Saturday, August 30, 2008

Portsmouth, NH to Block Island, RI

When we went to bed on the 25th, we thought we would be spending another day at anchor in Portsmouth because of a small craft warning issued for the next day. Joe checked the weather in the morning, after having slept in a bit, and found that the advisory had been cancelled. We raised anchor and left after 9am, but thanks to some good following seas made it the 55 miles to Situate, MA by 5pm where we picked up a mooring. You may remember we stopped in Situate on the way north and Carolyn Ann was dubbed the "plague boat" because of my illness. The nice young lady driving the launch remembered us and asked how I was doing. I've mentioned that in several places a launch service was included in the mooring price. Most of the launch drivers have been college kids on summer break and all have been a treat to talk to on our short trips. We left Situate the next morning, passing this light house on the way out of the harbor. If you look closely you'll see a man fishing on the rocks at the left side of the picture. We arrived in Plymouth, MA early enough to take a trolley tour of the city after picking up a mooring at the Plymouth Yacht Club - one of the oldest yacht clubs in the country, founded in 1890. The trolley tour was unusual in that the driver seemed to take us to sights randomly, although he seemed to be knowledgeable - having been born and raised in Plymouth. At one point he asked if we'd like to go see a cranberry bog. Since we'd had lots of discussion about how cranberries are grown and harvested last fall (when it seemed to be impossible to find them in the Pensacola grocery stores), and since he actually had said cranberry bog and WINERY, we said we'd like that. This is a picture of the cranberry plants (and quite a few weeds!) growing in their bog - with Joe's hat for scale. At the winery they make cranberry, blueberry and raspberry wines - all of which were quite sweet. They also make some grape wines and blends. Interesting little detour! From our mooring we could see tour boats come in and out of the harbor. They always stopped at this little pirate boat and then were attacked by its water cannon. It would shoot, then dip it into to the water to reload and shoot again. Pretty high tech! The next day we toured Plimoth Plantation. There they have an area representing a Wampanoag village - the native people who populated the area in the 17th century and before. There were representatives of the Wampanoag's in the village to talk about the natives then and also their present day lives. It was interesting to talk to them and hear their perspective of things. This boat was made by burning out the inside. According to the people there, a group had crossed Cape Cod Bay from Plymouth to Provincetown in it - a distance of about 22 miles. Another part of the Plantation is a re-creation of the Plymouth village of 1627. In this section there were costumed role players who spoke as if they were living in 1627 - they would not address any issues from a modern perspective. They had each taken on the role of a specific person in the original village and would tell stories and describe life from their personal perspective. Our next stop was a visit to the Mayflower II - a reproduction of the original Mayflower that was built in England and sailed to Plymouth in 1957. Here they had some people who would address modern day questions, as well as costumed role players who would only speak to you as if it was 1620. The captain, in particular, was very convincing in his role and we listened as he vehemently described some of his controversial actions and how he planned to defend himself when he got back to England. It was hard to believe that 102 passengers and 25 crewed sailed in the 90 foot boat - with their provisions and household goods! They were closing as we left and I realized that one of the role players was walking out next to us. I asked him how hard it was to change back and forth from himself to his character. He said the hour drive to and from work really helped. On Friday, the 29th, we continued south through the Cape Cod Canal - where we again zipped along at lightning speed aided by Joe's tidal calculations. At the west end (or southern end) of the canal, we made another repeat stop. This time we anchored in Onset. Rocky was very excited about this stop - note the toothy grin! He got to ride to shore in the dinghy - and walk on land. It was his first trip off the boat since Branford, CT about a month ago. He left so much p-mail in Onset the local dogs will be sniffing it for months to come! We all enjoyed another glorious sunset. We decided to stay another night in part to avoid the holiday boaters. It rained off and on all day, so we spent a quiet day on the boat. After our short visit to town the day before we'd decided there was no reason for a longer one! Sunday we took off for Martha's Vineyard. Joe was not really eager, but neither of us had been there and many people had recommended a stop there - especially in Edgartown. Along the way we peaked in at Hadley Harbor at Naushon Island - owned by the Naushon Trust (read Forbes family). There was no room for us there, but it looked nice. This is one of the island cottages. We got down to Edgartown early afternoon and joined the crowds at the town moorings. (That's the infamous Chappaquiddick in the background.) Unlike many town moorings, these were no bargain - nothing there is a bargain. We took the launch (which we had to pay for) to town, walked around the shops for a while and had an early dinner. We saw ample evidence that there are lots of people around with lots of money - or maybe big mortgages. Here's a sample: Joe had read about Black Dog being trendy and we finally had to give in to Rocky's pleas for a new shirt. Early the next morning, since we both woke up early, we started out at dawn with a plan to go to Great Salt Pond at Block Island, RI but with several contingency bail out points identified along the way because of the small craft advisories. We were crossing some big water so there wasn't much to see along the way. As we approached RI Sound we thought this sailboat was impressive though - looks like he's racing the freighter! We speculated a bit about what was floating in the distance. Joe was hoping for a whale sunning itself - do whales do that? We hadn't had any whale sightings so I think Joe was getting a little desperate. He steered over to get a closer look - must not be a shy whale. Oh, dead turtle floating. Along the way Joe chatted with Ed, the captain of Alfie - a 57' Fleming - that was headed to Block Island also. Since he moved faster than we did, he gave us periodic updates of the conditions ahead. We were beat up a little and had to secure the fridge doors with velcro to keep them shut. Ed advised that as soon as we got closer to Block Island it was a lot smoother...and it was. Alfie was already anchored when we arrived at Salt Pond and Ed and Virginia invited us to raft up and come over for drinks - which turned into dinner and a very enjoyable evening! We've met some interesting people on this trip. Joe's currently spending lots of time on the weather sites and consulting friends about protected anchorages/marinas for the coming weekend. We aren't really interested in an up close and personals with Hannah, whose expected in the area, or any of her friends. If you'd like to see more pictures, follow the link to our picasa albums: (it's not always updated at the same time as this one, but I catch up eventually!)

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