  By the time she got back from her trek, I had almost finished washing the boat!

We were running low on a few provisions, so we decided to hike over to a Shop-Rite that was about a mile away.  One advantage of being so far into the marina was that we were very close to a footbridge that crosses the little inlet where the marine is located.   Because we were so close we decided we did not need to take the ferry across.  The ferry dock was at the opposite end of the marina beyond the dock office.  So, with our foldable shopping cart in tow, we took off.  Jersey City along the Hudson is slowly being gentrified; the area we walked through was still in transition, but was full of beautiful old brownstones.  It was good to stretch our legs, and we were able to re-provision relatively easily.  Soon we were back on the boat.

For dinner, we went to Liberty House Restaurant, a very nice upscale restaurant right on the marina grounds.  One of my favorite dishes at the restaurant is deep-fried olives; as weird as it sounds, but delicious.  Alas, they were no longer on the menu! I was sorely disappointed. So Adrienne and I started with fried calamari, which were good but a little tough.  I am not sure if they were overcooked or if the squid were a little too old.  Our entrees, however, were excellent.  Adrienne had an artichoke crusted salmon fillet with an oyster chowder sauce.  She loved it.  I had a Flat Iron steak with pee-wee potatoes and Cipollini onions. It was cooked perfectly medium rare and was delicious.  For dessert, we shared a peach and blueberry crustada.  The crustada was good but could have used some more fruit.  Overall a very good dinner, made even better by the fact that it was Restaurant Week in Jersey City, so the appetizer, my steak and the dessert were part of a three course dinner that cost only $40.  A steal in the New York area.

Tomorrow, we are heading up the Hudson River.  We have never been up the Hudson, so we decided to do a little sightseeing.

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