July: The weather continues
Our spate of incredible weather rolls on. Big Smile is safely docked in Barrington RI and we have just completed our two week rental on Lake George. We are back in VT for five days and I am way behind with this posting. So this chapter is a six week catch-up and it’s all been good.
Our last two weeks in Maine and our travels to New Hampshire, Boston and the Elizabeth Islands up to Barrington provided the same glorious weather. It’s been really amazing how much sunshine and how little rain we have had. Great for us not so great for New England farmers.
We began July back in Southwest Harbor. July 4th weekend was spent at Dysarts Great Harbor Marina, our home for 2015. The weather, of course, was superb. The 4th started with a pot luck dinner/cocktail party at the head of the dock. That was followed by a spectacular two prong fireworks display. The main display put on by Southwest Harbor was based on a barge in the middle of the harbor. Another smaller and simultaneous display took place behind us on a private pier. The effect was incredible including most of the docked boats receiving fallout from the explosives of the private display.
Southwest Harbor is known as the quiet side of Mt Desert Island. Bar Harbor is the “noisy” touristy side. We like the laid back, Downeast feel of this community. The small town cares about its community and The Common Good epitomizes that attitude. It is home to the best popovers on the planet. Cost is whatever you can donate. We spent an hour sitting and listening to the music while sipping coffee and eating multiple popovers.
It was time to start heading south (and west) and Cranberry Isles, Maine was our first stop after leaving Southwest Harbor. The five Cranberry Isles hosts a small year-round community. We anchored off of Little Cranberry and went ashore to explore.
A three hour cruise brought us back to one of our favorite anchorages, Hells Half Acre. We choose a different spot to drop the hook due to the prevailing wind. We endeavored to add to our lobster buoy collection and launched the kayaks to hunt for them. The kayaking was superb as expected and we were successful with our hunt. Here we are in action. Kayaking at Hells Half Acre
Continuing on we transited first thru Deer Isle Thorofare passing by Stonington, Maine, crossed East Penobscot Bay, thru Fox Islands Thorofare, crossed West Penobscot Bay and on to Port Clyde. We found a perfect spot to drop the hook just north of Hupper Island.
Port Clyde is the southernmost town on St George peninsula. In the 19th century it was busy with granite quarries, timber and fishing. The 20th century brought artists and writers. Three generations of the Wyeth family have lived here and Chief Justice John Roberts has a home on Hupper Island. It is also home to one of Maine’s many lighthouses, Marshall Point light. It is to this lighthouse that Tom Hanks ran in the 1994 film, Forest Gump.
A quick, one night anchorage at Ridley Cove provided some good kayaking and better yet some local, soft shell lobster. We bought and ate two each.
Another one night stop in Potts Harbor got us ashore for dinner. Dolphin Marina, in Harpswell is a small, family run establishment with a great reputation and an awesome restaurant. I had contacted the owner the prior year to inquire about his place and although we did not stay there we could tell they were friendly. After a fabulous meal we met the owner Chris, at the bar, and talked with him for quite some time. He also introduced us to one of the other owners, his mother.
We decided to spend a night in Freeport, home of LL Bean. We have a “frequent cruiser” card from Brewers Marina and picked up one of their moorings. This card entitles us to discounts at their 26 marinas.
We had to make one quick stop in Portland before departing Maine. Our davit indicator light had been installed with the wrong voltage so Maine Yacht Center needed to do a quick fix. It was great for us as we got a free nights dockage and use of their loaner car to go grocery shopping. Of course we made a trip to Harbor Fish, Standard Baking and Hannaford’s, collecting provisions to last a couple of weeks.
At 5 AM on July 13th we left Maine Yacht Center and headed out to sea for the 55 mile trip to Portsmouth, NH.
The weather, of course, was superb. The seas were flat and the auto pilot did it’s thing. Our destination was Wentworth by the Sea Marina, in New Castle, NH. What a place! The staff, docks, facilities, loaner car, and other amenities were incredible. The kayaking at low tide was lots of fun.
New Castle borders Portsmouth, NH, a quaint and historic seacoast town. We took an Uber over to Portsmouth for a visit and dinner. We liked the area so much we stayed three nights. On one of the days we took a long walk and came upon Fort Stark. While some of the property is fenced off and inaccessible it is a fascinating look back on the evolution of forts over the centuries. It is one of seven forts built to protect Portsmouth Harbor.
Although we hated to leave the extraordinary facilities at Wentworth By the Sea it was time to move on. We left New Hampshire and motored 50 miles to Salem, MA. Along the way we passed Gloucester and many fine homes along the coast. Salem is of course well known for its 1692 witch trials which you can’t escape while walking downtown. However, Salem does have a museum that rivals any that we have been to. Peabody Essex Museum PEM traces its roots to 1799. The museum undertook a major expansion in 2003 having earlier consolidated two institutions in 1992. The collections are immense. The museum houses Yin Yu Tang, the only complete Qing Dynasty house outside China. While we were there a Rodin exhibition was in place; “Rodin: Transforming Sculpture”. This is a must see museum for anyone visiting Salem and I thank my old Haworth NJ friend, Laurie for telling me about it. We got to see and thank her in Boston.
On to Boston. We had planned for three nights in Boston, arriving Monday July 18th and departing Thursday the 21st. We were staying at Constitution Marina which I had booked last winter. It quickly became apparent that three nights would not be enough and, pleading our case, we were able to add two additional nights to our stay. It is not easy extending stays in peak season as there are only a finite number of slips that can handle a boat our size. We lucked out. Our schedule was busy with different visitors each of the first three days.
On our first night we had the pleasure of going out to dinner with Laurie and her husband Alex. They joined us on board for drinks and then dinner at a restaurant in Charleston Navy Yard. This was my first dinner in the city of Boston and lots of fun. We met up with Laurie two days later at the visitors center where she works in the summer.
Tuesday our good friends Jim and Beth from Breckenridge, CO came by for lunch and to walk around the city with us. We originally met them in the Bahamas a couple of years ago when they were cruising on their beautiful Passport sailboat. We had not seen them since February of 2015 when we visited their place in Colorado. Beth knew Boston pretty well and we got the lay of the land walking with them throughout the city.
Wednesday was a full day and night. My cousin Nance and husband Rob arrived in the afternoon. They were staying on board for the night so the fun began. Dinner at Legal Seafood then our first Red Sox game and first time at Fenway Park. It was a great game with my new home team beating San Francisco, 11-7. Boston is their city and they know it well. They quickly convinced me to become a Red Sox fan.
Rob and Nance left after breakfast and since we now had extended our stay till Saturday we had plenty of time to explore the city on foot and also the Hop on/off tour buses.
Having a dinghy on board also allowed us to see Boston in a different way. Just 100 yards from Constitution Marina are the locks into the Charles River. We launched the dink, blew our horn and the locks opened up.
History being what it is, mistakes are often made and perpetuated over the years. We all learned about the Battle of Bunker Hill. However most of the battle actually took place on Breeds Hill, adjacent to Bunker Hill. Although Bunker Hill was a defeat for the colonists it was a positive in that they realized they could defeat the British and as such became more unified and defiant. A quote attributed to Brigadier General, Nathanael Greene goes “I wish I could sell them another hill at the same price”.
Saturday eventually came and our time in Boston was over. At 7AM we sadly un-cleated our lines and headed out of Boston Harbor.
We had 70 miles before us, thru the Cape Cod Canal and down Buzzards Bay. Like most of the month of July the seas were calm and flat as we cruised down the Massachusetts coast. That is until we exited the canal and entered Buzzards Bay. There the wind was blowing stink and the chop was short and steep. We only had 15 miles to travel on the bay till our anchorage near Woods Hole. We had to anchor outside the spot we wanted due to the numerous boats. This put us uncomfortably close to a rocky shore and when this storm approached I grew concerned but it passed over us and the anchor held.
The following day was a quick motor to Cuttyhunk Island. Cuttyhunk is the outermost of the Elizabeth Islands and quite pretty. It has a very nice beach.
On to Rhode Island. On our cruise to West Barrington RI, where Big Smile would spend a few weeks we made one stop. Instead of heading up the Newport side of the peninsula coming off of Rhode Island Sound we instead went up the Sakonnet River, stopping at Third Beach. It was a very nice, relaxing beach and a comfortable anchorage.
Tuesday the 26th had us pulling into Brewer Cove Haven Marina in West Barrington RI. Here Big Smile sits waiting for us to return in a few days. The reason for the respite was simple. We had rented a house on Lake George for two weeks and we needed a safe and secure marina that didn’t charge Boston prices.
On to the lake. Having sold my share of our lake house last fall we decided to rent on the east side for the first time. Last winter on VRBO we found and reserved a house big enough for our kids and their friends. Unfortunately Andrew and Tara both changed jobs within a couple of weeks of each other in late spring. In addition Tara moved to Baltimore. She could take no time and Andrew could grab only a few days. So we had a big, comfortable house mostly to ourselves.
But all was good as four of our dear friends were also up and we got to spend quality time together. Bob, Tibby, John and Marion motored up and across the lake to have dinner with us on the “sunny” side. It was a wonderful time.
John and Marion also stayed with us for a couple of days before taking their own rental. John’s boat, “Moonshadow” was put to good use as the weather continued to be near perfect. Two weeks of steady south wind and temps in the 80’s only ended on our last day of rental.
We also attended a concert at Silver Bay on Lake George. “The Lonely Heartstring Band”, a bluegrass group that John and Marion had seen in Manchester VT, played a free 1.5 hour concert. They were great musicians.
It was a fun two weeks at the lake. We are back in Vermont till Thursday. Lots of outdoor items to attend to. Our lobster buoy’s are in place and the planting is complete. So ends the month of July and half of August.